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
Joshua, the chief priest at this time, was selected by God to lead the people. In these verses and the ones that follow, God linked his promises to Joshua’s obedience. By doing this, God guarded against Joshua becoming too proud as a result of his receiving visions, comfort, and promises earlier. Rather than assuming that God was bound by his promises and had to fulfill them, Joshua needed to remain humble and continue to live in the fear of God.
We who live on this earth are such poor people. We become easily discouraged and fainthearted when God punishes us and sends us problems. Then God has plenty of work to do to comfort and lift us up again. After he comforts us and allows us to experience good times, we become proud and overconfident. Then he has to threaten and frighten us. So we are too weak and fragile to endure what God allows to happen to us – whether good or bad. No matter what he does for us, he ends up having more work to do. We can’t hold up under the bad times, and we can’t hold on during the good times.
After giving Joshua great promises, God needed to humble him. God couldn’t allow Joshua to become arrogant in the light of such wonderful promises. Similarly, Saul and many other kings of Israel were blinded by God’s promises. They became too proud and were destroyed as a result. Though their ancestors were completely dependant on God and his promises, they didn’t want to obey him. Oh, if only we could recognize how poor and filthy we are in God’s sight!
In the late afternoon ofApril 18, 1521, in the city of Worms, Germany, Martin Luther, a 37 year-old Catholic monk was called to defend himself before Charles the Fifth, the Holy Roman Emperor. The speech he delivered that day, Here I Stand, marked the beginning of the Reformation, a critical turning point in Christian history that decisively altered the spiritual map of the world. In this recording, Max McLean introduces the events leading up to the Diet of Worms; Martin Luther’s prayer the night before he delivered his speech; Luther’s stirring defense; the Catholic church’s rebuttal; and, Luther’s final heartfelt response.