[June 10]—Nasty and Clean

Zechariah 3

            Now we come to the fourth vision of Zechariah. The good news is that this one is a bit easier to understand, as long as you have the right tools, and it’s a beautiful picture of what the Lord's done for us as believers in this age.
            In his vision, the prophet sees before him the current Priest of that time whose name happened to be Joshua. The setting is a courtroom, the Court of the Most High God. And in every courtroom, you need a judge, an accuser, the accused, and the accused defender. The accused is Joshua, who as High Priest represents the entire nation of Israel. So who’s the Judge, and who’s the Defender? Well, the Defender obviously is the Lord, but the strange thing is that the Defender of Joshua is called both the “Angel of the Lord” in vs. 1 and “the Lord” in vs. 2. The best interpretation I’ve found is this is not “an” angel but “the” Angel of the Lord, which I believe is a Pre-Incarnate vision of the Lord Jesus himself.
            This "Angel of the Lord" rebukes Satan (literally “The Accuser”) who—like his name suggests—accuses Israel before the Lord of being unworthy of its blessings and preservation as a nation. For its sins, it ought to be destroyed once and for all. What does the Angel do? Does he dispute the accusations, saying that Israel really isn’t that bad? No. He says that the Lord has chosen Israel and has snatched it from the flames. It belongs to him, no matter what it does.
            And then we see one of the clearest and most poignant images of our salvation I’ve ever seen in either the O.T. or N.T. He tells the angels assembled there to take off the filthy garments of the High Priest (the Hebrew is very explicit about how nasty these garments are) and clothe him in new garments, fresh and clean. My friend, this is your salvation and mine. The prophet Isaiah put it this way: “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” You and I, as sinners both inside and out, could never clean ourselves off. No matter what soap we used, no matter how hard we scrubbed, we could never get the stain out.
            So the Lord doesn’t try to clean the garments we’re wearing. He doesn’t tell us to reform or do better. He takes our filthy garments off and gives us new ones. This “robe” is the righteousness of Christ. Like the poor animal who gave its life to clothe our First Parents, this robe came at the ultimate cost.
            And our salvation doesn’t stop there, no sir. After they re-clothed Joshua, they placed a clean turban on his head. This turban isn’t just a hat to keep the sun off your head. This turban completed the “work uniform” of the priest. It said “Holiness To The Lord.” This reminds me that my salvation contains more than mere salvation from ultimate judgment, as wonderful as that is. No, when we’re redeemed from the Pit and clothed in his righteousness, he makes us a priest in his name and gives us an exalted purpose. You might think you’re insignificant and not nearly as important as the great “Movers and “Shakers” in the world and in the church, but you couldn’t be more wrong.
            Verses 6-7 are the next step. As we obey him and do things more and more his way, he gives us more authority. Please notice that the Lord tells Joshua that he will have his place of work “among those standing here,” “those” meaning angels. Yes, we will work alongside angels in bringing about God’s purpose in the world.
And finally the chapter answers the question which might be on the mind of the reader: How will the Lord bring this about? How will he accomplish this? Well, as N.T. believers we know the answer, but this chapter tells us as well.
            It is the “Servant of the Lord,” the “Branch,” both of which are terms for the Messiah, referring to his humility, the human side of the God-man. He’s also the “Rock” who’s mentioned in vs. 9. It’s “seven eyes” denote omniscience, a divine trait, so the passage also speaks to his divine nature.
            And when he completes his work, everyone will “sit under [his] vine and fig tree,” a symbol of universal peace and prosperity.
            See, here’s the procedure we see in this chapter: 1) God takes the initiative in calling us, 2) He removes our nasty garments and clothes us in his righteousness, 3) He gives us a purpose, our part in building up his Kingdom and in representing him to the outside world, and 4) We gain a better understanding of what following him really means, and when he’s finished his work, 5) all will be made right with the world and the universe.
            If you haven’t experienced what this chapter is talking about or you’re not sure, then please read this. If you've received Christ, then visualize in your mind what the Lord did for you, and what it cost him. Picture in your mind the removal of your own nasty sins and the clothing of his righteousness. And wonder at his grace.

Lord Jesus, thank you so much for your Robe of Righteousness. I know what it cost you. Help me to live up to what you’ve called me to do, by your grace. 

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