In Malachi’s Message, I focused on a pitiful depiction of an end-time Joshua in Zechariah 3. We all know who fulfilled that prophetic office, what we could term the “unlawful Joshua” in this end time.
But there is another end-time Joshua spoken of in the temple prophets—a lawful Joshua—whom we haven’t paid nearly as much attention to.
Nebuchadnezzar took the Jews captive in 604-585 b.c. Seventy years later, the Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Haggai and Zechariah prophesied about the rebuilding of the temple, and so did Ezra and Nehemiah.
Haggai and Zechariah were the two leading prophets used in the work of the second temple. They were contemporary prophets. From what I can determine, their messages anciently were delivered within two to three months of each other.
The books of both Haggai and Zechariah are mainly for this end time—specifically for God’s Church today.
Zerubbabel and Joshua were two of the leading builders on the second temple. More importantly, they are two key figures in the building of God’s end-time spiritual temple.
And the role of Joshua—anciently fulfilled by only one individual—is fulfilled by two separate individuals in this end time—one lawful and one unlawful.
We all must make sure we are grounded in this understanding.
The Zerubbabel Signet
Haggai 2:23 reads, “In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Herbert W. Armstrong fulfilled the role of Zerubbabel in this end time, and God said He would make that man a signet. It’s important to note, however, that the context of this passage is the Laodicean era.
According to the Anchor Bible, God calls Zerubbabel “MY signet.” In the second verse of this book (Haggai 1:2), God talks about “this people,” not my people—because they have become Laodicean. But here He refers to “My signet”!
Mr. Armstrong is a signet for us today. Unger’s Bible Dictionary defines signet, “An impression made that had the same legal validity as an actual signature. Without a seal no document is considered authentic.” The Anchor Bible says, “The use of such a seal was the way of carrying out the authority of the person to whom the seal belonged.”
The seal represented the authority or government of the individual to whom it belonged. The only time you need a signet is when the person in authority is not there. It is like using a king’s ring to stamp a document.
Obviously, if there is a signet, it presupposes that somebody is there to use it. Who is that? Who is carrying out that authority, and to whom does the Zerubbabel seal belong today?
The Work of God today revolves around an end-time Zerubbabel. If you understand Zerubbabel and his work, you will know what God is doing today. This is why Haggai 2:23 is such an important prophecy. If we understand about that man, his work and the physical house he helped build, then we will see God’s signature written all over them.
God’s remnant today must have that signet. We are not even authentic—we are a fraud—if we don’t have the Zerubbabel signet!
Now notice the relationship between the end-time Zerubbabel and Joshua prophesied in the book of Haggai.
The Lawful Joshua
In Haggai, you will see five mentions of Joshua (Haggai 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 4), the high priest anciently. The history here and in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah indicates that this Joshua was loyal to God when the temple was being rebuilt. He was a type of a “lawful Joshua” in this end time.
Here is one of those instances: “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God …” (Haggai 1:12).
Throughout Haggai, you repeatedly see Zerubbabel, Joshua and a remnant. You couldn’t see that breakdown when Mr. Armstrong was here, if you just look at the way the history unfolded.
This prophecy clearly shows there is something this Joshua and this remnant know and cling to.
Mr. Armstrong restored all things (Matthew 17:10‑11). This end-time Joshua type is lawful because he accepts Mr. Armstrong as a signet and fully accepts all things that were restored by him. This little remnant battled in a court case to hold on to all things restored. That fight was all about the Zerubbabel signet. We fought to get the treasures of the temple (Mr. Armstrong’s writings), because without those we couldn’t even do the Work! We need Zerubbabel hanging over us like a fiery cloud, or we’re not doing this Work right—we’re illegitimate.
In the book of Haggai, Zerubbabel is a signet. In the book of Zechariah, he is an inset (Zechariah 4:6-10). In both prophecies, he is playing a role when he really is no longer there. He has left the scene—but what he taught is right with us!
Throughout Haggai, Zerubbabel and the lawful Joshua are together, even when Zerubbabel is a signet.
The Zerubbabel-Joshua relationship represents God’s government at work! It is government to keep me and all of God’s people in line. Without the authority of Mr. Armstrong over us, we are not God’s remnant. With it, however—small though we may be—God speaks and delivers His revelation to us.
