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The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 2, Jesus and Satan
Presenting the first two chapters of Zechariah, we saw that the prophet began writing around the start of the building of the second temple in the days of Zerubbabel, about 520 BC. While his prophecy had a meaning with an immediate application in his own time, regarding the building of the temple, it also has far-reaching implications related to the very purpose of the 70-weeks kingdom, which is what we call Judaea as it was in the inter-testamental period. We hope to further establish the proofs of that assertion here, presenting Zechariah chapter 3.
This period which we prefer to describe as the 70-weeks kingdom, from another prophecy which describes it in Daniel chapter 9, is also referred to as the second temple period. However that label is not quite accurate. According to Ezra, the second temple took only four years to build. The temple of the time of Christ was actually the third temple, Herod’s temple, as the second temple was rebuilt from the foundations up. That is how the Judaean historian Flavius Josephus described it, and the building of that third temple is mentioned in John chapter 2 where it is said that the project took 46 years to complete.
As Josephus wrote in Book 15 of his Antiquities of the Judaeans, “391 So Herod took away the old foundations, and laid others, and erected the temple upon them, being in length a hundred cubits, and in height twenty additional cubits, which [twenty], upon the sinking of their foundations fell down; and this part it was that we resolved to raise again in the days of Nero. 392 Now the temple was built of stones that were white and strong, and each of their length was twenty-five cubits, their height was eight, and their breadth about twelve; 393 and the whole structure, as also the structure of the royal cloister, was on each side much lower, but the middle was much higher, till they were visible to those who dwelt in the country for a great many miles, but chiefly to such as lived opposite them, and those who approached to them.” The building project having taken 46 years, and the foundations of the second temple being completely replaced, where Josephus said that new foundations were laid and Herod then “erected the temple upon them”, we cannot imagine that the resulting edifice was still the second temple. Rather, it could only be counted as a third temple, and that is a fact ignored by both Jews and Judaized Christians alike.
There were three temples built in Jerusalem between the time of Solomon and the time when the Romans had destroyed the city in 70 AD. But perhaps the fact that there were actually three temples is symbolically significant of a greater truth that is also ignored by both mainstream Christians and Jews.
Very little is known of Judaea between the time of the last prophet, Malachi, and the time of the Maccabees, the family of high priests also known as the Hasamoneans, which is a period of three hundred years. One piece of Biblical literature which assuredly dates from that time is the Wisdom of Sirach in the Apocrypha, but there is little else that has survived which is worthy of consideration. Even Flavius Josephus does not say very much about these years, except to give a brief account of the reception of Alexander the Great in Jerusalem, which is more mythical than historical in nature.
The First Book of Maccabees covers the period of history in Judaea which starts with the revolt of the Hasamonaean high priests against the Greek rulers of Syria, commonly known as the Seleucids. This occurred from about 167 to 160 BC, during which time the second temple was pillaged, defiled and suffered damage. When the Seleucids were defeated parts of it were evidently rebuilt, it is evident that some additions may have been made, and it was restored. Upon its restoration, the feast of dedication mentioned in John chapter 10 was instituted. So even though the temple was replaced by Herod, the Judaeans still continued to keep the feast of dedication of the old temple from the time that it was restored by the Maccabees. At this time, as it is recorded in the apocryphal but nevertheless historical First Book of Maccabees, the Maccabees set out to consolidate their power, having gained their liberty by defeating the Greeks, and began running off the Canaanites and Edomites who inhabited the cities of Palestine that had formerly belonged to the ancient Israelites, waging war against them. These accounts end by the time that John Hyrcanus becomes high priest, around 129 BC.
As a digression, it must be explained that there is really only one historical Book of Maccabees. It is not called the first because there was actually a second. Rather, the Second Book of Maccabees, while it is historical in nature, is apparently a work made by an unknown editor, that was abridged from a now-lost history by someone called Jason of Cyrene. It relates details about the successful Judaean revolt against the Seleucids which was chronicled by 1 Maccabees. So its scope overlaps that of the First Book of Maccabees, and it is also much more narrow. While the setting for the work known as 3 Maccabees is several decades before this time, its contents are nearly mythical and of dubious historical value. Finally, 4 Maccabees is a later homily which draws examples for its teachings from events described in 2 Maccabees. So while it gives us some valuable insight into early Christian thinking, neither does it add to the historical records of the period.
