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Zechariah 5:5-8

The Face of Humanity

5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth. 6 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. 7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. 8 And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.

In this seventh vision, Zechariah's attention was diverted from the previous one and he was told to look up and see what was going forth. It is not clear where it was going from, but we might assume that it was being sent out of Jerusalem or out of the temple, because verse 11 tells us that it was going to the land of Shinar.

When the prophet asked the angel for an explanation. he was told that it was an ephah, a large container that held approximately seven gallons and was the standard measure for grain. However, since Zechariah had to ask, and since there was a woman sitting in the middle of it, this may have been larger than the standard ephah.

The face of this woman was "their resemblance through all the earth." She was the face of all sinners throughout the earth, but some commentators believe that she represented only the people of Judah.

Sin was certainly not limited to the land of Judah in that day nor is it limited to any portion of the earth today, and everyone should see himself or herself in the face of this woman. She is like the great whore in Revelation 17 who corrupts "the earth with her fornication" (Rev 19:2) All have sinned and come short of God's glory.

John Calvin expressed the idea that, while sin may seem to run rampant throughout the earth, it is in fact limited by God not to any area but in its scope. " The meaning then is, that though wickedness spreads and extends through the whole earth, it is yet in a measure; but this measure is not always closed up. However this may be, still God knows how to regulate all things, so that impiety shall not exceed its limits. And this is most true, whatever view may be taken; for when enemies harass the church, though they may be carried along in the air, that is, though God may not immediately restrain their wrongs, they yet sit in a measure, and are ruled by the eyes of God, so that they cannot move a finger, except so far as they are permitted." (Calvin's Commentary on verse 7)

In that sense, this vision should have come to the people as both a warning and as a comfort. It was a warning to them that their sins would be dealt with appropriately, and a comfort to them to know that the sins of their enemies were under God's control and were not unlimited but measured.

There was a talent of lead, approximately 120 pounds troy, lifted over the head of this woman. Then, wickedness itself was cast upon her and the lead stone was used to seal the ephah. How certain and frightening it is to know that your sins will come back upon you! The enormous weight of them will weigh you down and seal your fate. "For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me." (Psalms 38:4)

Whether we apply this image to our individual sins, to the sins of our nation, or to the sins of our enemies, it is a fearsome message. "For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double." (Revelation 18:5-6)

While we have plenty of reason to fear the outcome of our sins, we must also understand that God has made a way for us to escape. We worship a loving God who took no pleasure in the punishments that He laid on the people of Judah. He has no pleasure in the destruction of any people but He also cannot and will not tolerate our sins. He has therefore given us His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Through Jesus Christ. we can have the assurance that our wickedness will not be cast upon us and will not seal our fate for all eternity. Instead, by accepting Him as our Lord and Savior, we can have the privilege of being called the sons of God. Eternity can be ours through the victory that Christ has won on the cross at Calvary. Will you place your trust in Him right now before it is too late?

Before The Throne:

Everyday should be a day of prayerful confession and repentance. Pray for the faith, courage, and strength to turn from your sins and to live righteously before God. Thank Him for the assurance that sin is limited by the power of His will and will one day be completely abolished. Pray for the people around you who have not experienced the love, mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. Ask God to give you the words to help them find Him.

For Further Study:

** the angel. Zech 1:9, 14, 19; 2:3; 4:5;

(v.7) ** talent. Isa 13:1; 15:1; 22:11; ** is. Jer 3:1-2; Ezek 16:1-63; 23:1-49; Hos 1:1-3; Rev 17:1-18;

(v.8 ) ** This. Gen 15:16; Matt 23:32; 1Thess 2:16; ** the weight. Psa 38:4; Prov 5:22; Lam 1:14; Amos 9:1-4;

Zechariah 5:1-4

Under the Curse

1 Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll. 2 And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits. 3 Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it. 4 I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.

Someone has said that the most frightening word a doctor can speak to his patient is "cancer." It is the last thing that any of us want to hear, because we know that the doctor is frequently unable to cure it and that it is a leading cause of death in our society.

This chapter contains the sixth and seventh visions that were given to Zechariah. In this, the sixth vision, Zechariah turns from the vision of the candlestick and sees a flying roll, a scroll written on both sides. In the words of prophecy, the introduction of the scroll was like the doctor saying, "I am sorry, but you have cancer." In Isaiah 8:1, the prophet was told to write the fate of Mahershalalhashbaz. In Jeremiah 36:2, we read, "Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day" (Also see Ezekiel 2:9ff and Revelation 5:1ff). The appearance of the scroll was not good news.

The flying roll that Zechariah sees in this vision is huge, thirty feet by fifteen feet. The large size emphasizes the importance of it and the fact that it was for everyone to see. It was the same size as the temple porch where God's word was read to the congregation. Thus, it implied that God's word was still the law of the land. It was also the same size as the holy place just outside the veil of the holy of holies where the candlestick and the table for the shew bread were located. It is generally believed that the size of the scroll confirmed that the words written upon it were from God.

The angel said, "This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth." The words that were written on it were not the curse, but man's failure to obey them. The scroll evidently had the eighth commandment against stealing on one side and the ninth commandment against bearing false witness written on the other side. The problems that had fallen over Judah and over the entire earth were all caused by the failure of the people to follow God's laws.

"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:" (Galatians 3:10-13)

Richard D. Phillips, in the Reformed Expository Commentary, points out that the scrolls emphasize the two great commandments. To swear falsely "by My name" is a violation of the commandment to love the Lord with all of our being; and to steal violates the second commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves. Judah had gone into captivity because these two commandments were violated, and the large scroll was now presented to Zechariah so that he could tell his people that, although God was going to restore Jerusalem and the temple, He would still expect His laws to be obeyed.

Judah was placed on notice that God would bring forth the curse, His wrath, into the house of everyone who violated the law and consume them, their house and everything in it. His grace did not give them the liberty to return to their old and sinful ways.

The problems of our modern world can also be attributed to the violation of these same laws. We cannot continue business as usual, cheating, stealing, and deceiving one another to achieve our materialistic ends. God has sent us His Son to remove the curse from us, but the majority of the world has rejected Him. They create their own moral laws and then fight over whose morality should be enforced. Even within the church of Christ, God's laws seem to have lost their importance. Paul wrote the church at Rome, saying, "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid." We are immune from eternal condemnation but not from God's chastisement while still here on earth.

Before The Throne:

Ask the Lord to forgive you for the way you have treated your neighbors. Have you lied, cheated, failed to pay a debt, stolen or manipulated them in any way? How many times have you said the words, "So help me God"? Jesus told us never to swear, but to have a reputation for being honest. Ask God to forgive you for using His name in vain. Ask Him to make you more aware of the "small" ways in which you violate His law and to help you live righteously.

