Zechariah's fourth night vision presents a clear picture of what it means for God to save his people. In the vision, the high priest Joshua's best works are like filth before the Lord, but God holds Joshua holy and blameless not because of anything Joshua has done, but only because he has been chosen to receive God's grace. We too are holy and blameless because God has chosen us according to the kind intention of His will (Ephesians 1:4-5).
If You Think the First Christmas is Exciting, Listen Up to the Return of the King
The Good Shepherd's Rejection, Response, Replacement and Future Reign
Is Your Life Motto Consistent with the Life You Model?
Do They See God for Who He Really Is?
Don't Think Fast... If You Want to Know What True Spirituality Is
The Last 3 Night Visions: How to Avoid Going to Hell in a Handbasket
The Fifth Night Vision: If You Want Your Light to Shine Bright, It Won't be by Might
Jesus the Messiah: The Servant, the Shoot, the Stone, Our Savior
The Fourth Night Vision: Israel and You - Guilty as Charged, Cleansed by Grace
The Third Night Vision: A Word of Hope, a Word of Warning
The Second Night Vision: Horror for the Horns, Hope for Us
The First Night Vision: The Messiah Among the Myrtle Trees
Introduction to Zechariah
Father, we thank you for this Scripture we get to study, that we might be encouraged to know what it is. Thank you, Father, how you are showing us more and more of your sovereign control over history, that it isn't some loose string of events but it is a tightly controlled, a sovereignly principled path where you will do what you said you will do. You will put man back in his appointed place. You will atone for sin. You will deliver your people.
Father, may we then have the wisdom to yield to your will and purposes. May we get into your program, find out what work you're doing, and not ask you to bless us but to join up with what you're already doing. Thank you for the many ways you're allowing us here at this small church to be faithful in service for you. That's really all we ask, Lord, that you'd use your Word tonight to encourage us to be about your business. We pray in Christ's name, amen.
I talked about there are some misunderstandings already about why people give in a time of a worship service. It's not for any other reason than it's a chance for you to express to the Lord your gratefulness to him and your belief that his will and way is a good way and that you want to invest in it. Not saving for yourself here on this earth and accumulating for yourself things that thief can steal and rust and moth can destroy, but you want to invest in things that will be eternal.
There's also misunderstanding about a lot of other things in our Scripture. There's a misunderstanding, as we've talked the last couple of weeks, about who the nation of Israel is, who the Jews are, what God is doing with the Jews, how we relate to God's program to the Jews, and what God is going to do with the Jews. So we're trying to learn a little bit about our Bible.
I mentioned to you that this is not a collection of short stories. This is not just a bunch of spiritual thoughts that are condensed into a book and bound together so we can read them and be confused. It seems like that sometimes when you're reading through it, but we have mentioned that this book, which was written over the course of 10 civilizations, 40 generations, 1,500 years, 40 different authors, 3 different languages, whatever you want to say… All of those things are true.
This book is tight. It has one theme. It addresses one problem: sin. It gives one solution: the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You can go through from beginning to end, and you will see that these authors who didn't know each other, who came from all different kinds of socioeconomic classes, that God worked through them to communicate a message to us. You need to see how Genesis relates to Zechariah, how Zechariah relates to Luke, how Luke relates to Ephesians, how Ephesians ties into Revelation, which goes back into Daniel, which goes into Ezekiel. It's one story.
We are a nation that says we love God, for the most part. We still revere spiritual things, and you're not going to find very many people who want to speak ill of Jesus. This book speaks more about Jesus than any other book, but we are a people who are ignorant about who Jesus really is. We have defined Jesus our own way, and we are ignorant about what this book says about him. That's why we define him our own way. If we don't know what the truth is, we'll create our own standard of truth.
If you think Jesus is an important being in history, then the very least thing you ought to do is read the primary book about him. You ought to get familiar with it, and you ought to know how it works together. You need to know that Jesus is the central character in this book. Right back there in Genesis 3, when God talks about his plan for humanity, you'll see that there is an event that happens which we call the fall of mankind.
Right away, you have a promised Messiah. "Hey, I'm going to come, and I'm going to use this person of Jesus Christ, who has always been, who always will be, who created the heavens and the earth and will judge the heavens and the earth. He will die for his creation because he loves it, and he intends to do with this earth and the supreme being in creation, which is humanity, what he always said he would do with it. So you have the promised Messiah.
Then you have the pictured Messiah in many types and many persons. You have the prophesied Messiah. "He's coming. Don't give up hope. He will come. He will do what he said he's going to do. If you trust in him and you anticipate him, you will have invested well." You have the promised, you have the pictured, you have the prophesied, and then you have the Messiah on the scene, the very present Messiah. We know that in the Gospels.
Then you have the preached Messiah where it tells about proclaiming his works. That comes in the Epistles. Then you move from there to the culmination of this, where the preeminent Messiah will forever be praised. That's your Bible in a nutshell. Jesus is the thread which ties it all together. He is the binding. You will see in every book allusions to this Jesus.
Now, this Jesus is the centerpiece of the most important book in history. Without a doubt, this is the most read book in all of history, even though in our culture today we don't often read it. We still revere it. We respect it. We just don't have a clue what it says. When we do read it, we don't always read it correctly.
That's why we're told in 2 Timothy 2:15, "Be diligent to show yourself approved as a workman who does not need to be ashamed," who can handle this book rightly, won't rip things out of context, won't quote things that aren't in there. You know, "Cleanliness is next to godliness." "God helps those who help themselves." That isn't in here, but you'll hear folks say all kinds of biblical types of things. They'll go to this book as a reference, and they'll take verses out of context to serve their own purposes.
