Joshua and the Angel
advancement made by the builders of the temple greatly discomfited and
alarmed the hosts of evil. Satan determined to put forth still further
effort to weaken and discourage God's people by holding before them their
imperfections of character. If those who had long suffered because of
transgression could again be induced to disregard God's commandments, they
would be brought once more under the bondage of sin.
Israel had been chosen to preserve the knowledge of God in the earth, they
had ever been the special objects of Satan's enmity; he was determined to
cause their destruction. While they were obedient, he could do them no
harm; therefore he had bent all his power and cunning to entice them into
sin. Ensnared by his temptations, they had transgressed the law of God and
had been left to become the prey of their enemies.
they were carried as captives to Babylon, God did not forsake them. He
sent His prophets to them with
warnings, and aroused them to see their guilt. When they humbled
themselves before God and returned to Him with true repentance, He sent
them messages of encouragement, declaring that He would deliver them from
captivity, restore them to His favor, and once more establish them in
their own land. And now that this work of restoration had begun, and a
remnant of Israel had already returned to Judea, Satan was determined to
frustrate the carrying out of the divine purpose, and to this end he was
seeking to move upon the heathen nations to destroy them utterly.
But in this
crisis the Lord strengthened His people "with good words and
comfortable words." Zechariah 1:13. Through an impressive
illustration of the work of Satan and the work of Christ, He showed the
power of their Mediator to vanquish the accuser of His people.
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.
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
and humiliation, and relying upon the mercy of a sin-pardoning Redeemer.
In faith he claims the promises of God.
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.
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 be 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.
The Angel now
declared to Joshua: "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." Zechariah 3:7. 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.
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." Verse 8. 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.
accused Joshua and his people, so in all ages he accuses those who seek
the mercy and favor of God. He is "the accuser of our brethren, . . .
which accused them before our God day and night." Revelation 12:10.
Over every soul that is rescued from the power of evil, and whose name is
registered in the Lamb's book of life, the controversy is repeated. Never
is one received into the family of God without exciting the determined
resistance of the enemy. But He who was the hope of Israel then, their
defense, their justification and redemption, is the hope of the church
accusations against those who seek the Lord are not prompted by
displeasure at their sins. He exults in their defective characters; for he
knows that only through their transgression of God's law can he obtain
power over them.
accusations arise solely from his enmity to Christ. Through the plan of
salvation, Jesus is breaking Satan's hold upon the human family and
rescuing souls from his power. All the hatred and malignity of the archrebel is stirred as he beholds the evidences of Christ's supremacy;
and with fiendish power and cunning he works to wrest from Him the
children of men who have accepted salvation. He leads men into skepticism,
causing them to lose confidence in God and to separate from His love; he
tempts them to break the law and then claims them as his captives,
contesting Christ's right to take them from him.
that those who ask God for pardon and grace will obtain it; therefore he
presents their sins before them to discourage them. Against those who are
trying to obey God, he is constantly seeking occasion for complaint. Even
their best and most acceptable service he seeks to make appear corrupt. By
countless devices, the most subtle and the most cruel, he endeavors to
secure their condemnation.
In his own
strength, man cannot meet the charges of the enemy. In sin-stained
garments, confessing his guilt, he stands before God. 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 by the mighty arguments of Calvary, vanquishes their
accuser. His perfect obedience to God's law has given Him all power in
heaven and in earth, and He claims from His Father mercy and
reconciliation for guilty man. To the accuser of His people He declares:
Lord rebuke thee, O Satan. These are the purchase of My blood, brands
plucked from the burning." And to those who rely on Him in faith, He
gives the assurance, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass
from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment." Zechariah
All who 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
the Saviour. Not one soul who in penitence and faith has claimed His
protection will Christ permit to pass under the enemy's power. His word is
pledged: "Let him take hold of My strength, that he may make peace
with Me; and he shall make peace with Me." Isaiah 27:5. The promise
given to Joshua is given to all: "If thou wilt keep My charge,. . . I
will give thee places to walk among these that stand by." Zechariah
3:7. Angels of God will walk on either side of them, even in this world,
and they will stand at last among the angels that surround the throne of
vision of Joshua and the Angel applies with peculiar force to the
experience of God's people in the closing scenes of the great day of
atonement. The remnant church will then 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 even of many professing Christians.
But here is a little company who are resisting his supremacy. If he could
blot them from the earth, his triumph would be complete. As he influenced
nations to destroy Israel, so in the near future he will stir up the
wicked powers of earth to destroy the people of God. Men will be required
to render obedience to human edicts in violation of the divine law.