For Further Study:

** roll. Isa 8:1; Jer 36:1-6, 20-24, 27-32; Ezek 2:9-10; Rev 5:1-14; 10:2, 8-11;

(v.2) ** What. Zech 4:2; Jer 1:11-14; Amos 7:8; ** flying. Zeph 1:14; 2Pet 2:3; ** the length. Gen 6:11-13; Rev 18:5;

(v.3) ** the curse. Deut 11:28-29; 27:15-26; 28:15-68; 29:19-28; Psa 109:17-20; Prov 3:33; Isa 24:6; 43:28; Jer 26:6; Dan 9:11; Mal 3:9; 4:6; Matt 25:41; Gal 3:10-13; Heb 6:6-8; Rev 21:8; 22:15; ** the face. Lu 21:35 ** stealeth. Exod 20:15; Prov 29:24; 30:9; Jer 7:9; Hos 4:2; Mal 3:8-10; 1Cor 6:7-9; Eph 4:28; Jas 5:4 ** sweareth. Zech 8:17; Lev 19:12; Isa 48:1; Jer 5:2; 23:10; Ezek 17:13-16; Mal 3:5; Matt 5:33-37; 23:16-22; 1Tim 1:9; Jas 5:12;

(v.4) ** and it shall remain. Lev 14:34-45; Deut 7:26; Job 18:15; 20:26; Prov 3:33; Hab 2:9-11; Jas 5:2-3;

Zechariah 4:11-14

Priest and King

11 Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.

This passage continues the explanation of the candlestick, which was interrupted by verses 7-10. Here Zechariah questions the meaning of the two olive trees positioned one on the left and one on the right side of the candlestick. In verse three, the trees appeared to be on the sides of the bowl that was above the candlestick and supplied the lamps with oil. It could be that the difference in the two descriptions is just a matter of perspective. Zechariah's position in relation to the candlestick may have changed during the vision. Nevertheless, the meaning is not changed by this minor discrepancy in his words.

Apparently, Zechariah did not get an immediate answer to his question. All things must be given to us according to God's schedule and not our own. We must remain patient and wait upon the LORD, but we must also be persistent in asking Him for assistance or, in this case, for understanding.

So Zechariah asked again. This time, however, he asked about the two branches, which empty their golden oil through two golden pipes into the bowl that in turn supplied the seven lamps. The original Hebrew words imply that these two branches were abundantly covered in olives like an ear of corn covered by its grain.

The angel again answered as though Zechariah should have known their meaning, but Zechariah confessed that he did not.

Then, in verse 14, we get the answer, which is not as clear as we might have hoped; but I am certain that it was clear to Zechariah. The two trees represented the two anointed ones, literally "the sons of oil," that stand by the LORD of the whole earth.

There were two permanent positions in Judah's theocracy. The priesthood was the first. The priest stood as mediator between God and the people. He was a type of Christ who would offer up the sacrifices for the sins of Israel. The priests were anointed with oil. "And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats: And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations." (Exodus 40:13-15)

The second position in the theocracy for which the person was anointed was that of the king. The king was responsible for setting an example for the people by giving them godly leadership. Samuel anointed King Saul and, after Saul disobeyed God, he anointed King David. When he anointed them with oil, the Holy Spirit came upon each of them. "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward." (1 Samuel 16:13)

This would lead us to assume that the two olive trees represented Joshua and Zerubbabel, priest and king. It illustrated that their leadership was approved by God. Filled by His Spirit, they were responsible to provide the spiritual leadership for the restoration of the temple and the nation. It would also indicate that the people would receive their guidance and would, therefore, complete the task that God had given them. (Compare the role of the two witnesses in Revelation 11. Some think that they are Moses and Elijah.)

Joshua and Zerubbabel, priest and king, are types of our LORD Jesus Christ who is the only one that could hold both offices. It is Christ who has sent the Holy Spirit to fill His church and who serves as the example whom we are told to follow. He is the High Priest whose sacrifice has served to cover all of our sins past, present and future; and He is the Lord of lords and King of kings.

Before The Throne:

Are you relying on the ministry of Jesus to mediate for your sins? Then take the time to confess your sins, asking God to read your heart and to reveal even those sins of which you are not aware. Give Him thanks for the divine sacrifice that paid for those sins. Are you looking to Christ for His regal leadership? If you love Him as Lord and King, obey His commands. Pray for the ability to know His purpose for your life and for specific guidance in how to fulfill that purpose.

For Further Study:

** What. Rev 11:4;

(v.12) ** What be. Matt 20:23; Rev 11:4; ** through. Hag 1:1;

(v.13) ** Knowest. Heb 5:11-12;

(v.14) ** These. Zech 6:13; Exod 29:7; 40:15; Lev 8:12; 1Sam 10:1; 16:1, 12-13; Psa 2:6; 89:20; 110:4; Isa 61:1-3; Dan 9:24-26; Hag 1:1-12; Heb 1:8-9; Heb 7:1-2; Rev 11:4; ** anointed ones. Isa 5:1; ** that. Zech 3:1-7; 6:5; Deut 10:8; 1Kgs 17:1; Jer 49:19; Luke 1:19; ** the Lord. Josh 3:11, 13; Isa 54:5; Mic 4:13;

Zechariah 4:8-10

Experiencing God

8 The word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 9 hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. 10 who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

One sure way to evoke plenty of criticism in modern America is to publicly announce that God has spoken to you. "Oh, really? Do you often hear those little voices speaking to you?" The secular world has no understanding of spiritual matters and is incapable of anything more than mockery when it comes to the word of God. Yet, in the life and work of His people, there is nothing more important than His word. Its utterance assures us that we are on the right track, its power motivates us to be active in His work, and its fulfillment demonstrates God's faithfulness and ability to deliver what He has promised.

The word of God was delivered to Zechariah in order to assure the people of Judah that the temple would be finished. Guided by God, Zerubbabel had laid the foundation for the temple. Perhaps he literally laid it with his own hands. A firm foundation is necessary for every building and for every kind of work. In the ministry and in all aspects of life, Christ must always be that foundation. The foundation stone in the temple, the chief cornerstone, represented His importance to the church. But, what good is a foundation, if nothing is ever built upon it? Why would God inspire Zerubbabel to lay the foundation, if the temple would never be finished? Why would God call His people to have faith in Christ, if they were not to build upon that foundation?

The finished temple would be proof that God had sent His messenger with this word for Zerubbabel. The completion of God's work would give the people a better understanding of Him. Those who work to build upon the foundation that God has laid become His co-workers. Those with whom you work are often closer to you than members of your own family. You have the same purpose, encounter the same difficulties, rely on each other, and spend the majority of your time together. In the same way, being co-workers with God gives us a better understanding of Him and a closer relationship. Finishing the work confirms that He is with us.

Next, God asks, "For who has despised the day of small things?" We must learn that God's work begins with small things. Christ was not born into a royal family in some palace. His beginning of life as a man was very humble and inconspicuous. He taught us that, "The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." (Matthew 13:31-32 )

We are not to despise small beginnings. Christ sent only twelve men to evangelize the entire world. A large church can be begun by the testimony of one saint to one person who is lost in his sins. It can grow rapidly, even in an hostile environment like a communist nation. Likewise the temple in Jerusalem only needed one godly leader to bring about its completion.