Gang, quoting Scripture is not some magic sauce you can put on your program. You have to take this book, find out what it says, and you have to get in the program. So, this is a book we need to know about. There are a lot of misunderstandings surrounding this book. I'll tell you a misunderstanding I had. I was asked recently to coach some 4-year-olds in soccer. I grew up around some sports, so I thought, having been asked to coach, I was going to actually get to coach some 4-year-olds in soccer.
My friend Kyle and I are out there, and we're trying to get a little coaching happening with these kiddos. Our first practice was Friday. We wanted to get a good jump start on our first game, which was yesterday, on Saturday; get the team together, get them involved in some type of fitness program so we don't fatigue late in the game, tell parents about nutrition and proper training so we'd win the victory.
We had these 4-year-olds, and we had them together on Friday. I'm sitting there. We gather them all up, and we're going to get ready for our very first scrimmage. I say, "All right, kiddos. Here we go. This is what we're going to do." I didn't get any more words out of my mouth, and one of our kids goes, "Hey!" I go, "Yes, sir." He goes, "Guess what kind of underwear I've got on." I said, "Well, you know, I haven't got a clue." He goes, "Jurassic Park."
I kind of looked at all of his buddies, and I said, "That is great. We're going that way. Here we go." And that was the end of our practice. So I had this misunderstanding about what it was going to be like to coach 4-year-olds. You don't coach 4-year-olds. You just kind of hope that you get five players who want to play at any one given time, not pick daisies.
We had a major crisis at our first game. One of the grandmothers brought two puppies, and there went all our focus. "There's a breakaway." Who cares? There are two puppies! Oh, puppies! And off they go. So, some misunderstandings. I'll tell you what. There's a misunderstanding about God choosing Israel, about God choosing the Jews.
It says in Exodus 19:6 that God wanted this nation to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, a people for his own possession. He intended to use them in the greatest service, in the greatest role any human could ever be used in. "I want this people to be a group of individuals who will help others relate to me, reconcile to me, deal with their defilement. I'm going to raise up this nation and train them and make them holy so they can tell others about how they can get to know the Holy One."
Now, Israel, in God's choosing them… It was never God's plan to be a bigot. It was never God's plan to be a racist. He didn't love the Jew. He chose the Jew for no reason we can see in Scripture other than he determined, according to his divine wisdom, that this was going to be a nation he was going to make great and he was going to use this nation to admit light to the rest of the world.
Do you remember the term he used in Zechariah, chapter 2, for the nation of Israel? "You are the apple of my eye." The Hebrew word is a gate. "You are the gateway of my eye." It's a very sensitive and necessary part of the body. It is the pupil. That's what the apple of an eye is. The apple of the eye, the pupil, is the part of the eye which admits light to the retina, to the cornea, to the rods and cones so you can see.
God was going to use this nation he cared deeply about, and he wanted to preserve them, because this was the nation. This was his retina. This was the gateway through which he was going to shine light to the rest of the world. You will not become holy through religion. What is religion? Religion is man doing acts of service, climbing a ladder, picking up the heads of widows and orphans and the homeless on the streets of Calcutta.
Gang, you could do that until you're 87 and die, and if that is what you present to the Lord as your résumé of righteousness, you will fall short. It is religion which is man's efforts and workings toward God. What God said is, "I don't want a group of people who are doing some performance for me. I want a group of people who realize their performance will never impress me. I am more holy than you have any idea about.
In fact, if you saw me in my holiness, you would be consumed. What I want is a humble people that realizes in their rebellion against me they have forever separated themselves from me and the chasm is too wide for them to ever build their way back across. Their only hope is that I will be gracious toward them again." He says, "Jews, I want you to show the world how they can come into a right relationship with me. It is by humbling themselves and crying out to me in faith, 'O God, will you save us?'"
The words in Psalm 118 are, "Hosanna! Hosanna!" which means, basically, "Lord, save us now." See, the nation of Israel, when their Messiah, their King, was to come, was never to yell out, "Look at us! We are pure and well trained and spiritual people. Be impressed by us. We're glad you're here. Welcome to our church." No. They were to sit there and realize that they knew they fell short of the standard which God has for all humanity, which is a standard of holiness.
Now, some of us are holier than others. Some of us are more moral, more ethical, more righteous than others, but the point is that none of us are holy and righteous enough. We have a misunderstanding. We think we can compare ourselves to others and think, therefore, we are holy, because they're less holy than we are. What the Lord says is, "Don't compare yourself to them; compare yourself to me."
Arnold Palmer, when he was dominating the PGA in much the same way Tiger Woods did earlier this year… He faded a little bit. When Arnold Palmer was tearing the tour up, they used to ask him, "How in the world do you go out there week after week and dominate the tour?" He responded by saying, "Because every other player is playing against each other, and I play against Palmer."
What Arnold said is, "I don't try to beat the guy next to me; I try to beat par. If I can beat par consistently, I can beat the course and I can beat anybody, because not everybody is going to beat this course." Jesus would tell you if you want to be great, don't compare yourself to other golfers, other church attenders, other non-church attenders. You compare yourself to par. Guess what par is in the Christian life. It is perfection. If you fall short of that, if I fall short of that, we are lacking.
So, what God did was he said he was going to raise up a group of people who will shine light on how you can restore yourself. Gang, we're going to look at a group of verses tonight that is probably the clearest picture of what it means for God to save his people. Now, remember, when we go to Zechariah in just a minute, you're going to find that these are God's words through his prophet Zechariah, which means the Lord remembers.
This is a group of people who have been disciplined because they weren't doing what the Lord asked them to do. God always disciplines his people. If he grants you great privilege and gives you great authority on this earth, you must know, as Churchill said, with greatness comes one thing: responsibility. You are accountable, and if God wants to use you to admit light and you, as a pupil, do not allow the right amount of light in, he will literally pluck you out and substitute in another eyeball that will work, because he wants the world to see truth.
