Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: The BRANCH and the Stone

Monday, August 6, 2018

The BRANCH and the Stone

Chapter Nine
The BRANCH and the Stone

We know from history that the priesthood of Israel would ultimately fail regarding the very warning given in Zechariah 3:6-7 to Joshua.  Joshua’s sons would intermarry with pagans.  It would be Joshua’s descendants who would plot with the lies and deceptions that had Jesus crucified to manipulate the situation, so they might keep their power and prestigious positions in Israel.  Pilate immediately saw through their lies and deception but gave them what they demanded anyway washing his hands of their corruption (Matthew 27:24).  It is sad when God’s appointed spiritual leaders become traitors to the responsibilities given them as they rebel against the God they swore to serve.  It is to this very issue of the betrayal of the Messiah by the priesthood of Israel that the LORD addresses in Zechariah 3:8. 

8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH” (Zechariah 3:8).

          The message to Joshua and his “fellows,” the remnant priesthood of Israel, as he stands before the eternal Son of God, continues in verses eight through ten of Zechariah chapter three.  The rest of Israel’s priesthood had apostatized and abandoned their commission to serve God faithfully.  The testimony of the faithfulness of men who wait long and live faithfully in anticipation of the fulfilment of the prophetic promises of God, amazes the unbelieving people of this world.  These people of faith believe that all that the Bible says the Messiah will do, He will do.  If these truths are believed, every believer lives in the shadow of expectation of the fulfillment of these momentous events of future history.  

Jesus was born of a virgin just as the Scriptures foretold.  Jesus was vicariously offered for the sins of the world to satisfy God’s wrath upon sin and to justify believing sinners “by grace” and “through faith” just as Psalm twenty-two and Isaiah chapter fifty-three said He would do.  He rose from the dead on the third day just as He said He would do.  Just as sure as all those things were fulfillments of prophetic announcements, all the things prophecy says Jesus will do yet in the future, HE WILL DO! 
People who believe these prophetic truths about Jesus, live like they believe these things will happen.  They also believe that all the promises to the faithful connected to these fulfilled events will happen.  The world may mock the idea of faith, but at the same time they are amazed at the people who live by faith.  They are amazed by the people who give their lives to be ambassadors of these truths and ministers of the message of eternal reconciliation with God (II Corinthians 5:17-21). 

          Zechariah 3:8 records the LORD saying, “behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.”  Zechariah 3:8-10 is obviously chronologically Kingdom Age and beyond.  God called Jesus forth from the grave to be seated at His right hand in glory for the whole Church Age.  However, God will “bring forth” Jesus to conquer Satan’s world and remove Satan as the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).  The Hebrew word translated “BRANCH” means a bud or new sprout.  The intent is a new eternal line of humanity created through faith in the death, burial, resurrection, and glorification of Jesus. 

The continuum of the New Creation happens when believers begin to reproduce in others what Jesus produced in their lives.  Salvation is not merely a gift to receive.  Salvation is a message to share and communicate with others.  The gift of salvation comes with an obligation of communication.  Believers are obligated to communicate the Gospel because that is the only way people will hear and understand to become part of this new eternal line of humanity by trusting in the substitutionary work of Jesus to satisfy the wrath of God upon their sin and receive the gift of His righteousness given to them in the Person of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 10:14).  Therefore, believers are “born again” into this unfolding New Genesis offered “by grace” and received “through faith.”  

The “bud” or “sprout” (BRANCH) begins to grow like the mustard seed grows into a tree (Matthew 13:31-32).  The Vine bears a branch (John 15:1-8) and the branch bears fruit, which continues the growth of the New Genesis beginning with the ONE growing into millions of millions.  The “BRANCH” represents the beginning of a new family tree of “born again” humanity disconnected from the curse and connected to the New Genesis in Christ, the “last Adam” (I Corinthians 15:45).  

