John Elmore walks us through Zechariah 3 and talks about a trial that continues daily before God in heaven. We are the defendant. Satan is our accuser. But we have an Advocate who defends us, having paid the penalty for the messes we make in this life. Will you accept His provision for our salvation, and live a life to honor Him?
At Home Worship
Christmas Eve 2015
The Greatest Invitation
Making Room, Making Disciples
The Lies We Tell Ourselves
Your Trial In Heaven
Fort Worth, Here Is What We Think of You
What the Church Who Believes Is and Does
The USA: United States of Anxiety
From Intimacy to Idols
The Standard: Old Testament, Jesus and Believers
The Path to the Good Life
Nothing Short of Miraculous
Confessions From a Bathroom Stall: Lessons Learned in a Battle With Gluttony
How We Come To God
Dealing with Disappointment
The Story That Never Gets Old the God Who Is Always Behind It and the Way We Are Told to Remember It
The "One Thing"
Baptism Celebration 2015
Believing That Leads to Life
What Should I Do With My Money?
Good evening, y'all. Welcome to Watermark. My name is John Elmore, and I serve in the recovery ministry here at church. It's called re:generation. It's a Christ-centered, biblically-based 12-step program on Monday nights. That's what I get to do here at the church. My wife Laura and I have a little boy. His name is Hill David Elmore. He's a year and a half, and he's also big brother. We have a little girl on the way here in October. We're excited about our growing family.
Hill has about a dozen words which we think he actually knows what they mean. He'll parrot anything you say, which is great accountability in the household to watch your mouth, but he knows what some words mean, as they say.
One morning, he was crying and had woken us up. I go into his bedroom to get him up for the day. I walk over and stand over his crib, and he looks up at me and says one word. You might think, "What was it? Was it Dad or howdy?" Those are both words he knows. No. He looks at me, and with a little smirk on his face… I think it was a smirk. He says, poop.
I didn't have the heart to tell him, "Bro, the second I opened the door I knew there was a problem." I think it stained my clothes when I walked in because of how intense it was. I grab my boy, and I go to change him. You probably know this if you've ever babysat or if you're a parent. From nose to blast zone is about 12 inches. You're close, so that smell is intense.
I'm a first-time parent. I have no idea. I got online like, "I have to figure something out. We registered for some things with babies, but apparently we missed it. There has to be something that can help me with diaper changes." I did a bunch of research and read a lot of reviews, and I found a product that said it was guaranteed to eliminate the diaper smell. I was like, "I'm getting it."
I'm going to show that to you today, just in case you have any kind of baby showers coming up. At this point, they only come in one color. I think they're new to market, but you can get yourself one of these. It takes the kids a while to get used to it, and it kind of freaks them out a little, but hey, function over fashion, right? No, I'm just kidding. I actually got that last week off Amazon after I heard Todd preach about the rupture of America. I'm kidding.
The reason I tell you about the diaper change and how Hill told me what he did when he said, "Hey, there's a problem," is my little boy can't clean himself. He has no ability. He's a year and a half. He can't even put on his pajamas. He knows, because he can't clean himself, he needs his dad or his mama to come clean him, so he tells us.
He also tells us not just because he can't clean himself, as he has no ability, but he knows, "If I tell them, and even if I don't tell them, they will clean me every time." I love my boy, and I want him to be well. I want him to be clean. I want him to be happy, so there's not a single time I would ever look at him and be like, "Sorry. You did that yesterday. You did it twice today (which is true). I'm sorry. You're just going to have to sit in that a while. Maybe tomorrow, but not today, bud. You ran out of chances."
I would never, ever say that, because he's my boy. I love him, and I know he can't, but I can. I tell you that because you have a problem even bigger and worse and deadlier than my boy, Hill. You have a problem, and I have a problem. It's sin. It's the mess of sin, and like my son, we can't do anything about it. We can't clean ourselves of our own sin by any amount of rule-following or good works. We can't act like it's not there, and maybe, over the course of time, it'll just go away. It's there, and it's there to stay.
We can't clean ourselves, but praise God we have a heavenly Father who loves us so much as his children that he sees us in our sinful mess, and just like me with my boy, every single time he says, "I will clean you. Come to me." He will wash us in the blood of Christ and clothe us in righteousness. That is our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. There is no mess too great. That's what we're going to talk about today. Let's pray.
