Zechariah 3:8-9 – Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day.
Zechariah 3 is one of the more famous visions that we read in the minor prophets. In this scene, Zechariah sees one of his contemporaries, Joshua the priest, standing before God being accused by Satan. The Lord rebukes Satan, so that the devil can no longer make accusations against Joshua. Then, God removes Joshua’s filthy clothes, declares that he has taken Joshua’s iniquity away, and clothes Joshua in clean robes.
At the end of the vision, we read the text that is above. In it, God declares that what he has done with Joshua in the vision, he will do for the entire land. He promises to bring his servant, the “branch,” and take away the iniquity of the land in one single day.
The thing that most strikes me in this passage is the phrase “in a single day.” The nation of Israel sinned before God for years. You and I have sinned before God for year upon year. We regularly build up for ourselves a lifetime of mistakes, slip ups, errors, and the occasional purposeful and arrogant sin. To imagine that our iniquity, all the wrong that we have done, could be taken away in a single day, in a single moment, is a lovely, awesome, astonishing thought.
In case you are wondering, the branch is Jesus. He is a branch, a descendant, of the family tree of David (see Isaiah 11). He has the right to the promise of God’s Kingdom forever. He has the right to redeem God’s people. And, he gave his life, a life of infinite holiness and infinite worth, in order to pay the penalty for the iniquity of all who would put their trust in him. Jesus, in one moment, on a single day, took away not only my iniquity, not only your iniquity, but all the iniquity of all the people who will be in heaven in eternity.
Let this account cause you to worship Jesus. If God chose to carry out the punishment that you deserve for your sin, you would never pay the full penalty. You would have to suffer an infinity of infinite punishment in order to repay the debt you owe for sinning before an infinitely holy God. You could not do that without an eternity, a time without end, in hell. But Jesus, the infinitely holy God, took your punishment. He took away your iniquity in a single day. In one day, Jesus accomplished for you what you could not accomplish in an eternity of infinite punishment for your wrongs and infinite good deeds to try to make up for them. This shows Jesus to be worthy of the greatest thanks, the highest praise, the deepest affection, the utmost glory.
Lord Jesus, I offer you my praise. I could never have atoned for my sin. I could never have done enough right deeds to earn your favor. I, on my own, only deserve your wrath. I thank you that you have paid the penalty for my sin and granted me your righteousness. I thank you that you, in one day, took away a lifetime’s worth of my iniquity. I fully trust in you, and you alone, Jesus, for my soul’s salvation. I ask only that your offered mercy be granted to me, for I have no other hope apart from you and your grace.