Zechariah 3:1-5,9. Then he [the angel] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.
9 and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.
Do you ever feel filthy? Like there’s a stain of sin on your life that just won’t wash clean? The filth of a past mistake, or an ongoing sin struggle? Does your sin feel like one of those smudges on your shirt that the more you try to wipe it off the bigger it gets? Does it keep you from approaching God? Do you ever feel like Joshua the high priest in Zechariah’s vision?
Imagine how terrified Joshua must have been. The most holy man in Israel, wearing the most holy clothes, standing in the most holy place, ready to serve the most holy God, finds himself covered in his own filth (poo). And, of course, there’s Satan, accusing Joshua in front of God in the heavenly courtroom.
Just like Joshua, no matter how hard we try, we just can’t get rid of all the filth in our lives. And all the guilt that comes with it. And so we start believing THE lie of our Accuser. The lie that we can change our own clothes. That we can make ourselves right with God. Just pray another prayer, walk another aisle, make another commitment – this time I mean it!
Or maybe you’re in denial about the poo all over your clothes. You’ve got all kinds of excuses for your sin. No one can tell you anything anymore. You’ve stopped listening. You can’t handle the truth of your own heart. Your own personality. Your own background. Your own guilt. You keep telling yourself, “I’m fine.”
But Satan isn’t the only one standing next to Joshua in the courtroom of Heaven. The Angel of the Lord, Jesus, the future Joshua, is there too. The great High Priest of heaven speaks to the High Priest of Israel. And what he says is so gracious. So beautiful. So comforting.
First, he shuts up the Accuser – The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! Then he speaks the good news – “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” Jesus doesn’t tell Joshua to clean himself up; he gives him a whole new wardrobe. His filthy garments are removed FOR HIM. And pure priestly vestments are given TO HIM. No more filth. No more stains.
And not just Joshua.
Zechariah, in his excitement, cries out, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” In Exodus it tells us that the turban worn by the high priest represented the whole nation. On it was a gold band that said “Holy to the Lord.” When the priest wore this turban into God’s presence he represented a holy people. The holiness of God was imputed to everyone through the one High Priest.
Jesus, our high priest, found himself, like Joshua, standing before God covered in filth. Not his own, but yours and mine. But there was no cleansing for Jesus on that day. He had to die in our filth. He had to be stripped naked in shame without any clean robes to put on. His turban that day was our crown of thorns.
But that single day removed the iniquity of the land. Because of that single day we will never live another day in our own filth. We will never spend another day separated from our God. Because of that single day we are raised to life and clothed in Christ’s own pure priestly vestments, as he wears the turban of our imputed righteousness on his head.
“To live is Christ” means your filth is gone. Your garments are pure. The stain of sin is removed forever. Christ’s turban of our shared holiness is on his head. Satan is silenced. And all because of our union with Christ on that single day.
Do you see yourself in filth covered robes today? Have you been trying to clean your own “clothes?”
You in Christ
How can you rest in Christ’s cleansing today?
Christ in you
How can you serve as a priest before God in your new clothes?
Playlist: Songs of cleansing