Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jozadak. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’ (Zechariah 6:11-13 NIV)
Zechariah was a prophet who served during the early days after Israel began to return from Babylonian exile. Zerubbabel, a descendant of David, and Joshua, the high priest, led the people as they worked to reestablish themselves in their homeland. But, even though they were home, they were still under the authority of the Persian empire and, in a very real sense, still in exile.
So the message Zechariah delivered to the people in this passage would have been encouraging. Joshua would rebuild the temple that the Babylonians had destroyed. And he would sit on his throne and rule as a king, clothed with majesty. Joshua would be a priest/king, uniting these two roles together. And Israel would again be an independent nation, ruled by God himself through Joshua, his regent on earth. It was a glorious hope to look forward to.
While Joshua was involved in constructing the new temple, much of the rest of this prophecy about him seemed to have failed. But did it fail? Or was it actually looking ahead to the coming of another Joshua?
Several hundred years later, another Joshua did come. And he claimed to be the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17), including this word from Zechariah. Jesus (the same name as Joshua) is the Branch that sprouted from the root of Jesse (Rom. 15:12) and who rules on David’s throne (Luke 1:32). He is the cornerstone of a temple rising to the Lord (Eph. 2:19-22) and our great high priest (Heb. 4:14). And in him, there is perfect harmony between his roles as priest and king. Zechariah’s word to Israel was perfectly fulfilled in Jesus, the Son of God, our King and Great High Priest.