Too Filthy to Serve?

And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
2 And the LORD said unto Satan, 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?
3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.
4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.
5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. (Zec 3:1-5 KJV)

Have you ever believed that you were so shameful and filthy that there was no way you could ever serve the Lord?

This is exactly what Joshua the High Priest was going through.  When Zechariah the Prophet ministered, Israel had just returned from their exile in Babylon.  Joshua was the grandson of the High Priest who was carried away with Jeconiah and the rest of the captives.  They had spent 70 years in Babylon. They had rebelled against God and God drove them from His presence.  Joshua had known nothing else but the experience of being an exile in a corrupt and filthy culture.

But now the exiles had returned!  Zerubbabel had begun to build the temple, and Joshua, the descendant of the first High Priest, Aaron, was to begin his service.  What a tremendous calling!  When you read about the cleansing of the High Priest to make him fit for service (Exodus 39-40), it can take your breath away.  The High Priest stood in the very presence of a Holy God, making intercession for the people.  But Joshua was defiled.

He not only was defiled by his own sins, but he was also defiled by the sins of his father, his grandfather and the whole nation of Israel, all the way back to his first parents, Adam and Eve.  He had been an outcast and an exile, alienated from the land and the covenant of God.  Jeremiah wrote, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed!”  Joshua, and all the rest of Israel, were only alive because God saved a remnant, not because they deserved it.

But the fact remained that they were filthy.

Satan, the accuser of the brethren, was on hand to remind Joshua how filthy he was.  “Look at you!  How can you possibly serve God?  You are fit for nothing, skilled in nothing, covered with corruption just like your parents before you!”

His was the voice of the abuser.  “You are worthless. Scum. Violated.  Outcast. You don’t deserve anything and should be grateful that you are even alive.  Now you want to serve God?  Wait until everyone finds out who you really are!”

The scene in Zechariah 3 is the courtroom of God.  Satan is on Joshua’s right hand to resist him.

But then the Lord silences the mouth of Satan.  It isn’t that Joshua WASN’T unclean.  He certainly was.  His garments were filthy (the Hebrew here means to be covered with excrement).  He certainly was not at all fit for God’s service.  He was a sinner, from a line of sinners, corrupted by birth – even as all the others.

But the voice of shame and condemnation came from Satan, not from God.  God’s voice rebukes Satan.  And there is only one reason.  God chose Joshua.  God chose to make Joshua his servant.  God not only chose Joshua, God also makes Joshua fit for service.  He commands the angels to take off Joshua’s filthy garments and clothe him with clean clothes.  God commands them to put a turban, the symbol of the priest’s authority on his head.

God makes Joshua fit for service!

Of course, this is all a picture.  It is a vision that Zechariah sees in heaven.  The reality is this.  God has chosen his church, calls them to service.  Each one of us is called to serve.  We are called to love God with our whole heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves.  We are called to worship and serve the Lord.  We are called to use our gifts readily and cheerfully for the advantage and welfare of the church of God.

And Satan is still there to oppose us.  “YOU? Nobody wants to talk to you.  What if they find out who you really are?  What if they find out about your childhood?  What if they find out who your parents really were?  You aren’t fit to serve.  You’ve been defiled.  You are unclean.  You have no skill, no gift, no ability that anyone would want.  You’re just a drain on everybody.  Just go home.  Nobody likes you anyway.”

But if you have come to Christ in repentance and faith, this isn’t the voice of God calling you filthy and worthless.  This is the voice of Satan.  His name means, “The accuser”.  He is also a liar and he has many children on this earth who do his bidding.  They are the ones that snort with contempt when you speak.  They are the ones that cut you down and tear you to pieces. They are the ones that make sure you always remember just how stupid, useless, and wasteful your whole life is. They act like they are just “speaking the truth”, but they neglect something very crucial.  You aren’t wearing filthy garments any more!

Your sins and your shame were put on Jesus Christ.  He was beaten and mocked and reproached as a criminal in your place.  And now you are His and He is yours.  THIS is who you are, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

You are not worthless anymore.  You are not unclean, defiled, filthy and unwanted.

You have been fit for service.  You have been clothed with Christ and all of His righteousness.  When the devil says you are worthless, he is really saying that Jesus is worthless, because you are a member of Christ and a partaker of His anointing.

Statistics tell us that one out of four women are sexually abused in their lifetimes.  A very common side-effect of sexual abuse is this:  I am defiled.  I am worthless.  I have no value.  I have nothing to offer.

Some victims go on to live lives of worthlessness and hopelessness, believing that they have nothing to offer.  Drug use, prostitution, marrying abusive men, cutting, eating disorders and sometimes even suicide.

A recent question has surfaced in social media since the Ray Rice story surfaced.  “Why did she stay?”  Why would a woman choose to stay with an abuser?

I believe that there are many different answers because human nature is what it is.  It is complex.  The heart is deceitful and only God knows it.

But I also know that one answer comes up again and again.  “I’m not worth anything else.  I have no gifts.  I have no value.  At least he wants me.  No one else does.”

That’s a lie of the devil.  There is One who wants you.  He wants you to come to Him and cry out to Him and cast all of your sins and shame upon Him.  There is one who shouts in the crowd, “Come to me, all who are thirsty! Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden!”

There is One who has given his life to redeem.  To redeem means to buy out of bondage.  He came to rescue and redeem the Joshuas and the Rahabs and that Tamars of the world.  The hurt and broken and sinful and weary.  He cries out to all of them with a loud voice, “Come to me and I will give the water of life freely!”  And whoever comes to Him He will never, ever cast away.

In fact, He not only will never cast them away, He will make them His bride!  He will gather, defend and preserve them to the end!  He will take off the filthy garments and give you the garments of a priest!  Listen to what the Bible says concerning those who were unclean, filthy, outcast and worthless.  They came to Christ and now they are no longer outcast and unclean, but this:

9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. (1Pe 2:9-10 KJV)

The mercy of God is astounding!  We have truly been fit for service!  We have truly been given the garments and the turban of a king and a priest because we belong to our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ, Son of Man and Son of God.

May glory and honor and might and praise and dominion be His forever and ever!

Amen.

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