Zerubbabel was that leader, chosen by God and guided by God. The people would rejoice when they would see him with the plumbline in his hand. The plumbline is used to assure that the walls are built along a perfectly perpendicular plane. Here it signifies that Zerubbabel would be inspecting the completed work of his builders and that he would be a leader concerned with every detail of the project.

No good leader works under his own wisdom and strength, however, and neither would Zerubbabel. His eyes would be guided by the seven spirits of God, the eyes of the LORD which run to and from throughout the earth. He would build under their scrutiny and direction. God's eyes would see his enemies before they attacked. They would be watching Zerubbabel's work and covering his back. Symbolical of the Holy Spirit, their presence would affirm the previous statement that the temple would be built, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD." By His guidance and power man can accomplish anything that God assigns to him.

What a day of rejoicing that would be! The people of Judah would experience God in a way that they had never imagined. They would learn to perform His work by faith and not by sight. They would make sacrifices of their time, efforts, and wealth. With godly leadership, they would defy all of the odds, completing their seemingly impossible work, and know that it was God's Spirit that had enabled them.

Maybe the task that God has called you to do for Him seems impossible. Don't be afraid of a small beginning. If God has called you to do it, He will assure your success. Just go for it!

Before The Throne:

Pray for a word from the LORD. It probably will not come in a voice that you can hear. You may find it in His word or see it in a circumstance around you, but if you seek it you shall find it. Ask Him what you are to do for His kingdom. Ask Him how you should begin. Pray for His guidance and strength and for the courage to begin. Pray that He will restrain the enemy who will attempt to distract or deceive you into giving up. Remember to praise Him and thank Him in advance.

For Further Study:

** have. Ezra 3:8-13; 5:16; ** his hands. Zech 6:12-13; Ezra 6:14-15; Matt 16:18; Heb 12:2; ** and. Zech 2:8-9, 11; 6:15; Isa 48:16; John 3:17; 5:36-37; 8:16-18; 17:21;

(v.10) ** . Ezra 3:12-13; Neh 4:2-4; Job 8:7; Prov 4:18; Dan 2:34-35; Hos 6:3; Hag 2:3; Matt 13:31-33; 1Cor 1:28-29; ** for they, Isa 66:11, 14; Luke 15:5-10, 32; ** and shall. Amos 7:7-8; ** those. Zech 3:9; Rev 8:2; ** they are. Zech 1:10-11; 2Chron 16:9; Prov 15:3; Rev 5:6;

Zechariah 4:7

Finishing God's Work

7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it."

The temple in Jerusalem was rebuilt while under constant threat from Sanballat and his allies in Samaria. At one point, the workers even had to work with their tools in one hand and their weapons in the other (Nehemiah 4:17). Such a powerful force as the Samaritan army is portrayed as a mountain in this passage, and the question is, "Who art thou?" There are no mountains that can stand against the power of God and, in this case, His power was on the side of Zerubbabel for the completion of the temple. Who were Sanballat and his Samaritan allies? They were nothing but a plain, a place of no resistance. Zerubbabel and his workers would walk right over them.

The New Testament church encounters similar resistance. Everywhere we go, the world is erecting barriers to the preaching of the gospel. Our enemies do not want us to complete the building of the church, the temple of the Holy Spirit. While it may sometimes appear to us that we will have to level mountains to accomplish God's purpose, we should know that He will bring down those mountains and give us a level plain to cross. There is no power that can stand in God's way. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation and it shall be preached in all the world.

Zerubbabel was promised a joyful end to his work. He had laid the foundation stone and now nothing would prevent him from laying the top stone. The headstone would be laid in place with shouts of great joy. There is no greater feeling than that of a hard fought victory, especially when it appears to be an impossible victory. Perseverance in their faith, obedience to the LORD, and hard work would bring them to the point of ecstatic worship as they lifted that last stone into place.

We experience the same sensation every time a new believer is added to the kingdom. They are lively stones added to the Lord's temple, often at great cost. Someone must be obedient to the Great Commission and go forth to teach others. Very seldom do we find anyone receiving the gospel the first time they hear it. The enemy is always there to distract and deceive, and we must persevere in spite of our disappointments. Then, God levels the mountains before us, and someone comes to Christ. We lay that stone in place with a great shout of joy. It truly is a time for worship.

What form should that worship assume? "Grace, grace unto it!" The people of Jerusalem would cry out for God's favor to be upon their work. It is not enough for the work to be finished unless it is forever under God's grace. We do not work for temporal things. The temple at Jerusalem was just an organized heap of stones that would one day be destroyed again. But, add the presence of the LORD to it and bless it with His favor, and you will have something eternal and special.

Consider the words of Paul, "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in) the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost" (1 Thessalonians 1:1-6)

Paul prayed for God's grace to be upon the church at Thessalonica. He acknowledged the hard work necessary to build that church and the perseverance of the people. Paul also pointed out that their church was not built by their might or power, but by the power of God's Holy Spirit. Lastly, he pointed out that their conversion had been accompanied by the joy of the Holy Spirit. There was plenty of cause to worship the Lord for the work He had done in that body of believers.

You can also experience the joy of seeing God's work completed, but you must go out and spread the gospel, persevere in faith, and trust Him to give you a joyful end.

Before The Throne:

Pray for your church. Pray for God's grace to be upon it. Give Him thanks for having begun the work and ask Him to grant His people the faith to persevere. Pray that He will fill His house with joy as more and more believers are added to the kingdom. Ask Him to give you an ever growing role in the building of the temple.

For Further Study:

** O great. Zech 14:4-5; Psa 114:4, 6; Isa 40:3-4; 41:15; 64:1-3; Jer 51:25; Dan 2:34-35; Mic 1:4; 4:1; Nah 1:5-6; Hab 3:6; Hag 2:6-9, 21-23; Matt 21:21; Luke 3:5; Rev 16:20; ** headstone. Psa 118:22; Isa 28:16; Matt 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11; Eph 2:20; 1Pet 2:7; ** shoutings. Ezra 3:11-13; 6:15-17; Job 38:6-7; Rev 5:9-13; 19:1-6; ** Grace. Jer 33:11; Rom 11:6; Eph 1:6-7; 2:4-8;

Zechariah 4:4-6

By My Spirit

4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

I would imagine that every serious Bible student has prayed the same request as Zechariah did in this passage. I pray those words or something very similar every day. "What does this mean, Lord?" As Calvin put it, "But as the Prophet himself attentively considered what was divinely revealed to him, and yet failed to understand what God meant, we are hereby reminded that we ought not to be indifferent as to what is here related; for without a serious and diligent application of the mind, we shall not understand this prophecy, as we are not certainly more clear-sighted than the Prophet, who had need of a guide and teacher."

God does not mind our asking. It is good for us, in fact, to confess that we cannot understand the things of God without the teaching of the Holy Spirit. I have found that often those passages that seem to be the simplest to understand can, after serious prayer and meditation, reveal some of the most astounding truths.

Yet the angel seems to be surprised that the prophet did not understand the vision. "Knowest thou not what these be?" And, the humbled Zechariah confesses his ignorance.