The word “BRANCH” in Zechariah 3:8 is a word that connects to many aspects of the character, nature, and purposes of the Messiah in Jesus.  When we think of the “BRANCH,” we should see God connecting many truths together throughout Scripture.  Theses many truths are all fulfilled in the birth, death, burial, resurrection/glorification, and second coming of Jesus.  The 1917 Scofield Reference Bible gives four different main connecting points throughout Scripture referring to Jesus Christ.  Each point connects to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other portions of Scripture, which develop the doctrine of Christology (the doctrine of Christ) throughout Scripture.  The metaphor of the “BRANCH” are truths all growing from the same source in the prophecies of Scripture by inspiration of God. 

A name of Christ, used in fourfold way:

(1) ‘The Branch of Jehovah’ (Isa 4:2), that is, the ‘Immanuel’ character of Christ Isa 7:14 to be fully manifested to restored and converted Israel after His return in divine glory Mt 25:31.
(2) the ‘Branch of David’ Isa 11:1; Jer 23:5; 33:15 that is, the Messiah, ‘of the seed of David according to the flesh’ Ro 1:3 revealed in His earthly glory as King of kings, and Lord of lords;
(3) Jehovah’s ‘Servant, the Branch’ Zec 3:8 Messiah’s humiliation and obedience unto death according to Isa 52:13-15; 53; Php 2:5-8.
(4) the ‘man whose name is the Branch’ Zec 6:12-13 that is His character as Son of man, the ‘last Adam,’ the ‘second Man’ 1Co 15:45-47 reigning, as Priest-King, over the earth in the dominion given to and lost by the first Adam. Matthew is the Gospel of the ‘Branch of David’; Mark of ‘Jehovah's Servant, the Branch’; Luke of ‘the man whose name is the Branch’; John of ‘the Branch of Jehovah.’”[1]

With the Scriptures being so redundant with these connecting truths about the promised Messiah, why were the priests of Israel ignorant and deceived about His coming?  We know the people of Israel were ignorant because the priests were ignorant, but why were the priests ignorant?  Why didn’t Nicodemus, the “teacher of Israel,” know that we all “must be born again” to even be able to “see” and understand the “Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  False doctrine is simply educated ignorance lacking the continuity of the harmony of the Scriptures.  False doctrine is always the outcome of lazy, superficial, and often convoluted Bible study.  This is what happens when spiritual leaders become disconnected to the big picture provided through inductive Bible study (accurately putting all the pieces together).  

Ignorance of Biblical prophecy is the outcome of lazy Bible study.  God does not give us truths He does not intend for us to understand.  9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (I Corinthians 2:9-10).  Scripture interprets Scripture.  Yes, there will always be details we will not be able to fully grasp about which we can only speculate, but the big picture of prophecy is clearly presented.  The term “BRANCH” is a term that connects our understanding to hundreds, thousands, of verses of Scripture about Christ.  Peter warns of the ignorance of prophecy in the third chapter of his second epistle.

11 Seeing then {through the prophecies of Scripture} that all these things shall be dissolved {vs 10; ‘the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up’}, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned {uneducated or ignorant} and unstable {vacillating, or without foundations} wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (II Peter 3:11-18).

When Bible truths are lost or corrupted among theological academia, these corruptions are propagated and compounded because they are then taught to people who trust their academic authorities.  These corruptions cannot be corrected without condemning the corrupted authorities teaching them.  People tend to protect and defend their trusted authorities.  This is what happened during the four-hundred years of silence from God in the inter-testament period between Malachi and John the Baptist.  

The remnant of Israel, returning to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem under the direction of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai, were mostly faithful priests from the faithful line of Zadok.  Joshua of Zechariah 3:1-8 is the son of the High Priest Josedech (Haggai 1:1) taken into the Babylonian captivity by Nebuchadnezzar.  These were descendants of the line of priesthood from Eleazer fulfilling God’s prophecy regarding the casting away of the descendants of Eli as High Priests (I Samuel 2:22-33).  Abiathar would be the last High Priest from the line of Eli (I Kings 2:26-27) when Zadok was appointed High Priest by king Solomon.  

