Sermon #10 Zechariah Series
Title: Iniquity Removed
Text: Zechariah 3:1-10
Subject: The Removal of Iniquity by Christ
Date: Sunday Morning — August 7, 2005
Tape # Zechariah #10
Reading: — 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.
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?
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
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.
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.
6 And the angel of the LORD protested unto Joshua, saying,
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.
10 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.
This third chapter of Zechariah is a field of diamonds. These ten verses are full of sparkling gems of grace. Joshua, the high priest, stood before the Lord, with Satan standing at his right hand to accuse and resist him. His garments were filthy. But he was chosen of God. The Lord plucked him as a brand from the burning. And the Lord God himself took up his cause. Blessed is that man whose cause God undertakes!
Joshua stands before us in this chapter as a representative of God’s elect. His experience here is a picture of the conversion of chosen sinners, the restoration of fallen believers, and the revival of God’s church.
The entire work of God’s grace is based upon and arises from the redemptive work of Christ spoken of in verses eight and nine.
(Zechariah 3:8-9) "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. (9) 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."
God’s church is a great host of men and women who shall be “wondered at” forever, because of what the Lord’s grace has done and shall yet do for us through Christ, “the Branch.” Our God shall, in the last day, display to wondering worlds the riches of his grace to us through Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7).
(Ephesians 2:7) That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
The Lord Jesus Christ is “the Stone” of Israel, the Rock of our salvation, the Headstone of the corner, the chief Cornerstone, the Foundation Stone that has been laid by God. He is laid before God’s Joshuas in the day of grace; and we are built upon him. To the unbelieving he is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. But, to you who believe, he is precious! (See 1 Pet. 2:1-10)
(1 Peter 2:1-10) "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, (2) As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (3) If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (4) To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, (5) Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (6) Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. (7) Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, (8) And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. (9) But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (10) Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy."
“Upon (that) one Stone shall be seven eyes.” — Perhaps these seven eyes upon the Foundation Stone speak of our Savior’s omniscience. He who is our Savior is himself the all-seeing, all-knowing God. But these seven eyes may represent something else. They may speak of the faith of God’s elect. Perhaps they speak of the eyes of all God’s elect. (Seven is the number of grace, the number of perfection, the number of completion, the number of fulness.) All who were chosen by the Father in eternity and redeemed by the Son at Calvary shall be given eyes to look upon and see Christ at the appointed time of love. Looking on him, we live (Isa. 45:22).
(Isaiah 45:22) "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else."
“Behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the Lord of hosts.” — The Lord God himself has engraved the names of his elect upon Christ, the Stone, the Rock o Israel, the Rock of our Salvation!
· Upon His Hands as Our Surety.
· Upon His Breastplate as Our High Priest.
· Upon His Heart as Our Representative.
Now, look at the last sentence of verse nine. “I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.” That is what I want to talk about today ― INIQUITY REMOVED. What a subject!
Proposition: Our text speaks of the blessed removal of sin by the Lord our God.
Keep your Bibles open on your laps. I want us to look at this sentence word by word. May God the Holy Spirit graciously grant that some here today may experience INIQUITY REMOVED for Christ’s sake!
The Lord God says, “I will remove the iniquity of that land.” Let’s meditate for a minute or two on those first two words — “I will.”
How I love to hear God almighty say, “I will.” Whenever God says, “I will,” the work is as good as done. What can God not do? He can make the sun stand still, or snuff it out altogether. He can cover the stars and the moon, or remove them as he sees fit. He can shake the heavens and the earth. He can dry up the sea. And he can flood the desert. Nothing is too hard for God. — “With God, all things are possible!.”
When almighty God puts his hand to something, the work is done. God says, “I will remove the iniquity of that land.” When we speak of the removal of sin, the work is God’s work alone. None but God can remove, forgive and pardon iniquity. He says, “I will remove the iniquity!”
The pardon of sin is God’s work, only God’s work, and all God’s work (Psa. 103:1-3; Isa. 43:25; 44:21-22; 55:6-7). Absolution must come from God alone. He alone has the right to forgive. He alone has the ability to forgive. And he here declares that he will forgive!
(Psalms 103:1-3) "A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. (2) Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: (3) Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;"
(Isaiah 43:25) "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."
(Isaiah 44:21-22) "Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. (22) I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee."
(Isaiah 55:6-7) "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (7) Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
Now, pause for a moment to consider this word “I”. Let me translate it for you. The “I” here is one God, but three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 5:7).
(2 Cor 13:14) "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."
(1 John 5:7) "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has removed the sins of his people by the sacrifice of himself (Heb. 1:1-3; 9:26).
(Hebrews 1:1-3) "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (2) Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."
