Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 175 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Zechariah 3 today and our focus is on How God Cleans the Excrement Off of His People and Solves Their Sin Problem in ONE Day. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Zechariah is the penultimate book of the Old Testament. I learned the word ‘penultimate’ from a Monty Python sketch – it means next to the last.
Zechariah is an interesting book and terribly underrated – lots of fascinating prophecies and tons of angels and heavenly beings in this book – and it is written around the same time as yesterday’s minor prophet book, Haggai. Here’s the setting of Zechariah. The people of God, had been taken into captivity by the Babylonians. God had sent prophet after prophet to them – had called them to repentance again and again and again and again and again….and even though sometimes they relented and followed Him for a time, for the most part, they went their own way. Judges 21:25 – “25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” What about after they got kings? THE SAME THING. So God warned them and warned them.
In Jeremiah 3, we see God calling Israel to return:
12-14 Return, unfaithful Israel.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
I will not look on you with anger,
for I am unfailing in My love.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
I will not be angry forever.
13 Only acknowledge your guilt—
you have rebelled against the Lord your God.
You have scattered your favors to strangers
under every green tree
and have not obeyed My voice.
This is the Lord’s declaration.
14 “Return, you faithless children”
But God’s people WOULD NOT RETURN – No matter how loudly He called them, they kept playing the harlot – turning away from Him to worthless idols and the pursuit of sinful things.
And so, God allowed punishment to come on them. The Babylonians had come into Judah and Benjamin and had totally desolated it – destroying the temple and taking people away. During the time of Zechariah, there was a glimmer of hope, however. God was on the move.
Zechariah 1:3 This is what the Lord of Hosts says: Return to Me”—this is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts—“and I will return to you, says the Lord of Hosts.
And that gets us to today’s chapter – let’s read it!
Zechariah 3:3 Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the Angel.
The word there doesn’t really mean filthy, it is the Hebrew word צוֹא tsôwʼ, tso; or צֹא tsôʼ; from an unused root meaning to issue; soiled (as if excrementitious):—filthy. Pooped on.
Why was Joshua the high priest covered in poop? Pastor Tim Keller here gives us the answer and also explains how God would clean His people in a single day:
In Zechariah 3, he has a vision, and it’s the vision of his high priest at the time, Joshua.
Zechariah 3:1 says, “He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Lord.” That’s the high priest on the day of Yom Kippur, because he’s standing before the Lord. Then Zechariah was thunderstruck to see this. He says, “But Joshua was dressed in garments covered in excrement.” Zechariah is appalled.
How could any high priest get, on the day of Yom Kippur, into the presence of God with any dirt on him, even lint, for crying out loud? How in the world was it possible that he would get back in there with excrement? How could he have gone through all of that, all the washings, all the ablutions, all the praying, all the dressing and redressing? How could that have happened?
The only possible answer is that God is giving Zechariah a vision of what you and I look like in his eyes. No matter how hard we wash, no matter how hard we try to atone for our past, no matter how hard we try to get the damned spot out, we still look like that. Our egocentrism, our self-centeredness, our sinfulness.
So Zechariah was sure that, of course, fire would come out from the Lord and Joshua would be completely demolished and consumed (which, by the way, happened at other points in history), but that’s not what happens in the vision. He’s just as shocked to hear the Lord say, “Take off his filthy clothes. See, I will take your sin off you so I can clothe you in costly garments.” Then God went on and said, “I am going to bring my servant, the Branch, and he will remove the sin of this land in a single day.”
What? Well, of course, it’s a prophecy. Zechariah is a prophet. It was a prophecy. What kind of prophecy? It’s very crazy. It’s God saying, “You know how every year you have to go back over and over again, and you have to keep on doing these sacrifices over and over again? In the future, I will bring my servant, the Branch …” Whoever that is. “… and he is going to clothe you. He is going to make you clean, and he’s going to take away your sin in a single day, in a stroke.” When did that happen?
Centuries after Zechariah’s vision there was another Jeshua who came. Joshua, Jeshua, Jesus. It’s the same word. Jesus came, and he was standing as our High Priest on the night before he died, but nobody knew it. He prayed the night before he went, and God turned his back on him. Remember? We talked about this last week. Jesus sanctified himself for our sakes. He set himself apart to die for us, and everybody betrayed him. Everybody abandoned him. Nobody prayed for him. Nobody supported him.
He wasn’t clothed in beautiful garments and linen; he was stripped naked. He wasn’t bathed, except in human spit. What was he doing on the cross? He was getting our filth so that we could get his righteousness. He was securing for us an eternal redemption. How? He didn’t bring in the blood of calves and goats, but rather, “… how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).
That is the gospel – the blood of innocent and spotless Jesus, sacrificed for us, cleanses us from our excrementitious sins. Praise be His Name!
Bible Memory verses for the month of June: Daniel 6:23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to take Daniel out of the den. When Daniel was brought up from the den, he was found to be unharmed, for he trusted in his God.
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