Joshua and the Angel
The steady advancement made by the builders of the temple greatly
discomfited and alarmed the hosts of evil. Satan determined to put forth
still further effort to weaken and discourage God's people by holding
before them their imperfections of character. If those who had long
suffered because of transgression could again be induced to disregard
God's commandments, they would be brought once more under the bondage of
Because Israel had been chosen to preserve the knowledge of God in
the earth, they had ever been the special objects of Satan's enmity; he
was determined to cause their destruction. While they were obedient, he
could do them no harm; therefore he had bent all his power and cunning
to entice them into sin. Ensnared by his temptations, they had
transgressed the law of God and had been left to become the prey of
Yet though they were carried as captives to Babylon, God did not
forsake them. He sent His prophets to them with reproofs and warnings,
and aroused them to see their guilt. When they humbled themselves before
God and returned to Him with true repentance, He sent them messages of
encouragement, declaring that He would deliver them from captivity,
restore them to His favor, and once more establish them in their own
land. And now that this work of restoration had begun, and a remnant of
Israel had already returned to Judea, Satan was determined to frustrate
the carrying out of the divine purpose, and to this end he was seeking
to move upon the heathen nations to destroy them utterly.
But in this crisis the Lord strengthened His people "with good
words and comfortable words." Zechariah 1:13. Through an impressive
illustration of the work of Satan and the work of Christ, He showed the
power of their Mediator to vanquish the accuser of His people.
In vision the prophet beholds "Joshua the high priest,"
"clothed with filthy garments" (Zechariah 3:1, 3), standing
before the Angel of the Lord, entreating God's mercy in behalf of his
afflicted people. As he pleads for the fulfillment of God's promises,
Satan stands up boldly to resist him. He points to the transgressions of
Israel as a reason why they should not be restored to the favor of God.
He claims them as his prey, and demands that they be given into his
The high priest cannot defend himself or his people from Satan's
accusations. He does not claim that Israel is free from fault. In filthy
garments, symbolizing the sins of the people, which he bears as their
representative, he stands before the Angel, confessing their guilt, yet
pointing to their repentance and humiliation, and relying upon the mercy
of a sin-pardoning Redeemer. In faith he claims the promises of God.
Then the Angel, who is Christ Himself, the Saviour of sinners, puts
to silence the accuser of His people, declaring, "The Lord rebuke
thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is
not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" Verse 2. Long had Israel
remained in the furnace of affliction. Because of their sins they had
been well-nigh consumed in the flame kindled by Satan and his agents for
their destruction, but God had now set His hand to bring them forth.
As the intercession of Joshua is accepted, the command is given,
"Take away the filthy garments from him;" and to Joshua the
Angel says, "Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from
thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment." "So they
set a fair miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments."
Verses 4, 5. His own sins and those of his people were pardoned. Israel
was clothed with "change of raiment"--the righteousness of
Christ imputed to them. The miter be placed upon Joshua's head was such
as was worn by the priests,and bore the inscription, "Holiness to
the Lord" (Exodus 28:36), signifying that notwithstanding his
former transgressions, he was now qualified to minister before God in
The Angel now declared to Joshua: "Thus saith the Lord of hosts;
If thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep My charge, then thou
shalt also judge My house, and shalt also keep My courts, and I will
give thee places to walk among these that stand by." Zechariah 3:7.
If obedient, he should be honored as the judge, or ruler, over the
temple and all its services; he should walk among attending angels, even
in this life; and at last he should join the glorified throng around the
throne of God.
"Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that
sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring
forth My Servant the Branch." Verse 8. In the Branch, the Deliverer
to come, lay the hope of Israel. It was by faith in the coming Saviour
that Joshua and his people had received pardon. Through faith in Christ
they had been restored to God's favor. By virtue of His merits, if they
walked in His ways and kept His statutes, they would be "men
wondered at," honored as the chosen of Heaven among the nations of
As Satan accused Joshua and his people, so in all ages he accuses
those who seek the mercy and favor of God. He is "the accuser of
our brethren, . . . which accused them before our God day and
night." Revelation 12:10. Over every soul that is rescued from the
power of evil, and whose name is registered in the Lamb's book of life,
the controversy is repeated. Never is one received into the family of
God without exciting the determined resistance of the enemy. But He who
was the hope of Israel then, their defense, their justification and
redemption, is the hope of the church today.
