Thought for the Week - 21st JulyPastor Gareth Watkins
Last week, I attended our Church conference in Scotland. Pastor Alison Spiers said words that have stuck with me since: “the way we are taught to live under Christ is right way to live”. She spoke about how the Bible gives us examples on how to live.
For example, first the law was given. The Saducees and Pharisees used that law to crucify Christ. The law was never going to save us. We are lost in our trespasses and sin. We can obey the law, but we’ll not be right with God. The people asked for a king to lead them. The kings led the nations, but the kings were flawed men. In some instances they were men hardly capably of looking after their own selves due to their sins. God raised up great prophets like Isaiah, Elijah and Jeremiah. The people didn’t like what they had to say, as they spoke “woe unto you because of…”. People got fed up. Ultimately, the prophets were no good.
What had to happen is that Christ Himself had to come. God Himself had to send Jesus Christ into this world, so that we could have a right way of living. The law wasn’t doing it, the kings weren’t doing it and the prophets couldn’t do it. It took God, sending His own son – the best wine – to come. He was completely divine and completely human. He had to come into this world to give us this communion with God.
It’s incredible, all the things that God has done for us. The law, the kings and the prophets – in and of themselves – are not enough for us to live rightly. It takes Jesus Christ Himself to come into our orbit to save us. The way we are taught to live under Jesus Christ, is the right way to live.
We fight against this. Our inner being doesn’t like coming to Christ to ask for forgiveness. Our inner being doesn’t like asking Christ to show us how to live, how to dress, how to break our own natural own thinking. Jesus Christ shows us how to get through all these different things.
In Zechariah above, Zechariah was given a vision of Joshua the High Priest and satan. There’s a confrontation that comes between Joshua and satan. It’s almost like a court case, where satan is the accuser. He’s accusing Joshua of wearing dirty garments. In Biblical terms, these are sins. As Joshua is the High Priest, he’s talking of the sins of Israel being draped over Joshua. In one sense, this accusation is true. These people, who are being rebuilt into a nation under God, were carrying other Gods, religions, sins etc. before God. In the middle of all this happening, satan is railing against Joshua. He’s saying that Joshua has no right to come before God.
Have you ever been in that place? Where you feel you have no right to come before God? That’s what the accuser does. He accuses you. He tells you that you have no rights, that you’re dirty, that you cannot come into this place.
In the middle of this, God breaks right through. He says that He has removed the sin from Joshua. He says He will cloth him in rich robes. This isn’t luxurious clothing, but garments of righteousness, which are pure before God.
This is a picture of us today. We’re trying to live right and do our best. We can be accused, vulnerable, and trodden down by the accuser, who doesn’t want us to be clothed in garments of righteousness. It’s a picture of us.
God says to him that if he keeps His ways and His commandments, He will give Joshua charge of His courts. He’ll give Joshua a place to walk, and He’ll give Him a place to stand amongst His people.
Without God we’d have no right to come into this place. But God breaks through the filth and the accusation that satan pours out upon us. God breaks right through and comes into our lives, and claims us as His. Out of all people, God is speaking to you. He has chosen you. You have been selected to be apart for God. I hope you have felt that – special unto God. Clean garments put on, with right standing before God. All because God has ordained it to happen.
We read the prophetic word in verse 8, written 500 years before Christ. Zechariah speaks about the branch. This is Christ. This servant of God was to come, and was the covering that allows us to come in this new righteousness. After all the accusations that satan pours on us, and reminds us of, that God bursts through and says this one is mine.
Our filthy clothes are gone. We have clean garments. We are righteous, not because of the law or the prophets, but because of the one who was to come – the servant of God, called the branch by Zechariah.
In Zechariah 6: 12-13 we read more about the one who was to come:
2 Then speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the Lord;
13 Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” ’
This one who was to be the branch – the Christ who was yet to come – was the one to build the temple. Is the temple of God the building? Or is it the people? It’s not the bricks and mortar. The people are the temple of the living God. They are the ones who the Holy Spirit inhabits. The new temple was nothing to do with the old temple in Jerusalem, made of stone and ornate furnishings. This new temple would be built by the branch. That is what you and I are part of now. This branch has set out the conditions for the new temple, and has called us all into this place, where we would be part of this temple and we should bear the glory of the Lord. What a change!
The way we are taught to live under Jesus Christ, is the right way to live. He’s the one who’s opened the door for us. He’s the one who has the glory of God. He’s the one who has the authority and the equipping for us to bring us into the counsel that we’d be right with God. We can’t live in a place where we’re apart from God. We have to live in a place where we’re right and we’re at one with God. Just because we obey the law, doesn’t fulfil the requirement. Just because we listen to the prophet, doesn’t fulfil the requirement. What does fulfil the requirement is that we’re part of this new temple, built under God; that is the branch that God has set out for us to be under. He shall be a priest on His throne.
We’re called into a brand new world. A brand new world not based upon the things that ordinary men will see and hear. This new branch goes out to the world. It’s not just for the Jews, it’s for you and for me. This temple is worldwide. This temple He will rule over.
This vision that laid ahead of Zechariah, which now speaks to us and is now happening. This branch that God sent out – Jesus Christ – has brought us all into this new place which we have no right to be in, but can be because of Jesus Christ. That is the effect of the Messiah. God’s people will be reclaimed from the accuser. We will walk in clean lives. We will have new garments put on us. Garments from God Himself. The way we live now will be right under God, because God has ordained it.
Can we do this ourselves? No. We can’t reclaim ourselves. We can’t put clean garments upon ourselves. If we feel lost, sinful or away from God, we can’t help that condition. What we can do is bring ourselves before God, where He Himself will stop the accuser and reclaim us. Like He reclaimed Joshua. All the accusations in that court, all the noise and the atmosphere, will be broken because Christ can break into that place and give you the garments that belong to Him. The garments that belong to Him, He puts on you. Why? So that we can live pure and undefiled lives, and walk this world in the way that He wants us to live.
In Zechariah 4: 6 we read:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
This is how it works! We can’t do it in our natural selves. We need the Spirit of God to bring it to happen, so that we can live that walk. The way we’re taught to live under Christ is the right way to live.
Be encouraged. God has claimed us from this place and put us in a place of Holiness and righteousness, with a new life ahead.