“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. 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?’ Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 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.’ 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.” – Zechariah 3:1-5
I came across this passage recently in my reading plan. This is such a wonderful illustration and picture of what being justified in God’s presence looks like. Notice Satan is there to accuse Joshua. By all means, Joshua was guilty of his own sins, being displayed in this passage by the filthy garments he was wearing. And then the angel of the Lord removes his dirty garments and puts clean garments on him instead, garments that he himself had not made clean by any effort of his own. It was all an external work on his behalf, given to him as a gracious gift.
The ultimate fulfillment of this passage is when Christ comes into this world, God Himself, puts on our filthy garments on the cross (though He Himself had pure, white garments), takes the punishment we deserved on the cross for those iniquities and sins that our clothes are stained with, and then gives us His pure and white garments instead. It’s called the Great Exchange, for certainly it is exactly that. What a wonderful Gospel portrait in the Old Testament!
Satan is standing there before God, ready to accuse His people, day and night. And yet, God justifies us, makes us clean, taking our filthiness and its punishment on Himself, and then declares us to be righteous by clothing us, covering us in His perfect work. Wow, what a weight that is lifted off for our wickedness. I pray this picture of God causes you to rest in Him and His Gospel of Jesus’ work to save us from our deserved condemnation.
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