(Hebrews 9:26) "For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself."
God the Father, having received the sacrifice of Christ, his justice being satisfied by the blood of his own dear Son, has removed our sins from us (Psa. 103:8-14; 130:4; Lk. 15:2-24).
· The Lost Coin Found!
· The Lost Sheep Brought Into The Fold!
· The Lost Son Coming Home!
(Psalms 103:8-14) "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. (9) He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. (10) He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. (11) For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. (12) As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (13) Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. (14) For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust."
(Psalms 130:4) "But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared."
God the Holy Spirit removes the guilt of sin from us by sprinkling our hearts with the blood of Christ, effectually applying the merits of Christ’s blood atonement to our hearts and giving us faith in him (v. 4; Heb. 9:14).
(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."
(Hebrews 9:14) "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
Forgiveness is the work of the triune God! Forgiveness spells, “Release! Signed in tears, written on heavenly parchment, recorded in eternal archives. The black ink of the indictment is written all over with the red ink of the cross: —‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.’” (DeWitt Talmage).
“I will remove”
Look at the next part of the text — “I will remove the iniquity of that land.”
“That land,” is not the land of Judaea, or Chaldea, or the city of Jerusalem, but Immanuel’s land, the church and people of God (Isa. 8:8).
(Isaiah 8:8) "And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel."
God’s concern is not for all lands, or for any geographical land. God’s concern is for Immanuel’s land, “that land,” the church of his elect, his covenant people, those for whom Christ suffered and died. God’s grace is sovereign, distinguishing grace. And his forgiveness is sovereign, distinguishing forgiveness. It is for “that land.”
Our sins are described as “the iniquity of that land.” — I want so much for everyone here to see that the greatness of our sins is no barrier or hindrance to God’s grace and his forgiveness. It is written, “Where sin abounded grace did much more abound!”
The word “iniquity” is a very comprehensive term. — It means “in-equity.” It includes everything that is not equitable and right toward God and man. It encompasses the entire fulness and foulness of sin, both our transgressions and our omissions, both inward sins and outward sins. Iniquity means everything that is evil and everything that falls short of perfection.
In that land, among God’s elect, there is a great variety of sin, a great quantity of sin, and a great vastness of sin. There is no evil that can be named among men for which you cannot find an example, many examples of forgiveness among God’s elect.
Illustration: “Since God saved me, I have despaired of none.” (John Newton).
The sins which God here promises to remove are...
· Committed by Many.
· Often Repeated.
· Completely Removed.
The inference is clear. — God almighty can remove your sins too! David prayed for forgiveness and urged his plea by aggravating his guilt. He said, “Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great!” He will “abundantly pardon!” Your sin is no hindrance to God’s grace! In Jesus Christ there is great grace for great sinners, grace that is greater than all our sin.
Old John Newton said this, too, when he was an old, old man ― “I’m an old man now and can’t remember things like I used to; but I remember two great things. I remember that I am a great sinner; and I remember that Jesus Christ is a great Savior.”
God here promises to “remove the iniquity of that land!”
· Sometimes God promises to “cover” our sins ― “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered (Psa. 32:1). Truly, that man is blessed whose sin has been covered by God!
· Sometimes the Lord speaks of “blotting out,” or “erasing” our sins. “I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Isa. 43:25). The Lord God has blotted out our sins from the ledgers of justice.
· But I sure do like this word “remove.” Don’t you? Our sin, like a great, high mountain stood between us and God. We could not climb over it. And God would not cross it. So he says, “I will remove it!” Sin laid upon us like a heavy, heavy burden on a man’s shoulders. And God says, “I will remove the burden.”
And our God and Savior has kept his word. He took the burden off our shoulders, put it upon himself, carried it up to Calvary’s hill and threw it into his tomb, where he left the dead thing. Christ has finished the transgression, made an end of sin and brought in an everlasting righteousness for his people. The promise of our text is the removal of sin — “I will remove the iniquity of that land” (Psa. 103:12; Jer. 50:20; Num. 23:21).
(Psalms 103:12) "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
(Jeremiah 50:20) "In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve."
(Numbers 23:21) "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them."
Illustration: The Scapegoat
Now, listen carefully to the meaning of that word “remove”. What does it mean for God to “remove” the iniquity of his people? The removal of sin involves at least seven things.
1. The Removal Of Sin’s Punishment (Gal. 3:13).
That person whom God pardons cannot be punished for sin again. Christ was punished in our stead.
(Galatians 3:13) "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:"
“Payment God cannot twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
And then again at mine!”
