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Summary: This sermon is going to review Zechariah’s vision of Joshua the high priest and in doing so suggest if we want to boldly approach God’s throne then we must first put on the clothing that Christ has bought us so that our filthiest of rags might be acceptable in God’s sight!

Clean Garments for the Priests

Zechariah 3:1-5

Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567

How difficult is it to boldly approach the throne of God? Even though Scripture states we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14) as ambassador’s (2 Corinthians 5:20) and royal priests of Christ (1 Peter 2:9), how many times do we crumble in the shame and guilt of our sin? Even though we know that Satan is the “father of lies” (John 8:44) and seeks to devour us (1 Peter 5:8), then why do we allow him to define our value before a holy God? Should we truly listen to him when he says our filthy rags of righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) proves we are not acceptable living sacrifices (Romans 12:1)? Remember the great accuser knows how to wield shame and guilt into our lives not for the purpose of motivating repentance but to keep us entwined in sin (Hebrews 12:1) and distant from God! While we know this to be true then why do so many Christians go long periods of time distant from God due to their fear that His throne is not one of grace and mercy but judgement and punishment? This sermon is going to review Zechariah’s vision of Joshua the high priest and in doing so suggest if we want to boldly approach God’s throne then we must first put on the clothing that Christ has bought us so that our filthiest of rags might be acceptable in God’s sight!

Shame and Guilt of Israel

Even though Abraham was considered righteous in God’s sight (Genesis 15:6) his stiff-necked offspring (Acts 7:51) had a hard time remaining a faithful, covenant partner. Despite having been warned that forsaking God’s commands would lead to their outright rejection (2 Chronicles 28:9), Israel chose to marry foreigners and in doing so put up Asherah poles and worshipped foreign gods. Even in hearing Jeremiah’s weeping pleas that God would not destroy Israel, God gave them over to the Babylonians who destroyed Jerusalem and the temple of Yahweh in 586 B.C.E. The most prominent of society were deported while the poorest were left to work the lands. After having been exiled for 70 years Babylon was conquered by Persia whom permitted Israel to return to a "greatly diminished version of their exiled Promised land," the Persian province of Yehud. Upon their return the remnant could not help but wonder if their not having the land or king was further proof that God, whom controls history, had not fully accepted them back as His covenant partner!

Accusations Against the Priests

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him” (verse 1)

In verse one we learn that at the heavenly court Satan was trying to get God to condemn Joshua the high priest. Joshua is well known to us from the books of Ezra (Ezra 3; 5:1-2) and Haggai (1:1-11). His lineage can be traced to the Zadokite priests whom Ezekiel praised for their faithfulness during the exile (44:10-16). Despite being a direct descendant of Aaron and being specifically called by God to offer sacrifices in the new temple, we read that Satan is standing in the court room at the right hand of Joshua which was the position of accusation under the law (Psalms 109:6). In the presence of God Satan gets ready to accuse Joshua, whom represented Israel and ultimately all believers everywhere (Job 1-2; Revelation 12:10), of having sinned. In Satan’s opinion Joshua should be rejected as God’s chosen, after all according to Satan he still had the marks of God’s judgment upon him. Satan makes his accusation in hopes that it might convince He whom has no darkness in Him (1 John 1:5) to reject not only Joshua as high priest but His chosen people once and for ever!

Satan’s accusation is not limited to just Joshua but to all believers! Every man and woman who knows the power of Christ in his/her own soul, to purge and cleanse him/her from dead works, is appointed to serve as a priest unto God.” As we “living stones are being built up into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5) Satan is constantly accusing us of not offering our “bodies as living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1) but instead gratifying our carnal pleasures (1 Peter 4:3). He enters the battleground of our minds (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) and despite knowing that God has “not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7), he roars and seeks to devour (1 Peter 5:8) our view of the standing we have before a holy God! He tells us that God’s demand for holiness (1 Peter 1:16) will not be met by our filthy rags of presumed righteousness (Isaiah 64:6)! He tells us that our sins are so utterly heinous that not even a contrite and broken heart (Psalms 51:17) will be acceptable as a living sacrifice. He floods our minds with tides of overwhelming shame and guilt that crushes our souls and leaves us in desperation. His goal is for “us to search and try our hearts in the sight of God’s law” so that our failure to hit the impossible mark of 100 percent obedience (Romans 3:23) might prove that like all others we are not right in God’s sight!

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