The Crowns of Silver and Gold
Arthur Shearman, Worcester, England
Zechariah chapter 6 verses 9 to 13 is a passage that is full of interest and importance in connection with the future of the nation of Israel. It records the crowning of Joshua the High Priest at the time of the rebuilding of the temple after the return from captivity. It is not the record of a vision, such as those that had occupied the previous chapters. It is the result of a direct word from the Lord to the prophet: 'the word of the Lord came unto me'. The ministry of Haggai and Zechariah played a very large part in the life of the people after their return. It was their words that came to those who were perhaps apathetic concerning the work of rebuilding, to stir them up to action. Their words were challenging, and they thus stirred up Joshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel the governor, telling them that it was time to build the Lord's house, Hag. 1. 1-2.
Zechariah is now told to fulfil an important function. From three men of the captivity, Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, he is told to take offerings of silver and gold. These he is to make into crowns, (R.V. marg. a crown) and set them on the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the High Priest. It is interesting to look back to that vision when Joshua is seen in the centre of the events, 3. 1-7. He is clothed with filthy garments. Satan is there to resist him, standing as the adversary. The Lord rebukes him and Joshua is clothed in clean garments and a fair mitre is placed on his head. From this the Lord speaks of the day when He would bring forth the Branch, His servant, who would rule in that day when the priesthood would be cleansed and millennial prosperity would be enjoyed.
Joshua now is not cleansed and clothed but crowned. It is not the fair mitre that adorns his head now but the crowns. We could say that crowns are worn by kings and not by priests. In the history of the nation it was evident that the priesthood and the monarchy were separate, and quite distinct in their functions. It is obvious that there was a deeper significance in this action, and one that pointed prophetically to the glories of One greater than the Joshua of the sixth century BC.
Of this One who was to come the prophet announced, 'Thus speaketh the Lord of Hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is the Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:
. . . . and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both', vv. 12-13. There are several interesting features about this beautiful prophecy. The crowns were of silver and gold. Usually a crown was of one precious metal, gold. Kingship and gold would go together. In biblical symbolism we are taught to think of silver in terms of redemption or atonement, while gold is the metal of perfection and glory. Joshua's head was to be adorned with crowns of silver and gold, the mingling together of these precious metals, exhibiting the distinctive glories and setting the tone and the character of the rule that is being projected. This anticipated the ending of man's day and the dawn of the promised age to come at the second coming of the One crowned as Saviour and Sovereign. With His appearing His millennial glory will begin. But the Lord of hosts revealed that this One who is to come has been here before; He is the Man who is the Branch, representing thoughts, life and fruitfulness out of that which seemed dead, cf. Isa 11. 1. It is this One who shall build the temple of the Lord. This is not the second temple with the construction of which Joshua and Zerubbabel were concerned. It is the millennial temple which the Messiah is to build in that day, Ezek. Chapters 44-45.
Four precious things are said about the occupant of the throne. He will bear the glory. This is in contrast to the shame and pain which was meted out by His own people and their Roman accomplices as they crucified Him. Then, the Head that once was crowned with thorns will be crowned with glory, a weight of glory. Further, He shall sit and rule for the government will be in His hands. What a shock for those who in rejecting Him say, 'We will not have this man to reign over us', cf. John 19. 14-15. The throne of Israel will be rightly His, He is the king of Israel. Again, as King of kings He is to reign universally. But the final and most vital word in this prophecy is that He shall be a priest upon His throne. We remember that the rule of the Lord Jesus in that day will usher in universal peace. Creation will be free from the effects of 'the fall'. All will submit to the authority of the One who bears the sceptre. Then the priesthood and kingship, two previously separated offices, will be united in the anointed king, the Messiah. For His royal priesthood is not after the Aaronic order but rather after the unchanging order of the Melchisdek priesthood, the one who combined the two offices of king of Salem and priest of the Most High God, cf. Gen. 14. 18; Ps. 110. 4. None but the Lord Jesus can combine perfectly the sympathy of priesthood with the power of the throne. Here in one person the world awaits the perfect reign of the anointed priest-king, the Christ. This is God's ideal of perfect sympathy and powerful sovereignty united. The One who bore the cross is to wear the crowns of silver and gold. The cross and the crown, sacrifice and sovereignty, love and power. He is appearing as Israel's Messiah, the One whom they rejected, yet the One for whom the nation still waits.
When He returns He will reign over the whole world. Not until then will the counsel of peace be between them both. In our generation we have seen both counsels of war and of peace. Psalm 2 presents the counsel of war against God and His anointed. But the decree is declared; 'Yet have I set my king on my holy hill of Zion', vv. 1-6. The nations of the earth and Israel await that day, the day of universal peace.
It was therefore significant that the crowns were laid up in the temple as a memorial. The hope of fulfilment lay in the One who is soon to appear, and whose head shall be rightfully crowned in millennial glory.