Posts Tagged With: priesthood

Rolling Chariots and a Glorious Kingdom Restore Hope: Zechariah Devotional, part 8

by Pastor Riley Fraas

As Zechariah’s visions continue, we get a glimpse of God’s authority over the whole earth, and a picture of hope for the future.  Our great God rules over all the earth, and He has established “The Branch”, our Lord Jesus Christ, as King to build His temple, to rule and defend us, and as our Priest to bring us forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with the LORD by His own precious blood.

Zechariah 6:1 And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.

In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;

And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses.

Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord?

And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth. 

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In the beginning of this oracle we see a vision of the armies of the LORD.  Horse-drawn chariots were the most fearsome military weapon system then known.  They could attack with deadly speed and impact.  The LORD is King over all the earth.  His power has no limit.  He is even now ruling over all the earth and executing His will through His army, the angelic host.  There is not any corner of the globe that is out of His reach.  No matter what we as God’s people, His chosen nation and the kingdom of His rule, that is the Church of Jesus Christ face, our God is stronger.  Though we are weak in the eyes of the world, yet our God is more powerful than all.  He is the one who protects and defends us.  Nothing can harm His kingdom, and He rules over all the earth.  Since our God rules over all, we His people have nothing to fear, anywhere in the world.  No one can do anything to us outside of His perfect will.  He has a plan and He is executing it perfectly.

The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country.

And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth.

Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.

The north country is a reference to Babylon.  The nation of the Jews had not long before endured captivity in Babylon for seventy years.  That northern country had been a source of shame, death, and enslavement for the people of God.  But God was going to make of it a quiet, peaceful situation, taking it over it with His mighty army.  What had been a threat in the past was only a tool in the loving hand of Almighty God to chastise His people when they had been unfaithful.  But now He has quieted that hornet’s nest of Babylon.

God sometimes uses the evil actions of wicked people and nations to confront His people with their sin, to restrain their rebellion, and to bring them back to their knees, to rely on Him and Him alone instead of being self-secure in their independent mindset.  But woe to those evil people that God uses!  There is nothing on earth that can harm us, because no one can do anything to us apart from God’s will.  Let us not fear those chastening enemies that come against us, whether circumstances, or temptation, or tribulation, or being in need, or opposition.  Instead, let us trust in the merciful hand of God who is using these things for His own good purpose, and who is in total and utter control.  One day these things which come against us and militate against the Lord will be obliterated or fully conquered, and the peace of God will reign over the entire earth.

And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

10 Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah;

11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;

12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord:

13 Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the Lord.

15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord, and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God.

The LORD commands Zechariah to crown Joshua the High Priest.  Doing that, Zechariah is to prophesy to the beleaguered people of God a glorious age when a man named “The Branch” will reign in Jerusalem and will build the temple of the LORD.  There will be a close council between Him and the priest at His side.  This picture is that of the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King and High Priest of the people of God.

If we, God’s people, have enemies against us, we have a King to rule over and defend us.  If we have sinned against the LORD, we have a great high priest who shed His own blood for us, who continually intercedes for us at the Father’s right hand.  It is He who is building His Church (Matthew 16:18), the holy temple of the LORD, and He knows exactly what He is doing!  Let us take comfort and draw hope in these things, that no matter what we may go through in this life, we are under the rule and protection, and beneficiaries of His priesthood.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.  Therefore let us be fitted together like stones, as the Church, His building and holy temple, continuing our life together in prayer, in worship, and mutual discipline and fellowship as we glorify our great King and Priest.

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Dirty Clothes Get Changed: Zechariah devotional, part 5

In the third chapter of Zechariah the LORD gives a fifth vision speaking of deliverance and restoration.  It in it we see Satan, the accuser of the people of God, and the Angel of the LORD, a pre-incarnate appearance of God the Son, standing with Joshua the high priest.

