Zechariah Chapter 3

Following is a quote from the Matthew Henry Commentary regarding Zechariah chapter 3.

[If] God will build Jerusalem for the people and their comfort they must inhabit it for him and his glory. The promises and privileges with which God’s people are blessed, should engage us to join them, whatever it costs us. When Zion is enlarged to make room for all God’s Israel, it is the greatest madness for any of them to stay in Babylon. The captivity of a sinful state is by no means to be continued in, though a man may be easy in worldly matters. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

One must first inhabit; promises and privileges; Zion enlarged; insane to remain in a Babylonian state of mind; a captivity of a sinful state? All of this, plus, is addressed in our Zechariah studies or elsewhere in ahabiblemoments.com

50,000+ Judean Israelis returned from Babylon upon being released by Cyrus I. Hundreds of thousands if not  over a million remained there. Amazingly one who did not return was Daniel himself. We can identify four groups of Israelites (Judeans from the Tribe of Judah) who did or did not return to their Promised lands of Jerusalem, Judah.

  1. Those who returned under the guidance of Zerubbabel (538 B.C.), Ezra, then Nehemiah
  2. Those who opted to migrate to other lands, mostly barren or minimally populated
  3. Those who remained in the Mesopotamia Valley eventually losing their Israeli identities.
  4. Those who remained faithful to God but remained until death in Babylon after the Medo-Persians conquered this land.
    1. We know there were large numbers still in Babylon by following the history of Queen Esther and Mordechai. [Book of Esther]

JIV aha historical timeline of historical events in and around this land of Israel: Israeli’s take the Canaanite lands as their Promised Land – Israel ruled by judges then by kings Saul, David, and Solomon – Israeli as a nation splits into two kingdoms; Judah and Northern Kingdom of Israel – 10 northern Tribes of Israel conquered and totally dispersed by the Assyrians – Assyrians conquered by Babylonians – Judah falls to the Babylonians – 70 year captivity of Judeans and those stranglers from other tribes of Israel – small group of Babylonian captives return to Jerusalem – Temple rebuilt – Greek Alexander the Great conquers the known and occupied world of that time – Alexander’s huge empire is divided by his generals after Alexander’s untimely youthful death – the Ptolemy’s of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria and Asia Minor battle over possession of Judah, Jerusalem -Romans defeat the Macedonian Greeks in the Battle of Pydna – Judah, still  ruled by the Greek Seleucid dynasty get – a brief 50 to 70 year reprieve from Seleucid oppression by the rebelling Jewish Maccabees – Greek remains the primary spoken and business language – Rome becomes the primary military power of the known world – New Testament Jerusalem falls under Roman rule but governed by the Herod Dynasty of four different but related Herod kings – Rome totally destroys the Jewish State (70 A>D.) – Rome diminished in power and divides into two parts (Rome and Byzantine Rome) – Muslims conquer much of the Mediterranean Sea areas – enter the Christian Crusades and the power of the Popes in Rome – Ottoman Empire (Muslims) – Dark ages of the Middle East – Current era.

One can ask what has the above to do with Zechariah 3; specifically the High Priest Joshua? Zechariah 3 explains the glory of Jerusalem upon God’s initiation of the Millennial Reign of Jesus. It also might clarify the role of the church prior to the return of Jesus Christ. That is, the church being the individual members who are on the right path of righteousness as a group of believers.

Zechariah 3 explains this with the example of Joshua the high priest exemplifying the Israelites and possible hints of the modern day role of the Church.

Using the YLT [Young’s Literal Translation] bible we read in verse 1 “he sheweth me Joshua the high priest standing before the messenger of Jehovah, and the Adversary standing at his right hand, to be an adversary to him.”  Two things to note: Joshua (not the Joshua of the return out of Egypt and Moses’ replacement as leader) stands before two others; an angelic messenger of God AND angel called Satan, the adversary. This allows us insight into a specific and identifiable scenario. There is a good guy and the bad guy confronting Joshua. This is as it even is today. Satan is alive accusing God’s followers of wrong doings. Revelation 12:10 has yet to happen; “who [Satan] has accused[believers] before God both day and night [finally] has been cast down [KJV; emphasis mine]. Joshua embodies this Zechariah scenario.

