One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Sunday, December 22, 2013: Zechariah 2:1-3:10
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. 4 Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, “Take away the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by. Zechariah 3:1-5 (NKJV)
Zechariah was a prophet who saw many visions. The mix of images and messages is almost overwhelming especially when studied along with the Books of Daniel in the Old Testament and Revelation in the New Testament. Vision after vision with no "Dummies" guide to sort it out.
Zechariah prophesied during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Israel was returning from Babylonian captivity and, under the leadership of a governor named Zerubbabel the Temple was being rebuilt. This was about 500 years before Jesus, and was at the close of the Old Testament era. Zechariah's prophecy was some of the last words from God before the "great silence" of 430 years in which there was no prophetic voice in Israel.
One of the most vivid pictures in Zechariah is that of the High Priest Joshua. Now, up front we should see some hints of meaning here. It so happens that there actually was a High Priest in the days of Zechariah named Joshua (see Ezra 5:2). "Joshua" means salvation. It is the same name as "Jesus" in the New Testament. This entire vision is a prediction of the ministry Jesus will do for you and me.
Here are 4 New Testament truths in an Old Testament vision:
1. Satan opposes anyone who would stand before God (vs 1).
That opposition takes the form of ACCUSATION. Rev. 12:10 says that Satan is "the accuser of the brethren, who accuses them before our God day and night." How does Satan accuse us? By pointing out our unworthiness.
Please note that there is no argument that breaks out here. There is only a REBUKE. We get in trouble when we try to out-argue the devil. Instead we are called to simply rebuke him.
2. We are "a brand plucked from the fire." (vs. 2)
Our modern sophistication doesn't like to hear about hellfire and brimstone. It sounds so old fashioned, narrow, and somewhat corny. But, the truth remains. We are a condemned race that deserves eternal damnation. The grace and mercy of God has rescued us from a dire fate.
3. We must have a change of clothes (vss. 3-4).
One of the most fabulous truths in God's Word is IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS. We do not earn righteousness, we put it on. We are not called to DO but rather to receive what He has DONE.
Our best is still "filthy" (vs. 3). He clothes us with new garments that are a grace gift of His love.
4. We get a new "hat" (vs. 5).
Zechariah calls it a "turban." In biblical times, a turban was reserved for leadership or nobility. The type of turban indicated how lofty your position. This is something like the indicators used by the military to signify rank.
When Jesus comes into your life, you get a new position -- a new "crown". This does not speak of prideful privilege or arrogant entitlement. It speaks of partnership with the God of the universe. We are "highly favored."
It may be difficult sometimes to figure out the strange symbolism of the prophets. But, if we dig into the Word, we will find wonderful gems of truth. Zechariah gives us four in these short verses. It is thrilling to discover what God says about you and me.