Last week, our ‘Haftarah’ portion, the scripture from the “Prophets” portion of the Tanakh [OT], was very ‘visual’ and ‘powerful’ for me. So much so, that during the Shabbat service, I was overcome to do a demonstration of it, and to ruminate on ‘facets’ of it I had not even seen until that moment. And, the “awe” of it has carried with me into this week, and it was the one thing on my mind at 3 a.m. this morning when I woke briefly and began to pray.
The portion follows chapter 1 of Zekhar-Yah [Zechariah]. In that chapter, ‘four’ riders on horses have roamed the earth and found all the nations at rest, while Yerushalayim [Jerusalem, “Established on Shalom / “He will see [to] Shalom”] is a shambles. The Navi [prophet] had heard G-d Himself lamenting the sins of Israel, and then Zekhar-Yah was visited by the Malakh יהוה [Messenger/Angel of יהוה ] standing among the myrtles. That Messenger is a temporary manifestation of The Word of G-d, יהוה , in the form of an angelic body, which looks like a man: “behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees ….” “the Malakh יהוה that stood among the myrtle trees…” [1:8,11] The prophecy He gives to the Navi is that the city, which was a waste, would be rebuilt, that Jerusalem and the House of G-d would be rebuilt, and the city of Yerushalayim will be yet ‘chosen’ by G-d.
This vision is immediately followed by another, and it is the foretelling of the destruction of the nations that had put His City in such a sad state [Bavel and other nations]. And then the Navi is told that G-d will again dwell in Jerusalem when His House is rebuilt. And then, we get to chapter 3. And, even though we have a chapter division, the vision is still the same vision. The Kohen Gadol, Yehoshua [Joshua], who was the current “High Priest” of Israel at that time, appears before the very throne of G-d, with Zekhar-Yah behind, looking on; Yehoshua is standing in the middle. The Malakh יהוה is standing on his left, on the right side of the throne of the creator G-d, and HaSatan is standing on the right hand of Yehoshua. This Kohen Gadol is the religious figurehead of Israel. The prophet had just been reminded of Israel’s sins, and why they were in such a state. In this part of the vision, the Kohen, Yehoshua, is standing there in a very sad state: “clothed with filthy garments”… he’s the Kohen Gadol, but he’s not dressed that way. The high priest of Israel is supposed to be dressed in ‘garments of splendor’, a beautiful blue robe, an ephod, a breastplate with 12 gemstones on it, a beautiful mitre with a golden crown upon it. But, Yehoshua, whose name is the Hebrew long form of the Hebrew name Yeshua, our Messiah’s Hebrew name, is standing there in filthy clothing. HaSatan was standing there, accusing Yehoshua, the High Priest, the leader of Israel’s congregation of faith. And the Malakh יהוה , who is the Word of G-d in an angelic manifestation, says, “Is not this man a brand plucked out of the fire?” That is a defense! That is a question that has an OBVIOUS ANSWER! YES! He is a man who HAS been plucked out of the fire! And the divine messenger says, ”Take the filthy garments from off him.” And, “Behold, I cause your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with robes.” This is NOT the practical priestly clothing that Yeshua [before He became a human being] is speaking of! This is TZEDAKA! This is RIGHTEOUSNESS. This is the imagery of SALVATION, when Yeshua gives all who trust in Him their robe of righteousness! Did you notice that Yehoshua did not speak on his own behalf? But, one of the most beautiful things I saw even more clearly, or perhaps appreciated even more this time in the reading of it, was the outcry, which to me seemed almost jubilant: “Set a fair mitre upon his head!” The Navi, the prophet Zekhar-Yah, a fellow human, anticipated the priestly garments! He wanted his friend clothed properly! Fully, as a kohen gadol. The mitre holds the crown of pure, fine gold that reads, “קדש ליהוה” , “Consecrated to Yah” upon it! The ‘enthusiasm’ of the prophet to see the kohen restored to the service of G-d, DRESSED IN RIGHTEOUS APPAREL with his crown of authority and consecration on his head, leaped off the pages in my mind. And the Navi did so without a judgmental spirit for Yehoshua, but in fact countermanding the judgment of HaSatan. Even though the prophet knew the guilt of Israel, and by that also of Yehoshua. Yehoshua to Zekhar-Yah was a contemporary with the prophet, and perhaps even a friend, they likely knew each other. And instead of judging him, he LONGS for the kohen to be restored to his role of service in the House of G-d. He so longed for it that he interjects his exuberance into the courtroom of the Almighty! The Almighty is sitting on His throne, an advocate called “The Messenger of יהוה ” is defending the human, the high priest of Israel, and HaSatan, the adversary of those who trust in יהוה , is accusing him [notice that the sins are not named? Might that be because Yeshua, who would come in a mere 500+ years, which the Nevi’im longed to see, would die for ALL sin?], and suddenly, Zakhar-Yah blurts out, “Set a fair mitre upon his head!”
