Sermon #11 Zechariah Series
Title: “Men Wondered At”
Text: Zechariah 3:1-10
Subject: Ten Descriptions of God’s People
Date: Sunday Morning — August 14, 2005
Tape # Zechariah #11
Reading: — Ezekiel 16:1-16, 35-39, 60-63
I want us to take one more look at Zechariah 3. I want to show you how God’s people are described in these ten verses of Holy Scripture. In this his fourth vision, Zechariah was made to see God’s people as they are in Christ in this world. Using Joshua as a type and representative of every sinner saved by God’s free grace, the Spirit of God here gives us ten descriptions of every believing sinner in this world. That which is recorded in this chapter describes you and me, if we have experienced the omnipotent, free, saving grace of God in Christ.
In His Presence
First, we see that every child of God is perpetually in his presence, in the immediate presence of Christ our Savior, our Advocate, and our Protector. The first thing Zechariah saw was Joshua standing in the presence of Christ, with Satan standing at his right hand to resist him (v. 1).
(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.”
Satan as a law advocate is always accusing us. And we give that cursed foe of our souls great occasion to bring his malicious charges against us. Considered in ourselves, we know that his charges are just. But, blessed be his name, our all-glorious Christ has cast him out (Rev. 12:10-11). Satan stands at our right hand, but not at God’s! He has no voice in heaven, because Christ is our righteousness, sanctification and redemption (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Cor. 1:30).
Chosen by Grace
Second, Zechariah saw that every child of God, every priest in his house, belongs to God as the object of his everlasting love, chosen by grace. The Lord Jesus says to Satan, “The LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee” (v. 2). Nothing is sweeter, more comforting, more assuring to our souls when trouble comes, whether it comes from within or without, than the assurance of God’s electing grace (2 Thess. 2:13-14).
· He loved us, chose us, and redeemed us, knowing full well that there would be no return of love from us to him, except he create it.
· He knew what we were when he chose us, knew all that we would be and do. Yet, he chose us, saying, “I will love them freely.”
· And he will not now disown us because we are what he knew we would be.
Third, Zechariah saw that Joshua was “a brand plucked from the fire.” — “Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” (v. 2). You who are saved are as “a firebrand plucked out of the burning.”
We were by nature like a branch cut off, a dry stick cast into the fire, and half burnt. We were separated from God, Father, Son, and Spirit. We are, by nature, unprofitable and unfruitful, and in danger in ourselves of being consumed in the fire of divine wrath, which they we fully deserved. We were are under the sentence of divine justice. How terrified we were! Our screaming consciences would allow us no peace! Lost, helpless, doomed and damned, we were without hope.
Then, God our Savior came by the omnipotent grace, effectual mercy, and irresistible power of the Holy Spirit, and plucked us out of the fire and secured us from everlasting destruction!
Yet, the fourth thing Zechariah saw was that God’s Joshuas, sinners saved by grace, are yet utterly sinful in themselves.
(Zechariah 3:3) “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.”
This is striking. God commanded that the high priests should appear before him in holy garments, for glory and for beauty (Ex.. 28:2). And so, to the eye of man they appeared. But Zechariah was made to see that Joshua was altogether filthy in himself.
No doubt Joshua was what the world calls a good man. He was not a licentious character. He had been set apart to the sacred office. Yet, amidst the ephod and breast-plate, what filthiness he knew defiled him, as he stood before the angel of the Lord! So it is with every child of God. Though, as we will see, we are both forgiven of all sin and clothed in perfect garments of righteousness in Christ, in ourselves we are nothing but filthy sinners.
(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.”
(Romans 7:18) “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
(Romans 7:24) “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Oh! how blessed, how sweet, how precious is the fact that Christ takes away the iniquity of our holy things! His blood and righteousness is our beauty and glory, making us acceptable and accepted before our God!
Fifth, we see in verse 4 that we are, though utterly sinful in ourselves, a people completely forgiven of all sin, forever!
(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.”
Who is this that answered and spoke? It cannot be anyone but our Savior. It is he, and only he, who has taken away sin by the sacrifice of himself. He alone could use this language. He who washed us from all our sins in his blood, says, “Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee!”
Sixth, not only are we completely forgiven, we are perfectly adorned, too (vv. 5-6). He who redeemed us has clothed his redeemed with the white robes of his own righteousness. He says, “I will clothe thee with change of raiment.”
The word “raiment” is in the plural. – It refers to both the imputed righteousness of Christ and the imparted righteousness of Christ. We are clothed with the garments of salvation. As Ralph Erskine put it, “If you would have righteousness, you must have it in and from Christ. He has to give you both an imputed righteousness for justifying you, and an imparted righteousness for sanctifying you.” By faith in Christ we receive internally what Christ has done for us externally. Because we were justified by Christ’s imputed righteousness at the cross, we are sanctified by his imparted righteousness in the new birth. — “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isa. 61:10).
Every sinner saved by grace is also given the miter of assured acceptance (v. 5).
(Zec 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.”
The miter of the high Priest had a golden plate with these words written upon it, “Holiness to the Lord” (Ex. 28:36-38).
(Exo 28:36-38) “And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD. (37) And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be. (38) And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.”
When the Lord God takes away your filthy garments, causes your iniquity to pass away, gives you the garments of salvation, and sets the miter upon your head, crowns you as his priest and king in Christ, he declares that you are a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Look at what that means in Zechariah 14:20-21. ― Now, we keep the feast of tabernacles (the feast of faith in Christ the true Tabernacle) and everything is “holiness unto the Lord.”
