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“Listen, O high priest Joshua 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.” (Zechariah 3:8-9)
Many individuals in our church have been reading through the Bible in 2021 in conjunction with listening to a daily podcast called The Bible Recap, which offers a seven-ish minute summary of the day’s reading. I first discovered this podcast in August of last year, and began listening to it daily while reading the Bible.
I still remember the moment I came to believe that it would be meaningful to get our whole church involved in this daily endeavor. It was September 20th, 2020, and the day’s reading was Zechariah 1-4, a passage that, before that day, I could not have told you what it was about. And even as I read Zechariah 3, it was interesting, but Tara-Leigh Cobble’s commentary on The Bible Recap helped bring to life the picture of Jesus and the gospel that was found in that passage. In Zechariah 3, Zechariah has a vision of Joshua, the high priest, standing before the angel of the Lord in filthy clothes with Satan accusing him. You know those nightmares where you are embarrassed in front of a large group of people? This is that nightmare times a thousand. After all, there were elaborate bathing and purifying rituals that the high priest had to engage in before entering the holy of holies in the temple, and many of the Jews would be gathered together in Jerusalem to be a part of the ceremony. But in this vision, the high priest is filthy before the Lord (filthy being a euphemism for covered in excrement).
Despite Joshua’s awful predicament, the Lord announces that Joshua’s filthy clothes will be removed, his sin will be taken away, and rich garments will be put on him. He exhorts Joshua to walk with Him and keep his requirements. And then he prophesies that He will send His servant, the Branch, a popular term for the Messiah, and that He will remove the sin of the land in a single day.
This passage is a beautiful picture of the gospel, how despite our best efforts to make ourselves good, we are still covered with filth, stained with sin. But God offers us forgiveness and a new heart, setting us free from the condemnation of our enemy. How can God do this? Because He sent His Son Jesus, the Branch from the family tree of David, to take away our sins in a single day as He hung on that cross, and has given us His perfect record.
As moving as this image is, it is also one of hundreds of pictures of Jesus and whispers of the gospel in the Old Testament. One of the incredible things about reading through the whole Bible along with the Bible Recap has been seeing just how often these random stories, that we may have never really read or paid attention to, point us to Jesus and give us a greater picture of our amazing God. As we begin the New Testament on Friday, I am eager to see just how more meaningful our experience of Jesus will be, now that we have seen how the whole Old Testament story points to Him.
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