Zechariah sees a vision of Joshua the high priest dressed in filthy clothing, being accused by Satan. God rebukes Satan, reclothes Joshua in fine robes of righteousness and makes him a symbolic sign that Messiah is coming.
Vision Four - Joshua the High Priest
In his fourth vision, Joshua sees "Joshua the High Priest standing before the angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him'"(v1). As high priest, Joshua was Israel's spiritual leader alongside Zerubbabel the Governor, Israel's appointed political leader, subject to the Persian authorities. In verse 8, Zechariah tells us that Joshua and his priestly colleagues were symbols. The implication is that they symbolised Israel's intended role as 'a kingdom of priests and a holy nation' (Exodus 19:6).

The Angel of the Lord is the same man whom Zechariah saw in his first vision (1:8-15). He is in fact the pre-incarnate Christ, the second person of the Trinity. Satan, meaning 'the accuser', stands at God's right hand accusing Joshua. The Angel of the Lord rebukes Satan twice, and asks a rhetorical question, "Isn't this man like a burning stick snatched from the fire?" It is not that Joshua is blameless. Satan had legitimate accusations against Joshua. In the vision, "Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood there before the angel" (v3). The filthy clothes symbolise Joshua's sinful status (see Isaiah 64:6). Despite Joshua's sinfulness, instead of listening to Satan's accusations against him, God declares his forgiveness of Joshua's iniquity and promises to dress him in fine clothing. This is a picture of God's undeserved grace, replacing man's sinfulness with Christ's righteousness. God promises to do the same for Zion collectively in Isaiah 61:10 and for each of us individually as believers in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. Revelation 12:10 tells us that like Joshua, Satan accuses us believers day and night before our God. Hebrews 7:25 tells us that Jesus, in his high priestly role, always lives to intercede for us. In addition, Romans 8:26-27 tells us that we have the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity, interceding for us. Here in this vision, Joshua has another intercessor, namely Zechariah. Zechariah asks that a turban be placed on Joshua's head, and Zechariah's prayer is granted (v5). This illustrates the various roles and ministries that play a part in our salvation.

In verses 6 to 7, Joshua is solemnly exhorted to live and work according to God's requirements. God's grace is never a licence to sin, but a call to a life of righteousness (Romans 6:1-2 and I John 3:9). Joshua is promised in verse 7 that if he does so, he will preside over God's temple (literally 'house'), attend to God's courtyards, and have access to those standing by him in the vision. God's house implies God's temple, reflecting Joshua's high priestly role, but may also imply 'royal house' suggesting a kingly role. Joshua and his fellow priests fulfil a symbolic role and point to Israel's coming Messiah, God's servant the Branch (v8). Jesus is also the Branch of the Lord in Isaiah 4:2, 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, and in Zechariah 6:12). When Jesus returns as Messiah, he will assume the roles of both high priest and king. Attending to God's courts suggests that Joshua would lead Israel's prayer ministry, and his access to the angelic realm suggests that he would minister alongside angels.

In the New Testament, Revelation 5:9-10 tells us that Jesus has purchased people from every tribe, language and nation, and "appointed them as a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth". We are called to partake in Christ's messianic roles, which Joshua symbolises here in Zechariah. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave us the Great Commission, making us ministers of the Gospel. According to Hebrews 1:14, God has also commissioned angels to minister to those who will inherit salvation. In effect, as we minister the Gospel, we minister alongside angels.

In verse 9, God sets a stone before Joshua, one with seven eyes. In Revelation 5:6, Jesus appears as a Lamb that has seven eyes, said to represent the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. The eyes speak of his divine omniscience. They are mentioned again in the next vision in 4:10. Jesus is represented as a stone that the builders rejected but which becomes the capstone in Psalm 118:22 (which is quoted by Jesus in Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10 and Luke 20:17, and by Peter in Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:7). He is also represented as a precious cornerstone that causes men to stumble, but if anyone trusts in him they will never be put to shame (Isaiah 28:16 - which is quoted in Romans 9:33 and in 1 Peter 2:6). Zechariah tells us that God is about to engrave an inscription on it, saying that he will remove Israel's iniquity in a single day (v9). Various prophecies speak of Israel's national salvation from sin (Isaiah 27:9, 59:20-21, Zechariah 12:10-13:2, Romans 11:26, Jeremiah 31:33-34).

Verse 10 tells us that in that day, "everyone will invite his friend to fellowship under his vine and under his fig tree". This is a picture of Millennial Israel, with everyone enjoying material peace and prosperity, and extending hospitality to one another.
Symbols: Robes of righteousness, Filthy rags, Stone, Seven eyes, Joshua as a symbol
Tags: Jesus as the Angel of the Lord, Jesus as the Branch, Jesus as a stone, Israels sins removed in a day, Millennial prosperity, Millennial priesthood, Kingdom of priests
Vision Four: The Priest
1 Next I saw Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
2 The Lord said to Satan, “May the Lord rebuke you, Satan! May the Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Isn’t this man like a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood there before the angel.
4 The angel spoke up to those standing all around, “Remove his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “I have freely forgiven your iniquity and will dress you in fine clothing.”
5 Then I spoke up, “Let a clean turban be put on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood nearby.
6 Then the angel of the Lord exhorted Joshua solemnly:
7 “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘If you follow my ways and keep my requirements, you will be able to preside over my temple and attend to my courtyards, and I will allow you to come and go among these others who are standing by you.
8 Listen now, Joshua the high priest, both you and your colleagues who are sitting before you, all of you are a symbol that I am about to introduce my servant, the Branch.
9 As for the stone I have set before Joshua – on the one stone there are seven eyes. I am about to engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘to the effect that I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.
10 In that day,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘everyone will invite his friend to fellowship under his vine and under his fig tree.’”