Zechariah 3:4
And he answered and spoke to those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And to him he said, Behold, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with change of raiment.
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3:1-5 The angel showed Joshua, the high priest, to Zechariah, in a vision. Guilt and corruption are great discouragements when we stand before God. By the guilt of the sins committed by us, we are liable to the justice of God; by the power of sin that dwells in us, we are hateful to the holiness of God. Even God's Israel are in danger on these accounts; but they have relief from Jesus Christ, who is made of God to us both righteousness and sanctification. Joshua, the high priest, is accused as a criminal, but is justified. When we stand before God, to minister to him, or stand up for God, we must expect to meet all the resistance Satan's subtlety and malice can give. Satan is checked by one that has conquered him, and many times silenced him. Those who belong to Christ, will find him ready to appear for them, when Satan appears most strongly against them. A converted soul is a brand plucked out of the fire by a miracle of free grace, therefore shall not be left a prey to Satan. Joshua appears as one polluted, but is purified; he represents the Israel of God, who are all as an unclean thing, till they are washed and sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Israel now were free from idolatry, but there were many things amiss in them. There were spiritual enemies warring against them, more dangerous than any neighbouring nations. Christ loathed the filthiness of Joshua's garments, yet did not put him away. Thus God by his grace does with those whom he chooses to be priests to himself. The guilt of sin is taken away by pardoning mercy, and the power of it is broken by renewing grace. Thus Christ washes those from their sins in his own blood, whom he makes kings and priests to our God. Those whom Christ makes spiritual priests, are clothed with the spotless robe of his righteousness, and appear before God in that; and with the graces of his Spirit, which are ornaments to them. The righteousness of saints, both imputed and implanted, is the fine linen, clean and white, with which the bride, the Lamb's wife, is arrayed, Re 19:8. Joshua is restored to former honours and trusts. The crown of the priesthood is put on him. When the Lord designs to restore and revive religion, he stirs up prophets and people to pray for it.And He spake to those who stood before Him - the ministering angels who had waited on the Angel of the Lord to do His bidding.

See, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee - The pardoning words of the Lord to David by Nathan, "The Lord too hath put away thy sin" 2 Samuel 12:13. "And clothe thee with change of raiment, that is, such as were taken off and reserved for great occasions. As the filthy garments were not necessarily other than the high priest's vesture, symbolically defiled through the sins of the people, so neither need these be other than the priestly garments in their purity and freshness. The words imply the condition, not the nature of the vestment. (Cyril: "The high priest having been thus taken to represent the whole people, the filthy garments would be no unclear symbol of the wickedness of the people. For clad, as it were, with their sins, with the ill-effaceable spot of ungodliness, they abode in captivity, subject to retribution, paying the penalty of their unholy deeds. But when God had pity on them, He bade them be freed from their defilements, and in a manner re-clad with justifying grace. He indicates to them the end of their toils. For where remission of sin is, there follows of necessity freedom from the evils brought through sin." He adds that a clean mitre should be put upon his head, (Cyril), "that so we might understand that the glory of the priesthood ever, in a sort, concurs with the condition of the people. For the boast of the priesthood is the purity of those in their charge. As then when the people was in sin, the raiment of the priest also was in a manner defiled, so if it were again well-approved, pure and bright is the fashion of the priesthood, and free its access to God. So the inspired Paul having ministered to the Gentiles the Gospel of Christ, seeing them advancing in graces, writes, "By your boast, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus" 1 Corinthians 15:31, and, "my joy and crown" Philippians 4:1.

4. those that stood before him—the ministering angels (compare the phrase in 1Ki 10:8; Da 1:5).

