Zechariah 3 – preached on 28 Aug 2011
This morning, our meditation on Zech 3 shall be covered under 4 points as follows:
1) Accusation (verses 1-3)
2) Justification (verses 4-5)
3) Sanctification (verses 6-7)
4) Promise (8-10)
Let’s turn to our first point – Accusation (verses 1-3).
Let us remember the context of the situation.
It is around 520 BC.
Some Jews have returned from different nations in an attempt to rebuild Jerusalem & the temple.
They faced all kinds of opposition from their enemies.
They did not manage to make much headway in their work.
Some have turned their attention to building their own homes instead.
There was great discouragement and a great sense of sin & guilt.
Some may be thinking, even if we can rebuild the temple, will God accept it?
What’s the point of continuing?
Do we see any similarity in this context with your situation today?
Some of us may be conscious that we have messed up.
Perhaps we have been professing Christ for many years.
Perhaps we have been members of this Church for many years.
Yet, we do not see much progress in our Christian life.
Some of us may even be thinking, ‘oh we are such a small Church’.
We have no scale.
It’s the same people doing the same things all the time.
Is this sustainable?
Is it worth continuing?
Some of us may be struggling with our relationships with other people.
Or our family lives may be in shambles.
Here in verse 1 of this vision, Zechariah sees Joshua serving in the temple of God.
Now, this is not the Joshua who led Israel in conquering Canaan.
This was Joshua – the man who was serving as the high priest at the time of Zechariah.
And as Joshua the high priest was serving in the temple, Satan was standing right next to him.
And Satan was lashing all kinds of accusation against him.
You are not fit to be the high priest, Joshua.
Look at you; what a failure you are in so many ways.
Satan may be lashing similar accusations at you today.
Perhaps those accusations may be valid.
And it invokes a nature response to defend yourself by making excuses.
Oh, it is because my mother or my father is like this that’s why I am like that.
Oh, my children or my spouse are not supportive and so I ended up being like this.
Oh, my family is poor, my employer is bad, that’s why I ended up like this.
The stress is too great for me to handle.
I don’t have enough time.
All of us often make excuses for our failures.
But perhaps those accusations are not true.
Perhaps we are doing well in our lives by a general measure of what is manifested externally.
Perhaps we feel that the people around us are the problem.
And we have a high regard for ourselves.
I want you to notice in verses 1-2 that Joshua did not say a single word in response to Satan’s accusations.
The reason is because it is true that he “was clothed with filthy garments” – verse 3.
It is necessary that we realise and acknowledge that we are all dressed in filthy garments.
We are all part of the problem and not just the people around us alone.
If you don’t acknowledge that, you are a self-righteous person.
And you leave no room for God to justify you.
Knowing that Joshua was dressed in filthy garments, it was the LORD who responded to Satan’s accusations.
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?
It was God who chose Jerusalem and not the other way around.
It is God who will speak on His people’s behalf.
Yes, God’s people are messed up.
We are all sinners.
We continue to fail for as long as we are in this sinful body.
We are a brand plucked from the fire.
And the God who plucked us from the fire will respond to all the accusations from Satan.
And if it is God who plucked us from the fire, who then is Satan to make accusations?
And in the face of all these accusations, God justifies us.
And this is the 2nd point of our meditation today – Justification.
Just how does God justify us in the face of all the reality of our filthiness?
God justifies in 2 ways:
First, he removes our sin.
Secondly, He lays over us His complete righteousness.
God says in verse 4, “Take away the filthy garments from him (that is Joshua).
In one declaration, God removed our iniquity, our sins.
And that iniquity was laid on Jesus when He bore our sins on the cross.
By doing that, God remained just because the penalty for sin is death.
So by Jesus’ death on the cross, we who are His people get life.
The eternal Judge of heaven and earth declares from heaven, “take away those filthy garments from these people I have chosen”.
But God did not stop there.
God said in the same verse 4, “…I will clothe you with rich ropes”.
Oh how generous our God is.
What wonderful joy it is for sinners who understand how great and wonderful this salvation is.
And this was so invigorating for Zechariah that he responded in verse 5 “put a clean turban on his head”.
Those who have discovered God’s amazing grace just cannot stop their responding in excitement
God not only removed our filthy garments, He clothed us with His own righteousness.
So when God looks at the people He redeemed, He does not see their sin.
Instead, He sees the righteousness He adorned them with.
And this righteousness is accomplished by Jesus.
Jesus led a sinless life of obedience to God when He was on earth.
Heb 5:8 tells us “..though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered”.
