URC Daily Devotion 27 May 2023

The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua:  “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.

 “‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.  See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

“‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbour to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

In this second half of the vision we looked at yesterday, God speaks to Joshua through the mouthpiece of the angel of the Lord.  His mediating role, between earth and heaven, as High Priest is confirmed, on condition that Joshua upholds the covenant.  Once the temple is able to function again, Joshua will have the status and responsibilities accorded to the religious leader of the whole community.

But God then focuses on the future, an unspecified time and unidentified figure, enigmatically called the ‘Branch’.  This figure needs to be considered with reference to Jeremiah 23:5 (and 33:15) where its identity is linked with the Davidic line of kings.  Scholars are divided as to where the concept originated and whether Zechariah depends on Jeremiah or vice versa.  Suffice to say at this point (we will return to the topic on 3rd June) that the Branch is someone different from Joshua; although a relationship between the two may be being implied.

The significance of these verses is God’s promise to deal with sin and guilt, once and for all, at some future time.  On that day an era of peace, security and general wellbeing will come into existence, which is what sitting under one’s vine and fig tree symbolizes.

The vision assures Zechariah’s community that Joshua’s priestly leadership is ordained by God; but also indicates that the entire temple-based system is inadequate as a complete solution to the problem of sin.  God will act in a new way, when the time is right to resolve this.

We believe that, after the time of Zechariah, God has acted in Christ to overcome the power of sin and death; but like God’s people of old we still await the culmination of all God’s work and the coming of the new era of everlasting peace.

Eternal God, forgive us for being impatient; but we want to see an end to sin now.
We see the pain and suffering it causes in people’s lives and it’s destructive effect on the whole created order; and we plead for it to cease. 
We confess that we are part of the problem and pray that your Holy Spirit will come to transform us into channels of your healing love.  Amen

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