Bible Book: Zechariah / Saggaria
Verse (to): 10
Text: Zechariah 3:1-10
The night vision that Zechariah describes in chapter 3:1-10 probably brought great comfort and encouragement to the desolate citizens of a Jerusalem without walls and without a temple. It guarantees that God’s compassion and grace are far greater than the sins and shortcomings of his people who are trying to serve Him. Joshua, the high priest, is unworthy to represent the people before God. In stead of wearing clean priestly garments, as Moses has prescribed on God’s orders, he is standing there in filthy clothes!
But even though the prosecutor has the law on his side when he accuses Joshua, God intervenes: Joshua is forgiven and receives new clothes (verses 4-5)! What happens in this vision is summarised dramatically in verse 2: the burning stick is snatched from the fire!
When I, as a New Testament Christian, read this part in the Old Testament, it becomes a wonderful image, vision, parable of God’s salvation. This is how I, we, are saved by grace!
According to God’s Law, we deserve to have a petition drawn up against us, justifying the verdict: guilty! With our own deeds we stand before God as if dressed in repulsively filthy clothes. But thank God: in Christ, our perfect high Priest, we have been acquitted. We have received new garments. We are indeed burning sticks snatched from the fire. In God’s hands this firewood becomes tools in his kingdom (cf. Eph 2:8-10).
In this ‘parable of God’s grace’ there is one aspect that set me thinking even further. The opening scene of this vision tells of a prosecutor who accuses Joshua (verse 1). In the early Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) the word ‘accuser’ had been translated by ‘devil’, and most of the Bible translations use the word ‘Satan’. So there is general consensus that the person who accuses us before God is the Devil (cf. Rev 12:10).
It is clear that God is irritated by the behaviour of this prosecutor, and he is angrily rebuked and silenced by the Lord Himself (verse 2).
Why do so many Christians immediately want to know “how did it happen?” when they hear that somebody is living with HIV? Why do we first want to know whether someone has been “justly” or “unjustly” infected? Is it perhaps because we want to know whether or not we must accuse that person if there is any chance of sin? Jesus Himself told his disciples not to judge (cf Mat 7:1-5).
When we really understand how immense God’s grace for us is – that we have been snatched from the fire – we will accept others as God accepted us (Rom 15:7).
Author: N du Toit (Ds)