The nation of Israel was not doing what God asked it to do, so a long series of prophets were sent to them to say, "You have to straighten up and fly right. You have to open your eyes. You have to do what I've asked you to do or you will be disciplined even more." When we study Zechariah, you will see this is God's plea to get this nation to be what he wanted it to be. You will find out that the nation did not listen to the Lord's intention for them, so now they are in further discipline.
You will find, if you study your New Testament, in the book of Matthew, which is the gospel written specifically to the Jew… That is why you will see in the book of Matthew more references to your Old Testament than any other gospel; in fact, the other three combined. Matthew has 11, some say 12, fulfillment passages, which means in the gospel of Matthew you will find Matthew say 11 or 12 different times, "This happened so that it might be fulfilled."
He goes back and quotes from Isaiah. He quotes from Hosea. He quotes from different books in the Old Testament to show the Jew, "This Jesus is the Messiah, and you missed him. You rejected him, and you turned him out, and you murdered him, so God left you and went, for a time, to another people that would let light into the world." So, Jesus exhorts you to let your light shine before men so that men may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
What he is doing (and we're going to look at this) is God, for a time, is blessing a nation which is not a nation, a group of people which is made up of both Jew and Greek, barbarian and Scythian, slave and freeman, male and female, Colossians says, and he's going to make them a nation, a church, a new entity, which he's going to build up, of which he himself is the cornerstone. He will make great and glorious a people for his own possession that will be (1 Peter 2) a kingdom of priests, a holy people, a chosen race that will do what God's priests should do.
There will be a time when… Paul says, "I preach with me as an apostle," which means a sent one, "to the Gentile," which means anybody who's not a Jew. "I am sent to you to tell you about the wondrous works of Jesus Christ, who is the Messiah, the promised, pictured, prophesied, one day was present, preached one, who one day will be preeminent and be praised.
I want to preach to you this Jesus so that you would trust in him, so that you would benefit from your relationship with him, so that my people," Paul himself being a Jew, "might be made jealous and say," basically, what they said in Animal House. "You're dancing with my date." Or actually, in Animal House, as you know, they said, "Do you mind if we dance with your date?"
Ultimately, what should happen here is that the Jews should see us be a people who have everything God one day promised for them in a spiritual sense, which he will one day give to them in a literal and a spiritual sense. They will say to us, "Do you mind if we cut back in and dance with our God?" and we'll say, "Why, not at all," because that's God's plan. He will accomplish what he said he would accomplish with the nation of Israel.
Now here's the question. We're studying Zechariah 3, but we're going to set it up by going to Zephaniah, chapter 3. Remember that? A book we studied. Let me remind you there are three different types of prophets. One is a pre-exilic prophet. They are prophets who wrote to the nation of Israel, saying, "Gang, do what I've asked you to do or I will discipline you. I will send you as slaves again." If you remember, God delivered the nation of Israel from a time of great bondage. Why or how?
He took this individual who was turned out by his brothers whose name was Joseph, who was sent ahead of them, who was put in a position of prominence and power so that when his brothers were humbled and ready to die in judgment because they could not have provision for their needy flesh, they went and humbled themselves and entreated themselves before what they thought would be one who would surely consume them, only to find out that God had put somebody who knew them, who loved them, in a place of prominence, that he could not judge them but, instead, would bless them. The pictured Messiah in the person of Joseph.
God took them, then, 400 years later, out of slavery in Egypt and set them back into a place of promise. How did he do it? He did it with a guy named Joshua, whose name is Yeshua in the Hebrew, which means literally the Lord saves. How did the nation of Israel get to the Promised Land the first time? Answer: through Yeshua, the Lord saves. Guess how the Greek name Joshua is pronounced: Jesus, which means the Lord saves.
How will God's people get back to the place of promise from which they have been driven out? Answer: Yeshua, Jesus. The Lord shall put them back in that place of promise. It's not religion. It's not their effort. It's not their works. It's their humbling themselves and saying, "We need somebody who can get us where we cannot go." Pre-exilic prophets. Then there are exilic prophets, and then there are post-exilic prophets who wrote after the exile.
Zephaniah wrote just before they were about ready to get sent away for 70 years, and here comes his word of warning to them. Look at chapter 3, verse 1. Let's be reminded. "Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled…" He's speaking about Jerusalem, specifically, and here's why. "You are a tyrannical city. You are a city that is rebellious and thinks you are great in and of your own accord, and you do not need me."
He says, " [You] heeded no voice…" In other words, "You don't think you need instruction. You are a prideful people." "… [you] did not trust in the Lord** ;[you]did not draw near to[me, to the Rock of Ages]." "You thought you yourself could defend yourself." Verse 3:"[Your]princes within[you]are roaring lions…"** What did God want his people to be? Not lions who devour sheep but shepherds who would be a light to the world. "You've taken your power and used it for selfish purposes."
Then he says, "… [your] judges are wolves at evening…" What do wolves do? Devour the weak and the helpless. You watch the Discovery Channel, you always see the lioness go after the weakest of the wildebeest. Individuals who would come before these judges' courts of law would take their position of privilege and use it for their own gain. They were wolves that devoured the weak, and God didn't like it.
"…her priests have profaned the sanctuary." They are self-promoting. They are charlatans. They weren't doing what priests should do, which is to tell people about how they might be cleansed and reconciled to the Lord. They were people who took their position and had people offer tribute to them and pay for their relationship to them and give homage to them so they would tell them, "Okay. You're in good standing with me. Therefore, I'll put in a good word for you before the Lord."
