Zechariah 3:1 “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.”
A Visit to the County Jail
A dark foreboding feeling crept over me as I pulled the metal door open and entered our neighboring county jail. I was there on business with nothing to fear, but still the clanging doors and dark dismal interior sent shivers up my spine. I waited on a cold bench until an officer unlocked the security doors and beckoned me into the hallway outside the office area. There, while waiting to be helped, I watched the movements of a few inmates and their wardens on the numerous security cameras behind the thick glass. Finally my business was completed. The door clicked open, and I hurried through the lobby and out into the sunshine.
As I headed to my car I breathed a sigh of relief. Yet my thoughts wondered about all of those who did not have the freedom to leave that imposing institution. What crimes did they commit? How long did they have to stay? What kinds of sordid things happened in there?
Satan, the Accuser of the Brothers
The Bible calls our enemy, Satan, an accuser of the brothers. He is always searching the earth for those whom he can indict before the Lord. There is nothing he would like better than to have us locked up in a prison of guilt and sin. He did this with Job, with Peter, and in a vision that the prophet Zechariah experienced.
In Zechariah’s vision Joshua, the high priest, was standing before the angel of the Lord. Satan was pointing to the dirty garments he wore and accusing him of vile things. The Lord, as judge, didn’t respond the way you would expect when presented with a terrible sinner. Instead He rebuked the accuser and told those standing near to remove the filthy garments and replace them with festal robes and a clean turban. The angel of the Lord then admonished Joshua to walk in the ways of the Lord. In so doing he would be fit to govern the temple, God’s dwelling place, and to perform the sacred duties with free access amongst all who were there.
Joshua, the high priest, represented the whole nation. God was revealing through this vision that though their accuser had a real case, He would cleanse them and set them free. In the following verses (3:8-10) a symbol of the Messiah, the Branch, is foreshadowed. This Branch, the Lord Jesus Christ, would eventually come to earth to set all prisoners free.
The Way Out of the County Jail or Other Prisons
Sadly, sin remains rampant here on the earth. There will always be those who stand before a judge and jury accused of wrongdoing and sentenced to imprisonment. There are many who, though they walk free on the streets outside the county jail, are imprisoned in their own hearts and minds. But everyone, even the cruelest of inmates, has the opportunity to be spiritually liberated.
The Judge of the earth vindicates all those who put their trust in Jesus. Satan, the accuser is thwarted. The prison doors of sin and guilt fly open. And the defendant is finally free!