The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah/Chapter 05
THE FOURTH VISION
JOSHUA BEFORE THE ANGEL OF JEHOVAH
And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan; yea, Jehovah that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. And He answered and spake unto those that stood before Him, saying, Take the filthy garments from off him. And unto him He said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with rich apparel. And I said, Let them set a clean mitre upon his head. So they set a clean mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments; and the Angel of Jehovah was standing by.
And the Angel of Jehovah protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: If thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep My charge, then thou also shalt judge My house, and shalt also keep My courts, and I will give thee a place of access among these that stand by. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou and thy fellows that sit before thee; for they are men that are a sign: for, behold, I will bring forth My servant the Branch. For, behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; upon one stone are seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith Jehovah of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, shall ye invite every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig-tree.
THE fourth and fifth visions form a new chapter in this series of symbolic prophecies, which, though in a sense standing by themselves, are in the true psychological order, and in the closest possible relation with the wonderful things which had already been unfolded before the prophet's spiritual sight. "The good words, and comfort able words " (i. i 3), which formed the message in the first three visions, contained the promises, not only of the over throw of the Gentile world-powers " who lift up their horn to scatter Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem " (i. 1 821); not only of the restoration of the still-dispersed people to Palestine, and of the future enlargement and prosperity of the Promised Land, and of the Holy City, which shall then be inhabited as villages in an open plain " for the multitude of men and cattle therein " (ii. 4); but of the restored spiritual relation ship between God and His people, and of the return of the glory of the personal Presence of Jehovah in the Person of Messiah, for evermore to dwell in their midst, the result of which would be that " many nations shall be joined to Jehovah in that day " and be His people, and the whole earth be made to know the immutable fact and gracious purpose in His election of Judah and Jerusalem as His peculiar "portion " (ii. 5, 10, 1 1).
But the question might well have suggested itself to the prophet's mind, How can these things be? Has not Israel by his grievous sins and moral defilement for ever forfeited his place and made himself unfit to be again Jehovah's sanctuary and appointed minister of blessing to the nations?
As if in answer to this probable inward questioning, this fourth vision is shown to the prophet, from which he might learn for himself and communicate to the people (isf) the blessed fact that the fulfilment of the exceeding great and precious promises in reference to Israel's future, rests, not on their own merits or worthiness, but on the immutable purpose of Jehovah, who in His sovereign grace hath "chosen Jerusalem"; and (2nd} how the moral problem will be solved, and the sinful, defiled people be yet made, not only fit to be the sanctuary of the Holy One, but to be "the priests of Jehovah" and "the ministers of our God " in relation to the other nations, in accordance with His original purpose in their call and election: " Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation"
(Ex. xix. 6; Isa. Ixi. 6). In brief, this vision depicts in a symbolic but very graphic manner the inner salvation of Israel from sin and moral defilement, answering to their outward deliverance from captivity and oppression set forth in the preceding three visions.
A somewhat similar thought is expressed in the 3rd chapter of Jeremiah, where, after a series of sublime promises of the restoration and conversion of " backsliding Israel," and how " at that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah, and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Jehovah to Jerusalem," the question is asked: " But I said, How shall I put thee among the children (who art so unchildlike) and give thee a pleasant (or delightsome ) land, the goodliest heritage of the nations? " (who hast forfeited all claims on God's favour). Then there follows the answer: " And I said, Ye shall call Me my Father} and shall not turn away from following Me." "I said . . . ye shall": for what in His eternal counsels He has purposed, that His grace and power shall yet accomplish in His people, and Israel shall yet, not only be blessed, but be fitted to be the instrument in God's hand to spread abroad the blessings of their Messiah's gospel throughout the earth.
But now to come to the exposition of the fourth vision;
"And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary"
It cannot be decided with certainty whether the subject of the verb " showed " was Jehovah, or the interpreting angel, but most probably it was the Lord Himself, as the office of the interpreter was not to introduce but to explain the visions. " Joshua " was, of course, the high priest who returned with Zerubbabel at the head of the first colony of 49,697 exiles from the Captivity some sixteen years before.
He was standing before the Malakh Yehovah, whose divine character shines out in this vision in a most striking manner, and whose identity with the " Angel of His Face," the Second Person in the blessed Trinity, who in a special sense is the Sent One of the Father, we have already seen.
The words omed liphnei, " standing before," whether in relation to man or God, express attendance upon and when used of the priests, and especially of the high priest, is almost a technical term for their priestly ministry and service. Thus we read that the tribe of Levi was separated " to stand before Jehovah, to minister unto Him, and to bless in His Name."
But it is important at the outset to note that it is not in his individual or personal capacity that Zechariah beholds the high priest "standing" thus before the Angel of Jehovah an erroneous supposition which has led some commentators into absurd and fanciful guesses as to the nature of the guilt of which Joshua stood accused but as the type and representative of the nation. This is brought out first by the emphasis on his official title, ha-kohen lia-gadol, the high priest; secondly, from the fact that the plea of the great Advocate, and His answer to Satan's accusations in the 2nd verse, is made, not on behalf of Joshua, but for "Jerusalem" which, as in so many places, stands not only for the city but for the people; and thirdly, from a comparison of the 4th verse with the pth, from which we see that the words addressed to Joshua, " I have caused thine iniquity to pass," are meant to set forth the blessed fact that God " will remove the iniquity of that land in one day"
Standing thus as the high priest and mediator of the people, it is the nation of Israel which is on its trial. If he is rejected, they are rejected; if he is justified, they are accepted.
The scene, then, to make free use of words of another writer, may be imagined as follows: " The high priest is in the sanctuary, the building of which had already com menced, and is engaged in some part of his priestly duty or prayer for mercy (on behalf of the people). The Angel of Jehovah comes down and condescends to appear in the Temple, as a proof of His favour, attended by a company of angels (ver. 7). Satan, the sworn enemy of the Church of God, looks on with jealous eyes, . . . and prepares to interrupt by his accusations." But, while this is in the main true, the fact that Satan was there to accuse invests the symbolic transaction, which is here presented to the prophet's spiritual sight, with a judicial character, and the high priest may be regarded also as " standing " on his trial before the Angel of Jehovah as Judge.
Ha-Satan, which, with or without the definite article, is a proper name for the Evil One, is the same who in the New Testament is described as our " adversary " the devil, the Hebrew term having etymologically the sense of " enemy," or " adversary," and the Greek that of " accuser."
He is represented as standing at Joshua's " right hand," which is supposed by many to have been the usual position of the accuser in judicial procedure, the ground of the conjecture (for there is no positive proof of such a custom among the ancient Jews) being Ps. cix. 6, where we read, " Set a wicked man over him, and let an adversary ( Satan ) stand at his right hand." Another suggestion is that Satan took the place usually taken by the protector (Ps. xvi. 8, cix. 31, cxxi. 5), "to show that Joshua, or those he represented, had none to save them, and that he himself was victorious." The passage itself, however, tells us clearly that he stood there " Fsitno " to act as adversary, or " be Satan," to him " that he," as an old writer observes, " who is called Satan, might thus fill up the measure of his name."
Here we are brought face to face with one of those mysteries of revelation which must be classed among the things which " we know not now," nor can as yet fully understand namely, the position of Satan in God's economy in general, and his relation to the moral govern ment of this world, and to man in particular.
How and why, we may not yet fully know, but the fact is clearly brought before us in Scripture that the great adversary of God and man is permitted to appear before God, not only in His earthly courts of the Temple, as in this vision, but in heaven, as " the accuser of the brethren."
And it is especially in his r61e as the accuser that the fiendish nature of the "old serpent" is brought out. It was he who brought sin into the world; it is he who deceives men and nations, and spurs them on to sin and rebellion against God; and yet, when the seduction is accomplished, he turns round and becomes their accuser this truly is like himself.
But it is not merely his malice against Israel which brings him here as their accuser before God in the person of their high priest. Oh no; it is first and foremost his hatred of God, and his desire, if possible, to frustrate the accomplishment of God's purposes of mercy for this world, which, as he so well knows, are bound up with Israel. It was for this same reason that he sought all through the centuries to rouse the fury of the nations against them, with a view, if possible, to bring about their extermination.
The actual words of Satan's accusations are not given, but their nature may be inferred from the 3rd verse, where we read: " Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the A ngel."
