“Behold the Man!”
“And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; 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. And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD. And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.”
Once our Lord Jesus had been delivered into the hands of wicked men, according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, just before he was dragged off to Calvary where he would be crucified, Pilate brought the Son of God out to display him before the blood-thirsty religious mob, crowned with thorns and a purple rag over his shoulders, and said, “Behold the man.” I am certain that neither Pilate, nor those who were gathered in the judgment hall, understood the significance of those words.
The Lord Jesus Christ is pre-eminently “the man.” He is the man who is God, in whose image and after whose likeness the first man Adam was created. He is the man who is God, the Creator of all things. And he is the man for whom all things were created (Rev. 4:10-11). Long before Pilate held him forth as an object of ridicule and scorn, the Lord God set him forth before his servants as the man to be worshipped and trusted as God our Savior. It is this Man that is set before us in Zechariah 6:9-15. Let us trust, worship, and adore this Man who is God our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Ezekiel 9 the prophet of God saw the Lord Jesus standing beside the brazen altar as the Executioner of divine justice upon the wicked. Beginning at the sanctuary of God, he shall pour out God’s furious wrath upon all his enemies. His eye will spare none. He declares, “As for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head” (Ezek. 9:10). Then he said to his prophet, “And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me” (Ezek. 9:11).
This man, with the inkhorn by his side, wrote the names of the chosen in the book of God and put the mark of God upon their foreheads, preserving them from judgment (Ezek. 9:3-4). In the last day, when he has made all things new, when all his people are gathered in and he delivers the kingdom up to the Father, presenting his ransomed holy, unblameable, and unreproveable before the presence of his glory, he will say with joy, “Lo, I and the children thou hast given me” (Isa 8:18). Then, the Man Christ Jesus, Jehovah’s righteous Servant, who undertook our cause before the worlds were made (Eph. 1:12; John 10:16-18), shall say, “I have done as thou hast commanded me.”
That is exactly what Zechariah saw in the last of his visions. He was commanded to go to the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah, where he was to meet three men who had come that very day from the captivity (Heldai, whose name means “worldly or led through the world” — Tobijah, whose name means “Jehovah’s goodness”, — and Jedaiah, whose name means “Jehovah knows”) with gifts of silver and gold. It seems obvious to me that these three men represent God’s elect who come to Christ with sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise, being delivered by him from their captivity.
Every saved sinner might rightly appropriate the names of these men to himself. My name is “Heldai.” The Lord my God has led me through this world all the days of my life. My name is “Tobijah.” I am the object and beneficiary of Jehovah’s great goodness. And my name is “Jedaiah.” I am a man known of God from everlasting. Being delivered from bitter bondage and captivity, we gladly bring our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to our God and Savior.
Zechariah was commanded to take the gifts brought by these men, and to make two crowns, one of silver and one of gold. — “Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest” (v. 11). The crown of silver, like the sockets, fillets (fasteners), and hooks of silver in the tabernacle (Ex. 26:19-32; 27:10-17), the shekel of the sanctuary (Lev. 27:3), and the silver chargers before the altar (Num. 7:84), is representative of our Savior’s priestly office. The crown of gold had reference to the kingly office of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 14:14).
Joshua, the high priest, being set before the prophet as an eminent type of Christ, was to be crowned with these two crowns. As you know, the name Joshua is the Old Testament word for Jesus (Acts 7:45). There were two men in the Old Testament to whom the name was given. That Joshua who was Moses’ successor, who took Israel into the land of Canaan, the chief captain of Israel, typified the Lord Jesus as “the captain of our salvation.” This Joshua, the high priest, was typical of Christ, “the Apostle and High Priest of our profession.” Both of these men, being typical of the Lord Jesus, were saviors in Israel.
Here we see Joshua, the high priest, crowned with crowns of silver and gold by the divine appointment, that he might typify our Lord Jesus Christ who is a “priest after the order of Melchizedek,” who was both “king of Salem and priest of the most high God.”
As Zechariah sees Joshua crowned with these crowns, as if to identify the typical meaning even more pointedly, the Lord commanded him to declare, “Behold the man whose name is The Branch.” Then he describes this man’s glory and work in words that can never apply to any man fully, except Christ, the God-man, our Savior. I do not doubt for a moment that when Zechariah saw Joshua, he knew he was looking on a magnificent type of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“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” (v. 12)
First, he is called, “the Man.” This is such an unmistakable reference to our Savior that, as John Gill shows, both the Jewish Talmud (the rabbinical commentaries) and the Targum (the Aramaic paraphrase) reads, “Behold the man. Messiah is his name.”
It is delightful to behold that man who is God our Savior! “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh!” Yes, the man Christ Jesus is truly, and properly man, and just as truly and properly God. Were he not both God and man in one glorious person, he could never be our Savior. He could never have brought in everlasting righteousness by his obedience. He could never have redeemed us with his blood. It has been well said, “God could not suffer, and man could not satisfy; but the God-man has both suffered and satisfied.”
Next, our Lord Jesus is called “The Branch.” This is a well-known title of our Redeemer, and is applicable to none but him. In Isaiah 11 our Savior is spoken of as “a Branch.” In that chapter Isaiah was inspired to use the word “run” (netser), commonly translated “Nazarite,” to identify the Branch coming to save us by the sacrifice of himself (Isa. 11:1, 10). Christ, and Christ alone, was the Netser, the Nazarite devoted to God from the womb. Indeed, even before he was conceived in the virgin’s womb, from the womb of eternity, his name was called “Jesus,” Savior (Isa. 49:1-2; Matt. 1:21; Luke 2:21).
