"PROMISE OF CLEANSING"
TEXT: Zechariah 3:1-10
INTRO: If you were asked what the greatest problem in the world is what would you say? Would it be poverty, dictatorships, weapons production, food scarcity, political unrest, war, racial tensions, etc.? The answer is "NONE OF THE ABOVE." The greatest problem the world knows is SIN! Hence the greatest need is FORGIVENESS!
All of the other problems of this world stem from the heart of man which is sinful, therefore the greatest message mankind has ever received is that there is a promise of forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Lord!
The world is starved to know about this forgiveness and although they don't always admit it this is the heart's cry of the human soul, to know the cleansing power of God's forgiveness and to be right with our Maker!
ILLUS: The story is told in
God has promised forgiveness to all those who will reach out to Him and embrace the Son who has given Himself so we can be forgiven.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that God desires to forgive us our sins, that all we need to do is come to Him and ask, when we do He promises to cleanse us completely!
I. CONDEMNATION! 3:1-3
A. Failure 3:1-2
1. The Bible clearly states that "All have sinned ... there is none that is righteous all have fallen short of the glory of God"
a. There is an innate sense in all people of their own condemnation.
b. We either grow up seeking for forgiveness or we grow up deadening ourselves to that innate sense of sin so we don't accept it!
c. In this way we are either growing more sensitive to our sinfulness or growing colder about our own sinfulness.
2. Those who choose to harden their hearts over the years will never acknowledge their need of God.
a. They grow cold toward spiritual things.
b. They develop a pride that sees no need of God and others.
c. The end of this kind of pride is eternal death.
3. Those that choose to remain sensitive to their sinfulness will eventually be driven to a solution for it, to find a way to rid themselves of the condemnation of sin.
a. They will either beat themselves up over time ... or
b. They will come to accept the forgiveness God offers in Christ!
ILLUS: Martin Luther was one who struggled with his sins. Before his break with the Catholic Church he went to confession every day and was so guilt-ridden by his sins he would almost have gone every hour. On most nights Luther slept well, but he even felt guilty about that, thinking, Here am I, sinful as I am, having a good night's sleep. So he would confess that. One day the older priest to whom Luther went for confession said to him, "Martin, either find a new sin and commit it, or quit coming to see me!" -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 456.
4. Satan stood with Joshua to accuse him, no doubt there were things to accuse him of! Zec 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.
a. The guilt of sin certainly was there.
b. A solution to the sin problem was needed!
B. Filthy! 3:3
1. There can be little doubt about Joshua's sinfulness as he stands before the Lord here, he is dressed in "filthy clothes." Zec 3:3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.
b. Though a high priest Joshua was unclean himself!
2. Underneath it all we are all built the same ... with the same desires for sin as everyone else, it would be easy to become soiled!
ILLUS: Yehiel Dinur survived the holocaust of World War II. Many years later, he was called upon to testify at the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the holocaust. As he stepped into the courtroom and saw Eichmann, he broke down in uncontrollable sobs. Was Dinur overcome by hatred? Fear? Terrible memories? "No," said Dinur to Mike Wallace of CBS News. "I was afraid about myself. I am -- exactly like he is. Source Unknown
3. To be a separate people
4. The only thing that separates us from the rest of the world is that fact that we have been washed by the blood of the Lamb!
II. CLEANSING! 3:4-5
A. Forgiven! 3:4
1. Joshua's first need was his own
cleansing; he could not lead
a. The "Angel of the Lord" here is Jesus Christ Himself!
b. Instructions are given by the Lord for these filthy garments to be removed!
c. God does not take something away from us without giving us something better back! Joshua receives rich clean garments!
2. It is clearly stated here that the visual image presented has to do with the forgiveness of his sins.
a. Only God has the power to remove sins from us!
b. There is no other way to be cleansed from sin except through Christ!
3. The power of being forgiven will equip Joshua to be a good high priest!
a. There is great power in forgiveness!
b. Forgiveness when experienced changes people's lives!