Take away the filthy garments—In Zec 3:9 it is "remove the iniquity of that land"; therefore Joshua represents the land.

from him—literally, "from upon him"; pressing upon him as an overwhelming burden.

change of raiment—festal robes of the high priest, most costly and gorgeous; symbol of Messiah's imputed righteousness (Mt 22:11). The restoration of the glory of the priesthood is implied: first, partially, at the completion of the second temple; fully realized in the great High Priest Jesus, whose name is identical with Joshua (Heb 4:8), the Representative of Israel, the "kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:6); once clad in the filthy garments of our vileness, but being the chosen of the Father (Isa 42:1; 44:1; 49:1-3), He hath by death ceased from sin, and in garments of glory entered the heavenly holy place as our High Priest (Heb 8:1; 9:24). Then, as the consequence (1Pe 2:5), realized in the Church generally (Lu 15:22; Re 19:8), and in Israel in particular (Isa 61:10; compare Isa 3:6; 66:21).

And he; the Lord Christ, who purifieth his church, who purgeth away her sin, and clothes her with rich and clean garments.

Answered; so the Hebrew, and so this prophet speaks, though no question went before. It is an idiom of that language.

Spake; commanded.

Those that stood before him; some of the attendants, those ministerial angels, who were Christ’s servants, and as such are represented standing before him.

Take away the filthy garments; remove, or cause them to be removed, from him, as altogether unbecoming his person, office, and employments. These filthy garments those angels took away, but another hand takes away what is signified by this emblem.

From him; from this high priest Joshua.

He, Christ, the Lamb of God, said,

Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee: what angels could not take away, Christ did; he removed the filth of sin, the guilt and stain of it.

I will clothe, adorn and beautify,

thee, O Joshua, with change of raiment; clean and rich, emblem of graces and spiritual excellencies given to him. And he answered, and spake,.... That is, the Angel of the Lord, before whom Joshua stood, answered to the accusations of Satan, and the entreaties of Joshua: and spake

unto those that stood before him; not the fellows that sat before Joshua, Zechariah 3:8 for the priests, who were Joshua's fellows, could not take away sin; nor indeed can ministers of the Gospel, only ministerially or declaratively, as instruments, in bringing the good news of pardon to the comfort of distressed minds; whom the ministering angels may here represent, that stood before Christ the Archangel, the Head of all principalities and powers, and who are ministering spirits to him; and so the Targum paraphrases it,

"and he said to them who ministered before him;''

who, though they can not expiate sin, or make atonement for it, may bring the tidings of pardon to a poor fallen believer:

saying, Take away the filthy garments from him; it may be observed, that the garments of the priests were to be new and fair, according to the Jewish canons (i); and if they became filthy, they did not whiten them, nor wash them, but left them for threads (or wicks of candles), and put on new; and so orders are here given not to wash the filthy garments of Joshua, but to take them away: it is not, take him, Satan, the address is not to him; nor angels, who are spoken to, take away this filthy creature from me, I can not bear the sight of him; but take away his sins, not the being, power, or sense of them; nor does it signify making atonement for them, or removing them out of the sight of justice; but a taking them away out of Joshua's sight, and giving him a sense of pardon, a comfortable view of it, in which angels and ministers of the word may be assisting; see Isaiah 6:6 and is effectually done, when Christ, who has power to forgive sin, makes an application of forgiving grace himself, as follows:

and unto him he said; that is, the Angel of the Lord said to Joshua:

Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee; which shows that he had sinned, and interprets the filthy garments he was clothed with: Christ took his iniquity upon himself, bore and made satisfaction for it, and removed it as far from him as the east from the west; and now caused the guilt of it to pass from his conscience, and gave him a comfortable view of the free and full pardon of it. The word "behold" is prefixed to this declaration of pardon, to ascertain the truth of it, to fix his attention to it, and raise his admiration at it:

