“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.”Zechariah 3:1
I came across this story while searching the internet for illustrations concerning opposition. I am sure that all of us are familiar with the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Here is a short account of his time in a Birmingham, Alabama jail.
“When Martin Luther King Jr. was imprisoned in Birmingham for non-violent protests, he wrote the famous “Letter From Birmingham Jail” in reply to southern white religious leaders expressing their concerns over the Civil Rights Movement. He writes, “I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are presently misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America. Before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson scratched across the pages of history the majestic word of the Declaration of Independence, we were here …If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands …”
Although Dr. King had no fear of the outcome of his incarceration, nor the direction that the Civil Rights Movement would take, he understood that there would be oppositional forces at work who would do everything in their power to destroy him and those who stood with him. He and others like him would face not only abuse and scorn but much worse. Dr. King’s life would be taken from him on April 4, 1968, for the cause of freedom and civil liberties of African Americans, roughly five years later from the time he penned “Letter From Birmingham Jail”.
STANDING IN THE FACE OF OPPOSITION
Facing opposition should not be new to the Christian. If we are living for Christ, doing His will, obeying the Scriptures, we will face opposition. Anytime you go against that which our culture and society deems acceptable but is considered contrary to the Word of God, you will have conflict… opposition. Like a strong headwind while peddling uphill, you know you are in for a battle and it is going to hurt.
In Zechariah Chapter Three, the reader is confronted with the primary opposer to living and doing the will of God. The opposer of God’s people is no other than Satan himself. I like the way the New Living Translation puts Chapter 3:1, it says, Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel’s right hand, making accusations against Jeshua. And the LORD said to Satan, “I, the LORD, reject your accusations, Satan. Yes, the LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. This man is like a burning stick that has been snatched from the fire.”
The picture that we see here has been described as one who is standing before the LORD in service to Him. And certainly, Joshua (Jeshua) was a servant of the Most High as a high priest. But as one commentator put it, “Service is not the idea here. Rather, in this fourth vision we have a courtroom scene with Joshua the high priest on trial and standing before the heavenly judge, the Angel of the LORD… In this heavenly court scene, Satan was standing at Joshua’s right side (literally, “right hand”) to oppose him.” Apparently, the word oppose and accuse have been used in this verse (different translations) to identify what Satan does. In general, Satan will always oppose God’s people but specifically he is an “accuser of mankind” before the LORD. Basically, he is always pointing his finger at God’s people, telling God about all our transgression, indiscretions, indecisions, limitations, thoughtlessness, lack of judgment, lack of character, lack of Christ-likeness… the list could go on.
GOING BEYOND THE OPPOSITION
If you are paying attention to the way, you flesh out Christ in your life, it will not take you long to figure out, you are not perfect, you sin, and that you are probably really good at it. Speaking from experience, next to receiving God’s grace and goodness, the one thing I am consistent at is sinning.
The problem is, when we listen to Satan’s accusations, telling us just how “bad” we really are, how we never really measure up to God’s rule, His standard, His way, we never get to the point where we move beyond the opposition. But look at Zechariah 3:2, 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?” I love this scenario. Here we see Satan bullying Joshua and the LORD coming to his defense, basically telling Satan, “Who do you think you are accusing my servant, my son—He is mine, he is forgiven, the price has been paid, end of story.”
Perhaps today you are facing real opposition from Satan. I need to be careful here because Satan is not omnipresent. And because of that, he might not be directly involved in your life. But I believe that he has a lot of help not only from demons but from many humans who are his cohorts in opposition to the Christian life.
We need to understand that as Christians we are not defined by our limitations, our inconsistencies, how “bad” we really are, or the reality that we will never measure up to God’s standard (His law). But what we know is, Jesus paid the price, past, present, and future. God’s people, even in Zechariah’s time were living under the covenant promise, provided by a loving God who said, “Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” It is God who saves, it is God who rescues the perishing. It is God who is our Rock, our Deliverer, and our Redeemer. So, the next time you face an accusing tongue, an opposing hand, remember it was Jesus who did it all that you may freely live your life in Christ—His way.
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN—wishing you Joy in Jesus.