Crowning of the Branch
Open Your Bible
Zechariah 5:1-11, Zechariah 6:1-15, Matthew 16:18, Galatians 3:13-14
I definitely do not want my living room to be visited by a giant flying scroll. I do not want to see a shrine built to the basket o’ wickedness. And I feel quite uneasy about dappled horses patrolling north, west, east, and south. The visions God gave to Zechariah can be both creative and terrifying. They reveal how God shows kindness to His people while bringing judgment to the wicked. Puritan commentator Matthew Henry reminds us that while the pillar of fire in Egypt was a beacon of promise to Israel, it was a swirling black portent to the Egyptians.
We tend to think of judgment as only that which follows sin, but whenever God allows people to devote themselves to wickedness, that also is a judgment. God sends the basket of wickedness to Shinar—the land of Babylon—and it is placed upon a shrine to be worshiped. In other words, He is telling His people that if it’s evil and wickedness they want, they can return to Babylon. But make no mistake: there is no good thing in that basket, only wickedness. Or they can choose to stay in Judah and return to the Lord. He is coming, and He will keep His promises.
Visions and prophecies are difficult to interpret—that is one thing commentators and biblical scholars can agree on. However, one thing is clear: The Lord is the Lord of the whole earth. All the lands are His, and His ministers roam to and fro, doing His bidding. He alone is Lord and God. And that is truly comforting to His people, because He is a good God.
Zechariah looked to see what was approaching, and though the images are striking, the substance of His visions fits with what we already know of the gospel. The final image here is of the crowned priest-king who “will build the LORD’s temple; he will be clothed in splendor and will sit on his throne and rule… People who are far off will come and build the LORD’s temple, and you will know that the LORD of Armies has sent me to you (Zechariah 6:13,15). The reign of righteousness established by the Branch is a foreshadowing of Christ, the true Priest-King, who alone “fully obeys the Lord” (vv.9–15). No matter what our circumstances might look like, no matter what disappointments surround us, no matter how we’ve failed, our only hope is Christ.