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A Return to Christ

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by. And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree. Zechariah 3:1-10


At the white-hot center of every revival in the history of God’s people is the call to return to a redemptive God. When you have a message that calls people to repent and turn to the Lord, people respond and then, in turn, go into their lives carrying that same message to a broken and fallen world; you cannot help but have what history refers to as a revival. Because of sin, we are ready-made to receive the heat of the gospel message. Our hearts long for redemption; it’s why we do everything we do. From working hard throughout the week to fixing the house, playing video games, to enlisting in the military, our souls are on a lifelong quest to redeem what is broken inside us. From rom-coms to sit-coms, we are desperate to find something that relieves the brokenness around us. Sometimes, the things we get convinced to run to provide temporary relief of that brokenness, but it never hits the mark.

In the book of Zechariah, God’s people find themselves in a discouraging position: they just came out of Babylon captivity, where they awaited a promise of prosperity, but it hasn’t happened yet. They begin to rebuild the temple as they were told, but still can’t help but doubt the goodness of God amid their plight. Zechariah (along with Haggai) serves the Lord by calling them back to the Lord and reminding them that God is their hope, not the efforts they are tempted to put in.

Here in Zechariah, we are reminded of several things:

  • Sin is real and pervasive. It is almost impossible to communicate how strong the Hebrew word for “filth” is that is used in this text and is most easily translated as “human excrement.” The point of this detail in Zechariah’s vision is that sin covers us in totality as the soiled garments (sin) covered Joshua (representative of the people). Some thoughts on the teaching of sin:

    • Sin includes our thoughts, words, deeds, and motives. 

    • Sin includes individuals, communities, and networks. 

    • Sin includes entire ways of thinking and acting.

    • Sometimes a sin is also a crime, such as murder, and sometimes it is not, such as adultery. 

    • Sin can be done deliberately or in ignorance. The practice of a particular sin can occur once, regularly, or even frequently.

Sin affects all of us, not just externally but also down to the deepest parts of us. It puts a massive chasm between us and God, each other, and creation itself. The only response to such a truth is repentance and faith, turning from our desire to live independent of our creator and worshipping him for the gracious God that he is.

  • We also learn that we have an accuser: Satan himself. He desires to leverage our sin to both keep us in it, destroying our lives and dishonoring God by ruining his bride. The fact that he is standing on Joseph’s right side indicates that he has somehow gained a vote of confidence from him. This is the work of the enemy: 

    • He desires to couple our sin with hopelessness so we remain in despair.

    • If that doesn’t work, he will seek to convince us that we are okay when we really aren’t. Nothing accomplishes his desire like arrogance or apathy. 

After repenting of our sins, the only appropriate response is to flee from our accuser.

  • Lastly, we learn that we have a loving God that presents a better message than hopelessness or pride: redemption. In this passage, the Lord doesn’t simply recycle or wash Joseph’s filthy garments. No, he removed them and provided new ones. Not only does he do this kind and redemptive act, but we learn that this was the plan from the beginning, as the Lord called his Joseph (his people) as a brand that he plucked from the fire. Before Satan could even utter a word about the sin, the Lord reminds the enemy that he has no authority and is rebuked. The Lord is the stone with seven eyes and sees all things across the universe; nothing escapes his gaze. Yet, even in light of his omniscience, God chooses to make us a new creation, removing our sins and giving us his righteousness.

Simply put, we are His. The only appropriate response to turning from our sin and fleeing our accuser, you ask? Cling to our Savior.



  • The Bible presents sin by way of major concepts, principally lawlessness and faithlessness expressed in an array of images: sin is the missing of a target, a wandering from the path, a straying from the fold. Sin is a hard heart and a stiff neck. Sin is blindness and deafness. It is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it – both transgression and shortcoming. Sin is a beast crouching at the door. In sin, people attack or evade or neglect their divine calling. These and other images suggest deviance: even when it is familiar, sin is never normal. Sin is disruption of created harmony and then resistance to divine restoration of that harmony. Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God, and it does all this disrupting and resisting in a number of intertwined ways. - Cornelius Plantinga


1.What is the difference between rightly placed lament for sin and the hopelessness the enemy brings? What is the line that is drawn between the two? 

2. What are some common ways we attempt to minimize or disregard sin in our lives?

3. In what ways is genuine guilt a gift from God?

4. When a forgiven believer experiences the knowledge and assurance that he is indeed right with God, how does that affect his emotions, devotion to the Lord, and service in God’s kingdom?

5. What are some tools at our disposal to flee the enemy and cling to the Lord?


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