Zechariah 3:2
And the LORD said to Satan, The LORD rebuke you, O Satan; even the LORD that has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 3:2-5. And the Lord said, &c. — The Logos, or Son of God, said unto Satan; The Lord — Namely, God the Father; rebuke thee — And not suffer thy mischievous imagination against Jerusalem and the temple to prosper. Even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem — Who hath chosen that place for his especial residence. Christ, as a mediator, rather chooses to rebuke the adversary in his Father’s name than in his own. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire — “Is not this small remnant returned from captivity,” represented here by Joshua, “miraculously rescued from utter destruction, like a brand plucked out of the fire? and can it be thought that God will not preserve them?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments — Denoting the sins and pollutions of the people, of whom he was the representative. And he spake unto those that stood before him — Christ spake to the inferior angels, his servants; Take away the filthy garments from him — Remove, or cause them to be removed. These filthy garments those angels removed, but another and superior hand takes away the sins and pollutions signified by that emblem. And he — Namely, Christ, the Lamb of God; said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee — I have, by my merits and Spirit, removed the guilt, power, and pollution of thine iniquity. And I will clothe thee with change of raiment — With other garments, namely, such as are not filthy or polluted, but clean and rich, an emblem of holiness. As the filthy garments denoted the sins of the people, whose representative Joshua was, the taking them away denoted God’s pardoning their public and national transgressions, and his restoring them to his favour and protection. “The Jews used to change their garments under any public calamity; which calamity being over, they expressed the change of their condition, and the greatness of their joy, by clothing themselves in garments adapted to their circumstances:” see Calmet. And I said — I, the Lord, further said, or commanded. The LXX. omit these words, prefixing and to the following expression: and the Syriac and Vulgate read, He said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head — As the new garments put upon Joshua were such as belonged to the high- priest, and were contrived for glory and beauty, Exodus 28:2, so the mitre was the proper ornament for his head. And the angel of the Lord stood by — Namely, Christ, through whose mediation, and at whose command, the above was done. 3:1-5 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, Re 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.And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee - Jerome: "This they so explain, that the Father and the Son is Lord, as we read in the Psalm 110:1-7, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand." The Lord speaketh of another Lord; not that He, the Lord who speaketh, cannot rebuke, but that, from the unity of nature, when the Other rebuketh, He Himself who speaketh rebuketh. For "he who seeth the Son, seeth the Father also" John 14:9. It may be that God, by such sayings , also accustomed people, before Christ came, to believe in the Plurality of Persons in the One Godhead. The rebuke of God must be with power. "Thou hast rebuked the nations, Thou hast destroyed the ungodly" Psalm 9:5. "Thou hast rebuked the proud, accursed" Psalm 119:21. "They perish at the rebuke of Thy Countenance" Psalm 80:16. "At Thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a deep sleep" Psalm 76:6. "God shall rebuke him, and he fleeth far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind" Isaiah 17:13. "He rebuked the Red Sea and it dried up" Psalm 106:9. "The foundations of the world were discovered at Thy rebuke, O Lord" (Psalm 18:15, add Nahum 1:4). He "rebuked the seed" Malachi 2:3, and it perished; the devourer" Malachi 3:11, and it no longer devoured. The rebuke then of the blasted spirit involved a withering rejection of himself and his accusations, as when Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and he departed out of his victim Mark 1:25-26; Mark 9:25; Luke 4:35; Luke 9:42.

The Lord hath chosen Jerusalem - Joshua then is acquitted, not because the accusation of Satan was false, but out of the free love of God for His people and for Joshua in it and as its representative. "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?" Romans 8:33-34. The high priest, being "himself also compassed with infirmity, needed daily to offer up sacrifices first for his own sins, and then for the people's" Hebrews 5:2-3. As Isaiah said, on the sight of God, "I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips" Isaiah 6:5, and, until cleansed by the typical coal, dared not offer himself for the prophetic office, so here Satan, in Joshua, aimed at the whole priestly office, and in it, at Israel's relation to God.

Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? - Cyril: "As if he should say, Israel confessedly has sinned, and is liable to these charges. Yet it has suffered no slight punishment; it has endured sufferings, and has scarce been snatched out of them, as a half-burned "brand out of the fire." For not yet had it shaken off the dust of the harms from the captivity; only just now and scarely had it escaped the flame of that most intolerable calamity. Cease then imputing sin to them, on whom God has had mercy."

2. the Lord—Jehovah, hereby identified with the "angel of the Lord (Jehovah)" (Zec 3:1).

rebuke thee—twice repeated to express the certainty of Satan's accusations and machinations against Jerusalem being frustrated. Instead of lengthened argument, Jehovah silences Satan by the one plea, namely, God's choice.

chosen Jerusalem—(Ro 9:16; 11:5). The conclusive answer. If the issue rested on Jerusalem's merit or demerit, condemnation must be the award; but Jehovah's "choice" (Joh 15:16) rebuts Satan's charge against Jerusalem (Zec 1:17; 2:12; Ro 8:33, 34, 37), represented by Joshua (compare in the great atonement, Le 16:6-20, &c.), not that she may continue in sin, but be freed from it (Zec 3:7).

brand plucked out of … fire—(Am 4:11; 1Pe 4:18; Jude 23). Herein God implies that His acquittal of Jerusalem is not that He does not recognize her sin (Zec 3:3, 4, 9), but that having punished her people for it with a seventy years' captivity, He on the ground of His electing love has delivered her from the fiery ordeal; and when once He has begun a deliverance, as in this case, He will perfect it (Ps 89:30-35; Php 1:6).

The Lord said, i.e. Christ, the great Redeemer, Restorer, Lord, and Mediator of the church.

The Lord; the great God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who as Mediator rather chooseth to rebuke him in his Father’s name than in his own, though this he could have done.

Rebuke thee; he who was accused was God’s high priest, and to minister in the temple at Jerusalem, the city which God had chosen, in which respect it was sure that God would take cognizance of the matter and judge aright; he would prohibit Satan’s attempts.

Is not this, this man, this Joshua,

a brand plucked out of the fire? like a brand half burnt, or all smutty with long lying in the fire of affliction? Reject him not for this.

The Lord said, i.e. Christ, the great Redeemer, Restorer, Lord, and Mediator of the church.

The Lord; the great God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who as Mediator rather chooseth to rebuke him in his Father’s name than in his own, though this he could have done.

Rebuke thee; he who was accused was God’s high priest, and to minister in the temple at Jerusalem, the city which God had chosen, in which respect it was sure that God would take cognizance of the matter and judge aright; he would prohibit Satan’s attempts.

Is not this, this man, this Joshua,

a brand plucked out of the fire? like a brand half burnt, or all smutty with long lying in the fire of affliction? Reject him not for this. And the Lord said unto Satan,.... The same with the Angel of the Lord, Zechariah 3:1 having heard the charge brought by him against Joshua, here called Jehovah, being the Son of God, and properly God:

The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; these words may be considered, either as the intercession of Jehovah the Son with Jehovah the Father, for Joshua and his church, and against Satan; that he would reprove him for his malice and wickedness; stop his mouth, and silence him, that he might not go on to accuse; that he would confound his schemes, and restrain him from doing mischief; tread him down, and bruise him under the feet of his people, and pour out his wrath upon him: or as a declaration of what should be done to him, or what he himself would do; for it may be rendered, "the Lord will rebuke thee" (w); as the following clause is by some, who take this to be a wish, and the following a positive declaration, that Jehovah the Father would certainly rebuke Satan; as might be concluded from the reasons and arguments used by the angel, taken from God's choice of Jerusalem; the building of which Satan endeavoured to hinder, though God had chosen it for his habitation and worship; and from the deliverance of Joshua out of the fire for that purpose: and this reproof of him on the behalf of his people is founded on their election of God:

even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee; which act is eternal; springs from the love and grace of God towards them; antecedes all works, good or bad, done by them; stands firm, sure, and unalterable; such who are interested in it are called, justified, and shall be glorified; nor has Satan anything to do with them; nor will any charge of his be of any avail against them, Romans 8:33,

