Read Zechariah 3:1-10
It’s a courtroom scene like none you will likely ever experience. Well, let me clarify. You won’t experience anything like it in our earthly judicial system. But I trust you have repeatedly and will continue to experience it with God.
Center stage is a defendant. His crimes and reputation are no secret. The entire trial seems to be a mere formality. The guilty verdict seems inevitable. Only the severity of the final sentence is uncertain.
The defendant here in Zechariah’s fifth vision is the high priest, Joshua. He stands for both the tainted priesthood and the sinful people of Israel. Of course, every person on earth can also identify with Joshua’s precarious position . . . every one of us deserves judgment.
Then there is the Judge. He is the highest judge in the land, known for His own character and purity. There are no appeals. His judgments are final. Here in Zechariah 3, the judge is Jesus, who is often referred to as “the angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament. He is perfectly holy and just.
Finally, there is Satan. He is the prosecutor, the “accuser of the saints” (Rev. 12:10). He’s quick to point out all of Joshua’s and of God’s people. But sometimes . . . and perhaps you have experienced it . . . he evokes a sense of guilt when no sin has been committed or even when forgiveness has been granted.
In our reading today, Joshua stands guilty. Satan is right. His accusations ring true. A rebuke and a sentence seem unavoidable. To our surprise, however, the rebuke is directed at Satan, not at Joshua. Instead of a sentence of justice, grace is given. Cleansing is granted. Forgiveness is extended. Clean clothes are offered. And, as a result, Satan has no business pointing a finger. “The Lord rebuke you, Satan” (v. 2)!
If you have come to trust Christ and His work on the cross, that same scenario has been played out in your life. He is your only hope for dealing with sin. Satan no longer has a voice when you and I receive God’s forgiveness. His accusations are no longer valid.
Perhaps you need to be reminded of God’s rebuke . . . not against you, but against your adversary the devil.
And one day, God’s people Israel, will also recognize Jesus as “servant” and “the Branch.” On that day, God “will remove the sin of this land.”