Zechariah 3:9 (ESV) … “For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.”
“The stone” is another image of Messiah found often in Scripture, revealing several aspects of His ministry.
Messiah is the cornerstone (Ps. 118:22–23; Matt. 21:42; Eph. 2:19–22; 1 Peter 2:7; see Zech. 10:4, niv),
Messiah is a stone of stumbling (Isa. 8:14; 1 Peter 2:8; Rom. 9:32–33),
Messiah is the rejected stone (Ps. 118:22–23; Matt. 21:42),
Messiah is the smitten stone (Ex. 17:6; 1 Cor. 10:4),
and Messiah is the smiting stone (Dan. 2:34–35).
At His first advent, Jesus was a stumbling stone to Israel who rejected Him, but He became the foundation stone for the church. At His second advent, He will smite the kingdoms of the world and establish His glorious kingdom.
The seven “eyes” on the stone probably speak of our Lord’s omniscience (Zech. 4:10, niv; Rev. 5:6). The niv margin translates it “seven facets,” making this stone a precious and beautiful jewel because of the way it is engraved or (cut). But the text refers to an inscription that God engraved on the stone, not a jewel, and it doesn’t tell us what the inscription says. Some of the Church Fathers interpreted this engraving to mean the glorified wounds on Christ’s body, but we have no indication from the text that this interpretation is warranted.
The key message of this difficult verse is the removal of Israel’s sins in one day. This miracle of grace is described in Zechariah 5 and 12:10–13:1. At the Second Advent, when Israel beholds the One whom they pierced (12:10), they will repent and be cleansed. “Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment?” (Isa. 66:8) When that happens, God will fulfill the promises of peace that He has made to Israel through the prophets.
As gentile believers we can take great comfort in knowing that what God promises, He delivers. God has promised us forgiveness and salvation. The very same stone which brings hope and salvation to Israel is the very same stone that brings us the same. That is what Christmas is all about. God fulfilling his promise, not just to a nation, but unto an entire world!