Some of us are literal learners. I tend to learn more from the written word than any other manner. Some people, however, are aural learners. My wife can tell you that I do not listen very well... "in one ear and out the other,” as the saying goes. Others learn by visual experience. God understands this, of course. He made us that way, so He uses all three methods to teach us. The vision that Zechariah witnessed is "the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel." So, it is interesting to note that a vision can be just as much the word of God as the printed scriptures.

"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts." That is precisely what the vision says. As we looked at the lampstand in the first three verses, we saw that there was a difference between this lampstand and the one that was set in the holy place of the temple. The one in the temple had to be maintained by the priests, but the one in this vision is perpetually maintained by the oil flowing through the olive trees into the bowl and then to the lamps. The oil represented the Holy Spirit, and it is this perpetual infusion of the Holy Spirit into God's church that keeps the light burning.

In An Exegetical Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Eugene H. Merrill, Professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary wrote, "The focus cannot be on the menorah itself but on its source of illumination, the oil that provides its fuel. The reservoir—the lamps, the pipes—all have to do with this fundamental idea that the menorah is useless without the power that energizes it. Likewise the task of temple building and, indeed, of the establishment of the sovereignty of YHWH and His kingdom cannot be accomplished apart from divine enablement; hence the word of YHWH: 'Not by strength and not by authority, but by my Spirit' (v. 6)."

Whenever we are charged with a divine task by our Lord Jesus Christ, it will seem like an impossible one. We will not have the resources, the manpower, the talent, the courage or the strength to accomplish what He has asked us to do. How silly it is for our churches to be taking inventory of their members' spiritual gifts and assigning ministries to them based on the outcome! God does not give a hoot about your abilities or resources when He tells you to do something. The only resource you need is the faith to believe what He says. "Not by might, nor by authority, but by My Spirit!" And, the only way you can know that this is how it was accomplished, the only way that you will be willing to give Him the glory for your work, is if you know that there is no way that you could have done it by yourself.

Think about it, then. What are you doing in ministry? Are you trusting in the Holy Spirit to accomplish it or are you plunging right in without even a prayer? How's it going for you?

Before The Throne:

Take a moment to examine your life and ministry. Ask God to look at you and to show you whose power you are trying to function under. Confess your sin of independence. Ask Him to give you a continuous awareness of your need for the Holy Spirit's power and guidance in everything that you do. Thank Him for having sent the Comforter to you.

For Further Study:

** What. Zech 1:9, 19; 5:6; 6:4; Dan 7:16-19; 12:8; Matt 13:36; Rev 7:13-14;

(v.5) ** No. Gen 41:16; Psa 139:6; Dan 2:30; 1Cor 2:12-15;

(v.6) ** Not. Zech 9:13-15; Num 27:16; 2Chron 14:11; Isa 11:2-4; 30:1; 32:15; 63:10-14; Ezek 37:11-14; Hos 1:7; Hag 2:2-5; 1Cor 2:4-5; 2Cor 10:4-5; 1Pet 1:12; ** might. 2Chr 32:7-8; Psa 20:6-8; 33:16, 20-21; 44:3-7;

Zechariah 4:1-3

The Wake Up Call

1 And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, 2 And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: 3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.

Zechariah's fifth vision may have begun while he was still in a sort of a trance from the previous one or it may have come to him on another day. It involved the same angel who had talked to him in the previous vision but "he came again," which seems to indicate a time lapse. This time he awakened Zechariah, not out of a sleep but out of some sleep-like state.

Several commentators have remarked about the Lord's need to awaken His people. It is possible that Zechariah was neither in a trance nor asleep but in a state of spiritual dormancy. It happens all the time to people. After they have had a memorable experience with God, they tend to become lethargic and in need of a wake up call. God uses many methods to get our attention back on Him and the work that He has for us. In the Pulpit Commentary, W. Forsythe says, "The angel” may be taken to illustrate the various ministries employed by God to quicken and rouse his people. Providence. Loss of health, property, friends, and such like incidents. Word of the truth. Law and gospel. The Spirit of Christ."

The angel asked Zechariah, "What do you see?" When we lose our focus on God, our spiritual vision is hampered and we become as blind men or as sleepwalkers. The best example in scripture is in the story of Elisha's servant. "And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." (2 Kings 6:15-17)

Elisha's young man needed to be awakened from his spiritual blindness. We are all guilty of having had eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear. Sometimes God uses the prayers of another saint to open our eyes, as He did in Elisha's case, but sometimes he needs to use tragedy, illness, financial loss, or some other more drastic measure to waken us. Every one of us needs to be aware of what God is doing around us and to be involved in His work. We are His co-workers.

Zechariah's eyes were opened and he saw a beautiful candlestick with seven lamps. The seven lamps possibly represented the church or the ministers of the church (Revelation 1:20). It certainly would have reminded him of the lampstand in the temple, although it was designed a little differently. This one had a bowl above it with seven pipes through which the oil would flow to the lamps. The bowl represents God from whom all blessings flow, and the oil is typical of the Holy Spirit who infuses spiritual vitality into the church.

Jesus called His church to be the light of the world and pictured it as a lamp set on a stand to light the whole house (Matthew 5:14-16). We are to let our light shine so that the world can glorify God the Father. To accomplish this, we need the constant support of the Holy Spirit to teach us, to energize us, to comfort us and even to wake us up occasionally. In fact, the seven lamps or candlesticks are mentioned as a type of the church along with the seven Spirits of God, i.e. the Holy Spirit (See Revelation 1:4 w/1:13; 1:20), demonstrating the close relationship that exists between them.

In addition, there were two olive trees apparently growing on either side of the bowl. These represented the two anointed ones (v.14) whom we will discuss in a later study.

The golden lampstand with which Zechariah would have been familiar was the one that stood in the holy place in the temple. Seeing it would have been a sign that the temple would be rebuilt and would have been an encouragement to him. With its lamps burning, it represented a restored priesthood who was responsible to keep it burning day and night.

The New Testament significance is important to us also, because it demonstrates that the Holy Spirit will fuel His church and keep its flame burning day and night.

How does your flame stay lit? Do you need a wake-up call from the Lord? Let this vision be an encouragement to you as you continue to build in the Lord's temple. Your work is not in vain, so keep at it.

Before The Throne:

Begin by confessing your spiritual nap. Ask the Lord to awaken the fire in you that you once had and to open your eyes to see what He is doing around you. Pray that He will show you how to join Him in His work. Ask for the faith to follow Him wherever He may lead. Thank Him for giving you the eyes to see and the ears to hear His unchangeable truths.

For Further Study:

** the angel. Zech 1:9,13,19; 2:3; 3:6-7; ** waked. 1Kgs 19:5-7; Jer 31:26; Dan 8:18; 10:8-10; Luke 9:32; 22:45-46;

(v.2) ** What. Zech 5:2; Jer 1:11-13; ** a candlestick. Exod 25:31-38; 37:17-24; 40:24-25; 1Kgs 7:49-50; 1Chron 28:15; 2Chron 4:7, 20-22; 13:11; Jer 52:19; Matt 5:14-16; Rev 1:12; 1:20; 2:1; ** a bowl. 1Kgs 7:50 ** seven. Exod 25:37; Rev 4:5;

(v.3) ** Judg 9:9; Rom 11:17,24; Rev 11:4;

Zechariah 3:10

Under the Vine

10 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree."

