Summary: We were strangers because of our sin and disobedience but God, in His Unconditional Love, provided the way for us to return to Him, through the promise that He had made to Abram. We can become one in the Holy Nation of Israel, clothed in clean and white
We are now in the third month in our exploration of the prophecies of Zechariah. So far we have looked at the first two chapters. Last month we looked at the first three visions. This month we are looking at the fourth vision: The Removal of the High Priest’s Dirty Clothing and Replacement with Rich Garments.
In the first 8 chapters of Zechariah we see God giving His Jewish people 7 messages about His power, love, wisdom and holiness, so that they can be prepared for the most momentous event in the whole of creation, the coming of the Messiah. Sadly, many missed the event and many Jews are still preparing themselves for it, because they did miss it.
The aspect of God that I still find hard to comprehend, is that, even if we reject Him, we disobey Him, we sin against Him, God still loves us. We call it ‘grace’, unmerited love from God to His rebellious creation. The people of Israel were a very rebellious people, though probably no more rebellious than any other people would be, but God still wanted His people to be spiritually ready for the coming of the Messiah when He finally appeared. He did not want them to miss Him; He wanted them ready so that they could respond to Him in the right way.
The first three visions we categorised under ‘Our God Reigns’. It does not matter what men or women may try to do, the will of God will prevail, even to the extent of using kings and nations that do not accept Him as God. God now shows His unconditional love for His people in this fourth vision. To understand this vision a little better, we need to investigate the subject of the vision, Joshua, a little.
We also see references to Joshua, the high priest, in Haggai.
In Haggai we see Joshua as someone who becomes transformed and obedient to God. Haggai emphasizes the positive aspects of Joshua.
In Zechariah he is used as a symbol of a rebellious nation. He is used to warn of the danger of rebelling against God, but also as an encouragement to repent and turn back to God.
In this fourth vision, God showed the Jewish people that even though their sins had made them unfit to function as a "kingdom of priests", they remained the objects of His unconditional love. (Ex 19:5, 6) “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” The nation would therefore be cleansed and made fit to be with God one day.
1. The High Priest Accused.
(v1) Joshua is standing before the ‘angel of the LORD’ ministering on behalf of the people of Israel, as one would expect of a priest. Satan stands on his right side to accuse him. The Hebrew word for ‘accuser’ has the same root as that for Satan. Satan is the accuser of the people of the nations. He accuses us before God. He reminds us of our own sinfulness, our own wrong doing, trying to make us feel guilty.
The LORD God rebuked Satan, twice; Joshua represented the people of Israel, God’s chosen people. (v2)“burning stick snatched from the fire” Satan’s accusations were futile! God in His unconditional love had snatched these people from the fire of captivity in Babylon to carry out God’s future purpose for them.
In the same way, when Satan accuses us in the presence of God, He will rebuke Satan as He sees our names written in the Lambs Book of Life. We will be the remnant of the people of this world who have been snatched from the fire of the materialism and sin of this age. Do we have a right to be in that book? No! We have done nothing to give us that right; it is the grace of God, the Unconditional Love of God, which has put our names in that book, the Lamb’s Book of Life.
2. The High Priest Stripped.
Joshua was standing there dressed in filthy clothes. (v3) “Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.” Joshua represented the Jews, the filthy clothes the sin of the Jews.
The garments of the high priest were filthy, symbolizing the sinfulness of the nation. The devil was laying the charge that the nation’s spiritual condition disqualified her from becoming a nation of priests. (See Ex 19:5, 6 above). This, in Satan’s mind, prevented God from fulfilling His promise to Moses.