There was no record of an unlawful Joshua anciently. But there is an unlawful Joshua prophetically spoken of in this prophecy (e.g. Zechariah 3:1, 3). The books of both Haggai and Zechariah are mainly for this end time. So what Zechariah states about Joshua’s filthy garments in Zechariah 3 must be for the end time only. There is nothing in Ezra-Nehemiah about a Joshua with filthy garments, and Ezra-Nehemiah contains the history of Zerubbabel, Joshua, Haggai and Zechariah.
Though there was one Zerubbabel anciently and one Zerubbabel type today, there are two types of Joshua in this end time—one lawful and one unlawful. Both were successors to Zerubbabel.
The unlawful Joshua type was revealed in this end time. He caused a split in God’s Church after Mr. Armstrong died. That too is why the Zerubbabel type in this end time, Mr. Armstrong, is referred to as a signet.
Joseph Tkach Sr. and I both were ministers in the Philadelphia and Laodicean eras. The Church split makes part of this end-time Work depart from the way events occurred anciently with Joshua (so far as we can tell from the Bible). That is why it is logical for God to refer to two Joshuas in this end time, even though the biblical history shows that there was only one Joshua anciently.
The signet makes it very easy to determine which Joshua is lawful.
In fact, the signet could imply that there are two end-time Joshuas and God shows us how to know which one to follow. Otherwise, why even mention the signet?
The picture in Zechariah 3 is one of the most pitiful, despicable sights in the Bible! Look at what happened to a leader of God’s Church! All of God’s ministers today—including me—need to take close note of this. Here is a man given the charge of leading God’s people who is in abject bondage, tied up and bound by the devil! Another man described in 2 Thessalonians 2 is apparently possessed by the devil! (That is fully explained in my book Malachi’s Message.) That is a strong warning to all of us about Satan’s power. This could happen to any of us if we allow it! What worse fate is there than that?
Who Is Joshua?
Zechariah chapters 3 and 4 is a prophecy about a modern-day Joshua and “[his] fellows” who are failing to build the way Zerubbabel did. They adopt the world’s scholarly approach to the Bible, which leads to one of the greatest disasters ever in God’s Church!
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zechariah 3:1-2). A modern-day Joshua died in his rebellion toward God.
Some of God’s people are going to be in the Tribulation—and plucked out—or not plucked out! Nobody who survives the Tribulation could fulfill this scripture more than a Laodicean. Fifty percent of the Laodiceans will lose their eternal lives (Matthew 25:1-10). A repentant Laodicean in the Great Tribulation would indeed be a “brand plucked out of the fire.”
If we put all the pieces together, we can see that Joshua and Zerubbabel represent two Church eras. Zechariah 3 and 4 are about the Joshua era. The Zerubbabel inset is there to emphasize to Joshua where he got off track—how his garments became filthy, spiritually. And it’s all to occur just before Christ’s return (Zechariah 3:8). It has to be the Laodicean era! Many people will follow Joshua’s example into the Great Tribulation—a Joshua who died wearing filthy garments. Other major prophecies of the Bible say virtually the same thing. More on that later.
“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel” (verse 3). The Hebrew word for “filthy” designates an extreme condition of filth. The word can even be used as “excrement.”
Notice something important about this picture. This passage calls Joshua “the high priest.” I believe it is significant that it doesn’t call him the “chief priest.” This man in the end time was not the head priest. You can see the distinction between these two offices in other passages of scripture. In Ezra 7:5, Aaron is called the chief priest. Chief priests are also mentioned in 2 Kings 25:18 and Jeremiah 52:24, and a few places in Chronicles. Joshua was just a high priest.
The term “high priest” is used seven times for Joshua in Haggai and Zechariah, which may be somewhat of a message in itself. (Seven is the number of completion.) But I believe what God is telling us is that the person on the scene after Mr. Armstrong died was not the head priest. Even though Zerubbabel was gone, the signet was still there, and he remains the number one man. God used him to prepare the way as His messenger (e.g. Malachi 3:1), and we only continue in that job.