The study of this fourth vision has taken us on quite a journey, has it not? It began with Joshua standing in the heavenly court, wearing clothes that were filthy with the human excrement known as sin. Satan was at the ready, desiring to accuse the high priest of every fathomable sin. It ends with Satan quieted and Joshua clothed in righteousness and wearing the mitre on his head that said, "Holy to the LORD." The temple would be rebuilt, the Messiah would come, and all the sins of the nation would be forgiven. It is like a quick movie preview of the entire Bible message.

Now, there is one last promise. It will be fulfilled after the Messiah has completed His work. "In that day..." It will not be a long drawn out affair, testing the patience of the saints as had been done up until the writing of this prophecy. But, in that day, when the Messiah takes away all of the sins of the land, or rather of the earth (John 1:29), something very special will be evident. The people will be free... free from fear, from anger, from guilt, from hatred and from all hostilities. "But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it." (Micah 4:4)

Picture the scene. You are sitting out under your fig tree on a warm summer day, chatting with your neighbor. The sun is shining, a soft breeze is blowing and there is a bird singing in the tree. You are relaxed and safe and at peace with the world. But, who is your neighbor? Every person is your neighbor. Now, can you imagine Jews and Palestinians sitting down together under the fig tree to have a neighborly chat? I would have a difficult time imagining that myself under the present circumstances, but that is the promise. It will be fulfilled in that day when Jesus returns and rids the earth of all sin.

However, we can look at this verse from another viewpoint. In John 15:5 Jesus said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches;.." Jesus Christ is the vine who sustains us. As Christians, we sit under Him. He is our Lord and our Redeemer. Our connection to Him enables us to live in peace with God, free of the fears of this life, free from anger, guilt, hatred and all hostilities. It is a peace that is much more meaningful than just peace with our neighbors.

Who is a Christian's neighbor? Jesus taught that we should love everyone, even our enemies. As this verse in Zechariah promised, we call every man our neighbor and we invite them to come and sit with us under the vine. Jesus has instructed us to make disciples for Him from the people of every nation and race. We invite them to receive Him as their Lord and Savior and to sit under His lordship.

"For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now isthe accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2) Perhaps this is "that day" of which Zechariah speaks. Perhaps we should be more zealous in our efforts to live peaceably with everyone and to call them to sit under the vine with us.

As the vine's branches, Jesus expects us to produce fruit. Fruit carries the seeds for reproduction, and we reproduce ourselves by encouraging our neighbors to come and sit under the vine with us and to become children of God through Jesus Christ. Now is the day of salvation. There will not be another time to call every man our neighbor and invite Him to come. When Jesus returns, this day will end, and our unsaved neighbors will perish. If we love them as ourselves, shouldn't we make a stronger effort to save them?

Before The Throne:

Pray for your neighbors and for the opportunity to invite them to receive Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. Ask God to help you produce a lot of fruit. Thank Him for the peace with which He has blessed you and for removing fear from your life. Pray that you will be able to live at peace with all men and thus be a wonderful example to others.

For Further Study:

** In. Zech 2:11; ** shall. 1Kgs 4:25; Isa 36:16; Hos 2:18; Mic 4:4; John 1:45-48;

Zechariah 3:9

A Stone With Seven Eyes

9 For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

I originality posted this installment of our study nearly a day late. I felt the need, however to wrestle with the scriptures more than usual, because there are so many conflicting interpretations of this verse. I did not want to take the space to discuss the pros and cons of each, but rather present what seems to be the most reasonable interpretation. This took more study, meditation, prayer and time.

How is God's temple to be built? The answer, of course, is that it should be and is built on the firm foundation, which is Jesus Christ. The stone that is here laid before Joshua is none other than Jesus. This is described and shown to Zechariah in order to further identify the person who is called the Branch. There can be no doubt in our minds that the LORD is speaking of Jesus, because He is referred to over and over by the scriptures as the stone, or chief cornerstone.

"Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, 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." ( Isaiah 28:16)

"And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem." (Isaiah 8:14)

"And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:" (Mark 12:10)
Joshua was to know that he would finish rebuilding the temple as God had promised. However, "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it:"(Psalms 127:1) God would lay the foundation stone upon which His temple would rest. That stone will be Jesus Christ.

"Upon one stone shall be seven eyes?" There have been so many interpretations of this verse that it is impossible to comment on them all in this short Bible study. It has always been my habit to allow the scriptures to interpret the scriptures, and there is only one other place in the scriptures where seven eyes are mentioned. "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. (Revelation 5:6) John had been told to look and see the Lion of Judah, the root of David, but he saw instead the "Lamb as it had been slain." This unmistakeably refers to the Christ who is said to have seven horns and seven eyes. Seven is the number that represents wholeness or completion. The horns are signs of power and authority. Jesus has complete power over all things.

Having seven eyes must therefore represent complete sight of all things. He is omniscient. The eyes are the seven spirits, the complete and full measure of the Holy Spirit, which goes out and sees all things in heaven and earth, past, present and future. John Gill pointed out that, "The Ethiopic version reads in the singular number, 'and this is the Spirit of God which is sent into all the earth.'" There are a few other verses that speak of the seven spirits as though they represented the all knowing, all seeing Holy Spirit, which descended upon Christ at His baptism. (See Revelation 1:4; 3:1; 4:5)

If Jesus is the stone with seven eyes, the foundation of the church filled with the Holy Spirit, how would He be engraved? Well, the priestly garments that God had prescribed for Aaron had two stones on them. "And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: Six of their names on one stone, and (the other) six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold." (Exodus 28:9-11) The last word rendered "engrave" in this passage is the same Hebrew word as in Zechariah 3:9 and only appears nine times in the Bible.

Now, if Aaron, the high priest, was typical of Jesus Christ, His garments must have been symbolical of some characteristic of Christ. Is it possible that the onyx stones engraved with the names of the tribes of Israel represented the love for them that was engraved on the heart of our Lord? "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." (Isaiah 49:16) This was the promise that God would never forget Israel, a comforting thought for Zechariah, Joshua, and all the others in Jerusalem who were struggling with their faith.

The fact that God would remove their sins in one day by this stone that He had laid before Joshua should not be a surprise to modern Christians. We know that Jesus died for our sins, a fact that was not obvious to the people to whom Zechariah preached but one for which we should be thankful every day that we spend on this earth.

Before The Throne:

Have you built your spiritual house upon a Rock or upon the sand? Take the time to ask God where you are at spiritually. You cannot stand with one foot on each but must have Christ as your foundation. Be thankful for the work that He is doing in you and be willing to surrender yourself completely to that work. Ask God to give you a positive outlook on life by helping you to understand the significance of His promises to Joshua. Pray that this will give you the confidence to keep building in His temple.

