by Mike Ratliff
And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zechariah 3:2 ESV)
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. (Revelation 12:10 ESV)
As I flew from Kansas City to Seattle today, I had the privilege of sitting by a young man named Chris who is about the same age as my son. He and I talked the entire length of the flight. It seemed to last just a matter of minutes. We talked about many things, but eventually the discussion became centered on Christianity and our faith. He was very typical of my son’s generation in that organized religion turned him off and, therefore, he considered himself a questioning agnostic.
I did share many things about our faith including my testimony. My heart went out to this young man because I saw the sincere searching that he was doing. Most of our conversation from that point on was me answering his questions. When we began our approach into SeaTac, he reached over and shook my hand and thanked me for sharing these things with him. Now I have another person to pray for that God will pluck him from the fire.
In the book of Zechariah we have a wonderful passage that give us a picture of God’s gracious and merciful work in saving those who deserve nothing but the flames of Hell.
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. (Zechariah 3:1-7 ESV)
Satan is the slandering accuser of God’s people. His attacks are always based within our past sins. When he accuses us we know it because we have sense of our past sins and then we can easily fall into doubt about God’s forgiveness. In this passage God gives Zechariah a vision of the high priest, Joshua, standing before God. What is he wearing? He is clothed with filthy garments. This signifies his sin. Therefore, Satan is accusing him of being unworthy of standing before God. However, what does the Lord say to Satan? He essentially tells him to shut up. Why? Joshua has a special standing before God that has nothing to do with his religious position of high priest. He is a brand plucked from the fire.
What happens when a piece of wood that has been burning is removed from the fire? It is covered in soot and ash. When it is removed from the heat it will stop burning, but it is still charred. To remove it requires one to get dirty. Whoever handles that burnt piece of wood gets their hands filthy. What was the price our Lord paid to purchase you and me from the fire? Did not Jesus have to leave Heaven, become one of us, live in this sin-filled world, then die a criminal’s death on a cruel tree? Why did He do that? It was the only way people whose spiritual garments were filthy could be declared righteous. How did that work? Our Lord, who is sinless and perfect and righteous, took the place of His people in God’s wrath. God is Holy and Righteous and Just. He must judge all sin or He would cease being Just. So, as Christ our Lord was in God’s wrath on the cross, the sins of His people were placed on Him. In Him their sins are paid for.
Those who are God’s people are given right standing before Him because when He sees them He sees the Righteousness of Christ. In His declaration, He states, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” Our salvation is His declaration and work of taking our iniquity away. He removes our filthy garments and clothes us with pure vestments. How does this happen for us in the 21st Century? Carefully read the following passage and pay special attention to the words I have highlighted with a bold font (Ephesians 1:11-14).
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:2-14 ESV)
Are you a brand plucked from the fire? To be one then you must have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him. If so, then you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. If you are not sure then I adjure you seek the Lord while He may be found and plead for your soul.