Propitiation Worked Out in Time

Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. —Zech. 3:3–5, KJV


A sinner clad in filthy garments and deserving the guilty verdict heard an unexpected word from the Judge of all the earth: “And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zech. 3:2). But the Judge did not stop there. He ordered those filthy garments removed and replaced them with a change of clean raiment, making Joshua acceptable and righteous in the Judge’s sight. How could this deliverance be just? “Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch” (Zech. 3:8).

God the Son, Jesus Christ, would take on himself human flesh, restoring the covenant of works broken by the first Adam by his perfect sinless birth, life, and dying the death of the cross. He became a substitute for condemned sinners. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:11–12). This is the new covenant, the covenant of grace. Jesus Christ the God-man became the second Adam. He cried out “it is finished” at the cross of Calvary. This is grace indeed, sovereign grace (read Rom. 5). “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25–26). The deliverance from the greatest misery leads to great gratitude for such a salvation! This propitiation is salvation not only for time but for eternity. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (John 10:28–30).

He thought on us amid our woes, and rescued us from all our foes;

His tender mercies ever sure to all eternity endure.

Give thanks to heaven’s Almighty King, who daily leads each living thing;

His tender mercies ever sure to all eternity endure.

Psalter 377, 6–7 (Ps. 136)

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Mr. Cornelius VanKempen known as Case, has been married to Susan for fifty-four blessed years. They attend and are members of Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, MI.