From the point where John Hyrcanus becomes high priest, around 129 BC., to understand the balance of the inter-testamental period we must resort to the histories of Flavius Josephus. There it is evident that the attitude towards the Edomites and others had changed, and rather than expel their enemies, John Hyrcanus began instead to forcibly convert them to the extant version of the religion of the Israelites in Judaea, which by now can only be called Judaism. Since conversion of such people is absolutely contrary to the law of Moses, this cannot be properly considered the religion of Moses.
It is interesting, that just before this same time Josephus first mentions the existence of a party called the Pharisees. But Josephus does not inform us as to how or why such a party was formed. What is notable, however, is that the word pharisee comes from a Hebrew word which basically means separatist. So it is plausible that the party of separatists was formed to oppose the policy of integration undertaken by John Hyrcanus. However Josephus also mentions the existence of other parties at this time as well, both the Sadducees and the Essenes. In any event, the existence of such parties is a sign that the nation was already being affected by apostasy. Namely, the apostasy which Paul of Tarsus had mentioned in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2.
When we presented Romans chapter 9 here very nearly two years ago, we explained why Paul of Tarsus had compared the people of Judaea in his day to both the Israelites and the Edomites, and then contrasted the two groups as “vessels of mercy” and “vessels of destruction”. Doing this, we explained that many of the Judaeans were actually Edomites. So we cited these passages from Josephus where he records in Antiquities book 13 that “257 Hyrcanus took also Dora and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would submit to circumcision, and make use of the laws of the Judaeans; 258 and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the right of circumcision, and of the rest of the Judaean ways of living; at which time, therefore, this befell them, that they were hereafter considered to be Judaeans.” Here these cities mentioned by Josephus are called “cities of Idumea”, but originally, Dora, or Dor, was a city of Manasseh (i.e. Joshua 17:11), while Marissa, or Mareshah, was a city of Judah (i.e. Joshua 15:44). As it was prophesied in Ezekiel chapter 35, the Edomites had moved into the lands of Israel and Judah after the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. So Josephus called these lands that had formerly belonged to Israel by the name Idumea. Here, according to Flavius Josephus, they became Jews. So Paul, in Romans chapter 9, is referring to these Edomite Jews.
But it was not only Dora and Marissa that Hyrcanus had forcibly converted. Josephus had said that Hyrcanus had “subdued all the Idumaeans”. Then even later, in that same book of Antiquities, Josephus explained the much greater extent of the conversion of the surrounding Edomite and other non-Israelite peoples to Judaism, which took place while Alexander Janneus was high priest and king, from 103 to 76 BC. This Alexander Janneus was also the first of the Hasamoneans to call himself a king. Of him Josephus had written in part, “393 But Alexander marched again to the city of Dios, and took it; and then made an expedition against Essa... he marched to Golan and Seleucia; 394 and when he had taken these cities, he, besides them, took that city which is called The Valley of Antiochus, as also the fortress of Gamala…. 395 Now at this time the Judaeans were in possession of the following cities that had belonged to the Syrians, and Idumeans, and Phoenicians: at the seaside, Strato's Tower, Apollonia, Joppa, Jamnia, Ashdod, Gaza, Anthedon, Raphia, and Rhinocolura; 396 in the middle of the country, near to Idumea, Adorn, and Marisa; near the country of Samaria, Mount Carmel, and Mount Tabor, Scythopolis, and Gadara; of the country of Gaulonitis, Seleucia and Gabala; 397 in the country of Moab, Heshbon, and Medaba, Lemba, and Oronas, Gelithon, Zara, the Valley of the Cilices, and Pella; which last they utterly destroyed, because its inhabitants would not bear to change their religious rites for those peculiar to the Judaeans. The Judaeans also possessed others of the principal cities of Syria, which had been destroyed….” And here it is evident, that if Alexander Janneus destroyed cities because they would not convert to Judaism, we can be certain that all these other cities which he had subjected certainly did convert to Judaism. This practice of forced conversion had been initiated by Hyrcanus before him. Alexander died about 76 BC, and forty years later the Edomite Herod would be made king.
