Category Archive: Bible – OT – Zechariah

July 11, 2018

“Call His Name Jesus” (Matthew 1:21)

Category: Bible - NT - Matthew,Bible - OT - Zechariah :: Link :: Print

The angel tells Joseph to name Mary’s son, which is an act whereby this son is fully accepted as part of Joseph’s family. This is not at all Joseph adopting Mary’s son. This is a son born in Joseph’s household.

But the angel also tells Joseph to give this son a special name, a name that no one in David’s family ever bore. He is to call him “Jesus,” and to do so because “he will save his people from their sins.”

What’s the connection between that name and that mission? Put another way, what are we to think of when we hear this name “Jesus”?

One answer is that “Jesus,” which is the Greek form of the Hebrew “Joshua,” means “YHWH saves.” And so we might think of this name-giving in relation to the promise in, say, Psalm 130:8 that “He [YHWH] himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”

True enough. That’s something that we might see, though whether Matthew expected his readers to see it is doubtful. After all, Matthew has to translate “Immanuel” for them. He doesn’t expect them to know what that Hebrew word means, and so it’s not likely that he’d expect them to know what “Joshua/Jesus” means either.

Another answer is that Jesus is given that name because we’re to think of him as the new Joshua, who leads his people where Moses could not, right into the Promised Land. And certainly Jesus does lead his followers into the Kingdom. But the connection between that and “saving his people from their sins” is not entirely clear.

But there is a Jesus/Joshua in the Bible who is connected to forgiveness for God’s people. That’s Joshua, son of Jehozadak (Zech 3, 6). To us, he may be an obscure figure because we never read the book of Zechariah. But he wasn’t obscure to Matthew’s readers.

Joshua, son of Jehozadak, is the high priest after the exile, alongside Zerubbabel, the governor, who, though he is from David’s line, is not and cannot ever be the king.

In Zechariah 3, Joshua the high priest represents all of the returned exiles. In the vision, he is wearing unclean clothes and is accused by Satan. How can he draw near to serve YHWH with unclean clothes? That is to say, how can the Jews return to the Promised Land again and draw near to YHWH while their sins have not been dealt with?

But in the vision, the unclean clothes are taken away. The turban is replaced with a new one. And Joshua becomes, in his own person, the promise of forgiveness for the people: “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 forth my servant the Branch…. And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.”

Then, in Zechariah 6, Zechariah has to crown Joshua the high priest: “Behold the man whose name is the Branch! From his place he will branch out and he will build the temple of YHWH. Yes, he will build the temple of YHWH. He will bear the glory and will sit and rule on his throne. So he will be a priest on his throne and the counsel of peace will be between them both.”

Joshua son of Jehozadak wears the crown for only that day, and then it is placed in the temple as a memorial. But there is coming a day, Zechariah says, when iniquity will be taken away and Joshua/Jesus will be both priest and king.

How would that happen? The answer given in Zechariah 4 applies here, too: “Not by might and not by power, but by my Spirit.”

And the angel tells Joseph that the Spirit has brought about Mary’s pregnancy, that the virgin will conceive and bear a son, and that the son must bear the name of Joshua, son of Jehozadak, because the prophecy in the vision of Zechariah 3 is going to be fulfilled: he will save his people from their sins.

[Most of this I owe to Jakob van Bruggen’s commentary on Matthew.  Too bad it’s not in English.]

Posted by John Barach @ 4:29 am | Discuss (0)
January 28, 2014

The Old Temple and the New

Category: Bible - NT - Mark,Bible - OT - Zechariah :: Link :: Print

In his Study in St. Mark, Austin Farrer shows how Mark 13 parallels Mark 14.  Jesus pronounces judgment on the old temple in Mark 13, but he forms his disciples into a new temple, a true house of prayer.  But he cautions us not to misconstrue the contrast between the two temples:

The contrast is not between a temple which is overthrown, and a temple which abides; both temples are overthrown, for the one falls in the fall of the other; but the one rises the third day, and the other does not.  Nor is it a contrast between a temple of murderers and a temple of saints, for in the supper-chamber it is said, One of you shall betray me.  When the spiritual house falls, its stones also are scattered, not one of them shall remain upon another; not even that Stone whom Christ himself had named.  Protest as he may, the word applies to him, ‘I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’  But the stones of the old temple will lie, and not be gathered; the shepherd, being risen again, will draw his flock after him into Galilee.

The prediction about the scattering of the sheep holds the same place as the prediction about the scattering of the stones: Christ says the one thing as he comes forth from the temple, and the other as he comes forth from the supper room.  And both goings forth lead to the same place — the Mount of Olives (133).

Posted by John Barach @ 4:22 pm | Discuss (0)