But the word translated “The Branch” in Zechariah is a different word. This word is “xmu” (tsemach). It means “The Sprout.” It is the same word used in Jeremiah 23:5-6. When we read that “the man” is “the man whose name is The Branch,” we are assured that this is no mere man. This man is both David’s son and David’s Lord. He is himself Jehovah. And he is Jehovah-tsidkenu, “the Lord our righteousness!”
Third, we read, “And he shall grow up out of his place.” Perhaps this refers to Bethlehem, the house of bread, a little village in the land of Judea, of the tribe of Judah. Our Lord Jesus, who is the Bread of life, was born there (Mic. 5:2). But those words, “he shall grow up out of his place,” may have reference to the miraculous nature of the birth of him “whose goings forth have been from of old from everlasting.” “The man whose name is The Branch” did not grow up as other men, by the sowing and planting of man, but without the aide of a man. He was born of a virgin, through the power of the Highest, and by his own power as God (Isa. 7:14; 9:6-7).
Fourth, Zechariah was commanded to speak of the office, work, and character of Christ as the Builder of his church. “He shall build the temple of the Lord.” Then, those same words are repeated in the very next verse (v. 13), as if to emphasize the vast importance of the work, and the dignity of the One who performs it.
“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.”
Christ is both the Foundation Stone of his spiritual temple, his church, and the Builder of it (Matt. 16:18; Heb. 3:1-6; 1 Pet. 2:5; Eph. 2:20-22). And he who is the Builder of the temple shall bear the glory of it. He and he alone shall have all the glory of the temple. All who know him hang upon him all the glory of his Father’s house (Isa. 22:24; Ps. 115:1). All the glory of redemption, grace, and salvation belongs to our all-glorious Christ. “There is, and ever will be, glory in his cross and glory in his crown.” (Robert Hawker) When John saw him, he said, “On his head were many crowns” (Rev. 19:12). Our mighty Savior wears the crown of creation (Col. 1:16-19), the crown of providence (Rom. 14:9), and the crown of grace (John 5:21).
Every sinner saved by his blood, his righteousness, his grace, and his power, puts a new crown upon the Savior’s glorious, sacred head, ascribing to him all the glory of his own salvation. Trusting him, we crown him everyday as our only rightful Lord, our God and Savior, to the praise of the glory of God the Father, who first trusted in Christ (Eph. 1:12).
Christ our King
Fifth, the prophet describes Christ as the King upon his throne. He “shall sit and rule upon his throne.” Jesus Christ is the crowned King of the universe. He rules everywhere. He rules everyone. He rules everything. And he rules always! How we rejoice to know that our Savior is the sovereign Monarch of the universe!
The Lamb is in “the midst of the throne” (Rev. 7:17). There he sits; and there he rules! And he has promised, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with his Father in his throne” (Rev. 3:21). Our Lord Jesus sits and rules upon his throne to save his people (John 17:2). And there he sits and rules to feed, comfort, help, strengthen, and protect all his redeemed upon earth, as well as to give glory and happiness to all his redeemed in heaven.
Next, we read, “And he shall be a priest upon his throne.” Remember, Zechariah crowned Joshua with both the golden crown of a king and the silver crown of a priest. And here he tells us that our Lord Jesus Christ is both our King who rules the universe for us and our Priest who intercedes for us upon his throne.
That is glorious! The throne upon which our great King sits and rules is both the throne of sovereign, irresistible power and “the throne of grace.” What encouragement that is to us to “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need” (Heb. 4:16)
“And the counsel of peace is between them both.” — No doubt, this counsel of peace refers to the everlasting covenant, portrayed in one of the “mountains of brass” Zechariah saw in verse 1. That covenant, made between God the Father and God the Son before the world began, shall assuredly be accomplished, because he who is the Surety of the covenant sits and rules upon his throne. Everlasting peace with God is secured for all God’s Israel through the glorious undertaking and accomplishments of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Priest, who is our King!
“And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD. And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.”
Helem is the same man called Heldai in verse 10. These crowns upon the head of our Priest and King sitting and ruling upon his throne are, to us sinners saved by him, for a memorial in the temple of our God. They are a glorious, memorable record of his accomplishments and his promises to all God’s Heldais, the people he leads through this world, out of captivity, and into his house of grace, and his Tobijahs, the objects and beneficiaries of his great goodness, and his Jedaiahs, the people known of God from everlasting, as the objects of his everlasting love. All come together unto Christ as God’s Josiahs, whose name means found of Jehovah and founded upon Jehovah.
To them is added one more name, “Hen the son of Zephaniah,” which appears to be another name for Josiah. Hen means “grace.” Zephaniah means “secreted.” Every sinner saved by Christ is a child of grace, the offspring of him whose name is “Secret” — “Wonderful” (Judges 13:18). He wears the memorial, assuring crowns of God’s own appointment as our “Priest upon his throne.” And every sinner saved by his grace knows the memorial (1 John 4:13-19).
May God the Holy Spirit give us grace to behold our Savior’s glory and grace. May he cause us to understand and confidently expect his purpose to stand firm, and his providence to accomplish it, drawn by the chariots and horses ordained of him to execute his will through all the earth.
May he give you eyes to see and a heart to trust our great Joshua, the Lord Jesus Christ, that blessed, glorious, exalted Man, whose name is “The Branch,” whom he has made to be crowned and accepted as Priest and King forever. If he will be so gracious, the prophet’s words (v. 15) will be fulfilled in you. — “They that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.” If he will graciously reveal himself, you will diligently obey the voice of the Lord.