Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 21 2019 - Zechariah 3 – Clean garments for the high priest

In a prophetic vision, Zechariah saw Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord in what appears to be a scene from a court-room drama. Satan was standing at the right hand side of Joshua ready to accuse him before the Lord and before the angel of the Lord. But the Lord sent Satan packing with the words, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?" (v. 2).

The phrase in the old Authorised or King James version was, "is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" John Wesley referred to himself as "a brand plucked from the burning", referring to his experience as a five-year-old child when he was trapped in his burning home and only saved by neighbours climbing on each other's shoulders to snatch him from a window. Wesley used this phrase as a description also of the way in which the Lord had rescued him from judgment and brought him to faith in Christ. He saw his childhood experience as a picture of a far more serious and lasting salvation.

Back to Joshua the high priest who is dressed in filthy rags, perhaps as a result of being snatched from the fire. The Lord then tells him, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you" (v. 4). Joshua, now freshly clothed is told, "If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here" (v.7): i.e. in the court of heaven. However, Joshua is then told that he is a symbol of one who is to come, the Lord's servant "the Branch".

This vision points us forwards to the Lord Jesus, our great High Priest. Remember that "Jesus" is the Greek form of the name "Joshua". The high priest of Zechariah's day would have failed to be perfectly obedient to all God required of him. But where we and the Old Testament priests failed, our Lord Jesus has triumphed. He has proved perfectly obedient to the will of the Father. When tempted and accused by Satan, he again succeeded where we have failed. He took upon himself the burden of our own sin and guilt and clothed himself in the filthy rags of our own "righteousness" as he hung there on the cross. But all the accusations of Satan failed. God raised our Lord Jesus from the dead, clothed him in glory, set him in the place of highest authority in the courts of heaven and appointed him as our Saviour and Great High Priest.

And through him, we also have been snatched from the fire of God's judgment. Our sins have been forgiven and we have been clothed in the glorious robes of Christ's perfect righteousness. The sins of all God's people were removed in that single day when Jesus died for us. And when Satan whispers his accusations in our ear…

When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

Father God, we thank and praise you for our Lord Jesus, your Suffering Servant, the Branch you raised up from the line of David, Joshua our great High Priest who died for our sin and was raised for our justification and who ever lives in the courts of heaven to plead for us. Give us a clearer view of all that he has done for us that we might be filled with joy and peace in believing. And help us by your Spirit to tell the world of the one who can snatch them from the fire of your holy judgment and present us before your glorious presence without fault and with great joy.

Peter Misselbrook