Mainstream Christian and Jewish sources admit that Herod was an Edomite. The Wikipedia article on Herod Archelaus, the son and a successor of the first Herod, even goes so far as admitting that he was “was ethnarch (not king) of Samaria, Judea, and Idumea (biblical Edom) from 4 BC to 6 AD”. But they refuse to admit the full historical implications of the accounts of the Maccabees, Flavius Josephus, and the corroborating testimony which is clearly evident in the New Testament. The Idumeans and others of the enemies of ancient Israel were not only a political part of Roman Judaea by this time. They were fully converted to Judaism, they identified as Judaeans, and they adopted the practice of circumcision and took the names and language and customs as their own. They also intermarried with many of the Israelite Judaeans and adopted the Old Testament scriptures and identity of ancient Israel.
These are the Jews from which all modern Jews have come. But they were not Israelites by race, and they never accepted Christ. So Christ Himself had told them, as it is recorded in John chapter 10, “26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.”
When Herod became king of Judaea under the Romans, which was something he achieved through craft and bribery, he being an Edomite did not simply preside over an Israelite administration. Long before he was made king, Herod had also married Mariamne, the grand-daughter of the high priest who was also named Hyrcanus, and they were married for many years. Hyrcanus had placed his trust in Herod and his family, and in turn Herod betrayed him to the Romans and he was put to death. Mariamne was the niece of his succesor, the last of the Hasamonaean high priests to rule Judaea, who was named Antigonus. Continuing his betrayal, Herod had ensured that Antigonus was also put to death. The Judaeans had fallen subject to Rome at the time of Pompey and rebelled at the time of Caesar and Antony. Ultimately Herod opposed the family of his wife, and joined the side of the Romans. Doing so, Herod ingratiated himself with Rome and later also bribed Marc Antony. Once the legitimate high priests were out of the way, Marc Antony then arranged for Herod to be made king. When Herod came to power, he eventually killed his wife, he killed the two sons he had with her, and he killed her brothers and many other members of his wife’s family and the other princes of Jerusalem so that he could eliminate any other claimants to the kingdom.
Josephus spoke of some of these things in Antiquities, Book 15, where he also said that “since Herod had now the government of all Judea put into his hands, he promoted such of the private men in the city as had been of his party, but never stopped avenging and punishing everyday those who had chosen to be of the party of his enemies… 5 At this time Herod, now he had got Jerusalem under his power, carried off all the royal ornaments, and spoiled the wealthy men of what they had possessed; and when, by these means, he had heaped together a great quantity of silver and gold, he gave it all to Antony, and his friends that were around him. 6 He also slew forty-five of the principal men of Antigonus' party, and set guards at the gates of the city, that nothing might be carried out together with their dead bodies, they also searched the dead, and whatever was found, either of silver or gold, or other treasure, it was carried to the king; nor was there any end of the miseries he brought upon them....”
This Antigonus was the son and surviving heir of Hyrcanus, the high priest and king of Judaea, and he was also the uncle of Herod’s wife Mariamne. In Antiquities Book 14 Josephus had explained that Herod and the Roman general Sossius took Jerusalem, capturing Antigonus, who had to be turned over to Antony. So Herod, not being able to kill him, bribed Antony to kill him. Josephus continues: “8 Now when Antony had received Antigonus as his captive, he determined to keep him for his triumph [to walk in chains in Rome after Antony put down the rebellion]; but when he heard that the nation grew seditious, and that, out of their hatred to Herod, they continued to bear goodwill to Antigonus, he resolved to behead him at Antioch, 9 for otherwise the Judaeans could in no way be quieted. And Strabo of Cappadocia [or Strabo the geographer, in a now-lost history] attests to what I have said, when he thus speaks:-- 'Antony ordered Antigonus the Judaean to be brought to Antioch, and there to be beheaded; and this Antony seems to me to have been the very first man who beheaded a king, as supposing he could no other way bend the minds of the Judaeans so as to receive Herod, whom he had made king in his stead; for by no torments could they be forced to call him king, 10 so great a fondness they had for their former king [the high priest Hyrcanus]; so he thought that this dishonourable death would diminish the value they had for Antigonus' memory, and at the same time would diminish the hatred they bare to Herod.''
So the principal men among the Judaeans did not want Herod the Edomite for a king, but they were given no choice by the Romans. Then Josephus, in that same place in Antiquities Book 15, goes on to explain that as soon as Herod gained power in Judaea he despised the office of high priest, where he says: “22 He also did other things, in order to secure his government, which yet occasioned a sedition in his own family; for being cautious how he made any illustrious person the high priest of God, he sent for an obscure priest out of Babylon, whose name was Ananelus, and bestowed the high priesthood upon him.”
