The Gospel in Zechariah

June 18, 2023

David Sorn

Even 500 years before Jesus, the Gospel is seen clearly in the Old Testament.

The Gospel in Zechariah

June 18, 2023

David Sorn

Even 500 years before Jesus, the Gospel is seen clearly in the Old Testament.

SERMON TRANSCRIPT | Zechariah 3:1-10


Morning again!

Well, we are in week 3 of our Zechariah series as a church.

So go ahead and open up to the Book of Zechariah in the Bible.

If you grabbed a church Bible from the Welcome Tent, we’re on page 647

If you’re using our app, just tap “Outdoor Services,” and then “Weekly Verses.”

While you’re finding our Bible passage,

Let me catch you up to speed on Zechariah

Zechariah is a prophet who ministered about 520 years before Jesus.

And he was speaking to Jews who had just come back to Jerusalem from a long exile to Babylon.

And God gave Zechariah eight different night visions..

….powerful images of truth that God wanted to convey to his people.

And today, we are on the 4th of those 8 visions.

And as we start unpacking this particular vision, I want you to notice how the Gospel (the truth that we can be forgiven by faith in Christ) is all over this passage.

In fact, verse 8 of our passage today is going to say, “these things are symbolic of things to come”

So, even though we’re in the Old Testament, you’re going to see the Christian Gospel, in its glory today.

This is partly why I wanted to do this 14-week series on a fairly obscure prophet, because I wanted to show you how God’s Gospel is all over the Scriptures.

Let’s read the first 2 verses of chapter 3

(Zechariah 3:1-2)

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

There are 3 key figures in this vision today: Let’s look at each of them one at a time.

(Blank Screen)

The first person in the vision is Joshua, the high priest.

Now, the high priest of the Jewish people was the one who represented them to God.

He offered the most important sacrifices on behalf of the people…like on the day of atonement.

And so in this vision, Joshua (the high priest), stands for, He represents, God’s people…and now, us.

Next, is the Angel of the Lord.

“The Angel of the Lord” appears often in the Old Testament…and he appears as an angel (or even in the appearance of a man).

And oftentimes He speaks, not only on behalf of the Lord, but as if He IS the Lord.

And so many commentators therefore suspect that is most likely Jesus…before He came to earth.

And then the third figure in the vision is Satan, the devil.

Actually, the Hebrew literally reads, THE Accuser.

So now that we know who everybody is, let’s look at verse 1 again.

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.

Now, in this chapter, we’re going to see “Double Fulfillment” like we talked about last week.

Prophecy that is fulfilled partly in the near term, and then more completely fulfilled at a later date.

So in one sense, this is a vision about how God has saved the Jews from the fire of Babylon, forgiven them, and brought them back for a greater purpose and future.

But in a deeper sense, we are going to see the Gospel, for you and me, and for anyone who would accept it.

In fact, I want to do today is show you 5 Glorious Gospel Truths in Zechariah chapter 3

And I’d love you to write these 5 truths down because I want this go deep into your heart and memory.

You can even take notes right in our app.

In fact, if you tap on messages, and then today’s message, and then “take a note,” you can take notes right there in the app, and it’ll even save your notes in this message within the app!

It’s pretty neat!

5 Glorious Gospel Truths

#1: He snatched you from the fire

This is the Gospel truth that Joshua (who is us in the vision) was a burning stick snatched from the fire (that’s the end of verse 2)

And Christians, it is critical that we understand this Gospel truth correctly…every part of it

Because some people get this wrong, and they say there is no fire…no hell.

A loving God wouldn’t have hell.

But listen, God isn’t just loving, He’s holy….and his wrath and justice is real.

And there is an eternal fire coming as judgment for our sin.

And people will go there to pay for their sins, if they don’t let Jesus take the punishment for them.

But when you believe in Jesus, He snatches you from that fire.

Other Christians mix up this truth in a different way, and they seem to think of humanity, not like a “burning stick” in the fire, but more like a “gem in the fire.”

Some people feel like God saved them because of their faith, but also because well, they are good people.

And they are special, and unique.

As if God looked down and saw them and said, “Wow, look at that gem! Impressive! I’ve got to get them!”

But no, it says we are a burning stick…a charred stick.

Full of sin…dirty…messy.

And yet realize that you being stick, and not a gem (with all sorts of good deeds to earn your way to God)…you being a stick actually elevates God’s love for you.

Because He snatched you from the fire…not because of what you’ve done…or who you are…but because He just LOVES you.

That’s a deeper love.

If someone says, “David, you are a gem! I love you because I think you’re a good pastor,” that’s nice.

But if someone (like my family members), say, “David, I just love you…because I love you…even though I see all of your flaws up close”

That’s deeper.

And that’s closer to what God’s love for you is…

You are a burning stick, and yet a burning stick that He loved, and snatched from the fire.


So #1, in God’s great love for you, Christian, He has snatched you from the fire.

5 Glorious Gospel Truths

#1: He snatched you from the fire

#2: He advocates for you

This is one of the great truths of Scripture, and not enough Christians know it nowadays.