The word DWy, tsoyim, which is found only here as an adjective, is the strongest expression in the Hebrew language for filth of the most loathsome character, and the garments so defiled denote the sins of the people as viewed by the Holy One, in which the high priest as their repre sentative stood, so to say, clad in His presence. Satan, therefore, might well have sought the rejection of Israel as the priestly nation, or to impugn the holiness of God's character in receiving the worship and services of those so morally defiled.
But, blessed be God, the adversary may accuse, but it is not in his power to condemn. He that sitteth as Judge,, to justify or condemn, is the Lord. And note, it is the Divine Angel Himself, who in the 2nd verse is expressly called " Jehovah," who pleads the cause of His people. Well might the remnant of Israel say, therefore: " He is near that justifieth; who will contend with me? Let us stand together; ^vho is mine adversary f Let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me f Behold, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up" (Isa. 1. 8, 9) a challenge which is thrown down still more triumphantly in the New Testament in the words, " Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us" (Rom. viii. 33, 34). Satan's malice and hatred against the Church and the individual believer in Christ is as great as it is against Israel. And he still appears as " the accuser of the brethren," before God and before our own conscience; but with such an " Advocate with the Father " as " Jesus Christ the Righteous," who has Himself become " the propitiation for our sins " (i John ii. I, 2), we need fear neither his fury nor his malicious accusations. Is Satan's hatred of us great? The love of Jesus is greater. Is Satan ever on the watch and restlessly walking about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour? Behold, He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep, and His eyes run to and fro throughout the earth to prove Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are perfect towards Him, and His myriads of blessed angels are sent forth specially to guard and to be ministering spirits to them who shall be heirs of salvation. Therefore we may continue the Apostle's song of triumph: " Who shall separate us from the love of God? . . . for I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ fesus our Lord."
But to return to the context. The great Advocate bases His plea on Israel's behalf, first on the ground of Jehovah's immutable choice. "Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan"
The verb yigar, from ga ar (" to rebuke," " to reprove "), " when applied to God, who accomplishes all things by His own power, includes the idea of actual suppression "; and in this case it " involved a withering rejection of the blasted spirit and his accusations, as when Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and he departed out of his victim." The reason follows, " Yea, Jehovah that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee" as much as to say, " Shall God cast away His people which Pie hath foreknown?" (Rom. xi. i). And this is the best answer that can ever be given to the accusations of man or devil, directed either against Israel, or the Church, or the individual Christian. It is the answer which Paul gives in that section of his Epistle to the Romans which was indicted for the express purpose of instructing Gentile believers in God's mystery with Israel:
"I say, then, hath God cast away His people? " He shudders at the very thought, as inconsistent with the character of God, Who must abide true though all may prove liars, and whose gifts and calling of His people are without repentance (or " change of mind ") on His part " By no means," or " God forbid," he exclaims.
Yes, if Israel's position as the Lord's peculiar people depended on their own faithfulness, then there would have been an end of them long ago; but Israel's hope and safety rest on the immutable character and faithfulness of the Everlasting, Unchangeable God, and that makes all the difference. Why did God choose Israel in the first instance? Was it because of their righteousness or their lovableness above all other peoples? Oh no! " Jehovah did not set His love upon you, nor choose you," He tells them through Moses, " because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people." " Not for thy righteousness or the uprightness of thine heart, but because Jehovah loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He hath sworn unto your fathers." A truly wonderful and God-like reason. " He chose you because He loved you; and He loved you because He loved you " = the sole ground and motive being in His own heart of love> and in the sovereign purpose of grace which He hath formed in and through them.
And having known and foreknown them yea, with all their many and grievous sins and backslidings, and purposed in His heart to exhibit in and through them, not only His holy severity (as now in their unbelief), but even in a more wonderful way His infinite grace and goodness, and all the attributes of His character for the blessing of all the nations of the earth, He can never wholly cast them off.
Some of my readers may have visited the Wartburg and had pointed out to them the black spot on one of the walls of the room which Luther occupied during his benevolently intended imprisonment. The legend connected with it is this. One night during this mournful solitude, when suffer ing from great depression, because, as he himself expresses it in a letter to Melanchthon, dated May 24, I 52 I, " I do see myself insensible and hardened, a slave to sloth, rarely, alas! praying unable even to utter a groan for the Church, while my untamed flesh burns with devouring flame " the great Reformer dreamt that Satan appeared to him with a long scroll, in which were carefully written the many sins and transgressions of which he was guilty from his birth, and which the evil one proceeded to read out, mocking the while that such a sinner as he should ever think of being called to do service for God, or even of escaping himself from hell. As the long list was being read, Luther's terrors grew, and his agonies of soul increased. At last, however, rousing himself, he jumped up and exclaimed: " It is all true, Satan, and many more sins which I have committed in my life which are known to God only; but write at the bottom of your list, The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, cleanseth us from all sin " and grasping the inkstand on his table he threw it at the devil, who soon fled, the memorial of it being left in the ink-splash on the wall.
We are always reminded of this story when reading anti-Semitic literature, or listening to accusations and dis paragements of the Jewish people. No too-black a picture can ever be drawn of Israel's backslidings and apostasies; no human lips can ever sufficiently describe the heinousness of Israel's sins and transgressions. All that can therefore be said against their past or their present is true. But when you have read through your long indictment against Israel, write at the bottom of your list words such as these:
"Thus saith Jehovah, If heaven above can be measured, and the foundation of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel, for all that they have done, saith Jehovah" (Jer. xxxi. 37); or words taken from the very chapter which foretells in advance Israel's many sins and apostasies, and the terrible calamities which should come upon them in consequence: " And yet, for all ttiat, I will not cast them away, neither will I ablior them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them, for I am Jelwvah, their God" (Lev. xxvi. 44). No, "Jehovah will not forsake His people, for His great Name's sake, because it hath pleased Jehovah to make you His people" in which faithfulness of the God of Israel to the nation which He has chosen for His own inheritance, in spite of all its unworthiness, you may see a picture, dear reader, of His faith fulness to you, and a pledge of your eternal safety in Christ.
Secondly, the Angel of Jehovah bases his answer to Satan's accusations on the ground of the sufferings in punishment of their sins which Israel has already endured.
"Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? " This same figure, with one slight variation, is found in Amos iv. n, and is used (as Hengstenberg well explains) to " denote the occurrence of great misfortune, which, however, is prevented by the mercy of God from issuing in utter destruction."
It need scarcely be pointed out, after what has already been stated, that these words also must not be tarken as applying to Joshua as an individual, but as the high priest, the type and representative of his people. The fire out of which Joshua had been rescued as a brand was neither the evil which had come upon him through neglecting the building of the Temple (as some German expositors explain), nor the guilt of allowing his sons to marry foreign wives (which the Jewish Targum, followed by Rashi and Kimchi, oblivious of the anachronism, assert); for, as Keil well observes, in the former case the accusation would have come too late, since the building of the Temple had been resumed five months before (Hag. i. 14 com pared with Zech. i. 7); and in the latter case it would have been much too early, since these mesalliances did not take place till fifty years afterwards. No; the words are used by the Great Advocate of the whole people, against whom, as we have already seen, the adversary's accusations were really directed, and their general sense has been well given by one of the earliest Church Fathers namely, " As if He should say, Israel confessedly has sinned, and is liable to these charges; yet it has suffered no slight punishment; it has endured sufferings, and has scarce been snatched out of them, as a half-burned brand out of the fire. For not yet had it shaken off the dust of the harms from the captivity; only just now, and scarcely, had it escaped the flame of that most intolerable calamity. Cease, then, imputing sin to them on whom God has had mercy."
But though primarily the figure refers to " the fire " of the Babylonian Captivity from which the restored remnant at the time had been plucked as a " brand," the words are designed also to remind us of a deeper and more general truth in connection with Jewish history. Israel may be said to be always in the fire, yet God never permits them to be wholly consumed. Like the burning bush, the symbol of this indestructible people it may burn, and must suffer by very reason of its being in a special sense the dwelling-place of the Holy One, until all its dross shall have been consumed; but it cannot be destroyed.