This is a vision Zechariah sees, not yet an actual occurrence. Zechariah 3 expounds on the previous chapter in Zechariah; i.e. Zechariah 2:12 [ASV] “…and Jehovah shall inherit Judah…and choose Jerusalem.” Is it any wonder that the historical and current fight over Jerusalem covering three thousand years still exists to this very day? It is a profound actuality. Satan still remains here on earth. Historically this area was the basis of each Christian Crusade, but in actuality the Roman Catholic Pope ordained and sanctioned the Crusades of 1,000 years ago. Everyone wants to occupy it…Christians, Catholic Church, Muslims, Palestinians, etc. This includes back in the 700’s C.E. when Mohammed captured Jerusalem which in turn brought on the Crusades 400 years later.

Zechariah 3:2 “…a brand plucked out of the fire.” This statement has great meaning. We should know about the Lake of Fire following the Great White Throne Judgment. It is identified today as HELL. The word “brand” is similar to a fire poker; something that is used to stir-up or pull items from the fire. The implication should be obvious. Jehovah pulls from the fire (Joshua in this example) those who are to be cleansed and robed in pure white. Keep mindful that in this passage we have Satan the accuser, angel of the Lord (possibly Old Testament Jesus), and symbolic Joshua. Some will be pulled from the fire but not all.

OUR GOOD DEEDS ARE AS FILTHY RAGS…..(iSAIAH 64:6)

Now this High Priest is clothed in dirty rags; an example of us as believers. Our good deeds are as filthy rags [Isaiah 64:6]. What about the priesthood of this example in Zechariah 3? 1 Peter 2:5 identifies every believer as a priest of God. Zechariah combines all believers into the example of the High Priest Joshua; filthy dirty but destined to be cleansed and clothed in white robes.

Zechariah 3:5 depending on the translation one is using, has a word many do not grasp its meaning. S/he reads right through it. The KJV and ASV identify this word as a mitre; the ESV identifies it as a turban; the YLT [Young’s Literal Translation] says “diadem.” Essentially, they all mean a type of crown…crowns of righteousness [II Timothy 4:7-11].

Zechariah 3:6 uses the term ‘protested.’ “…and the angel of the Lord PROTESTED onto Joshua.” Being mindful that Joshua exemplifies those who follow God/Jesus as believers (Jew and Gentile), the word protested is ‛ûd [Strong’s H5947]. It means to exhort, encourage, challenge, to be a witness. Protest in this sense is not a negative or something against us, but an identified challenge as it is explained in the closing verses of chapter 3.

Verse 8 brings up the topic of a ‘branch’ of the Lord of Hosts. This is an Old Testament reference to the coming messiah; a branch of Judah in the line of King David, Jesus himself. This ‘branch’ will remove the iniquity of the land (Jerusalem and the world) “… removed in a single day.” This does not give universal carte’ blanche forgiveness. It means the sins of the world will be upon this branch at the cross of Calvary. One must still call upon the name of the Lord to be rescued/redeemed. Like one stuck in muck might call for a branch to grasp to be pulled out, but it is conditional. First a branch must be sought. Second, the one in the muck must have faith in it by grasping it to be pulled out. No longer will there be a need for animal sacrifice. This practice of Old Testament Israel did not forgive sin but was symbolic of the need and plea for forgiveness. THE BRANCH (Jesus) is a once for all sacrifice. It rescues those who believe AND grasp onto it.

Verse 10 simply states that in that day of the calling there will be true peace and plenty in the land. Satan is bound, evil spirits are no longer free to roam, and Christ is in Jerusalem. Chapter 14 give greater detail but that is several articles away. Be patient and continue following this chapter by chapter commentary of Zechariah.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2020

Acts 26

As we near the end of this study on Acts, it is time to remind the reader that this IS the origorginalinal church. It has morphed into what we call “church” today. Acts does not give us a bulletin of the how a service should go, but then, a personal relationship with Christ is just that; not a routine. When it becomes a routine, we better understand the statement “morphed.”