"Her prophets are reckless, treacherous men…" In other words, they make levity. That's what that word means. They're treacherous. They make levity of weighty matters. They laugh at truth. They have no standard that is greater than them. "They have done violence to the law. The Lord is righteous within her [in contrast to you] ; he will do no injustice.""I will be not like you," he says.
"Every morning He brings His justice to light…" Every day through his word, through his servants the prophets, through death. "Through the judgments of the nations which will come and devour you, I'm going to remind you that I don't like the way you're doing things." "But the unjust knows no shame." Verse 6: "I have cut off nations…""Look all around you. Look at the way I have done awful things in the past."
"…their corner towers are in ruins. I have made their streets desolate, with no one passing by; their cities are laid waste, without a man, without an inhabitant. I said, 'Surely you will revere Me…'""Surely you will straighten up and see that I am God and you will accept instruction." "So her dwelling will not be cut off according to all that I have appointed concerning her. But they were eager…" The King James says they arose early. "…to corrupt all their deeds."
What is going on here is this nation, which God intended to be a kingdom of priests, was foolish and rebellious, so they were sent, after this time, which was about 620 BC… About 30 years later, God finally sent them away, and for 70 years they lived as slaves in Babylon. Then God miraculously, through his servant, delivered them back and put them in a position where they could one more time, having learned from this time of discipline, be a great nation again.
The book of Zechariah now is a prophet who comes to the people and says, "Listen to me. You have a lot of things going for you. You've been put back in the land. That's a good thing. You're rebuilding the temple. That's a good thing, and I will come dwell within your midst. That's a good thing. But, people, remember this: your fathers were in the land. Your fathers had a temple, and I dwelt in their midst, and they just didn't get it. Don't do what they did."
I was talking to some individuals this week who have been scarred deeply by some choices they have made, and they've learned some things through experience. I will tell you that experience is a good teacher, albeit a painful one. Experience is not the best way to learn something. Somebody who knows more than you who enlightens you is the best way to learn something.
As a child, you don't want to just turn them loose in the kitchen and turn your stove on full blast and go, "You know what? Once he puts his hand one time on that frying pan, he will learn that hot things melt flesh." That is a great way to learn; it's just a painful one. It will scar you. There are individuals in this room who have been humbled. You've been burned, and my hope for you is, having been burned, at least you would learn there and you would not be what the Scripture says is a fool.
It says a wise man can learn from one blow, but a fool needs a hundred of them. I see individuals who repeatedly walk back into the same right cross, and they go, "I don't know why I keep getting dizzy and seeing stars and butterflies and not thinking clearly." I'm going to say, "Because you keep walking right into that strong right cross. Don't you know there's a different way to live?"
See, if you've been decked, if you've been KO'd because of some illicit relationship, some improper practice, some deceit, some self-promotion, some sin, some boasting, some lust, whatever it is that has corrupted you and has made you a slave of desires you never thought you'd be a slave of, I pray that you would learn from that experience and go, "I don't know what I need to do, but I know it ain't this. So I want to rise and find out what God has for me, because what I have for me is making me dizzy."
That's what Zechariah is saying to these Jews. He's saying, "Have you learned now? It's not the best way to learn something. I wish you would have just listened to my teaching you, telling you to not put your hand in the fire or your flesh will be consumed. Nonetheless, you stuck your hand in the fire, so now you've been burned for 70 years. You're back home. Will you be a righteous people?"
Zechariah writes to encourage them. The first thing he says to do is "Rebuild the temple, because you have to build the place that's going to be the place where I will dwell symbolically for a time until I come physically and abide in your presence." There are three things that have happened up to chapter 3. Here they are.
First, you have in chapter 1 the Messiah, Jesus Christ, praying for the work of God to be accomplished in the nation of Israel. After you have the prayer of the Messiah for justice and for deliverance from all of the enemies they have around them… God is going to do what he said he was going to do with Israel. He will bless them. The next thing that happens is there is a promise that judgment will befall all of the enemies of his pupil, of the apple of his eye.
Then the third thing. There is a promise, ultimately, of blessing, of deliverance, of ultimate peace for that nation. Catch these three things again. There's the prayer of the Messiah for justice and deliverance for God's people Israel. The Messiah prays that. He longs for them to be all that God would have them be. He predicts that their enemies would be judged, that the wicked won't continually lord themselves over them.
Then, finally, he promises them that one day his prayers will be answered, their enemies will be judged, and Israel will be put in a place of blessing. Now you ask yourself, "Well, how in the world can he do that?" He himself just said a few years earlier that they are a wicked and tyrannical people. How can God make Israel a great nation again? Answer: Zechariah, chapter 3.
This is the fourth of eight night visions, and you have to see them all in one picture, one context. What he's doing right now is he's trying to encourage faithfulness among the Jews, and he's saying, "You do what God wants you to do. He's pulling for you, praying for you. He has predicted the fall of your enemies and has promised you great things, but here is how it's going to happen, and here alone is how it's going to happen."
Very quickly, a lot of men have said this is probably the clearest place in your Bible to give you a picture of what salvation looks like. I will tell you that their salvation is going to come only through one thing. It's going to come through the grace and the work of their Messiah, the Anointed One, the Prince of Peace, who we know to be Jesus Christ. Apart from him, there is no salvation, for the Jew or for you. The way the Jew is saved is the way you are saved.
Zechariah 3 is going to tell you how God can take a wicked and defiled people and make them a kingdom of priests. Gang, here's going to be the deal again. Make sure when you read the Old Testament that you don't force an interpretation to yourself that is not handling accurately the Word of truth, but you can take principled application and apply it to yourself.
