During the celebration of the New Year, the people would be reminded that at this time of year kings would be crowned. While Zerubbabel was a descendent of David and in the kingly line, because of the rule of the Persians, he only acted as an Imperial Governor. He could not act in all his authority as king. But surely there was some longing among the people to see a king crowned, indicating freedom from captivity and the rule of another nation.
At the conclusion of the last vision the Lord gives Zechariah a revelation that acted as a capstone for all that He had revealed that evening. And this revelation comes in the form of instructions given to Zechariah to go and find some recent emissaries from Persia who had delivered resources and treasure for use in the rebuilding of the Temple. The prophet was to take silver and gold and craft a crown from each and then weave them together. This silver crown interwoven with a gold crown (the word crown in Zech 6:11 in the Hebrew is plural) was then to be placed on someone’s head.
Surely the people would have expected the crowns to be placed on the Governor’s head since he was in the kingly line. Instead, the Lord told Zechariah to put the crowns on the head of Joshua the High Priest. This was not only considered odd and inappropriate, but it was forbidden for a priest to act as king, or a king to act as priest.
In one familiar incident, Saul was waiting for Samuel to join him and the people in Gilgal and Samuel was late. Instead of waiting, Saul as King took on himself the role of Samuel, the priest, and offered sacrifices to the Lord. When Samuel did arrive the first words out of his mouth were, “What have you done?” Saul had disobeyed the commands of God and as a result of this action it was determined that he would lose the kingdom. His kingly line would not continue to rule in Israel. (see 1 Samuel 13).
In another incident King Uzziah decided to offer incense before the Lord. He was reminded by 8 priests in the Temple that this was reserved as a duty for the priests and that it would be sinful for the King to do this. Uzziah became so angry and determined to proceed that all that prevented him was that as he was holding the censor in his hand his forehead broke out in leprosy and he was forcibly thrust out of the Temple as something that was unclean. Uzziah suffered from leprosy until the day he died. (see 2 Chron. 26:16-20).
Because of the distinction in the roles of priests and kings, these were to be maintained as separate offices. Kings did not preside as priests, and priests did not rule as kings. Priests represented the people before God and Kings represented God to the people. So what was the message that the Lord was sending here having Zechariah the prophet crown Joshua the priest?
The Lord said to Zechariah:
Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the LORD; yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; so He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
The crowning of Joshua the High Priest pointed forward prophetically to the coming of the Messiah. Under His new administration (the New Covenant), the role of priest and king would be combined in one Person and He would represent the people before the Lord and the Lord before the people. He would mediate perfectly and righteously between the two.
Hebrews 8:1-2 tells us:
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
In Christ we have a High Priest who ascends to the Throne as King. He reigns even now as Lord, our Prophet, Priest, and King. We also have already heard the Messiah referred to as the Branch. Now we see that this Branch of righteousness is coming to build His Temple and branch out, spreading His rule throughout the earth.
What is this Temple He will come to build? It is His Church. Peter tells us, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5). And as He builds the church, Paul tells us, “You also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22).
So this message revealed to Zechariah points beautifully toward the Person and Work of the Messiah, of the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps even more stunning we see a correlation between the crowning of Joshua and the crowning of Christ. Not His crowning as King, but His crowning with thorns.
In order to be both Priest and Sacrifice, Christ offered Himself as the Spotless Lamb of God to be crucified. Pilate had him beaten, His brow was crowned with a woven band of thorns, Herod gave Him a purple robe and scepter, and they mocked Him.
The prophecy in Zechariah began, “Behold the Man!” Listen to the words of Pilate as He presented Christ to the people asking what to do with Him:
Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!” Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” (John 19:5-6)
Behold the Man – it is Christ Jesus, our High Priest and King. And when He returns, He will come wearing many crowns (Rev19:12).
Join us this Sunday, September 18, as we study Zechariah 6:9-15 in a message titled “His Throne”, looking in wonder and worship at Jesus, the Mediator between God and men.