Changing SELF-Righteousness to GOD’s Righteousness: Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel. Then He answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying, "Take away the filthy garments from him." And to him He said, "See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes." (Zech 3:1-4)
In this fourth vision (3:1–10) the interpreting Angel of the Lord shows prophet Zechariah a trial scene in which Joshua, the high priest during the early days of the postexilic period (in Ezra 3:2 he is called Jeshua), is standing before God, the Judge. “Satan” is the actual Hebrew word in the text and could be translated “the accuser” or “the prosecutor”.
Joshua’s filthy garments represent the pollution of sin, which is the apostasy and infidelity of Israel. Joshua is helpless to cleanse himself, but God removes the sin and then provides His righteousness (Rev. 19:8). These actions symbolize God’s restoration of the priesthood and the nation. Thus this vision discloses the change from self-righteousness to God’s righteousness!
The cleansing of Joshua was not complete with the removal of his sin-soiled garments. God replaced the dirty clothes, dressing Joshua in clean garments that represented the gift of God’s righteousness. As sin is removed by the work of Christ, so His righteousness is placed in the believer’s account (Rom. 5:18, 19; 2 Cor. 5:21). We are clothed in the garments of Christ’s righteousness. The fact that Joshua had no part in his cleansing indicates that this work was totally by God’s grace (Eph. 1:7).
Let us understand that Satan is always looking for opportunities to “accuse” us before God (Job 1:6–12; 2:1–7; Rev. 12:10). However, we are chosen by God and belong to Him, and Satan cannot condemn us (Rom. 8:31–39). We can actually defeat this accuser through (a) trusting in the finished redemptive work of Jesus Christ, (b) believing in the Word of God completely, and (c) giving our lives in obeying God’s commandments. God removes our sin and clothes us with His righteousness because Jesus died for our sins and lives to intercede for us today!
"But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe." (Romans 3:21-22)