Author: Ron Graham
Zechariah Joshua Zerubbabel
—Christ as both Priest and King
Among the remnant of Israel, two special men represented the two great families of the former kingdom. These men were regarded as the "sons of oil" that is to say anointed ones (Zechariah 4:14).
God had fulfilled the land/nation promise made to Abraham, whose offspring had become a great and glorious nation. This nation was named Israel, after Jacob the grandson of Abraham. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. He fathered the twelve tribes from which the nation grew.
The nation of Israel arose out of slavery and oppression in Egypt to become rich and victorious. But later it divided, and eventually both divisions fell back into bondage to foreign powers. The Israelites became a scattered remnant.
After the rise and fall of Israel, there was a much more important promise, still unfulfilled, which God had made to Abraham. This was the seed or messianic promise. In this promise the remnant of Israel found consolation and hope. Through the prophet Zechariah, God repeated this promise.
¶“13Behold the man whose name is Branch. From his place he will branch out and he shall build the temple of the Lord. Yes, he shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule on his throne. So he shall be a priest on his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” (Zechariah 6:13).
In association with this promise, Zechariah performed a symbolic act equal in significance to that which Melchizedek had done way back in the time of Abraham: Zechariah put a golden crown on the head of Joshua the highpriest.
1 Zerubbabel the Royal and Joshua the Priest
In Zechariah’s time, two special men represented the two great families of the erstwhile kingdom of Israel. These men were regarded as the "sons of oil" or anointed ones (Zechariah 4:14).
The first man, Zerubbabel was of the royal household, the family of David of the tribe of Judah. Had the nation remained, Zerubbabel might well have been its king, instead of governor under Darius the Medo-Persian king. Nevertheless, Zerubbabel was able to shepherd his people in a kingly role, and was the ancestor of Christ.
The second man, Joshua was of the priestly household, the family of Aaron of the tribe of Levi. Had the temple of Solomon still been standing, Joshua might well have been its high priest. As it was, he was officiating on an altar built amongst the rubble of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, he was able to make atonement for the people’s sins. Joshua (the name in its Greek form is Jesus) was the foreshadower of Christ.
2 Zechariah’s Symbol and Prophecy
Zechariah, at God's command, made an ornate crown of gold and silver, but it never graced the head of Zerubbabel, the rightful king. Instead this kingly crown was placed on the head of Joshua the priest! Then it was put aside as an ornament for the future temple.
The significance of this strange coronation is announced in the prophetic speech which Zechariah made at the time (quoted above). The speech commences, "Behold the man..." The man Zechariah referred to was neither the royal Zerubbabel nor the priestly Joshua, but that Man of the future who would be more special than either Zerubbabel or Joshua.
The head of Joshua within the golden crown symbolized that priesthood would be incorporated with kingship. The man of the future, the offspring of Zerubbabel, was in line not only to sit upon the royal throne of David, but also to officiate at the mercy seat in the Holiest. He would be both king and high priest.
3 The Royal Priesthood
You and I would have no problem with this idea of a royal priesthood. It seems to be such a simple and natural thing for the Lord Jesus, that he should not only be our great King, but also our great High Priest. To those who knew the law of Moses, however, our Lord's royal priesthood raised a real difficulty: the law of Moses would actually prohibit such a thing.
Both parents of Jesus were descendants of Judah, David, and Zerubbabel. Since Jesus was so firmly established in the royal lineage, the Jew could accept Jesus as the Lion of Judah, who has right to the scepter and throne of David.
Problem and Solution
But on the other hand, how could the Jew accept Jesus to also be the Lamb, who has the right to carry holy blood through the veil into the Holiest, and stand before the mercy seat? Under the law of Moses, only a son of Levi and Aaron could gain that right of high priesthood, not a son of David albeit Messiah himself.
This knotty problem fascinated the writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament, and he reconciles the difficulty for his Jewish brethren by drawing a radical, revolutionary, but necessary inference. His conclusion is found in Hebrews 8:1-2.
The tabernacle is now in heaven. Not a tabernacle or temple as such, but the heavenly realities which the earthly structures only symbolized and foreshadowed (Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 12:22-24).
Our High Priest is now enthroned at the Father’s right hand in heaven and he now officiates in the true tabernacle of Heaven (Hebrews 8:1-2, 9:24). There was an earthly priesthood ordained for the earthly tabernacle.
Christ was excluded by Mosaic law from that priesthood. So, "if he were on earth he would not be a priest" (Hebrews 8:4). Since he cannot be a priest on earth he must be a priest in heaven, and he must be the mediator of a new and better covenant (Hebrews 9:11-15).
How contrary to all this is the doctrine that Jesus will again establish the earthly temple and Mosaic law for a thousand years.