Satan's accusations against those who seek the Lord are not prompted
by displeasure at their sins. He exults in their defective characters;
for he knows that only through their transgression of God's law can he
obtain power over them.
His accusations arise solely from his enmity to Christ. Through the
plan of salvation, Jesus is breaking Satan's hold upon the human family
and rescuing souls from his power. All the hatred and malignity of the
archrebel is stirred as he beholds the evidences of Christ's supremacy;
and with fiendish power and cunning he works to wrest from Him the
children of men who have accepted salvation. He leads men into
skepticism, causing them to lose confidence in God and to separate from
His love; he tempts them to break the law and then claims them as his
captives, contesting Christ's right to take them from him.
Satan knows that those who ask God for pardon and grace will obtain
it; therefore he presents their sins before them to discourage them.
Against those who are trying to obey God, he is constantly seeking
occasion for complaint. Even their best and most acceptable service he
seeks to make appear corrupt. By countless devices, the most subtle and
the most cruel, he endeavors to secure their condemnation.
In his own strength, man cannot meet the charges of the enemy. In
sin-stained garments, confessing his guilt, he stands before God. But
Jesus, our Advocate, presents an effectual plea in behalf of all who by
repentance and faith have committed the keeping of their souls to Him.
He pleads their cause, and by the mighty arguments of Calvary,
vanquishes their accuser. His perfect obedience to God's law has given
Him all power in heaven and in earth, and He claims from His Father
mercy and reconciliation for guilty man. To the accuser of His people He
declares: "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan. These are the purchase of
My blood, brands plucked from the burning." And to those who rely
on Him in faith, He gives the assurance, "Behold, I have caused
thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of
raiment." Zechariah 3:4.
All who have put on the robe of Christ's righteousness will stand
before Him as chosen and faithful and true. Satan has no power to pluck
them out of the hand of the Saviour. Not one soul who in penitence and
faith has claimed His protection will Christ permit to pass under the
enemy's power. His word is pledged: "Let him take hold of My
strength, that he may make peace with Me; and he shall make peace with
Me." Isaiah 27:5. The promise given to Joshua is given to all:
"If thou wilt keep My charge,. . . I will give thee places to walk
among these that stand by." Zechariah 3:7. Angels of God will walk
on either side of them, even in this world, and they will stand at last
among the angels that surround the throne of God.
Zechariah's vision of Joshua and the Angel applies with peculiar
force to the experience of God's people in the closing scenes of the
great day of atonement. The remnant church will then be brought into
great trial and distress. Those who keep the commandments of God and the
faith of Jesus will feel the ire of the dragon and his hosts. Satan
numbers the world as his subjects; he has gained control even of many
professing Christians. But here is a little company who are resisting
his supremacy. If he could blot them from the earth, his triumph would
be complete. As he influenced the heathen nations to destroy Israel, so
in the near future he will stir up the wicked powers of earth to destroy
the people of God. Men will be required to render obedience to human
edicts in violation of the divine law.
Those who are true to God will be menaced, denounced, proscribed.
They will be "betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks,
and friends," even unto death. Luke 21:16. Their only hope is in
the mercy of God; their only defense will be prayer. As Joshua pleaded
before the Angel, so the remnant church, with brokenness of heart and
unfaltering faith, will plead for pardon and deliverance through Jesus,
their Advocate. They are fully conscious of the sinfulness of their
lives, they see their weakness and unworthiness; and they are ready to
The tempter stands by to accuse them, as he stood by to resist
Joshua. He points to their filthy garments, their defective characters.
He presents their weakness and folly, their sins of ingratitude, their
unlikeness to Christ, which has dishonored their Redeemer. He endeavors
to affright them with the thought that their case is hopeless, that the
stain of their defilement will never be washed away. He hopes so to
destroy their faith that they will yield to his temptations, and turn
from their allegiance to God.
