weekly word – 3/07/24

Zechariah and the Branch

After God gives eight visions to Zechariah from 1:1-6:8, He comes again to tell him to make a crown for the high priest, Joshua. This is a very strange command since the office of high priest is always distinct from the royal line of King David. But God hadn't planned to make the high priest into a king; He wanted to point forward to a future Priest-King known as the “Branch”.

Let’s read Zechariah 6:9-15 together and examine it afterwards:

And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, “Take an offering from the exiles, from Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah; and you come the same day and come into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah, where they have come from Babylon.  And take silver and gold, make an ornate crown, and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.”

“Then you will say to him, ‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, and He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of Yahweh.  Indeed, it is He who will build the temple of Yahweh, and He who will bear the splendor 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.”’ 

“Now the crown will become a memorial in the temple of Yahweh to Helem, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Hen the son of Zephaniah. And those who are far off will come and build the temple of Yahweh.” Then you will know that Yahweh of hosts has sent me to you. And it will happen if you utterly listen to the voice of Yahweh your God.

In this passage, God lays out three steps for Zechariah. 

First, Zechariah needs supplies to make the crown. So God instructs him to get the necessary silver and gold from three recent returnees to Jerusalem, Heldai (Helem), Tobijah, and Jedaiah. These men were living in the house of Josiah (Hen), the son of Zephaniah. 

Then, once Zechariah makes the crown, God wants him to place it on the head of the high priest, Joshua, son of Jehozadak. But unlike a normal king, Joshua wasn’t allowed to wear the crown after this initial coronation. Notice in the final paragraph, God says that the crown will become a memorial in the temple to those who came to help build it.

All that makes sense. But the middle paragraph is different; it is potent with symbolism. As Zechariah places the crown on Joshua’s head, God wants Zechariah to prophecy about a man whose name is Branch who bears royal splendor, rebuilds a Temple for Yahweh, and sits on the throne of Jerusalem, ruling as king and high priest.

While the first and third paragraphs show the present-day actions of Zechariah, this second paragraph is a future-oriented prophecy. In the coronation of the high priest, God tells Zechariah to speak to the high priest about a man who will redeem Israel in the future, build the temple, and reign over Israel as king and high priest. This man is symbolically named “Branch”, zemach, because He will be like a new branch that shoots out from the old vine of Israel (Isaiah 5).

Jeremiah’s original prophecy about the Branch comes from Jeremiah 23:5-6: “Behold, the days are coming,” declares Yahweh, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and prosper and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘Yahweh our righteousness.’” Zechariah referred to this “Branch” in chapter 3 and 6 as a reminder that God would one day bring a Messiah from the Jews who would lead Israel into complete righteousness.

Those of us who know Jesus Christ are able to make complete sense of this passage. One day, Jesus will do something the high priest and governor of Judah could not do in Zechariah’s day. He will cause Israel to repent, trust in Him, be cleansed from their sin, and live out their purpose of blessing all the nations.

In a way, we as Christians are very similar to Joshua, the high priest of Zechariah’s day. We have a job to fulfill in obedience to God. We are reconciling people to God, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5. But at best, all we can do is point people to our great high priest, Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us until the day He returns to rule the earth in His glorious kingdom. God will be faithful to accomplish His promises, so we should be faithful to trust in Him and follow through in obedience to His word.

Pastor David