Zechariah 1:1-6; 3:1-10
Most of our writings look back to the previous Sunday and pick up the themes of that day and expand upon them in written form. And that is what was done the past two days with Chris’ writings on the two chapters of Haggai. But today we need to move on into the larger books of Zechariah and Malachi, which will take us through our devotionals for the end of this week and all of next week – along with being the basis of this coming Sunday’s sermon.
Zechariah the prophet was a younger contemporary with Haggai, as both of them where post-exilic prophets – speaking to the nation of Israel and to those who had returned to Jerusalem after the end of the Babylonian Captivity (around 520 BC).
As we highlight a few portions of the relatively unknown book of Zechariah (though not all of it), you find yourself saying, “OK… so this is where that New Testament quote came from.” This very messianic book provides allusions or is quoted 41 times in the New Testament.
Over the years of my life, particularly as a pastor, I’ve come across more than a few folks who were banking that they were in good shape with God because of some connection they had with Him through someone else. Sometimes it was a spouse who was faithful. Often it was parents or a family with a heritage of faith. Others just seem to think that getting to church at least somewhat frequently will mean that God will prove to be a bit pacified and let them slide when their day of accounting comes along.
Israel was often like this. They simply believed that because God was THEIR God by His covenant with them that they were therefore OK. Who needs to live a holy and committed life of faithfulness when you are born with acceptance from Him as standard equipment through your heritage? But God reminds them that each generation and each person needs to renew the covenant and be faithful toward God.
In essence, God says to them, “Don’t be stupid like your foolish ancestors!” The exact date of this prophecy coincides with Haggai, where he called the people to get back to work on building the Temple after 16 years of putting off that task. So Zechariah joins in that exhortation of making the place where God would meet with His people as they came to that place to meet with Him.
A Call to Return to the Lord
1:1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo:
2 “The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. 4 Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. 5 Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?
“Then they repented and said, ‘The Lord Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.’”
Beginning in 1:7 is the first of a series of eight visions that Zechariah received, along with an angelic interpretation. These visions have both near and far fulfillments – near fulfillment in that contemporary time of the building of Zerubbabel’s Temple, and far fulfillment in the coming of Christ and with the final days of time in the Messianic Kingdom.
We are going to look at just one of these eight visions – the fourth one – by going to chapter three today …
Clean Garments for the High Priest
3:1 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. 2 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?”
3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”
Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”
5 Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.
6 The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: 7 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.
8 “‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9 See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes[b] on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.
10 “‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
The Joshua character in this vision was the high priest at that time of the return to Jerusalem. Remember that the priest represents the people before God, whereas the prophet speaks from God to the people.
So the scene here has Joshua the high priest before the Lord, with Satan standing there ready to accuse him (the nation). Rather than being the accuser, Satan is told to stand down – that Joshua has been plucked from the fire, and that his filthy clothes would be replaced by a fine garment.
Even in the vision, all of this is said to be symbolic of the future – of a “servant” … a “branch” … a “stone” that is to come, which of course looks forward to Christ. Israel will be forgiven and restored.
This whole scene is our story. We are guilty of sinfully walking away from the Lord. Satan is our accuser, and we are guilty. But our condition of being covered with the filth of sin is taken from us graciously by our sovereign God who clothes us in the fine garment of righteousness. And in that standing we have open access with God and a promise of eternal peace. And this fellowship grants us the position and privilege of worship … it is truly One Weird Trick! And it ain’t spam!