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The Coronation of the Priest-King

 

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Zechariah 6:9-15 (text); Ephesians 2:11-22

Rev. Nollie Malabuyo • April 19, 2015

Introduction

Dear Congregation of Christ: In addition to a secret rapture and a millennial kingdom on earth, another popular belief among evangelicals concerning the end times is the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. This is necessary, they say, because animal sacrifices will be restored, and Christ will reign from a throne in the temple.

crowns_gold_thornsHow did Bible teachers come up with these teachings? They have two main presupposi­tions. The first is their literalistic interpretation of prophetical texts, in which they interpret clearly apocalyptic texts full of symbolism as literal. The other is that God has separate salvation plans for Jews and Gentiles. In our brief study today, we will see that these two presuppositions are flawed—or more accurately—erroneous.

Our text, Zechariah 6:9-15, is the hinge of the book. The first part of the book, Zechariah 1:1-6:8, is the prophet’s seven “night visions,” which we concluded last week. The second part, Chapters 7-14, is mainly “oracles” or prophecies concerning Israel and the nations until the end of time. 1

Zechariah Structure Kline

The biggest question in our text today is why was Joshua, a high priest, crowned as king instead of Zerubbabel, who was the governor? Some think this is a scribal error since in the Old Testament, only kings are crowned, not priests. Haggai even says that on the Day of the Lord, Zerubbabel his servant will his chosen one who will wear his signet ring (Hag 2:20-23).

Joshua is unique in the history of Israel, just as Jesus is unique in all Biblical history. He is a foreshadow of Christ, who was anointed and crowned as Priest and King. No other person is qualified to fulfill both roles. If Zerubbabel was crowned, there would be no merger of these two offices. Joshua, not Zerubbabel, is a type of Christ, as he is crowned as priest-king. As priest, “he shall build the temple.” And as king, “he shall sit and rule on his throne.”

“He Shall Build the Temple”

Kings and leaders were given the task of temple-building. Adam was to tend and keep the garden of Eden, God’s sanctuary. Moses built the tabernacle. King David planned to build the temple, but Solomon completed it. Zerubbabel, a descendant of David, was to be endowed by the Spirit to complete the temple rebuilding project (Zech 4:6, 9).

Because of Israel’s rebellion against God, the glory of the Lord left the temple (Ezk 11:23), and the people exiled to Babylon. But the Lord promised he will dwell with his people again in the temple (Zech 1:3). The wealth of the nations shall flow into Jerusalem to rebuild the temple (Hag 2:6-9; Zech 6:11, 15; Ezra 6:8-12). Even the crown made by Zechariah for Joshua is made of gold and silver from Babylonian returnees. (6:11). This recalls the Israelites bringing gold and silver the Egyptians gave them at their departure (Exo 12:35-36).

Without the temple during their exile in Babylon, there were no animal sacrifices. Without the sacrifices, particularly on the annual Day of Atonement, there was no removal of sin. Since this was done annually, it meant that there was no long-term, permanent removal of sin. This was the problem. But Zechariah’s night visions are a picture of the removal of sin: the re-clothing of Joshua the high priest (3:1-10); the flying scroll destroyed all covenant-breakers; the basket with a woman named Wickedness, symbolizing “their iniquity in all the land,” was also removed (Ch 5); the four chariots will destroy all of God’s enemies (6:1-8).

In later chapters, “a fountain opened for the house of David … to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness,” especially of idolatry and false prophets (13:1-6). This cleansing will be accomplished through the “piercing” of one who causes “mourning” in Israel (12:10-11;). So what is this “fountain” and who is this one who will be “pierced”?

