Summary: To deal with our guilt we need to stand before God, know his choice of us receive God’s forgiveness and receive his acceptance in Jesus Christ
I want to talk today about guilt. You’ve no doubt all felt it from time to time. Some probably more than others. It’s one of the two great motivators of our modern life. Just look at the ads you see on TV. If you analyse them you’ll find that most of them use either greed, in one of it’s many forms, or guilt. You may have seen that ad for a new cleaning cloth, where you’re shown a day in the life of a dishcloth. It’s used to wipe up the milk on the bench, a spill on the floor, the cat jumps up on the bench and licks off some food that’s been left behind, then the dishcloth is used to wipe away what’s left, then to your horror you see the same cloth being used to wipe down the baby’s high chair! Don’t you feel guilty when you realise that this has been depicting the sort of thing that happens in your kitchen! You’d better go out straight away and buy the new anti-germ dish cloth that they’re advertising!
But of course the problem of guilt isn’t just what we have thrust upon us by advertising. We see the results of it in so many areas of life. People suffering from low-self-esteem, who think that they’re failures, who feel guilty because they can’t do what others expect of them, or what they expect of themselves. People who are workaholics as they try to make up for their shortcomings. People who suffer from stress related illnesses. People who are perfectionists. Others who give up and simply fall into self-indulgence rather than fight it. (a spiral) I read somewhere recently, a psychologist saying that most of his patients could be cured if he could convince them that the guilt they felt wasn’t real. So we live in a world where one of the greatest problems, one of the most powerful forces we feel, is guilt. So what do we, as Christians, have to say to this situation? What does the Bible have to say?
Well, that’s where we come to, today, in our series on Zechariah. "Then he showed me the high priest Joshua standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him." (Zech 3:1) We’ve had the call to return to the Lord, to learn from their past experience (ch1). We’ve read the promise of God to restore the fortunes of Jerusalem (ch 2), and now we come to a vision of God’s courtroom, as we prepare to discover how God will bring this restoration to be.
Stand Before the Lord.
What we find is Joshua the high priest, the same man Ezra refers to as Jeshua (Ezra 2:2), standing before God, with Satan accusing him. So what is he being accused of? Well, it may be that he stands there as the representative of the priests of Israel who have led the people astray and have defiled the worship of God. On the other hand as the high priest he stands as the representative of the people, so perhaps the accusation has to do with the way the nation has turned away from worshipping God to idols. Let me read you the account in 2 Chronicles 36:13-16, of the final state of Israel before the Babylonians captured the city: "Zedekiah also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God; he stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD, the God of Israel. 14All the leading priests and the people also were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of the LORD that he had consecrated in Jerusalem. 15The LORD, the God of their ancestors, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; 16but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD against his people became so great that there was no remedy." So there was plenty for Satan to accuse him of wasn’t there? (mocking, etc)
What we see here is something that we all experience from time to time. Satan comes and accuses us of disobeying God. The trouble is, too often we get confused between what’s real guilt and what’s false guilt. All too often we fell guilty for things that don’t really entail guilt. I remember getting on the tram one day several years ago and discovering that I was wearing brown shoes with gray trousers and a blue shirt and being incredibly embarrassed that I could be so poorly colour co-ordinated. But you know I still haven’t found the commandment about being colour co-ordinated. Or not wearing stripes with checks, or not wearing socks with sandals. But we feel incredibly guilty if someone points out some faux pas like that, don’t we? Some people feel guilty if their house is untidy, or if the lawn isn’t mown. And Satan takes delight in accusing us of these trivial things, because he knows how much they distract us from the important things in our lives.