Father God, as I say those words, even, we praise you that, when you told us what to call you, you said, "Call me Father. Call me Abba." You gave us Jesus, that we could be washed, made clean, made new, and made righteous. Lord, as we are here today, be glorified. If anyone doesn't know you, may they be saved. For those who do know you, may we fall more in love with our Savior, Jesus Christ. This time is yours, Lord. Our hearts are yours. May your will be done. Amen.
Today we're going to be in Zechariah, specifically Zechariah 3. If you're unfamiliar with Zechariah, go to Matthew, the first of the Gospels, the very first book in the New Testament. It's about three quarters of the way in. Go one book backwards, or to the left, and you'll hit Malachi. It's only a couple of pages, so don't turn too much. The very next book, second to the last of the Old Testament, is Zechariah.
Let me tell you who Zechariah is. His name means Yahweh remembers. Yahweh, God, remembers his people. Zechariah is an interesting guy. He is a prophet who was actually not born in Israel, yet he's a prophet in this book. That may be a little concerning, like, "Wait, we have a non-Jewish prophet?" No, he was Jewish, but he was born in exile.
As Todd taught last week, because the Jews were in rebellion for 490 years, God, via Nebuchadnezzar, took them from Judea into exile in Babylon for them to be there for 70 years so the land could rest as he had commanded them to. After 70 years, he raises up Cyrus, this pagan king of Persia, and he says, "Send my people home." He does it like that, which is a reminder to never stop praying for our leaders. God can turn them in a second.
Zechariah was actually born in captivity in Babylon. He had never seen Jerusalem, yet he, along with 50,000 other Jews, returned to Jerusalem. We have this book because God gave him a series of visions and showed him what was to come. The people were discouraged, as they got back to a city and a temple that had been demolished, leveled, and destroyed. There were enemies on every side. God gives Zechariah visions of what's to come so he can encourage the people.
Zechariah writes down these visions, these prophecies. It's one of the most messianic books in the Old Testament, because Zechariah sees what is to come: the rebuilding of the temple, the coming of Jesus, and then the second coming of Jesus and the redemption of all of Israel. It's incredible.
We're going to walk through the entire chapter of Zechariah 3, today. It's 10 verses. I hope you will fall so in love with Christ, who has saved you, or who will save you today, I pray, if you've not trusted him yet. I pray, also, as we walk through these 10 verses, you'll be amazed at all God has placed in his Word and the deep truth that is there.
Here's where we're going today. The problem is we have sin. We, like my boy, have messes daily. Satan is the Accuser. The solution is the cleansing and the clothing of Christ. Then, as an application, what, then, do we do? What are the expectations of grace? That's where we're going to go.
1._ The problem._ Turn, now, to Zechariah 3:1. It says this: "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him." There are three people present there: the angel of the Lord, the high priest Joshua, and Satan. Zechariah is seeing all of this. Those are the three people present in this heavenly courtroom. There is a trial going on in heaven.
I need to make something really clear, because the rest of the passage hinges on this. There are many angels. They are innumerable. Many times throughout your Bible it says, "An angel of the Lord," meaning one of many. These are messengers of God. God says, "Send a message," and they go. It's like Gabriel and Michael. These are messenger angels who do God's bidding.
However, when you see the Angel of the Lord, it is Christ appearing in the Old Testament before the incarnation when he took on flesh. It's this incredible time when Christ shows up on the scene, because when Jesus was born as a baby, that's not when he became. The Son of God is eternally pre-existent, because he is God.
Philippians 2 says he took on flesh, became a man, that he would die for us, and rose from the dead, showing he was not just a man, but he was God. That's called a christophany, when Jesus appears before the incarnation, before he took on flesh. That's what we have right here. Jesus is standing there with Joshua the high priest and Satan, to accuse him.
Verse 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 [burning stick] plucked from the fire?'" This passage is incredible right here in verse 2. There are three things. There's a rebuke, a reminder, and a rhetorical question.
