Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Keeping the Baby

And the angel said to those who were standing before Him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him He said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments." -- Zechariah 3:4; English Standard Version

If you are a parent you will definitely understand this illustration.
No one enjoys changing diapers. However, a parent does learn to embrace it. It's something about the thought of humbly serving my child in this way that keeps our relationship really intimate. The moment you lower yourself to serve someone in this way you are either getting paid for it or you really love them!

Here's a thought...have you ever once helped a child with a soiled diaper and thought, "Well, this kid is pretty dirty, so I think I'll just get rid of this stinky little thing!" No; we never think that. We may hate the job, but we love the person we are working to serve!

You see where this is going already. I am thankful to be a sinner who is loved by a God who hates my sin, but loves me enough not to throw me out with that which He hates.

I'll tell you this, my friends, we were created for more than we often dare to imagine. We were created in the image of our God. We were created to reflect His glory and to know intimacy with Him. Of all the beauty there is in this world, we are the prize of God's creation and the apple of His eye. Sin ruined us. We still are the apple of God's eye, but an apple that has a worm! Praise Him that He doesn't chunk the apple, just the worm!

I absolutely love today's verse. It’s beautiful. It is a picture of the cleansing one can receive through Christ Jesus. The prophets words were to the priestly order, but there is a picture in there for every believer, after all God has made us all a "royal priesthood" in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 2:9). Further, it is a picture of the cleansing every person receives that comes to Christ.

Here's the scoop: the garments of a priest were to be new and completely clean. Exodus 28:2 tells us that the priests garments were to be for their "glory and for beauty" (ESV). In the same way, mankind was created without defect, created by God for God with glory and beauty. The garments and mankind got dirty somewhere along the way.

If a priest's garment became dirty, it was not washed, but thrown out. The leftover cloth would be used for various purposes, such as lamp wicks. The picture we see here is a priest with dirty garments, of which the Lord could not stand the sight, so He commands those garments to be removed. It was like saying, "I can't stand the sight of this and cleaning just won't do. His garments need to be trashed!" In like fashion, God doesn't try to "pretty up" our sins; He removes them! He tells us that through Christ He causes us "to put off...the old man" (Ephesians 4:22; KJV).

It gets better...

Just like my babies couldn't clean themselves, we couldn't either. It takes the blood of Christ! All of our righteousness is filthy rags and none of "good deeds" can build a stairway to God; His grace, mercy and righteousness is poured out upon us (ref: Isaiah 64:6 and Ephesians 2:8-9). As the verse above indicates, it is God who removes iniquity. We can't. He can. He does in Christ Jesus. Not only that, but He even removes the guilt that plagues the conscience and causes us to walk in innocence as in the days of creation afresh. Man, I like that!

Even better...

God's heart was never to rip away the priest's garment and leave him naked and exposed. Nor does God desire that we stand embarrassed by our naked insufficiency. Rather, He clothes us in His righteousness as the priest, Joshua, was clothed with "pure vestments". He imputes, or puts upon us, His righteousness! Wow! That SHOULD blow us away! It is in this, at least in the sight of God, that our glory is restored and we are again the people He created us to be. The filth is take away, we are changed, and we free to serve, love and worship. Clean. Fresh. Beautiful. Accepted.

Yes, we chunk the soiled diaper, but keep the baby. Thank God, when it comes to filthiness of our sin, He does the same. What next? The same as with a child; we clean them, redress them and continue nurturing their lives, helping them grow and become what they ought to be. He, through what we call sanctification, nurtures us in this revived newness to become what we were always meant to be...creatures after His nature, in His image, set apart as special, meant for love and intimacy, and free to know God and worship Him forever.

So in the words of the Apostle John, I send this rendering from my heart "and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (Revelation 1:4-5; ESV). Yes, Amen! May we realize His cleansing, enjoy our freedom, and rejoice Him forever and ever.

You gotta love it!

1 comment:

Cristina said...

Second time this morning God has told me this same thing. Thanks for writing what God put on your heart.