How can God take a wicked, defiled, selfish, lustful, and evil people (that pretty much defines us here tonight) and make us a kingdom of priests, a chosen nation, a holy people for his own possession, the apple of his eye that he wants to use as a light to the world? Answer: through the Messiah. Look at Zechariah, chapter 3. Here it comes. After all this promise about one day making Jerusalem great…
"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest…" Now don't get confused here. Joshua the high priest is an individual who, at the time, was serving in an office which is supremely important to this nation. God always had in this nation a leader, a political leader, often a king. At this time, the nation of Israel doesn't have a king, because there is a period which has begun called the time of the Gentiles. Right now, when Zechariah writes this, there is a king in Medo-Persia who is reigning over the world.
They do have a governor over the region. His name is Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel is the political leader, but the religious leader is a guy named Joshua. Joshua is the one who's going to try to bring the people back and have their sins atoned for the way God said their sins should be atoned for. Specifically, back then, it was through one specific day on the Jewish calendar. It was a day called Yom Kippur. Yom is Hebrew for day; Kippur is atonement.
Yom Kippur, which you will see on your calendars in the coming weeks, is the most holy day in the Jewish year. It is the Day of Atonement. In God's economy, as he was picturing the coming Messiah, he would have a little lamb that would be taken into the Holy of Holies where God dwelt symbolically to the nation of Israel. The high priest alone could go into the presence of the Lord alone one time a year alone and take this lamb and sacrifice this innocent lamb for the sins of his people.
Then they'd take another lamb or goat, and they would take part of the blood of that one lamb that was slit there in the Holy of Holies, whose blood was poured out on the mercy seat, the seat of mercy. They'd take some of that blood, and they would drape it over the head of another goat. They called this goat the scapegoat. Have you ever heard that term used in our culture? It comes from Leviticus 16.
They took a goat and said, "This goat is symbolic of what we deserve," and they drove that goat away from prosperity, away from blessing, away from the Holy Land, where it would go out solitary into judgment, into the desert, into the barren place, and it would die away from God's people. Then we find that there's one who is identified when he comes in the New Testament… The first thing John the Baptist said was, "Behold, the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sins of the world, whose blood becomes your mercy seat if you will only trust in him."
Joshua was the high priest who would go and offer this sacrifice. You should go and read the incredible requirements of the cleansing of the high priest to be able to go into this holy of holy places where God dwelt to atone… Big word which simply means to pay for the sins of the people. The way the sins of the people were paid for was an innocent creature's blood was shed. Do you see what I'm talking about when I say the Bible is one story and you have what is called the pictured Messiah in your Old Testament?
This lamb's blood was shed. It was symbolic. It was to teach the people that "One day, there's going to be an innocent one who will come who will be the Lamb of the Lord, and he will die for you. When he offers himself as a sacrifice, he will be the perfect sacrifice. He will be the Lamb of the Lord, the truly unblemished one, who has always been and always will be. When he dies for you, that will ultimately be the final atonement for your people. So when you see him coming, you cry out, 'Hosanna! Lord, save us now. You alone can do it.'"
Here's Joshua the high priest. He is standing before the Angel of the Lord. The Angel of the Lord, we've talked about before, is in your Old Testament what is called a pre-incarnate Christ. It is God who shows up in the person of probably Christ in your Old Testament. Now how do we know that? Two places real quick that I'll show you right here from Zechariah, chapter 3. Look at verse 2. It says, "The Lord." That is a reference to the Angel of the Lord. The Angel of the Lord is not called a messenger; he is called Lord himself.
Look at verse 4. One of the things the Angel of the Lord does is he says, "I have taken away your iniquity." Who is called Lord in your New Testament and who takes away and forgives the sins of people? Jesus Christ. He is always the visible image of the invisible God. In your Old Testament, you see God reveal himself in what is called a theophany. That's a big word which means, basically, God in the form of man. So, God incarnate, which is just two words for "in the flesh" in our New Testament, is Jesus. In the Old Testament it's called the Angel of the Lord.
So, here's Joshua. He's before the Angel of the Lord. Now watch this with me. This is big. He's standing before the Angel of the Lord. Here's the high priest, and he's standing, which is a term used for one of two things in Hebrew. When an individual stands before the Lord, it means he is either doing the work of a priest, which is to atone for the sins of the people, or he is standing before a judge.
It's either a religious setting or a judicial setting. Either way, you have probably a combination of the two, because here comes Joshua, and he's going to go and stand before the Lord. If the high priest is rejected, that means the nation is rejected. If God won't accept the high priest in his presence, that means the nation can't have its sins atoned for and judgment is going to come.
Here's what's going on. This Joshua, the high priest, stands before the Lord, and Satan is standing at his right hand to accuse him. Now, remember, this is the fourth of eight visions God gives Zechariah to encourage his people. "The Lord loves you. He wants to do great things for you. He is praying for ultimately your deliverance. Know this: you will be delivered from the wicked enemies you have. Know this: you will be put in a place of promise."
How can God do that with the wicked people? Right here is your answer. The fact is they are wicked. Satan comes, and he stands at the right hand of Joshua. This is interesting, because whenever I get ready to do anything at all spiritual, I often feel, in some sense, completely incompetent, completely unworthy to come teach you, to encourage you.
I get in my ear all kinds of attacks, like, "Who do you think you are? The way you struggle, the way you snip at people you love, the way you come off arrogantly, the way you think lustfully, the way you think pridefully… And you're a pastor?" Or I can say to you, "And you're a priest? You're a Christian, a holy people?" Have you ever felt like, "Man, I can't do anything for the Lord. I'm just a wicked, scurvy little…" You plug it in.
Do you know what you should do and what I do when I hear those words? I say, "You know what? You are exactly right, and that is why I need a Savior." I'm not here to present myself as some great individual. I am here to tell you that I am a sinner who is saved by grace who has been made a saint by God's own good work.