And this is the grounds on which God receives us.
The world thinks that they can work their way up to heaven.
They think they can contribute to their salvation by some actions.
In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus told a parable of 2 people who went to the temple: a pharisee and a tax collector.
The Pharisee said, “I thank you Lord that I am not like the other man….”
The tax collector humbly acknowledged, “…God, be merciful to me a sinner!”
Are you working your way to heaven today my friends?
I want to tell you that you can’t.
You need God to declare that He will remove your sins.
You need God to lay upon you His garment of righteousness.
Now, I must say that sometimes there is a danger that professing Christians can be so proud of their repentance.
Yes, God saved us not that we should remain in sin, but so that we should quit sin.
But remember, it is not your act of quitting sin that gets you to heaven.
It is the fact that God removed your sin and placed His righteousness over you that gives you a place in heaven.
So from the beginning to the end, it is “by grace that you are saved through faith and that not of yourself. It is a gift of God not of works, lest anyone should boast” – Eph 2:8-9.
That is why you will see a significant change of character in the true citizens of Zion.
They will never walk around like the Pharisees thinking they are holier than the people around them.
They will conduct themselves in a humble manner because they are conscious that they owe it all to Jesus.
And that is why the process of salvation does not stop at justification.
There is the necessary manifestation of sanctification.
And that brings us to our 3rd heading for today – Sanctification.
It says in verse 6, the Angel of the LORD admonished Joshua.
The tone of this verse is very much like a parent talking to a child.
The child has done wrong, but the parent has forgiven him or her for the wrong that was done.
And the parent says“Now, you listen to me…be careful that you don’t do that again…”
“I like you to give attention to ensure that you do this….”
And the Angel of the LORD said in verse 7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: “If you will walk in My ways, And if you will keep My command, Then you shall also judge My house, And likewise have charge of My courts; I will give you places to walk Among these who stand here.
Someone has put it like this: “We are forgiven and so we must live in righteousness”.
The wonderful grace of God constrains us to submit to His rule in our lives.
And the charter for us here on earth is to walk in holiness.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Phil 2:12 that we should “…work out our salvation in fear and trembling….”- Phil 2:12
And he says in Eph 2:10: that “..we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”.
You see, it has been prepared beforehand for the true citizens of Zion “that we should walk in holiness doing good works”.
Now, is it possible that we will attain total holiness on earth?
Let me be clear that we will never be perfect when you are on earth.
But you can experience the dear presence of God so real because you submit to His rule.
Enoch walked with God – Gen 5:24.
He was so close to God that God took Him to heaven.
The prophet Elijah struggled to obey God.
He suffered; he was discouraged; he complained, but he earnestly sought to be holy.
And God took him to heaven in a chariot of fire – 2 Kings 2:11
“…The prayer of a righteous man avails much…” – James 5:16
So dear friends, do not take God’s sanctifying actions in your life lightly.
You need to respond humbly and change even your character if this is required.
God is speaking to you through His sanctifying actions in your life.
Never say, “God made me like that; you have to respect me as I am”.
No. It is necessary that we are transformed in Christian character and maturity no matter how humbling the circumstances may be.
Because that transformation is a sign that you are a true citizen of Zion.
Now, our passage did not stop there.
All these come with a promise – which is our 4th and final point for today.
Verse 8 ‘Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.
Let me paraphrase what verse 8 means:
“Zechariah, this earthly priesthood will continue until the sign of which you speak arrives.
Temple worship will continue until the true messiah comes.
Don’t look at your current situation and start saying “what’s the point of continuing?”
The “type” must continue until the “anti-type” comes.
So the rebuilding process must continue.
God has not lost sight of His people.
Jerusalem will be reconstructed.
God has a future for His people.
And in one day says the LORD of hosts in verse 9, “I will remove the iniquity of that land”.
And there will be great joy and extraordinary peace and brotherhood.
And that promise was fulfilled when Jesus came to this world 2000 years ago.
He laid down His life for His people and removed our iniquity in one day.
Now for us who believe in Him, do not say, “what’s the point of continuing?”
Jesus is coming again soon.
Perhaps your situation may be as bad as that which Zechariah may be experiencing in his times.
But as they persevered in those times, God fulfilled His promises in the coming of Jesus Christ.
In the same way, I urge you to persevere.
Do not to look at your earthly struggles alone, but look towards the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.
For in that one day, we will be taken to be with God forever.
What a glorious day that would be for some.
What a terrifying day that would be for those who do not believe.
So delay no longer my friends, turn to Jesus today.