In the book of Zechariah, the prophet relays a series of visions that give brief glimpses into the spiritual realm. However, there is one that does more than that.
It not only tears away the veil covering the spiritual realm, it also shows how angels and demons view people in the natural world. They see us differently.
In chapter 3:1, the prophet Zechariah notices Joshua — who was the high priest in Jerusalem — standing before the Angel of the Lord. Zechariah also observed Satan standing at Joshua’s right hand uttering a barrage of accusations against the High Priest.
Joshua was probably performing some type of sacrifice or work associated with his priestly duties. Nobody, in the earthly realm would have seen the Angel of God or Satan standing at the High Priest’s right hand.
It was just another day at the temple, but all hell was breaking loose in the spiritual realm.
Joshua’s filthy garments
In verse three, we are given an odd description of Joshua’s clothes, which were described as filthy garments. Was this a reference to Joshua’s actual High Priestly garb or something else?
A closer look at the Hebrew word translated filthy, “tso,” answers this question. The word literally means ‘the issue’ and refers to excrement, yes I am referring to that four-lettered word, ‘poop.’ No High Priest, no matter how morally backslidden or degenerate, would appear in service with clothes smeared with human waste.
From a human point of view, Joshua would have appeared immaculate, dressed in the colorful and elaborate High Priestly attire. But from the spiritual realm, Joshua’s clothes looked radically different. This was how Godly angels and the demonic saw Joshua.
Joshua’s spiritual garments were filthy for a couple of reasons. We read that Joshua had iniquity in his life (v. 4). This iniquity referred to a sin bondage that controlled his life.
Secondly, Satan’s incessant condemnation was hitting the mark. Joshua believed this lie as his excrement-laden garments mirrored how Joshua thought about himself. Recognizing the problem, the Angel of the Lord rebuked Satan driving him away and ending this verbal onslaught (v 2).
Joshua’s new clothes
The Angel of God orders that Joshua be arrayed in new ‘festal clothes” and a “clean turban” (v 5). The word clean does not refer to Tide clean but rather moral purity, again verifying the angel was referring to spiritual clothes, not earthly ones.
In verse four, the Angel clearly ties the removal of Joshua’s iniquity with the removal of his filthy garments:
“He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ Again he said to him, ‘See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.”
Having dealt with the two factors that so negatively altered Joshua’s appearance, in verses six and seven, the Angel spoke some powerful words of encouragement into Joshua’s spirit. He was given authority to govern the House of God.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If you will walk in My ways and if you will perform My service, then you will also govern My house and also have charge of My courts, and I will grant you free access among these who are standing here. (v. 7 NASV)
This verse gives us a brief hint of the type of accusations Satan was bombarding Joshua with – “Look at your iniquity Joshua,” Satan railed, “you are not worthy of being a High Priest or a spiritual leader in Israel.”
With Satan driven away, Joshua’s iniquity removed and his vision for ministry reinvigorated, the High Priest would have experienced a spiritual renewal.
He would have suddenly felt better, with no real understanding of why.
A warning to Christians
From the spiritual realm, the demonic can clearly see our flaws and sins.
But Zechariah’s vision also suggests the Apostle Paul’s teaching on the armour of God in Ephesians 6:10-18, may be more real than we think. Though nothing is visible to the natural eye, the armour may actually be there when viewed from the spiritual realm.
Satan knows if you have the breastplate of righteousness firmly in place or if it’s half on with straps loose or broken. He knows if your shield of faith is held in front of you or if it’s hanging from your side. He knows if the sword of the spirit is in your hand or if it’s lying on the ground.
God has given us all armour to fight the demonic realm. We put this spiritual armour on and keep it on by faith.