When God first made His covenant with Abraham, the symbols of His presence, which were meant to foreshadow His whole future dealings with them, were " a smoking furnace and burning lamp," or " flaming torch " (Gen. xv. 17). Already in Egypt they found themselves in an " iron furnace " (Deut. iv. 20), and from the human point of view there was every reason to believe that they would be wholly consumed; but along with and in the midst of the furnace of the four hundred years " affliction," there was suspended the flaming torch of promise that God would ultimately interpose on their behalf, and judge the nation who was oppressing them, and bring them out " with great substance" (Gen. xv. 13, 14).
Babylon was another such furnace, and though a remnant had, according to God's promise, after the seventy years, been plucked out " as a brand from the fire," we have to remember that the Babylonian Captivity, in a very important sense, still lasts, for it inaugurated the prophetic period called " the times of the Gentiles" which will only be brought to a close when the kingdom is restored, and governmental power over the earth is centred in Mount Zion. But in this longer captivity also, in this more fiery " furnace of affliction " (Isa. xlviii. i o), God has not left His people without the burning lamp of promise that they shall never be wholly consumed; that He will never forget the Covenant which He made with their fathers; but that He would be with them even when they walk through the fires (Isa. xliii. 2); and in the end, when their sufferings reach their climax in the great tribulation, when the filth of the daughter of Zion shall finally have been purged away " by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning," He would save them as " a brand from the fire," and cause them to multiply and to be a blessing to all the world.
If we may digress for a moment from the interpretation of this familiar figure, and its primary significance in relation to Israel, and make an application of it to the individual believer in Christ, we would remind the reader, first, that we have a picture here of what, and where, we were in our natural condition. It is true, as Keil contends, that " fire is a symbol of punishment, not of sin," but in a very real and terrible sense sin is its own punishment; and apart from "the everlasting burnings" (Isa. xxxiii. 14) which await the impenitent in that place where " the fire is never quenched," wickedness (already in this life) burneth as a fire (Isa. ix. 18). And this, whether we have been conscious of it or not, has been the case with us all. We were in the fire which indwells our nature, and, but for the mercy of God, we should have ultimately been altogether consumed by it.
But, secondly, the figure also reminds us of the love and compassion of our Redeemer, Who, when there was no eye to pity, at the cost of infinite suffering to Himself, plucked us " as brands from the fire," and delivered us, not only from the punishment of sin in the future, but from the power and dominion of sin in the present.
But to proceed with the exposition. As already indicated, " the filthy garments " in which Joshua was clad symbol ised the sin with which the nation as a whole was defiled, and which he, as high priest, represented in his official capacity. This was already clearly perceived by the Church Father whom I have already quoted, who observes: " The high priest having been thus taken to represent the whole people, the filthy garments would be no unclear symbol of the wickedness of the people; for clad, as it were, with their sins, with the ill-effaceable spot of ungodliness, they abode in captivity subject to retribution, paying the penalty of their unholy deeds."
The figure of the filthy garments as emblematic of moral pollution is also carried over into the visions of Zechariah from the former prophets. Thus in the confes sion of the remnant of Israel in Isa. Ixiv. 6 we read: " For we are all become as one that is unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as a polluted garment; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away 1 This is a true picture of Israel's moral condition before God. But in contrast to the past and the present there are other pictures painted for us by the prophets of Israel's future, based on the fact of God's election of this nation to be a peculiar people unto Himself, and on the exceeding great and precious promises given to the fathers. The Lord shall wash away " the filth of the daughter of Zion," and cleanse her from all her defilements, " and it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remainet/t in Jerusalem, sJiall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem" (Isa. iv. 3, 4; Ezek. xxxvi. 1632). Then, in contrast to the "polluted garment," the same prophet sings: " I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decked himself with ornaments (or, with his priestly head-dress or turban ), and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels"
(Isa. Ixi. 10).
Now this same glorious truth, so clearly announced in I verbal prophecy, is here realistically set forth to Zechariah j in symbol. The symbol, however, is immediately inter preted by the Angel of Jehovah Himself, who, after com manding the attendant angels " who stood by," saying, I " Take away the filthy garments from him," addresses the comforting words to Joshua himself: " Behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee" (which, as already pointed out, answers to the glorious promise in ver. 9: " / will remove the iniquity of the land in one day "), " and I will clothe thee with rich apparel"; which, in brief, answers to the garments of salvation and pure robe of Messiah's own perfect righteousness, in which Israel shall then be attired.
But the word nwnp, machalatsoth, which is in the plural, translated in the Authorised Version " change of raiment," and in the Revised " rich apparel " and which is found elsewhere only in Isa. iii. 22, where it is used of the " changeable suits of apparel " which the haughty daughters of Zion of that time reserved to be worn on great occasions probably stands here for the specifically priestly or high priest's outfit; and these being put upon Joshua as the representative of Israel Would indicate, not only pardon and justification before the Lord, on the ground of the righteousness which He Himself provides for His people, but their reinstatement and reconsecration to their priestly calling as a nation. And this, it seems to me, is brought out still more clearly in the 5th verse.
The prophet has hitherto been a silent but eager spectator of the wonderful scene which he was made to witness, but as he beholds the transformation which had taken place in the high priest's outfit, after the filthy garments were taken from him, and as the symbolical character of the transaction becomes clear to him in its very process (since he does not in this vision ask for any explanation of its meaning, nor is there one given to him by the interpreting angel), he bursts out in the prayer that the gracious work may be completed: " And I said, Let them set a fair (or clean ) mitre upon his head " which prayer, being in accordance with the good pleasure of Jehovah, and that for which it asked having apparently been omitted only in order to leave something, and that the completion of all, to be done at the intercession of the prophet, it is also immediately answered, " So they set a fair mitre (literally, the mitre, the clean or fair one ) upon liis head"
Now the word tsaniph (rendered " mitre ") is not " a turban such as might be worn by anybody " (as Koehler and other commentators assert), but is, as Keil rightly explains, " the head-dress of princely persons and kings," and is here used as a synonym for mitsnepheth, which is the technical word for the tiara prescribed for the high priest in the law.
And this mitre, or turban, was the glory and comple ment of the high priest's sacred and symbolical attire the portion of his dress " in which he carried his office, so to speak, upon his forehead "; for to it was attached the plate of pure gold with the words fljn*? EHp qodesh layehovah \ " Holy to Jehovah," engraven on it. " It shall be always upon his forehead," we read, " that he may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel shall hallow, . . . that they may be accepted before the Lord" (Ex. xxviii. 3638). The answer, therefore, of the prophet's prayer, and the putting of the fair mitre upon Joshua's head, signified in his own case his full equip ment and fitness for his high-priestly functions; and in relation to the people, the removal of their guilt, and an assurance of their acceptance before the Lord.
But we have also to remember that the Aaronic priest hood, summed up as it was in the person of the high priest, while appointed to meet Israel's felt need of a Mediator between them and God, was at the same time designed not only to foreshadow some of the aspects of the everlasting priesthood of Him Who ever liveth to make intercession for us, but to be also a continual reminder of God's purpose with the nation as a whole, and, symbolically at least, ever to keep before them the significance of priesthood, which is to be "chosen "; to be " His," in a peculiar sense; to be " holy," and to " draw near " unto Him in priestly service and intercession (Num. xvi. 5).
To the ultimate realisation of God's original purpose in the election and call of His people, that they should be unto Him " a kingdom of priests and an holy nation"
(Ex. xix. 5, 6), the prophetic Scriptures bear unanimous testimony; and the wonderful transformation which Zechariah is permitted to witness in this vision, in the case of Joshua, symbolically sets forth the same great truth, and describes the change which will come over Israel as a nation, and their equipment in that day when they shall be named throughout the earth " the priests of Jehovah," and when men everywhere shall call them " the ministers of our God " (Isa. Ixi. 6).
And the process which the prophet witnesses in the case of Joshua as the representative of the Jewish nation, answers also to the experience of each individual believer.
By nature, dear reader, " we are all " whether we be Jew or Gentile " as one that is unclean " in God's sight, and " all our righteousness " the very best moral outfit which we can manufacture for ourselves is, " as a polluted garment" (Isa. Ixiv. 6), not only of no avail, but, together with our sins, must be " taken away."
Man, in his own name, and on the ground of his own merits, has no approach and no standing in the presence of God he must find his moral fitness outside of himself if he desires to " ascend into the hill of the Lord, and to stand in His holy place."
There must first be a stripping of self. Like the great and blessed Apostle, we must each one be brought to say:
"What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea verily, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteous ness which is of God through faith " (Phil. iii. 7-9).
