by Mike Ratliff
10 Then 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 brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10 NASB)
1 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. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “ The Lord rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. 4 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.” 5 Then 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, while the angel of the Lord was standing by. (Zechariah 3:1-5 NASB)
In the book of Zechariah we have a wonderful passage that gives us a picture of God’s gracious and merciful work in saving those who deserve nothing but the flames of Hell.
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 a sense of our past sins and then we can easily fall into doubt about God’s forgiveness. In the passage above, Zechariah 3:1-5, 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, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.” 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).
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:2-14 NASB)
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.
Soli Deo Gloria!