(Zec 14:20-21) “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD’S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. (21) Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.”
(Revelation 1:5-6) “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (6) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
(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.”
Assured of Glory
Seventh, in verses 6-7, we see that all who are chosen, redeemed, forgiven and crowned by grace are assured of glory yet to come.
(Zechariah 3:6-7) “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.”
We have here Joshua in his office as priest, and solemnly ordained in it by the Lord himself. When the Lord declares, “If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge,” he is not telling Joshua that now that he is saved, he will inherit everlasting glory if he is able to hold on and hold out to the end.
It is true, we must persevere in faith; but our perseverance is not the condition of grace, but the fruit of grace. — “He will give grace and glory!” He who took away our filthy garments, clothed us with the garments of salvation, and crowned us with holiness, here assures us that walking in his way, trusting him, we shall walk among the saints in glory! — “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.”
Men Wondered At
Eighth, in verse 8, the Lord tells us that God’s elect, sinners saved by his grace are “men wondered at.” Our Savior’s name is “Wonderful.” And all who are one with him are people “wondered at.”
(Zechariah 3:8) “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.”
We read the same thing in Isaiah 8:18.
(Isaiah 8:18) “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.”
· God’s saints are “men wondered at” by the angels of God. The angels are astonished at the love of the holy Son of God toward unholy sinners.
· We are a people “wondered at” by the world around us. — “Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”
· And we are the greatest wonder to ourselves! Oh, what a wonder that God the Father should have loved us, and chosen us in Christ Jesus before the world began! — That God the Son should have loved us, and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savor! — That God the Holy Spirit should have loved us, called us with an holy calling, regenerated, illuminated, convinced us of our sin, and of the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, and brought us to the love we once abhorred!
We are a world of wonders in to ourselves! Yet, while filled with wonder, we are so cold, unthankful, and indifferent! Our God, by his distinguishing grace, has called us out of darkness, into his marvellous light, while thousands all around are left to the blindness and ignorance of their hearts. I am astonished that these things, things I know well, have so little influence over my hard heart!
But, reading this in its context, the cause of great wonder is this. — We are people wondered at because God has saved us by his matchless, free grace in Christ. By his grace, God has made you one “wondered at” by the accomplishments of Christ, his Servant, the Branch.
Looking To Christ
Ninth, in verse 9, the Lord God tells us that we are a people wondered at, because saved sinners are sinners looking to Christ alone for salvation.
(Zechariah 3:9) “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.”
Christ is the Stone laid before us by God in the gospel, upon which we are built by grace and upon which we build by faith. To him alone we look for everything.
· Christ is the glorious stone Jehovah laid in his eternal decree (Isa. 28:16).
· He is the foundation on which the Apostles and Prophets are built (Eph. 2:20).
· Christ is the only Foundation upon which our souls can and must be built. Other foundation can no man lay (1 Cor. 3:11; 1 Pet. 2:4-8).
(1 Peter 2:4-8) “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.”
Zechariah tells us that “upon this one Stone shall be seven eyes” because all eyes are fixed on Christ. He is the one glorious Object of eternity.
· The eyes of God the Father are fixed on him.
· The eyes of God the Holy Spirit are fixed on him.
· The Angels of God have their eyes forever fixed on him (Isa. 6:1-6), ever feasting their raptured souls in looking on him.
· The Church in heaven, “the spirits of just men made perfect,” are fixed on him.
· Old Testament saints and New Testament saints all look to Christ for all grace and glory. He is the one glorious object of all.
· And even Satan, the demons of hell, and the ungodly, shall be compelled to look, and tremble while they look on him. Every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him, and all nations shall wail because of him (Rev. 1:7).
As the twelve tribes of Israel were engraved upon the breastplate of the high priest, so our Lord Jesus has engraved in his hands and upon his heart the names of his elect from old eternity (Ex. 28:9-12; Isa. 49:16). And the triune God, looking upon him as our covenant Surety, declares, “and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day!”
“Their sins Jehovah removed from them to Christ their surety; and Christ, by bearing them, and the punishment of them, took them away; and God removed them, both from him and them, upon his becoming a sacrifice for them; and that wholly out of sight, so as that he never will impute them to them, nor condemn them for them; and this was all done “in one day.” It was the day on which Christ suffered and died, and offered himself a sacrifice for sin; by which one offering of himself, once for all, he put away sin forever. It was all done in one day (Heb. 7:27; 9:26, 28; 10:10, 12, 14), on the day he suffered, when he, expiring on the cross, said, “it is finished,” namely, sin, and complete salvation from it.” — John Gill
Safe and Secure, at Rest
Tenth, in the last verse of the chapter we see that God’s saints are people safe and secure, at rest in Christ.
(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.”
Here are the blessed consequences, and the gracious and glorious effects of the all Zechariah was made to see. Believers in Christ brought into a state of grace, mercy, and peace, sit down as under their own vine, and their fig-tree, and none can make them afraid.
· Sin cannot, for it is done away.
· Hell cannot, for Christ hath conquered hell, death, and the grave.
· And corruption cannot, for Christ’s holiness is the holiness of his redeemed.
What he is, he is for his people. And he is made of God to us, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30).
As we sit down to a constant feast of love, and joy, and peace, in believing, abounding in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit, we gladly invite all who will to join us in the glorious, triumphant rest that is ours in Christ Jesus. Every follower of Christ is anxious to promote the his glory, proclaiming the blessedness of that grace we have found in him. Come, neighbor, sit down under the vine and the fug tree, Christ our Lord, and rest.
(Revelation 22:17) “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”