From the very beginning of the history of redemption we have the same truth set forth under the same figure. Already in the garden of Eden, as soon as sin entered into the world, and man, losing the consciousness of God, became self-conscious, we read of the man and the woman that " they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons." These " aprons " or " girdles " which men continue to sew or " weave " for themselves (Isa. lix. 6) are of no avail to hide their shame or to cover their misery. But already then, God in His infinite compassion began to preach the gospel to man by direct promise, and to set it forth also by type. He not only announced the coming of " the Seed of the woman," who should bruise the serpent's head and destroy the devil and his works (Gen. iii. 15), but Jehovah God, we read, also " made for Adam and his wife coats of skins (from animals which He probably first commanded the man to slay) and clothed them " (Gen. iii. 21).
And these two " garments " the one symbolic of the meetness for fellowship with God, which man tries to work out for himself, and the other of the beautiful robe of Messiah's own righteousness which is provided for all who, conscious of their own utter unworthiness to appear in His presence on the ground of anything in themselves, look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life (Jude 21) are contrasted throughout Scripture until the day when the " wedding feast " which the Great King made for His Son, to which men are now invited, merges into the " marriage of the Lamb " and " the great supper of God." Then there shall be a final scrutiny and separation between those arrayed in " fine linen, bright and pure " and clothed in " festal attire," and those who refused to put on the wedding robe provided by the King, because they deceived themselves, or made belief to think that their own " polluted garment " was good enough: these shall then be bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. xxii. 1-14; Rev. xix. 6-18).
And this " robe of righteousness," which is ours first of all by faith, and which is the only ground of our standing before God, becomes also a blessed subjective experimental reality to the Christian.
In this world men walk in a vain show, and there is often no inward correspondence between their actual character and the robe of office which they wear. There are kings who are not kingly, princes who are by no means princely, and priests who are far from being priestly; but it can never be so in the kingdom of God in it there are no deceiving appearances. As many as are justified in Messiah's righteousness are also being regenerated and sanctified by His blessed Spirit, and there is not one arrayed in the beautiful robe of His perfection who does not also make it the aim of his life to perfect holiness in the fear of God now, and who shall not in the end be conformed to His image, and be actually and fully like Him in character.
And what Israel shall be nationally in the day when, stripped of their own filthy garments, they are clothed in machalatsoth (the new priestly outfit), and, with the fair mitre with qodesli layehovaJi on their foreheads, go forth as " the priests of Jehovah " and as " the ministers of our God " among the nations that also all believers in Christ are already now as individuals. We, too, are " a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's oivn possession," and are sent forth into the world, not only with our lips, but also in our lives and conduct, " to show forth the praises (the excellences) of Him Who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light."
But let us now proceed to the second half of this chapter.
The symbolical transaction of the removal of the filthy garments from Israel's high priest, and his being fitted out in machalatsoth^ or " rich apparel," with the " clean mitre " on his head, is followed by a solemn charge and most glorious promises.
"And the Angel of Jehovah protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith Jefwvah of hosts: If thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep My charge, then thou also's halt judge My house, and shalt also keep My courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by"
The word va-ya-ad (" protested ") means solemnly to protest, or " testify." Etymologically it signifies " to call God to witness." It occurs, for instance, in the words of Solomon to Shimei, " Did I not make thee swear by Jehovah, and protested unto thee," etc. (i Kings ii. 21) and is intended to express the solemnity and importance of the charge about to be made.
The expressions " Walk in My ways " and " Keep My charge " (mishmarti thislimor] are frequently used in the Pentateuch for " holding on in the way of life, well-pleasing to God, and for keeping the charge given by God." It was the injunction of the dying David to Solomon: " Keep the charge of the Lord thy God to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes." The first part of the charge, "If thou wilt walk in My ways," refers particularly to Joshua's personal attitude towards the Lord to fidelity in his personal relations to God; and the second, "If thou wilt keep My charge," to the faithful performance of his official duties as high priest.
And the reward of his thus (in his personal and official capacity) studying to present himself approved unto God, will be (a) " Then thou also shalt judge My house." " My house " may be used metaphorically of the people, as in Num. xii. 7: " My servant Moses, . . . who is faithful in all My house," and the judging of the house would in that case refer to the high priest's function as the representative of God in all matters of controversy, to give the sentence of judgment (Deut. xvii. 8-10); or Hengstenberg, Keil, and Pusey may be right in limiting it to the high priest's administration of the literal House or Temple to the decisions, namely, which devolved upon him in all matters of the sanctuary. Probability is added to this more limited meaning of the expression by the next parallel clause, which certainly is to be understood in a literal sense as referring to the Temple, namely, (fr) " And shalt also keep My courts" as a faithful watchman or porter, not only " to keep away everything of an idolatrous nature from the House of God," but to see to it that nothing that is unclean or which defileth shall enter into it (2 Chron. xxiii. 19). (c) But the climax of promise in this verse is reached in the last clause, " And I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by." The Hebrew word D WMDj matilekhim, translated " places to walk," and which the Revised Version renders " a place of access," has been variously translated and interpreted by different commentators. Thus Gesenius, Hengstenberg, Hoffmann, etc., have rendered the sentence, " I will give thee leaders among those that stand by." But the rendering in the Authorised Version, which is supported by almost all modern scholars, is doubtless the true one.
" These that stand by " as we see by comparing the expression with ver. 4 are the angels, who were in attendance on the Angel of Jehovah, and who " stood before Him " ready to carry out His behests. The promise is usually limited by Christian commentators to signify that God would yet give to Joshua, and to the priesthood generally, fuller and nearer access to Him than they possessed hitherto, or than was possible in the old dispensa tion; but the Jewish Targum is, I believe, nearer the truth when it paraphrases the words, " In the resurrection of the dead I will revive thee, and give thee feet walking among these seraphim." Thus applied to the future, the sense of the whole verse would be this: " If thou wilt walk in My ways and keep My charge, thou shalt not only have the honour of judging My house and keeping My courts, but when thy work on earth is done thou shalt be transplanted to higher service in heaven, and have places to walk among these pure angelic beings who stand by Me, hearkening unto the voice of My word" (Ps. ciii. 20, 21). Note the " ifs " in this verse, my dear reader, and lay to heart the fact that, while pardon and justification are the free gifts of God to all that are of faith, having their source wholly in His infinite and sovereign grace, and quite apart from work or merit on the part of man, the honour and privilege of acceptable service and future reward are con ditional on our obedience and faithfulness: therefore seek by His grace and in the power of His Spirit to " walk in His ways and to keep His charge," and in all things, even if thine be the lot of a " porter "" or " doorkeeper " in the House of God, to present thyself approved unto Him, in remembrance of the day when " we must all be manifested before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad " (2 Cor. v. 10).
But there are still greater and more wonderful promises following, in vers. 8 to 10; and to rouse Joshua, and us also through him, to a sense of their significance and im portance, his attention is again attracted by the words, " Hear now, O Joshua " not only with the outer ear, but with the ears of the heart, namely, hearken and consider.
The words lia koJien Jia-gadol the high priest which are added, are intended once more to remind us that it is not in his private personal capacity, but as the head of his order and official representative of the people, that he is thus addressed. This is made clear by the words which immedi ately follow: " Thou and thy fellows which sit before thee, for they are men which are a sign"
" Thy fellows " (or " companions ") which sit before, are the ordinary priests who, in meetings of the order for the purpose of discussing or deciding matters connected with their office, " sat before " the high priest, who was the president of the assembly not that they were there and then sitting before Joshua. The words anshei mopheth, rendered in the Authorised Version " men wondered at," and in the Revised Version " men that are a sign," are men who attract attention to themselves by something striking, and are types of what is to come. Thus Isaiah's sons, with their prophetic names, Shear Jashub (" a remnant shall return "), Maher-shalal-hash-baz (" Haste spoil speed prey "), were, with his own name " Isaiah," which signifies " the salvation of Jehovah," for signs and mopKthim portents and types to the people of what was going to take place in the nation (Isa. viii. I 8; see also Isa. xx. 3; Ezek. xii. 611). And if we ask wherein were Joshua and the whole order of Aaronic priesthood portents or types of things which were then yet to come, the answer is that in their persons they were imperfect images of the true Priest after the order of Melchizedek, " who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life," and whose priesthood is therefore " unchangeable "; and in their ministry, the essential part of which was " to make atonement " but which in the old economy could never be perfectly accomplished, since " it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins " they typified the great redeeming work of Him who, through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot unto God, and thus once and for ever " put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself."