First, the rebuke is this: Satan is standing there to accuse Joshua, the high priest, and to say, "You're guilty, you're defiled, you've sinned, and you're standing before God in flesh. You know it, and you can't deny it. You're a sinner." He's there to accuse, and before he can even utter a word, Jesus silences him. It says, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan!" God created Satan, Lucifer, and he yields to God. When God says, "Silence," Satan is quiet. The Lord rebukes him.
This is not just for Joshua. You have a trial, as well. There is a trial in heaven over you because of your sin. That may come as a surprise to some of you as you think, "Wait, I understand, in heaven, there's no pain, sorrow, or tears." That will be the case when we go to be home with the Lord. There will be no sorrow, tears, or pain. However, right now, when we sin, there is a trial going on in heaven, and Satan is accusing us before the Lord.
Revelation 12:10-11 says, "…the accuser [Satan] of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down." It's a full-time job for him. He seeks someone to devour, and also, when we sin, he runs to God and says, "See. Look at them. You say they're your people, but then they wouldn't do the things they do. They're guilty, and they deserve justice and the penalty of sin due to them." He's the Accuser. He's a prosecuting attorney.
That passage goes on and says something else. It says, "They [we, us, church] overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony." When Satan accuses, we claim the blood of Christ and say, "Oh, no, Satan, you're right. I have sinned. I won't argue that point, but let me remind you I'm covered in the blood of Christ. He died for every single one of those sins." The Lord with us says, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan." Not only that, it says we hold to the word of our testimony, saying, "I claim Christ. I claim Jesus died for my sins and rose from the dead."
We have a defender. First John 2:1 says, "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." That word advocate means someone who defends the case of another before a judge. Jesus is our sovereign defense attorney going before the Father saying, "No, no. This one is ours. He is declared innocent. Not only that, he's righteous."
Secondly, there's a reminder, and it says, "The Lord has chosen Jerusalem." This reminder is important, because he says it not only to Satan. He says it before Joshua in his presence. He reminds Joshua and Satan, "Not this one. I chose him. I've adopted him." It's the doctrine of election that God chose us and said, "This one is mine. I'll ransom him and recue her. She's mine." He reminds Satan of that. "This one's mine, and you'll never ever snatch him or her from my hands."
Third is the rhetorical question. "Is not this a burning stick plucked from the fire?" It's the image of this fire of sticks. God takes one and pulls it out. It was going to be consumed by wrath. Most of the time you see fire in the Bible, it is a symbol of judgment and wrath, and God says, "Satan, not this one. He was plucked from the fire. Joshua was plucked from the fire. I agree he was going to be consumed in exile in Babylon because of the sins of the nation, but I've plucked them from the fire that they would never face wrath ever again."
It's a reminder, a rhetorical question for us. If you ever doubt, say, "I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ. I have been plucked from the fire. I was going to be consumed, but no longer." You will never again face the wrath of God. The wrath of God was upon you until you trusted Christ and stepped under his covering, his blessing, in which case you crossed over from death to life and escaped wrath and the fires of hell, never again to face that fire.
Verse 3: "Now Joshua was standing before the angel [the Angel of the Lord] , clothed with filthy garments." Joshua's condition was he was in these filthy garments. He is the high priest. If anyone should be clean, it's Joshua the high priest. He could not be defiled, because he was the one to go into the Holy of Holies to intercede for the nation. What's he doing clothed in filth? Not only that, the word filth in Hebrew is the same word for excrement and vomit.
Much like my little boy, he was covered in filth, stench, and disgust. There was a problem, because God is holy, and he can't be in the presence of sin. God sees it, Joshua is covered in it, and Satan is accusing it, which is a huge problem. It's our problem as well, because I think, daily, often, we make messes ourselves, whatever they may be, and Satan is right there to accuse us. That's a big problem.
2._ The solution._ I want to tell you a story. My wife and I were headed to the Christmas Eve service here. We were going home to get ready, and as we pulled toward our house, we saw this woman we recognized. She was a homeless woman who hung out in the park near our house. Her name is Norma. We pulled over, rolled down the window, and said, "Norma, what are you doing? Do you have anywhere to go tonight?" She said, "No." We said, "Then come home with us. Meet us there at the house." It was just a few more doors down. She agreed.