is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? which is to be understood of Joshua; not of his being delivered out of that fire, into which the Jews (x) say he was cast, along with Ahab and Zedekiah, whom the king of Babylon roasted in it, Jeremiah 29:22 when he marvellously escaped; others say (y) 8000 young priests fled to the temple, and were burnt in it, and only Joshua was preserved; but of his deliverance out of the Babylonish captivity, and also of the priesthood, which, during the captivity, when the temple was destroyed, and temple service ceased, was like a brand in the fire; and though Joshua the high priest was returned, and the priesthood in some measure restored, yet not to its former glory, the temple not being yet built; and therefore was but like a smoking firebrand; likewise the people of God may be meant; see Amos 4:11, who are by nature like a branch cut off, a dry stick cast into the fire, and half burnt; they are in a state of separation from God, Father, Son, and Spirit; and they are unprofitable and unfruitful, and in danger in themselves of being consumed in the fire of divine wrath, of which they are as deserving as others, and are under the sentence of it; and, when convinced, have dreadful apprehensions of being consumed by it; but, through the grace, mercy, love, and power of God, they are plucked out of this state in the effectual calling, and are secured from everlasting destruction; wherefore Satan is rebuked for attempting to bring any who are instances of such grace and goodness into condemnation; it being wicked and malicious, bold and daring, vain and fruitless; since such are secured by the grace and power of God, and are preserved for everlasting glory and happiness.

(w) "increpabit", Burkius. (x) Jarchi & Kimchi in loc. (y) T. Hieros. Taaniot, fol. 69. 2.

And the {c} LORD said to Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a {d} brand plucked out of the fire?

(c) That is, Christ speaks to God as the mediator of his Church, that he would rebuke Satan: and here he shows himself to be the continual preserver of his Church.

(d) Meaning that Joshua was wonderfully preserved in the captivity, and now Satan sought to afflict and trouble him when he was doing his office.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. The Lord] Jehovah, who in Zechariah 3:1; Zechariah 3:5-6, is called the Angel of Jehovah.

hath chosen Jerusalem] comp. Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 2:12; and for the argument Romans 8:33. The election or choice of God, as an act of free grace, is insisted on in like manner in the earlier history. Deuteronomy 4:37; Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Deuteronomy 10:15.