But Kliefoth, Keil, Dr. C. H. H. Wright, and Pusey may be right in considering that the words that Joshua and the other priests are anshei mopheth men who are a portent or type have a reference also to the previous incidents of the vision. " The vision had pictured to the eye of the priest-prophet the manner in which the priest hood of Israel, represented by Joshua, though defiled with iniquity, had been cleansed by Divine grace, and rendered acceptable to God. By that grace priest and people had been snatched like half-burnt brands from the fire of a welldeserved punishment. That deliverance was, however, typical of a greater salvation, which the angel was now about to reveal. Hence Joshua and his fellows were typical men." " For this miracle of grace which has been wrought for them points beyond itself to an incomparable, greater, and better act of the sin-absolving grace of God which is still in the future."
The key and explanation of the enigmatic words ad dressed to Joshua, and to his fellow priests " that sat before him," are contained in the last sentence of the 8th verse:
" For, behold, I will bring forth My servant the Branch"
This and the words which immediately follow in the 9th verse form one of the richest and most beautiful Messianic passages in the Old Testament; and again, on careful examination, we find it to be (as is the manner of Zechariah) a terse summary of glorious announcements concerning the coming Redeemer in the " former prophets."
Thus, " My Servant " is the title of Messiah in the second half of the Book of Isaiah, and our minds are taken back to such passages as, " Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine Elect, in whom My soul delighteth. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He shall bring forth judgment unto the Gentiles. . . . It is a light thing that thou sJiouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light of the Gentiles, that thou mayest be My salvation unto the end of the earth" But it is perhaps particularly to Isa. liii.
"the crown of all Old Testament prophecy," as it has been well called that our thoughts are directed by the introduc tion of this title of Messiah in our prophecy to the innocent and absolutely holy One who is wounded for our trans gressions, bruised for our iniquities, who pours out His soul unto death as an atonement for sin to the "Righteous Servant " through the knowledge of whom the many are justified, or " made righteous," and in whose redeeming work Zechariah, like Isaiah himself and all the other prophets, saw the solution of the great moral problem, how those morally defiled, as Joshua was represented to be in his filthy garments, ca/i be acquitted and justified by a holy God, and how " the iniquity of the land shall be removed " in one day.
But the designation, " My Servant " stands here in combination with another well-known Messianic title, which in the visions of Zechariah is turned into a proper name of the promised Deliverer " My Servant the Branch"  In the former prophets we find Tsemach first used as a title of Messiah by Isaiah in chap, iv., where, too, it stands in connection with the prophecy of the washing away of " the filth of the daughter of Zion " and the purg ing of the blood of Jerusalem from the midst of her," so that all that shall be left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, " even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem." Then Jeremiah, in chaps, xxiii. and xxxiii. 15, uses the term Tsemakh Tsaddik, " the Branch of Righteousness," or " Righteous Branch," as a designation of the Divine King who should spring out of David's line, in whose days Judah shall be saved, and Israel dwell safely, and whose name shall be called Jehovah Tsidkenu.
Including, therefore, the prophecies of Zechariah, we find the Messiah brought before us in the Old Testament Scriptures by this title of TsemacJi in four different aspects of His character:
(1) As the ideal King who shall reign in righteousness the Branch of David in whom shall be fulfilled all the promises made to the Davidic house (Jer. xxiii. 5, 6, xxxiii. 15, 1 6).
(2) As " My Servant the Branch " (Zech. iii. 8).
(3) As " The Man whose name is the Branch " (Zech. vi. 12).
(4) As " The Branch of Jehovah" who in that day shall be " for beauty and for glory, ... for excellency and comeliness to them that should be of the escaped in Israel"
(Isa. iv. 2). The promised King the Servant the Man the Branch, or Son of God.
And this fourfold prophetic picture of Messiah on the pages of the Old Testament, as I have elsewhere shown many years ago, answers to the fourfold portraiture which the Holy Spirit has given us in the four different Gospels of the Christ of history. One probable reason why the Divine artist has seen fit to sketch the person and character of Messiah for us in four Gospels instead of one, has been well expressed by the late Professor Godet, who says: " Just as a gifted painter, who wished to immortalize for a family the complete likeness of the father who had been its glory, would avoid any attempt at combining in a single portrait the insignia of all the various offices he had filled; at re presenting him in the same picture as general and as magistrate; as man of science and as father of a family; but would prefer to paint four distinct portraits, each of which should represent him in one of these characters. So has the Holy Spirit, in order to preserve for mankind the perfect likeness of Him who was its chosen Representative, God in man, used means to impress upon the minds of the writers, whom He has made His organs, four different images."
And these " four different images " in the historic narrative correspond in a striking manner, as already stated, with the fourfold outline of Messiah's character as delineated on the page of prophecy. Although the same blessed features of our Redeemer are easily recognisable in all the Gospels, there is a special aspect of His character brought out in each, (i) In Matthew, which is primarily " the Jewish Gospel," and was very probably in the first instance written in Hebrew or Aramaic (though afterwards rewritten by the same evangelist in Greek), we have the promised Malkha Meshicha the theocratic " King Messiah " presented to us, and the fulfilment of the prophecy, " Behold, I will raise unto David a Righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth," gradually unfolded before us. In keeping with its primary design is its very style. The keynote throughout is " that it might be fulfilled." For this reason also is Christ presented to us in this Gospel, more than in any of the others, as the Prophet like unto Moses, the great lawgiver of the Old Covenant, and yet above Moses and the whole prophetic order, not only in the new unfolding and application of the law in the so-called " Sermon on the Mount," but in His four other great dis courses, to which the narrative portion supplied by Matthew forms the framework. For the same reason also the genealogy in this Gospel traces back Christ's earthly descent only as far as Abraham, for the aim of the Evangelist is to unfold the thesis laid down in the ist verse, which is in itself a summary and fulfilment of all the Messianic hope of the Old Testament: " The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
(2) But if " Behold thy King" (Zech. ix. 9) is the key note of the Gospel of Matthew, the inscription written by the Spirit of God on the Gospel of Mark is, " Behold My Servant." This, the shortest of the four Gospels, which, though written by the pen of John Mark, has most probably " come to us from the lips of Peter " and was apparently designed in the providence of God primarily for the practical, busy Roman world is a graphic and living sketch of that Blessed One Who spoke of Himself in the Spirit long before His advent " Lo I am come: in the scroll of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God, yea, Thy law is within My heart." It is a record, not so much of the words of Jesus as of His acts. It is composed of two sections only the ministry in Galilee and the death on Calvary.
" His ministry moves in widening circles first in the synagogue, then in the open field, to the interested groups who gathered round Him, afterwards to the teeming multitudes."
Characteristic of this Gospel is the rapidity of its move ments, and the promptness of the obedience to the Father's will and to the impulses of the Spirit, expressed in the word rendered "straightway," "immediately" (i. 10-12).
Mark gives no genealogy, because a servant needs not such recommendation, he being judged by his work alone.
(3) But, if Matthew is the Gospel of the King and the Kingdom, and Mark that of the perfect Servant, the prominent feature of our Lord in the Gospel of Luke, which probably was primarily intended for the cultured Greek world, is that of " the Son of Man In it Christ is por trayed as the Man par excellence the true Man, who is both the ideal and the representative of the race; the second Adam, who, in contrast to the first, who brought sin and ruin to the race, is the Saviour of men. The chief characteristic of this Gospel is its universality. The Christ depicted on its orderly pages is indeed the Messiah of Israel, " who is sent in fulfilment of the promises made to our fathers," and of the oath which God sware " to our father Abraham " (i. 67-80); and Who, even after His rejection by Israel, commands that, in the proclamation of His gospel among all nations, His disciples should " begin at Jerusalem " (xxiv. 47) but He is shown as caring also for all who are sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death. " Already in the narrative of the infancy there are hints of the Light which is to enlighten all nations; in the parable of the Good Samaritan and the recital of the mission of the seventy, there is the promise of the advancing outreach of the Divine mercy to men of every nation and tongue; and in the call of Zacchaeus, the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, and the salvation of the penitent robber, we have tokens of a grace which reaches out to the uttermost. The author does not aim at being a theologian; he is an evangelist, and his message is, " The Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost."