Satan has an accurate knowledge of the sins that he has tempted God's
people to commit, and he urges his accusations against them, declaring,
that by their sins they have forfeited divine protection, and claiming
that he has the right to destroy them. He pronounces them just as
deserving as himself of exclusion from the favor of God. "Are
these," he says, "the people who are to take my place in
heaven, and the place of the angels who united with me? They profess to
obey the law of God; but have they kept its precepts? Have they not been
lovers of self more than lovers of God? Have they not placed their own
interests above His service? Have they not loved the things of the
world? Look at the sins that have marked their lives. Behold their
selfishness, their malice, their hatred of one another. Will God banish
me and my angels from His presence, and yet reward those who have been
guilty of the same sins? Thou canst not do this, O Lord, in justice.
Justice demands that sentence be pronounced against them."
But while the followers of Christ have sinned, they have not given
themselves up to be controlled by the satanic agencies. They have
repented of their sins and have sought the Lord in humility and
contrition, and the divine Advocate pleads in their behalf. He who has
been most abused by their ingratitude, who knows their sin and also
their penitence, declares: "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan. I gave
My life for these souls. They are graven upon the palms of My hands.
They may have imperfections of character; they may have failed in their
endeavors; but they have repented, and I have forgiven and accepted
The assaults of Satan are strong, his delusions are subtle; but the
Lord's eye is upon His people. Their affliction is great, the flames of
the furnace seem about to consume them; but Jesus will bring them forth
as gold tried in the fire. Their earthliness will be removed, that
through them the image of Christ may be perfectly revealed.
At times the Lord may seem to have forgotten the perils of His church
and the injury done her by her enemies. But God has not forgotten.
Nothing in this world is so dear to the heart of God as His church. It
is not His will that worldly policy shall corrupt her record. He does
not leave His people to be overcome by Satan's temptations. He will
punish those who misrepresent Him, but He will be gracious to all who
sincerely repent. To those who call upon Him for strength for the
development of Christian character, He will give all needed help.
In the time of the end the people of God will sigh and cry for the
abominations done in the land. With tears they will warn the wicked of
their danger in trampling upon the divine law, and with unutterable
sorrow they will humble themselves before the Lord in penitence. The
wicked will mock their sorrow and ridicule their solemn appeals. But the
anguish and humiliation of God's people is unmistakable evidence that
they are regaining the strength and nobility of character lost in
consequence of sin. It is because they are drawing nearer to Christ,
because their eyes are fixed on His perfect purity, that they discern so
clearly the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Meekness and lowliness are the
conditions of success and victory. A crown of glory awaits those who bow
at the foot of the cross.
God's faithful, praying ones are, as it were, shut in with Him. They
themselves know not how securely they are shielded. Urged on by Satan,
the rulers of this world are seeking to destroy them; but could the eyes
of God's children be opened as were the eyes of Elisha's servant at
Dothan, they would see angels of God encamped about them, holding in
check the hosts of darkness.
As the people of God afflict their souls before Him, pleading for
purity of heart, the command is given, "Take away the filthy
garments," and the encouraging words are spoken, "Behold, I
have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee
with change of raiment." Zechariah 3:4. The spotless robe of
Christ's righteousness is placed upon the tried, tempted, faithful
children of God. The despised remnant are clothed in glorious apparel,
nevermore to be defiled by the corruptions of the world. Their names are
retained in the Lamb's book of life, enrolled among the faithful of all
ages. They have resisted the wiles of the deceiver; they have not been
turned from their loyalty by the dragon's roar. Now they are eternally
secure from the tempter's devices. Their sins are transferred to the
originator of sin. A "fair miter" is set upon their heads.
While Satan has been urging his accusations, holy angels, unseen,
have been passing to and fro, placing upon the faithful ones the seal of
the living God. These are they that stand upon Mount Zion with the Lamb,
having the Father's name written in their foreheads. They sing the new
song before the throne, that song which no man can learn save the
hundred and forty and four thousand which were redeemed from the earth.
"These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These
were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the
Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault
before the throne of God." Revelation 14:4, 5.
Now is reached the complete fulfillment of the words of the Angel:
"Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit
before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring
forth My Servant the Branch." Zechariah 3:8. Christ is revealed as
the Redeemer and Deliverer of His people. Now indeed are the remnant
"men wondered at," as the tears and humiliation of their
pilgrimage give place to joy and honor in the presence of God and the
Lamb. "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and
glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for
them that are escaped of Israel. And it shall come to pass, that he that
is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called
holy, even everyone that is written among the living in Jerusalem."
Isaiah 4:2, 3.
[ Back ] [ Up ] [ Next ]