So when we sin, mess up, and fall short…

…Satan, and his legions, do their work, most often, by accusing us.

By shooting their flaming arrows at our minds to say, “God doesn’t love you after that…you’re not really a Christian…you’re not going to heaven…you’re a disgrace.

And the evil one accuses us…even to God.

And in the vision, the Lord says what to those accusations?

He basically says to the devil, “You shut your mouth”.

He rebukes him for even speaking about it.

And in the New Testament we see the same imagery as Zechariah does in his vision.

There, Jesus is also described as our advocate

1 John 2:1 says: “If anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous one

Jesus advocates for us (that is He speaks up on our behalf).

In the book, “Gentle & Lowly,” by Dane Ortlund, which is an excellent book on the character of Christ…highly recommend to you.

He has a great chapter about Christ, our advocate, and in it, he asks:

“How do you think about Jesus's attitude toward that dark pocket of your life that only you know? The over-dependence upon alcohol. The lost temper, time and again. The shady business about your finances. The people-pleasing that looks to others like niceness but which you know to be fear of man. The entrenched resentment that bursts out in behind-the-back accusations. The habitual use of pornography. Who is Jesus, in those moments….? Not: Who is he once you conquer that sin, but who is he in the midst of it?”

It’s a good question:

In those dark moments, as Satan accuses you of sin (maybe even rightfully so), what do you believe Jesus to be doing in those moments?

The Bible says…He is advocating for you.

He is defending you.

Not to excuse your sin, for He longs for you to leave it behind.

But he defends you to the Father.

But how?

What would he say?

Let me tell you what He doesn’t say.

He doesn’t say: “Father, just give them another chance. They won’t mess up again. They’re better than this. This isn’t who they are. They’re a good person!”

No, no, no.

That’s maybe the postmodern, American Jesus, but that’s not Biblical Jesus.

I heard Timothy Keller once explain it like this:

Jesus is your advocate, which is like your defense attorney.

A defense attorney doesn’t just emotionally plead with the judge.

The defense attorney makes a case.

And so Jesus goes before the Father and he says, “Father, your Law demands payment for sin, and the wages of sin is death.

So here is the payment.

Look at my blood.

I’ve made the payment for their sin with my death on the cross.

And so therefore, Father, it would be completely unjust of you to get two payments for sin.

Therefore, they cannot be punished.

I have already snatched them from the fire…once, and for all!

What a truth.

And so when you mess up this week…because we will.

Remind yourself that:

Jesus has snatched you from the fire.

And even when you mess up again, He is in heaven, Advocating for you!



But the Gospel is EVEN richer…let’s keep reading.

(Zechariah 3:3-5) – NIV

3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”

Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”

5 Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.

This is the Gospel…in the Old Testament.

(Blank Screen)

Joshua can’t stand in the presence of a holy and perfect God with those dirty and sinful clothes.

In fact, the Hebrew word here for filthy basically means that Joshua has vomit and excrement all over his clothes.

It’s sin. It represents sin.

That’s us.

And hear me, if you aren’t saved by God (you haven’t put your faith in Him), the Bible makes it clear, you will not go to heaven…because you will still be clothed in sin.

Even if you were to say at your judgment, “God, you have to let me in…I volunteered in the community, I coached my kids winless soccer team…I’m a good person”

But the problem is, you’re seeing your life through your own eyes, not through God’s.

Let me explain it this way:

I started doing my own laundry in college (don’t judge me), and I would always (for right or for wrong) pour my laundry detergent right on my clothes.

But I remember, I went over to this hangout at a friend’s dorm, and he had black lights in his door room.

And when I walked up there, I was feeling good and fine…

But then when I walked in under the black light, you could literally see lines and spots all over my clothes from where I had poured my laundry detergent.

And in a similar way, you may feel (in your eyes) like you’re clean, like you’re a good person, but when the Holy Light of God shines on your life…

Your sin will be exposed in a similar way.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

For the Christian, we believe, that not only has God snatched us from the fire (and forgiven us!), and not only does He still love us and advocate for us, but that he clothes us with His garments.

This is the 3rd Gospel Truth

5 Glorious Gospel Truths

#1: He snatched you from the fire

#2: He advocates for you

#3: He clothes you in righteousness

This is that illustration I use with you all the time, but see, here it is, even in Zechariah…in the Old Testament.

When you put your faith in Jesus, and that He died for your sins, your sin gets put on Him, and you, get clothed and covered in his righteousness.

And so that when we meet God in Heaven, Christians, we need not tremble in His presence like our sin is going to be exposed and judged, but we can stand, confidently, and expectantly, because we have new clothes

We have been clothed in his righteousness.

And may that Gospel Truth change the way you walk with God.

So that when you fall down, you don’t feel that you somehow need to build back up your heavenly resume to earn back His love.

I pray that you would remember that you already wear the spotless clothes of Christ.

And realize this is so different than any other religion.

