In this vision, Zechariah sees Joshua standing before the Angel of the Lord. He is said to be wearing filthy clothing, even though he is identified as the High Priest. He is standing there to represent the people, and at his right is Satan, bringing accusations against him. The nation had indeed fallen into sin, suffered judgment, and now as they were being restored the truth is evident that they were still guilty before the Lord, even though they had repented and returned to Him, obeying the message preached to them by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah.
In the vision, Joshua does not say anything in his own defense and the Angel of the Lord never seeks to deny the accusations being made against him. However, the Angel of the Lord did stop Satan. He declared “The Lord rebuke you!” By what authority did this Angel rebuke Satan? It was the authority of the Lord. He rebuked Satan in the name of the Lord. Not only that, there is more here to which we need to pay attention. Notice in the text, as the Angel of the Lord is speaking, it says, “The Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, O Satan!’” Here we see that the Angel of the Lord is indeed the Lord Himself. This is the pre-incarnate Christ before Whom Joshua stands, and Christ defends the High Priest against the accusations of Satan!
Not only does He offer a defense, but He removes the cause for accusation, taking the filthy clothing from the High Priest and giving him clean new clothes to wear. What a grand picture of the removal of sin from God’s people. They, like Joshua, are “brands plucked from the fire.” They are spared judgment that they rightly deserve because the Lord removes their sin and replaces it with His own righteousness.
Beyond a simple picture of the doctrine of justification, we have here in this vision a presentation of the Savior. We see how it is that He, Jesus, is our High Priest, a Servant, a Branch, and a Stone. Each of these references are specifically Messianic and in the presentation of the vision Zechariah is told that the sin of the people will be removed in one day, the final Day of Atonement, when Christ would come as the High Priest and the Sacrifice to offer Himself as a “ransom for many.” On that day, the veil in the Temple was torn in two, as there no longer remained a need for an earthly High Priest to stand before the altar on our behalf. Jesus is our High Priest.
Join us this Sunday, August 21, as we meet for worship and learn more from God’s Word about “The High Priest” revealed to us in Zechariah 3:1-10.
Listen to this sermon online or download for free at The High Priest – Zech 3:1-10.