We can’t afford to lose that perspective, or we will meet the same fate as the unlawful Joshua in Zechariah 3 met! Why did this Joshua get into so much trouble? We must not forget this history.
A Government Problem
“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by” (Zechariah 3:3-5).
The central act here revolves around the headgear. The fruits in this end time illustrate that something was wrong with Joshua’s head, and with that turban, which is a symbol of government. This was the cause of all of his problems: He couldn’t submit to the Zerubbabel signet! He couldn’t submit to a man whom God used to restore all things—a man I view as one of the great men of the Bible!
These verses reveal that Joshua’s real problem was with government. The turban represents rule, authority and government. Placing the turban on the high priest’s head was the central act of the ordination ceremony (Exodus 29; Leviticus 8). Here, Joshua needs a new miter. This shows that he had a problem with government or the Head.
Why would any of the Laodicean leaders or members want to dwell with the daughter of Babylon? They have a problem with God’s government. They don’t want God to be their Head. That is the problem that all Laodiceans have—every single one of them. They all follow Joshua’s lead in that respect. He had a problem with the miter, or the government—the Head! So do his followers, before and after his death.
The central act is positioning a pure turban. His big problem was how he ruled—and failed to follow Zerubbabel’s example! This prophecy says there was to be a leader in God’s Church who had a serious government problem! He refused to submit to what Christ established through Zerubbabel! God called for repentance from the top! That is where the major government problem is.
“And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by” (Zechariah 3:6-7). IF you do this, and IF you do that, this says—it is all conditional upon his carrying out God’s commission. He gets a pure turban only if he repents. This is addressing a definite person with a specific priestly item that is filthy—a turban—which symbolizes government. He had a serious government problem! He rejected the authority of Jesus Christ!
He was to receive a pure turban only if he repented. But if you look at the history, there is no evidence this man did so. He said he wouldn’t be “ruled from the grave” by Mr. Armstrong—but he should have been, if it’s God’s truth! And it was—it was all things restored! But this Joshua went out on his own and utterly destroyed what God had built.
We must learn from that history and be diligent to ensure we don’t fall prey to the same government problem.
“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). Hear now, God says! Joshua had only a little span of time to hear. The same is true of us—we must hear God’s message now!
The Anchor Bible says the word “sit” could mean “rule, exercise authority.” Joshua is not alone. It is Joshua and “thy fellows.” Strong’s Concordance says this expression could be rendered “your pastors.” Thy (or your) is a personal possessive pronoun which shows possession of something (the car’s engine, the baby’s toy, etc.). They belonged to Joshua—they were his “fellows,” and continue to be so after his death. They don’t belong to Christ. They follow men—not Christ! That’s the big problem! They are not as spiritually motivated as they should be (Zechariah 4:6—and remember this verse is a part of the Zerubbabel inset). If they were properly motivated, they wouldn’t be following Joshua, who has filthy garments. That is why they “[despise] the day of small things.” They have contempt for Zerubbabel (Mr. Armstrong) and what he taught. So they move away from the Philadelphia standard.
“Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by” (Zechariah 3:7). “[K]eep my charge” refers to the act of guarding. It means “a place where guards are set.” The biggest sin of Joshua and his fellows was a failure to guard what they had—what Zerubbabel left behind. (Malachi 2:7 has the same meaning for the word “keep.”) Their job is to guard tenaciously what Christ established through Mr. Armstrong and gave to the Church. Today, the wcg leaders have rejected almost all of the knowledge revealed by God.
This is the same problem as in 2 Thessalonians 2:15. They reject the “traditions” or “instructions” of the past.
There is also the most wonderful good news that we could hear! Joshua’s fellows are asignthat Christ’s return is very near (Zechariah 3:8). The Soncino Commentary says, “for they are men that are asign.” The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary also translates it “sign.” It could also read “wondrous sign,” because of what follows almost immediately—Christ’s return! (verses 8-10).
It is the samesign we see in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 of a falling away, which also shows that Christ’s return is very near! This is almost the same language as in Zechariah 3. It’s also the same story as Revelation 3, about the Laodicean Church. Signs are to be read, understood and heeded—or we get lost. Those rebellious Laodiceans are awondrous signthat Jesus Christ is about to return!