I was reading a book to my daughter a few days ago and it led to an interesting discussion. At the end of the book, I asked her this question. Why is it that we will be able to stand before God without fear? Her answer was this. “Because Jesus gave us His clothes.” It was a beautiful answer that made me tear up a little bit. She gets it. She understands. We are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and so we can stand before a Holy God.

The book was a children’s book called “The Priest’s Dirty Clothes”. It is based on the passage that we will look at today, Zechariah 3. The Book of Zechariah is a mixture of a call to repentance and a foretelling of the coming day when the Messiah (Jesus) would come and make all things right. We have, in this short book, some  clear deliveries of the gospel message that would become even more clear when Christ came to Earth. I think this is why Jesus and the disciples quote from this book so much.

In the third of a series of eight night visions, Zechariah gives this vision of Joshua standing in the position of the priesthood before God.

What we will see in this is an image and a story that we will try to relate to ourselves. When we do, we will see that we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and so we can stand before a Holy God.

We Stand Accused (Zechariah 3:1)

This vision opens with a familiar face. It is the one who tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden. It is the one who accused Job of only serving God because God had blessed him so much. It is the one who stood up against Israel in 1 Chronicles 21:1. It is the one who would tempt Jesus in the wilderness in Matthew 4. It is the one who would “sift Peter like wheat” in Luke 22. It is the one who entered into Judas and aided in the deception that took our Lord to the cross also in Luke 22. This familiar face is Satan. And here he stands at the right hand of this priest accusing him of his guilt.

Satan is at times called, “the Accuser”, because takes up a good amount of his time. Satan is a liar, and as Jesus has stated “the Father of Lies” (John 8:44). And as we see here, though He is a chosen child of God a “brand plucked from the fire”, he is “clothed with filthy garments” (V. 3). He has sinned against God. He has rebelled against God. His garments are filthy because he is a sinner.

Does Satan lie? Yes. Does Satan lie to us and at times make us think things about ourselves that are not true? Yes. Is Satan lying when he accuses us of being filthy with the taint of sin? No.

Satan is there, before God, accusing us of our sinfulness. Put yourself there. What would Satan say about you? Would he discuss your lies? Would he scream about your lust? Would he hurl accusations concerning the way you talk to your parents? Would he whisper loudly about what you watch when no one’s around? What would he say about you?

Satan, the Accuser is there, accusing. But at this point he does not have to lie. We know this to be the case. There are things about ourselves that we hide from everyone. There are secrets about ourselves that we don’t want anyone to know and these things Satan declares before God’s court. He hurls the accusation. What would he say about you?

God Rebukes The Accuser (Vv. 2-5)

God now does what is seemingly rather unexpected. The accusations were true but God rebukes Satan. He has chosen these people to be His. Are they not “ a brand plucked from the fire?” Are they not like a stick of wood that has been pulled from the fire? Have they not been rescued? Have not God’s people been rescued? But there is a problem.

Yes, they have been rescued but the evidence of wrongdoing is there. The evidence of the rebellion of God’s people is all over them. They may be a “brand plucked from the fire” but they stand there before God in dirty, filthy garments. (V. 3) The life they have lived has not measured up to God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23). Joshua stands there, representing the entirety of the priesthood and he is filthy.

God does not let things go right here. What does he say?

God says to the angel, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Then he turns to Joshua and says, “Behold, ‘I have taken away your iniquity away from you and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” (Zechariah 3:4 ESV)

This priests covered in filth, the guilt of his sin, has his garments removed from him. All of his sin and guilt are removed from him and he is given new and pure garments.

You are there, Satan has been hurling accusations at everyone in the vicinity. You are terrified and the stain of sin that is all over you makes it quite obvious that you are guilty of what Satan is declaring. If you are one of God’s people, if you are trusting in Christ alone, God makes a declaration. You are clean, your sins have been removed from you and you have been given new clothes. The sinful stain of sin has been removed and you are wearing the righteousness of Christ.

Christians call this imputation. Imputation is a banking term, it means credited. Imagine you have money in stacks and your friend has money in stacks. You owe someone money, but you don’t have enough. Your friend takes money out of his stack and imputes it to you. It is yours. You have been credited with his money and you can buy what it is that you want. Imputation, in the Christian sense, is the crediting of the righteousness of Christ to His people. When we are united to Christ by faith, we are credited with His righteousness. We are given robes of righteousness. And Christ is given our sin and shame, which He paid for on the cross.

So, you stand there with Satan hurling accusations. You are guilty, but what does God say to you?

The One Is Coming, Who In A Single Day Will Accomplish The Cleansing Of God’s People (Zechariah 3:6-10)

The priests were told to walk in God’s ways. As they did so, they would  be a “sign” of the one who was to come. They would be a foreshadowing of the great and glorious redeemer who God calls “my servant the Branch” (V. 8). Then, using an interesting bit of imager, a single stone with seven eyes is there which is difficult to interpret. It is likely, because of many references to a “stone” being the Messiah (Jesus), that this is about Jesus. And this stone has seven eyes. With seven being the number of perfection and eyes being for seeing we have to assume that this is about the Messiah having perfect sight. But what is interesting, and most needed for us to hear today is this Messiah comes, the Branch, and in a single day he removes “the iniquity” of God’s people (V. 9).

In a single day the Branch does what priests have been attempting to do through sacrifices over and over again. In a single day He accomplishes it. But how? He lived a perfect life, died as the punishment for our sin, and rose from the dead. In a single day Christ came and accomplished our salvation for us. In a single day, Jesus took away our filth. In a single day Christ gave us righteousness. And now the way of salvation has been opened to all people.

Do you understand? I hope that you do.

You are sinner in need of a Savior and your only hope is the salvation that is given by Jesus Christ. He pays for sin. And He will clothe you in righteousness.

R. Dwain Minor