Later, in Book 20 of his Antiquities Josephus says that “247 Herod was then made king by the Romans, but did no longer appoint high priests out of the family of Asamoneus; but made certain men to be so that were of no eminent families, but barely of those who were priests… he never intrusted the priesthood to the posterity of the sons of Asamoneus. Archelaus, also, Herod's son, did like his father in the appointment of the high priests, as did the Romans also, who took the government over the Judaeans into their hands afterward. 250 Accordingly, the number of the high priests, from the days of Herod until the day when Titus took the temple and the city, and burnt them, were in all twenty-eight; the time, also, that belonged to them was a hundred and seven years. 251 Some of these were the political governors of the people under the reign of Herod, and under the reign of Archelaus his son, although, after their death, the government became an aristocracy, and the high priests were intrusted with a dominion over the nation. And thus much may suffice to be said concerning our high priests.”
So the high priests and the government of the people were no longer the Levitical high priests of the line of the Hasamoneans, but rather they were the political appointees of Herod the Edomite. It is in reference to these priests and their officers that Paul of Tarsus had written, when he wrote his second epistle to the Thessalonians around 50 or 51 AD. Writing to them during his ministry in Corinth, Paul had warned them that: “3 You should not be deceived by anyone, in any way, because if apostasy had not come first, and the man of lawlessness been revealed; the son of destruction, 4, he who is opposing and exalting himself above everything said to be a god or an object of worship, and so he is seated in the temple of Yahweh, representing himself that he is a god.” Paul goes on to say that the presence of these people is “in accordance with the operation of Satan in all power and signs and wonders of falsehood,” and there we see the same Satan which is prophesied here in Zechariah chapter 3.
Judeo-Christians ignore all of this inter-testamental period history. It seems that they would rather believe that the Jerusalem of the time of Christ was still the quaint little place that it had been in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. It seems they would rather believe that the character of the people of Jerusalem was the same as the character of those who had returned with Zerubbabel over 500 years before Jesus Christ was born. It also seems that the Jews identify the temple destroyed in 70 AD with that same temple which was built in the days of Zerubbabel, so that they can more easily associate themselves with the people who returned to Jerusalem from the captivity. But nothing is further from the truth. Jerusalem in the time of Christ had grown into a cosmopolitan multiracial metropolis. The temple that took 4 years to build was exchanged for a temple that took 46 years to build. Between the days of Zerubbabel and the days of Christ, the temple was replaced, and so was the greater part of the people and their leaders.
In chapter 3 of the prophecy of Zechariah, Joshua the high priest stands before God, and he is opposed by Satan. The near vision, the short term fulfillment, is plainly evident where the people of the countries which bordered Jerusalem had resisted the rebuilding of the temple and the city. But the far vision, the long term fulfillment of this prophecy, is where another Joshua, which is Yahshua Christ, is opposed by Satan throughout His Own ministry, which was the fulfillment of the purpose of the 70-weeks kingdom. The opposition is not simply from the devil who offered Him the world. Rather, it is from the organized priesthood which since the days of the first Herod had consisted of political cronies and operated the temple as a criminal enterprise. Much of that criminal enterprise is described by Christ Himself in Matthew chapter 23. For a more immediate example, Flavius Josephus had described how in the time of Albinus, around 61 or 62 AD, the “high priest Jesus [yet another Jesus] … also had servants who were very wicked, who joined themselves to the boldest sort of the people, and went to the threshingfloors, and took away the tithes that belonged to the priests by violence, and did not refrain from beating such as would not give these tithes to them.” The real priests were being driven into poverty by those who called themselves Jews, but were truly the synagogue of Satan. That is in Josephus’ Antiquities, Book 20, where it is evident that the Sadducees, the crime lords of ancient Judaea, were persecuting the Levitical priests, who were the only truly legitimate priests of the day. Josephus explains in that same book that they had killed the apostle James, whom he also said was the brother of Christ. These Sadducees, and those from among the scribes and Pharisees and others who clung to them, they were the opponents of Christ. As they themselves had professed, as we see it in Matthew chapter 27, “25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” Those children are the Jews of today. This is the Satan of Zechariah’s prophecy which Joshua the high priest was to face, as it is described here in Zechariah chapter 3.
