Book of Zechariah 1:1-3
A. The vision of the Lord, Satan, and Joshua the High Priest.
1. (1-3) The Angel of the Lord stands against Satan on Joshua’s behalf.
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?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the Angel.
a. Then he showed me Joshua the high priest: Joshua was the High Priest at the time (Haggai 1:1). In his vision, Zechariah sees the High Priest in the presence of the Lord (standing before the Angel of the Lord), and he is clothed with filthy garments.
b. Standing before the Angel of the Lord: The phrase standing before has the idea of priestly service. Joshua isn’t in God’s presence just as a spectator but as a ministering priest.
c. Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him: Satan hated the whole scene. He hates it when God’s people come into the presence of the Lord. He hates it when they come into God’s presence to minister unto the Lord.
i. “Satan must have been pointing to those [filthy clothes] and declaring forcefully that Joshua was unfit to stand before the Lord in this office.” (Boice)
ii. This is all according to character for Satan. The name “Satan” literally means adversary or opponent. He stands against us in spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:10-18). If you think it is bad to have Satan as an adversary, would you rather have him as a friend?
d. The Lord rebuke you, Satan! We see the Lord – either directly, if the Angel of the Lord is Jesus in this place, or indirectly exercising authority through the Angel of the Lord – standing before Satan and preventing his advance.
i. God does allow Satan to attack and harass His people, but He always strictly regulates what Satan is allowed to do. Satan wanted to destroy Simon Peter, sifting him like wheat (Luke 22:31-32) but Jesus prayed for Peter and stood beside him and did not allow Satan to carry out every evil intention of his heart.
ii. “Take note that this rebuke comes at the right season. When Satan accuses, Christ pleads. He does not wait till the case has gone against us and then express his regret, but he is always a very present help in time of trouble. He knows the heart of Satan, being omniscient God, and long before Satan can accuse he puts in the demurrer, the blessed plea on our behalf, and stays the action till he gives an answer which silences for ever every accusation.” (Spurgeon)
iii. The Lord rebuke you: Jude 1:9 tells us that Michael the archangel used this same phrase in battling against Satan. The example here of the Angel of the Lord and of Michael shows us a model for spiritual warfare – that we always should battle with the Lord’s authority.
e. The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you: With this phrase, God reinforces the important standing of Jerusalem in His eyes. As mentioned in Zechariah 2:12 it is His Holy Land.
f. Is this not a brand plucked from the fire? Joshua the High Priest had a place of high standing – next to the Angel of the Lord and protected against Satanic attack. Still, this place of high privilege was not based on Joshua’s own goodness or merit; he himself was rescued as a brand plucked from the fire. This is even more boldly stated in that Joshua stands clothed in filthy garments. Satan had a lot to accuse Joshua of, but Joshua had an even greater advocate in the Angel of the Lord.
i. A brand is a burning, burnt, or smoldering piece of wood. Think of a campfire with a blackened, charred chunk of wood smoking in the ashes. It isn’t worth much at all and will be consumed completely if it isn’t plucked from the fire.
ii. “So it is with the child of God. What is he at the best? Till he is taken up to heaven, he is nothing but a brand plucked out of the fire. It is his daily moan that he is a sinner; but Christ accepts him as he is: and he shuts the devil’s mouth by telling him, ‘Thou sayest this man is black – of course he is: what did I think he was but that? He is a brand plucked out of the fire. I plucked him out of it. He was burning when he was in it: he is black now he is out of it. He was what I knew he would be; he is not what I mean to make him, but he is what I knew he would be. I have chosen him as a brand plucked out of the fire. What hast thou to say to that?’ Do observe that this plea did not require a single word to be added to it from Joshua.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Such is the divine economy, that God makes much of brands, fragments, castaways. What others regard as unworthy of their heed is dear and priceless to the great Lover of souls.” (Meyer)
iv. “This question, as it appears to me, will bear three renderings; first, it may be looked upon as an exclamation of wonder: ‘Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire!’ Secondly, as an enquiry or hope: ‘Is not this a brand’ – this one particularly, ’plucked out of the fire?’ And, in the third place, it is certainly a defiance for us, assured of our safety, to throw into the face of Satan, the accuser: ‘Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’ ” (Spurgeon)
v. When John Wesley was only six years old, he was trapped in a burning house and was only rescued when one neighbor climbed on another’s shoulders and pulled him out of window. A picture of the scene was drawn for Wesley and he kept the drawing until he died, and wrote under it Zechariah 3:2: Is this not a brand plucked from the burning?
© 2001 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission