Summary: Some important truths for our Christian life can be gleaned from the vision Zechariah had as recorded in this passage.
HOPE FOR THE BACKSLIDER
“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. 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?" Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. 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." 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’s vision of Joshua the high priest standing before “The Angel of the Lord” with Satan
at his right hand to accuse (oppose) him is a picture of Satan’s unrelenting effort to discredit the people of God and their desire to worship Him.
Joshua, envisioned as being clothed in “filthy garments”, served as high priest among the remnant of Israel who returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. Satan, the untiring accuser of the people of God, stood to declare that the priesthood was so obviously polluted that no acceptable sacrifice could be offered to God. Standing ready to hurl his accusations, Satan is anxious to suggest to the Jews that they might as well desist from rebuilding of the temple and reinstituting the worship of the Lord God.
Satan’s effort to accuse Joshua and discredit him as high priest failed miserably as “The Angel of the Lord” removed the filthy garments he was wearing and clothed him with “rich robes” and a “clean turban” with the golden plate bearing the inscription: “Holiness to the Lord”.
There is much that we, as Christians, can appropriate from Zechariah’s vision. Sin is still a blight on our spiritual priesthood (I Peter 2:5) and we readily recognize that we cannot declare “Holiness to the Lord” when clad in filthy garments. And Satan is still as vigilant as ever to accuse us and discourage us in our every effort to serve the living God.
Yet, just as Satan stands ever ready to accuse us, the Angel of the Lord, whom we know to be our Lord Jesus Christ, stands as our Advocate and Intercessor. Consider: “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2 (NKJV)
Let us look at some of the great truths we can derive from this passage of scripture.
THE CAST ENVISIONED BY ZECHARIAH
GOD THE FATHER:
A clearer picture might be obtained by reading Zechariah 3:2 in Young’s Literal Translation: “And Jehovah saith unto the Adversary: `Jehovah doth push against thee, O Adversary, Yea, push against thee doth Jehovah, Who is fixing on Jerusalem, Is not this a brand delivered from fire?’
THE ANGEL OF THE LORD: Jesus in His pre-incarnate manifestation.
Undoubtedly one of the great truths the risen Lord revealed to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus was the many Scriptures that employ the terminology of “The Angel of the Lord”. Consider: “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:27 (NKJV)
SATAN: the Accuser; the Adversary. Satan is real. Let us take notice of two important things mentioned in the text.
THE PURPOSE FOR SATAN’S PRESENCE: “to accuse him [Joshua the high priest].”
THE POSITION SATAN ASSUMED: “standing at his right hand to accuse him”.
We would do well to consider the admonition given to the Christian by Peter and James:
“Be sober; be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him steadfast in the faith.” I Peter 5:8-9a.
AND “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7.
Martin Luther expressed this truth eloquently in "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" when he wrote:
"A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood, of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe, does seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal."
GOD WILL DEFEND HIS CHILDREN
“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? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments. "