and I will clothe thee with change of raiment; garments to put on and off; for, in those hot countries, they used to shift their garments often; and these do not design priestly garments, such as the high priest put on, on the day of atonement, when he put off his common garments, and, having done his work, shifted again, Leviticus 16:23 such change of garments the high priest, indeed, had; and so had the common priests; for they did not wear the same garments, when out of service, as when in it; See Gill on Ezekiel 42:14, Ezekiel 44:19; but priestly garments seem rather to be intended in the following verses, which were put on along with the mitre: change of raiment here rather signify such as used to be wore on festivals and holy days, rich, valuable, precious garments; such as men wore when they went abroad, and appeared in company, and upon return home put off again; and especially clean neat garments, as some render the word (k), in opposition to filthy ones Joshua was clothed with: when arraigned persons put on sordid garments, they were said, "moutare vestem", to change their apparel; but here clean, instead of filthy garments, are called change of raiment with great propriety; and a happy exchange is this indeed! The word is in the plural number, and may point at more garments than one, different suits of apparel, with which changes might be frequently made, both for delight and refreshment; and may have regard to the several garments of believers in Christ, of all good men, partakers of the grace of God: they have the garment of an outward holy conversation, which they are to watch and keep, lest they walk naked; and which, as it is often spotted with sin, they wash and make white in the blood of the Lamb: and there is the integrity and faithfulness of the saints in the performance of their duty, in their several stations of life; and especially of those in public office, in the discharge of that; who, as Job, put on righteousness, and it clothes them, and judgment is as a robe and diadem to them, Job 29:14 and there is the garment of internal holiness, the new man, consisting of the various graces of the spirit, which is put on as a garment, and makes believers all glorious within; as well as their clothing is of wrought gold, the righteousness of Christ; the principal garment, called the robe of righteousness, and garments of salvation; the best robe, and wedding garment, fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness or righteousnesses of the saints, Revelation 19:8 and so the Targum renders the word here, "with righteousnesses": though, as one change of raiment, or suit of apparel, may be meant, so one sort of righteousness only may be pointed at, even the one obedience of Christ, or his justifying righteousness; which may be so called, to denote the excellency and fulness of it, being sufficient to clothe and justify all the elect of God; like raiment, this is not in the saints, but put upon them, and covers them, and keeps them warm; protects from injuries, and beautifies and adorns: this robe of righteousness Christ has wrought out for his people, and he clothes them with it; it is his gift unto them, and they receive it from him; by which they are freed from all sin and condemnation, and their persons and services are accepted with God.

(i) Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 8. sect. 4, 5. (k) "vestibus aliis", i. e. "puris", Munster; "mundas et pretiosas", Vatablus; "vestes elegantiores et cultiores", Drusius; "vestibus mundioribus", Grotius; "vestibus mundis", Burkius; "significat in genere vestes decoras et pretiosas", ib.

And he answered and spoke to those that stood before him, saying, Take away the {e} filthy garments from him. And to him he said, Behold, I have {f} caused thy iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.

(e) See Geneva Zec 3:3

(f) He shows of what apparel he speaks, which is, when our filthy sins are taken away, and we are clothed with God's mercies, which refers to the spiritual restitution.

4. he] i.e. the Angel of Jehovah.

those that stood before him] Angels of inferior order, who though not previously mentioned were in attendance, as was fitting, upon the Angel of the Lord. Compare for the expression Genesis 41:46; Deuteronomy 1:38; Daniel 1:5.

