The restoration of the church. (1-5) A promise concerning the Messiah. (6-10)
Verses 1-5 The angel showed Joshua, the high priest, to Zechariah, in a vision. Guilt and corruption are great discouragements when we stand before God. By the guilt of the sins committed by us, we are liable to the justice of God; by the power of sin that dwells in us, we are hateful to the holiness of God. Even God's Israel are in danger on these accounts; but they have relief from Jesus Christ, who is made of God to us both righteousness and sanctification. Joshua, the high priest, is accused as a criminal, but is justified. When we stand before God, to minister to him, or stand up for God, we must expect to meet all the resistance Satan's subtlety and malice can give. Satan is checked by one that has conquered him, and many times silenced him. Those who belong to Christ, will find him ready to appear for them, when Satan appears most strongly against them. A converted soul is a brand plucked out of the fire by a miracle of free grace, therefore shall not be left a prey to Satan. Joshua appears as one polluted, but is purified; he represents the Israel of God, who are all as an unclean thing, till they are washed and sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Israel now were free from idolatry, but there were many things amiss in them. There were spiritual enemies warring against them, more dangerous than any neighbouring nations. Christ loathed the filthiness of Joshua's garments, yet did not put him away. Thus God by his grace does with those whom he chooses to be priests to himself. The guilt of sin is taken away by pardoning mercy, and the power of it is broken by renewing grace. Thus Christ washes those from their sins in his own blood, whom he makes kings and priests to our God. Those whom Christ makes spiritual priests, are clothed with the spotless robe of his righteousness, and appear before God in that; and with the graces of his Spirit, which are ornaments to them. The righteousness of saints, both imputed and implanted, is the fine linen, clean and white, with which the bride, the Lamb's wife, is arrayed, ( Revelation 19:8 ) . Joshua is restored to former honours and trusts. The crown of the priesthood is put on him. When the Lord designs to restore and revive religion, he stirs up prophets and people to pray for it.
Verses 6-10 All whom God calls to any office he finds fit, or makes so. The Lord will cause the sins of the believer to pass away by his sanctifying grace, and will enable him to walk in newness of life. As the promises made to David often pass into promises of the Messiah, so the promises to Joshua look forward to Christ, of whose priesthood Joshua's was a shadow. Whatever trials we pass through, whatever services we perform, our whole dependence must rest on Christ, the Branch of righteousness. He is God's servant, employed in his work, obedient to his will, devoted to his honour and glory. He is the Branch from which all our fruit must be gathered. The eye of his Father was upon him, especially in his sufferings, and when he was buried in the grave, as the foundation-stones are under ground, out of men's sight. But the prophecy rather denotes the attention paid to this precious Corner-stone. All believers, from the beginning, had looked forward to it in the types and predictions. All believers, after Christ's coming, would look to it with faith, hope, and love. Christ shall appear for all his chosen, as the high priest when before the Lord, with the names of all Israel graven in the precious stones of his breastplate. When God gave a remnant to Christ, to be brought through grace to glory, then he engraved this precious stone. By him sin shall be taken away, both the guilt and the dominion of it; he did it in one day, that day in which he suffered and died. What should terrify when sin is taken away? Then nothing can hurt, and we sit down under Christ's shadow with delight, and are sheltered by it. And gospel grace, coming with power, makes men forward to draw others to it.
In this chapter, under the type of Joshua the high priest, is showed the state and condition of the priesthood, and of the church of God, in his times; and in it are various promises concerning the true High Priest, Christ, and of the efficacy and permanency of his priesthood. The vision of Joshua is in the form of a judicial process: Joshua is the person accused, and is described by his situation, standing before the Angel of the Lord; and by the filthy garments he had on, which were the ground of the charge against him, Zec 3:1,3 The accuser of him is Satan, who stood at his right hand; and his Judge is the Angel of the Lord, before whom he was, Zec 3:1. The sentence given against his accuser is by way of rebuke, enforced by the Lord's choice of Jerusalem, and merciful deliverance of this person; and, as given in his favour, is an order to take his filthy garments from him, and clothe him with change of raiment, and to put a fair mitre on his head; which were accordingly done, Zec 3:2,4,5 and a promise is made him, by way of protestation, that if he would walk in his ways, and keep his charge, he should judge his house, and keep his courts, and should have a walking place among those that stood by, Zec 3:6,7 and next Joshua, and those that were with him, are addressed as men wondered at; and are called upon to hearken to a promise of the Messiah, under the character of the Branch, Zec 3:8 and under that of a stone with seven eyes on it, and engravings in it, by whom the iniquity of God's people is removed, Zec 3:9 and the chapter is closed with an account of the prosperity, peace, and safety of the saints under the Gospel dispensation, Zec 3:10.