Zechariah 3:8-10: Laying the Foundation.

8] “Hear, O Joshua, the high priest,
You and your companions who sit before you,”
For they are a wondrous sign;
For behold, I am bringing My Servant the BRANCH.
9] For behold, the stone
That I have laid before Joshua:
Upon the stone are seven eyes.
Behold, I will engrave its inscription.’
Says the Lord of hosts,
‘And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
10] In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts,
‘Everyone will invite his neighbor
Under his vine and under his fig tree.’ ” 
NKJV

In the last two posts, we’ve looked at this chapter in two areas:

1. A Picture of Redemption, vs. 1-5.
2. Responsibility, vs. 6, 7.

In this post, we want to consider the beginning of the realization of the promise given in the first verses and especially in v. 4, where the Angel of the LORD tells Joshua the high priest that He has removed his iniquity and clothed him with clean garments.

In v. 8, the Angel says to Joshua that, in spite of the distressing conditions that Joshua and his fellow Jews were experiencing in the land, “I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.”  Note that He doesn’t say, “I will bring Him forth,” but “I am bringing Him forth.”  Everything in Israel’s past and in her present, in spite of her wilfulness and waywardness, was and is leading to the coming of the Messiah.

V. 9 refers to a stone that is laid before Joshua.  I admit that I’m not exactly sure what this was supposed to mean to Zechariah.  In Scripture, there are several references to “a cornerstone” but they don’t always just refer to parts of a building.  For example:

Psalm 118:22, The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.

Isaiah 28:16, Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:  “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation….”

Matthew 21:42, 44 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:  ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.  This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? … And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”See also Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17, 18.

Acts 4:11, “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’

Romans 9:32, 33, Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.  For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.  As it is written: 

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

Ephesians 2:20, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

1 Peter 2:4, 5, 7, 8, Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. …Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.”  They stumble, being disobedient to the word,….

There are probably several posts in just these verses, which point out several things.

The Lord Jesus is likened to a “chief cornerstone”.  This stone is the crucial one in a stone building.  It’s laid first and it’s purpose is to guarantee that the building is square and stable.  The weight of the entire structure rests on that stone. 

“The stone,” then, speaks of foundation.

Though not referring specifically to a building, in 1 Corinthians 3:11, Paul wrote, For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  The church at Corinth was Paul’s problem child, if I can put it like that.  Among other things, there was a sectarian spirit in the church, which made itself known by the various parties in the church who looked to specific individuals, for whatever reason, instead of to the Lord Jesus, cf. vs. 1-7.

Paul said that this is wrong; no mere man has the strength or the wisdom in and of himself, to be the founder of a church, or the leader or head of a group or denomination.  This is the way of the world and the Lord intended that His church should not pattern itself after the world.  Churches are indeed “started” by men, they don’t just appear one morning, but, still….  The churches at Corinth and Ephesus and Jerusalem, for that matter, didn’t just “appear”. 

The Lord Jesus had something to say about “foundations.”  After warning His audience that not every “work for Him” would be blessed, He said, 

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:  and the rains descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell.  And great was its fall.”  Matthew 7:24-27 NKJV.

Now, from one viewpoint, there might be something to be said in favor of the second man.  He didn’t have to work nearly as hard at building on the sand as the first man did.  His house itself could have been everything his neighbor’s house was.  He was able to enjoy the fruit of his labor long before the first man did.  We can imagine him sitting on his patio with a glass of iced tea, watching the first man and laughing at him for going to all that extra work, seemingly for nothing. 

Until…

…one day…

…the rains descended….

And so it is in this world, this life.

Many folks spend years of their life going to school to get an advanced degree of one kind or another.  Others work hard seven days a week to meet some goal, produce some achievement, that will mean they have “arrived”.  They put in long hours to make it to the top of their particular food chain.  

And there’s nothing particularly wrong with education or hard work or setting goals.  As long as one doesn’t forget the rain.

 It will come. 

Earlier, we quoted the Lord Jesus’ remark in Matthew 21:42, 44: “Whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

This rather enigmatic statement simply means that there are only two responses to the Word of God, in this case, the Lord Jesus, the Living Stone.  Whoever falls on it as one might cling to a life raft in a stormy sea will be saved; whoever turns away from it and rejects it, will discover one day when it is too late that that same Word, as it were, will fall on him.  It will be the basis of his eternal judgment and condemnation.

Oh, listen.  Life is short.  Death is real.  Only in the Lord Jesus is there hope for the future.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31. 

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