Text: Zechariah 3:1-5

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. 2 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? 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before
the angel. 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. 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.” (Zech. 3:1-5)

This night vision of Zechariah involves three main characters. The first
character is Joshua, the current high priest of the returnees (c.f. 6:11; Hag.
1:1; Ezra 5:2). The second is the angel of the LORD (,הָהוְי ךַ ְאְלַ מ malak
yehovah), who is the pre-incarnate Christ (c.f. verse 2 where He speaks in
the capacity and authority of the LORD). Lastly, we have Satan who here
stands as the accuser, as seen in his position at the right hand of Joshua,
which is the place where the accuser stands in the Jewish courts.

There is a play of words in verse 1 involving “Satan” and the verb “to
resist”. The root word of both terms is (,ןַ טָ ש satan), which has the
meaning of being an adversary. In Numbers 22:22 and 32, we see how
satan is used to describe the angel of the Lord (i.e. the pre-incarnate
Christ) standing as an adversary to Balaam resisting his efforts to curse
the children of Israel. Alas, despite the angel of the LORD being in the
way, Balaam continued his way to Balak the king of Moab to curse Israel
for the sake of receiving honour and riches from Balak. Nevertheless, his
efforts were turned to nought, for whenever he tried to curse Israel, the
Lord caused blessings to flow from his mouth. Balak was ultimately
killed for his opposition to the Lord.

Thus, we have the first principle, is the Lord your adversary? He is the
worst adversary to have, for no man can fight God and win. Quickly
repent from your sin and embrace him as your Saviour. Do not trifle with
the Lord who is a consuming fire that can destroy both body and soul.

The question then is, can a believer be a satan to the Lord? The answer is
yes, for we see the Lord rebuking Peter in Matthew 16:23, “Get thee
behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the
things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Peter tried to stop Jesus
from going to the cross and thus ended up being an adversary and a tool
of Satan against the Lord Jesus Christ. The warning here for us is to make
sure that we are walking in the light of God’s Word, or we may end up
being a satan to the Lord. Pray for grace each day to walk in the path of
righteousness, and not in wickedness.

In this vision in Zechariah 3 though, we have the Devil, the Father of lies,
standing before Joshua, serving to accuse Joshua falsely as being unfit for
the office of the High Priest. This scene is similar to the angelic meetings
in Job 1-2. In that instance, Satan brought accusations against Job before
God that Job feared God for nought (Job 1:9). In other words, Job only
followed the Lord because he wanted the blessings of health and wealth.
Take that away from Job, and Job will curse God. Therefore, God was
wrong to call Job a man perfect, upright, fearing God and eschewing evil
(Job 1:8). Suffice to say that Satan was proven wrong in His accusations.
Despite the loss of his possessions, family and health, he refused to curse
the Lord. The Lord’s assessment of Job was proven right.

Now we have the scene of Satan serving as an adversary to Joshua and the
LORD by bringing similar false accusations. This is a reminder that Satan
is truly a lion which is walking about, seeking whom he may devour (1
Pet. 5:8). He seeks to discourage the saints in the work of Lord by
resisting them. While Joshua may face challengers in flesh and blood as
he serves as the high priest, he must remember that the nature of the
battle is spiritual. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this
world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12)

We therefore see that the traditional saying found in the Chinese church is
true – “When God works, Satan also works”. So long as we strive to serve
the Lord faithfully, there will always be resistance to the call given to us
by the Lord. Are you ready for this fire?

The premise of Satan’s accusation is presented to us in verse 3. We see
Joshua dressed in filthy garments, and thus ceremonially unclean and
unfit to perform the role of the High Priest. Indeed, if left by his own
merits, Joshua would be most unqualified to serve the Lord in any
capacity. Is that not true also for us? There is no one good, no not one.
Thus, none of us can claim to be worthy servants of the Lord.

If Joshua was left in this state, the accusation of Satan will stand.
However, we see the angel of the LORD Himself declaring that He will
cause the iniquity of Joshua to pass from him. This meant that the LORD
Himself would be the One to wash away Joshua’s sins. Moreover, it is the
Lord Himself who will clothe Joshua with clean raiment. Indeed, the Lord
Himself is the One who will clothe us with His righteousness in Christ.
All praise and glory to God.

Moreover, the change of raiment points to the fact that the Lord is the One
who will cleanse Joshua and make him fit for service. We may be
unworthy servants for the Lord, but in Christ, we are made worthy. Joshua
ought to draw encouragement from this, and not let Satan discourage him.
Christ is His advocate and defender.

In his excitement, Zechariah, silent for most parts, called for a fair mitre
to be placed on Joshua’s head. The angels, in obedience to the Lord, duly
placed it on Joshua’s head. This fair mitre is the turban worn by the high
priest that says, “Holiness unto the LORD” (c.f. Exo. 28:36; 39:30). This
is symbolic of how the Lord will establish Joshua as the High Priest, and
Joshua will lead the children of Israel to be a holy nation of priests before
the Lord.

If we are the children of the most High God, Satan stands as our
adversary, fighting to cause us to resist in doing the will of the Father. He
stands as the accuser of the brethren, falsely accusing men to God, and
God to men, and men to men. The rest of his followers will employ the
same diabolical methods. If we allow his false representations to fester,
we can create divisions and animosity among the brethren who ought to
love one another in the truth. Beware of his attempts to cause discourage-
ment to hinder us in our work for the Lord.

On the other hand, as believers, we thank the Lord that we have our Christ
as our advocate, defender and intercessor. How wonderful to know that
we can flee to our Saviour for refuge, and find grace to serve our Lord at
His throne of grace. There is no need for us to fear. In our Saviour, we can
overcome our adversary.

When God works, Satan also works, but victory is always in the Lord.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew