Zechariah 3:1-2 ESV
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”
In the times before Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins, and before he was resurrected from the dead in victory over sin and death, the people had high priests who were their representatives before God. The high priests made sacrifices to God, first for their own sins, and then for the sins of the people. And, here it is Joshua who is the people’s representative.
Also, it is widely accepted, as this passage is also a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, the Messiah, that Joshua was a kind of prefiguring of Jesus Christ, who is our high priest, who sacrificed his own life on a cross for the remission of our sins. So, we are going to see some parallels between Joshua and Jesus in this passage of Scripture.
Satan, via those under his influence, worked very hard to find reason to accuse Jesus during his years of ministry on the earth. And, he was successful in influencing the religious leaders within the temple to bring accusation against Jesus, without cause, which resulted in Jesus being put to death on a cross, although he had done no wrong.
And, Scripture teaches that Satan is the accuser of those who are followers of Jesus Christ, too. For, he (the devil, Satan) prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (Rev. 12:10; 1 Pet. 5:8).
But, the Lord is our defense against Satan’s accusations and against his attacks against the saints of God, who are followers of Jesus Christ. For, the Lord has chosen us to be his, by his grace. And, he has rescued us from the fires of hell by delivering us out of our slavery to sin, and by giving us new lives in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 1:4; Eph. 4:17-24; 2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 2:4).
Zechariah 3:3-5 ESV
Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.
Prior to our faith in Jesus Christ, we stand before God with filthy garments, too, i.e. with our sins. But, isn’t this a beautiful picture of what Jesus Christ did for us? He, being our high priest, and our representative, took our place on that cross. So, in his death he became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (1 Co. 6:20; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).
He died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. He died to remove sin from our lives, not just to forgive sin. For, he put our sin to death on that cross that we might, by faith in him, be crucified with him in death to sin and be resurrected with him to newness of life in him, so that we no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (1 Pet. 2:24; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 2 Co. 5:15, 21).
But, Jesus didn’t take our place on the cross, and become sin for us, just so that we would die with him to sin, i.e. just so that we would turn away from our sinful lifestyles. But, it was so we might be clothed in his righteousness, and that we might walk in his holiness, and that we might live pure and holy lives pleasing to God – all in his power and strength within us (Rom. 8:1-17).
For, he called us to be a holy people, set apart from the world of sin unto God. He called us out of the world, and he said that we are to no longer be conformed to the ways (patterns) of this sinful world, because now we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. But, we are to be renewed in the attitude of our minds of the Spirit (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Pet. 1:15).
His grace to us, in fact, instructs us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly lusts, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
Zechariah 3:8-10 ESV
Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. 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. In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”
And, here we see that Joshua and his friends were a sign of something future that was to come. This was a foretelling of the coming of the Messiah, the Christ, Jesus our Lord. And, the iniquity that was removed in a single day was the sin of the entire world. And, it was removed via Jesus’ blood sacrifice for sins on a cross one day around 2,000 years ago.
Thus, by God-given faith in Jesus Christ, which submits to Christ as Lord, and which turns away from sin to follow Jesus in obedience to his commands, we have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God.
But, this faith is not a one-time experience. True faith in Jesus Christ is ongoing, it perseveres, it bears much fruit for the kingdom of heaven, and it endures to the very end. And, true faith in Jesus Christ is proved genuine by what we do in heart response to our Lord’s commands. For, Jesus said that to love him is to obey him, and if we don’t obey him, we don’t love him (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Jn. 14:23-24).
If our faith in Jesus Christ is genuine faith, it should result not only in submission to Christ as Lord, in turning away from sin, and in walks of obedience to his commands, but the love of Jesus should be evident in our lives in how we treat other people, too.
But, this love is not human love, based in flesh. This is divine love, that comes from God, and which is within those of us who are his true followers, because God, by his Spirit, lives within us. And, so we will love others as God loves us and gave his life up for us so that we could be delivered from our slavery to sin and live to his righteousness.
Thus, since we love others with God’s love, we are going to also be those who share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others so that they, too, can know salvation from sin and eternal life with God. But, we have to tell them the truth, and not dilute it in order to not offend people, for that is not love. We have to tell it like Jesus did, and like the apostles did, and like John the Baptist did.
We have to tell our family, our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, and people in our communities, and even in the gatherings of the church, that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live with him to his righteousness. We have to tell them that this means leaving our sinful practices behind us to follow Jesus in obedience.
And, we have to tell them that this means Christ is now Lord of our lives, and no longer is self on the throne. For, a true follower of Jesus follows him where he leads us.
O Could I Speak the Matchless Worth
Author: Samuel Medley (1789)
O could I speak the matchless worth,
O could I sound the glories forth
Which in my Savior shine,
I’d soar, and touch the heav’nly strings,
and vie with Gabriel while he sings
in notes almost divine,
in notes almost divine.
I’d sing the precious blood he spilt,
my ransom from the dreadful guilt
of sin, and wrath divine:
I’d sing his glorious righteousness,
in which all perfect, heav’nly dress
my soul shall ever shine,
my soul shall ever shine.
I’d sing the characters he bears,
and all the forms of love he wears,
exalted on his throne:
in loftiest songs of sweetest praise,
I would to everlasting days
make all his glories known,
make all his glories known.
Well, the delightful day will come
when my dear Lord will bring me home,
and I shall see his face;
then with my Savior, Brother, Friend,
a blest eternity I’ll spend,
triumphant in his grace,
triumphant in his grace.
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