Satan will do this to you. Whenever you get ready and willing to serve him, you're going to feel beaten down. You're going to be accused of being unworthy. In fact, the name Satan is really a noun which means accuser or opposer. What this means in the original language… It says, "And the opposer stood by him to oppose him" or "The accuser stood by him to accuse him." Revelation 12:10 says that, that he is the Accuser of the body.
Satan does that before the Lord with you right now. He accuses you of being worthless. "You love these people? You're going to use those folks in Dallas, Texas? I mean, Wagner of all folks… You're going to let him teach God's Word?" I sit there and go, "Oh man. Shut up. Don't say that to him." Look at what the Lord says. If you want to have an advocate…
Let me just read you a verse from Hebrews 7. You'll find out in the New Testament you have one who is called an advocate for you, one, it says, who endures forever, who always lives for one reason: to make intercession for you. Look at the intercessor in verse 2. This is the Angel of the Lord who responds to Satan's accusing Joshua of being unable to serve in a priestly role.
"And the Lord said to Satan, 'The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?'" Now catch this. What an advocate to have. This is Jesus Christ, Yeshua, who stands before this guy Joshua who is next to Satan who says, "This guy is vile, and you're going to make him great and judge everybody else?"
Here's the Lord's response. He does not say, "You know what? They're innocent. Joshua is not as bad as he thinks he is." He doesn't say that. In fact, you're going to find out in a few verses he goes, "You know what, Joshua? You are filthy." He doesn't say, "You know what? He has already been punished enough, so I'm not going to punish him any more." That's not what the Lord says.
The Lord doesn't say to Satan, "Hey, listen. This is a frivolous charge," like some judge did this week with somebody who sued Norm Brinker. He said, "I'm throwing this case out of court, and you're fined $3,000 for a frivolous lawsuit." Jesus doesn't say to Satan, "This Jew is wrongly accused." He says, "You're exactly right. He is wicked. He is vile." In fact, the term that is used is he has a filthy garment on, which means, basically, he is covered in human excrement. Is that vile enough for you?
Satan is saying, "Let me just tell you something. That stench on his outside is an indication of what is within." Jesus looks at him and says, "A) you're right; B) what you're saying isn't wrong; C) he hasn't been punished enough; and D) I don't care if he promises me he'll never mess up again. That won't appease me." Joshua is shaking in his boots except for one thing. The Angel of the Lord says, "Now shut up, Satan." Then he comes right back and says, "I said, 'Shut up.'"
In other words, "Here comes the verdict: You're wrong. And here comes the appeal: You're not going to get it the second time. Why? Because I am God and you are created being. You don't tell me what I do. I chose to love him. Period." Gang, that's a problem for some of you, because you want to go, "Wait a minute. How could anybody covered with human excrement ever be attractive to a holy Lord?"
The answer is he can't be, but what you don't understand is that it says in Isaiah 64:6 that your best works are as filthy rags. The term there isn't just for human excrement. It is specifically a term for something women would use to cover the issue of blood. "Your best effort before the Lord is a tossed-away sanitary napkin." Well, thanks for the encouragement.
I want to show you that that is the gap between Mother Teresa, between Billy Graham, between you and a holy God. The problem is not that Satan is falsely accusing you. It's not that you have not paid enough. The problem isn't that he doesn't take you at your word that you won't do better in the future. The problem is God is that holy. But I have good news for you. If he chose you, then it doesn't matter, and if he didn't, you can't get clean enough.
Some of you are going, "Wait a minute. That doesn't sit well with my theology. I trip up over that. I want to do good, and God should accept my good efforts." You don't know how good he is. You don't know how vile you are. There are two errors men make in theology. One is they lower God too much, and the other is they exalt man too much.
I don't know what your problem is, if you don't think God is that holy or if you don't think you're that bad, but the truth is they are both facts. He is that holy and you are that vile. Apart from him choosing you, you're a dead man. Don't get lost. Look at what he says. Verse 3: "Now Joshua was clothed with [human excrement] and standing before the angel. And he spoke and said to those who were standing before him saying, 'Remove the filthy garments from him.'"
This is the Angel of the Lord. Jesus says, "You take away the filthy garment from him." Notice this is clearly God's work, and man has nothing to do with it. You are standing there wrapped in dog dirt, and God says, "Clean him up. Hose him down. This is a problem. This is supposed to be the priest who comes and atones for me.
You know the law. The priest is supposed to kill a number of bulls, a number of goats just so he has access into the Holy of Holies, and then maybe I'll accept his sacrifice, because I am a holy God. He is vile, just like the Accuser said, but I love him, so we're going to deal with his problem, and only I can deal with his problem."
Look at what he does. "See, I [the Angel of the Lord, who is Jesus] have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes." There are three things right there that are a picture of salvation like no other. You are a stick snatched from the fire, a brand plucked from the fire. Do you know what the fact of the matter is? All of us are good for one thing: to melt in the fire, but God in his grace has plucked individuals out of that fire because he intends to use them for something greater.
Why? I haven't the foggiest. I have no idea why he chose the Jew. I have no idea why, in turning away from the Jew during this time of discipline, he chose the church. All I know is the Scripture says he chose Abraham, he chose Moses, he chose the nation of Israel as they walked with him, and he will do with them what he said he will do with them.
When they didn't for a time, he said, "I'm going to come back to you, but all you who have walked away from me during this time are going to come under discipline. I will take a new people and make them great, and I will choose them until I'm done with them and you're jealous of my working and walking and living through them, and then I'll come back to the Jew." That's God's plan.