The point of the warning of Zechariah 3:8 is that even though Joshua was a faithful High Priest to Israel, his faithfulness did not guarantee the faithfulness of his progeny.  Children MUST be trained to know the Scriptures and live the Scriptures.  The prophecies of Ezekiel confirm this faithful line of priests will be restored during the Kingdom Age.  The Zadokean priesthood if the Kingdom Age will be Church Age believers.

13 And they {vs.10; ‘the Levites that are gone away far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray away from me after their idols’} shall not come near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to come near to any of my holy things, in the most holy place: but they shall bear their shame, and their abominations which they have committed. 14 But I will make them keepers of the charge of the house, for all the service thereof, and for all that shall be done therein. 15 But the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, that kept the charge of my sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from me, they shall come near to me to minister unto me, and they shall stand before me to offer unto me the fat and the blood, saith the Lord GOD: 16 They {the Zadokites} shall enter into my sanctuary, and they shall come near to my table, to minister unto me, and they shall keep my charge” (Ezekiel 44:13-16).

The application of these truths is very apparent.  Every believer will be rewarded for his/her faithfulness in obedience to the commands of Scripture.  However, the only way to ensure our children and grandchildren are faithful is consistency in studying the Scriptures, teaching them the Scriptures, and living the Scriptures before them just like we live them before God.  The thousands of little inconsistencies, hypocrisies, and duplicities in our lives will be the ropes that bind our next generations in spiritual death.  This truth has been prevalent throughout thousands of years of recorded history from the beginning of time. 

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance {context implies repentance of ‘dead works’ that precedes salvation; in other words, they needed to get saved first}: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father {belief that they were saved because of their genetic connection to Abraham rather than their faith connection to Abraham; Galatians 3:126}: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10 And now {right now the prophecies about the casting away of the apostate priesthood of Israel was being fulfilled in that generation} also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance {sanctificationally}: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12 Whose fan {a tool to separate chaff from wheat} is in his hand, and he will throughly purge {cleanse or purify} his floor {the nation of Israel at His second coming}, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff {lost Christ rejecting Jews; especially the apostate priests} with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:7-12).

9 For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day {the purging with the fire of God descending from heaven at the end of the Kingdom Age}. 10 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree” (Zechariah 3:9-10).

This is a remarkable text that looks beyond this creation to the New Genesis “in Christ.”  The Kingdom Age is but a small representation of the ultimate living Temple of God where all the redeemed become one with the Lord in perfect harmony of eternal existence.  The text is difficult to understand because the truths to which it speaks are unfathomable to the human mind.  

The fact that this prophecy is future should be evident by the twice repeated “I will” words of “the LORD of hosts.”  The “one stone” is Jesus Christ.  He is the “cornerstone” upon which all aspects of the New Genesis rests.  Every “born again” believer is created to be a living stone at present is built upon this Cornerstone.  However, in “one day” every believer will literally and spiritually become part of this “one stone” in the living Temple of the New Genesis in the new Heaven/Earth created after the Kingdom Age. 

“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name” (Revelation 3:12).

At the dissolution of the first creation after the Kingdom Age, the redeemed of God will experience for the first time a cohabitation with God hitherto never imagined, nor could it be because it is unfathomable.  This is the fulfillment of what I Corinthians 2:9 speaks; “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  The fact that this engraved stone with seven eyes is God and the New Genesis in Christ is revealed by Zechariah 4:10 representing the omniscience of the all-seeing and all-knowing God; “For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”  The “stone is a metaphor for God representing His unchanging eternality.  However, the living stone metaphor that we find elsewhere speaks of a union of the redeem with their Redeemer in the New Genesis, which will ultimately be joined with the Father in the New Genesis.  