It is for this reason also that this evangelist took upon himself the laborious task of tracing the genealogy of Jesus right back to Adam, in order to show His relation as the promised " Seed of the woman," not only with Israel, as does Matthew, but with men of all nations and kindreds, and peoples and tongues, who are thus traced back to one common stock.
(4) And the picture of our Lord in the Gospel of John is undoubtedly that of " the Branch of Jehovah "; for though it is true that " no other evangelist so sounds the depths of our Lord's humiliation, nor rises with such adequacy to the exaltation of His glorified manhood, as John, the son of Zebedee, the eagle of the Church," and it would not be true to say that in the Fourth Gospel the emphasis rests entirely on the deity of Christ and ignores His perfect humanity; yet the light that shines most transcendently through this most sublime narrative is His Divine Sons/tip that glory which He had with the Father from all eternity. Hence we have no genealogy in this Gospel tracing back His relations to Abraham, for He of Whom it speaks was " before Abraham " (viii. 5 8); nor yet, as in Luke, to Adam, for by Him were all things made (i. 3), and Adam himself was created in His image. No, John traces not His human, but His divine pedigree, and shows us that, although the Word " became flesh and dwelt among us," He that tabernacled with the children of men was none other than the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, Who in the very " beginning " was with God, and Himself was God.
But just as in each of the Gospels, though one feature of our Lord's character is brought more prominently to the fore, His twofold nature is always steadily kept in view; so it is also in each of the four different prophecies to which we have referred. Jeremiah speaks of Him as the " Branch of David," thus dwelling more particularly on His human nature, but he proceeds to add: " And this is the name whereby He shall be called, Jehovah our Righteousness" by which he proclaims Him to be Divine. Isaiah introduces Him as the Tsemach Yehovah (Branch of Jehovah}, but he also designates Him PKri Jia-arets (" Fruit of the earth"), which, as the construction demands, must be regarded as another title of the Tsemach, and which brings before us more particularly His human nature, and His relation to our earth.
He is " the Servant " in Zechariah, and is pointed to as the One who will bring in a perfect righteousness, on the ground of which Israel shall be justified and the iniquity of the land be removed " in one day "; but it is the Servant, " the Branch" and by Zechariah's time the title Tsemach had already become a proper name for the Messiah, and carries with it all that the former prophets had spoken of His divinity, as well as of His humanity.
Lastly, in Zech. vi., we are told to " behold the Man "; but this chapter proceeds to tell us that this Man shall not only rule and be Counsellor of Peace, but that He shall be a " Priest upon His throne " the true Melchizedek, the King of Peace, and King of Righteousness, Who unites in His one person different functions which were formerly vested, not only in different persons, but in different tribes.
The climax of the Messianic references in this great prophecy is reached in the Qth verse: " For behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone are seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, and I will remove the iniquity of the land in one day"
Many fanciful explanations have been given of this beautiful scripture, overlooking the fact that here again (as I have so frequently pointed out to be the case in these visions of Zechariah) we have a terse summary of wellknown predictions in the former prophets, in the light of which we must interpret the passage. " Behold the stone which I have laid " carries our minds back to Isa. xxviii. 1 6: " Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation; he that believeth shall not make haste"; and to Ps. cxviii. 22:
"The stone which the builders refused (or despised ) is become the head-stone of the corner."
There may have been some allusion to the foundationstone of the Second Temple the eben shetiyah, as it was afterwards called " the very foundation as well as the centre of the world," about which there are many traditions, true and false, absurd and beautiful, in the Talmud and in later Jewish Midrashim; but if so, it is because the literal foundation was a type of Him who is the " precious corner stone " and unshakable foundation of the spiritual temple, into which believers also are built as living stones, and which through eternity shall be for the habitation of God through the Spirit.
Upon this one stone " are seven eyes."
If, according to Jewish commentators, we are to under stand the words that the eyes are directed toward this stone, then they are " the seven eyes of Jehovah " (chap, vi. 10), which have rested from before the foundation of the world upon this precious corner-stone; and the figure would in that case express, not only the assurance of His watchful care and protection over it, but the Father's com placency and delight in His only-begotten Son. Or the sacred and covenant number " seven " may be taken in a more general sense as meaning " all eyes," that is, the eyes of God, and of the holy angels, and of men, all directed toward Him thus symbolised by the Foundation Stone, as the object of love and of admiration, of yearning desire and hope.
But it seems to me that the view adopted by most of the modern scholars, namely, that there were actually seven eyes carved, or engraven, on this stone of vision, is most probably the correct one, in which case the thing signified by the symbol would be the manifold intelligence or omniscience of this " Living Stone " the seven reminding us of the sevenfold plenitude of the One Spirit of Jehovah, " the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Jehovah," which should rest upon Him, and which was so wonderfully fulfilled in Him whom the New Testa ment seer beheld as the Lamb which had been slain " having seven horns (all power) and seven eyes (omnis cience), which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth " (Rev. v. 6).
" For this stone to have seven eyes," says one of the Fathers, " is to retain in operation the whole virtue of the Spirit of sevenfold grace. For, according to the distribution of the Holy Spirit, one receives prophecy, another know ledge, another miracles, another kinds of tongues, another interpretation of words; but no one attaineth to have all the gifts of that same Spirit. But our Creator taketh on Him our infirmities, because through the power of His Divinity He showed that He had at once in Him all the virtues of the Holy Spirit, uniting beyond doubt the bright gleams of the sevenfold constellation."
The next sentence in this verse, hineni mepJiateach pituchah "Behold I will grave the graving thereof" is probably not unconnected with the words which we have just considered, and denotes, as it seems to me, that what the prophet had seen on the stone of vision, God Himself would accomplish in the day of fulfilment.
What the graving will be is not stated, but those are far from the mark who conjecture some kind of an inscrip tion. Rather is it that which makes this Living Stone the precious corner-stone (or, " the corner-stone of preciousness" as it is literally), namely, the perfect equipment of the Messiah by the Father for His Messianic office and mediatorial work of redemption the spiritual glory and beauty which God would bestow upon Him when He shall have anointed Him with all the fulness of the Spirit; which indeed had already in symbol been set forth by the " seven eyes " which the prophet saw traced on the stone.
According to the Talmud, the Eben Shetiyah the foundation-stone of the Second Temple, which was some inches higher than the level of the Holy of Holies had the sacred Tetragrammaton (the four Hebrew letters making up the ineffable name " Jehovah ") graven upon it; and although in later times all sorts of absurd legends gathered around this tradition, there is no reason to doubt the fact itself, and the words used in reference to the Everlasting Foundation of the spiritual temple, " Behold, / will engrave the graving thereof" may be an allusion to it.
On Messiah, too, the ineffable name was graven. Of the Divine Angel of Jehovah we read already in the Old Testament, " My Name " (which stands for all the attributes of God's character, for all the perfections of His glorious Being) " is in Him." And, when in the fulness of time, He who of old so often appeared as the Angel of the Covenant in the form of man, became real man, and " tabernacled among us," then this sacred mystical " graving " became more and more clear and legible. Then " the Name " became fully manifested, and men saw " the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
But the most glorious display of all the attributes belonging to that " holy Name " was when on the cross of shame He laid down His life a ransom for us; hence those early Fathers, and some also of the modern inter preters, are not far wrong when they say that the " graving " of the stone took place when, " through the providence and will of God He caused Him to be wounded by the nails of the cross and the soldier's lance." " For what even in the body of the Lord can be lovelier or more lightful," says a Catholic writer, " than those five wounds, which He willed to retain in His immortal Being, lest the blessed work should be deprived of that splendour surpassing far the light of sun and stars "; to which I would add the words of yet another, namely: " Beautiful were the gifts and graces which Christ received as man; but beautiful beyond all beauty must be those glorious scars with which He allowed His whole body to be riven, that throughout the whole frame His love might be engraven."
The last sentence of this Qth verse, "And I will remove the iniquity of this land in one day" may in a sense be regarded as the key to the whole vision, for it demon strates (i) the fact we have so frequently emphasised in the course of the exposition, namely, that it is to Israel as a nation that the vision primarily refers, and that what the prophet beheld as happening to Joshua was meant typically to set forth the experience of the whole people, which, in his official capacity as high priest, he represented; and (2) that the removal of Israel's iniquity, and their acceptance and reinstatement as Jehovah's priestly nation, are yet to take place in the future.
