Zechariah’s vision of Joshua the high priest shows how we, sinners clothed in filthy garments, may receive the pure righteousness of Christ.
Bibles, paper, pencils, a garbage bag full of paper trash to make a mess in the meeting room, 6-7 different hats
Connecting with the Scripture Topic
- Share a time when you needed to clean up a mess—a really big mess. Who caused the mess: your pets, your children, a colleague, yourself, someone you didn’t even know? Briefly describe your experience.
- Draw a picture of the mess you see in the middle of the room. Next to the picture, list the steps you think need to be taken to clean it up. Any human parallels? Share your observations.
Sharing and Receiving Scripture
- “God helps those who help themselves” has been a Christian axiom for over 300 years. Is it part of your religious worldview today? Why or why not?
- Thought Questions
In this lesson we will look at three of the eight visions God gave the prophet Zechariah about Israel just after their Babylonian captivity ended. Read Zechariah 1, paying particular attention to verses 8-17. What is the essence of his first vision?
- God is well aware of what is happening all over the world.
- No major conflicts were happening at that time.
- The Lord wanted the Israelites to get back on their land.
- God promises that the temple will be rebuilt.
- Israel has not been rejected by God; in fact, Israel is to be the recipient of great prosperity.
Zechariah’s third vision is found in chapter 2. Think about what this vision means or what parts of it may mean to the Israelites as they hear it for the first time.
- A man is seen with a line in his hand to measure Jerusalem; God is aware of all the dimensions.
- “Jerusalem will be a city without walls…” God will be the wall because there will be so many people.
- God will be their protection: “Whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye…”
- God says, “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people.”
- All mankind is called to be still before the Lord “because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling” (v. 13).
The fourth vision is very powerful. Read Zechariah 3:1-3. Israel had questions; maybe we can still relate to these questions today.
- Who does Joshua the high priest represent?
- Who is “the angel of the Lord”?
- What is the meaning of Satan standing at his right side to accuse him?
- Why does the Lord rebuke Satan?
- “Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” What does this mean?
Read Zechariah 3:4-10. In a very moving scene, the fourth vision now shows something happening to Joshua. What did this vision probably mean to the Israelites when they first heard it? What does this vision mean to us today?
- The angel of the Lord says to take off Joshua’s filthy garments.
- Joshua was clothed in a clean turban and clean clothes.
- After Joshua received the clean garments, he was told to be obedient.
- The angel of the Lord says of the future, “I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.”
- The Lord declares, “In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree.”
Applying the Message of Scripture
Gather in groups of two or three. Choose one of the following options and work on a solution. Then report back to the larger group when your facilitator says time is up.
- Option 1: One of your church elders had an affair, went through a messy divorce, was disfellowshipped from your church, and is now remarried. After five years he approaches your pastor, asks for forgiveness, and requests to be reunited in membership in your church. What should your church do? Should this man be reinstated as an elder?
- Option 2: Joshua the high priest was given a clean turban to symbolize his reinstatement as a priest. Choose one of the hats provided by your group leader. On a Post-It note, write a short statement to symbolize our reinstatement into God’s family; stick the note on the front of your hat. Discuss what each person wrote.
- Option 3: You are the apple of God’s eye; the Lord cares deeply about you. Write a short poem or just a few sentences to capture the message of Zechariah 2:8.
Valuing Scripture in Your Life
- Take a few minutes to reflect quietly on what you learned in this lesson. Ask the Lord, “Is there any part of my life that needs to be cleaned?” Listen to what God tells you (often in a still, small voice) about heaven’s plan for making these changes.
- In groups of two or three, pray for God to give you the assurance that Satan is rebuked and that you are a recipient of clean, new spiritual garments.