SNATCHED FROM THE FIRE
- Zechariah 3:1 (HCSB)
- Zechariah 3:2 (HCSB)
- Zechariah 3:3 (HCSB)
- Zechariah 3:4 (HCSB)
- Zechariah 3:5 (HCSB)
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 a boy, almost six years old, when a fire broke out in his house, and he was stranded in an upper room of the burning building. Just after two neighbors rescued him, the roof fell in, and young John would have certainly perished. He would later refer to himself as, “a brand plucked out of the fire,” or as the HCSB renders it, “a burning stick snatched from the fire” (Zech.3:2).
John and his brother Charles would become great evangelists, and from their preaching and influence, millions have been saved through the Methodist church that rose from their Gospel work. John never forgot what God did in rescuing him and saw it as an illustration of the sinner’s rescue from the flames of hell.
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.
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, with Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.
The Lord said to Satan: ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! May the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!” (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 will not hear it! He rebukes Satan and makes provision for Joshua—and thus, by extension to all those whom God has chosen.
The Devil is like the prosecuting attorney who comes into the courtroom of eternity as we stand before God, the Great Judge. He begins to present the case against us, but there is a Defense Attorney who speaks up on our behalf—the Lord Jesus! He calls out, “Hearsay! There is no evidence of these crimes.” Satan cannot produce those exhibits to the Judge.
They have been removed as far as the east is from the west (Ps.103:12). They have been sent to the place of no return! The evidence of our crimes against heaven have been cast into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). Someone has added, “A sign is posted, ‘No Fishing’”! Our sins have been sent to the place of no retrieval! With no evidence to convict us, the Judge declares, “Not guilty! Case dismissed!”
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.
“Isn't this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?" (Zech.3:2b)
We are a dry limb that is engulfed in flames, about to be consumed, when it is rescued 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!
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Hell is a place of indescribable horror—an abyss, outer darkness, fire and brimstone, weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth—words which convey a sense of what an eternity without God and without hope would be, and yet words inadequate to tell the whole story of something immeasurably dreadful.
This is what God has saved us from, although we are undeserving of such mercy! How can we help but worship Him, love Him, serve Him and speak of Him to others—this one who has rescued 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.
“Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the Angel.
So the Angel of the Lord spoke to those standing before Him, ‘Take off his filthy clothes!’ Then He said to him, ‘See, I have removed your guilt from you.’” (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.
I am born a dirty, rotten sinner. Then, as I act upon my filthy nature, I add more and more layers of nastiness to my life. I am covered with it. No one would invite me into their house—much less would a Holy God welcome us into the perfectly pure environment of His House in Heaven.
Yet, that is where I am going, because 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. Not even a speck of sin remains. I am sanitized. I am sanctified!
What we were, we are no longer. The Apostle Paul uses this terminology,
“Don't you know that the unjust will not inherit God's kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or any kind of homosexual, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God's kingdom.
And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor.6:9-11)
On the Biblical canvas, we also see a portrayal of ROBING.
“’I will clothe you with splendid robes.’
Then I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So a clean turban was placed on his head, and they clothed him in garments while the Angel of the Lord was standing nearby.” (Zech.3:4b-5)
If our soiled attire was removed that is good, but not good enough! We would still be naked! But, God does not allow that. He provides a clean covering.
We are clothed in the righteous robe of Christ! On Heaven’s golden streets, we will stroll among those dressed in white linen.
“Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself.
She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.” (Rev.19:7-8)
The old hymn expresses it this way:
“When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.” (Edward Mote)
The final word picture is one of RESIDING.
“Then the Angel of the Lord charged Joshua: ‘This is what the Lord of Hosts says: If you walk in My ways and keep My instructions, you will both rule My house and take care of My courts; I will also grant you access among these who are standing here.’” (Zec.3:6-7)
My teenage son is constantly losing the key to our house. We got down to one key the other day, and my wife was gone with it, all the way across town. I was on the outside of our house, wanting to enter, but with no means to do so. Since then we have made some more keys so we can get in—until all those are eventually lost.
That was an inconvenience.
Getting shut out of heaven is unthinkable.
God invites Joshua in. He is given access to God’s courts, and by implication to abide in the presence of the Almighty. Only those who have a key get in—and that key is faith in Jesus Christ. No other key will open the Pearly Gates.
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.
Satan’s mouth will be shut. You will be snatched from the fire. Soiled garments will be removed and a robe of white will clothe you. The door stands open, and Christ beckons, “Come!”
If you have already been snatched from the fire, then what does God want us to do?
The saved are called to “save others by snatching [them] from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” (Jude 23)
Created over 1 year ago