Lesson 14 | Sabbath, 5 October 2019
“In the beautiful parabolic prophecy of Zechariah, the high priest Joshua, standing clothed in filthy garments before the angel of the Lord, represents the sinner. And the word is spoken by the Lord, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him He said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.… So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments.’ Zechariah 3:4, 5. Even so God will clothe you with ‘the garments of salvation,’ and cover you with ‘the robe of righteousness.’ Isaiah 61:10.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 206.
1. What vision did the prophet Zechariah record? Who was standing nearby to condemn the high priest? Could he defend himself or his people?
Zechariah 3:1 And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
“In vision the prophet beholds ‘Joshua the high priest,’ ‘clothed with filthy garments’ (Zechariah 3:1, 3), standing before the Angel of the Lord, entreating God’s mercy in behalf of his afflicted people. As he pleads for the fulfillment of God’s promises, Satan stands up boldly to resist him. He points to the transgressions of Israel as a reason why they should not be restored to the favor of God. He claims them as his prey, and demands that they be given into his hands.
“The high priest cannot defend himself or his people from Satan’s accusations. He does not claim that Israel is free from fault. In filthy garments, symbolizing the sins of the people, which he bears as their representative, he stands before the Angel, confessing their guilt, yet pointing to their repentance and humiliation, and relying upon the mercy of a sin-pardoning Redeemer. In faith he claims the promises of God.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 583, 584.
The accuser and the defender
2. Who was the true defender of Joshua the high priest? How did the Lord rebuke the accuser?
Zechariah 3:2 And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?
Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
“Then the Angel, who is Christ Himself, the Saviour of sinners, puts to silence the accuser of His people, declaring, ‘The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’ Verse 2. Long had Israel remained in the furnace of affliction. Because of their sins they had been well-nigh consumed in the flame kindled by Satan and his agents for their destruction, but God had now set His hand to bring them forth.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 584.
“The course of Christ in dealing even with the adversary of souls should be an example to us in all our intercourse with others never to bring a railing accusation against any; much less should we employ harshness or severity toward those who may be as anxious to know the right way as we are ourselves.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 240.
3. What was the condition of the high priest’s garments when he stood before the Son of God?
Zechariah 3:3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
Matthew 22:11, 12 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
“The people of God are here represented as a criminal on trial. Joshua, as high priest, is seeking for a blessing for his people, who are in great affliction. While he is pleading before God, Satan is standing at his right hand as his adversary. He is accusing the children of God, and making their case appear as desperate as possible. He presents before the Lord their evil doings and their defects. He shows their faults and failures, hoping they will appear of such a character in the eyes of Christ that He will render them no help in their great need. Joshua, as the representative of God’s people, stands under condemnation, clothed with filthy garments. Aware of the sins of his people, he is weighed down with discouragement. Satan is pressing upon his soul a sense of guiltiness that makes him feel almost hopeless. Yet there he stands as a suppliant, with Satan arrayed against him.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 166, 167.
The iniquity removed
4. What command did the Lord give to those who stood before Him? What did this mean?
Zechariah 3:4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
Luke 15:22, first part But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him;…
“Notwithstanding the defects of the people of God, Christ does not turn away from the objects of His care. He has the power to change their raiment. He removes the filthy garments, He places upon the repenting, believing ones His own robe of righteousness, and writes pardon against their names on the records of heaven. He confesses them as His before the heavenly universe. Satan their adversary is shown to be an accuser and deceiver. God will do justice for His own elect.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 169, 170.
“Who can comprehend the nature of that righteousness which makes the believing sinner whole, presenting him to God without spot or wrinkle or any such thing? We have the pledged word of God that Christ is made unto us righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. God grant that we may rely upon His word with implicit trust, and enjoy His richest blessing. ‘For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came out from God.’ John 16:27.” –Faith and Works, pp. 108, 109.
5. What other part of the high priestly garments did Joshua receive? What did this part of his clothing signify?
Zechariah 3:5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by.
Exodus 28:36 And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.
Leviticus 8:9 And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the Lord commanded Moses.
“As the intercession of Joshua is accepted, the command is given, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him;’ and to Joshua the Angel says, ‘Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.’ ‘So they set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments.’ Verses 4, 5. His own sins and those of his people were pardoned. Israel was clothed with ‘change of raiment’–the righteousness of Christ imputed to them. The miter placed upon Joshua’s head was such as was worn by the priests, and bore the inscription, ‘Holiness to the Lord’ (Exodus 28:36), signifying that notwithstanding his former transgressions, he was now qualified to minister before God in His sanctuary.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 584.
Obedience and honor
6. What promise did the Angel of the Lord make to the high priest, who was now dressed in spotless garments? What conditions were attached to the promise?
Zechariah 3:6, 7 And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, 7Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.
“If obedient, he should be honored as the judge, or ruler, over the temple and all its services; he should walk among attending angels, even in this life; and at last he should join the glorified throng around the throne of God.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 584, 585.
“God waits to bestow the blessing of forgiveness of sins, of pardon for iniquity, of the gift of righteousness upon all who will believe in His love, and accept of His salvation. Christ is ready to say to the repenting sinner, ‘… Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee….’ Zechariah 3:4-7. Christ is the connecting link between God and man. The blood of Jesus Christ is the eloquent plea that speaks in behalf of sinners.” –Our High Calling, p. 38.
7. What other promise did the Angel of the Lord give? How long does it take for the Lord to remove His people’s iniquity?
Zechariah 3:8-10 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. 9For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. 10In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.
Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
“In the Branch, the Deliverer to come, lay the hope of Israel. It was by faith in the coming Saviour that Joshua and his people had received pardon. Through faith in Christ they had been restored to God’s favor. By virtue of His merits, if they walked in His ways and kept His statutes, they would be ‘men wondered at,’ honored as the chosen of Heaven among the nations of the earth.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 585.
“Now is reached the complete fulfillment of those words of the Angel…. Christ is revealed as the Redeemer and Deliverer of His people. Now indeed are the remnant ‘men wondered at,’ as the tears and humiliation of their pilgrimage give place to joy and honor in the presence of God and the Lamb. ‘In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely…. And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy.’ Isaiah 4:2, 3.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 476; Lift Him up, p. 377.
For additional study
“The scene of Satan’s accusation was presented before the prophet. He says, ‘He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.’ Jesus is our great High Priest in heaven. And what is He doing? He is making intercession and atonement for His people who believe in Him. Through His imputed righteousness, they are accepted of God as those who are manifesting to the world that they acknowledge allegiance to God, keeping all His commandments.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 37.
“Standing before the broken law of God, the sinner cannot cleanse himself; but, believing in Christ, he is the object of His infinite love and clothed in His spotless righteousness. For those who believe in Christ, Jesus prayed: ‘Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth:… that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one.’ John 17:17-22.” –Faith and Works, p. 108.