The first 26 verses in Acts 26 is Paul’s defense:

  1. The complimentary “honor” to be in front of King Agrippa
  2. Paul’s credentials as a Pharisee, Roman, Jew, and now a believer in The Way
  3. His past as a Sanhedrin zealot persecuting members of The Way
  4. His transformation and encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus
  5. His call to bear witness of God and his unfailing efforts to so do.
  6. [T]his arrest for doing what? Following God?

The thankfulness to be standing and presenting his case in front of King Agrippa was in contrast to the flattery presented by the Sanhedrin hired lawyer (Tertullus; Acts 24). Paul realized that he did not have to explain to an outsider (Gentile) Jewish laws. Agrippa was the son of Herod the Great therefore an Idumaean; a descendant in the line of Esau. This too makes him a direct relative of Abraham and one familiar with Jewish customs. In a real sense, a distant cousin to Paul himself.

Act 26:22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass.

Paul sets his defense upon doing nothing outside the laws of Rome, laws of Moses, and teachings of Judaism SINCE the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah. Paul once again sides with the Pharisees in supporting the “first to rise from the dead” that person being Jesus. Remember that the Pharisees believed in an after-life and a resurrection. This was not so of the Sadducee. Since there is no objection or discord mentioned at this trial like it was in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin must have been less than by-partisan. Perhaps they did not bring along any Pharisees to this trial in Caesarea. The lack of disagreement among Paul’s accusers suggests this to be the case…no Pharisee present when Paul stated the resurrection of Jesus.

It is of particular interest per the exchange between Paul and the interruption of *Governor Festus in versus 24 & 25. Paul had just stated in 23b that the Messiah (Jesus) must suffer and, that by being the first to rise from the dead, HE [Jesus] would proclaim [the gospel] salvation to both OUR PEOPLE and the Gentiles.” Governor Festus, a Roman Gentile, probably reacted to OUR PEOPLE as explained in the above, reacted to the fact that Gentiles were included in Paul’s mission and vision. He said that Paul is out of his mind; too educated.

*During his administration (56 – 61 C.E.), Jewish hostility to Rome was greatly inflamed by the civic privileges issue. Feelings were aroused which played an important part in Governor Festus decision-making.

However, Paul responds by deferring his reply not to Festus, but to King Agrippa, an Edomite and one familiar with Jewish customs (Acts 26:26). Paul immediately turns to King Agrippa asking him if he believes in the prophets of which he had full knowledge and as Governor Festus did not. This was probably very *embarrassing to Agrippa. If he replied that he did believe in the prophets, which he most likely did, his Gentile counterpart in Governor Festus may have reacted as skeptical per the King who was also appointed by Rome

.hell*Sadly this is true of many “almost believers.” Sitting or standing among others and to say I want to believe would be drawing attention, pro and con, to one’s actions or response to the gospel message of salvation. How eternal to desire not to be a spectacle in an-other’s eyes only to exchange it for eternal destiny to hell.

Paul realizes his hesitance. He points out that his question is to all present and not present in verse 29. In a sense he takes the burden of the question off Agrippa’s back or shoulders and qualifies it as a question for all to answer.

Then comes the famous reply by Agrippa in the next verse (v28): “Would you in such a short time think you have convinced me?” The convincing had nothing to do with Paul’s guilt or innocence, but his appeal to Agrippa’s Jewish background and Jesus the Messiah; becoming a Christian or member of The Way. There is a well known psychological probability that when cornered or trying to hide something from an-other’s question, s/he avoids answering by ask a counter-question in reply. This is how Agrippa responded.

Agrippa and Festus go into a private conference and conclude that Paul is guilty of breaking no law be it Roman or Jewish. These two rulers represent both the Gentiles (Festus) of that time and the Jews (Agrippa). They both avoid having to deal with it during a time of tensions between the Romans and Jews by deferring to Paul’s appeal to the Emperor in Rome. They excuse their inaction by say…”If it were not for Paul’s appeal to Caesar (Emperor in Rome) he could be set free.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
December 2018