I’m in the final push to finish reading the entire bible through this year as I have done for a number of years now. This year, I’ve used the “Bible Eater” schedule – yes, it’s a dumb name but it has been a good schedule for me. Generally, it’s three Old Testament chapters a day, one daily New Testament chapter, 4 days “off” per month and one book of the bible to read completely in one sitting per quarter. It’s broken up into quarters, so I can catch up a bit if I see that I’m behind schedule towards the end of March, June, and September.
One of the things I like about a bible reading plan is that it forces me to read that sections of the scriptures that I don’t read very often. How often do you read through Leviticus, Obediah or Zechariah? Over the years, I’ll read one of these forgotten passages and the gospel jumps off the page. I think, “Where has that been? I don’t remember every reading or hearing that discussed!”
This morning my surprise came from Zechariah 3 verse 3 and 4:
Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”
The vision of the prophet Zechariah is a clear gospel presentation as Joshua, the high priest, comes into the presence of God with not only filthy garments, but more literally, garments soiled with excrement. Satan is there to accuse Joshua of being unworthy, which of course is correct – a high priest can’t come before God dressed like that!
But God shows mercy.
Joshua’s filthy clothing is taken away by the Lord and he is clothed in pure vestments, the finest clothing imaginable. He doesn’t deserve this but God dresses him properly.
You and I need to hear that again and again – God grants mercy to those who are not worthy. Why? Because we can’t stand before God on our own merit. We’ve failed too many times. But God unites his children to Jesus by faith so that they are counted as righteous. As Paul put it in Romans 3:21-25:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
Read the Old Testament. And let God surprise you by his mercy and grace again and again.