2. The Removal Of Sin’s Guilt.
To be justified is to be declared, “Not guilty!” In the court of heaven, we were declared not guilty when Christ died (Rom. 4:25). And in the court of conscience, as soon as a sinner trusts Christ, he is declared, “Not guilty!” (Heb. 9:14; John 16:8-11). Miracle of miracles, Almighty God has removed from us the guilt of sin. He sees no sin in us, upon us, or about us! He says to every believing sinner, “Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee!”
(Heb 9:14) "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
(John 16:8-11) "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (9) Of sin, because they believe not on me; (10) Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; (11) Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged."
3. The Removal Of Sin’s Defilement.
Though in ourselves we are yet aware, increasingly aware of sin’s defilement, before God, through the blood of Christ, we are pure and holy. Our Savior says, “Ye are clean!” (John 13:10)
(John 13:10) "Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all."
4. The Removal Of Sin’s Dominion.
“The position of sin in a natural man is that of a king on his throne, the position of sin in a Christian is that of a bandit hiding in secret places trying to get back its old usurped dominion, but failing in the attempt, for ‘sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace’” (C. H. Spurgeon).
5. The Removal Of Sin’s Being.
Soon we shall be delivered from this body of sin (Rom. 7:25). When we have left this body of sin, we shall have left sin!
Illustration: The Robin’s Egg Shells
6. The Removal Of Sin’s Sorrow.
It is written, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” — In heaven’s glory there shall be “no more sorrow,” not even for sin!
7. The Removal Of Sin’s Consequences.
God has removed from his people all the consequences of sin. And soon, he shall remove the very slime of the serpent’s trail from his creation.
Sin is the attempt of men and devils to rob God of his glory. But he has foiled his enemies. He will get glory to himself even by the wrath of man (Psa. 76:10). “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” But the righteous God makes even the wrath of man to praise him.
(Psalms 76:10) "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain."
“in one day”
Now, read the last three words of our text — “I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day!”
This great work of grace, this work of removing sin, is the work of one day. Sin has been growing, multiplying and spreading for many years; but our text says that it shall be removed in one day.
It is not an easy thing to remove sin (Heb. 10:1-4).
(Hebrews 10:1-5) "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. (2) For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. (3) But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. (4) For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins."
· The legal sacrifices of the Mosaic economy could never remove a single sin.
· Repentance cannot remove any transgression.
· Providential chastisements can never remove corruption.
· Religious duties, services, and sacrifices cannot remove iniquity.
· Not even the sufferings of the damned in hell can remove iniquity, transgression and sin.
When sinners have God’s wrath endured
In hell for countless years,
They shall not from one sin be cured
By wrath, and fire, and tears.
But Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God,
For sinners sin was made!
Our sins He has removed by blood
And full atonement made!
The Lord God declares that the removal of our sin is his work, and that it is the work of “one day”.
· In a legal, judicial sense, all the sins of God’s elect were removed in one day when Christ died as our Substitute at Calvary (Col. 2:13-14).
(Colossians 2:13-14) "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross."
® “It is finished!” (John 19:30).
® “He hath made him sin for us!” (2 Cor. 5:21).
® “Christ, his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree (2 Pet. 2:24).
(Isaiah 40:1-2) "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. (2) Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins."
· Experimentally, our sins are removed, instantaneously, in that one day when we look to Christ in faith.
“The moment a sinner believes,
And trusts in his crucified God,
Free pardon at once he receives,
Salvation in full through Christ’s blood.”
· Ultimately, our great God will remove all the iniquities of his people on that day when he makes all things new (Isa. 65:17-19; 2 Pet. 3:13).
Our very bodies, souls, and spirits shall be purged of all sin. Our God shall soon purge the heavens and the earth of all sin. Christ shall redeem his entire creation from the bondage of corruption!
(Isaiah 65:17-19) "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. (18) But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. (19) And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying."
(2 Peter 3:13) "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
Now, I want us to look at verse ten for just a moment. ― This verse describes that blessed state which follows the removal of iniquity and the complete forgiveness of sin.
(Zechariah 3:10) "In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree."
In times of war fig trees are cut down and vines are destroyed. If they are not, the people are driven into hiding and overwhelmed with other concerns. But here we see every man sitting with his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree. What does that mean? — This is an emblem of peace, prosperity and security.
It is also a picture of happiness, fellowship and communion. — And this is a scene of contentment and satisfaction.
· Wine to Drink.
· Figs to Eat.
· Ease to Enjoy Them.
Those who know, indeed, that the Lord God has removed their iniquities, have reason to rejoice. In Christ we have all and abound. Indeed, the Lord God has made a covenant for us with the beast of the field and our very enemies (though they know it not) are in league with us!
Illustration: Bro. Burk’s Testimony
Application: Would you have our iniquities removed today?
(1 John 1:9) "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
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