When Jesus Shows Up in Prophecy

A Study of Zechariah 3:8-10


Nothing helps us like getting into the Bible, and today I want to continue our study from our last time in Zechariah, in chapter 3. Zechariah is the next-to-the-last book in the Old Testament. It has fourteen chapters and the first several chapters describe a series of visions Zechariah had, one after another, on a single night.

Zechariah preached alongside his ministry partner, Haggai, to the remnant who had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon to rebuild the Jewish temple and reestablish the Jewish presence in the land. The high priest was a man named Joshua, the son of Jozadak, who felt like he was a tremendous failure. For eighteen years he had been intimidated by local Palestinians and the government officials of Persia, and he had not led in his mission of rebuilding the temple. 

Zechariah has a vision about this man, Joshua. It’s in chapter 3 of his book, and we looked at the first half of the chapter last week. Today we’ll study the last half of the chapter. Let’s read it again, beginning with Zechariah 3:1:


Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”

Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”

Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.

The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.

We looked at this passage last time. Joshua was a failure, and Satan, who is the accuser of the brethren, was piling it on. But the Lord rebuked – not Joshua – but Satan. And the Lord removed Joshua’s sin and clothed him in righteousness. He justified him. This is a very personal vision, and it’s personal for us too. The very same thing Joshua experienced in Zechariah’s vision we also experience at our moment of justification.

If the chapter ended right there, it would be a powerful lesson for us. But there is a caption to the picture.  There is a postscript. Look at the next paragraph, beginning with verse 8:

“‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring My servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

10 “‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

I believe we have four pictures of Jesus Christ in this passage. This is a highly charged Messianic passage. It begins with a command to listen.

Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates… [apparently the other priests who served with Joshua]. These men are symbols of the future. They are types or prototypes of some who are going to show up in the future history of Israel and the world.

Our High Priest

First, Jesus (whose name in Hebrew was Joshua) is our great high priest. The high priesthood of Israel was a foreshadowing of Him. I heard a discussion recently about the value of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament. The scholar said that the specific contribution Hebrews made to the Bible is to emphasize the priesthood of Jesus. He is our prophet, our priest, and our king.

One commentary said, “Ultimately Joshua’s high priestly position points to Jesus Christ, the faithful High Priest who mediates and intercedes for the people of God with perfection and finality.

My Servant

Second, He is God’s servant. Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring My servant….

Who is this servant? He is the one who came, not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.

In the Old Testament, the Servant of the Lord was a very exalted title. One commentator said it was the highest title that the Old Testament bestows on humans. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all described as the servant of the Lord. So was Moses, David, Hezekiah, and the coming Suffering Servant, the Messiah.

We should never underestimate the worth and the value of being known as a servant of the Lord.

The Branch

Third, the coming Messiah is referred to here as the Branch. This term, the Branch, is also a prominent Old Testament name for Jesus. We find it six times—twice in Isaiah; twice is Jeremiah; and twice in Zechariah. So the question is: How is Jesus Christ like a branch from a tree? Why is this one of the prophetic names about Him? Let me show you the other five references:

  • Isaiah 4:2: In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. This is a passage about the Millennium, the thousand-year reign of Christ after the Tribulation and Battle of Armageddon. The idea here is a fruitful branch. All the blessings that will come on Israel later—and which are ours right now—are the fruit of the Branch that’s hanging over our heads. When I was growing up, my father had an apple orchard, and when harvest came I’d just walk through the orchard, reaching up and plucking a Virginia Beauty or a Winesap or a Yellow Beauty. I’d eat it, throw away the core, and pluck another. The Lord Jesus Christ is a branch over our heads, producing endless blessings for us to gather as we walk under His shade.

This chapter of Zechariah 3 ends with the verse that says: In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree, declares the Lord Almighty.

The founding fathers of America frequently quoted this verse because it pictures a land of peace and prosperity and conviviality. Every person will own a piece of personal property, a bit of land, and they will have a shelter, a grapevine, a fig tree, and they will enjoy fellowshipping there with their friends.

Jesus is the branch that provides shelter for us.

  • Isaiah 11:1 adds another insight: A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and the fear of the Lord—and He will delight in the fear of the Lord. This is another Millennial passage, but it shows us another way in which Jesus is the Branch. God made a covenant with King David that one of his sons would always sit on the throne of Israel. In the life of royal Jerusalem, only one dynasty—only one family—will occupy the throne of Judah. It will be the throne of David, the son of Jesse. Jesse was David’s father. A succession of David’s descendants reigned, one after another, in the line of the kings of Judah. But they became worse and worse. They grew more and more corrupt. Finally the Lord cut them off. But Jesus is a descendant of David. He is like a shoot that springs up from the stump of the Davidic line and becomes a tree with towering branches. 
  • Jeremiah 23:5 says, “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.”
  • Jeremiah 33:15 says: In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; He will do what is just and live in the land.
  • Zechariah 6:12 says: Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and He will branch out from His place and build the temple of the Lord.

If we put all that together, the Lord Jesus will be a branch that springs up from the line of King David, He will branch out, and He will provide fruitful blessings for His people. That’s a prophecy for Israel for the future, but it’s true right now for you and me.

I’d love for you to keep this image in your mind. Jesus is a huge branch—a tree—from the stump of David, and His sheltering presence is over our heads and we can reach up and enjoy all the blessings He gives us day and night. What an image! What a picture and what a joy!