So the temple of the time of Christ was not the second temple at all, but the third. And the people of Jerusalem who had opposed Christ were not Israelites at all, but the Edomites of the Old Testament.
In the closing verses of Zechariah chapter 2, we read:
11 And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.
This cannot justly describe anything which happened during the second temple period. Although many of the Canaanites, Edomites and others had become a part of the religion and citizenry of Judaea in the century before the birth of Christ, as it was described by Josephus, they had been described as His enemies throughout all of scripture, and could never be His people. Could Paul have been wrong for quoting the passage where it says in Malachi, “Jacob I love, and Esau I hated”, and characterizing the Edomites as vessels of destruction, when he wrote his epistle to the Romans? And could Christ have been wrong for warning about those who “say they are Judaeans, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” on two occasions in the Revelation? And where Christ had told the Pharisees that when they make a proselyte, they “make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matthew 23:15), they themselves must have been onefold the children of hell in the first place.
Where here in Zechariah 2:11 Yahweh promises to “dwell in the midst of thee”, He is speaking to the same Israelites who are the object of Zechariah’s prophecy. So where it says “many nations… shall be my people”, those many nations must be the same as “thee” in the clause where He says “I will dwell in the midst of thee”. The only manner in which the terms could agree is if the “many nations” are many nations of those same Israelites. There is a similar promise in Scripture found in Ezekiel chapter 37, after the prophecy where it says that Judah and Israel were to be made one stick in the hand of God. There He promises that “26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the nations shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.”
If both prophecies are true, in Zechariah chapter 2 and Ezekiel chapter 37, then both promises must be made exclusively to the Old Testament children of Israel. So those many nations are the nations of the seed of Abraham, the great nation and company of nations promised to the children of Israel in Genesis. Where in Romans chapter 4 Paul said that Yahweh God, in His promise to Abraham, “calleth those things which be not as though they were”, he was referring to the nations which were promised to come from Abraham’s seed. The nations of the promise did not yet exist, because they were promised to come from Abraham’s seed. So because the promises of God are certain, they were spoken of as if they did exist even though they had not yet existed when the promise was made. In many ways in his epistle, Paul then informed the Romans that they were a part of those people, and if we look at history, Rome did not exist when the promise to Abraham was made. Before that, Paul had written to the Corinthians and had told them that their fathers were with Moses in the cloud and in the sea. If we look at history, the Dorian Greek people of Corinth did not exist when the promise to Abraham was made. Likewise Paul had told the Galatians that they were under the law, and therefore they were redeemed in Christ, and if we look at history, the Galatians did not exist when the promise to Abraham was made. The same can be said of all the other peoples to whom Paul had brought the Gospel, because they all had descended from Abraham through Jacob. For that same reason, there were no epistles of Paul to any people who did exist when the promise to Abraham was made. So there were no epistles of Paul to the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Syrians, or to any of the cities of the Persians or Ionians, or the many cities of the Arabs, or to anyone else who did not come from the loins of Abraham.
The last passage of Zechariah chapter 2 reads: “13 Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation”, which also has a meaning pertaining to Yahshua Christ. While this may metaphorically refer to the building of the second temple, it most literally refers to the Resurrected Christ, the everlasting house of God prophesied in Zechariah 1:16. The building of that true house not made with hands was the entire purpose of the 70-weeks Kingdom.
With all of this background, we may begin to understand Zechariah chapter 3.
In our presentation of the first two chapters of Zechariah’s prophecy, we purposely discussed in advance the high priest of the time of the building of the second temple, whose name was Jeshua (as it appears in the books of Nehemiah and Ezra), even though he is not mentioned until this third chapter of Zechariah. We did this because we were illustrating the historic record of this period as it is found in the pages of Nehemiah and Ezra. But we also did it because we wanted to underline the importance of the far vision, the transcendental aspect of Zechariah’s prophecy. We explained that this Jeshua was clearly the object of the near vision, or short term meaning of the prophecy in Zechariah chapter 3. But the prophecy far transcends the purpose of the late 6th century high priest. So we also asserted that this Jeshua, referred to here by a slightly longer version of what is essentially the same name, which is Joshua, must also have been chosen to serve as a type for another Joshua, which is Yahshua Christ. The “many nations [which] shall be joined to the LORD in that day”, as it is described in the closing verses of Zechariah chapter 2, is a reference to the many nations of scattered Israel which were converted to Christ upon the spread of the Gospel. Understanding the transcendental aspect of Zechariah’s prophecy we can see that this is true.
