THE AUSTRALIAN PRESBYTERIAN BIBLE CHURCH
EASTER SUNDAY APRIL 16, 2006 - Zechariah 3
THE PROSECUTOR IS THE PROTECTOR AND THE INSPECTOR,
BY COURTESY OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST
What a time is Easter! It is like no other time, for here and here alone is commemorated the advent of salvation not by the cunning of man, or the direction of political programmers, but by the issuing into flesh of God, starting at the womb, and declaring our place, and His, at maturity. That declaration from such a world as this, was met by the same murderous impulses as betray the human race century by century, and in none more than the last one.
From Zechariah 3, we see that the state of man has not changed from then till now: but his ambition is now inflamed by the wild desire to chain not only ALL men to something he invents, but to supplant God. Death is not sufficient, resurrection is to be bypassed: man is aiming at the control of the universe, very much like a baby, aiming to control the financial advisory company of his father. The results are, not surprising, especially unillustrious. Our Age reeks of death by mass murder, mass hatred, mass idolatry and massive self-trust! It was to be and so it is (Revelation 6, II Timothy 3).
Nor were the wanderers worthy of congratulation in former times, while Israel sinned its way to its prodigious, appalling and wonderful history. Even in Zechariah 3 we see the Messiah, the One at last to be received by a veritable forest of Israel, living trees the counterpart of the botanical forests they planted (fulfilling Isaiah 55:13). They however first rejected Him as a nation (Zechariah 12:10, Isaiah 49:7). Their example is worthy of reflection, for the Gentile world is making history by ignoring it, and will find a giant parallel, an equaliser in the end, for in that day of coming judgment, NO MAN will be glorified, but the LORD only (Isaiah 2:17). Gentile vanity will match Israel's folly, in the onrush of history, in which none of the nations may ultimately take pride.
Yet despite this woeful wandering of nations in this world, now as then, one by one (in the manner predicted to come in Zechariah 12:10-13:1), they come from near and far, individuals, saved by grace as was Joshua the High Priest, people chastened if need be, chosen through the Cross, the people of God from any race, as the Lord fulfils all His counsel concerning all His promises, including those to Israel and to His coming unified people, drawn from Israel in which many are at last restored, and from those of other races and nations, at last come! How Revelation 7 thrills the heart as we see it all laid out, the multi-nationals unified in Christ Jesus the Lord!
In Zechariah 3, there is a beautifully simple illustration of these things, and forecast of the events focussed in the Messiah, which we have in the main, already seen to happen. The vision proceeds at once.
I THE PROSECUTOR, THE DEFENCE COUNSEL AND THE CASE 3:1-3
a) The Vulnerability
Satan is in action, but the Lord meets him head-on (3:2). The disloyal opposition loves to degrade, to denigrate, to condemn. Satan however is rebuked.
b) The Repetition
Against what is chosen by God, there is room for repetition of the rebuke. The High Priest Joshua is
to be delivered.
c) The Fact
Joshua was given answer for his case: his garments were in fact filthy,
and that fact was revealed before the Angel, as clear as the day is bright.
How could he be defended before the adversary, in such a state ?
II THE REMOVAL, RESTORATION AND RICHES 3:4-7
The solution is simple (in vision, not in what it cost!).
The COMMAND (II Corinthians 4:6, Titus 3:5) in the vision, is now that these clothes be removed, and replaced with rich vestments. The meaning is clear: the Lord has covered the High Priest's iniquity, taken it from him, and replaced it with a clean and rich life which is His own gift, the divinely resourced replacement being extreme, radical and delightful. The new clothes, clean, are also rich, for unsearchable are the riches of Christ, and the Lord made Him to be sin for us (who believe and thus accept His sacrifice by faith as in Isaiah 53:3-6), this victorious Victim, who knew no sin of His own, so that we might be made the righteousness of God IN HIM (as Paul declares in II Corinthians 5:17-21). Credit is transferred on the positive side, debt is received and cancelled, on the negative! Such is the liberality of the Lord!
Joshua gains redress, then, being reclothed in what symbolises the gift of God, the change from debtor to riches in the Messiah in ONE DAY.
Moreover, Joshua's very head is covered with a clean turban, reminding us of Paul's word in Ephesians 6, concerning the HELMET OF SALVATION. There is a comeliness, an attractiveness about the new standing, represented by the new head adornment. Notice that "they put the clothes on him": he did not dress himself, just as is the case in Isaiah 61:10, where the speaker greatly rejoices in the Lord, for "He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns himself with ornaments." "Righteousness and praise" are there foretold to "spring forth before all the nations."
