Bible Order: 2 John, 3 John, Jude
Chronological Order: 2 John, 3 John
New Testament Only: Revelation 18
You Are A High Priest Before God
All of the Old Testament points us toward the New. The word “Testament” is another word for “Covenant”. The point of the Old Covenant, or the “Law” as some might call it, is to show us our need for a Savior. For thousands of years the children of Israel had the “Law”. Could they obey the Law? No, they could not. They could not overcome their sinful ways and remain true to their Creator. That is the point of the Old Testament – the Old Covenant – we can’t, by our own effort, make ourselves right with God; we need a Savior. The New Testament – the New Covenant – does not abolish the Law, but actually makes it possible for us to be made right with God through His effort; His sacrifice on a bloody cross.
The prophets we have been reading have been telling us of the impending doom of Israel, of their return to Jerusalem, and their eventual complete return to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. These prophecies of Salvation make it clear that this promise is not simply for the Jewish people who are in right relationship with God, but for people of all nations who are right with God. The one unifying aspect of the saved is that they all are in right relationship with God; they have saving faith in Jesus Christ. Look at the following prophecy from today’s reading:
Zechariah 3:1-5 ESV
“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. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.”
The Joshua referred to here is not the Joshua who was Moses’ second in command and led the Israelites into the Promised Land. This Joshua was the High Priest among the remnant of Israel who returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian exile. The Hebrew name “Joshua” means “Jehovah saves”. That Hebrew name is translated in the Greek New Testament as “Jesus”. Jesus means God saves; and indeed He does. You’ll notice in the passage above that Satan stands to the right of Joshua the High Priest who is clothed with filthy garments. You’ve hear the saying “He’s my right hand man” haven’t you? When the Bible presents someone on the right hand of another, that person on the right is supposed to be of great help and support. Jesus is said to be on the right hand of the Father. The disciples fought amongst themselves for the honored places on the left and right of Jesus in heaven; the right hand being the most coveted.
Satan, however, was standing to the right of Joshua, who was figuratively representing the people of Israel, to accuse him. Isn’t that just like Satan, he tries to make you think he is your friend but what he wants to do is make you filthy before a Holy God and then accuse you before God so you will be forever separated from Him. He tells you to get down and roll in that mud puddle. He tells you to wander in the filth and mire. He whispers excuses and justifications for you to act contrary to the will of God and then, when you stand before God, this so called friend, acts as the prosecuting attorney before God’s Holy throne.
Satan is an anti-Semite. He is, in fact, the leader of all anti-Semitism in the world. He accuses Israel before the Father of their great sin, and he is, of course, correct. Israel is full of sin. Before you start nodding your head too strongly know this; you are equally full of sin and Satan accuses you before the father as well. He is not your friend and you should take no joy in his accusing others. Israel, like you and me is clothed with filthy garments. Guilty! Case closed! “But God”; that may be my favorite two-word phrase in the entire Bible. The angel in our vision here is none other than the pre-incarnate Christ Himself. What does the angel say? He says “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you; I will clothe you with pure vestments”.
Many of my favorite Christian songs deal with this theme. A chorus from one of them springs immediately to mind. “Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.” This is exactly what Jesus Christ does for us. He pays our fine. He removes the filthy rags that are our sinful life and replaces them with snow white “vestments”. On the day that we stand before the throne of the one and only Holy God, with Satan present to accuse us of all the filthy things we have done in our life, Jesus will say, “Father, he is one of mine. I have taken away his iniquity. Heavenly host, remove his filthy rages and place on him the pure vestments I bought for him with my own blood.” Can you imagine that moment? Can you imagine the look on Satan’s face? I suspect I will not see that look upon his face for I will be lying prostrate upon my face in trembling, thankful worship of God, my Savior, Jesus Christ!
Here is another interesting thing about this prophecy. Joshua here is the High Priest of God. He is not only one of God’s chosen people; he is the chosen people’s High Priest. He was the one who once a year was ceremonially cleansed and dressed in holy garments and went behind the veil in the temple to make atonement for all the sins of the people. He personally was supposed to be exceptionally clean and the garments he wore never left the temple; they were to be spotless. You may wonder at the reference in the verses above to a turban. You see, part of the clothing the High Priest wore included a turban on which was written “Holiness Unto The Lord”.
My friend, even if you have accepted Christ, you are not completely clean. I shock you don’t I? Let me ask you; have you ever once sinned since the day you accepted Christ? I don’t know you, but I know you have. That doesn’t mean you aren’t saved. It means you are human. It means that you have failed to remain attached to the vine. As Jesus prepared his disciples for His departure, He washed each of their feet. Peter objected; he felt this action was beneath the dignity of the Son of God. Here is that story just to remind you:
John 13:5-11 ESV
“Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”
Notice the last verse “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.” You see, as we walk through this world we continue to pick up filth. We must continually come before God in humility, confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. Let me make this clear, all of us need to be washed by the blood of the Lamb. Even if we have already accepted Christ, we will at least need to have our feet washed. You are His High Priests. He intends you to minister to this lost and dying world. You must continually come before Him for cleansing but He is faithful and true to wash you and prepare you for your living sacrifice of obedience to Him.
Have a High Priest kind of day brothers!
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(Originally posted 9/27/10)