She came to the house and came inside, and we sat her down at the dining room table and began to heat up a meal for her. As she sat there having the meal, Laura, my wife, went back to the bedroom and began to pull clothes (fleeces, sweatshirts, pants, jeans, and socks) out of the closet and brought them out to Norma.
She said, "Norma, you're safe here. There's a bathroom right behind you. You can take as long as you want." Norma was clothed in these disgusting, matted, greasy jeans. There was dirt under her fingernails. Her hair was matted, and she hadn't showered in weeks. Laura saw that and was like, "Take as long as you want. Go get clean. Here are these clothes. Take them in with you. You can have clean, warm clothes. It's cold out there, Norma."
I'll never forget what she said. They were some of the saddest words. She said, "No. I don't deserve those things. I can't have things that nice. I can't take those clothes." She very nervously and hurriedly got up, put her dirty things back in a gym bag we gave her, and walked out our door, rejecting the chance to be clean and receive clothing.
Some of you are sitting here today, and you've never trusted Jesus. As I've been talking, you've been thinking, "I don't need Jesus. I don't even need this message." Hear me if you hear nothing else. If you haven't trusted Christ, you are on a path to eternal hell where the fire never dies and the worm never dies, apart from the presence of God in utter darkness. It is a real place.
When men and women die, they'll face judgment and spend eternity in hell, and it would be unloving of me to not tell you that, but there is hope. If you would trust Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, that he died for you and rose from the dead, then you are given eternal life in Christ, period. Today, you can receive salvation and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will be forever with the Lord and never face judgment or hell.
The solution for every single person is to come under the saving grace of Christ. In verse 4, it says this. You're going to see the very thing we talked to Norma about: the cleansing and clothing of Christ. Verse 4 says, "And the angel said to those who were standing before him, 'Remove the filthy garments from him.' And to him he said…" This is what Jesus said to Joshua. "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments [garments] ."
Christ alone can take away and remove sin. That's how we know this is Jesus in that passage. He says, "Behold, I have taken away your iniquity." Only Christ has the power to do that. This is what theologians call expiation. It's the removal of sin, that the sin upon Joshua would be removed and taken away. It's the grace of Christ, that only he could do that. It's the cleansing of Christ, that he can cleanse us of our sin like I do with my little boy, who has no ability to do so. We have no ability to cleanse ourselves from sin, so Christ does that for us.
This is the difference between Christianity and every other religion. Other religions have faith. Muslims have faith, Hindus have faith, and Buddhists have faith. Every other religion has faith, and we often say, "We're saved by faith." That's not true. We are not saved by faith. We're saved by grace. We are only saved by grace, which is the forgiveness and removal of sins. That is the difference.
Islam does not have grace. It's a scale of balances at the end, that maybe your good deeds might outweigh your bad. No matter how many good deeds my little boy does, he can't get out of that dirty diaper. That sin is upon him. Our sin is upon us no matter how many good deeds we perform. We can't work our way out of our sin. It has to be forgiven. It's grace, the removal of sin, the cleansing of Christ.
Now we'll see the clothing of Christ in verse 5. "And I said, 'Let them put a clean turban on his head.'" That's Zechariah speaking. "So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by."
Going back to my son, when I change his diaper, it would be crazy if I changed his diaper, patted him on the bottom, and was like, "Okay, boy, run free." We don't have free range children, because that would create a huge problem the next time he had to go to the bathroom for me, my wife, and my son. Our family room would be much different.
Instead, I clean him, and then I clothe him. I put clean clothes on him. That is called the imputation. Christ's righteousness clothes us. He doesn't just take the filthy garments off, in which case we would be left without, exposed and naked. Instead, he takes off our dirty and gives us the righteousness of Christ. God gives us the very righteousness of Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 5, it says, "He, God, made him, Jesus, who knew no sin…" He was sinless. "…to be sin, that we might become the righteousness of God." It's called the Great Exchange. He took our sin and put it upon Christ. He took Christ's righteousness and put it upon us. We got what we did not deserve. Christ got what he did not deserve. The Great Exchange is incredible, ridiculous, miraculous grace, this removal of sin and giving of righteousness.