Those who are
true to God will be menaced, denounced, proscribed. They will be
"betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and
friends," even unto death. Luke 21:16. Their only hope is in the
mercy of God; their only defense will be prayer. As Joshua pleaded before
the Angel, so the remnant church, with brokenness of heart and unfaltering
faith, will plead for pardon and deliverance through Jesus, their
Advocate. They are fully conscious of the sinfulness of their lives, they
see their weakness and unworthiness; and they are ready to despair.
stands by to accuse them, as he stood by to resist Joshua. He points to
their filthy garments, their defective characters. He presents their
weakness and folly, their sins of ingratitude, their unlikeness to Christ,
which has dishonored their Redeemer. He endeavors to affright them with
the thought that their case is hopeless, that the stain of their
defilement will never be washed away. He hopes so to destroy their faith
that they will yield to his temptations, and turn from their allegiance to
Satan has an
accurate knowledge of the sins that he has tempted God's people to commit,
and he urges his accusations against them, declaring, that by their sins
they have forfeited divine protection, and claiming that he has the right
to destroy them. He pronounces them just as deserving as himself of
exclusion from the favor of God. "Are
he says, "the people who are to take my place in heaven, and the
place of the angels who united with me? They profess to obey the law of
God; but have they kept its precepts? Have they not been lovers of self
more than lovers of God? Have they not placed their own interests above
His service? Have they not loved the things of the world? Look at the sins
that have marked their lives. Behold their selfishness, their malice,
their hatred of one another. Will God banish me and my angels from His
presence, and yet reward those who have been guilty of the same sins? Thou
canst not do this, O Lord, in justice. Justice demands that sentence be
pronounced against them."
But while the
followers of Christ have sinned, they have not given themselves up to be
controlled by the satanic agencies. They have repented of their sins and
have sought the Lord in humility and contrition, and the divine Advocate
pleads in their behalf. He who has been most abused by their ingratitude,
who knows their sin and also their penitence, declares: "The Lord
rebuke thee, O Satan. I gave My life for these souls. They are graven upon
the palms of My hands. They may have imperfections of character; they may
have failed in their endeavors; but they have repented, and I have
forgiven and accepted them."
of Satan are strong, his delusions are subtle; but the Lord's eye is upon
His people. Their affliction is great, the flames of the furnace seem
about to consume them; but Jesus will bring them forth as gold tried in
the fire. Their earthliness will be removed, that through them the image
of Christ may be perfectly revealed.
At times the
Lord may seem to have forgotten the perils of His church and the injury
done her by her enemies. But God has not forgotten. Nothing in this world
is so dear to the heart of God as His church. It is not His will that
worldly policy shall corrupt her record. He does not leave His people to
be overcome by Satan's temptations. He will punish those who misrepresent
Him, but He will be gracious to all who sincerely repent. To those who
call upon Him for strength for the development of Christian character, He
will give all needed help.
In the time
of the end the people of God will sigh and cry for the abominations done
in the land. With tears they will warn the wicked of their danger in
trampling upon the divine law, and with unutterable sorrow they will
humble themselves before the Lord in penitence. The wicked will mock their
sorrow and ridicule their solemn appeals. But the anguish and humiliation
of God's people is unmistakable evidence that they are regaining the
strength and nobility of character lost in consequence of sin. It is
because they are drawing nearer to Christ, because their eyes are fixed on
His perfect purity, that they discern so clearly the exceeding sinfulness
of sin. Meekness and lowliness are the conditions of success and victory.
A crown of glory awaits those who bow at the foot of the cross.
faithful, praying ones are, as it were, shut in with Him. They themselves
know not how securely they are shielded. Urged on by Satan, the rulers of
this world are seeking to destroy them; but could the eyes of God's
children be opened as were the eyes of Elisha's servant at
would see angels of God encamped about them, holding in check the hosts of
As the people
of God afflict their souls before Him, pleading for purity of heart, the
command is given, "Take away the filthy garments," and the
encouraging words are spoken, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity
to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment."
Zechariah 3:4. The spotless robe of Christ's righteousness is placed upon
the tried, tempted, faithful children of God. The despised remnant are
clothed in glorious apparel, nevermore to be defiled by the corruptions of
the world. Their names are retained in the Lamb's book of life, enrolled
among the faithful of all ages. They have resisted the wiles of the
deceiver; they have not been turned from their loyalty by the dragon's
roar. Now they are eternally secure from the tempter's devices. Their sins
are transferred to the originator of sin. A "fair miter" is set
upon their heads.
has been urging his accusations, holy angels, unseen, have been passing to
and fro, placing upon the faithful ones the seal of the living God. These
are they that stand upon Mount Zion with the Lamb, having the Father's
name written in their foreheads. They sing the new song before the throne,
that song which no man can learn save the hundred and forty and four
thousand which were redeemed from the earth. "These are they which
follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among
men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth
was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of
God." Revelation 14:4, 5.
reached the complete fulfillment of the words of the Angel: "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." Zechariah 3:8. 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 for them that are escaped of Israel.
And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that
remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even everyone that is
written among the living in Jerusalem." Isaiah 4:2, 3.