Engraved in the Graving

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“…’I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.  For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.’” (Zechariah 3:8,9)

I’m no scholar of Biblical prophecy but I can’t help stopping and thinking about these verses.  I see what was happening at the time, about 537-538 B.C. with Israel, but I also see Jesus written in bold symbolism over and over and over again in these words.  From the mention of Joshua, who was a real man in that time, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, to the play of words on his very name because “Joshua” is the Hebrew equivalent of the name “Jesus” in Greek.

At this point in time, Jerusalem is living in exile.  Joshua was a levite and a descendant of Aaron at that time.  Sometimes his name is listed as “Joshua,” one of the first returnees to Jerusalem from Babylon along with Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, and Azariah.  Haggai tells about him in Haggai 1:1 “In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.”  What was this word about?  You were getting ready to use these men and others for the rebuilding of Your temple.  You were using these men and these prophets to encourage the people in the work that You were preparing them for.  So here is this man Joshua, that You were preparing to be the right kind of spiritual leader and high priest to Your flock.

So, here we have God, You, cleaning up Israel by cleaning up Joshua.  You were there to judge him as Israel and there was Satan to accuse him.  It’s the same for all of us.  But thank You, that You rebuke Satan on behalf of Your chosen one and You can even pluck us out of the fire.  So here is Joshua, the high priest, representing Israel still in her sin.  After all, that’s why she was in exile in Babylon.  There he was, standing in filthy clothes and You have all his filthy clothes removed. He doesn’t take them off.  You have them taken off of him.  You take them off and then You clothe him with pure clothes.  You dress him like a pure priest is supposed to be dressed and prepared for the Lord.  And here is Zechariah, a mere man, watching this and getting into it with You.  I think he was more than excited to see this.  I think he was so excited about what You were doing and preparing to do that he put his two cents in!  Because all of a sudden, “And I said,” is interjected.  “Oh, please put the priest’s golden crown on His head graven with ‘Holiness to the Lord.’  Oh, don’t forget that.  To return to holiness is everything!”  And You don’t rebuke him.  Why?  Because he’s so excited about Your will being done he just couldn’t contain himself.  Can you imagine Zechariah interjecting in this divine moment and God letting him?  You take care of it all.  You place the rest of his clean attire on him.  But his attire doesn’t stop with his clothing.  His attire continues.

His attire continues with how he wears his life, his actions, his thoughts.  “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.”  Were Joshua and those men around him that You had appointed a sign for others and us to see something bigger than the temporary rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem?  You say so, so it must be true.  And right from there, You start sharing what we need to be seeing.

“I will bring my servant the BRANCH.”  Does that ring a bell to us?   In Isaiah 11:1 we are foretold, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.”  Jeremiah speaks of You raising a righteous Branch who shall execute justice and righteousness.  Keep in mind this lesson of the Branch for now, it’s not over.

You have brought Your Servant, the Branch, to us in Jesus Christ.  Joshua and Zechariah got to hear about Him and trust He would come.  But we see the evidence of His coming.  You crowned Joshua as high priest and symbolically as king, but Jesus is the eternal high priest and king.  What if Zechariah wasn’t only excited about the present happenings but realized the immensity of the future fulfilling in Messiah?

But Jesus isn’t just the Branch.  He is also the stone that was the foundation laid for Joshua.  How?  He’s the example.  He’s the perfect priest and perfect king that Joshua is modeled after.  Joshua is a type of Christ.  But the type isn’t the original.  The type is the earthly foreshadowing and a foreshadowing is just a shadow.  Christ is Christ.  He’s the stone that is the foundation.  He’s the Faithful One.  He’s the One who will keep our feet from slipping.  He is the ONE stone.  “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)  I get that.

I have to think about this next part, though.  What is “one stone with seven eyes”?  Ayin is the Hebrew word for eye.  Seven is often referred to as signifying completeness and wholeness or perfection.  Ayin can mean eye or fountain.  What if this one stone, our only foundation is in Himself the perfect fountain?  He sees all, knows all, perfects all, provides all that we need, and is our completion.  What if this One Stone completes and perfects us? 

And then You continue to say “I will engrave the graving…”  And that makes me think back to that mitre, the crown on the head that said, “Holiness to the Lord.” Those words were engraved in the gold.  But how do You engrave graving?  Is that to imply that it won’t just be on a crown that we try to live up to but it will be perfected permanently in the One who is holy and in those who are His?  It’s something to think about.  It’s something I can get excited about, just like Zechariah.

It does not stop there, though.  “I will remove the iniquity of the land in one day.”  You definitely can remove sin from a land.  But is it the land that You really mean here or are You referring to the people of the land?  Just like that, You can remove the sin of Your people.  Just like that!  There one day, gone the next.  Don’t we still need that today?  The author of Psalm 100 thought about that.  “As far as the east is from the west, so far have you removed our transgressions from us.” 

We are like Joshua.  We must stand before the Lord in judgment.  Satan is there, pointing his finger, and bringing up every accusation of our guilt.  But You aren’t obligated to regard him.  Like Joshua we stand before You with a choice.  I can choose to trust You and Your Word and Your ways and live as Your chosen one, beloved.  Or I can deny Your choosing.  That makes me think of Your words, Jesus, shared in Matthew 12:31.  “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”  What if that means, to deny God’s work in your life, His intended work, His holy work, the work you were created for, the work you were intended to receive of Himself, is the worst choice you can ever choose to deny?

John the Baptist got it.  He announced, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”  Jesus shared that witness of Himself with all kinds of people.  There was the man at the pool who had no other man to help him, yet You healed him and reminded him like Joshua, “See, you are well!  Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”(John 5:14)  And what of the woman who was going to be stoned?  Of those ready to stone her You said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  And to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”  See, You didn’t come into the world to condemn people, but in order that people might be saved through You. 

The truth is that I have a choice.  I can practice sin like Israel had been.  Or I can practice righteousness with my life and thoughts.  I can die in my sin or I can die in the Lord and live unto You in eternity.  I don’t have to obey the passions of sin.  I can obey and follow the passions of You, Lord.  Sin doesn’t have to rule over me when You do.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) and that life starts in the here and now and extends into eternity.  John reminds us, “You know that He appeared in order to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin.” (1 John 5:16)  What good news! 

Holiness is Who You Are, Jesus.  It’s engraved in the graving of You.  And You love the children You have created so much, and so desire them to shine Your glory back that You could no more forget us than a real mom forget her nursing child.  We are engraved in the palms of Your hands (Isaiah 49:16)  You paid the price for us to belong to You when You gave Yourself as a sacrifice on the cross and when You rose again from the grave.  And just like You cleaned up Joshua and made him fit for You and fit for leading others to You, You want to do the same with us.  Oh, Lord, may I and many others too great in number to be counted, allow You to clothe us in Your righteousness.  Thank You for allowing us to surrender our sin, our lives, our all to You, and to be made new and clean and able and strong in You.  Thank You for being our Ever Flowing Fountain.  Thank You for seeing all, yet still loving and being able to take care of our problems.  Thank You for being the Rock of my salvation, not just yesterday, but today, and tomorrow, and forever.   

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