The Crowning of Joshua
John Riddle, Cheshunt, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
Read Chapter 6. 9-15
The series of visions given to Zechariah has now ended. As we saw in our last study, the series begins and ends with reference to the nations responsible for oppressing God's people.
1) In the first vision, a divinely-sent patrol reports that 'all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest', 1. 11. The nations showed no concern for the affliction of God's people, and there seemed to be no evidence of divine retribution. The cry is heard, 'O Lord of hosts, how long?', 1. 12.
2) In the last vision, another divinely-sent patrol sweeps through the world, but not simply to report. God is at war with His enemies, and carries the battle to them. He is, of course, totally victorious.
But where does all this leave God's people themselves? Compare the first vision with our present passage:
1) In Zechariah Chapter 1, the Lord is with His people 'in the bottom'. He is with them in their difficulties and despondency. There seemed little to encourage them in their attempt to rebuild the temple in ruined Jerusalem. But He stood amongst His people, 'among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom'.
2) In Zechariah Chapter 6, God's people are no longer 'in the bottom'. Their enemies had been defeated, and national life was flourishing. The throne was occupied: gloom had given place to glory.
But Zechariah 6. 9-15 is not a vision: the prophet is told to go and do something, and its significance is then explained. This enables us to understand why Zechariah was not given a ninth vision to complete the picture. Having seen the eight visions, and been assured through them that God's purposes for His people will be accomplished, Zechariah is now instructed to leave a tangible sign that the visions would be fulfilled. Visitors to the rebuilt temple would see crown(s), 'and the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jediah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the Lord', v. 14. The following verse explains the nature of the memorial. Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah had 'come from Babylon', v. 10, and their presence in Jerusalem, together with Zechariah himself and Josiah the son of Zephaniah, v. 10, pointed down the centuries to the regathering of the Jewish nation, when, 'they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord', v. 15. These Jews had come to a ruined city under the heel of a foreign power. But the future return from every part of the world, Isa. 11. 12-12; 49. 22; Matt. 24. 31, etc. will be to a city known as 'the city of the great King', Psa. 48. 2; Matt. 5. 35. The 'great King' will then be in residence - and He will be crowned!
The word 'crowns' (plural), probably means 'one composite crown of two or more parts, an ornate majestic crown', M. F. Unger.
For ease of study, we can divide the passage into three sections:
1) The Crowning of Joshua, vv. 9-11
We will cover this section of the passage by asking three questions:
a) Why is particular reference made to the men who 'are come from Babylon'? As already noted, their arrival anticipated the day when 'they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord'. The same idea occurs in chapter 3. 8.
b) Why did it have to be on 'the same day'? The arrival of the visitors from Babylon coincided with the date of the visions, and since, as we have seen, there was an important link between the two events, time must not be allowed to weaken that connection. The crowning of Joshua therefore follows immediately after the last vision.
c) Why was Joshua, the high priest, to be crowned? After all, this simply did not happen. Israel's high priests were never crowned. The royal line was vested in Judah: the priestly line in Levi, and in the family of Aaron particularly. The two lines never met in one man. So why was Joshua crowned here? Surely, it would have been more appropriate to have crowned Zerubbabel! In fact, it is very important indeed to notice that it was Joshua, and not Zerubbabel, who was crowned.
The answer to this third question lies in the next section of the passage:
2) The Message to Joshua, w. 12-13
Notice, first of all, the certainty of the message, 'Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts .... he shall .... he shall'. Six times in all.
Now look at the picture: Joshua is crowned, and God says, 'Behold the man whose name is the Branch'. But is Joshua really 'the Branch'? We have already seen from Chapter 3. 8, that 'the Branch' is the Lord Jesus, and this is confirmed by Isaiah 4. 2, Isaiah 11. 1, Jeremiah 23. 5 and Jeremiah 33. 15. The word means 'shoot' or 'sprout', and beautifully conveys the emergence of new life. Joshua, crowned, is therefore a picture of the Lord Jesus who, as 'the Branch', will bring new life to His people, the children of Israel.
Now compare the words, 'Behold the man whose name is the Branch', with those of Pilate, 'Behold the man', John 19. 5. What a contrast! But the Lord Jesus will only be 'the Branch' to Israel at His second advent, because He suffered at His first advent.
But how is Joshua, crowned, a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ who, as 'the Branch', will bring new life to His people? A series of divine assurances follow, terminating with these words:
'And he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both', v. 13.
