An Exposition of Zechariah (6)

Biblical Research Monthly, 1942-43 (supplemented from installments published in 1973) — by Dr. David L. Cooper


      1. Collateral Considerations (BRM January 1973)
      2. Zechariah 1:1-6: Repentance: A Dominant Characteristic of Biblical Preaching
      3. Zechariah 1:8-17: Israel in the Valley of Depression during the Times of the Gentiles
      4. Zechariah 2:1-12: Jerusalem the Golden
      5. Zechariah 3:1-7: The Conversion and Cleansing of Israel
      6. Zechariah 3:8-12: My Servant The Branch
      7. Zechariah 4:1-14: The Significance of the Candlestick
      8. Zechariah 5:1-4: The Flying Roll (BRW March 1973)
      9. Zechariah 5:5-11: Commercialism Removed from Palestine to Babylon
      10. Zechariah 6:1-8: The Executors of God's Wrath
      11. Zechariah 6:9-15: The Man Whose Name is Branch
      12. Zechariah 7:1-14: The Deputation from Bethal
      13. Zechariah 8:1-19: The Future of Israel and the Jewish People
      14. Zechariah 9:1-8: The Conquest of Alexander
      15. Zechariah 9:9-12: The Two Comings of Messiah
      16. Zechariah 9:13-17: The Two Deliverances of Israel
      17. Zechariah 10:1-4: Israel's Shepherd King
      18. Zechariah 10:5-12: The Regathering of Israel
      19. Zechariah 11:1-17: Messiah's Rejection Symbolically Set Forth
      20. Zechariah 12:1-9: Jerusalem in the Throes of the Last War
      21. Zechariah 12:10 - 13:7: The Conversion of Israel
      22. Zechariah 13:8 - 14:21: The Day of Jehovah and the Millennium

Zechariah 3:8-12:

My Servant The Branch

In last month's article we studied the prophecy concerning the conversion and cleansing of Israel, found in chapter 3:1-7. In the present installment we are to investigate the prophecy concerning THE BRANCH, which prediction constitutes the conclusion of this special oracle.

Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou and thy fellows that sit before thee; for they are men that are a sign: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch. For, behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; upon one stone are seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith Jehovah of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, shall ye invite every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig-tree.” (Zechariah 3:8-10)

In verses 8-10 Joshua again appears in his official capacity, for here he is called “Joshua the high priest.” The Lord spoke to him, addressing him and his fellow priests in the following words: “O Joshua the high priest, thou and thy fellows that sit before thee; for they are men that are a sign.” Very definitely then we know that this is a symbolic picture, for Joshua and his associates in the priesthood are said to be men for a sign — a symbol. This language reminds one of the statement which the Lord made to Isaiah concerning himself and his family (Isaiah 8:16-18). This prophet and his children, all of whom had significant names, were for signs and wonders in Israel from Jehovah of hosts.

In view of the fact that Joshua and his associates are said to be signs, we must interpret this passage as a symbolic one. To force upon it any meaning other than that is to do violence to the Scriptures.

The Lord said that Joshua and his fellow priests were for a sign. A sign of what? One may ask. The following words give the desired information: “for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.”

The Original Prediction

The word rendered Branch is an echo of a prediction which David made at the conclusion of his life, and which is found in II Samuel 23:1-7. An examination of this passage shows that the king of Israel, in vision, saw Messiah, his greater Son, and His marvelous reign upon the earth. This vision of the Lord Jesus in His purity caused David to confess that he and his house were unlike King Messiah. Notwithstanding this fact, he declared that God had made with him “an everlasting covenant, Ordered in all things, and sure,” although, “he maketh it not to grow.” In this quotation appears the verb from which the noun rendered Branch is derived [tsemach]. Thinking of Messiah in terms of a plant growing up out of the soil, David said that this plant, or branch, had not started to grow in his day and time; but according to the sure word of prophecy, it would spring up in the future. Nevertheless, he did not tell us the time. That information was left to other and later prophets.