a brand pluckt out of the fire] i.e. saved from imminent and almost completed destruction, comp. 1 Corinthians 3:15. A similar expression occurs in Amos 4:11. In Isaiah 7:4, “from the two tails of these smoking brands,” the same figure is used with a different reference. The two hostile kings are there compared to wooden stakes or pokers, which had been used to stir up the flames, but which were themselves now well-nigh burnt out and consumed, and need therefore cause no further apprehension.Verse 2. - The Lord said. The Angel of Jehovah speaks. The appellations are often here used interchangeably. The Lord rebuke thee. The Lord's rebuke falls with effect where it is directed; it paralyzes the hostile power (comp. Psalm 106:9; Nahum 1:4). Satan's accusation may have been well founded, but it sprang from malice, and was directed against the people whom God was receiving into favour, and therefore it was rejected and rendered innocuous. Some commentators have supposed that St. Jude is alluding to this passage when (ver. 9) he quotes the words of Michael contending about the body of Moses, "The Lord rebuke thee:" but it is more probable that Jude is referring to some rabbinical tradition, or to the apocryphal 'Assumption of Moses' (see the matter examined in Dissertation I. of Dr. Gloag's 'Introduction to the Catholic Epistles'). That hath chosen Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 2:12). God's election of Israel and renewed acceptance of her is the reason why Satan's accusation is rejected (Deuteronomy 7:7, 8). She is not to be abandoned to the consequences of her sins, nor were God's gracious purposes towards her to be frustrated. "God hath not cast away his people, which he foreknew;" and, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" (Romans 8:33; Romans 11:2, 29). This. This man, Joshua, saved from his father's and grandfather's fate (see on Haggai 1:1), a type of the deliverance of Israel. A brand plucked out of the fire. Israel had been already punished by defeat, captivity, distress, and misery. From these evils, which had almost destroyed her, she had been delivered; and the deliverance would be completed; she should not be cast again into the fire (see Amos 4:11, and note there). The expression is proverbial (comp. 1 Corinthians 3:15; Jude 1:23). The fourth woe is an exclamation uttered concerning the cruelty of the Chaldaean in the treatment of the conquered nations. Habakkuk 2:15. "Woe to him that giveth his neighbour to drink, mixing thy burning wrath, and also making drunk, to look at their nakedness. Habakkuk 2:16. Thou hast satisfied thyself with shame instead of with honour; then drink thou also, and show the foreskin. The cup of Jehovah's right hand will turn to thee, and the vomiting of shame upon thy glory. Habakkuk 2:17. For the wickedness at Lebanon will cover thee, and the dispersion of the animals which frightened them; for the blood of the men and the wickedness on the earth, upon the city and all its inhabitants." The description in Habakkuk 2:15 and Habakkuk 2:16 is figurative, and the figure is taken from ordinary life, where one man gives another drink, so as to intoxicate him, for the purpose of indulging his own wantonness at his expense, or taking delight in his shame. This helps to explain the משׁקה רעהוּ, who gives his neighbour to drink. The singular is used with indefinite generality, or in a collective, or speaking more correctly, a distributive sense. The next two circumstantial clauses are subordinate to הוי משׁקה, defining more closely the mode of the drinking. ספּח does not mean to pour in, after the Arabic sfḥ; for this, which is another form for Arab. sfk, answers to the Hebrew שׁפך, to pour out (compare שׁפך חמתו, to pour out, or empty out His wrath: Psalm 79:6; Jeremiah 10:25), but has merely the meaning to add or associate, with the sole exception of Job 14:19, where it is apparently used to answer to the Arabic sfḥ; consequently here, where drink is spoken of, it means to mix wrath with the wine poured out. Through the suffix חמתך the woe is addressed directly to the Chaldaean himself, - a change from the third person to the second, which would be opposed to the genius of our language. The thought is sharpened by ואף שׁכּר, "and also (in addition) making drunk" (shakkēr, inf. abs.). To look upon their nakednesses: the plural מעוריהם is used because רעהוּ has a collective meaning. The prostrate condition of the drunken man is a figurative representation of the overthrow of a conquered nation (Nahum 3:11), and the uncovering of the shame a figure denoting the ignominy that has fallen upon it (Nahum 3:5; Isaiah 47:3). This allegory, in which the conquest and subjugation of the nations are represented as making them drink of the cup of wrath, does not refer to the open violence with which the Chaldaean enslaves the nations, but points to the artifices with which he overpowers them, "the cunning with which he entices them into his alliance, to put them to shame" (Delitzsch). But he has thereby simply prepared shame for himself, which will fall back upon him (Habakkuk 2:16). The perfect שׂבעתּ does not apply prophetically to the certain future; but, as in the earlier strophes (Habakkuk 2:8 and Habakkuk 2:10) which are formed in a similar manner, to what the Chaldaean has done, to bring upon himself the punishment mentioned in what follows. The shame with which he has satisfied himself is the shamefulness of his conduct; and שׂבע, to satisfy himself, is equivalent to revelling in shame. מכּבוד, far away from honour, i.e., and not in honour. מן is the negative, as in Psalm 52:5, in the sense of ולא, with which it alternates in Hosea 6:6. For this he is now also to drink the cup of wrath, so as to fall down intoxicated, and show himself as having a foreskin, i.e., as uncircumcised ( הערל from ערלה ). This goblet Jehovah will hand to him. Tissōbh, he will turn. על (upon thee, or to thee). This is said, because the cup which the Chaldaean had reached to other nations was also handed over to him by Jehovah. The nations have hitherto been obliged to drink it out of the hand of the Chaldaean. Now it is his turn, and he must drink it out of the hand of Jehovah (see Jeremiah 25:26). וקיקלון, and shameful vomiting, (sc., יהיה) will be over thine honour, i.e., will cover over thine honour or glory, i.e., will destroy thee. The ἁπ. λεγ. קיקלון is formed from the pilpal קלקל from קלל, and softened down from קלקלון, and signifies extreme or the greatest contempt. This form of the word, however, is chosen for the sake of the play upon קיא קלון, vomiting of shame, vomitus ignominiae (Vulg.; cf. קיא צאה in Isaiah 28:8), and in order that, when the word was heard, it should call up the subordinate meaning, which suggests itself the more naturally, because excessive drinking is followed by vomiting (cf. Jeremiah 25:26-27).

