BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS: CAST AWAY YOUR UGLY GARMENTS
Joshua was a High Priest. This auspicious day was a day of reckoning for him before God. Traditionally he had taken time to be correctly dressed before appearing before the Almighty God of the whole universe. An Angel had ushered him into God’s presence. Unfortunately for Joshua, Satan had decided to ruin that appointment for him. As Joshua stood before God with the Angel beside him, Satan appeared and tried to disqualify Joshua by pointing to some ugly sports unknown to Joshua on his well-appointed robe.
What was wrong? The secret sins of Joshua had, unknown to him, been casting dirt all over his robe. And Satan knew about those sins and waited for that important day to bring up accusation against Joshua.
God’s Mercy: The entire heavenly court stood still at that moment. Was Joshua about to lose his priestly commission? The mercy of God saved Joshua. God over-ruled Satan! God rebuked Satan, thus rendering Satan’s judgement of God’s servant nugatory. Before God summarily dismissed Satan’s rejected Exhibit, He pointed to the root of Joshua’s trouble: “Is this not a branch (reed) plucked out of the fire (Zech 3:2b).” When Church Leaders leave the “fire-place,” their robes grow filthy and moody.
The fire-place signifies that shepherds and Church leaders must endeavour to observe to do all of three things:
(a) be red-hot in the word (Josh 1:7-8)
(b) be watchful and ceaseless in prayer (1 Tim 5:17
(c) live a life of righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:24).
Everyone seated here in this sanctuary is implicated today. Each one of us is wearing one form of filthy garment that we have put strenuous efforts to hide. But I have good news for you:
- God will over-rule in your favour today
- God will bring out to your spirit what is the root of your filthiness and lead you to repentance
- God will change your garment today as He did for Joshua, in Jesus name (Zech 3:4)
Why did God not admit as evidence Satan’s accusatory exhibit against Joshua?
- No other man can stand in judgment against the servant of another man (Leviticus). Joshua was God’s servant
- Those whom God called, them He justified (Rom 8:30)
- Who can bring a charge against God’s elect? (Rom 8:33)
Lessons to the Church:
- No man can see God without seeing himself
- You need a garment of salvation and a robe of righteousness to stand before a Holy God
In Matt 22:11, the Master of the feast threw out a guest without the right garment for the feast:
- Sin renders our spiritual garments filthy and separates us from the love of God (Isah 59:1-2)
- Sin stagnates the destiny of a believer as it disqualifies him/her from spiritual and material promotion’
On another auspicious day, blind Barthimeus was seated at his usual beat, wearing his beggar’s clothes and begging for alms. What he lacked for eyes, he made up with very sharp ears which monitored every movement around him. The news of Jesus passing through his street at that moment soon filtered into his ears. Would he let this singular opportunity elude him? He quickly decided that the answer was a thunderous, “NO”. So Barthimeus opened his mouth and let out an air-piercing cry, “Jesus Son of David, have mercy on me.” Some destiny killers were standing all around him. They heckled him to shut up. Then blind Barthimeus heard God say to his spirit “Son, be strong and courageous.” Barhtimeus breathed in and let out an earth quaking second cry, “Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me.”
I know there is someone here this morning listening who needs a second and violent cry to God, concerning his/her situation. Jesus is passing this way Now. Jesus was arrested by that second cry, and the whole universe stood still for Barthimeus! Time and space are going to stand still until someone receives answer to his/her petition from God this morning! If you are that person, I want you to violently cry, “I am coming out!” Jesus invited Barthimeus to approach him. Then Barthimeus quickly took four destiny-changing decisions:
- He settled the matter of garments forever. He cast away his beggar’s garment that had defined his entire life.
- He took a step of faith. He rose and left that begging stool. You cannot change your destiny until you change your position
- Next, he chose his priorities: He had been waiting for this rare opportunity, so when Jesus asked him: what would you that I should do for you? He had his single-minded answer ready: “Lord that I might receive my sight.”
Knowing the time of God’s visitation
Many children of God today are wearing all types of garments. Those include garments of death, prisoner, bareness, limitation (Exo. 8:28), prolonged spinster-hood or bachelor-hood, limitation (Pharaoh said to Israelites who had demanded freedom from slavery “I will let you go… only you shall not go very far away” (Exo. 8:28). Don’t be like the Jews who did not know the time of their visitation. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are standing EVEN NOW (Jn 11:22) before you. And what you ask NOW you receive. Jesus said, “from the day of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of God suffered violence and the violent take it by force (Matt 11:12).