(Zech. 3:8-9; 6:9-15) Is this prophetic of Jesus?

CLAIM: After the angel of the LORD defends Joshua from Satan’s accusations, he explains that these men are a symbol of something to come. Zechariah writes,

Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch. 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 (Zech. 3:8-9).

Later in chapter 6, Joshua the high priest is crowned as a king!

Take silver and gold, make an ornate crown and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. 12 “Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord. 13 “Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.” ’ (Zech. 6:11-13).

Is this a prediction of Jesus?

RESPONSE: This is surely a prediction of Jesus. Consider the language and symbols being used throughout this passage:

“They are men who are a symbol” Zechariah writes that these men will be a symbol for something (or someone) to come. This refers to Jesus’ intercession on the behalf of sinners, which fits the best with the context of Satan trying to accuse the high priest.

“I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day” D.A. Carson comments, “Living this side of the cross, we have no doubt who the ultimate high priest is, and how he fully bore our sin in his own body on the tree.”[1] God’s forgiveness of the people in Joshua’s time was prophetic of his future (and fuller) deliverance through the Cross (Zech. 12:10; 13:1; Rom. 11:26-27).

Joshua—the high priest:It is interesting that the high priest’s name is “Joshua.” This is the Hebrew form of Jesus’ name. Is this a mere coincidence, or is there something about this figure that would predict Jesus’ person and work? Barker writes, “How appropriate therefore that both the type (Joshua) and the antitype (Jesus) have a name meaning the Lord saves!”[2]

The stone: The stone (Zech. 3:8) refers to the Messiah (cf. Isa. 8:13-15; Ps. 118:22-23), who destroys the nations (Dan. 2:35, 45) and becomes the bedrock of God’s people (Eph. 2:20).

The priesthood: The priesthood is symbolic of Christ. Where they failed in their ability to be pure and sanctified, Christ succeeded as the perfect high priest.

A kingly priest: There was a separate of “church and state” in Israel. You could either be a priest or you could be a king, but you couldn’t be both. Here we get the uniting of these “two offices” (Zech. 6:13). The priest is given an ornate crown (cf. Rev. 19:12). The same concept is seen in Psalm 110.

The Servant: The word “servant” (Zech. 3:8) is ‘ebed (עֶבֶד) in Hebrew. It is the same word used for the “Servant” of the Lord in Isaiah’s Servant Songs.

The Branch: The Branch comes back later in Zechariah 6:12-13. Some think that Zechariah was using Isaiah 53 as a source in his discourse from Zechariah 12-13. The same language is used here. Isaiah calls the Messiah the “Servant” (Isa. 53) and the “Branch” (Isa. 11:1; 53:2). Jeremiah also refers to the Messiah as the “righteous Branch,” who will be called Yahweh (Jer. 23:5-6; cf. 33:15). Barker writes, “The Aramaic Targum of Jonathan interprets the Branch as the Messiah, the King.”[3]

Note the context of this vision of a priest-king in chapter 6: It comes on the tail end of the judgment of the nations—symbolized by the four horsemen (Zech. 6:1-8).


[1] Strong, James: The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order. electronic ed. Ontario : Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996, S. H5650.

[2] Barker, K. L. Zechariah. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1986. 639.

[3] Barker, K. L. Zechariah. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1986. 626.