a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

Fourth Vision: Joshua and Satan


Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the L ord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2And the L ord said to Satan, “The L ord rebuke you, O Satan! The L ord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this man a brand plucked from the fire?” 3Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” And to him he said, “See, I have taken your guilt away from you, and I will clothe you with festal apparel.” 5And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with the apparel; and the angel of the L ord was standing by.

6 Then the angel of the L ord assured Joshua, saying 7“Thus says the L ord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, 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. 8Now listen, Joshua, high priest, you and your colleagues who sit before you! For they are an omen of things to come: I am going to bring my servant the Branch. 9For on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven facets, I will engrave its inscription, says the L ord of hosts, and I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day. 10On that day, says the L ord of hosts, you shall invite each other to come under your vine and fig tree.”

We have said at the beginning that Zechariah was sent for this end — to encourage weak minds: for it was difficult to entertain hope in the midst of so much confusion. Some, but a small portion of the nation, had returned with the tribe of Judah: and then immediately there arose many enemies by whom the building of the city and of the temple was hindered; and when the faithful viewed all their circumstances, they could hardly entertain any hope of a redemption such as had been promised. Hence Zechariah labored altogether for this end — to show that the faithful were to look for more than they had reason to expect from the aspect of things at the time, and that they were to direct their eyes and their thoughts to the power of God, which was not as yet manifested, and which indeed God purposely designed not to exercise, in order to try the patience of the people.

This is the subject which he now pursues, when he says, that Joshua the priest was shown to him, with Satan at his right hand to oppose him 3333     To retain the alliteration of the Hebrew, the words may be thus rendered — “and the opponent standing on his right hand to oppose him,” or, “the accuser standing on his right hand to accuse him.” The word Satan is rendered here and in Job by the Septuagint, “the accuser,” or “the devil,” ὁ διαβολος. The station on the right hand was that of the plaintiff, or the accuser, or of the pleader, as Grotius thinks. See Psalm 109:6. The word [שטז], according to its use as a verb, participle, or a noun, means an opponent or adversary, rather than an accuser. See Psalm 38:20; Numbers 22:22; Genesis 26:21
   Blayney, as well as Kimchi, thinks that Sanballat is meant by [השטז]; but the article [ה], as it has been observed by Marckius and Henderson, seems to point out the great enemy of God and man, as ὁ διαβολος in Greek. — Ed.
God was, however, there also. But when Zechariah says, that the priest Joshua was shown to him as here represented, it was not only done in a vision, but the fact was known to all; that is, that Joshua was not adorned with a priestly glory, such as it was before the exile; for the dignity of the priest before that time was far different from what it was after the return of the people; and this was known to all. But the vision was given to the Prophet for two reasons — that the faithful might know that their contest was with Satan, their spiritual enemy, rather than with any particular nations — and also that they might understand that a remedy was at hand, for God stood in defense of the priesthood which he had instituted. God, then, in the first place, purposed to remind the faithful that they had to carry on war, not with flesh and blood, but with the devil himself: this is one thing. And then his design was to recall them to himself, that they might consider that he would be their sure deliverer from all dangers. Since we now perceive the design of this prophecy, we shall proceed to the words of the Prophet.

He says that Joshua was shown to him. This was done no doubt in a prophetic vision: but yet Zechariah saw nothing by the spirit but what was known even to children. But, as I have already said, we must observe the intentions of the vision, which was, that the faithful might understand that their neighbors were troublesome to them, because Satan turned every stone and tried every experiment to make void the favor of God. And this knowledge was very useful to the Jews, as it is to us at this day. We wonder why so many enemies daily rage against us, and why the whole world burn against us with such implacable hatred; and also why so many intrigues arise, and so many assaults are made, which have not been excited through provocation on our part: but the reason why we wonder is this, — because we bear not in mind that we are fighting with the devil, the head and prince of the whole world. For were it a fixed principle in our minds, that all the ungodly are influenced by the devil, there would then be nothing new in the fact, that all unitedly rage against us. How so? Because they are moved by the same spirit, and their father is a murderer, even from the beginning. (John 8:44.)

We hence see that the faithful were taught what was extremely necessary, — that their troubles arose from many nations, because Satan watched for their ruin. And though this vision was given to the Prophet for the sake of his own age, yet it no doubt belongs also to us; for that typical priesthood was a representation of the priesthood of Christ, and Joshua, who was then returned from exile, bore the character of Christ the Son of God. Let us then know that Christ never performs the work of the priesthood, but that Satan stands at his side, that is, devises all means by which he may remove and withdraw Christ from his office. It hence follows, that they are much deceived, who think that they can live idly under the dominion of Christ: for we all have a warfare, for which each is to arm and equip himself. Therefore at this day, which we see the world seized with so much madness, that it assails us, and would wholly consume us, let not our thoughts be fixed on flesh and blood, for Satan is the chief warrior who assails us, and who employs all the rage of the world to destroy us, if possible, on every side. Satan then ever stands at Christ’s right hand, so as not to allow him in peace to exercise his priestly office.

VIEWNAME is study