The answer is found in other texts in Scripture. In Ezekiel 36:25, the Lord promises, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.” Then, the writer of Hebrews uses this verse, saying, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” The writer exhorts Christians to draw near to God because now, Christ has opened “a new and living way” to the Holy of Holies, that is, God’s throne of grace. His body was “pierced” (Luke 23:27-28; John 19:34-37) and his blood was shed on the cross (Heb 10:20-22). On the cross, he cleansed us from our filthy sinfulness. Christ is our fountain, from which flows the living water of salvation and righteousness. Jesus invites everyone, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37), and never again will he be thirsty. His fountain “will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

Therefore, when Zechariah says that Joshua the high priest shall build the temple, Joshua is a picture of Christ who will cleanse God’s people by offering himself as the sacrifice without spot or blemish. This is why Joshua is called the servant of the Lord, “the Branch … who shall build the temple of the LORD” (6:12; 3:8).

James the brother of Jesus also says that the final fulfillment of the rebuilding of the temple is not the temple that Joshua and Zerubbabel rebuilt, nor a temple during a millennium. It is the temple that Christ has been building since his earthly ministry. At the Jerusalem Council, James declared that God will “rebuild the tent of David that has fallen … that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name” (Acts 15:16-17). James was literally quoting a prophecy by Amos about the restoration of the exiles, but he says that the final fulfillment of Amos’ prophecy is in the salvation of the Gentiles, “to take from them a people for his name” (Acts 15:14).

This is what Jesus himself confirms, “Something greater than the temple is here” (Matt 12:6; John 2:19). The New Testament writers also say the same thing. Jesus “tabernacled among us” (John 1:14). His body is the Temple to be rebuilt (John 2:19). In the new heaven and new earth, he is the Temple (Rev 21:22). Since Christ is our Temple, his Church is also called the Temple in Mount Zion (Psa 2:6). When we worship together every Lord’s Day, we come to Mount Zion (Heb 12:22). The Church is “the temple of the living God” (2 Cor 6:16). And Peter says that the Church, as the temple, is “like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Pet 2:4-5).

Therefore, Joshua and Zerubbabel will rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. But this temple is merely a foreshadow of the final temple, the church, whom Christ is building until the day he returns.

“He Shall Sit and Rule on His Throne”

In verse 12, the Lord calls Joshua the high priest, “my servant the Branch.” This name, “the Branch,” is often mentioned by the prophets as a descendant of King David (Isa 4:2; 11:1; Jer 23:5). Earlier, after Joshua was re-clothed with clean garments and a clean turban, the Lord promised, “I will bring my servant the Branch” (Zech 3:5-6, 8). Here in our text, Joshua himself is called “the Branch.” Then, instead of a turban, he is crowned like a king. In Chapter 4, Zerubbabel is the temple-builder. Here, Joshua “shall build the temple of the Lord.”

Some say that this is a scribal error because only kings are crowned. Clearly, the prophet is merging the offices of priest and king in one person. Now, it is Joshua who “shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne” (verse 13).

On who’s throne will he sit? The high priest in the temple has no throne. Therefore, this throne must be God’s throne. Where is God’s throne in the temple? It is in the Holy of Holies, on top of the Ark of the Covenant, the “mercy seat.” Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest enters the Holy of Holies and sprinkles the mercy seat with the blood of sacrificial animals. But when this King, the “Branch,” comes, he will sit on God’s throne forever! After all, King Solomon’s throne was also called “the throne of the Lord” (1 Chr 29:23). The psalmists say that God will establish his Son as King on Mount Zion, his “holy hill,” where the temple stands (Psa 2:6). And from Zion, this king will rule and subdue all kings and all his enemies (Psa 110:2; 2:12).

But it is not only the Branch who sits as King in the temple. The Lord God himself will sit beside him, “And there shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (verse 13). This means that there is perfect harmony between Yahweh and his Son who sits on his right hand.

Clearly, all of these prophecies are fulfilled by Christ, who is King David’s descendant. Many New Testament writers cite Psalm 2 and 110 and other Old Testament Messianic texts as fulfilled by Christ, who sits at his Father’s right hand (Matt 26:64; Acts 2:34-35; Eph 1:20; Heb 1:13; 1 Pet 3:22).