I saw this first-hand in my life. I'm a recovering alcoholic. For 12 years I was an alcoholic, and as such, any time I talk to somebody else, I offer that. I'll tell grocery clerks or anybody who will listen I was an alcoholic, because it gives me a chance to tell them about my redemption, about Jesus. One time, I heard about these other alcoholics in South Sudan. The Muslims from the North had invaded South Sudan. You may recall the Darfur tragedy and all of that.
Before I continue, let me say something. I've mentioned Islam and Muslims twice now. Let me be perfectly clear to the church. Muslims are not our enemy. In fact, I would say they should be your most favorite people in the world, because they need hope, and they need the grace of Christ.
You may be the only vessel they would ever hear that from, that they would experience love they don't experience from Allah, and they would experience the love and grace of Christ through you. They are not your enemy. You are to love them, bless them, pray for them, and befriend them.
Within Sudan, the Muslims from the North had destroyed South Sudan. They destroyed every building and put landmines in the fields, so the men who survived the war couldn't work. There was no ability to work and no commerce. They couldn't farm the land, so they sat around in their depression and hopelessness and drank, all day, every day, this lethal moonshine.
I would walk up with this group. I would tell them I was a recovering alcoholic and that Jesus changed everything, and if they would come with me he would change them too, and they could have a new life. Some showed up. They were the most destitute, depressed, discouraged, sullen, dirty… They were the outcasts of this entire town. They trusted Christ, and everything changed.
As they did, they were going through the same 12 steps we go through at re:generation, to trust Christ and be discipled. They started coming to the meeting, and they would tell stories in their language. It was called the Kuku language of Sudanese. They would tell the story, and I couldn't understand, but they would all erupt laughing.
I would lean over to my translator like, "What are they laughing about? What are they saying?" He was like, "Well, the townspeople are making up rumors about them, and they think it's hilarious." I'm like, "What kind of rumors? Why is it so funny?" He's like, "They're saying, specifically, you've given them pharmaceutical medicine." I was like, "Bro, I'm so sorry. I still don't understand what you're talking about. Why would they say that?"
He said this. This is beautiful. This is Christ. He said, "They say you must be giving them pharmaceuticals, strong Western medicine, because there's no way their skin could look so healthy, that they could gain weight, that they could go back to work and leave their idleness, and that they would be filled with such joy. They must be under the influence of strong medicine."
Also, there was a rumor we were giving them money, because there's no way those drunks would quit drinking. "You must be paying them off. Every time they come to one of your meetings, you give them more money so they won't drink. You're bribing them." That, my friends, is Jesus Christ.
People have an inexplicable view of, "How can this be? I know that guy. He was a worthless, terrible, terror-of-the-town drunk, and now, he's leading his family and working, and he's a leader in the church. How can that be?" It's only through Jesus Christ removing that sin and giving him his righteousness. The result gives God glory. That is your Lord.
In verse 5, there is another crazy miracle. This is Zechariah speaking. "'Let them put a clean turban on his head.' So they put a clean turban on his head…" This is audacious and bold. Zechariah says to Jesus, "Hey, let them put a clean turban on his head." If I were Zechariah, and Satan were standing there, and Joshua were dressed in filthy clothes, and there was Jesus, I'd be like, "I'm not saying a word. I don't have a dog in that fight. Y'all handle it. Jesus, it looks like you have it. Go right ahead." Instead, Zechariah speaks up.
There's another thing I think I'd say if I were there. If I did have the guts to speak, I think I'd lean over Jesus' shoulder and be like, "Hey, Joshua, you said you were a leader. Look at you. You're dressed in filth. You're a hypocrite and a liar. You're supposed to be leading this nation, but instead, you're clothed in filth. Who do you think you are? We should go find somebody better to do the job who won't be covered in filth next time. Hypocrite…"
If I didn't say it, it's what I would think rather than thinking about my own sin and filth, but not Zechariah. Zechariah says the most beautiful thing. He speaks up and prays. It's intercession, because he says to Jesus, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." He says that because he knows his boy Joshua is the high priest, and the high priest can't do his job unless he's wearing a turban which had a gold plate across the front that said, "Holy unto the Lord."
That way, he could go into the Holy of Holies and represent the people on the behalf of God for the forgiveness of their sins. Zechariah sees this picture is incomplete. "I know you've taken away his sin and given him his righteousness, but he needs to do his job. We have to get him back into the game. Give him a turban, Lord. Put the turban back on his head."
