Zechariah 1:1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah.
Zechariah began his ministry to the people of God in Judah in the year 520 BC. He was born in Babylon but had returned with others about nineteen years earlier. His ministry began about the same time as Haggai’s, so he too was concerned about the completion of the temple. Several New Testament books quote or allude to Zechariah, especially Revelation.
Zechariah 1:5-6 Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? But did not my words . . . overtake your ancestors?
God’s people ignored the prophets, and seemed to get away with it. But after many years, the words of the prophets caught up with them, and they were taken into exile. The prophets eventually died, but God’s word came to pass.
[My word] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11), wrote Isaiah. This is why Jesus said, the Scriptures must be fulfilled (Mark 14:49). Whatever God decrees will eventually come to pass.
Since everything the Bible predicted about the past has been fulfilled, we can be sure that everything the Bible predicts about the future will be fulfilled. This includes the return of Christ (Revelation 19:11-21), the defeat of Satan (Revelation 20:1-10), the punishment of the wicked (Revelation 20:15), and the eternal happiness of God’s people (Revelation 21:1-27). The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever (Isaiah 40:8), wrote Isaiah.
Zechariah 1:16-17 Therefore this is what the Lord says: I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. . . . My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.
The people needed to know that God had a future for them, so they could do his work with confidence, knowing their labor would not be in vain. We have a similar promise from the Apostle Paul. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58), he wrote.
My friend was given a classic car for his sixteenth birthday. It was in poor condition, but he spent countless hours, and thousands of dollars, making it new again. Then he was in an accident and all his work was lost.
But whatever we do for Christ can never be lost. [I] will reward each person according to what they have done (Matthew 16:27), said Jesus. The only loss for Christians is what we could have done for Christ but did not.
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.
This is a heavenly courtroom scene in which Satan accused Israel’s high priest of not being worthy of his office. The priest was dressed in filthy clothes representing his moral failures. But without a high priest, Israel would have no access to God, and would be no different than other nations. The situation was bleak.
Zechariah 3:2 The Lord said to Satan, The Lord rebuke you, Satan!
Satan’s charges were legitimate, but he was rebuked because God had chosen Joshua. Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire? (Zechariah 3:2b), said God.
Joshua was pulled from the fire of Babylonian exile to serve God as high priest. And God was going to remove his sin so he would not be disqualified. God had chosen him, and God would make him fit for service.
When Satan accused Joshua before God, he was doing what he loves to do. His name means adversary, and he is the enemy of God’s people. First he tempts us to sin, then he condemns us for our sin, then he accuses us to God of being sinners. Then he tells us to abandon God because we are not worthy.
Satan is the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night (Revelation 12:10), wrote John. But like Joshua, those who believe in Jesus Christ will not be rejected. Nor will the one who died for our sins put up with the devil forever. Satan will be thrown into the lake of burning sulfur [to be] tormented day and night for ever (Revelation 20:10), wrote John.
Zechariah 3:4 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 fine garments on you.
God took away Joshua’s sin, and clothed him with fine garments. We see this pattern elsewhere in the Bible. After they fell into sin, God clothed Adam and Eve with garments of skin (Genesis 3:21), possibly lamb’s skin to foreshadow the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Likewise, when we come to Christ, he not only takes away our sin but clothes us with himself. [A]ll of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:27), wrote Paul. Likewise, he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), wrote Isaiah. We are no longer naked, or wearing filthy clothes, but are beautifully clothed with Christ. Our sin is completely removed, and we are counted as righteous.
Reflection and Review
Why is it important to know that our work for Christ is never a waste of effort?
How does Satan oppose God’s people?
What do Joshua’s new clothes illustrate?