Look at what it says in verse 5. "Then I said, 'I see what you're doing. Finish the work.'" It says, "…put a clean turban on his head." In other words, finish out this festal robe. He took away the iniquity, he clothed them in righteousness, and he reinstated them in festal robes, in verse 4, which means, "You are sinful, Joshua. You can't be a priest. I take away your sin. I cleanse you, and now I put you back in a place of prominence for me. Why? Because I chose you."
Zechariah was watching this, and he said, "O God, finish the work. Don't just put a robe on him; put the crown on him. Put the turban on him. Finish the work." You'll find in Colossians that Paul says that same thing. "Ever since I first heard of your faith, I have not ceased to pray for you, that you would grow to be fully mature, that you would lack in nothing, that you would grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ until that day, that I might present you before him holy and blameless," he says in a series of places.
Paul prays for the people he has come into relationship with, saying, "God, finish the good work." The good news is he will finish the good work. He who began this good work in you will bring it about to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. Look at what it says in verse 6. "And the angel of the Lord admonished Joshua saying…" Catch this. "Thus says the Lord of hosts…" He gives him two things he needs to do, and if he does these two things, he will provide him with three things.
"If you will walk in My ways, and if you will perform My service…" Here are the two things. He says, "Joshua, I have made you great, and now here comes your charge again, that you who were vile I'm going to reestablish and make a light to the world if you will walk with me and perform faithfully for me." Catch this. The first thing he does is he comes to Joshua and says, "If you are personally right with me, before you go and try to professionally serve me, then I will do three things with you."
Gang, please hear me on this. God is not looking for men who will stand up in the workplace or in the church, in the home or in the mall, and just give him acts of service. He wants a person who ministers out of the integrity of his heart. Last night, I was with a group of folks talking about character. Character can be described this way: who you are when you're alone is alone who you are.
Your ideal is what you want to be. Your reputation is what others say of you, but who you are when you're alone is alone who you are. What God doesn't say here is "Just have an ideal about what you want to live like" or "Just have a good reputation." He says, "You walk with me in the integrity of your heart." Integrity comes from the same word as integer, which means whole number.
He says, "I want your whole being to be what you appear to be. Not just on the surface. Don't just come and sing. Don't just look nice. Don't just hold your wife's hand during a worship time. Are you truly walking with me?" Gang, we can go and share our faith. We can go and build houses for Habitat. We can go and work and care for the downtrodden. We can even pray, but if it is not truly who we are in our hearts, it doesn't matter if we perform for him, because the first thing we must do for him is walk with him.
What he tells us is to make sure our output isn't greater than our intake. Otherwise, our outflow will be our downfall. Don't stand up… By the way, there are so many men in my profession who get trapped in this. Because they're gifted or because the world has lifted them up, they just keep doing what they're doing, thinking, "Okay, if I just do what the Lord wants me to do, that's enough."
He says, "I don't need puppets. I don't need charades up there. I need men for whom it is the depth of their soul, the character of their being to walk with me, and then let them perform for me." Gang, we're really glad you're here, but more than being here doing something God wants you to do, more than serving in the ways many of you are serving, do you walk with the Lord in the integrity of your heart?
He wants to use you. Having cleansed you from your sin, having then taken away your filth and adorned you in righteous robes and put you back in a place of prominence, he wants to know, "Will you walk with me?" Paul says the same thing in Ephesians, chapter 4. "I urge you, then, walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you've been called, and then do these things out of the integrity of your heart."
Here are the three things he said he'll do. Catch these three things. "If you will walk in My ways, and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house…" Who governs the house of the Lord? The answer is a priest. And what does a priest do? They offer restoration and determine what is clean and unclean. That is exactly what we are to do. I'll make a case for that in a minute.
What's the second thing? Govern my house. "…and also have charge of My courts…" What does that mean? The individuals who had charge of the courts were the people who protected the Holy Place. They were the folks who guarded what God said should be holy. He said, "I will make you priests, and I will make you protectors of the standard." Then, finally, "…I will grant you free access among these who are standing here."
"I will give you privilege. I will make you a priest where you alone can determine what is clean and what is unclean. I will make you protectors of truth in keeping the profane away from me, and I will give you privilege. I will give you royal access. You don't need to go through an intermediary. You don't need to go through anybody else. You can come whenever you want right into my presence."
Let me stop right there and tie some application up for you guys. Do you understand what is going on here? The question should be racing across your mind. How can God use a nation that he says is a tyrannical city, a rebellious city that doesn't love truth, that doesn't love him, that turns away from him, and say he's going to do great things with them? The answer is through the Messiah.
On that great day, that Messiah will come and will accomplish for them all they ever dreamed of, but it's not going to happen the way they think it's going to happen. It's not going to be through the works of men. It's going to be through the kindness of the Lord and that alone. Why was Israel a great nation? Because God chose them. Turn with me to Ephesians. I want to show you something. Let's read Ephesians, chapter 1, starting in verse 3.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him." How in the world are you holy and blameless, church? He chose you, and he declared you holy and blameless.
"In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself…" Why did he do it? "…according to the kind intention of His will…" Having said that he will do it, it will be done. "The Lord rebuke you, Satan. I don't want to hear anything about how vile and wicked these people are. I said I would save them, and all who come to me I will in no wise cast out, and all who are of my Father I will indeed protect. There is none that snatches them out of my hand…no, not even one."
This is a problem, and I'm going to show you next week where this is not a surprise to the Lord that this is a problem in your life. Let's keep reading. In him alone. Do you remember what it says? It is not the work of man; it is the work of God alone. It is the Angel of the Lord who said to Joshua, who is representative of the whole nation (that's the high priest's job), "I have cleansed you from your iniquity."
Look at what it says in verse 7 in chapter 1 of Ephesians. "In Him [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight…" Gang, are you here tonight, and are you righteous for any other reason than you stand before the Angel of the Lord who said, "I have chosen you," and you have humbly accepted the fact that he has loved you?