Zechariah 3:1 actually continues the vision which the prophet began recording in Zechariah chapter 2, where Jerusalem was measured, the scattering of Israel was evoked, the children of Israel are warned to deliver themselves from Babylon, the enemies of God are warned for the harm they would do to them, and there is a promise of the regathering of the nations to Christ, and now the prophet continues:
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?
Now these passages may be interpreted as representing the early struggles which the Judaeans in the time of Zerubbabel and Jeshua had with the Samaritans and the Edomites in the environs of ancient Jerusalem. But they are more properly interpreted as a prophetic description of the overall history of ancient Jerusalem and of a struggle which would not come to a head until the time of Jesus, or Yahshua Christ, when He had persistently rebuked His enemies in the temple in Jerusalem until they decided to kill Him. Of this Paul of Tarsus had said that the man of sin had already been revealed, who was acting in accordance with the “working of Satan”, as the King James Version has it. Paul also explained that this man of iniquity was prevailing in his present time, but that Christians could expect him to be destroyed at the second advent of the Christ.
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 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.
The filthy garments and the iniquity are representative of the sins of Israel, and are described here in the shame which the high priest would bear for the people. In the 69th Psalm, which Paul also cited in reference to Christ in Romans chapter 15, we read: “9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. 10 When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. 11 I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them.” Filthy garments and sin are associated throughout Scripture, as early as Genesis chapter 35 where it says “2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments”, and as late as Revelation chapter 3 in the message to the Christian assembly at Sardis: “4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white.”
For the immediate interpretation, the near vision, with the rebuilding of the temple and the resumption of the sacrifices and other rituals of the kingdom the high priest Jeshua in the time of Zerubbabel would be restored to his proper function. So by the mercy of God, Jeshua’s soiled garments of sin are exchanged for clean ones, because once again the high priest may fulfill the role of offering propitiations for the sins of the people.
But the transcendental reference is certainly to Yahshua Christ, where concerning the sins of the people, we see a similar mention of the shame that Christ would bear in a Messianic prophecy which is found in Isaiah chapter 53: “2... he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
When the children of Israel were put off in sin, it was the Name of Yahweh their God which had become polluted, as we see in the remedy prophesied in Ezekiel chapter 39: “7 So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.” That is one aspect of how the reproaches of Israel had fallen upon Christ. Allegorically, the change of garments is evident in the Gospel, where it says in Matthew chapter 28, where speaking of the risen Christ: “3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow...”
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.
The mitre was worn by the high priest, as it is often mentioned in Exodus and Leviticus. Speaking of when Moses had anointed Aaron as high priest, we read in Leviticus chapter 8: “9 And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the LORD commanded Moses.” In Antiquities of the Judaeans, Book 11, Flavius Josephus had said of a particular high priest of the time of Alexander the Great, speaking of Alexander himself, that: “the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing, with his mitre on his head, having the golden plate whereon the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name, and first greeted the high priest.”
There is often debate over the meaning of the word mitre. It does not describe the fillet-style hat typically worn by Roman Catholic bishops. But the description meant by the word which Josephus used and which Whiston and the King James translators rendered as mitre is arguable. Liddell & Scott say of κίδαρις that it is “A Persian head-dress, probably [equivalent to] τιάρα, [or] κυρβασία”. Liddell & Scott only define the τιάρα as “a Persian head-dress”. However for κυρβασία they have “a Persian bonnet or hat, with a peaked crown, prob. much like the τιάρα... the King alone wore it upright”.
Here in Zechariah, the Septuagint has the word κίδαρις. However in the eight other passages where the word mitre appears in the King James Version, only on three occasions does the Septuagint Greek have this word. On the other five occasions it has μίτρα, which commonly described a belt or girdle. But the word was also used as a synonym for κίδαρις, and was even more commonly used to describe a headband worn by Greek women, or by the victors at the games.