For Further Study:

** the stone. Psa 118:22; Isa 8:14-15; 28:16; Matt 21:42-44; Acts 4:11; Rom 9:33; 1Pet 2:4-8; ** seven. Zech 4:10; 2Chr 16:9; Rev 5:6; ** I will engrave. Exod 28:11, 21, 36; John 6:27; 2Cor 1:22; 3:3; 2:19; ** remove. Zech 13:1; Isa 53:4-12; Jer 31:34; 50:20; Dan 9:24-27; Mic 7:18-19; John 1:29; Eph 2:16-17; Col 1:20-21; 1Tim 2:5-6; Heb 7:27; 9:25-26; 10:10-18; 1John 2:2;

Zechariah 3:8

My Servant, The Branch

8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH"

In the previous verse, I said that Joshua the high priest was given a charge that no man had ever been able to perfectly fulfill. In this eighth verse, however, the angel of the LORD offers hope.

"Hear now..." is a call for attention to something that is extremely important, a word of promise directed at the Jewish leadership. Joshua and the men who sat before him were directed to pay close attention. These were the other priests who served under the high priest and were taught by him. They usually sat on chairs or benches before the high priest, while he sat on a chair that was considerably higher than theirs.

"For they are men wondered at..." They are "men of wonder," men whom God has chosen to lead His people and who, if they kept the charge that was given to Joshua in verse 8, would probably suffer at the hands of the people. They were typical of Christ and His church, in which all believers are considered to be a part of the priesthood. "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:5)

The Old Testament frequently refers to God's priests or prophets as signs or wonders (See Isa 8:18; 20:3; Ezek 12:11; 24:24). Likewise, in the New Testament, Paul pointed out how the apostles were made something to be wondered at. "For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. (1 Corinthians 4:9-13)

"For, behold..." This tells us that there is something even more important to follow. "Pay attention!"

"I will bring forth my servant..." Some commentators believe that this refers to Zerubbabel who had led the efforts to rebuild the temple. Even most of the Jewish scholars, however, believed that this was referring to the Messiah, who is consistently referred to in the Old Testament as God's servant. The wording of this phrase almost demands that we interpret it as referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. In order for God to bring Him forth, He must have already existed with God. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (John 1:1, 14 )

Lastly, this Servant is named The Branch.. "...the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth." (Jeremiah 33:15) There are many other verses that refer to the Messiah as the Branch and so, I believe that this clearly does not refer to Zerubbabel, except as he might have been a type of Christ. Both were re-builders of God's temple; Zerubbabel built the physical temple, and Christ the spiritual (See Zechariah 6:12).

As lively stones in this New Testament temple and members of the royal priesthood who sit before Christ our High Priest, shouldn't we be people to be wondered at? Shouldn't we be out there working to continue building the temple of the Lord? Yes, we might be made a spectacle like Paul and the other apostles, but the promise of eternal life is sufficient to override any inconvenience that we might suffer. The question is, "Do we really believe and trust in the promises of God?" Everything that we do reveals what our true beliefs are.

Before The Throne:

Ask the Lord to help you in your unbelief. Pray that He will give you sufficient strength so that you will be willing to become a spectacle for Him. Ask Him to give you some guidance that will show you what he wants you to do for Him beginning right now. Will you help build the temple?

For Further Study:

(v.8 )
** for. Psa 71:7; Isa 8:18; 20:3; 1Cor 4:9-13; ** as. Ezek 12:11; 24:24; ** my. Isa 42:1; 49:3, 5; 52:13; 53:11; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24; Phil 2:6-8; ** the Branch. Zech 6:12; Isa 4:2; 11:1; 53:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Ezek 17:22-24; 34:29; Luk 1:78;

Zechariah 3:6-7

The Covenant of Peace

6 And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying, 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.

There can be no doubt that Joshua the high priest has been depicted in the previous verses as being justified by God's grace. Evidence of a person's justification, however, is seen in his or her walk with the LORD and obedience to Him. "If ye love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15) This love for and obedience to Him grows stronger with each day that a born again believer lives. It is called sanctification, the separating of the heart and mind from the love and temptations of the world. While justification is purely the work of God's grace, sanctification takes the combined efforts of both the Holy Spirit and the individual.

In the passage before us, the angel of the LORD "protested" or "charged" Joshua to keep the LORD's commandments. The charge is being relayed to him from the LORD of hosts who wants to advise Joshua on the sanctification process and the benefits of it. This is a covenant, which God called His "covenant of peace" and the "covenant of an everlasting priesthood." (Numbers 25:12-13)

First, He says, "If you will walk in my ways..." To walk in God's ways is to be obedient to His word, to demonstrate one's love for Him by obeying His commandments. Sanctification is not an easy road. The believer will find new temptations to overcome, new lies to test his faith, and new selfish desires to be resisted each and every day. There is no one who is free from these things, but as we learn to overcome them, we grow stronger in the faith and closer to God.

"And if you will keep my charge..." The priesthood was a ministry charged with the responsibility for the maintenance of the temple and all of its furnishings, for the maintenance of the rituals and sacrifices, and for the maintenance of the ordinances given by God. The failure of the high priest to be obedient in any small part of these responsibilities could result in his death.

This is how Joshua was instructed to do these things. "Then you shall also judge my house." The Hebrew word rendered "judge" means "a straight course." He had a responsibility to lead the church, God's house, down the straight and narrow path of righteousness. Joshua was responsible for judging the sins of God's people and for teaching them His commandments. This also included the responsibility of ruling over the temple courts.

To the people of Zechariah's day, this fourth vision meant that the glory and honor of the priesthood, which had been completely taken away from them, would now be restored. Even though the temple had not been finished, this vision assured them that their faith would be rewarded.

"And I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by," among the angels. God gives every born again believer access into His heavenly city. "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels." (Hebrews 12:22 )

Well, Joshua the high priest was given a charge that no man has ever been perfectly capable of fulfilling until the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. "(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself." (Hebrews 7:21-27)

Jesus was the first to have access to the place where the angels were standing in this vision. He not only had access to it, but He took His place on the throne at the right hand of His Father. Now, He has called and appointed each and every believer to serve as priests under Him. He has charged us to love Him and to keep His commandments and to walk in His ways, because He is the only way to heaven.

"Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." (Acts 20:28) This was Paul's charge to the elders of the church at Ephesus and it applies to every Christian, especially our church leaders. Like Joshua, we have the responsibility of directing God's house, His people, down the straight path of righteousness, and we too shall have access to the heavenly courts.

Before The Throne:

Ask the Lord to show you areas of your spiritual life where you need to grow. Ask Him to help you to mature as a Christian, to set yourself aside from the world and to be a better servant. Thank Him for purchasing you with His own precious blood and spend some time praising Him and worshiping Him for who He is.