The Lord Jesus will be enthroned as King and Priest. No Jewish priest was also king: no Jewish king was also priest. There was, however, a man in the Old Testament who was both priest and king. Gen. 14. 18. The Lord Jesus is 'a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec', Psa. 110. 4, that is, amongst the other matters explained in Hebrews 7, a priest and a king, see Hebrews 7. 1-2. So, we are now considering the coming reign of the Lord Jesus. Notice:
a) 'He shall grow up out of His place'. This refers to His humble origins. See Isaiah 53. 2. He did not come in glory at His first advent: He came in humility. The word means, 'to grow up from beneath'. Hence, 'the man whose name is the Branch'. His humanity is emphasized. A Man of humble origins so far as earth is concerned.
b) 'He shall build the temple of the Lord'. We must not even think about trying to explain this by reference to the church! The church is nowhere to be seen in Zechariah. Neither can it be the temple in course of reconstruction at the time of writing. But it must be a literal temple. There will, of course, be a temple on earth when Christ reigns, see Ezekiel 40-42, and Isaiah 2. 2-3.
Notice that the statement is repeated, obviously, for emphasis, 'Even he shall build the temple of the Lord'. The Man of humble origins who was ultimately rejected, that same Man, will 'build the temple of the Lord'.
c) 'He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne'. 'The man whose name is the Branch' will bear royal splendour. It has been pointed out by Hebrew students that the word rendered 'glory', often signifies the majesty of God. See, for example, Psalm 8. 1; 45. 3-4; 96. 6; 104. 1; Isaiah 30. 30; Habakkuk 3. 3.
d) 'He shall be a priest upon his throne'. The Man who will sit upon the throne will be the Man who died for His subjects. They will be a happy and a secure people, not only because of a stable throne and a glorious King, but because their sin has been removed by His death at Calvary. They will dwell in His kingdom on the basis of His priestly work on the cross.
The words, 'and the counsel of peace shall be between them both', simply mean that there will be no discord or disagreement between the two offices, since they will be united in one Person. At the time of writing the royal line was represented by Zerubbabel, Matt. 1. 12, and the priestly line by Joshua. In the past, there had been disagreement and discord between king and high priest, with consequent instability in national life, see, for example, 2 Chron. 24. 1-6 and 20-22. But here is a kingdom marked by 'the counsel of peace'.
3) The Sign to Israel, vv. 14-15
Once the crown had been symbolically placed on Joshua's head, it was to be kept 'for a memorial in the temple of the Lord'. Verse 14 specifically states that it would be a memorial to the men who had 'come from Babylon'. This could be understood in the sense of a memorial to them personally, since they had come with gifts for the temple. The sense of verse 10 is given by J. N. Darby, 'And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Take (gifts) of them of the captivity7. But it is more than a memorial to them personally; it is a memorial which anticipates the day when 'they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord'. These men had come to 'build in the temple of the Lord', and had brought gifts for that purpose. In the future, others would do so - and the crown was a token of their coming contribution to the millennial temple in Jerusalem. Read Isaiah 60. 1-7. Compare Micah 4. 1-2. Whilst in the context of Zechariah 6, 'they that are far off are evidently Jews, the prophetic Scriptures declare this temple to be 'an house of prayer for all people'. Isa. 56. 7.
You will notice that verse 14 substitutes 'Helem' and 'Hen' for 'Heldai' and 'Josiah' in verse 10. It is not unusual for people in the Bible to have two names!
Two matters remain for consideration:
1) What is meant by, 'and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you'? The question is really, 'Who is speaking, and to whom'? Various suggestions have been made, but it does seem that Zechariah is the speaker, and that he is addressing the nation at large. This does seem the likely answer when we remember that we have now reached the end of the first section of the prophecy. The ultimate fulfilment of all that Zechariah had seen and recorded, would be final proof that he had been sent by God, compare 2. 8-11 and 4. 9.
2) What is meant by, 'And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God'? Does this mean that the fulfilment of the visions and, particularly, the symbolic crowning of Joshua, was conditional? We have already noticed the certainty of verses 12-13. The answer has been clearly expressed by D. Baron: 'Not that the fulfilment of the prophecy will be conditional on their obedience - that is in the will and unchangeable purpose of God alone - but their participation in it depends on faith and obedience'.
This is a timely note on which to close our studies in the first section of Zechariah. Our hope differs from Israel's hope. We wait for the return of the Lord Jesus to take us to the 'Father's house'. But it would be a terrible thing to be 'ashamed before him at his coming', 1 John 2. 28.
AUTHOR PROFILE: John Riddle is an elder in the assembly meeting at Mill Lane Chapel, Cheshunt, and serves the Lord in written and oral ministry throughout the UK where his gifts are much appreciated. He took early retirement from business as a pensions executive.