Is this not a brand plucked from the fire? (Zechariah 3:2b)
This is one of my favorite pictures of salvation portrayed in the Old Testament. It was how John Wesley described the preservation of his life and ultimately of his soul.
Wesley was about six years old, when a fire broke out in his house, and he was stranded in an upper room of the burning building. Two neighbors barely got him out before the roof caved in and John would have died in the flames. He would later refer to himself as, “a brand plucked out of the fire.”
John and his brother Charles became great evangelists. From them the Methodist church began. John never forgot how God saved him and saw it as an illustration of the sinner’s rescue from the flames of hell. The result has been untold multitudes won to Christ from this Gospel ministry.
Let’s examine this text that a grateful John Wesley loved so dearly. Then, it ought to be that gratitude to God will rise in us also, and though we may never have the impact Wesley had, we can be moved by God’s deliverance of us, to a desire to see others snatched from the fire.
This text paints a picture of REBUKING (Zech.3:1-2a). Joshua as High Priest was a representative of the nation of Israel. Satan stands there, pointing an accusing finger and levels the charges against him. But, God rebukes Satan and makes provision for Joshua—and thus, by extension to all those whom God has chosen. Our sins are hidden under the blood of Christ! So, when Satan begins to try to dredge up the dirt of our past, and name our sins, just say, “What sins are you talking about? They are gone, old Devil! May the Lord rebuke you!” The Accuser has no answer to that.
Our text also provides a portrait of RESCUING (Zech.3:2b). We are a dry limb that is engulfed in flames, about to be consumed, snatched from the fire. Hell would have been our final destination—the Lake of Fire our everlasting place of torment—had not God reached out the hand of grace and saved us! Every child of God can take John Wesley’s self-description as his or her own. I am a burning stick snatched from the fire!
Then Zechariah also paints from his palette of truth a word about REMOVING (Zech.3:3-4a). Joshua stood there, dressed in filthy robes, defiled and disqualified from entering the presence of the Lord. That was the spiritual condition of the nation—soiled by sin. It is also an accurate description of any who are outside of salvation. God has removed the filthy robe I was wearing. He has bathed me in Christ’s cleansing fountain—washed in the blood of the Lamb.
On the Biblical canvas, we also see a portrayal of ROBING (Zech.3:4b-5). If our soiled attire was removed that is good, but not good enough! We are moreover clothed in the righteous robe of Christ! On Heaven’s golden streets, we will stroll among those dressed in white linen.
The final word picture is one of RESIDING (Zec.3:6-7). God invites Joshua in. He is given access to God’s courts, and by implication to abide in the presence of the Almighty. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) That way is open. The truth is clearly presented. The life is offered. Have you been snatched from the fire?