Jesus says, "Because what you've asked is according to my will, for the furthering of my kingdom, and for my glory, amen, let it be done. Put a turban on his head. Let's get him back in the game." This happens in re:generation leadership.
Sometimes our leaders will fall into sin. When they do, we ask they step back. I'm not above that. They step back from leadership, we get community around them, and we meet with them. Then, after a time of healing and repentance, we meet with them again to check in. "How are you doing? Are you ready to shepherd others? Has there been repentance?"
Then we say, "Get back in the game, man. You were made to be a leader, a discipler of men and women. Go and do what God created you to do. You're not out of the game. You just got pulled back a little bit so you could find healing in Christ. Get back in." That's what Zechariah says through prayer on behalf of his brother Joshua. It's beautiful.
3._ The expectations of grace._ If the problem is we have sin, our own mess, and Satan is accusing us, and the solution is the cleansing and clothing of Christ, then what do we do? We don't just walk out of here and think, "That's a nice, good theological message." Instead, what do we do? There are expectations of grace, and I'm going to tell you three of them. There's a response we should have, there are rewards that are coming to us, and there is a return, the very return of Christ. These are expectations of grace.
First, the response. Verse 6: "And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge…'" He tells him two things: walk in my ways and keep my charge. What's our response? God saved us to send us. Romans 12:1 says, "Therefore, in view of God's mercy, because of what he has done, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice." It says in John 15:7, "Abide in Christ. If you do, you will bear much fruit. Apart from him, you can do nothing."
He saved us. He says, "Walk in our ways," which means holiness. He has just cleaned up Joshua. He's just cleaned him of his sin and given him his righteousness and clean clothes, and now he says, "Joshua, walk in my ways. Don't go back to those old things. Don't go get defiled again. Don't go get that excrement on you again. Instead, walk in my ways. Walk in holiness, Joshua, church. Walk in my ways."
Friends, the only way to walk in God's ways, lest there be any confusion, is not to follow a bunch of rules; it's to stay beside God and to walk with him, and inevitably, you will walk in his ways. There's a little-known story about Abraham Lincoln, the abolitionist President. I find it even more shocking that this story is about the president who abolished slavery.
Before Abraham Lincoln was president, he actually went to the auction block where slaves were being sold. In case there's any confusion, 1 Timothy 1:10 says, "Men who enslave others are unholy and ungodly." The Bible and God are against slavery, and so is the church. Abraham Lincoln is there at this auction block bidding on a slave, and he outbids everyone. He wins this slave woman, and he walks away with her. He takes his property, this woman, and he says, "My dear lady, you're now free." She looks at him and says, "What does free mean?"
"My dear, it means you're free to do what you wish to do."
"Does that mean I can say what I want to say?"
"Yes, dear. You can say what you want to say."
"Does that mean I can go where I want to go?"
"Yes. You can go where you want to go. You're free."
She looks up at him with tears streaming down her face at that big, tall, slender man and says, "Then I will go where you go."
You see, she had experienced freedom from that man and from all the other people who had abused and mistreated her, and she knew something all of us would do well to understand. Grace does not just save us. Grace keeps us safe from going back to those things that meant harm for us. When Jesus says, "Walk in my ways," he says, "Walk with me. I've set you free. Now stay with me. Walk in my ways so you may be holy." Not only that, he says, "Keep my charge." That's another expectation of grace, which is obedience.
Joshua, being the high priest, had a responsibility. He had a role to fulfill, to keep his charge. God saved us to send us, not just that we would be free and spend eternity in heaven, but that we would reach others, that we would tell others about Jesus. Like Joshua, who was the high priest, it says in Scripture that you, church, are a royal priesthood. You're royalty, and you're priests.
The role of a priest is to represent God to the nations. It says in 2 Corinthians 5, "You are a new creation in Christ." Then it says you are two things: an ambassador and a minister of reconciliation. It says you should tell the world God is no longer counting men's sins against them, but instead, there is forgiveness of sins through Jesus.
That's your job description. Whether you're a stay-at-home mom, a businessman, or anything in between, that is your role. You're a priest in Christ. There are many ways to fulfill that priestly role, but here are three I'll tell you today.