This threat is explained in Habakkuk 2:17, in the statement that the wickedness practised by the Chaldaean on Lebanon and its beasts will cover or fall back upon itself. Lebanon with its beasts is taken by most commentators allegorically, as a figurative representation of the holy land and its inhabitants. But although it may be pleaded, in support of this view, that Lebanon, and indeed the summit of its cedar forest, is used in Jeremiah 22:6 as a symbol of the royal family of Judaea, and in Jeremiah 22:23 as a figure denoting Jerusalem, and that in Isaiah 37:24, and probably also in Zechariah 11:1, the mountains of Lebanon, as the northern frontier of the Israelitish land, are mentioned synecdochically for the land itself, and the hewing of its cedars and cypresses may be a figurative representation of the devastation of the land and its inhabitants; these passages do not, for all that, furnish any conclusive evidence of the correctness of this view, inasmuch as in Isaiah 10:33-34, Lebanon with its forest is also a figure employed to denote the grand Assyrian army and its leaders, and in Isaiah 60:13 is a symbol of the great men of the earth generally; whilst in the verse before us, the allusion to the Israelitish land and nation is neither indicated, nor even favoured, by the context of the words. Apart, for example, from the fact that such a thought as this, "the wickedness committed upon the holy land will cover thee, because of the wickedness committed upon the earth," not only appears lame, but would be very difficult to sustain on biblical grounds, inasmuch as the wickedness committed upon the earth and its inhabitants would be declared to be a greater crime than that committed upon the land and people of the Lord; this view does not answer to the train of thought in the whole of the ode, since the previous strophes do not contain any special allusion to the devastation of the holy land, or the subjugation and ill-treatment of the holy people, but simply to the plundering of many nations, and the gain forced out of their sweat and blood, as being the great crime of the Chaldaean (cf. Habakkuk 2:8, Habakkuk 2:10, Habakkuk 2:13), for which he would be visited with retribution and destruction. Consequently we must take the words literally, as referring to the wickedness practised by the Chaldaean upon nature and the animal world, as the glorious creation of God, represented by the cedars and cypresses of Lebanon, and the animals living in the forests upon those mountains. Not satisfied with robbing men and nations, and with oppressing and ill-treating them, the Chaldaean committed wickedness upon the cedars and cypresses also, and the wild animals of Lebanon, cutting down the wood either for military purposes or for state buildings, so that the wild animals were unsparingly exterminated. There is a parallel to this in Isaiah 14:8, where the cypresses and cedars of Lebanon rejoice at the fall of the Chaldaean, because they will be no more hewn down. Shōd behēmōth, devastation upon (among) the animals (with the gen. obj., as in Isaiah 22:4 and Psalm 12:6). יחיתן is a relative clause, and the subject, shōd, the devastation which terrified the animals. The form יחיתן for יחתּן, from יחת, hiphil of חתת, is anomalous, the syllable with dagesh being resolved into an extended one, like התימך for התמּך in Isaiah 33:1; and the tsere of the final syllable is exchanged for pathach because of the pause, as, for example, in התעלּם in Psalm 55:2 (see Olshausen, Gramm. p. 576). There is no necessity to alter it into יחיתך (Ewald and Olshausen after the lxx, Syr., and Vulg.), and it only weakens the idea of the talio. The second hemistich is repeated as a refrain from Habakkuk 2:8.

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