While Paul does not mention a mitre, and after the time of Christ the Levitical priesthood is dissolved, nevertheless the prophecy foretells the passing of the high priesthood to Christ, as we read in Hebrews (5:10) where Paul said that Christ was: “Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” Paul was referring to Messianic prophecies found in the Psalms. Because the order of Melchisedek incorporates the office of kingship in addition to the high priesthood, we read in the Revelation (14:14) that: “I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown...”
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 may of course be a short-term application of this prophecy to Jeshua as the second temple was being built and there was opposition from the neighboring peoples. But in the transcendental understanding, it is perceived that only Yahshua Christ had actually kept the commandments of God perfectly, as He attested in John chapter 15, speaking to His apostles: “10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” Therefore speaking of Christ, Paul wrote in Hebrews chapter 3: “1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. 3 For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.” So Christ is also both High Priest and the God who built the house. Then Paul wrote in Hebrews chapter 4: “14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
However there is a promise here nevertheless, where Joshua is told that if he keeps the ways and charges of Yahweh, that he would be given “places to walk among these that stand by.” The New American Standard translation has the last clause to read “and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here.” To understand what that means, w can only guess . But we must look to see who it was that was standing by. Earlier, in verse 5, it says “And the angel of the LORD stood by.” But here in verses 6 and 7, that is the same angel who is saying these things to Zechariah . So we must go back a little further, to verse 1 where it says that Joshua was standing before the angel of the Lord, “and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.” Who was standing by? The angel of the Lord, who is not the object of the clause, and Satan, who must be the object of the clause because it could not possibly refer to anyone else.
The scene depicted here in Zechariah is much like that of a trial, where God is Judge and Satan is the opponent who stands accusing Joshua of wrongdoing. In this scene, Satan must be a description of “those standing here”, as the plural is used in both the Hebrew and the Greek. So we see a type for the later trials of Christ. The apostle Peter spoke in a similar manner as a warning to Christians, in 1 Peter chapter 5: “8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” So regardless of the accusations being made by Satan, or the enemies of God collectively, if one keeps the ways and charges of Yahweh there is an assurance that one will be given space to walk amongst those enemies.
We see another reference in verse 4 where the angel “spake unto those that stood before him”, and we may want to distinguish these from this Satan. However it may be asserted that the enemies of Christ did indeed “take away the filthy garments from him”, as the angel commanded them, because it is they who crucified Him, by which He was glorified. So we may imagine these to be a reference to Satan collectively, as the enemies of Christ.
In Revelation chapter 12, when the great dragon is cast out of heaven, there is joy because “the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” Later in that same chapter, the dragon is portrayed as attempting to kill the Christ as a child. There the dragon must be represented by Herod, the Edomite Jew, where it says “And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.” However it also says that “the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”, where we see that the symbol must also be a reference to the Jews collectively, and all of their allies who are used by them in their opposition to the Christian people of God, which are the “flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.”
Where Zechariah continues, it is once again apparent that this is indeed a dual prophecy, and that Joshua the high priest is a type, or model, for Yahshua Christ, who is the ultimate High Priest:
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. 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. 10 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.
Later, in Zechariah chapter 4, the seven eyes are mentioned again where we are informed that they are “the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” Examining Revelation chapter 5 we see that these also refer to Christ, as John had written “6 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.” The stone with seven eyes laid before Joshua must therefore be representative of the Christ Himself, the same foundation stone of Psalm 118 and Isaiah chapter 28 where Yahweh declared “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.”
In Zechariah chapter 3, the prophet is depicting Jeshua, or Joshua, the high priest, as a model for the coming Branch, Yahshua Christ, “the root and the offspring of David”, as he described Himself in Revelation 22:16. Of him it was also prophesied in a similar manner in Isaiah chapter 11: “1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”
Yahshua Christ, the Branch of the prophecy, is the future High Priest who would bear the iniquities of His people, and only in Him was that iniquity removed in a day. The struggle with Satan depicted by the prophet actually begins to unfold over the entire history of the second temple period, where initially the enemies of God could not stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem, but eventually they were able to infiltrate and subvert Jerusalem, gaining control over both the nation and the temple. So when Yahshua Christ stood at the temple before God, Satan was at His right hand to resist Him. The struggle which Christ would suffer is therefore depicted as a struggle with Satan for the control of His people, where it says in the 82nd Psalm that “1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. 2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?” This too was fulfilled in the ministry of Christ, when He stood among His people and chastised them for accepting the wicked persons of His enemies. So it says here in verse 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?” This rebuke of Satan also happened by the mouth of Yahshua Christ during His earthly ministry, every time that Christ had rebuked the Jews.
