Then he showed me the high priest Joshua 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 man a brand plucked from the fire.” Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” And to him, he said, “See, I have taken your guilt away from you, and I will clothe you in festal apparel.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him in the apparel, and the angel of the LORD was standing by.
Do you ever start feeling guilty the moment you start praying? Do you ever wonder why God would even listen to your prayers? If you do, it might be because someone is trying to keep you from praying. It might be because “Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon their knees.” (William Cowper, hymn: “What Various Hindrances We Meet”) What better way for the Evil One to attack us than to attack us on our knees! Satan does not waste time on the periphery; he goes straight for the jugular. An old adage reminds us “the devil lives very near the altar.” If you are catching flak when you start praying, you can know you are right over target!
In today’s scripture, we can see what can happen when people draw near to God for praying. The prophet Zechariah speaks of his vision in which he saw the high priest Joshua ready to minister. But there is “Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.” The Hebrew word “Satan” means “accuser”, which means Satan’s default mode is an accusation. Scripture does call Satan “the accuser of God’s people” (Revelation 12:10). Accusing believers is what the “father of lies” (John 8:44) does best.
But note in the vision that when Satan begins accusing, the angel of the Lord intervenes: “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan!” It is remarkable that Joshua stands before the altar “dressed in filthy clothes.” The Hebrew is actually more graphic, saying that he stands “dressed in excrement covered clothes.” Suddenly, the angel of the Lord commands: “Take off his filthy clothes.” This vision reveals the righteousness God gifts the believing sinner. God clothes the sinner in His divine righteousness! The vision shows us “the angel of the LORD” (aka, “the pre-incarnate Christ”) announcing: “See, I have taken your guilt away from you, and I will clothe you in festal apparel.” What a stunning visual of God’s redeeming grace!
When Zechariah sees sin and guilt taken away, he responds: “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” That is important, as the high priest’s turban would have had written on it: “Holy to the LORD” (Exodus 28:36). He who was sinful and defiled is now declared holy to God and ready for service! So those standing by do as Zechariah requests: “So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him in the apparel, and the angel of the LORD was standing by.”
Do not let the accusations of Satan discourage you! Do not let any sense of unworthiness keep you from praying! “Do not think of renouncing your priesthood; do not let a sense of unfitness keep you from your service! Stand where you are; for remember, you are standing in the only place where pollution can be washing away – you are standing before the Angel of the covenant!” (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons, Vol. 11)
The devil does tremble when he sees the weakest of us on our knees! We are holy to the Lord!
A Fellow Traveler,
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