Open Your Bible
Zechariah 3:1-10, Zechariah 4:1-14, Romans 3:21-26, 1 Corinthians 1:28-29
We adopted two of our sons from Ethiopia nine years ago today. It has been a long journey for all of us, and I am so glad that I’m nine years down this road and not back at the starting line. As soon as we leapt over that starting line and landed on the ground in Africa, I thought I was probably going to die. We later realized I was just pregnant with baby number four. When the nannies thrust two sweet, sad, screaming boys at us we realized we were massively unprepared.
The early part of our adoption story is filled with diapers, fungi, and giardia. I remember how I longed to have all of the filth removed from my children and my home, but it seemed an unending struggle. And our boys couldn’t fix it themselves. Those sweet babies needed love, and sometimes latex-gloved hands, to help them out.
Just like helpless, sick toddlers from an orphanage with no running water, we, too, came to Christ dressed in filthy clothes. And we couldn’t get free of it on our own. Notice that in the fourth vision from today’s reading, the Lord doesn’t say to Joshua, “Get yourself cleaned up!” but instead “Take off his filthy clothes!” (Zechariah 3:4). He needed someone to do it for him, and so do we.
Christ removes our iniquity, and then He clothes us in festive robes (v.4). I love how the gospel gives us a total turn-around. He could have replaced filthy garments with a reasonable and sensible second-hand T-shirt. That’s certainly better than where we were. But Christ loves us and dresses us in the best He has to offer. He washes us clean and elevates us from the gutter to His right hand, like true sons and daughters.
Not only are our filthy rags removed, but we are made to dwell in the shadow of His covering, where we, now filled with the joy of the good news of the gospel, may invite our neighbors to also find rest (v.10). And as sons and daughters, we are invited to walk in His way and keep His mandates (v.7).
Just as we are unable to make ourselves clean by our own scrubbing, we are also dependent upon Him and His constant character. Our newness of life is achieved “not by strength or by might, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6). God is the one who makes the mountains a plain (v.7) and removes all obstacles. In this case, Zechariah prophesied the seemingly impossible completion of the temple. But in its true fulfillment, Christ establishes His temple and makes the mountains into plains (Isaiah 40:4). He alone breaks down the barriers of sin, and declares us righteous, a fit dwelling place for His Spirit.
And, newly cleansed, we will see that just as the temple completion in restored Jerusalem was the work of God alone, so also the conversion of our hearts and the cleansing of our guilt is achieved through grace (Zechariah 4:7).