Zechariah 3:2
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?
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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). Zechariah 3:2In this and the following visions the prophet is shown the future glorification of the church of the Lord. Zechariah 3:1. "And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of Jehovah, and Satan stood at his right hand to oppose him. Zechariah 3:2. And Jehovah said to Satan, Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan; and Jehovah who chooseth Jerusalem rebuke thee. Is not this a brand saved out of the fire? Zechariah 3:3. And Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. Zechariah 3:4. And he answered and spake to those who stood before him thus: Take away the filthy garments from him. And he said to him, Behold, I have taken away thy guilt from thee, and clothe thee in festal raiment. Zechariah 3:5. And I said, Let them put a clean mitre upon his head. Then they put the clean mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of Jehovah stood by." The subject to ויּראני is Jehovah, and not the mediating angel, for his work was to explain the visions to the prophet, and not to introduce them; nor the angel of Jehovah, because he appears in the course of the vision, although in these visions he is sometimes identified with Jehovah, and sometimes distinguished from Him. The scene is the following: Joshua stands as high priest before the angel of the Lord, and Satan stands at his (Joshua's) right hand as accuser. Satan (hassâtân) is the evil spirit so well known from the book of Job, and the constant accuser of men before God (Revelation 12:10), and not Sanballat and his comrades (Kimchi, Drus., Ewald). He comes forward here as the enemy and accuser of Joshua, to accuse him in his capacity of high priest. The scene is therefore a judicial one, and the high priest is not in the sanctuary, the building of which had commenced, or engaged in supplicating the mercy of the angel of the Lord for himself and the people, as Theodoret and Hengstenberg suppose. The expression עמד לפני furnishes no tenable proof of this, since it cannot be shown that this expression would be an inappropriate one to denote the standing of an accused person before the judge, or that the Hebrew language had any other expression for this. Satan stands on the right side of Joshua, because the accuser was accustomed to stand at the right hand of the accused (cf. Psalm 109:6). Joshua is opposed by Satan, however, not on account of any personal offences either in his private or his domestic life, but in his official capacity as high priest, and for sins which were connected with his office, or for offences which would involve the nation (Leviticus 4:3); though not as the bearer of the sins of the people before the Lord, but as laden with his own and his people's sins. The dirty clothes, which he had one, point to this (Zechariah 3:3).

But Jehovah, i.e., the angel of Jehovah, repels the accuser with the words, "Jehovah rebuke thee;... Jehovah who chooseth Jerusalem."

(Note: The application made in the Epistle of Jude (Jde 1:9) of the formula "Jehovah rebuke thee," namely, that Michael the archangel did not venture to execute upon Satan the κρίσις βλασφημίας, does not warrant the conclusion that the angel of the Lord places himself below Jehovah by these words. The words "Jehovah rebuke thee" are a standing formula for the utterance of the threat of a divine judgment, from which no conclusion can be drawn as to the relation in which the person using it stood to God. Moreover, Jude had not our vision in his mind, but another event, which has not been preserved in the canonical Scriptures.)

