One of the interesting things about the Bible - especially the Old Testament - is that God left hidden breadcrumbs of text about things that were going to happen in the future. Some of those predicted things are now in our past and center around the Messiah. These predictions were left to authenticate the Messiah to those who search deeply.
So there is this interesting prophecy in Zechariah I came across a few years back. The text “the Branch” in it is the main hint that this is about the Messiah.
9 The word of the Lord came to me: 10 “Take ˻silver and gold˼ from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon. Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. 11 Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. 12 Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord.13 It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’ 14 The crown will be given to Heldai,[N] Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen[O] son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of the Lord.15 Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the Lord, and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the Lord your God.”
Zechariah 6:9-15 | NIV84
It is a very interesting prophecy because it seems to predict a number of things about the Messiah.
It seems to predict that the name of the Messiah would be either Yehoshua or Yeshua. Yeshua over time gave rise to the name Jesus.
That the Messiah would be both a priest and a king at the same time.
That the Messiah would build the temple.
That people from far away would be involved in this building of the temple.
In short, in the prophecy God instructs the prophet to make a crown and to then go to a person called Yehoshua / Yeshua and to put it on his head and then to say a number of things.
This person’s name is spelled in two ways in the Old Testament Yehoshua and a shorter form Yeshua - two alternate spellings. It seems that people started to use the shorter form as time progressed.
Here is a quote from Wikipedia regarding this person - note the two forms of the name:
Joshua (Hebrew יְהוֹשֻׁוּעַ Yəhōšua‘) or Yeshua the High Priest was, according to the Bible, the first person chosen to be the High Priest for the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian Captivity (See Zechariah 6:9–14 and Ezra 3 in the Bible). While the name Yeshua is used in Ezra–Nehemiah for the High Priest, he is called Joshua son of Yehozadak in the Book of Haggai and the Book of Zechariah.
Below is a snippet from a list of all Jewish High Priests from Aaron and onwards. Two sources are listed for the person’s name, the Old Testament and Josephus who used the name Jesus for the high priest in this case.
The full image is here:
(By Jewish Encyclopedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47837282)
The prophet is instructed to say that here is the man whose name is the Branch. The person was high priest at the time but the prophet is to say that he will rule from his throne clothed in majesty (a king therefore) and he will be a priest on his throne and there will be harmony between the two (kingship and the priesthood).
The crown he is to put on the head of the person who was high priest at the time again confirms that he is to be a king and a priest.
It should be noted that this Joshua who was physically there was never considered a king. That is the case because this prophecy was not about him but about the Messiah:
After the Babylonian Exile, Joshua appears vested with the prominence that the Priestly source (P) ascribes to the high priest (Zech. iii.; Hag. vi. 13). The post-exilic high priests traced their pedigree back to Zadok, appointed as chief priest at Jerusalem by Solomon (I Kings ii. 35), and Zadok was held to be a descendant of Eleazar, the son of Aaron (II Chron. v. 34). Immediately after the return from the Captivity, as is clearly to be inferred from Zechariah and Haggai, political authority was not vested in the high priest. Political (Messianic) sovereignty was represented by, or attributed to, a member of the royal house, while religious affairs were reserved to the high-priesthood, represented in the Book of Zechariah by Joshua.
The prophet is also to say that he will build the temple and people will come from far away to help.
Now in the Old Testament the Branch usually refers to the Messiah. Below I include another example prophecy. Here it basically says that the Branch will be a descendant of David. It also says he will be called the Lord Our Righteous Savior. Which incidentally is what Jesus is called today. He never sinned, He is righteous and He saves us if we ask Him. He is our righteous saviour.
5 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,“when I will raise up for David[I] a righteous Branch,a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.This is the name by which he will be called:The Lord Our Righteous Savior.
Jeremiah 23:5-6 | NIV
So back to the prophecy in Zechariah 6.
So here it says “Here is the man whose name is the Branch”. So if we take it literally that the name of the person receiving the crown is also the name of the Branch (the Messiah) and we go with what this person was called in the Old Testament, it would mean that the Branch and therefore the Messiah could have either of these two names, Yeshua (Jeshua) or Yehoshua (Joshua).
Wikipedia has this summary on the name of Jesus pointing to the fact that it was derived from translating the shorter form of the name of the high priest in the prophecy above:
This early Biblical Hebrew name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ [Yehoshua`] underwent a shortening into later Biblical יֵשׁוּעַ [Yeshua`], as found in the Hebrew text of verses Ezra 2:2, 2:6, 2:36, 2:40, 3:2, 3:8, 3:9, 3:10, 3:18, 4:3, 8:33; Nehemiah 3:19, 7:7, 7:11, 7:39, 7:43, 8:7, 8:17, 9:4, 9:5, 11:26, 12:1, 12:7, 12:8, 12:10, 12:24, 12:26; 1 Chronicles 24:11; and 2 Chronicles 31:15—as well as in Biblical Aramaic at verse Ezra 5:2. These Bible verses refer to ten individuals (in Nehemiah 8:17, the name refers to Joshua son of Nun). This historical change may have been due to a phonological shift whereby guttural phonemes weakened, including [h]. Usually, the traditional theophoric element [Yahu] יהו was shortened at the beginning of a name to יו [Yo-], and at the end to יה [-yah]. In the contraction of [Yehoshua`] to [Yeshua`], the vowel is instead fronted (perhaps due to the influence of the y in triliteral root y-š-ʕ). During the post-Biblical period, the name was also adopted by Aramaic and Greek-speaking Jews.
By the time the New Testament was written, the Septuagint had already transliterated ישוע [Yeshua`] into Koine Greek as closely as possible in the 3rd-century BCE, the result being Ἰησοῦς [Iēsous]. Since Greek had no equivalent to the Semitic letter ש shin [sh], it was replaced with a σ sigma [s], and a masculine singular ending [-s] was added in the nominative case, in order to allow the name to be inflected for case (nominative, accusative, etc.) in the grammar of the Greek language. The diphthongal [a] vowel of Masoretic [Yehoshua`] or [Yeshua`] would not have been present in Hebrew/Aramaic pronunciation during this period, and some scholars believe some dialects dropped the pharyngeal sound of the final letter ע `ayin [`], which in any case had no counterpart in ancient Greek. The Greek writings of Philo of Alexandria and Josephus frequently mention this name. It also occurs in the Greek New Testament at Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8, referring to Joshua son of Nun.
From Greek, Ἰησοῦς [Iēsous] moved into Latin at least by the time of the Vetus Latina. The morphological jump this time was not as large as previous changes between language families. Ἰησοῦς [Iēsous] was transliterated to Latin IESVS, where it stood for many centuries. The Latin name has an irregular declension, with a genitive, dative, ablative, and vocative of Jesu, accusative of Jesum, and nominative of Jesus. Minuscule (lower case) letters were developed around 800 and some time later the U was invented to distinguish the vowel sound from the consonantal sound and the J to distinguish the consonant from I. Similarly, Greek minuscules were invented about the same time, prior to that the name was written in capital letters: ΙΗϹΟΥϹ or abbreviated as: ΙΗϹ with a line over the top, see also Christogram.
Modern English "Jesus" /ˈdʒiːzəs/ derives from Early Middle English Iesu (attested from the 12th century). The name participated in the Great Vowel Shift in late Middle English (15th century). The letter J was first distinguished from 'I' by the Frenchman Pierre Ramus in the 16th century, but did not become common in Modern English until the 17th century, so that early 17th century works such as the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible (1611) continued to print the name with an I.
So how cool is that! God gave us a clue as to what the name of the Messiah would be! Very likely Yeshua that later became Jesus in English. That is really amazing!
So to the next thing predicted - that the Messiah would be both a king and a priest. This raises a question. We know that God promised David that he would always have a descendent on the throne as a king. This promise cannot be changed and it therefore seems safe to say that the Messiah has to be a descendant of David as he is predicted to be an eternal king. This makes him a king but how will he be a priest as well? Will he also have to be a descendant of Levi or of Aaron? Is there another precedent?
It turns out there is. God can choose to make anybody a priest by decree as seems to have happened with Melchizedek in the Old Testament.
This brings us to another amazing prophecy. A Psalm written by David. Psalm 110. The whole Psalm seems to be God speaking to the Messiah. In it there is this verse:
4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind:“You are a priest forever,in the order of Melchizedek.”
Psalms 110:4 | NIV84
So here God is telling the Messiah that he will be a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek - therefore by decree not by lineage.
So that then provides the answer. The Messiah would have to descend from David at least. But as for the priesthood would be so by decree. Therefore a priest and a king. Which then ties in neatly with this prophecy in Zechariah in that the person the prophet had to put the crown on, to indicate that he would rule, was high priest at the time too. The Messiah would be both a priest and a king at the same time.
This then brings up the third thing predicted. The Messiah would have to build the Temple. So how does that fit in?
In fact in some other prophecies it looks like the temple has to exist for the Messiah to come. So how can the temple both exist and be built by the Messiah? See this prophecy:
1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
Malachi 3:1 | NIV
Here it talks about John the Baptist that will come followed straight after by the Messiah. The Messiah will come to His temple. So the temple will clearly have to exist by the time the Messiah comes.
So what now? The Messiah will come while the temple exists and he will build it. Is he going to tear it down and rebuild it?
This reminds me of one of the strangest things Jesus used to say. They actually even tried to use it as a reason to crucify Him.
Finally two came forward 61 and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’ ”
Matthew 26:60c-61 | NIV
40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself ! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:40 | NIV
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
John 2:19-22 | NIV
I think Jesus knew off course that He was going to die and be raised from the dead after three days. He also knew that once He paid for the sins of all people, by doing this, it would be possible for God to live in people's hearts once they put their faith in Him (Jesus). God would live in their hearts by His Spirit and such people would therefore literally become temples of God. Jesus would accomplish this by his death, burial and resurrection by paying for our sins - in three days He would change where God lives on earth. In three days He would change the temple location.
20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
John 4:20-21 | NIV
So that then brings us to the tongues of fire on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
Why tongues of fire? What was the meaning of that?
On the day of the dedication of the first Jewish Temple a similar thing happened.
When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,
“He is good;
his love endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 7
The tongues of fire on Pentecost were meant to show God was coming down again but this time upon individuals instead of a physical temple. It was meant to show that people were now becoming God’s temple (dwelling place). It signified that the Messiah had finished his work and had in fact rebuilt the temple literally fulfilling the prophecy in Zechariah 6. Believers would now be God’s temple instead of the physical temple in Jerusalem. The physical temple in Jerusalem was obsolete.
The physical temple was destroyed by the Romans 40 years later within one generation of Jesus in 70 AD and it has not been rebuilt since for about 1947 years by now. If you read the Talmud (which is not always reliable) and Josephus you can see that the Jews noticed a change in the temple around the time Jesus was crucified. They saw this as a bad omen.
On top of all this you will read that there were people from all over the Roman Empire in Jerusalem for the Passover and they were still there on the day of Pentecost. Many put their faith in Jesus and so became temples of God since He started to live in their hearts by God’s Spirit. And even up till today people from very far away still put their faith in Jesus every day and so extend the temple of God. And so they fulfill the last part of this prophecy in Zechariah that says people will come from far away to help rebuild the temple.