Part Four
 : The Righteous Branch Will Cleanse Us From Our Uncleanliness
Evan Snyder

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.

And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

– Zechariah 3


Imagine that you have been put in charge of the house while your parents are gone. And you’re supposed to look after everything in the house and make sure everything stays in order and that nothing bad happens. But your sibling decides to have a bunch of friends over and they ruin everything in the house. Your parents are coming home tomorrow! 

The next day they come back and find the house completely ruined. Not good, right? 

You’re responsible. You are now standing before your parents as a representative of all that happened to the house. What happens to you is what’s going to happen to your sibling. This is where we find Joshua the high priest in Zechariah chapter 3.

Just like you would feel responsible and guilty for all that happened to the house, so we find Joshua standing before the Lord, responsible and guilty for all that has happened to the nation of Israel, for all of their sins. 

At the beginning of chapter 3 we see Satan standing next to Joshua accusing him. We see Joshua standing there and he doesn’t give a defense. We see Joshua standing there, clothed in filthy garments. Imagine how Joshua must’ve felt knowing he was guilty. Knowing that he is standing there before God along with the sins of all of the nation of Israel represented in his filthy garments and now being judged. 

But someone else was standing there too. We see it is the angel of the Lord.

Imagine what Joshua must’ve felt in that moment. He had no defense for himself or the people of Israel, but the angel of the Lord then speaks on his behalf! Joshua couldn’t stand up against the accusations of Satan but we see that the angel of the Lord can and does! 

In verse four we read the angel of the Lord says, “I have taken your iniquity away from you”. What we read here is that Joshua and the people of Israel have been justified by God himself. The angel of the Lord did not tell Joshua to takeoff his own filthy garments and to put on new ones. Instead the angel of the Lord says that he will remove them and he will put on new garments for him. What an amazing picture!

What we see in Zechariah chapter 3 is God‘s plan for salvation. Verse eight shows that Joshua and his men are to be a sign. And we see the promise of the righteous “branch” and the invitation to invite all of our neighbors to come under this “branch”. The “branch” is a messianic title that we see all throughout the Old Testament. For example, in Isaiah 11 we read that the line of David will appear to be totally cut off however out of it will grow a “branch”. And in the book of Jeremiah we also see mention of a “branch” as it relates a king bringing justice and righteousness into the land. But who is the “branch”? The “branch is Jesus, who will remove our filthy clothes (our sins) just like he did for Joshua, as well as, all those who believe upon him.

So back to our story from the beginning. Imagine standing there with your parents and there happens to be someone else standing there next to you. This person sees how messed up the house is and knows that you’re in big trouble. But that someone decides they will fix everything for you. For free! 

How would you respond? What would you say to that person? What would you say to others?

This advent season we are reminded that the promise of the branch to cleanse us has been fulfilled in Jesus. Praise the Lord! The words of the hymn, “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” help point us to the incredible reality that God has fulfilled his promise to us and yet we long for Jesus to come back once and for all. May this line be a prayer and longing for all of us during this advent season: 


“Come, thou long expected Jesus,

born to set thy people free;

from our fears and sins release us,

let us find our rest in thee.”