A. Share your faith. Tell others. "Can I tell you what Jesus did for me? Can I tell you about the forgiveness of sins that is found in Christ? Can I tell you how you would find eternal life?" Share your faith. If you haven't done that even within the last week, I would say you're in disobedience. That's a sin of omission, meaning you're not doing the good you ought to do.
B. Pray. If you say, "Well, I'm not really there yet," or maybe your reasoning would be, "I don't have the gift of evangelism," or whatever you may say for not sharing your faith, I'd ask, "Okay, did you pray someone would come to faith? Did you pray for their salvation? Did you pray for the lost, a family member, a coworker, your boss, or your neighbor? Who are you praying for who needs to be saved?" If you didn't, it's disobedience. You have a priestly role. He saved you to send you. If not that, then…
C. Give. I would say, "What are you doing with your money, church?" We're rich. We're Americans. It's sick what we have. It's an embarrassment what the American church and American individuals have. With pennies, you can change someone's salvation and eternity by giving. I promise you, every single dollar you give here will be spent toward discipleship and evangelism, and that's not even why I'm asking or saying this.
There are hundreds of other organizations you can give to that will send the gospel and Bibles to closed nations where people are trusting Christ. It doesn't matter where you give. You just give to evangelistic discipleship ministries that are furthering the kingdom of God, because you have a role, priest, with your money, with your faith, to pray, and with your words, to share.
Second is the reward. Verse 7 says, "…If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here." There was a response, and here, now, we see there's a reward.
He says, "Joshua, if you're faithful with the little, I'll give you charge over my house. I'll also give you charge of my courts, and you'll have right of access of those you see standing here. If you're faithful with the little, you'll be given more opportunities." That's for us. That's a reward in this life, that you'll be given greater and greater opportunities as you step up to bat and labor for the Lord by his strength and his power working through you.
Not only that, but there are future rewards. It's what Todd is actually going to talk about next week. When you come into the Lord's kingdom in heaven, he extends to you rewards, even. It's enough that he saved us, but then, as we labor for him, for his glory, and by his power… This is crazy that he would even reward us. That's what Todd is going to talk about next week. We're not saved by works, but we are saved for works.
Some of you may have just missed everything I said. You thought, "Do you know what? Sharing my faith, rewards… I can't even go there because of the mess I'm in. I can't even think about that. I can't even quit looking at porn. I can't even stop this adulterous relationship, the alcoholism, the pill addiction, or whatever it may be. I'm in such a mess, I can't even imagine sharing my faith or even being concerned about rewards. I just want out of this mess. What about me? Where's my hope?" I'm going to tell you about hope, life without wrestling with sin.
There may be another group of you who are like, "I feel like I am trying to walk in the ways of the Lord and keeping the charge, but the mess I'm concerned about is the mess of this world. I look at this world, and I read the news, and I'm troubled and distressed by that mess, by the murdering of children and the selling of body parts, by Ashley Madison and the exposure that millions are seeking out adultery with another married person. I'm distressed by the euthanasia that is now legal in Europe, where we can say to the elderly, the disabled, or even the sick, 'It's time to kill them. They'd be better off dead.'"
Maybe you're sick of where our leaders have taken marriage, and maybe you've said, "Do you know what? We'll say gay marriage is good, and we'll celebrate that. We'll make that the law of the land," and you're under that. Maybe it's the fact that we have an actual statue of Satan in our country in Detroit people are worshiping. Maybe that's distressing to your soul.
I don't know what it is. Maybe it's ISIS, terrorism, the persecution of Christians, and them being shot, killed, and beheaded. Maybe it's the execution of the police officer Goforth in Houston, the school shootings, the church shootings, or the university shootings. The world is troubled, and there is a mess, undeniably. If that is troubling you, I'm right there with you. I would just say, before you pick up that mental stone to throw at that mess, don't forget your own mess. If yours were headline news, people would be saddened about it as well.
Last we have the return. There is a mess, but there is hope. There is hope coming, and it's right here in verses 8-10 as we conclude. "Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch." Servant means the suffering servant of Isaiah 53, the one who would die for our sins. The Branch is from the stump of Jesse in Isaiah 11. It looks like it was cut off, but here comes a Branch, Jesus, the Redeemer.
