Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans
Today’s Passage: Zechariah 3
Picking up where we left off yesterday, we’ve identified Zechariah 3 as a symbolic vision about a historical person: Joshua the high priest, a spiritual leader for the Jewish people during the reconstruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Today we’re going to get into the details of the vision and what it means.
As the scene opens, Joshua stands before the angel of the Lord. Satan is present, too, “standing at his right hand to accuse him” (1). The name “Satan” means “the Accuser,” so here we have the Accuser accusing. It’s one of those scenes meant to evoke the courtroom. In a scene like this, you might translate “Satan” as “the Prosecuting Attorney”–but Satan doesn’t even get a word in edgewise. God immediately rebukes him, and he isn’t mentioned for the rest of the chapter.
Joshua isn’t the Messiah. He comes in wearing filthy garments, but God has those standing nearby switch out his dirty clothes for festal robes and a clean turban. God explains it’s a symbol for forgiveness of sin, removal of guilt, and restoration of righteousness: “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes” (4). As the phrase “the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem” (2) indicates, Joshua represents a renewed Jerusalem. The clothing is a moral metaphor.
God then makes a promise to the renewed Joshua. The angel of the Lord tells him, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here” (7). Redemption comes with responsibility as well as privilege. Joshua has a role to play in the restoration of God’s people, a space to walk in and a mantle to wear; the path God has set before him may not be easy, but it’s certainly good.
None of that is to undermine the foundation of grace, though. As noted before, Joshua isn’t the Messiah himself. He isn’t the one to remove his filthy garments or to dress himself in clean robes; it’s only by God’s grace that he’s equipped for the role God has prepared for him to play. His name doesn’t mean “the high priest saves.” It means “God saves.” And the only Joshua who can save humanity from its sins is the Joshua who was God: Yeshua, Jesus Christ, the Messiah.