Zechariah 3:9-10 is speaking of the “consuming fire” of God’s presence returning to His first creation to purify it and destroy.  This is the context of Isaiah 64:1-5 from Which Paul quotes in I Corinthians 2:9.  The material first creation will literally melt away at the coming of God at the end of the Kingdom Age. 

1 Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, 2 As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! 3 When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. 4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. 5 Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved” (Isaiah 64:1-5).

II Peter chapter three gives us considerable expansion upon our understanding of what Isaiah 64:1-5 speaks.  The interpretation of Scripture is corrupted if we do not understand the inductive methodology.  Inductive simply means the whole is equal to the sum of its parts.  In other words, we must gather all the parts and put them together to understand the whole.  This is tedious and laborious work that few will take the time to do.  It is often the outcome of a lifetime of diligent Bible study.  God has given us the prophetic pieces of a gigantic puzzle and He expects we will be curious enough to work at putting it all together.  This is a labor of love.  

The second coming of Jesus is the “day of the Lord.”  The “day of the LORD” is the day of JEHOVAH.  Jehovah is the Name of God the Redeemer.  This is Jesus the eternal Son of God as the second person of the Trinity.  Jesus came to redeem lost souls and humanity’s dominion lost to Satan in the fall into sin.  Satan will be bound for the one-thousand-year Kingdom Age period.  The earth will be restored ecologically, and topographically to the way it was prior to the great flood.  The people entering the Kingdom Age will live for the whole one-thousand-year period.  Death and disease will be eliminated.  The earth will experience peace with King Jesus ruling the world.  

However, the Kingdom Age is not the ultimate utopia.  Although Satan and his fallen demons will be bound, the Earth will still be filled with unglorified sinners.  They will marry and give birth to children needing to repent and be “born again.”  Many of those born into the Kingdom Age will reject Jesus as their Saviour and when Satan is loosed for a “little season” at the end of the Kingdom Age, they will join Satan in an attack against the Lord Jesus.  Then they will experience the “day of God.”  The ultimate utopia will be created in “one day” called the “day of God.” In that same day, the whole of the first creation will be “dissolved with fervent heat” at the very presence of Elohim. 

3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (II Peter 3:3-13). 

On the “day of Pentecost” the New Covenant began to unfold.  Every believer was indwelled by the Holy Spirit of God creating a theanthropic union with every believer.  Those believers were sealed with the Holy Spirit “unto the day of redemption” of their bodies (Ephesians 4:30).  That union is an eternal union that will never be broken (Hebrews 13:5).  However, that was just the beginning of our redemption; not its end.  The next phase of “the regeneration” is the glorification of the believer’s body when the believer is removed from his Sin Nature and the “old man” is left behind in the resurrection/glorification.  

The next phase of “the regeneration” is the Kingdom Age when Jesus returns to Earth with His glorified redeemed to restore dominion to humanity as He rules Earth from Jerusalem through a worldwide network of glorified believers dispersed into the cities through the world.  We can only imagine the extent of the theanthropic union of the glorified believer with the heart and mind of Christ during this period of world history.  Will we know what Christ knows?  Will we see what Christ sees?  Will we feel what Christ feels?  Is the “filling of the Spirit” during the Church Age intended to represent a small embryonic sense of the believer’s glorification in the Kingdom Age?  Can we even imagine what it would be like to exist without the constant convolution of the Sin Nature?  Can we imagine constantly being filled with the Spirit of God?  Yet, as wonderful as this new extension of “the regeneration’ will be, it is not the end of our transfiguration.  There is a new last and eternal day dawning on the horizon of eternity. 

1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:1-8).

[1] C. I. Scofield, Notes from the Scofield Reference Bible, 1917, Module file location: C:\Program Files (x86)\SwordSearcher\Modules\Scofield.ss5cmty, Module file time: 7/31/2011 8:15:28 PM UTC.

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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