For Further Study:

** the. Gen 22:15-16; 28:13-17; 48:15-16; Exod 23:20-21; Isa 63:9; Hos 12:4; Ac 7:35-38; ** protested. Jer 11:7;

(v.7) ** if thou wilt keep. Gen 26:5; Lev 8:35; 10:3; 1Kgs 2:3; 1Chr 23:32; Ezek 44:8, 15-16; 48:11; 1Tim 6:13-14; 2Tim 4:1-2; ** judge. Deut 17:8-13; 1Sam 2:28-30; Jer 15:19-21; Mal 2:5-7; Matt 19:28; Luke 22:30; 1Cor 6:2-3; Rev 3:21; ** I will. Zech 1:8-11; 4:14; 6:5; Luke 20:35-36; John 14:2; Heb 12:22-23; Rev 5:9-14: ** places. Rev 3:4-5;

Zechariah 3:4-5

Rags to Riches

4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. 5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.

Isn't this the best and most exciting rags to riches story ever told? It's your story, and my story, and the potential future of all those people who still do not know the Savior Jesus Christ. The Angel, the Christ, said to all of the other angels in the room, "Take away the filthy garments from him."

There, in the person of Joshua, stand you and I. We are in the presence of the Most Holy God, wearing garments covered in filthy stinking excrement called sins. How disgusting we are! If we knew any better we would vomit at our own smell. We have no right to bring our miserable souls into such a holy place. Then we hear the voice of our LORD, "Take away the filthy garments from him."

Do you have any idea what a relief that is? You should know, if you were aware of your condition before the LORD saved you. Ahh... what a refreshing feeling! You are set free from the stench, free from the fear of infections, free from the weight of the dirty clothes. And He says again, this time looking you in the eye, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe thee with a change of raiment."

You did nothing to earn this merciful treatment and you were asked nothing for it. Christ took away the filth and the stench of your sins. By the shedding of His own blood, He set you free from the bondage and the weight of a guilty conscience, free from the fear of condemnation, and free from the fear of ever being infected with sin again. Our salvation is a free gift, a product of the Savior's love.

But, what now? Do we stand before God naked and ashamed of what we have done? God forbid! Even Adam and Eve were given garments made of animal skins, and our Savior also gives us a change of raiment. "I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, 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 decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations." (Isaiah 61:10-11)

We are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, without earning it. It is like a beautiful flowing priestly robe that covers our nakedness and makes us presentable to God. We can then stand before His throne without guilt or shame and ask for all things in the name of Jesus.

A "fair mitre" was placed on Joshua's head. This was a "clean turban" worn by the high priest. I wrote about the significance of this head piece yesterday. The tradition of wearing it began with the LORD's orders for Aaron's garments. "And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be." (Exodus 28:36-37)

God's people are holy to Him, and Joshua would wear that headpiece to remind everyone of that fact. I wonder what the people of Zechariah's day thought about this vision. They could not have known the whole story the way it has been revealed to us, but I am certain that they could know enough to be anxiously awaiting their Messiah.

Before the Throne:

This is an awesome vision. Maybe you just feel like falling down on your face and remaining silent before the LORD, while you allow God to speak to you through this word. Ask, "Dear Lord, how do you want me to respond to this awesome story of your love and grace?" How will you respond? Continue to pray about it and then obey.

For Further Study:

** those. Kgs 22:19; Isa 6:2-3; Luke 1:19; Rev 5:11; ** Take. Isa 43:25; Ezek 36:25; Gal 3:27-28; Phil 3:7-9; Rev 7:14; ** I have. 2Sam 12:13; Psa 32:1-2; 51:9; Isa 6:5-7; John 1:29; Rom 6:23; Heb 8:12; ** and I will. Isa 61:3, 10; Luke 15:22; Rom 3:22; 1Cor 6:11; 2Cor 5:21; Col 3:10; Re 19:7;

(v.5) ** fair. Zech 6:11; Exod 28:2-4; 29:6; Lev 8:6-9; Heb 2:8-9; Rev 4:4, 10; 5:8-14;

Zechariah 3:3

The Righteousness of Man

3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.

Standing before God with his silenced accuser at his right hand, Joshua the high priest is in the presence of the angel dressed in filthy clothes. To appreciate this scene we need to understand the law that governed the preparations required of the high priest in Israel.

First, his garments were exquisitely made of the finest woven cloths, delicately embroidered and decorated with valuable jewels and gold chains. His miter had a gold plate on which the words "Holiness To The LORD" were written. The garments were considered holy and the priest had to be spiritually and physically clean before placing them upon his body. The priest could not approach the altar or enter the tabernacle without being properly attired or he would die. (See Exodus 28) Then, sacrifices had to be made for the cleansing of the priest, he had to wash, put on the garments, be anointed with oil and then go through another series of rituals (See Exodus 29). These things were necessary to assure that the high priest was fit to stand before the LORD.

With that said, the idea of Joshua standing in the heavenly court dressed in filthy garments is an amazing phenomenon. Even more amazing is what this implies when we consider the meaning of the word "filthy".

"The word once translated "filth" in the Old Testament is tso'ah, "excrement" or "dung," elsewhere translated "dung" (Isa 4:4, used figuratively of evil doings, sin, "the filth of the daughters of Zion"; compare Pr 30:12);" (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia) This is the way our sins are represented. God sees our sins as clothing covered in dung, and "...we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6)

The high priest stands as the mediator between God and men. Joshua represents the priesthood of Judah and the people whom that priesthood was to represent. He stands before the LORD God Almighty covered in the filth of sin, waiting to be judged, a firebrand plucked from the fire and chosen for this moment.

John Gill wrote that, "Such a sordid dress was the habit of persons arraigned for crimes. It was usual, especially among the Romans, when a man was accused of, and charged with, capital crimes, and during his arraignment, to let down his hair, suffer his beard to grow long, to wear filthy ragged garments, and appear in a very dirty and sordid habit; hence such were called "sordidati": nay, it was not only customary for the accused person, when he was brought into court before the people to be tried, to be in such a filthy dress; but even his near relations, friends, and acquaintance, before the court went to voting, used to appear in like manner, with their hair dishevelled, and clothed with garments foul and out of fashion, weeping and crying, and deprecating punishment; thinking, by such a filthy and deformed habit, to move the pity of the people." (John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

Pity, mercy and grace were the only lines of hope available to Judah. The priesthood was in a contemptible state of affairs. Many of the priests had even married outside of the faith. "And among the sons of the priests there were found that had taken strange wives: namely, of the sons of Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren; Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah." (Ezra 10:18) If the priesthood was so defiled, what was the state of the common man?

This fourth vision of Zechariah's presents a discouraging view of not just the priesthood, but of the whole human race. We can picture Joshua standing with head lowered, without the courage to look up, with all pride stripped from him, a stench in the nose of the LORD and without hope. That is where you and I would be, except that now we have a better High Priest. "For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore." (Hebrews 7:28)

We have the Son of God who stands in the most high court, clothed in perfect righteousness, a sweet aroma to God His Father, and representing our interests. We have hope!

Before The Throne:

Spend time today meditating on your sins. Ask God to examine you and to show you your sins. Take some time to just be quiet and wait for Him to answer, then confess your sins and repent. Ask Him to cleanse you, and He will do it. In Christ, you stand before God clothed in His perfect righteousness. You can come boldly to the throne of grace and lay your problems and needs at the foot of His throne. But, remember to also come with praise and thanksgiving.