I mentioned about a month ago that I was going to study the Quran, the book of the Muslims, and I finished reading it last week.

And one thing that stuck out to me is that Quran claims that people have an angel on each shoulder.

The angel on the right records their good deeds, and the one on the left, their bad deeds.

So Muslims believe, at their judgement, that the record of these deeds will then be presented to God, and he will decide whether to admit them into heaven or not.

And this is one of the many reasons, that most Muslims live in religious fear…praying 5 times a day, being intensely devoted to religious activity, because, if their bad deeds outweigh their good, they believe they will suffer awful, eternal torment…

And the Quran speaks of the fires of hell, about every 15 verses…it is intense.

But the Gospel of Christ, and I pray that many Muslims in our city hear it, is that we will never be good enough, but Jesus died for you anyway.

And He has come to snatch you out of the fire, and He will advocate for you, and he can robe you with his righteousness…

…so that even in the darkest hour of your mistakes, when you feel like your good could never outweigh your bad, you don’t have to question His love or your salvation…because it’s not dependent on you.


But His Gospel is richer still

Let’s keep reading

(Zechariah 3:6-7) – NIV

6 The angel of the Lord gave this charge to Joshua: 7 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.

Here is the 4th gospel truth:

5 Glorious Gospel Truths

#1: He snatched you from the fire

#2: He advocates for you

#3: He clothes you in righteousness

#4: He blesses you as you walk in his ways

This isn’t the prosperity gospel…a false teaching that God will make every believer healthy and wealthy.

These verses are more in line with how Jesus states that those who follow his ways are like the wise man who built his house on the rock, while those who don’t follow Him, are like the man who built his house on the sand.

The rains come either way.

But in walking in God’s ways, we stand.

This is also God reminding Joshua (and thus us) not to just take this amazing grace and abuse it with more sin.

But He tells us that IF we walk (as verse 7 says) in obedience to God and keeps his requirements, then we will walk in blessing…

because if you are a person who is faithful, and trustworthy, and generous, and walks with integrity….

In other words if you live like Jesus, that will bring blessing, to your relationships, and even to many other parts of your life.

The emphasis here is that the Gospel isn’t just something that will impact your future life, but it should impact your right now.

God can be with you and walk with you…RIGHT NOW


This is good stuff.

But the Gospel is even richer still.

Let’s look at #5…let me give you this final gospel truth here right before we read the remaining verses

5 Glorious Gospel Truths

#1: He snatched you from the fire

#2: He advocates for you

#3: He clothes you in righteousness

#4: He blesses you as you walk in his ways

#5: He has given you a glorious future

Look at this powerful prophecy as chapter 3 finishes

(Zechariah 3:8-10) – NIV

8 “‘Listen, High Priest Joshua, you and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9 See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

10 “‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Okay, what is this future that Zechariah is seeing?

Look at the very end of verse 8.

It says, “I’m going to bring my Servant, ‘The Branch’”

The Branch, is a title for the Messiah, for Jesus.

The prophets Isaiah & Jeremiah also prophesy about the messiah by calling him the Branch…a future King from the line of David.

And “The Branch” can save, not only those in Israel, but will branch out, and bring fruit to the Gentiles (to the non-Jews as well)

And The messiah is also called the Stone here…

The Prophecies about him (and the NT confirms this) call him the cornerstone.

The one in which our whole faith is built around

And He’s a stone with 7 eyes.

This is prophetic imagery and symbolism.

In the ancient world, eyes meant the ability to “see,” to know.

And 7 in the Bible always means perfection or complete.

So this means that this cornerstone, this Messiah, will know everything, will be, God.

And God is coming to earth!

And what will He do?

He will remove the sin of the land in a single day, amen!

See, up until this point, when the Jews sinned, they needed to go to the temple, and offer a sacrifice.

And if you sinned again, eventually, you have to offer another sacrifice…and another…and another.

But now, a Savior is coming.

One that, if you believe in faith, He can snatch you out of the fire that’s coming

One that loves you so much that He will never stop advocating for you…even when you stray.

One that will clothe you with his clothes of royalty, and call you His own child.

One that will walk with you in the here and now.

And one that, even after looking at the entire body of evidence of your sin…

And even after listening to the devil rattle on about how you should be condemned to hell for your terrible sin…

Our God is the one who will say, “Shut your mouth, devil....I’m coming to save them.”

And Jesus Christ, the son of God, came down to our earth, and gave his life for yours, and in a single day, he wiped away all of your sin.

And He has a future eternity for you under the vine, and under the fig, where there will be no more tears and no more crying.

And that is the Gospel.

And here it is right in Zechariah…500 years before it even happened.

God is good. And His Word is true.

And if you’ve never before put your faith in Jesus, and believed that He died for your sins.

I urge you, to let Him save you today.

Experience His love for you today.

It is nothing that you can earn.

You can only receive it by faith.

By saying, “Jesus, I believe you came and died for me, and so I turn from my sins, and I want to follow you as my Savior and Leader”

And if you need to do that today, let’s do it right now.

Let me pray.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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