ZECHARIAH-SERIES NR 10
Zechariah 6 : 9 – 15
Theme: The crown and the temple
We have read in Zechariah 6:9-15 of a symbolic act that had massive consequences at a later stage.
It is still true today that a symbolic act mostly refers to something concrete that is even larger than the symbolic act itself. For example, when the Spaniards arrived in America the first time, they planted the Spanish flag all over. By that symbolic action they laid claim to the area for the king of Spain. Later on those areas were, by way of wars and conflict, taken for Spain. The planting of the flags was merely an initial symbolic action that had enormous consequences.
Zechariah is not SEEING anything further. Indeed, he has seen 8 visions. But now he is RECEIVING a direct prophetic Word from God. He is receiving direct instructions from the Lord. This is how it happened:
At that time there were three men who have just arrived in Jerusalem from Babylon. They were among the approximately 50000 exiles who had returned almost two decades previously, but for some reason went back to Babylon, probably to raise funds among the Jews who remained behind in order to financially support the Jews in Jerusalem who were struggling to survive. They therefore had a heart for their fellow believers. They had gold and silver in their possession.
It could have been that they had the gold and silver available in order to replace the gold- and silverware that was stolen out of the temple at the start of the exile (Ezra 6:5). We do not know the details. According to Ezra 6:8 king Darius gave money out of the royal treasury for the rebuilding of the temple. It could also have been this money that Heldai, Tobijjah and Jedaiah brought to Jerusalem.
Josiah, son of Zephaniah was probably a silversmith and the three men had to go to his house at the very time Zechariah received the word from the Lord to go to Josiah to have a crown made from some of that specific gold and silver. Josiah was probably the man who was to make the crown.
And then follows the symbolic action: Zechariah had to set that crown on the head of Joshua, the High Priest!
But wait! There is a problem! Joshua COULD NOT be crowned with that crown because he was a priest from the tribe of Levi. No priest could be king. No king could be a priest. Besides, the kings had to come out of the tribe of Judah. Remember when king Saul wanted to take over the priestly duties, the Lord took his kingship away from him.
Here is a problem that has to be resolved.
A further peculiarity: The crown was not to remain on the head of Joshua. It had to be set on his head and then a certain prophetic announcement had to be spoken and then the crown had to be removed and placed in the temple and kept there… it is added… it must remain in the temple as a memorial to Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah who brought the money from Babylon, and to Josiah, the man who made the crown. The crown was given to them but it had to be kept in the temple.
How must we make sense out of that?
Let us first look at the prophetic Word Zechariah had to speak when he set the crown on Joshua’s head: It says this:
“Here is a man whose name is Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord, and He will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on His throne. And He will be a priest on His throne. And there will be harmony between the two”.
There is a slight problem with the translation at this point. This translation makes it sound as if the man – Branch – will sit on the throne as king, and that there is a second throne upon which the priest will sit and that there is co-operation between the two.
Other translations – such as the 1953 Afrikaans and the English King James translated the Hebrew better: “Branch will reign on his throne and he will be a priest on his throne”.
The king and the priest is therefore one person! And it is one throne, not two thrones.
This is the exact reason why the crown symbolically had to be set on Joshua the priest’s head. Both king and priest in one person. Joshua is one person and he is priest, but he also receives a royal crown!
The wonder is that Zechariah was perfectly cognisant with how forbidden it was in Israel that a king could be a priest (and vice versa) but that he nevertheless recorded these exact words here in chapter 6. He therefore wrote down something that was in direct opposition to his belief. It is therefore clear that it was a direct revelation to him from God. He cannot understand it himself, but he writes it down. Because it came from God! A Word that simply HAD to be recorded and a symbolic action he HAD to be performed – to set the crown on Joshua’s head.
The question now is: How must we understand it all.
Firstly, the person called BRANCH – who was to be both king and priest – is not unknown to us, because we have met Him before. In Zechariah 3:8 already. Also in Jeremiah 23. BRANCH is merely another prophetic name for the Messiah. And Jeremiah 23 very clearly says that he will be KING. That He will be absolutely complete/perfect. That He will be descended from David.
We also know that Joshua was not the Messiah. He was also not from the tribe of Judah. Joshua was SYMBOLIC of Someone who was to come in the future. This is in line with Zechariah 3 where it is explicitly stated that Joshua is a symbol of the coming Branch. You see how Scripture explains/confirms Scripture. What this text is thus saying is this: “The coming Messiah shall be King and Priest in one Person. He is the One who will wear the crown. But because He is not yet here, Joshua must symbolically represent Him as High Priest“.
More than 500 years after this symbolic coronation, the soldiers set a crown of thorns on the head of the Lord Jesus Christ and ridiculed Him, saying: “Hail, king of the Jews!” (John 19:3). The notice fastened to the cross also read “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews”.