For Further Study:

2Chron 30:18-20; Ezra 9:15; Isa 64:6; Dan 9:18; Matt 22:11-13; Rev 7:13-14; 19:8;

Zechariah 3:2

Satan Rebuked

1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2 And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?"

Anyone over the age of 18 has probably lived long enough to realize that, when someone is continually pointing their finger at the flaws of others, that person is most likely trying to draw attention away from his own flaws. It is that sort of irony that characterizes this scene in Zechariah's fourth vision.

Satan is standing before the LORD with Joshua, the LORD's high priest. He is there to resist or oppose Joshua, and his complaints against him would probably have been justified. There is no reason why this accuser's action against the high priest should not be successful, except for two facts. The first is that Satan is the father of sin, and the second is that Joshua was one of God's elect.

Sin is a problem for every human being. If we had to stand before the LORD in our own righteousness, we would be sentenced to eternal damnation. Ironically, Satan is there accusing us of every sin we ever committed, while he also shares in our guilt. That is not to say that he has caused us to sin. We are responsible for our own actions. But, Satan is the one who deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9) and lures people into sin. He is the father of lies (John 8:44).

Satan wants to hold each one of us captive to sin. In fact, Jesus warned Peter about that very thing. "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. "(Luke 22:31-32)

"And the LORD said unto Satan." Jesus must be the one speaking here. He chose to rebuke Satan in the name of His Father, "The LORD rebuke thee." Satan was not going to have the opportunity to accuse the elect of God, neither the priest who served Him nor the people whom the priest represented. This evil being had no standing in the court of the Most High. He was carrying the guilt of the whole world on his shoulders and was predestined to be cast into the lake of fire for it. Joshua, on the other hand, had the perfect advocate and mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We can learn a lot about resisting the devil from these words of our LORD. They are the same words used by Michael the archangel against him. "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee." (Jude 1:9) This shows us just how weak he is. He has been defeated and has no power but what we give him. The simple phrase, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan." will send him packing. As Christ's ambassadors, we have the authority to restrain even demons in His name.

"Even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee." Election is the second reason that Satan's accusations will have no validity. God has chosen Jerusalem, not only the Holy City, but the people who inhabit it. In many prophesies, Jerusalem is the name of God's church. Those whom He has chosen are under His protection even from the condemnation of sin. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:1)

"Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" As a sinner, Joshua would be rough and dirty looking like a burnt piece of wood pulled from a fire. The charred portion of that brand would dirty everything to which it came into contact. God is certainly aware of what kind of people He has elected to claim for Himself. He does not need Satan's advice.

So this is not only a picture of Joshua and Satan before God. Joshua represents Israel and Satan is the god of this world. It is also a picture of the New Testament church facing Satan's opposition in the presence of the LORD. Satan is a defeated enemy with no standing in Yahweh's court, and we are sinners saved by the grace of God.

Before the Throne:

If you are a born again Christian, you can give thanks for the protections that God has given you through the mediation of His dear Son. You do not have to listen to Satan's accusations that you are not good enough to be a Christian. Pray that God will continue to reveal truth to you and will silence Satan's lies. Ask Him to give you the words to help others who may be living in bondage to Satan. Pray for each lost friend specifically and God will answer.

For Further Study:

** the Lord said. Ps 109:31; Luke 22:32; Rom 16:20; 1John 3:8; ** The Lord rebuke. Dan 12:1; Mark 1:25; Luke 4:35; Luke 9:42; Jude 1:9; Rev 12:9-10; ** chosen. Zech 1:17; 2:12; 2Chron 6:6; John 13:18; Rom 8:33; Rev 17:14; ** a brand. Amos 4:11; Rom 11:4-5; Jude 1:23;

Zechariah 3:1

The Real Battle

1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

The purpose of the fourth vision given to Zechariah was to further demonstrate to the people of Judah that they had reason to hope and to trust in God for their redemption. We should remember that only a few of the people had returned to Jerusalem and that they were facing overwhelming opposition to the rebuilding of the temple. Their living conditions were also not very good. So, although Zechariah had assured them that God was going to restore the nation, they had little evidence that what he had promised was true.

The vision begins with Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. The scene was very realistic and would strike the hearts of the people of Judah. Calvin wrote, "...the fact was known to all; that is, that Joshua was not adorned with a priestly glory, such as it was before the exile; for the dignity of the priest before that time was far different from what it was after the return of the people; and this was known to all. But the vision was given to the Prophet for two reasons ― that the faithful might know that their contest was with Satan, their spiritual enemy, rather than with any particular nations ― and also that they might understand that a remedy was at hand, for God stood in defense of the priesthood which he had instituted. God, then, in the first place, purposed to remind the faithful that they had to carry on war, not with flesh and blood, but with the devil himself: this is one thing. And then his design was to recall them to himself, that they might consider that he would be their sure deliverer from all dangers."

However, Joshua not only represented the state of the priesthood, but of the entire nation. Her glory was gone and her enemies were at her right hand opposing her.

Nevertheless, we see that Joshua stands in the presence of the LORD, a reminder that God had not deserted the nation. He was very aware of the suffering that was taking place, of the severe test that their faith was going through and of the enemy that they were facing.

Satan, whose name means The Opponent, was also there. He was there for one reason only... to resist Joshua. Satan represented the world and all of its temptations and sins while Joshua stood for the kingdom of God and the ministry of everything that was good. Satan is the father of lies, but Joshua stood for the truth embedded in the word of God.

This verse sets the scene for what is to be presented in the following verses. It shows us that there is more to our problems than what we can see. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12) Circumstances may have looked grim for the people and their goal of rebuilding the city, But there was another battle going on behind the scenes. There was a spiritual battle going on for the hearts and minds of the nation and it was all taking place before God who was sitting in His court where justice would prevail.

Christians face this same battle everyday of our lives. The devil is still the opponent. Although he was defeated by the death and resurrection of our Lord, he still stands as our opponent. Now, however, his powers have been taken away and he can do nothing but deceive. We must be careful that we do not buy any of his lies and we must always remember that God is aware of everything the devil tries to do. By immersing ourselves in God's word and by constant prayer, we can ward off every attack of the devil and place ourselves on the offense against him.

Before the Throne:

Take your problems to God today. Ask Him to give you the assurance that you can defeat the enemy. Ask Him to help you to walk by faith and not by sight as you face the problems of the day. Pray for your family, friends and enemies. Remember that your battles are spiritual and not against flesh and blood.

For Further Study:

** he. Zech 1:9, 13, 19; 2:3; ** Joshua. Zech 6:11; Ezra 5:2; Hag 1:1, 12; 2:4; ** standing. Deut 10:8; 18:15; 1Sam 6:20; 2Chron 29:11; Psa 106:23; Jer 15:19; Ezek 44:11, 15; Luke 21:36; ** the angel. Gen 48:16; Exod 3:2-6; 23:20-21; Hos 12:4-5; Mal 3:1; Acts 7:30-38; ** Satan. Job 1:6-12; 2:1-8; Psa 109:6; Luke 22:31; 1Pet 5:8; Rev 12:9-10; ** resist him. Gen 3:15;