" For behold, on the stone…" There are three stones we see in Scripture. The cornerstone is Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone of the church. There's the stumbling stone of the Jews, who rejected him as the Messiah, the first coming. There's also the crushing stone when Jesus comes, sets up his kingdom, and silences every other kingdom.
He says, "For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes [the omniscience of God] , I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come [sit] under his vine and under his fig tree."
Let me tell you what that says, because some of you are like, "Well, I thought that happened at the crucifixion, we had our iniquity removed." You have had your iniquity removed in a single day when you trusted Christ. Your iniquity was removed in a single day. There is another day coming when Christ returns: the physical, literal return of Christ.
When he appears, he will take away the iniquity of this land, meaning Israel. He's talking to Israelites. He will remove the sin of Israel. This is Romans 11, friends. Paul writes, "All of Israel will be saved." We are going to have many more Jewish brothers and sisters, because at his second coming, they will look upon the one they have pierced and mourn as one mourns for an only son, and all of Israel will be saved. They will see him as the Lord and Savior at his second coming.
He will remove the iniquity in a single day. Not only that, but he will usher in 1,000 years of peace, the millennial reign of Christ. There will be peace and prosperity, first in Israel, and rippling out through the nations as they and we see it is good and peaceful to live under the righteousness and the righteous rule of Christ, who is sitting upon the throne in Jerusalem that is rightfully his. That day is coming. Jesus is coming; therefore, we are to be about his business. The response, the expectations of grace… That's our hope, church.
The band is going to come back up, and they're going to sing a song over you. This song has so much to do with what we have talked about today. We have sinned, but Christ has washed all of it. Because of that, we now run after him. There's a Christian phrase that's often said. People say, "I want to be a man after God's own heart." Have you ever heard somebody say that?
Acts 13 says, "I have found David, a man after my heart…" but we leave off the last part of that verse. The last part of that verse says, "…for he will do all of my will. He will do everything I have commanded." That's how we know David was a man after his own heart. He was running after the Lord, to follow in obedience and holiness, longing for the coming of Christ. That is our hope, church. Let these words wash over you, minister to you, and inspire you to love your Lord more. We're going to sing a song in corporate worship after that. Amen.
About a month ago, I was in the backyard with my little boy, Hill. I had the water hose out, and I was making a big mud puddle for him to play in. He was loving it. He had it all over him. He was covered head to toe in mud. For whatever reason, he decided he wanted to go inside and see his mom. He turns and starts to go for the back door, and as he steps onto the pavement, his feet go out from under him. He lands on his bottom, falls back, and hits his head. When he does, he starts crying and howling. He was so hurt.
I don't know what I was doing that day, but I remember I was dressed nicely, so I picked up his hands, led him to the back door, and swung it open, and there's Laura. She's in this new, nice, yellow shirt. Hill is crying, and she drops to her knees and wraps him up. As she does, I said, "No, Laura! Your shirt!"
She doesn't even acknowledge me. She just takes his head into her shoulder and comforts him, taking all that mud onto her shirt. She couldn't have cared less about wearing that mud. She just wanted her boy. She wanted to comfort him, get him clean, minister to him, and help him in his tears. That is your God. That is Jesus Christ, your Lord.
Every single time, he drops to his knees and wraps you up in love and grace. There's no condemnation, shame, or guilt. He says, "I died for that sin. Come here with that sin and lay it upon me." The iniquity of us all is laid upon our Savior, Jesus Christ. He cleans us to send us.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you have never trusted Christ, if you have never come forward to him to receive that cleansing and be forgiven of your sins, I implore you, please come talk to me after this service, so as you walk out these doors, you would know, "I have received salvation, eternal life in Christ." I believe you may be feeling and sensing a need to walk forward. Please do talk to me, so you could know Jesus.
If you do know Christ, church, go fulfill your priestly role. Go do what you were saved to do. Tell others about Christ. Share your faith. Pray others to salvation. Give, that we might come back here next week to hear a message about rewards because of faithfulness and that you would have shared your faith with someone else.
Have a fruitful week of worship. God bless you. We love you. Amen.