Zechariah 3:1-7 (MSG):
(1-2) Next, the Messenger-Angel showed me the high priest, Joshua. He was standing before God’s Angel where the Accuser showed up to accuse him. Then GOD said to the Accuser, “I, GOD rebuke you, Accuser! I rebuke you and choose Jerusalem. Surprise! Everything is going up in flames, but I reach in and pull out Jerusalem!”
(3-4) Joshua, standing before the Angel, was dressed in dirty clothes. The Angel spoke to his attendants, “Get him out of those filthy clothes,” and then said to Joshua, “Look, I’ve stripped you of your sin and dressed you up in clean clothes.” I spoke up and said, “How about a clean new turban for his head also?” And they did it–put a clean new turban on his head. Then they finished dressing him, with GOD’s Angel looking on.
(6-7) GOD’s Angel then charged Joshua, “Orders from GOD-OF-THE-ANGEL-ARMIES: ‘If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in my service, then you’ll make the decisions around here and oversee my affairs. And all my attendants standing here will be at your service.’
I still remember a little old wringer type washing machine my mother would used every Monday when I was a child. MONDAY, was WASH DAY. Period!
It was an all-day ritual; washing clothes, wringing them as dry as possible, and hanging the wash outside on a clothesline.
I know most of you would wonder how anyone could remember that far back. Wasn’t that before the days of radio? No, it wasn’t that far back but it was before the days of 4- track and 8- track players, cassettes, color TV (most couldn’t afford a black & white TV), and the internet.
It was the early to mid-1950’s, when I remember mom pulling that old wringer washer out from the closet beneath the stairway, then pushing it on its wheels into the tiny apartment kitchen. What a job wash-day must have been.
I was too young to do much work but, I’m certain that I was a drain on her energy level as she had to watch me too.
There’s one image that still remains about that old washing machine. The image of those flat pressed clothes as they came out of the wringer and into the clothes basket before hanging them outside to dry.
And on one of those days, in my enthusiasm to help mom on wash-day, I decided I could and would…feed the clean, wet sheets through the wringer. My thoughts must have been”, I wonder if those sheets are in any pain?”
And at that moment of “wondering”, being somewhat distracted, I inadvertently let my fingers and hand follow the sheets through the wringer. The clothes weren’t the only thing in pain. By the time my mom could release the rollers, she found me up to my elbow, with my little toes barely touching the floor–frozen in time as tears flowed down my cheeks.
To this day, I still think of that old wringer washer and how much of our lives are spent going through a wringer, and I can definitely say…it does hurt when you’re going through it.
The problem is, if you didn’t put those DIRTY CLOTHES through the process, of washing and wringing them out at regular intervals, then the clothes would become useless, or, if you did wear them anyway, no one would want to be around you very much.
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT BOOK OF THE PROPHET, ZECHARIAH 3:1-3:
Who Was JOSHUA?
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. The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. (NIV translation)
At the end of the Babylonian Captivity, Nehemiah and a number of Jews were released and sent back to REBUILD Jerusalem and the Temple.
At the end of the work, one of the HIGH PRIESTS who ministered in that rebuilt temple was JOSHUA.
This man, Joshua, was typical of the priesthood and its condition in Israel at the time. He had little or no rule over his own house.
His sons had married outside the faith, polluting the nation with idolatry. And, because of Joshua’s SIN, the sin of his family, Zechariah was given a VISION that spoke of Joshua’s life.
But in a greater sense, that VISION spoke of the condition of all of us. JOSHUA may have worn the outward robes that signified righteousness and holiness, the ephod of the High Priest, the golden mitre on his head with the words, “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” on a gold band around it, and the robe he wore under the outer garment made of pure, white linen. But Joshua’s life was far from the holiness he tried to display to those around him.
God Knew Joshua’s Heart…and so did Satan
We see in Zechariah’s vision, Joshua, Israel’s High Priest standing before the courts of Heaven; standing before the Angel of the Lord, which is no angel at all, but is one of the Old Testaments names given to Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Angel of God’s very presence.
Here then is an unholy priest standing before a Holy God in pure guilt and shame from the SIN in his life.
His self-righteousness was shown for what it was now–“FILTH!”:
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins. Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:6-8 NIV).
It wasn’t bad enough Joshua stood there in sin and shame facing almighty God, but he had some company. Right beside Joshua, on his right hand, was the one that Revelation 12:10 calls “the accuser of the brethren”, Satan.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the devil pointing out my sins to God. I do a good enough job on my own to condemn myself.
Nevertheless, there he was, Satan, standing there with his outstretched pointing finger, accusing Joshua right in his face–every failure, every sin, every doubt, every fear, and every disobedience before the Bar. He was there for one purpose only.
Satan’s One Purpose…stealing this soul from God’s hand…
Destroying any chance of Joshua’s survival of High Priest in the land, but of Israel’s right to be a nation. Satan’s PURPOSE was to steal, kill, and destroy Joshua and Israel once and for all (John 10:10-a).
Satan had eye-witness accounts, even though he didn’t need any, because God already knew how sinful that Joshua was.
As Joshua stood there that day, his filthy garments and the SIN that was on him was evident. The evidence was so outstanding in court against Joshua, Satan must have believed he had this case in the bag. CONVICTED!!! That’s how we are in our own righteousness too.
Right now, before the court in Heaven, the “accuser of the brethren” is standing there pointing his finger of accusation, making known every sin that you and I commit. He has proof from the way we are dressed–in filthy clothing of the flesh that stinks to ‘high heaven’ with B.O. (‘bad odor’) of sin.
Satan is still attempting to snatch us from the very presence of God. What a terrible thought it is, to be that close to God’s holiness, yet never know Heaven’s glories.
