See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day. In that day each of you will invite his neighbour to sit under his vine and fig tree,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” Zechariah 3:9-10.
Although Zechariah’s chief aim was to encourage the exiles who had returned to Jerusalem to complete the rebuilding of the temple, his writings have been called the most Messianic writings of the Old Testament. Over and over again in this strange little book, even a casual reader is struck by what seem like forward references to incidents in the Gospels. Today’s verses are no exception — particularly when they speak of one who is to come who will be God’s means of removing the sin of the land in a single day. As Good Friday approaches, who, as they read those words, can fail to see the bruised and bleeding figure of Jesus nailed to a Roman cross, taking away the sins of the world.
But perhaps the picture is even richer. This coming one of whom Zechariah speaks is a “stone” with “seven eyes” and it is “engraved”. How bizarre that sounds! But let’s take it bit by bit. The stone that Zechariah has in mind here is a corner stone — a stone that is foundational to the future kingdom that God will build, and we may well recall that Jesus openly identified himself as such a stone in Matthew 21:42. Seven is a number signifying fulness and eyes represent sight and knowledge, so this stone, this messiah on whom God will build his kingdom, is all-seeing, all-knowing … yet seeing all, knowing all, seeing me, knowing me, he dies for all, he dies for me. And his wounds — are they not the “engraving” on the stone? The early church took them to be so.
Finally, the vine and the fig tree. These surely signified to Zechariah the peace and security and blessedness of the kingdom the messiah would usher in; the joys of the new age. And it speaks to me, of course, of that age that dawned on that first Easter Sunday morning as Jesus walked from the tomb — an age that is still future but that I can, if I choose, live in now and work for, this day and every day.
Lord Jesus, thank you that on the cross, my name was written in the palm of your hands. Amen. (Isaiah 49:16)