If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 18, Revelation 7, Zechariah 3, John 6. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Zechariah 3.
One of the most important truths people need to grasp in order to understand our salvation is the concept of “imputation.” Imputation is a theological name for the truth that our salvation is given to us--imputed to us or credited to us--by God. God declares us to be not guilty and righteous in his sight even though we are actually guilty and unrighteous.
Zechariah 3 gives us a clear picture to help us understand imputation. In verse 1 a man named Joshua is facing the angel of the Lord but Satan is standing next to Joshua also. Verse 1 tells us that Joshua is “the high priest.” This indicates that he represents the whole nation; that’s what the high priest does when he goes to offer the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.
Satan stood next to Joshua “to accuse him.” He was ready to bring up every sin he’d ever committed in order to show that he was not a holy man but one who deserved God’s punishment. In verse 2, however, the Lord rebuked Satan and then said this, “Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” That statement indicates that Joshua has been saved. He was in the fire, about to be consumed for his sins, but the Lord snatched him from that judgment.
However, he was still burning because the Lord said, “Is not this man a burning stick....” So he had been rescued for the moment, but was still deserving of punishment. Verse 3 changes the imagery and notes that Joshua was “dressed in filthy clothes.” This was another way of conveying his guilt. In verse 4, the angel of the Lord decreed that his filthy clothes be exchanged for “fine garments” that the Lord would put on him. The meaning of this exchange: “I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” God imputed righteousness to him as symbolized by his rescue from the fire and the exchange of his robes.
After completing the clothing change for Joshua (v. 5) and charging him to live obediently to the Lord (vv. 6-7), the Lord explained the meaning of this vision. First, he told them that this was about things in the future: “...who are men symbolic of things to come...” (v. 8). In the future, then, the Lord promised, “I am going to bring my servant, the Branch.... and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day” (vv. 8-9).
This is what God has done for us in Christ. He rescued us from certain destruction and exchanged our guilt for his righteousness. And this is prophesied in the Old Testament because this is what God always intended. Israel never kept his laws because sinners are incapable of keeping the law of God without God’s gracious work in our lives. If you’ve come to know Jesus, “the Branch,” by faith, then no matter what you’ve done in your life or how guilty you feel, God silences the accusations of Satan against you and you stand before him perfect. This perfection came to you by imputation, when God credited to filthy sinners like you and me the perfect righteousness of Christ.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.