I Have Taken Your Iniquity

Zechariah 3:1-10
1Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by. 6 And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua, 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: 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. 8 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. 9 For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

The word for the week is justice and its derivations: just, judge, judgments, justification. It is a cultural buzz word right now as our society examines who receives justice and who doesn’t. The list of those claiming they have been unjustly treated seems to be particularly long. But we are certainly not here to determine the relative merits of any of those conversations. No, instead we will look at the true Author of all justice and the fact that He is the only One who has the right to make any judgments whatsoever.

Admittedly, this Old Testament reading could be classified in the “odd” category as can many of the prophetic writings of the Bible. Using your sanctified imagination, visualize this scene: Joshua, (not the same Joshua whose story is told in the Book of Joshua) serving as the high priest in the temple, stands before Almighty God. Also in the throne room at that moment is Satan and he stands there to accuse Joshua of being a sinner. Joshua is wearing filthy garments, indicative of the fact that Satan is not wrong – Joshua is guilty of all kinds of sin. All the action takes place between God and Satan. The Evil One makes his claims that Joshua is not worthy to stand before God because of His sin and instead of agreeing with Satan, God instead turns on him and rebukes him. What does Joshua do or say in his own defense? Absolutely nothing. God has his filthy garments removed and replaced with pure vestments. “Behold, I take away your iniquity . . .” God has the power and the authority to declare this priest as clean. Joshua stands justified before a Holy God because God said so. Satan now stands speechless.

This is an important passage for us today. We too stand before a Holy God and His judgment of our condition is the only opinion that matters. We, like the High Priest in this reading from Zechariah can do absolutely nothing to move God in one direction or another when it comes to our status before Him. But all is well for Jesus Christ also stands in that courtroom and His blood is all that the Father sees. The pure vestments of Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness have replaced our filthy garments. And because we stand on this side of the Jesus’ Death, Resurrection and Ascension, Satan doesn’t even get to come into the throne room and make accusations. This scene takes on all new meaning and importance in our own lives.

So, how do you see yourself today? Are you standing there in your filthy garment or are you washed in the Blood of Jesus?