Some Christians feel burdened with a sense of guilt. They had sinned and confessed, but somehow they still feet guilty. How do we deal with it? Today’s passage, written by the prophet Zechariah regarding a vision the Lord showed him, will give us some insights regarding this.
NOTES ON THE TEXT:
verse 2 – A burning stick snatched from the fire Israel as a nation had been rescued from the furnace of Babylon to become a torch to enlighten the nations. This applies also to God’s people individually.
verse 8 – My servant, the Branch is a technical term in the prophets to portray the coming Messiah.
verse 9 – The stone with seven eyes is another Messianic title. It suggests His divine omniscience (cf. the eyes as the organ of knowledge, 2 Chronicles 16:9).
The text today is somewhat difficult. Let the group read it silently first, then explain the notes on the text, then let the group read it again before starting the discussion.
II. BIBLE READING
Zechariah 3:1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” 5 Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by. 6 The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: 7 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here. 8 “‘Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9 See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day. 10 “‘In that day each of you will invite his neighbour to sit under his vine and fig tree,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” (NIV)
A. Satan’s Accusations Thwarted (vv. 1-4)
- What did the prophet Zechariah see in the vision at first? (v1,2) Who was Joshua representing? When Satan was accusing Joshua, why do you think the Lord rebuked Satan?
- But dis Satan not have a valid excuse to accuse Joshua? What did Zechariah see Joshua wearing? (v.3) What did the filthy clothes represent?
- Imagine yourself to be Joshua with filthy clothes, standing before the holy God, with Satan accusing you. How would you feel?
- How did the Lord resolve this matter of filthy clothes? (v. 4a) What does removing Joshua’s filthy clothes mean? (v. 4b) Not only was Joshua’s filthy garments taken away, he was given “rich garments” to wear. What does it mean for us to have not only “clean garments”, but “rich garments”?
- When Jesus Christ removes our sins from us and gives us an abundant new life, do Satan’s accusations against us have any more effect? But why is it that many Christians today still struggle under a load of guilt? How do we resolve this problem?
REFLECTION: Am I still struggling with guilt, or am I free? Do I feel free? If not, why not?
B. Restored Service (vv. 5-10)
- Zechariah was excited by what he saw in the vision, and intervened. What did he suggest should be done to Joshua? (v.5) The clean turban signifies that Joshua was restored to his function as high priest. In our case, what does restoration mean, and why is it necessary? How can we overcome sinful habits?
- In verses 8 and 9, the Lord went on to promise His people He will give “my servant, the Branch” and “the one with seven eyes”, referring to the corning Messiah. What will this Messiah do? (v. 9)
Jesus Christ has already set us free by paying for the penalty of our sins on the cross. Satan will continue to try to accuse us. It is up to each of us to choose to believe God instead of Satan for us to remain free.