If ONLY we would think of our brethren that way! If we are kohanim, [and we are], and are yet fallible [and we are, to a man], and err [and we all do], why do we not ‘root’ for our brethren, who may be disheveled, beaten down, ACCUSED by HaSatan, in the same way Zechariah did for Yehoshua? With so much exuberance that the Almighty doesn’t even ‘scare’ us enough NOT to root for him? Zekhar-Yah, did he understand the compassion of G-d so much, that he knew he could blurt out before the Creator in a courtroom? I contemplated the meaning of this man’s name as I thought on these matters: Remember Yah [or Yah Remembers], A Son [who is the] Blessing of Yah, a Son is His Confessor/Witness [or His Eternal Son]. Zekhar-Yah’s own full, legal name says that the Son of G-d is ‘his witness’… Whose? The one who CALLS ON יהוה …. !!! “Zekhor” is the imperative of ‘remember by CALLING TO MIND’…. To whom was the Navi speaking when he blurted? To the Messenger who said to clothe Yehoshua!
Of course, Yehoshua, the man in this image who is being clothed with priestly garments, after having been accused by the adversary, for whom both the Messenger and the Prophet intercede, has always, in my mind, prefigured Yeshua, our Kohen Gadol. However, Yeshua STOOD IN OUR PLACE and became FILTHY for EACH ONE OF US, so, in that sense, Zekhar-Yah is blurting out for the believer’s sake, for the ONE WHO REMEMBERS Yah!
I have tried to teach others that when we accuse our brother of sin, or even ‘suspect’ them of sin, and most especially when we run our mouths about our brother’s faults, true or not, that we are taking on the mantle of HaSatan, the adversary and accuser. WE are putting ‘filthy garments’ on one who is PLUCKED OUT OF THE FIRE! Would that we would take on the role of “his [our brother’s] witness”, “the blessing of Yah,” “calling out to Yah”, and not that of the adversary who accuses. Would that we could ‘see’ that YESHUA HIMSELF is our defense, SALVATION! and that our brother DESERVES to have us cry out, “Put a fair mitre upon his head!”, because he trusts in the One who shed His blood for us. Would that we would do so in concert with Yeshua’s declaration: “SEE!!! I HAVE CAUSED YOUR INIQUITY TO PASS OVER YOU! AND I HAVE CLOTHED YOU WITH ROBES!!!!!” Anyone who has confessed and repented of their iniquity and sin CERTAINLY deserves Yeshua’s defense, and that of ‘his witness’, the brethren. May we echo, “Crown him in the role of kohen, restore to him righteousness!” Yeshua then encourages Yehoshua to obey, and if so, Yehoshua will have ‘free access’ to the throne room. “Come boldly before the throne of His Compassion,” which is EXACTLY what the prophet did, FOR HIS BROTHER!!! And for the one so accused, I know very well how difficult it is to believe that Yeshua would say to my accuser, “Is not this man a brand SNATCHED from the fire?” In other words, “DID I NOT RESCUE THIS MAN?” From what ‘fire’? From the ‘fiery accusations’ of the adversary, who too often is able to use people, even who profess to believe in Yeshua, to ACCUSE the brethren. They do not understand that the ‘accuser of the brethren’ should NOT be the brethren! That is NOT Yeshua’s behavior, nor role, but is the role of HaSatan, the Evil One. I am learning that I have hidden myself in Yeshua, who became FILTHY for MY sake! Who has caused MY iniquity to pass from me. Who clothes me in robes! AND, who, when TRUE brothers ask, also ‘sets a fair mitre’ upon my head.
I have learned that the compassion of the Creator, which is manifested in His Son Yeshua, goes FAR beyond the boundaries of the self-righteous, religious people who will not give that compassion to their brothers. And that Yeshua speaks IN MY DEFENSE to my adversary. And that, in His throne room, there ARE brethren who stand by, and when the accuser accuses [in heaven, which is echoed on earth in that realm], the TRUE brethren SPEAK UP, in exuberance, “SET A FAIR MITRE UPON HIS HEAD”, because THEY believe that the one who bears Yeshua’s name HAS ALREADY been plucked out of the fire!