Four Lines of Prophecy

Zechariah, by the Spirit, used the word Branch, and by so doing alluded to this original prediction. He tells us, however, that this is not a literal branch of which he was speaking, but that this one is God's servant. Zechariah therefore was considering Messiah as the servant of God. An examination of Mark's record of the gospel shows that this writer presented Jesus as the Servant of Jehovah who did do God's will. The keynote of this gospel is expressed in words such as “straightway,” and “immediately.” Mark, in writing his record for the Romans, is very vivid in his account of the life of our Lord and presents Him as a man of action.

Having in mind the original passage in II Samuel, Jeremiah spoke of God's raising up to David “a righteous Branch” which would “reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” In his day Israel with Judah is to dwell safely. This prediction is found in Jeremiah 23:5-8. Examination of this prophecy shows that Jeremiah considered Messiah as God's righteous King who shall execute justice and righteousness, not only in Israel, but also throughout the world. When one studies the Gospel according to Matthew, he sees instantly that this evangelist presented Christ to the Jewish people as God's King. Jesus was born King of the Jews. All the material which Matthew presents of our Lord's life contributes to the establishment of the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the “righteous Branch” who is to reign in righteousness over Israel. His people rejected Him upon His first coming (John 1:11-14). In accordance with the predictions, He returned to Heaven and awaits the time when they will accept Him and plead for His reappearance. Then He will return and will become their King in fulfillment of this passage and at the same time, King of the world.

When we reach Zechariah 6:12, we shall see that our prophet again presented this One, who is called the Branch, as a man, an ideal perfect man. Those who are acquainted with Luke's account of our Lord's life instantly recognize that this writer presented Jesus as an ideal man — perfect in every particular. The Gospel of Luke is considered the most beautiful book in all the world. It lays emphasis upon the thought that Jesus of Nazareth, though God, was a perfect man. This evangelist therefore took Zechariah 6:12 as the text for his record of the gospel.

Isaiah the prophet in chapters 2-4 foretold the day of Jehovah, the Tribulation, and the introduction of the great Millennial Age. Then in concluding his discourse he told us, 4:2, that “In that day shall the branch of Jehovah be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.” The expression, “branch of Jehovah,” is a reference to the divine nature of our Lord, whereas the term, “fruit of the land,” is a phrase which indicates His humanity and harks back to our original prediction in II Samuel 23:5. While the Apostle John recognized the human nature of our Lord, as is evident throughout his record of the gospel, he laid the major emphasis of his message upon the fact that Jesus was God, became flesh, and dwelt among us. This branch passage of Isaiah was John's text in his writing the gospel message.

The Stone — a Symbol of King Messiah

In Zechariah 3:9 the prophet called attention to the stone which was placed before Joshua and his associates. Since this picture is a symbolic one, the stone therefore is likewise symbolic. What is its significance? Whenever a stone is used symbolically, it always refers to King Messiah. The first appearance of this usage is found in Genesis 49:24. The same metaphorical use of stone occurs in Isaiah 8:14 and 28:15;16. The psalmist in Psalm 118:22 uses stone with the same significance. It also refers to Messiah in Daniel 2:44.

Upon this stone Zechariah saw eyes, the seven eyes of Jehovah. This expression either refers to the fact that the Messiah is constantly under the watchful gaze of the Almighty or that this stone, which symbolizes Messiah (cf. Revelation 5:6), has seven eyes engraved upon it, which fact indicates that the person signified by it is divine-is omniscient.

The Conversion of Israel in a Day

The carving of the engraving on this stone is connected with the removal of the iniquity of Israel in one day. There is harmony between a symbolic act and the thing signified. Since this stone symbolizes Messiah, this act of engraving must signify something which is done to Him, and which is connected with the removal of the sin of the nation. In view of the historical fulfillment, it seems evident that this engraving on the stone sets forth the one and only thing which could thus be pictured — the crucifixion of Christ, which makes possible the forgiveness of sins.

At the end of the Tribulation the Jews will have learned the lesson that Messiah died for their sins, that they must repudiate the national crime and accept Him as their atonement. When they thus repent of this national sin and accept Him, the nation of Israel will be born in a day-but never until then.

When she is thus converted, Edenic conditions will be restored to the earth and the great era of millennial glory will be ushered in.

Next: Zechariah 4:1-14