In the first six chapters of Zechariah we have eight visions. Chapter three introduces us to the fourth one in the series. In the first three, the focus is on the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple and the glory of Israel. The nations constituting the rod of God’s disciplining wrath are condemned and the Lord promises to bring them into His nation. To the first readers, this is a promise of triumph for Israel, but it is in reality a promise of triumph for God, the achieving of His eternal dream.
In chapter three, the Lord turns from the city, temple, and Israel’s glory to the priesthood. As exemplary as the priest Joshua has seemed up to this time, we get a look at him from God’s perspective here. He is a sinner. Satan stands before God to accuse Joshua, but God instead rebukes Satan. In essence: “You should be ashamed of yourself.” God is unwilling to condemn Joshua. After all, he represents Israel, the “apple of [the Lord’s] eye” (2:8). Rather than condemn, God forgives.
Forgiveness is represented by dressing Joshua in clean clothes, and the sight of God’s forgiveness is so exciting to Zechariah that he can’t help shouting “put a clean turban on his head!”
God’s people are all “burning sticks, snatched from the fire.” But for God’s grace and action, we would be consumed. But because God loves us, we’ve been rescued, clothed anew with His forgiveness. The result is a life of peace that we invite others to, a seat under the vine and fig tree of God’s protective care.