change of raiment] The Hebrew word here used only occurs beside in Isaiah 3:22, “changeable suits of apparel,” where number and variety, frequent changing, rather than costliness or magnificence, though that of course may be implied, appears to be the subject of rebuke. So here a change of dress, not necessarily different in kind, but pure instead of being defiled, is promised. The R. V. however, renders rich apparel here, and festival robes in Isaiah.Verse 4. - He answered. The Angel of Jehovah answered the mute petition of Joshua. Those that stood before him. The attendant angels, who waited on the Angel of Jehovah to do his pleasure (see note on ver. 1). Take away the filthy garments. This symbolized remission of sins and restoration to favour, as the following words explain, I will clothe thee with change of raiment; Revised Version, with rich apparel. The word machalatsoth occurs also in Isaiah 3:22, and may mean either "change of raiment," or "costly raiment;" or the meanings may be combined in the sense of "festal robes," only worn on great occasions and changed after the occasion. They are used here as symbols of righteousness and glory. Not only is the sin pardoned, but the wearer is restored to the full glory of his state. The LXX. makes the words to be addressed to the attendants, "Clothe ye him in a robe flowing to the feet" (ποδήρη, the word used for Aaron's priestly garment, Exodus 28:4; Ecclus. 45:8). Fifth and last strophe. - Habakkuk 2:18. "What profiteth the graven image, that the maker thereof hath carved it; the molten image and the teacher of lies, that the maker of his image trusteth in him to make dumb idols? Habakkuk 2:19. Woe to him that saith to the wood, Wake up; Awake, to the hard stone. Should it teach? Behold, it is encased in gold and silver, and there is nothing of breath in its inside. Habakkuk 2:20. But Jehovah is in His holy temple: let all the world be silent before Him." This concluding strophe does not commence, like the preceding ones, with hōi, but with the thought which prepares the way for the woe, and is attached to what goes before to strengthen the threat, all hope of help being cut off from the Chaldaean. Like all the rest of the heathen, the Chaldaean also trusted in the power of his gods. This confidence the prophet overthrows in Habakkuk 2:18 : "What use is it?" equivalent to "The idol is of no use" (cf. Jeremiah 2:11; Isaiah 44:9-10). The force of this question still continues in massēkhâh: "Of what use is the molten image?" Pesel is an image carved out of wood or stone; massēkhâh an image cast in metal. הועיל is the perfect, expressing a truth founded upon experience, as a fact: What profit has it ever brought? Mōreh sheqer (the teacher of lies) is not the priest or prophet of the idols, after the analogy of Micah 3:11 and Isaiah 9:14; for that would not suit the following explanatory clause, in which עליו (in him) points back to mōreh sheqer: "that the maker of idols trusteth in him (the teacher of lies)." Consequently the mōreh sheqer must be the idol itself; and it is so designated in contrast with the true God, the teacher in the highest sense (cf. Job 36:22). The idol is a teacher of lying, inasmuch as it sustains the delusion, partly by itself and partly through its priests, that it is God, and can do what men expect from God; whereas it is nothing more than a dumb nonentity ('elı̄l 'illēm: compare εἴδωλα ἄφωνα, 1 Corinthians 12:2). Therefore woe be to him who expects help from such lifeless wood or image of stone. עץ is the block of wood shaped into an idol. Hâqı̄tsâh, awake! sc. to my help, as men pray to the living God (Psalm 35:23; Psalm 44:24; Psalm 59:6; Isaiah 51:9). הוּא יורה is a question of astonishment at such a delusion. This is required by the following sentence: it is even encased in gold. Tâphas: generally to grasp; here to set in gold, to encase in gold plate (zâhâbh is an accusative). כּל אין: there is not at all. רוּח, breath, the spirit of life (cf. Jeremiah 10:14). Habakkuk 2:18 and Habakkuk 2:19 contain a concise summary of the reproaches heaped upon idolatry in Isaiah 44:9-20; but they are formed quite independently, without any evident allusions to that passage. In Habakkuk 2:20 the contrast is drawn between the dumb lifeless idols and the living God, who is enthroned in His holy temple, i.e., not the earthly temple at Jerusalem, but the heavenly temple, or the temple as the throne of the divine glory (Isaiah 66:1), as in Micah 1:2, whence God will appear to judge the world, and to manifest His holiness upon the earth, by the destruction of the earthly powers that rise up against Him. This thought is implied in the words, "He is in His holy temple," inasmuch as the holy temple is the palace in which He is enthroned as Lord and Ruler of the whole world, and from which He observes the conduct of men (Psalm 11:4). Therefore the whole earth, i.e., all the population of the earth, is to be still before Him, i.e., to submit silently to Him, and wait for His judgment. Compare Zephaniah 1:7 and Zechariah 2:13, where the same command is borrowed from this passage, and referred to the expectation of judgment. חס is hardly an imper. apoc. of הסה, but an interjection, from which the verb hâsâh is formed. But if the whole earth must keep silence when He appears as Judge, it is all over with the Chaldaean also, with all his glory and might.
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