He should have received the crown of Zechariah 6, but then He received a crown of thorns. He should have received the praises of the Jews: “Hosanna to the Son of David” but then had to hear: “We have no king, but Caesar”. He was to sit upon a throne, but then He was nailed to a cross.
But, that is not the end of the story.
After His resurrection He is raised to the heavenly throne in a position of absolute power. All power and majesty is given to Him (Matt 28:18). And in Eph 1:21 and 1 Pet 3:22 it says that He is far above all dominion and authority and power and name. Indeed EVERYTHING is under His feet.
And that while He is still Priest. The letter to the Hebrews makes it clear that He is High Priest for ever. Priest in the order of Melchizedek, says Heb 7.
That is an exact fulfilment of the Word of God that came to Zechariah in Zechariah 6. Zechariah merely acted in a symbolic manner, but the later fulfilment is enormously great. It is far above our understanding. Look at the prophetic words spoken and how perfectly it was fulfilled hundreds of years later, then we will know that it is the living God who is in the control room, that He keeps His Word, that the Messiah priest-king is the Lord Jesus Christ, that He reigns and that He will come again. Remember: The ACTUAL fulfilment of Zechariah 6 takes place at the second coming of Christ, the White throne judgment, the arrival of the New Earth.
But look at this as well:
Verse 12b says that this man BRANCH will build the temple of the Lord. Verse 13 repeats it. Yes, we know that Joshua the priest, would be involved with the rebuilding of the temple in the immediate historical context of the words of Zechariah and the completion of the work in the year 516 BC. We have already seen that repeatedly in this series up to now.
The rebuilding of the physical temple in Jerusalem – where Joshua would be involved – now becomes a jumping-board to speak of the man BRANCH that will be king-priest and build a different kind of temple.
Not a literal temple in Jerusalem. We are aware that Jesus did not erect a brick and mortar temple in Jerusalem, and neither will He do it in the future.
What is then meant with building of the temple?
From the testimony of the New Testament we know very well what is meant with that.
In Matthew 16:16 Peter is saying to Jesus: “You are the Christ (Messiah/Branch) the Son of the living God”. Jesus replied: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”.
The temple that the Messiah is building is not of bricks and mortar and with human hands, but of living stones (1 Pet 2:5) – people of flesh and blood! Built into a spiritual home, a holy priesthood (v 5). 1 Cor 3:16-17 is absolutely clear: The church IS the temple of the Spirit. Add to that the testimony of Eph 2:19-22 that teaches that the church of Christ is compared with a building under construction, a holy temple for the Lord. 1 Peter 4:17 calls the church (not the church building!) the “house of God”. Even the physical body of a Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).
O yes! The Messiah is indeed busy building a massive international temple.
And Zechariah 6 verse 15 adds something to it. He says that people who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the Lord. This will happen if YOU diligently obey the Lord your God.
What does that mean?
At first the crown that Zechariah sets upon Joshua’s head will be taken off and placed in the temple where it had to remain as a visible sign to the covenant people of the fact that God is faithful and that He will fulfil His promise. They could look at it and be reminded and be assured that God will send the man Branch, that He is the Messiah, that He is king-priest, that He shall build a completely different temple – a temple consisting of people – and that Israelites/Jews will be part of it.
BUT… those who are far away, will also come and help to build the temple.
Who are they? Gentiles/Non-Jews? Yes. That was unthinkable to the people at the time of Zechariah. In Ezra 4 we read that they refused help with the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem from the non-Jews in the area. It was exactly those non-Jews that made their lives difficult.
But in the far distant future, things would change drastically. That is what verse 15 is saying. In the new temple which the Messiah will build, there will be both Jews and non-Jews. Indeed, the temple will consist of them. It is going to be a human-temple. People will come from far.
So we see in the book of Acts how Zechariah 6:15 began to go into fulfilment. At Pentecost the tongues of fire descended upon approximately 120 Jews – Jews who had come to faith in the Branch, the Messiah. But from there the Gospel-message spread very quickly and more and more Non-Jews (nations) were added to the church. And so the process continues even today. All Christian-believers who are not Jewish, are part of the people in verse 15 who “come from far”.
Is it not awesome the way that the Bible has so wonderfully been put together? It is so clear that over a period of hundreds of years, the Spirit of God communicates a specific message. He uses Zechariah as a spokesperson more than 500 years BC and then – 5 centuries later – He brings it all to fulfilment. He brings all to fruition by this man, Branch. The priest-king for eternity.
And where one becomes a Christ-believer in the 21st century, you can be absolutely sure that you are included with Him who is truly the Messiah. Who is King. Who is reigning. And who is High Priest – who cares for you and who empathises with you and intercedes for you. You can know that you are a part of the temple that He is building. That through Him you are called and chosen for it. And that you are privileged to proclaim His Name to other people with the assurance that He will and shall incorporate people from far as living stones into the temple. And that He will and shall use YOUR labours towards it.
Translated by Marthie Wilson