Today's Lectionary Text
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. The Lordsaid to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched 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.”
Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”
Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.
The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.
“‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.
“‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
There is a lot going on in this text, and maybe it seems a little obscure. When I received this passage, I admittedly couldn’t place it in my mind. So, to the books I went for research! The book of Zechariah is a collection of visions and oracles for the future — of the new things God is going to do. Chapter 3 is a vision of the author and stars Joshua, the high priest.
In this vision and oracle Joshua finds himself on trial -- his sins are keeping him from fulfilling his role and he appears before the court in filthy clothes. Because of his sin, he must be restored before continuing as high priest in this new era to be a part of the new things God is doing. He is compared to a brand being plucked from the fire — the angel takes away his sin and gives him in new, clean clothing.
In the oracle he is told that if he walks in God’s ways and keeps his requirements, he will govern, have charge of the courts, and be given a special place. The Branch and the stone represent the things that are to come — the new things God is doing. The Branch is thought of as Jesus, and the stone as the cornerstone of the New Jerusalem.
Lent is my absolute favorite time of year — this may sound weird because it is rather solemn and self-reflective, but I really love this intentional sacred time to reflect. To dig deeper as we make our way to the cross. To be transformed.
God’s power is transforming — we see this when Joshua comes to trial with filthy clothes and is given new, clean, rich garments when his sin is taken away. During this time of Lent, we aren’t necessarily on trial, but I believe God is calling us to look inward, face the things that cause us to get filthy, really examine those things and ask for repentance. We must be purified, examined, restored, reconciled if we are to be a part of the “new things” God is doing — in us, our churches, our ministries and in the world.
When this happens, we will then invite our neighbor and sit under the vine and fig tree, just as Joshua, which is a symbol of prosperity and peace. Let us strive to be reconciled.
Could we be called to enter the new future of the church? Could this season of Lent allow us to prepare to live into this prophetic vision?
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Prayer for Reflection
Prophetic God, we know you do not require us to be perfect. Help us to acknowledge when we fall short, when we cause harm, and when we seek our own glory instead of yours. Purify us during this season of Lent so we can fully live out the calling you have placed in our hearts.
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