Amidst the angels, the Lord gives to Joshua now a place, enjoining him to walk in His ways, keep His commands, and commissioning him to conduct the work of the Lord in His courts. As Jerusalem was being rebuilt, and restored, so now the work was restored, the equipment, the commission, the responsibility and here was the sending. So does the Lord work with each one of us when we become His, and so does He have a place, and a responsibility. If He has 'planted', to use botanical terms, then you will not be uprooted (Matthew 15:13, John 10:27-28), for a good tree does bear good fruit (Matthew 7). The fruit does not make the tree good, but the good tree makes the fruit good.
We must not judge each other, but we are bound to put our whole heart into His will, ways and wisdom, to love our neighbours as ourselves, and to avoid wallowing in our fine clothes, as if demented. It is everlasting joy which is given (Isaiah 51:11), which awakes when this life on earth is done, to behold the very face of God (Psalm 17, 145, Revelation 22, I Corinthians 13).
III FROM POSITIVE ACTION TO ITS PRINCELY SOURCE Zechariah 3:6-9
a) The Branch Line
What has just been acted out, in Zechariah 3, is now said to be a "wondrous sign" relating not only to the high priest, but to his companions.
b) The Priesthood Replaced
What, in the symbolism of the Old Testament priesthood, at that time was re-established, being rebuilt, as the city and temple were restored, would itself at length be rebuilt in a living manner, because fulfilled! How exciting was the time when the destroyed temple was rebuilt after the return from exile in Babylon in the day of Zechariah. How much more so and how lively to faith is the day when Christ BECAME the temple, having been symbolised through it, and became the sacrifice in ONE, thus removing the iniquity for believers, then, to be and to this hour, in ONE DAY.
Thus comes the BRANCH, not needing a change of clothes, but by nature above Joshua (being as Hebrews 7:26 declares, "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and ... higher than the heavens").
Zechariah is moved quickly to show in what WAY this is so. This Branch (who as in Zechariah 6:13), will "bear the glory" has an office the reciprocal of that of Joshua.
c) The Prescription, Personally Inscribed on the Heart
The high priest had filthy garments removed, but the Branch, the line of David, the Messiah (Psalm 110), He is to have an engraving. It is the iniquity of the land which is to be INSCRIBED upon Him (we remember His being pierced, as foretold in Psalm 22, hand and foot). As a result, the Lord will remove the "iniquity of that land in one day." Just as Rome is to be burned in one hour (Revelation 17-18), so the atonement is worked by Christ in one day: Good Friday being our day in memorial, relating closely to the original season of His death, which in turn was precisely when Daniel 9 foretold it would be, over 500 years before it happened.
"It is finished" was indeed the finish of the atonement, the resurrection completing the proof, so that life in its sin, being redeemed for His own, for all who by faith receive Him, yielded to blessed immortality.
IV The National Result and Our National Case
When godly faith is restored to many in ISRAEL, there is a vast spiritual awakening. Not yet is this grand event, for the Church started with a small minority of Israel and has spread to many Gentiles; while in Israel there is a small and DECREASING number of Christians, as the wars and horrors proceed, and the sides clash continually. When it DOES come, then arrives the ‘regrafting’ of Israel back into that still remaining ‘tree’ of faith from which it was cut off (Romans 11), while Gentile believers were grafted in. In Romans 11;25ff., Paul marvels at the wisdom of the Lord in making this vast unity. Then the "bride” of the Lord, as in Revelation 19:8, consummated WITH the call to Him into heaven (Matthew 24:36ff., I Thessalonians 4), comes from this ‘married’ base. Indeed ALL the SAINTS come with the Lord (I Thessalonians 3:13, Zechariah 14:5, Revelation 19), as the vindicated Lord of glory assumes His rule on earth, before this orb is finally annihilated (II Peter 3), and heaven supervenes.
These stark events await us, and let us like Joshua, follow Him in His ways, rejoicing in Him in the midst of various trials, knowing that the Lord God has appointed us not to wrath but to obtain salvation (I Thessalonians 5:8-10), which is the appointment to end all appointments, guaranteed by the God of Creation through that great work of Redemption. THERE is the heart of the Redeemer, that just as He loves to dress us in clean clothes and a turban of truth, so He endured scorn, scoffing, spitting and repudiation in the midst of His divine love and miracles, knowing that by His knowledge, this penal experience on our behalf, we who receive the report, are justified (Isaiah 53:9-10), taking the gift of eternal life with the same hand by which He gives His leading in the way He chooses for us, step by step.
The last paragraph do not feature in this sermon, and became a much more detailed presentation in the next, which is thus part of a sequence. For this, follow this link.