The name “Joshua” is important in the Bible. It means “Jehovah is salvation.” The most famous Joshua in the Old Testament is the warrior who led the people of Israel into the Promised Land after the death of Moses. The other significant Joshua in the Hebrew Scriptures is the focus of Zechariah 3, the high priest in the time of Israel’s restoration to Canaan after decades of exile. A priest in those days was the person who offered up animal sacrifices to God through a system of devotion that insisted that worshipers bring the blood of a substitute to shield them from the wrath of God.
In this chapter the presenting problem was that Joshua the priest was not holy enough to stand before the Lord. Satan, the chief of fallen angels, was making an accusation against him when God said, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!” Then referring to Joshua, Jehovah said, “Is this not a brand (burning stick) plucked from the fire?”
The I-AM goes on to vividly illustrate the two essentials of how an unclean sinner like Joshua could safely live in the presence of a holy God. First the Lord said, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Joshua’s guilt had to be taken away. Second, “I will clothe you with pure vestments.” God required the positive signs of a clean life that Joshua could not produce in himself. He need a holiness that could only be given to him as a gift.
Where would those heavenly clothes come from? The Lord indicated the future Savior would come who would be called “the Branch.” The promised royal descendant of David would do the work of a perfect Priest on behalf of the covenant community. This Son of David would be a new “Joshua,” the Hebrew equivalent of “Jesus,” the name given from God for the Messiah (Matthew 1:21).
The earlier prophets prepared the faithful for a special “Branch” (Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15) descended from “the root of Jesse” (King David’s father). Jesus, our Priest and King is making us a fruitful “branch” (Isaiah 11:1-2, 61:11, and John 15:1-11). Our final “Joshua” fulfills the meaning of His name exactly. He is “the Lord” Himself who is truly “our salvation.” His death on the cross took away our filthy rags and His life supplied us with everything that we need from His own flawless holiness. The gift of Jesus is the only rational answer to both Satan’s accusations against us and our own self-recriminations.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father God, Jesus is our great High Priest. He has removed our filthy garments and has carried away our sins. Through His death our debt is paid, and by His resurrection we have been credited with a righteousness that is not our own. O Lord, we long to live with You forever. Our salvation has been accomplished in a single day, and now there is room in Your house for all who rest in Your Son.