Thursday, May 30, 2013

We are to be holy because He is holy

Last night at Wednesday night bible study, we were approaching 1 Peter 1:10 toward the end of the lesson: ("Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully")

and the next section in 1 Peter 1 is titled "Called to be holy." In vv. 10, & 13-21, it reminded me of the study I'm personally doing in Zechariah. This blog entry is about sharing my thoughts of the parallels between 1 Peter 1:1-21 and Zechariah 3. Chapter 3 in Zechariah is a tremendous passage in a tremendous book that really stopped me in my tracks this week.

Perhaps the reference Peter makes to the prophets of old prophesying about the grace of God can be seen in view here in Zech 3:1-5. Let's see.

"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. 2The Lord said 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?” 3Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4The 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.” 5Then 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."

My understanding is that Joshua the High Priest here is a picture of all Israel, called to be a holy (priestly) people before God and a light to the Gentiles. Now, I don't want to spiritualize this passage or make it be about the Church. In this vision, God was giving direct comfort and an explicit message to Israel, but there is a wider view that I think I as a NT believer after the cross can safely take in seeing the character of satan in this scenes and the character of God, because those things don't change.

In looking at the nature of the uncleanliness of Israel in their sin ... the words used here refer to their uncleanness as human waste of the filthiest kind. That is what "Joshua"/Israel was covered in. That is how God looks at sin. This is always instructive to see. Sin is not just ugly, but it is the worst sort of pollution.

The thought of standing before God in my own waste is a jarring enough picture. Satan is right to accuse Israel, they were filthy. They were idolatrous, blasphemous, and sinning upon sin. How does that old adage go? "when satan talks to us he lies but when he talks to God he tells the truth". He is truthfully pointing out the sin staining Israel.

Satan accuses us New Testament believers also, including me. (Rev 12:10). I can imagine him standing next to Jesus saying, "Did you see that? She is filthy with sin!" Ow!

But the wondrous part is when I read in Zechariah that the LORD rebuked satan for pointing it out and making the accusation!! He reminds satan that He has pulled Israel out of the fire (and us too, after the cross, 1 John 2:1). How great is His mercy that despite our filth, He loves His chosen people (and by extension, us)! It is a tremendous, tremendous scene.

And then His mercy deepens by His decision to place clean garments on Israel. They truly are a people close to His heart aren't they! And His Holy, Merciful nature is that He also put clean garments on us when we become justified. Perhaps I can say that as Peter says in verse 7, the faith that is "more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire" is this garment of salvation! The clean garments he places on us, and it is an amazing thing. Faith in His word He'll cleanse us of our sin and have it remain so, forever, despite satan's accusations.

As Zechariah closes out the section saying that the LORD ordered that a clean turban be put on the High Priest's head, we read in Exodus 28:36 that the turban had an engraving on it that said "HOLY TO THE LORD".

Replacing Israel's filth stained garments, and after the cross, replacing the Church age believer's filth stained garments, is to me the most incredible act in the entire universe. Is this what the angels think also, and is why they long to look into such things? (1 Peter 1:12). I dare to speculate perhaps so.

As we read further in the 1 Peter 1 chapter, the upcoming verses 13-15, the call of Peter for us to be holy is contrasted by this scene in Zechariah of the grace and mercy of God, who cleans His children of our own excrement, calls us holy, and gives us the garments to prove it so. Though the scene in Zechariah is discrete to Israel, I can use that picture to extend it through the cross to understand that He rebukes my accuser, cleans me of my filth, places on my head His name, and ordains over me the call to be Holy. We are to be holy because He is holy (Lev 11:44).

Understanding where I came from and what God has done for me through Jesus, and seeing the scene described so graphically in Zechariah helps me want to adhere fervently to the call of Peter to be holy for His sake- and not mine.

God is so great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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