In Zechariah’s next vision in the night, he was shown Joshua, the high priest of Judah, standing in a heavenly court with the accuser, Satan, and Joshua’s defender, the Lord.
Joshua’s appearance represented the spiritual condition of the people of Israel. Coming at the end of their seventy-year exile in Babylon which had been imposed on them to root out extreme idolatry and unfaithfulness, there was much for Satan to point to when accusing them before the Lord. But Joshua and his people were the apple of God’s eye, and the Lord was simply not going to allow Satan’s accusations to prevail against them.
Zechariah describes his vision:
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan: “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! May the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Isn’t this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”
3 Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the Angel. 4 So the Angel of the Lord spoke to those standing before Him, “Take off his filthy clothes!” Then He said to him, “See, I have removed your guilt from you, and I will clothe you with splendid robes.” Zechariah 3:1-3 (HCSB)
Before we criticize Joshua, let us remember that this is actually what we look like when we initially approach the Lord. Many believe that when we encounter God, He will look admirably upon our good deeds, and at some point, He will. But first, He must remove the filthy garments of sin that cover each one of us. He is able to do this for believers because Jesus Christ bore all of the selfishness, hurtfulness, and filthiness we committed in our life when He voluntarily hung on a cross to pay our penalty. We deserve to suffer the death that Christ suffered for us. Jesus, the precious and pure Lamb of God, surrendered Himself to be an all-encompassing sacrifice. God’s grace and mercy is offered today to all who would partake of it by humbly reaching out in faith to Christ.
As the apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament book of Romans:
1 Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, 2 because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, 4 in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 (HCSB)
Just as we have a Savior in the Lord Jesus Christ, scripture tells us that we also have an accuser who is trying to work against us to trip us up. This is also seen in the book of Job, where Satan accused one of God’s favorite followers of being faithful only because he was so blessed and favored. (In what follows, the word “fear” means faithful respect and obedience).
8 Adonai said to the satan, “Did you notice my servant Job? There is no one like him on the earth—a blameless and upright man, who fears God and spurns evil.”
9 Then the satan responded to Adonai, saying, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have you not made a hedge around him, his household, and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and strike everything he has, and he will certainly curse You to Your face!” Job 1:8-11 (TLV)
With God’s permission, Job ended up going through some incredibly difficult testing and trial at the hand of Satan, yet the Lord would later heal him and restore him.
10 So Adonai restored what Job had lost, after he prayed for his friends and Adonai doubled everything that Job had before. 11 Then all his brothers, all his sisters and everyone who had known him before, came to him and ate bread with him in his house. They consoled him and comforted him for all the calamity that Adonai had brought upon him. Each of them gave him a piece of money and a gold ring.
12 So Adonai blessed Job’s latter days more than at his beginning. He had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen and 1,000 female donkeys. 13 He also had seven sons and three daughters. Job 42:10-12 (TLV)
We all face times of accusation and suffering. Some bad times may come at the hand of dark beings from Satan’s realm, more we likely bring on ourselves due to our own sin and shortcomings, but probably the majority of the bad things which happen in our lives occur just because we live in a fallen world. It is God’s plan to bring us into His future kingdom without any more accusers, tears, sickness, or death. Because of Jesus Christ, we believers will indeed stand in that world one day. As a former jail chaplain used to tell his inmate church goers, “Be there!”
Lord, thank You that we do not face accusation from You, rather, redemption through the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary. We acknowledge our sins and shortcomings to You and live in eternal gratitude that You took the punishment for all of them in our place. Your goodness and love are without limit. Please place a hedge of protection around us and our loved ones and bless the work of our hands for You, blessing us to be a blessing for others. We ask this with thanksgiving, praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.