Sabbath, October 17, 2009
“… A few names … have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4.
The human condition shown in vision
1. In what difficult position was the high priest Joshua, who was portrayed as the representative of God’s people in Zechariah 3:1? How does that relate to us?
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.
“The fact that the acknowledged people of God are represented as standing before the Lord in filthy garments should lead to humility and deep searching of heart on the part of all who profess His name. Those who are indeed purifying their souls by obeying the truth will have a most humble opinion of themselves. The more closely they view the spotless character of Christ, the stronger will be their desire to be conformed to His image, and the less will they see of purity or holiness in themselves. But while we should realize our sinful condition, we are to rely upon Christ as our righteousness, our sanctification, and our redemption. We cannot answer the charges of Satan against us. Christ alone can make an effectual plea in our behalf.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 471, 472.
2. What was his condition? What are the possibilities for anyone in that condition?
Zechariah 3:3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
(See Matthew 22:11-13.)
“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, p. 583.
The enemy’s accusations and the Lord’s defense
3. Describe the accuser. What are his motives and methods? Who is represented by the advocate who defends the accused?
Zechariah 3:1, 2 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. 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?
1 John 2:1, 2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
“This represents the attitude of Satan toward every soul whom Christ is seeking to draw unto Himself. The enemy leads us into sin, and then he accuses us before the heavenly universe as unworthy of the love of God.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 116, 117.
“How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How He fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, He does not turn from us and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not our Saviour. Christ prayed for us. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, He knows how to succor those who are tempted.
“Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of the Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification.” –(Letter 33, 1895) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 948.
4. When we do not try to justify, excuse, or cover up our transgressions, but confess them willingly to the Lord, what will happen to us? What is the meaning of this change of garments?
Zechariah 3:4, first part And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him…..
Revelation 7:13, 14 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
(See Revelation 19:8.)
“But Jesus our Advocate presents an effectual plea in behalf of all who by repentance and faith have committed the keeping of their souls to Him. He pleads their cause and vanquishes their accuser by the mighty arguments of Calvary. His perfect obedience to God’s law, even unto the death of the cross, has given Him all power in heaven and in earth, and He claims of His Father mercy and reconciliation for guilty man…. Those who rely upon Him in faith receive the comforting assurance: ‘Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.’ All that have put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness will stand before Him as chosen and faithful and true. Satan has no power to pluck them out of the hand of Christ. Not one soul that in penitence and faith has claimed His protection will Christ permit to pass under the enemy’s power.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 470.
5. How long does it take for the Lord to remove the filthy clothes and do the amazing exchange? Did the high priest pay something for this?
Zechariah 3:4, 9 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…. For 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.
“As the intercession of Joshua is accepted, the command is given, ‘Take away the filthy garments from him,’ and to Joshua the Angel declares, ‘Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.’” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 469.
“Without the grace of Christ, the sinner is in a hopeless condition; nothing can be done for him; but through divine grace, supernatural power is imparted to the man and works in mind and heart and character…. When the sinner believes that Christ is his personal Saviour, then according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin and justifies him freely.” –Faith and Works, p. 100.
The fine white clothing
6. What is symbolized by the “fine clothing” that the high priest received? What does the change of garments make possible?
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.
“No sin can be tolerated in those who shall walk with Christ in white. The filthy garments are to be removed, and Christ’s robe of righteousness is to be placed upon us. By repentance and faith we are enabled to render obedience to all the commandments of God, and are found without blame before Him. Those who shall meet the approval of God are now afflicting their souls, confessing their sins, and earnestly pleading for pardon through Jesus their Advocate.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 472.
“Through His sacrifice, human beings may reach the high ideal set before them, and hear at last the words, ‘Ye are complete in Him,’ not having your own righteousness, but the righteousness that He wrought out for you. Your imperfection is no longer seen; for you are clothed with the robe of Christ’s perfection.” –(Manuscript 125, 1902) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 907.
7. What other great privileges are promised in this prophecy? What will be the final condition of those who now receive clean garments?
Zechariah 3:6, 7, 10 And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus 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…. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.
“Here is revealed the hope of Israel. It was by faith in the coming Saviour that Joshua and his people received pardon. Through faith in Christ they were 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. Christ was their hope, their defense, their justification and redemption, as He is the hope of His church today.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 469, 470.
8. To what time and experience does the vision of Zechariah especially apply?
Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
“Zechariah’s vision of Joshua and the Angel applies with peculiar force to the experience of God’s people in the closing up of the great day of atonement. The remnant church will be brought into great trial and distress. Those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus will feel the ire of the dragon and his hosts. Satan numbers the world as his subjects, he has gained control of the apostate churches; but here is a little company that are resisting his supremacy. If he could blot them from the earth, his triumph would be complete.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pp. 472, 473.