Priests of the Bible 12 Joshua

Priests of the Bible 12 Joshua

We now turn to Joshua as we look at significant priests of the Bible. Joshua appears on the scene as part of the first wave of Jews to return to Judah after Babylonian exile and as a result of the edict by Cyrus the Great who had authorised and supported the return of the Jews from their Babylonian exile, after 70 years of captivity, all of which had been prophesied by the prophets: Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Joshua is mentioned by name in Ezra and Nehemiah (there he is referred to a Jeshua) as well as the two prophets operating at the time of the first wave of returnees: Haggai and Zechariah, both of who were urging the rebuilding of the Temple. There were three returns and the two featuring Ezra and Nehemiah occurred over 80 years after the first one. Notably, over the returns most of the exiles who settled in Babylon, preferred staying put where they were comfortably well off rather than face an uncertain future.

In all 5 references (by name) to Joshua in the Book of Haggai, he is mentioned alongside Zerubbabel the governor of Judah, who was the grandson of Jehoiachin the penultimate king of Judah. In his prophesy, Haggai was encouraging both Joshua and Zerubbabel to get on with the job of overseeing the building the Temple, which after the work enthusiastically begun had stopped for a period of years due to discouragement and distraction – and they did so, just as the Lord had instructed them to do through his prophets.

As far as this account goes, our focus will be on Zechariah chapters 3 and 6, which relate to a series of visions that Zechariah had, many of which relate to Last Day events and the Messiah that was to come, but in these two chapters Joshua played a significant role. In Chapter 3, we see a picture of Joshua dressed in filthy garments being accused by Satan on one side and the Angel of the Lord standing on the other, as it were the Advocate for the Defense. Satan is the chief protagonist to the Almighty throughout scripture, Genesis to Revelation. He is also referred to as the Accuser of the Brethren, which is what he was doing in the vision. It is noteworthy that Satan was not being withstood by AN angel but THE ANGEL leading commentators to speculate as to his identity, some taking a view that along with other “The Angel” references in the Old Testament this was the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.

In any case, the role of Jesus in His first coming is pertinent to this story. We don’t know the details of why Joshua was arrayed in filthy garments and what was it he was being accused of, other than to take note that Satan is the master of accusing people, especially those who are closest to God, when it comes to their sins and failures. As High Priest, Joshua had the sacred job of representing the people to God, e.g. on the Day of Atonement, and the people to God, and looking throughout history that is what Satan hates as he seeks to crush the people of God through his accusations. But there was a way out, and we are reminded Jesus principle work in His First Coming was redemption. We see in this vision Joshua being cleansed of his sin and his filthy garments being replaced with clean ones, and being charged by God to do the work of a priest. At the end of this particular vision we see mention of “the Branch”, which we can take to be the Messiah that is to come: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”  Isaiah 11:1 and Jeremiah “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth” Jeremiah 23:5.

In the Zechariah 6 vision, both the Branch and Joshua are mention with a crown that combines both the priestly and kingly functions being placed on Joshua’s head. Other than the exceptional case of Melchizedek (seen in the NT as a forerunner to Jesus) the offices of priest and king could not be joined. But in Jesus they were. As I write, we remember what many sections of the church remember as Psalm Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, thus fulfilling another of Zechariah’s prophecies. The Second Coming of the Messiah will be preceded by battles (depicted by horses and chariots) with Joshua being a type of that which is to come: “Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” Zechariah 6:11-13.

Joshua the Priest is remembered as the one Satan accused but whatever the sin he was being accused of he was cleansed and restored. We who know God may also humbly declared we are mere brands plucked from the fireand hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever … and we shall reign on the earth” Revelation 1:6, 5:10.


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