The Priest-King

Zechariah 6:9-15

In this passage we see the Word of the Lord come to Zechariah and instruct him to carry out a prophetic action – namely to make a crown and to place it on the head of the high priest Josiah. Zechariah was then to speak a message explaining this symbolic action, and to turn attention to one who would come, called ‘the Branch’. This figure has been introduced earlier in the book, and speaks of the coming Messiah. We see it fulfilled in Jesus.

The Priest-King – At first glance, the image here is a confusing one. To place the crown on the head of the priest makes no sense as the priests were descendants of Aaron from the tribe of Levi whereas the kings were of Judah (particularly through David’s line). Here we see Zechariah pointing to one who would both rule over the people like a king and mediate between people and God like a priest. Neither Josiah not Zerubbabel could do this, but Jesus does indeed hold both these roles and is both king of kings and our great high priest (Hebrews 5-7 explores how Jesus can be a priest despite not being descended from Aaron).

The Temple Builder – In verses 12-13, we are told that it will be the Priest-King who builds the temple of the Lord. In the context of the day there was a physical construction project, but despite the building being completed the presence of God never filled this second temple as it had the previous and so it did not function as a true temple. It is through Christ that the true temple is built, with the glory of God descending on his new temple at pentecost – a temple not made of bricks but of people from every tribe and nation (see Eph. 2:22).

Worshipped by All the Peoples Verse 15 speaks of those who are far off coming to help build the Lord’s temple. This Old Testament prophecy is clear that the coming Messiah would not be for the Jews alone but would draw people from every nation to himself and engage the nations in his mission.

Possible Applications

  • Wonder at Christ – Prophecies like this help us appreciate Jesus in a new light. He is so much greater than any that had gone before him and transcends Old Testament roles. We can worship him as both our king and our high priest.
  • Enjoy the Presence of God – Jesus is the one who builds God’s temple, and that temple is us – his people. He indwells us by his Spirit and so we can experience God’s presence wherever we are. We should not take this lightly and should lean into enjoying the presence he has given us access to.
  • Global Focus – Sometimes we can limit our focus to what God is doing in our own nation or culture, but we are reminded here that he draws those who are far off to himself. This means that the church is made up of people of all the nations and local church should reflect this. It also means we should consider who is ‘far off’ in our day and do what we can to see them reached.