For which is this yom echad " one day " of which the prophet speaks? The Jewish answer is expressed in the words of their most popular commentator, who says, " One day; I know not what that day is." Christian com mentators all substantially agree in saying, "It is the day of Golgotha," which is true, but yet does not express the whole truth.
What is here predicted will assuredly be fulfilled only on the ground and as a blessed consequence of " the day of Golgotha," when Christ through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot unto God, and thus once and for all put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; but the " one day " on which the iniquity of this land and people shall be removed is none other than the " that day " of the last chapters of this same Book of Zechariah the " day," namely, of Israel's national repentance and great Day of Atonement, when the spirit of grace and supplication shall be poured out upon them, and they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced.
" In that day," we read, " there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem: . . . every family apart and their wives apart. In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the House of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for undeanness" (Zech. xii. 1014 and xiii. i).
" But, again we may be asked, how can this be recon ciled with the statement that the true Day of Atonement is the Day of Calvary; and was not the fountain for sin and uncleanness opened when our Saviour was nailed to the cross, and when the soldier with the spear pierced His side, and forthwith there came out blood and water? " Yes, but to the sinner actually and experimentally the Day of Calvary is the day when his eyes are opened to the true meaning to himself of the great redeeming work there accomplished, and when the Spirit of God applies Jesus blood and righteousness and high-priestly intercessions to his own need. Thus, " in that day " it will be with Israel nationally.
A simple illustration from the experience of Hagar in the wilderness of Beer-sheba may help us to understand this. When the water in her bottle was spent, and she put down the lad, as she thought to die, she herself went to a distance, and in the anguish of her spirit lifted up her voice and wept. But God heard not only her voice, but the voice of the lad, and had pity on them. "And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water" The well was most probably there all the time, but her eyes, dimmed by her very sorrow and tears, could not see it; and it was to her, as she was filling her skin bottle, as if the well had just sprung up. So it will be with Israel. The fountain for sin and for uncleanness has been opened in the wounds of their Messiah nineteen centuries ago, but " in that day," when the Spirit of grace and of supplications is poured out upon them as a nation, " the eyes of the blind shall be opened"
(Isa. xxxv.), and the Spirit of God will apply to their hearts and consciences as a people the great redeeming work accomplished on Calvary, and the words used in con nection with the Day of Atonement shall receive a fulfil ment as never before: " For on this day He shall atone for you to cleanse you from all your sins; before Jehovah ye shall be clean" (Lev. xvi. 30, Heb.).
On that day the high priest, as I have fully described in another place, entered twice within the veil first, with the blood of the sin-offering for himself and his house, and then a second time with the blood of the goat of the people's sin-offering on which the lot fell " la-yehovali "; and it was not till he came forth a second time, and the remaining part of the ceremonial was gone through, that the people could rejoice in the knowledge that atonement was fully accomplished, the whole of which, in this sense also, may be regarded as a figure of the work of Christ in relation to the Church and to Israel. For Himself, the Holy One needed not as the Aaronic priests to offer sacrifice, but for those who in this interval, and in a special sense, constitute His redeemed family, atonement is fully accomplished, not only as an objective fact, but as a blessed subjective reality; and in proof that it is not only " finished," but accepted, the Great High Priest, after His Resurrection, showed Him self again, "but not to all the people" (Acts x. 41), but only to His own family of faith.
But in relation to Israel the High Priest may still be regarded as inside the veil, or in the Holy Place, and the people as " waiting without," marvelling that he tarries so long (Luke i. 10, 21). But soon He will come forth again, in the hour of their deepest sorrow and humiliation, to cleanse them before Jehovah, so that they shall be known ( and called in all the earth) as " the holy people, the Redeemed of the Lord," that He may be glorified (Isa. Ixii. 12).
Finally, " when the high priest came forth from the sanctuary and appeared again unto the people, he first dispatched the scapegoat bearing all their iniquities into the wilderness, and then united with them in offering the burnt-offering unto the Lord. And such shall be the result of the Second Advent of our Saviour. Then shall sin be completely put away, and every trace of it removed for ever. In one sense sin is already put away it is no more imputed unto them who believe in Jesus; but sin itself remaineth, yea, and will remain, until He comes again. But then it shall be for ever banished, and all its consequences shall be removed for ever. Then there shall be no more sin, nothing of it shall remain but the blessed conscious ness that we are redeemed from its power and its curse. And then, too, shall Jesus and His people unite to offer the burnt-offering unto God. Then, in the midst of His redeemed, He shall head up all their pure and holy service; and blessed and consecrated by the presence of incarnate Godhead, the untiring energies of the redeemed people shall be for ever consuming, yet unconsumed, upon the altar of eternal love."
It was on the evening also of the Day of Atonement, after the complete cycle of seven sevens of years were fulfilled, that the " Jubilee " was proclaimed (Lev. xxv. 9, 10), which was the signal of liberty, not only to the people but for the land itself, which that year was neither to be ploughed, sown, nor reaped, the typical significance of which was already discerned by the prophets in the Old Testament, who rejoiced in spirit, and by faith greeted from afar the time when, after Israel's iniquity shall have been purged, Messiah will not only " proclaim liberty to the captives," but when the earth itself shall at last enjoy her rest, and the whole creation, which has been groaning and travailing in pain together until now, shall at last be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
And when once Israel's sin and guilt shall be removed, their sorrows and suffering, too, shall end. The vision closes, therefore, with the beautiful picture of tranquillity and happy contentment depicted in the last verse, " In that day> saith Jehovah of hosts, ye shall call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig-tree"
1 close with the following quotation: " We are told in the Talmud (Yoma, vii. 4) that, when, on the great Day of Atonement, the high priest had performed the various duties of that solemn day, he was escorted home in a festive manner, and was accustomed to give a festal entertainment to his friends. The maidens and youths of the people went forth to their gardens and vineyards with songs and dances; social entertainments took place on all sides, and universal gladness closed the festival of that solemn day."
And thus, in the last verse of this chapter, a picture is given of a day of similar gladness and joy of heart, when, on account of sin pardoned, free access to God's throne granted, and the Deliverer having come anointed with the plentitude of the Spirit and sealed by God the Father, each true Israelite would invite his friends as joyful guests to partake of festal cheer under his own vine and fig-tree. The days of peace once more are seen. The glorious era of the earthly Solomon has indeed returned in greater splendour under the reign of the Prince of Peace.
"Paradise lost " has become " Paradise regained."
"THE BODY OF MOSES"
NOTE TO CHAPTER in
It has been a point much disputed whether the reference in the Epistle of Jude to Michael's contention with the devil about "the body of Moses," where the same formula ("the Lord rebuke thee") is used by the Archangel in silencing Satan as by the Angel of Jehovah in this chapter, does, or does not, refer back to this vision. Origen, and some of the other Church Fathers, state that the quotation in Jude is from an apocryphal book, the title of which is "The Ascension," or "Assumption of Moses"; but, in the fragments of that legendary apocalyptic writing which have come down to us either in Latin, Hebrew, or Arabic (in which elements belonging to various dates as far apart as the first or second and the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries after Christ are discernible) no such tradition as a strife between Michael and the Evil One over the body of Moses is to be found, nor is there anything to prove that it ever existed in those parts of this apocryphal book which are missing the confused allusions in the Fathers being prob ably to legends in the Talmud and Midrashim to a contest between Samael, the Angel of Death, and Michael, which had reference, not to the body of Moses after his death, but to his soul while he was still living. There are also different legendary accounts of contests between Moses himself and the Angel of Death, whom he put to flight when he came to take his soul by striking him with his rod, on which the ineffable name Jehovah was inscribed. In the end (so one legend proceeds) God Himself, accompanied by Gabriel, Michael, and Zagziel (the former teacher of Moses), descended to take Moses soul. " Gabriel arranged the couch, Michael spread a silken cover over it, and Zagziel put a silken pillow under Moses head. At God's command Moses crossed his hands over his breast and closed his eyes, and God took his soul away with a kiss."
On the other hand, there is just a possibility that the expression "the body of Moses," in Jude, is used in an allegorical sense of the Jewish people; in which case the reference would certainly be to this vision.