That’s what it will be like for those who will face God on judgement day without JESUS in their heart. So close, and yet so far away.
Are you wrestling with sin in your life?
Do you wrestle with the “accusing finger” of the devil, who says to you…”You don’t PRAY ENOUGH, STUDY ENOUGH, AREN’T COMMITTED ENOUGH…and there is no way you will ever be “GOOD ENOUGH” or “HOLY ENOUGH” or “RIGHTEOUS ENOUGH”; at least not in your own power.
The apostle Paul said in Romans 3:10, “There is no one righteous, not even one;”
So, is there any chance we can be holy and righteous…any way that our filthy garments of sin can be taken away and new clothes place upon us making us more presentable to our Holy God?
Yes, there certainly is, but not by might or power of our own hand. Too many people keep trying to make themselves more presentable–righteous and holy–and all it does is backfire, proving themselves more sinful and unholy; back through the “wringer” and squeezed once more.
Most of the time we are sorry for being “filthy” but refuse to allow the cleansing POWER OF THE BLOOD OF JESUS to wash away the stain of sin. Instead, we try to find ways to soothe the guilt and pain:
— We may continue in our sin but we will at the same time, try to spend more time in prayer.
— We get down on the scrub board, turn on the agitator, bounce around for a while, hoping that somehow what we do… will play a part in our depth of sin.
We can cover the outside with good works (“whitewashing” – Matt. 23:27; Acts 23:3) all we want, but if JESUS isn’t in your heart…the center of your life, then you are still clothed in “filthy rags” of self-righteousness and that’s how you will stand before God.
Every time we try these the little ‘gimmicks’ ,trying to cover over the iniquities, we’re actually throwing ourselves in the washing machine ( “soft water makes a whiter, fluffier wash”), agitate the contents for a while and go through the WRINGER one more time…and find ourselves come out, still as filthy, or find ourselves up to our elbows, caught once more in the wringer with our toes barely touching the ground.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t like going through my mother’s WRINGER when I was young, nor going through GOD’S WRINGER now.
In the Hebrew, the word is gadash, and in the Greek, the word is hagios (Footnote [i]). Their similarity in meaning is almost identical: “Those persons and things that are “holy” in the sense of being SET APART for divine redemptive purposes.”
We should be tired of trying to be holy enough or righteous enough. I want to have TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS! I want to live in TRUE HOLINESS!
Looking back in Zechariah 3:2-5, Joshua represented you and I.
I love the way God answers Satan. It’s as though God says to the devil, SHUT UP! I AM GOD! I am the One who has chosen this one, who stands before Me! [Put your name in the place of the word “JERUSALEM”. The meaning is still the same].
God saved us! God chose us!
God did the choosing and He won’t let go; no man can pluck us out of His hand! Yes, Joshua had on filthy clothing!
— You and I have no righteousness with ourselves.
— We have no holiness within us.
— We have no power to deliver our soul from sin…
BUT JESUS DOES!
God speaks out to the angels who had gathered around…
Listening and watching for His commands-GET HIM OUT OF THOSE FILTHY CLOTHES! GIVE HIM A NEW GARMENT AND A CHANGE OF HEART! CLOTHE HIM IN RIGHTEOUSNESS!
Joshua didn’t deserve to be clothed in righteousness but neither are we. None of us will ever be WORTHY enough.
It has nothing to do with WORTHINESS but everything to do with FOLLOWING JESUS, allowing Him to give us His righteousness by His own choice.
GOD took away Joshua’s SIN, then gave him robes of righteousness–placed a pure mitre of white linen upon his head with the words, “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD,” written across them.
JESUS stood by us when the work was finished because, when He purchased our salvation on the cross, His work was completed. In other words, GOD takes away our sin, washes them away in the Blood of the Lamb, while clothing us in RIGHTEOUSNESS for His own name’s sake and changing our way of life and thinking while writing His Holiness upon our lives.
Zechariah 3:6-7, then says,
God’s Angel then charged Joshua, “Orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: ‘If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in My service then you’ll make the decisions around here and oversee My affairs. And all My attendants standing here will be at your service.
I love all the “IF s” and the “AND s” in Scripture. “IF” we will walk in the ways of the LORD, keep His commandments, obey His Word, judge righteous judgements, not judge one another, and keep close to JESUS…then God promises we would walk among those who stood by.
WHO ARE THOSE WHO STOOD BY?
The Holy angels of Glory! We will be there, right along side of Michael and Gabriel, the archangels. We will walk and talk with JESUS, living eternally in the presence of our Father God without filthy garments but clothed in the pure righteousness and holiness.
HOW DO WE RECEIVE THESE CLEAN, PURE WHITE LINEN CLOTHING – THE ROBES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS?
HOW DO WE GET RID OF THAT OLD, GREASY, FILTHY BASEBALL CAP WE’VE BEEN WEARING DAILY AND REPLACE IT WITH A NEW TURBAN WITH THE WORDS “HOLY UNTO THE LORD”?
HOW ARE OUR SINS ALL BE WASHED AWAY?
By ACCEPTING and CONFESSING that Jesus as your Lord and Savior–SACRIFICED for your sins. By BELIEVING in His death, burial and resurrection. By BELIEVING that He is ALIVE FOREVER, and by ALLOWING HIM to RULE and REIGN in your life.
So the question becomes, are we willing to allow Jesus to enter our lives and give Him the control, or are we ready to go through the WRINGER one more time?
The choice is yours! What will it be?
Footnotes and Credits:
[i] Definition of Holy or Holiness is from EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF BIBLE WORDS by Stephen D. Renn.
High Priest Photo by http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Photos by Photo Pin.
Referenced Bible Translations:
The Message Bible; The NIV Bible; Amplified Bible.