The words are repeated for the sake of emphasis, and with the repetition the motive which led Jehovah to reject the accuser is added. Because Jehovah has chosen Jerusalem, and maintains His choice in its integrity (this is implied in the participle bōchēr). He must rebuke Satan, who hopes that his accusation will have the effect of repealing the choice of Jerusalem, by deposing the high priest. For if any sin of the high priest, which inculpated the nation, had been sufficient to secure his removal or deposition, the office of high priest would have ceased altogether, because no man is without sin. גּער, to rebuke, does not mean merely to nonsuit, but to reprove for a thing; and when used of God, to reprove by action, signifying to sweep both him and his accusation entirely away. The motive for the repulse of the accuser is strengthened by the clause which follows: Is he (Joshua) not a brand plucked out of the fire? i.e., one who has narrowly escaped the threatening destruction (for the figure, see Amos 4:11). These words, again, we most not take as referring to the high priest as an individual; nor must we restrict their meaning to the fact that Joshua had been brought back from captivity, and reinstated in the office of high priest. Just as the accusation does not apply to the individual, but to the office which Joshua filled, so do these words also apply to the supporter of the official dignity. The fire, out of which Joshua had been rescued as a brand, was neither the evil which had come upon Joshua through neglecting the building of the temple (Koehler), nor the guilt of allowing his sons to marry foreign wives (Targ., Jerome, Rashi, Kimchi): for in the former case the accusation would have come too late, since the building of the temple had been resumed five months before (Haggai 1:15, compared with Zechariah 1:7); and in the latter it would have been much too early, since these misalliances did not take place till fifty years afterwards. And, in general, guilt which might possibly lead to ruin could not be called a fire; still less could the cessation or removal of this sin be called deliverance out of the fire. Fire is a figurative expression for punishment, not for sin. The fire out of which Joshua had been saved like a brand was the captivity, in which both Joshua and the nation had been brought to the verge of destruction. Out of this fire Joshua the high priest had been rescued. But, as Kliefoth has aptly observed, "the priesthood of Israel was concentrated in the high priest, just as the character of Israel as the holy nation was concentrated in the priesthood. The high priest represented the holiness and priestliness of Israel, and that not merely in certain official acts and functions, but so that as a particular Levite and Aaronite, and as the head for the time being of the house of Aaron, he represented in his own person that character of holiness and priestliness which had been graciously bestowed by God upon the nation of Israel." This serves to explain how the hope that God must rebuke the accuser could be made to rest upon the election of Jerusalem, i.e., upon the love of the Lord to the whole of His nation. The pardon and the promise do not apply to Joshua personally any more than the accusation; but they refer to him in his official position, and to the whole nation, and that with regard to the special attributes set forth in the high priesthood - namely, its priestliness and holiness. We cannot, therefore, find any better words with which to explain the meaning of this vision than those of Kliefoth. "The character of Israel," he says, "as the holy and priestly nation of God, was violated - violated by the general sin and guilt of the nation, which God had been obliged to punish with exile. This guilt of the nation, which neutralized the priestliness and holiness of Israel, is pleaded by Satan in the accusation which he brings before the Maleach of Jehovah against the high priest, who was its representative. A nation so guilty and so punished could no longer be the holy and priestly nation: its priests could no longer be priests; nor could its high priests be high priests any more. But the Maleach of Jehovah sweeps away the accusation with the assurance that Jehovah, from His grace, and for the sake of its election, will still give validity to Israel's priesthood, and has already practically manifested this purpose of His by bringing it out of its penal condition of exile."

After the repulse of the accuser, Joshua is cleansed from the guilt attaching to him. When he stood before the angel of the Lord he had dirty clothes on. The dirty clothes are not the costume of an accused person (Drus., Ewald); for this Roman custom was unknown to the Hebrews. Dirt is a figurative representation of sin; so that dirty clothes represent defilement with sin and guilt (cf. Isaiah 64:5; Isaiah 4:4; Proverbs 30:12; Revelation 3:4; Revelation 7:14). The Lord had indeed refined His nation in its exile, and in His grace had preserved it from destruction; but its sin was not thereby wiped away. The place of grosser idolatry had been taken by the more refined idolatry of self-righteousness, selfishness, and conformity to the world. And the representative of the nation before the Lord was affected with the dirt of these sins, which gave Satan a handle for his accusation. But the Lord would cleanse His chosen people from this, and make it a holy and glorious nation. This is symbolized by what takes place in Zechariah 3:4 and Zechariah 3:5. The angel of the Lord commands those who stand before Him, i.e., the angels who serve Him, to take off the dirty clothes from the high priest, and put on festal clothing; and then adds, by way of explanation to Joshua, Behold, I have caused thy guilt to pass away from thee, that is to say, I have forgiven thy sin, and justified thee (cf. 2 Samuel 12:13; 2 Samuel 24:10), and clothe thee with festal raiment. The inf. abs. halbēsh stands, as it frequently does, for the finite verb, and has its norm in העברתּי (see at Haggai 1:6). The last words are either spoken to the attendant angels as well, or else, what is more likely, they are simply passed over in the command given to them, and mentioned for the first time here. Machălâtsōth, costly clothes, which were only worn on festal occasions (see at Isaiah 3:22).; They are not symbols of innocence and righteousness (Chald.), which are symbolized by clean or white raiment (Revelation 3:4; Revelation 7:9); nor are they figurative representations of joy (Koehler), but are rather symbolical of glory. The high priest, and the nation in him, are not only to be cleansed from sin, and justified, but to be sanctified and glorified as well.

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