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Zechariah 3:1-3 And he shewed 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?  Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 

The scene begins with a cast of three: The Angel of the LORD, Satan, and the high priest named Joshua.  The Angel of the LORD is God the Son prior to his having been conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary.  He is the LORD, (“LORD” in all caps stands for Jehovah or Yahweh in most English Bibles,) called by the covenant name of God.   Jesus the Son of God is God Himself, equal to the Father, and when He speaks, even Satan must listen.  “Satan”, meaning, “adversary” is the accuser of the people of God, their self-appointed prosecutor and accuser before the seat of God’s righteous judgment.  An angel fallen from heavenly glory after having rebelled against the Most High, he stands to “resist” God’s chosen people represented by the high priest named Joshua.  The high priest was one called and set apart to minister the commandments of God in the temple, make sacrifices, represent God to the people by preaching the word of God and performing the required ceremonies, and representing the people to God in prayer on their behalf.  The name, “Joshua” means in Hebrew, “The LORD saves”, commonly transliterated into Greek as “iesous” and is the same as the Latinized “Iesus” or “Jesus.”  This is the name of the high priest who was serving in the temple when Zechariah prophesied these words.  Even his name points to the Lord’s salvation through One named Jesus, who is our great High Priest forever.  When Satan accuses the people of God of sin, Christ Jesus, here termed “the angel of the LORD”, defends them based on the truth that He is on their side.  Of what can Satan accuse God’s elect?  (Romans 8:33)  He rebukes Satan for accusing Joshua, and in him God’s chosen people.  Joshua’s garments are filthy, stained with muck.  Despite his uncomely appearance, clearly visible in the light of a torch pulled out of the fire, Satan’s accusations don’t stick.  The devil’s accusations of God’s chosen people are just empty words.  No matter how darkly stained our garments, God will defend us and not condemn us.  But why?

4-5 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, have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.  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 High Priest's Holy Garments --www.esvbible.org

The High Priest’s Holy Garments –www.esvbible.org

The Angel of the LORD is the one speaking here.  He is God the Son, who will clothe Joshua with new priestly garments.  Here is the answer to the question of how God’s chosen people are to be acquitted and justified by God rather than condemned as Satan would prefer.  It is through a change of clothing wrought by the Angel of the LORD.  He places a new garment and a tall priestly hat: a “mitre” upon Joshua.  Although the sins of God’s chosen people are many, yet He will place His own (Christ’s own) righteousness upon them as a new garment replaces the filthy one.  Our beauty and acceptability to God is not based on our own righteousness or good works, for even at our best we are just filthy rotten sinners; it is based on Christ’s own righteousness imputed to us as our covering, clothing our sinful nakedness with the splendid beauty of holiness which is pleasing to God, Christ’s works.  He stands by us His elect (v. 5) as our comfort and assurance that God has forgiven us our sins and accepted us for His (Christ’s) sake.  What assurance of salvation!  What comfort!  There is nothing in this universe which compares to the glory of God seen in the justification of sinners deserving only condemnation by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

6-10 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.  Here 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.  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.  In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.   

Being forgiven of his sins, justified in God’s sight, and with the help of God’s Son standing by him, Joshua the high priest is obligated to devote himself genuinely and fully to the service of God out of thankfulness for the grace he’s received.  This applies to all those who have been saved by grace, to all citizens of chosen Israel.  Have you been forgiven of all your sins and counted righteous in God’s sight for the sake of Christ?  Then live accordingly by thankfully obeying all His commandments, trusting in His aiding grace to do His work in you as He stands by you.

“The BRANCH” is a reference to Jesus Christ, a branch grown from the family tree of David.  (Jeremiah 23:5)  He is the eternal God, knowing all things, symbolized in verse 9 as a stone with seven eyes representing Him who sees and knows all things perfectly.  (7 in the Bible is the number of perfection.)  The promise of forgiveness and justification is in Him, through Him, and to Him.  It is in reference to Christ the “BRANCH” that this vision promises such blessing.  Because of Him, a great period of blessing will come in, when neighbors will have fellowship together and enjoy the good things of the LORD represented as the fruit of the vines and fig trees.

God’s message in this prophetic oracle is that although Israel would be delivered of her enemies and restored fully from captivity to foreign nations (Babylon and Assyria), yet her sins would remain.  These would be taken away by replacing his filthy rags with new glorious garments.  Our salvation is not first and foremost about the healing of our physical bodies or restoration from earthly difficulties, but about the forgiveness of our sin and justification by God’s grace in imputing Christ’s righteousness to us.  Let us remind ourselves of these blessed truths of God’s word daily in order that we may be inspired to live for Him with thankful hearts overflowing with praise for what He has done.

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