“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’”
More than 500 years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Zechariah was given an amazing, mysterious vision of heaven. He saw Israel’s high priest, Joshua, standing before God. He saw Satan there also, accusing Joshua, who was not only representing himself, but God’s entire covenant nation. The legal outcome of this confrontation determined Israel’s fate. Remarkably, Joshua and his people were supremely vindicated but not because of their own merits, they had none. The Scriptures are clear that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Nor was their vindication due to the untruthfulness of Satan’s accusations. Rather, it was God’s sovereign election of Israel that overcame the accuser’s charges. The LORD referred to His vindicated people as “a brand plucked from the fire.” A “brand” is simply a burning piece of wood. This is a reference to Israel’s release from 70 long years of captivity in Babylon. For her sins, Israel was plunged into the fires of affliction as captives of a foreign power. Like a piece of burning lumber, she was pulled from the fire before she was consumed. This mysterious exchange mirrors our own redemptive histories. We too were guilty before God. We too were clothed in filthy garments (Zechariah 3:3), the symbol of guilt and imperfection. Like Joshua, by God’s grace and at His command (Zechariah 3:4) we were clothed in Christ’s imputed righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:27; Revelation 19:8). We too have priestly duties to perform (1 Peter 2:5,9; Revelation 1:6; 5:10). Like Israel, we were saved from the deserved penalty for our sins; we too were like brands plucked from the fire. It is very encouraging to consider that a piece of timber is rescued from the fire only if its possessor sees future purposes for it. God rescued us so that we could accomplish stupendously important things for His glory and for the good of those He loves. He has called and commissioned His redeemed, those with a saving knowledge of Christ, to be His special ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). In word and deed, we are His representatives. One cannot think of a greater privilege, or a greater responsibility. May we walk strong today, loving the Lord and representing Him well.