After He was glorified in His Resurrection, the graving of the stone was engraved, and the iniquity of the land, as a type for the people of Yahweh, was removed. The fellows that sat before Jeshua are a type for the companions of Yahshua Christ, who indeed became “men wondered at”, as they were His apostles. He told them, “I am the vine, ye are the branches”, invoking some this very language in Zechariah. From this point on, the Gospel of Peace was declared to the people of God, as Yahweh says here in Zechariah that “In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.” But there is no peace to the wicked.
That His enemies, collectively, were themselves Satan is manifest in the Gospel in places such as John chapter 8 and Luke chapter 10. There Yahshua was speaking to His disciples: “18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Those serpents and scorpions were the enemies of God in Jerusalem. So it says here in Zechariah: “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,” in reference to those same devils.
In John chapter 8 Christ was speaking to His enemies, in this exchange where He said: “37 I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. 38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. 39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. 41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. 42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. 43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. 44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. 45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.”
The enemies of Christ were Abraham’s seed, but they were also of the children of Cain, as only Cain could be labeled a “murderer from the beginning”. In a different way, Christ had identified them as descendants of Cain in Luke chapter 11 where He insisted that they were responsible for the blood of Abel. The only way that both statements could be true, that they were of both Abraham and Cain, is if they were the children of Esau, rather than the children of Jacob. Esau had mingled with the Canaanites, who in turn were mingled with the Kenites and the Rephaim, which is evident in the Old Testament (Genesis 15, 36). The historicity of this situation is elucidated in Book 13 of Josephus’ Antiquities of the Judaeans, that the Edomite population of Judaea were all converted to the religion of Jerusalem. So Paul compared Israelites and Edomites in Romans chapter 9. It is explained in the prophecy of Ezekiel chapter 35 that the Edomites would move into the lands of both Israel and Judah after the deportations of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem, and it is proven in the pages of Josephus that they did.
As we have seen here at length, after their conversion to Judaism, eventually the Edomites took over the entire nation and put their own into office as its leaders and chief officers. Where these Edomites are recorded as saying in John chapter 8 that “We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God”, there is a prophecy in Malachi chapter 2 where certain priests who “corrupted the covenant of Levi”, as Josephus explained that many of the priests of his time were no of Levi, are portrayed as saying “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” And the answer from Yahweh God is this: “Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.” In the auto-biographical work which Josephus had left us, it is apparent that his own daughter, he being a Levite, had also married into the family of Herod. So these enemies of Christ are not Israelites at all, but rather, they are Canaanite-Edomite bastards. Cain was also a bastard. Those words in Malachi are a prophecy of the events recorded in John chapter 8.
In Romans chapter 9 Paul of Tarsus says: “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel” and then he explains that “Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” Then further on he compares Jacob and Esau and he says “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated”, quoting Malachi, and goes on to contrast “vessels of wrath fitted to destruction”, which are the Edomites, with “vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,” which are the true Israelites. In 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 Paul had described the Edomite rulers of Judaea as the “son of destruction”, which also must be a reference to the fact that they are Edomites, as he used the same term for Edomites when he wrote the epistle to the Romans.
Comparing Zechariah chapter 3 and Malachi chapter 2 to the prophecy of Ezekiel in chapter 35, the history of Josephus, the records of the Gospel and the letters of Paul, we see a clear and consistent picture throughout Scripture and History. The people who now call themselves Jews are not the ancient people of Israel. Rather, they are the Satan of Zechariah chapter 3 and 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, the serpents and scorpions of Luke, and the children of the devil described by Christ in the Gospel of John.
Some of these things we have just said in this same manner in our recent presentation of Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians. We were compelled to repeat them, because Zechariah chapter 3 is a prophecy of that same thing of which Paul’s epistles are a record. The Bible repeats facets of this same account many different times, and most Christians still do not understand it, preferring to believe fables instead. We shall therefore repeat many of these things in the near future when, Yahweh willing, we hope to make a new presentation of the prophecy of Malachi. We shall continue to repeat ourselves, because the proper understanding of these aspects of Scripture is integral to an understanding of history and of what is happening in the world around us today.