The Stone with Seven Eyes

Jesus is the servant of the Lord. He is the Branch. And He is also the stone with seven eyes. Here near the end of the chapter we run into something that has perplexed translators for centuries. He is the stone with seven eyes. Look at verse 9: ‘See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

What does this mean? 

There are three main theories about how to interpret this.

 First, this could be referring to a stone affixed to the garment given to Joshua as the High Priest. That would fit with the theme of the vision. We know from the book of Exodus that the High Priest wore a breastplate as part of his official regalia. This breastplate contained fourteen stones. Twelve of the jewels represented the twelve tribes of Israel, which were affixed close to the heart of the High Priest. And there were two additional stones called the Urim and the Thummim, which the High Priest used to discern God’s will in certain situations.

According to one commentator, George Klein, the seven eyes could be translated as the “seven sets of eyes.” In other words, it’s a stone with fourteen facets. Instead of fourteen different stones, the coming Great High Priest will, at least metaphorically, have one stone with fourteen facets attached to His high priestly garment. He will keep each of the tribes of Israel close to His heart, and He will always have perfect knowledge of God’s Will for His people. 

Here’s the second theory. The scholars in the very early church believed the stone with seven eyes was Jesus. He was a jewel. And the seven eyes represented the seven wounds that bled for us—from His brow, from His back, from His side, and from His two hands and from His two feet. One reason for this interpretation is the next phrase: There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it… and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

Jesus was a jewel who bled for us from seven wounds engraved on His body, and in this way the sins of the world were removed in one day.

Now let me give you the third theory, and this is the one I lean toward. In this theory, the stone also represents Jesus, but the seven eyes represent His omniscient knowledge of all that is going on everywhere. Jesus is our great High Priest. He is a precious jewel, and He possesses omniscient knowledge of you and me and of the entire world.

The reason I think this is likely is because of a verse in the next chapter. The seven eyes are mentioned again. Turn just one page and look with me at Zechariah 4:10: Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Jerubbaal.

Seven is the number of perfection. Jesus has perfect vision. God sees everything, and He sees everything clearly. His eyes range throughout the world. He even sees into the future, and He already sees the completed temple. In His sight, the project is already finished. He sees even further ahead. He sees how it’s all going to end. And along the way, He sees and strengthens His children.

2 Chronicles 16:9 says: For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

Now, look at verse 9 again: See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

Jesus is our omniscient Savior, and He will remove sins in one day.

What day is He referring to? According to my favored interpretation, He’s referring to the moment at His second coming when Israel receives and embraces Him, and their sins are removed in a single day.

There are two possibilities. The first is Good Friday, when He gave His life for the sin of the world. His eyes had roamed through history past and future and around the world. He knows the sin of every person. He knows your sins. He sees my sins. And He offered Himself as a pure and perfect sacrifice for us. He died at 3 pm on Good Friday, and He rose three days later. He provided the world with the opportunity of forgiveness by what He did that day.

But it’s possible Zechariah was referring to an event still in the future.

There are a lot of Millennial implications in this chapter, and later Zechariah is going to refer to the sudden spiritual conversion of Israel. Let’s turn over to Zechariah 12 for just a minute. Verse 10 talks about the moment when Christ will return at the Second Coming. Israel will be occupied by the armies of the Antichrist, headquartered to the north in Armageddon. The antichrist will have already breached the city of Jerusalem, and all seems lost. And at that moment, Christ will come.

Zechariah 12:10 says: And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the One they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child….

And chapter 13, verse 1: On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

All Israel will finally embrace their Savior, and Jesus will enter Jerusalem and establish His thousand-year reign. And that leads us to verse 10: “‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”


So let’s wrap it all up.

Zechariah has another vision in which he sees the High Priest Joshua standing guilty and filthy before the Lord, and Satan is attacking him and accusing Him. But the Angel of the Lord says, “The Lord rebuke you! This man is a stick snatched out of the fire. Let’s take off his filthy garments and cloth him in righteousness.”

It’s a beautiful picture of what the Lord Jesus does to all of us.

But it’s also a picture of the Lord Jesus, our Righteous High Priest, who is God’s servant. He’s the Branch from the stump of David; and He’s a jewel, a precious stone who can see the whole world in a single glance and who can see into the future to the day when all Israel will be saved and He Himself will reign for a thousand years.

What this tells me is that whenever I look at myself with loathing and disappointment, I need to remember that the Lord Jesus has thrown away and burned whatever was filthy about my life. 

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said in his book on spiritual depression: “You and I—and to me this is one of the great discoveries of the Christian life; I shall never forget the release which realizing this for the first time brought to me—you and I must never look at our past lives; we must never look at any sin in our past life in any way except that which leads us to praise God and to magnify His grace in Christ Jesus. I challenge you to do that.”

We’re clothed with His righteousness and walking in the shade of His branches, with all His blessings right above us, within reach, and we’re living in a world in which He—the High Priest, the Servant, the Branch, and the Stone—is in complete control. He will bring all things to His predetermined outcome. 

No one ever cares for us like Jesus. No one can ever care for YOU like Him.

Thanks for digging into the riches of the book of Zechariah with me. Next week we’ll come to my favorite vision in the book of Zechariah—the Golden Lampstand and the Olive Trees.