A Brand Plucked Out Of The Fire
“And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 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? 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.” Zechariah 3:1-5
In this passage the Lord gave to the prophet Zechariah a vision of Israel and the spiritual reality behind that which could be seen in the natural. In the natural Israel didn’t look like very much. Fifty thousand Jews had just returned to Jerusalem after spending seventy years in captivity in Babylon as judgment for their sin. God had brought them back; He had restored them. Now they were rebuilding the temple. The whole time that it took to rebuild the temple Israel faced opposition—one thing after another that tried to stop them from finishing this monumental task of finishing the rebuilt temple.
The Lord showed Zechariah that the true adversary to Israel was not the Samaritans or other heathen nations around them; their true adversary was Satan. Joshua the high priest is a type of Israel, and he is standing before the Angel of the Lord who is most likely the pre-incarnate Christ. The Angel of the Lord is the presiding judge, which means that He makes the final decisions. Satan, the prosecuting attorney—the accuser of the brethren—can only go as far as the judge says he can go.
In the phrase, “Satan standing at his right hand to resist him,” the word resist means “to oppose, come against, or attack.” Satan was resisting Israel on the basis of the “filthy garments,” a type of Israel’s self-righteousness that caused God’s judgment on her for seventy years in Babylon. In effect, Satan was using past failures as a means to accuse Israel to God in the present.
Zechariah 3:2 says, “And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that has chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee, is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” In this statement we see several things, and every one is a message:
In this case, what applied to Israel can be applied to us; we are like a brand plucked out of the fire. The fire is a symbol of hell fire—a type of Satan’s plan of destruction that he has for every single one of us. God says that we are like “a brand plucked out of the fire.” We normally think of a brand as a metal pole with an emblem, letter, or symbol on the end that’s placed in the fire, and then pressed on the skin of an animal to make a distinct mark on it. That is not what the word brand refers to in this passage. The Hebrew word simply means “firewood.” It was the wood that was used to keep the furnace hot, designed to be burned, consumed, and replaced with more firewood. There was nothing special or beautiful about it; it was intended to be burned. But the Lord said, “I want that piece of firewood. Satan wants to destroy it; it doesn’t look like there’s much hope, but I want it. I will make something beautiful out of that piece of firewood.”
Wow! In and of ourselves, we are like pieces of firewood and destined for God’s fiery wrath, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Eph. 2:4-5).
- First, we see that the Lord Jehovah (our covenant God) is with us; He hasn’t left you all by yourself.
- Second, we see here that the Lord is more powerful that Satan. It doesn’t matter how powerful he may seem, our God is greater.
- Third, we see that the Lord is in control. He said, “The LORD rebuke thee.”
- Fourth, we see that the Lord has chosen us; we are God’s children and His possession.
- Fifth, we see that we are like a brand plucked out of the fire. The Lord made this statement to the devil, but He also made it to make Israel aware of what He had done for them.
In this vision the Angel of the Lord had Israel’s filthy garments of self-righteousness taken away (a type of justification), and had rich robes put on him (a type of the righteousness of Christ). As well, He had a “fair mitre” (clean turban) put on his head (a type of a new mindset of faith and purity). When we get saved, Christ does the same thing with us: He will continually renew our minds as we remember and believe what He has done for us and to us through the cross.