THE PRIEST’S CROWN IN THE TEMPLE | Zechariah 6:11-12,13b, Isaiah 44:28, Jeremiah 29:10, Ezra 1:1, 4:23-24, 3:10-13, 5:1-2, and Zechariah 3:8 (NASB)
Also take silver and gold, make an ornate crown, and set it on the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Then say to him, ‘The Lord of armies says this: “Behold, there is a Man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the Lord. Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the majesty and sit and rule on His throne….Now the crown will become a reminder in the temple of the Lord. (Zechariah 6:11-12, 13b)
Later I will speculate on what Zechariah’s original audience might have envisioned when they heard the above words. But, to make it worthwhile, I’ve examined key events and prophecies leading up to the above prophecy.
It is I who says of Cyrus ‘he will carry out all My desire.’
…And he says of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’
And of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’” (Isaiah 44:28 excerpt)
“For this is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.’” (Jeremiah 29:10)
Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia (Ezra 1:1)
Now when the builders had laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord…they sang, praising and giving thanks to the Lord…Yet many…who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice…while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping…and the sound was heard far away. (Ezra 3:10-13 excerpt)
Then as soon as the copy of King Artaxerxes’ decree was read…they went in a hurry to Jerusalem to the Jews and stopped them by military force. Then work on the house of God in Jerusalem was discontinued…until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. (Ezra 4:23-24 excerpt)
When the prophets Haggai and Zechariah prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel then Zerubbabel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1-2 excerpt)
Now listen, Joshua, you high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you—indeed they are men who are a sign: for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch. (Zechariah 3:8)
Most of the above scripture references and historical information are contained in the book of Ezra. Ezra was a priest and scribe who accompanied the brave, pioneering 42,360 Jewish returnees to Jerusalem who intended to rebuild the Temple and secure the city after their 70 year Babylonian captivity.
In chapter 1, Ezra detailed the Persian king Cyrus’ edict to rebuild the Temple – an event prophesied both by Isaiah and Jeremiah before the first Temple was destroyed and before Cyrus was born. In Chapter 3 Ezra described the building of the Temple altar and laying its foundation along with the first sacrifices and celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. The highly emotional and very loud rejoicing and wailing that took place alarmed their neighbors who then brought a successful lawsuit and military injunction against them to prevent any further work on the Temple. The court case dragged on and resulted in a delay of 6 years as recorded in Ezra 4.
In chapter 5, Ezra named the key leaders who got the Temple work back on track rather than waiting for the final verdict. They were the two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, Zerubbabel, the Jewish governor, and Joshua, the high priest.This team inspired the returnees to complete the rest of theTemple in just 4 years.
Zechariah, a priest who received a multitude of messianic prophecies from God, also engaged in two prophetic encounters with Joshua, the high priest. In both of these incidents Zechariah named a future chosen one named “The Branch” who would build the Temple of the Lord.
It was clear Joshua was not a combination of High Priest and true King. His crowning stirred no expectation that Zechariah intended to crown a king in defiance of Persian law. This is especially clear with the words “Now the crown will become a reminder in the temple of the Lord.”
The returnees who listened to and watched Zechariah as he interacted with Joshua would have likely regarded these prophecies as hope for their coming Messiah/Priest/King (but would not expect it to be 500+ years) and further mystified by Zechariah’s reference to “The Branch” building the Temple since they had just finished building the Temple.
Are there prophecies that mystify you and make you hunger for immediate fulfillment? Thank God He still keeps surprising all of us with His unfathomable plans.
by Kathleen Petersen