But the crown rests on Joshua’s head only for a little while. God instructs Zechariah to take the crown from Joshua and set it in the temple, probably in the Holy of Holies. Why? This crown will be a memorial, a “reminder” of the three exiles from Babylon who contrib­uted the gold and silver used to make the crown (verse 14). Another reason is that Joshua is only a foreshadow of Christ the True Branch, who will build the temple and be crowned as King of kings and Lord of Lords forever.

“Those Who are Far Off Shall Help Build the Temple”

In building the temple, the Lord promises Zechariah, “those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the Lord” (verse 15). In this concluding verse, Jewish exiles from far off nations will come and help in the rebuilding project. But we read elsewhere in Zecha-riah and other prophets about many nations who will be united with Jews together as one people of God. We know that this did not happen in those days.

But the promised unity of Jews and Gentiles started being fulfilled after Christ died, rose again, ascended into heaven, and poured out his Spirit on “all flesh,” meaning all the nations of the earth. This is why Zechariah says, “And many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people” (2:11). Later, the prophet says that God would bring his people back from “far countries,” including Egypt, Assyria and Lebanon (10:9-10).

In Chapter 14, Zechariah describes the event on the coming Day of the Lord, when Christ returns from heaven to destroy all his enemies and gather all his people from all nations. Only those who believe in Christ, whether Jews or Gentiles, will remain. And they will gather in the heavenly Mount Zion to worship God and Christ, even those who were former enemies “shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts” (verse 16). This is the answer to God’s call to his people to come out of the nations, symbolized by Babylon, and worship him (Zech 2:6-7). And as the exiles from Egypt and Babylon brought the wealth of the nations to God’s temple, so shall they do when they enter the heavenly city (verse 14).

Then comes eternity, when God’s people will enjoy peace, prosperity and security forever. Never again will there be sin, sufferings, wars. After Christ returns from heaven to complete his kingdom, never again will God’s enemies, symbolically called Gog and Magog, rebel against him (Rev 20:8-9).

Therefore, Paul says that the mystery in the Old Testament that was revealed in the New is not the fact of the inclusion of Gentiles. From Abraham (Gen 12:3), to Moses (Deu 18:15; Acts 3:22), to David (2 Sam 22:50), to the Psalms (22:27), and to the Prophets, God has always revealed that all the nations of the earth will be blessed through Christ, Abraham’s Offspring. The mystery is how this Offspring will accomplish this unity of Jews and Gentiles into one people of God, through the gospel of Christ (Eph 3:6). Paul explains this,

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility … that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace (Eph 2:13-15).

To unbelievers, the call by Zechariah to leave your unbelieving kingdom becomes the call by Peter in Acts 2:38-39,

Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

Beloved in Christ: The merging of the offices of priest and king, foreshadowed by the crowning of the Joshua the high priest, was completed by Christ at the cross. Hebrews 8:1 makes this merger so clear:

We have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven.

Christ is our High Priest, who is also our King seated at the throne on the right hand of his Father, His Majesty in heaven! As our High Priest, he sacrifice his own body once for all those who would believe. He has redeemed us from all our sins, so that, by the Holy Spirit, he will help us kill sin in our lives. As he is seated today at the right hand of his Father in heaven, he intercedes for us in all of our prayers and needs. Do you believe and trust in him alone for your salvation and life?

As our eternal King, he governs us by His Word and Spirit. He defends and preserves us in the salvation he obtained for us till the end. He rules his church through his ministers, elders and deacons. Through all kinds of persecutions, sufferings, false teachings, and divisions, his church will abide until it triumphs over all evil in the end.

Do not be afraid! As your Priest and King today, he will help, defend and preserve the church until he returns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords of the universe.

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Notes:

  1. Meredith G. Kline, “The Structure of the Book of Zechariah,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34/2 (June 1991), 179-93.

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