" It is true that no instance can be cited in which the body of Moses, or any similar expression, is used of the people of Israel; but it is possible that the phrase niight\\a.ve been employed by Jude in that signification in imitation of the expression the body of Christ, which is used in reference to the Church of Christ in the Epistles of St. Paul, and in view of the fact that the Jewish Church in the writer's day had become bitterly opposed to the Church of Christ, while it looked back to Moses as its teacher a claim which might well be admitted as true in the most real sense of the Jewish Church in the days of Zechariah " (C. H. H. Wright).
I must refer those who are desirous to enter more fully into this question to Baumgarten's Die Nachtgeschichte Sacharias; Dr. C. H. H. Wright's Zechariah and his Prophecies; and to Dean Alford's note on the passage in Jude, where they will find the subject fully discussed. For my own part, while not committing myself to the allegorical interpretation of the passage in Jude, which may have reference to a very early tradition about a dispute about the literal body of Moses not recorded in any writing now extant, there can be no doubt that the incidents and the words of the vision we are considering were in the Apostle's mind when he wrote his short epistle. This is proved not only by his use of the formula, "The Lord rebuke thee," but by two other undoubted allusions to this vision in ver. 23 namely, the "pulling out of the fire," which is an echo of " the brand plucked from the fire" (Zech. iii. 2), and "the garment spotted by the flesh," which is an allusion to the " filthy garments " in which Joshua was at first seen standing before the Lord.
- Thus, for instance, it is used of Joseph before Pharaoh (Gen. xli. 46), of Joshua before Moses (Deut. i. 38), of David before Saul (i Sam. xvi. 21), of Abishag the Shunammite before David (i Kings i. 2-4), and many other instances. Of standing to minister before God, the expression is used of the tribe of Levi in Deut. x. 8; of the high priest in Judg. xx. 28; of Elijah, I Kings xvii. I; of Elisha, 2 Kings iii. 14-16; and other instances. It is used also of " standing " to intercede with God, Gen. xviii. 22; Jer. vii. 10. It is used also as an attitude of worship.
- Thus Ewald has invented a theory (which has for its support nothing but his own fancy, based on a misinterpretation of this sublime Scripture) that Joshua " was actually accused at the time, or was then dreading an accusation at the Persian Court," and that this accusation formed the superstructure on which the vision is based. "Zechariah, with peculiar sympathy, depicts the high priest as suffering under grievous accusations, and promises him a glorious acquittal. The garments of the high priest are represented as dirty because robes of that character were usually worn by accused persons as indications of mourning" (which, by the way, though a Roman custom, was not at all the case among the Jews). According to this father among German critics, " the ardent hopes of the prophet were soon to be justified by the event. On receipt of the Governor's report, which presented an impartial statement of facts, an inquiry was instituted by authority into the case, the accusation was repelled, and the decree of Cyrus, which had given permission for the rebuilding of the Temple, was duly confirmed and ordered to be carried into execution "; for all which, as already observed, there is not even a shadow of historic ground.
- "To stand before" is used also in a judicial sense both of the plaintiff and the defendant in Num. xxvii. 2, xxxv. 12; Deut. xix. 17; Josh. xx. 6; I Kings iii. 16; so that Hengstenberg's statement, that this expression is never used of the appearance of a defendant before a judge, but always of a servant before his lord, is not o^uite accurate.
- The following passages collected by Pusey show that "the rebuke of God must be with power": "Thou hast rebuked the nations, Thou hast destroyed the ungodly" (Ps. ix. 5); "Thou hast rebuked the proud accursed" (Ps. cxix. 21 ); "They perish at the rebuke of Thy countenance " (Ps. Ixxx. 16); "God shall rebuke him, and he fleeth far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind" (Isa. xvii. 13); "The foundations of the world were discovered at Thy rebuke, O Lord " (Ps. xviii. 15; Nah. i. 4; see also Ps. cvi. 9 and Mai. ii. 3, R.V.).
- See The Life of Luther, by M. Michelet. Based almost entirely on his own letters and table talk, 2nd edition, translated by W. Hazlitt, pp. IOI, 102.
- Not "filthy rags," as rendered in the A.V. of Isa. Ixiv. 6.
- We find the expression in 2 Kings iv. 38 and in vi. I, used of the sons of the prophets as " sitting before " their master Elisha; and in Ezekiel it is used again and again of the elders of Judah who came and " sat before " the prophet, profess ing the desire to be taught by him the Word of God (Ezek. viii. I, xiv. i, and xx. i). Thus also in later times the Rabbinical students "sat before" and "at the feet of " their Rabbis, in the ycshibahs or Talmudic seats of learning.
- Isa. xlii. 1-6, xlix. 6.
- Kimchi's comment on the words " My Servant the Branch " is: " This is Zerubbabel "; but the interpretation thus proposed is (as shown in a note by Dr. Alexander McCaul in his translation of Kimchi's Commentary) untenable. "Kimchi here follows Rashi in interpreting My servant the Branch of Zerub babel. Their reason for this probably was that if they acknowledged the person thus designated in this chapter to be the Messiah, they must have made the same admission in the parallel passage, chap. vi. 12; and by so doing they would have admitted that Messiah was to be a priest as well as a king. " Perhaps they also saw some polemical danger in this chapter, in connecting the promise of the Messiah with the promise occurring in the next verse, To remove the iniquity of that land in one day, which would seem to favour the Christian doctrine that the Messiah by one offering perfected for ever them that are sanctified (Heb. x. 14). But, however that be, the interpretation which they propose is not tenable: 1st, Because it departs from the old received inter pretation of the Jewish Church. Both Kimchi and Rashi admit that there was an interpretation referring this passage to the Messiah; and Jonathan, in his Targum interprets both these passages of the Messiah; 2nd, Because it contra dicts the analogy of the prophetic language. Messiah is elsewhere called The Branch, as in Isa. iv. 2 and Jer. xxiii. 5, in both of which passages Kimchi himself freely admits that Branch means the Messiah, yd, Because the words do not agree with the circumstances of Zerubbabel. God says, I will bring My Servant the Branch. But, as Aharbanel remarks, Zerubbabel had come long before, and was already a prince among them. Kimchi felt this difficulty, and therefore tries to twist the words to mean that his dignity should increase still more, and his greatness should grow as a branch, etc. But Abarbanel remarks again that God does not say that He will make him great, but that He will bring him; and adds, that after this prophecy Zerubbabel attained to neither royalty, dominion, or other dignity more than be already possessed " (see Abarbanel, Comment, in loc. ).
- In Rays of Messiah's Glory, 2nd edition, published in 1886, now out of print.
- See the chapter, "The Fourfold Portrait," in The Spirit in the Word, by D. M. Mclntyre. The subject is also fully and beautifully unfolded in Bernard's Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament, Lecture ii.
- The Spirit in the Word, by D. M. Mclntyre.
- Baumgarten thinks the stone laid before Joshua represented the jewels belonging to the high priest's breastplate (the Urim and Thummim, which, by the way, never existed in the Second Temple), or even some single precious stone which supplied the place of the jewels that were lost. Keil says: "The stone is the symbol of the Kingdom of God." Hengstenberg explains it as "the Kingdom or people of God, outwardly insignificant when compared with the great mountain (chap. iv. 7) which symbolises the power of the world "; and Kohler regards the stone as signifying Israel, "which nation was entrusted to the care of the high priest Joshua, that, by the due discharge of his high priestly office, the purity and freedom from iniquity required by God should be attained by the people." Many interpret it simply of the foundation of the Temple, while Von Hoffmann and others say that " the stone here represents the entire collection of materials required for the erection of the (second) Temple." All of which interpretations are more or less fanciful and beside the mark, since (as shown above) "the Stone" which Joshua was to behold, like "the Servant, the Branch," ii) the previous verse, are well-known titles of Messiah carried over in these visions of Zechariah from " the former prophets."
- St. Gregory, quoted by Pusey.
- This section about the future prophetic significance of the Day of Atonement is quoted from the chapter, " The Sacred Calendar of the History of Redemption," in Types, Psalms, and Prophecies, to which I would refer the reader.
- See the exposition of Ps. xxxii., in Types, Psalms, and Prophecies.
- The very words used in Isa. Ixi. i are taken from the command in reference to the Jubilee in Lev. xxv. 9, 10.