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Cleansed by God

Some people (often single males), rely on the "sniff test" to ascertain whether their clothes are clean enough to wear. According to Reader's Digest, 70 percent of the soil on your clothing is invisible. Your clothes may look clean, but they still need to be washed. Even if they pass the sniff test!

Zechariah’s fourth vision involved the high priest Joshua. He had been the high priest sixteen years earlier when the exiles returned from captivity in Babylon. In a shocking image, Zechariah saw Joshua clothed in priestly garments spattered with human excrement. Satan stood on his right side to accuse him. This picture probably did not reflect Joshua’s personal character so much as it portrayed the condition of those he represented (v. 8). It is certainly true that even the works of God’s best servants are flawed by sin. In a way, this disturbing portrait of Joshua is a picture of us as well. However, in a beautifully symbolic act, the interpreting angel commanded that Joshua’s filthy garments be replaced and announced that his sin was forgiven (vv. 4–5).

This vision not only anticipates the gospel’s promise of a new nature but also foreshadows the coming of the great high priest Jesus Christ. The book of Hebrews describes the problem faced by Israel’s ordinary priests. Every priest was a sinner just like those he represented. The high priest had to offer a sacrifice for his own sins, as well as the sins of the people (Heb. 5:3). But Jesus Christ had no sin (John 8:46). Because of this, He was able to be both the perfect High Priest and the perfect sacrifice when He sacrificed Himself “once for all” (Heb. 7:27). This transforming power of Christ’s forgiveness is compared to a change of clothes in several places in the New Testament (Rom. 13:13–14; Eph. 4:22–25; Col. 3:10–12).

Apply the Word

Every time you wash your hands or change your clothes, remember today’s lesson. When you trust in Christ, you are clothed in His righteousness! Like Joshua in Zechariah’s vision, you must receive this gift from Christ Himself. Once you receive His righteousness, make a daily choice to live in its power. Take off the old ways and put on the new

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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