ILLUS: During the Korean War a South Korean Christian civilian was arrested by the Communists and ordered shot. But when the young Communist leader learned that the prisoner was in charge of an orphanage, caring for small children, he decided to spare him and kill his son instead. So they took his nineteen-year-old son and shot him right there in front of the Christian man. Later, the fortunes of war changed and that same young Communist leader was captured by the UN forces, tried, and condemned to death. But before the sentence could be carried out, the Christian whose boy had been killed came and pleaded for the life of the killer. He declared that this Communist was young, that he really did not know what he was doing. The Christian said, "Give him to me and I will train him." The UN forces granted the request and the father took the murderer of his boy into his own home and cared for him. And today, that young man, formerly a Communist, is a Christian pastor, serving Christ. This is the power of forgiving love that can only be described as superabundant, the kind of love the dying Stephen reflected in the Book of Acts. -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 224.
4. A life changed by God's forgiveness is a life that can have dramatic impact on other people's lives!
5. Forgiveness received changes our status before God from one who is a cast away to one who is "FAVORED" by God!
B. Favored! 3:5
1. The guilt of sin holds the world in its power, only when that power is broken through forgiveness then the evil in this world can be broken!
a. Unforgiveness fuels the constant warfare in this world, the constant broken relationships, the constant anger seen in this world!
b. But forgiveness from God can change the human condition in ways that no social program can, there is real power in God's forgiveness in conquering the human tendency to hate and retaliate!
ILLUS: On the evening of
2. It is Zechariah that requests that Joshua now be given the "Turban" too ... the headdress of the High Priest now that Joshua is cleansed!
b. On this headdress were inscribed the words, "HOLY TO THE LORD" according to Ex. 28:36-38
3. Joshua was favored by the Lord not because he was better educated or because he was from a wealthy family or because he knew the duties of the Priesthood; he was favored by the Lord because he was cleansed from his sins!
a. God not only desires to CLEANSE us but also to CALL us to service!
b. A call cannot precede cleansing however!
4. Israel had been influenced by Babylon during those 70 years, now they would be influenced by a cleansed leadership that was marked, "HOLY TO THE LORD!"
III. COMMITMENT 3:6-10
A. Faithful! 3:6-7
1. With cleansing comes responsibilities!
a. Those that have experienced God's forgiveness will not take it for granted and live a licentious lifestyle; this would mock God's grace!
b. Joshua doesn't simply walk away from God's forgiveness without being challenged toward continued faithfulness!
2. God's grace is not cheap, and we cheapen it if we receive it without any responsibilities on our part attached to it!
3. I was born free as an American though I did nothing to earn this, but as an American I am not free to do nothing and still enjoy my freedom; I must accept responsibilities if this freedom is to be enjoyed throughout my lifetime!
a. And so it is with our freedom in Christ!
b. Forgiveness is given freely to those who ask, but once we have received it we must be responsible for how we live with it.
4. God's request to the forgiven Joshua is to walk in God's ways, not just express them verbally but to practice them!
ILLUS: A missionary in
B. Future 3:8-10
1. The call to responsibility in the present has an influence on the future!
a. Joshua's call was leading somewhere, to a future High Priest who would be "HOLY TO THE LORD" ... a branch ... a MESSIAH!
b. This forgiveness now was predicated on the future work of Christ, the "branch" was a symbol of the future Messiah to the Jews.
2. Forgiveness is part of God's plan for mankind now and tomorrow!
3. Forgiveness is God's plan to destroy Satan and sin!
ILLUS: Here is a great thought from William Bennett: "Every saint has a past. And every sinner has a future." Source Unknown
4. God has big plans!
a. For the human race Christ will be the means to forgiveness.
5. The only mystery yet to be solved is why some will not receive God's forgiveness in Christ!
a. Forgiveness from Christ is leading toward a bright future when those who have accepted that forgiveness will one day rule and reign with Christ in a world that is everything man has ever dreamed the world to be!
b. But to those who run away from God's forgiveness they will miss out on all that God has in store for man, all the good things of God to come!
ILLUS: I read the story recently of how Louis XII
6. The choice is ours ... to be forgiven or to remain a failure!
a. Not only does your present life depend on which choice you make but so does your future life!
b. You can choose to run away from God and miss out on being in His kingdom or you can choose to face Him and be forgiven and find a place of honor in His kingdom.
c. What will you choose?
(1. The promise of cleansing!
(2. The place of condemnation!
CONCLUSION: Joshua as priest, Zechariah as