Why are we his people? Answer: grace, because he has chosen us. I know that's a problem for some of you, and we're going to come back next week and look at that. Now look at the second thing. Not only are we chosen by him, but this is our greatest assurance. If you have your finger still in Zechariah, go back and look at chapter 3, verse 2, where he says, "I rebuke you! Indeed, rebuke you!"
Why? Because this is the one whom the Lord has chosen. "I intended to do it, and I will not go back on my word." Gang, you have no assurance in your salvation except for this: God said it and it will be done. Why do we know that he will make Israel again a great nation? Because he said he would. How do you know you're going to go to heaven? Because he said he'd save you.
How do you know if God has chosen you? I want to ask you this. Do you love what he loves? Do you hate what he hates? Do you consider truth what he says is truth? Do you consider rebellion what he says is rebellion? Do you trust in his leading or do you trust in your feeling? If you trust in your feeling for truth, you don't know him. You haven't been chosen by him. If you define truth mostly what the Scripture says but you're working a little of your own, you're not his.
If you love righteousness and hate sin, then you can know you've been chosen by him. If not, you might go out there and say, "You know what? I'm not really sure I love those things." Now don't hear me say that you're sinless. The greatest assurance I have that I am a Christian is that when I sin (and I do it often), I hate it. I didn't used to hate it. I used to hate that I got caught, but now I hate it. I love what he loves.
I go, "Lord, I know that's righteous. My flesh is strong. It pulls me that direction. Sometimes I even give in, and I don't have to, and I do the wrong thing, but I know it isn't right, and I love what you love, and I hate it even when I sin. I hate it when I see any sin. Does it sometimes feel good, taste good? Yes. But do I know it's poison and death? Yes."
Look at Romans 8:31. "What then shall we say to these things?" To what things? To the fact that God has chosen us. "If God is for us, who is against us?" I'll tell you who's against you: the Accuser, whose name is Satan, whose name means Accuser. He loves to make you feel and look small. But if he loves you and lavishes his grace upon you according to the kind intention of his will, it doesn't matter. If God is for us, who is against us?
Verse 33: "Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God [alone] is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns?" It isn't Satan. "Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"
Look at verse 38. "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing…" Are you a created thing? Yes. Can you get in the way of God's intention for your life? Not according to Romans 8. "…shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Gang, this is assurance, his word for you. If you are God's people, you ought to be about what God is about. Why are you righteous? Because God has chosen you. How do you know you've been chosen? You love what he loves. This is assurance: that his word is for you. Now, if you love what he loves, you ought to be about what he is about, and here's where we stop.
Jude 1:23: "…save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh." Do you see it? Let me show you the application to you. Next week I'm going to tie it all together. Don't miss it. It will make your Bible come together, gang. Let me show you again.
Why are you righteous? It isn't because of what you do. You are vile before the Lord, but he says, "I've chosen you." How do you know he has chosen you? Well, are you a humble individual? Do you know that God is a holy individual? Have you cried out to him in mercy and have you learned to love what he loves? Do you learn to hate sin? Do you learn to define truth his way? Do you yield to his purposes in your life, and when you don't, do you cry out to him?
Do you have a passion for what he has a passion for, which is sticks that are burning in the fire that he longs for you to participate in his work to snatch them out? Who does that? A priestly people who try to take that which is unclean and atone for it or participate in the work of making it clean.
Guys, do you love the lost? Are you snatching them out of the fire? Is it your effort to hate the garment polluted by flesh, to try to make it then righteous before him? If so, you can have some confidence. We ought to be about what God's people have always supposed to have been about. Let's pray.
Father, we took some extra time in this little passage tonight, and we went and looked at how you can take this nation, which has been rebellious against you, and what will one day make them righteous. We see it's the thing that, ultimately, you're going to use to save the whole world. It is your Savior Jesus who they rejected for a time, and in their rejection, you have turned from them to us and allowed us not to be saved alone.
We are grateful that, Father, that has always been your intention: for all of the nations of the earth to be blessed through this seed which would come from the Jew. You have allowed us, Lord, not just to be chosen but to now be put in this tremendous place of privilege that your people, the Jews, were chosen to be in, this place of priests, this place of being a light to the world.
For a time, you have given us, Lord, the privilege of not just being your sons but being also elevated to be your servants and to do the greatest thing any human could do, which is to work in the Lord's way. Father, may we not during this time we have to serve you squander this opportunity. We know we're filthy and vile, that we have no qualifications for the job. Our résumé is blank, and yet you, the owner of the company, have come and said, "You're my man."
Then, Father, you have trained us and equipped us. You have impassioned us with your Spirit, and you have called us to participate in your work. May we then be willing to do what people who love you have always done, which is to call out to a weary world, to stick our hand into that fire and seek to pull them out, to hate the garment polluted by sin but to love the individual who is in it and to seek to redeem them your way, which is to introduce them to the love of God who is holy but who himself was sacrificed that they might be made righteous.
Father, as we continue to study your Word, may we have a larger grasp of how great a salvation we have and how great a privilege we have of being your people who are to be a light to the world, that men might see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven and long to know them themselves. You indeed are a holy Lord.
In this second volume of "Sawing through the ZZZs", Todd Wagner unravels one of the richest, most complex of the minor prophetical books, revealing a timeless message of hope to all who will hear. Using night visions, oracles and symbols, God gives the prophet Zechariah a warning to the struggling, disillusioned nation of Israel freshly returned from exile in Babylon. This glimpse into their immediate and distant future exhorts them - and us - to repent, obey and persevere. The Lord is near to His own and this prophetical work concludes with a glorious look at the Messiah and the hope of His triumphant return.