Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: A Brand Plucked out of the Fire

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

A Brand Plucked out of the Fire

Chapter Eight
A Brand Plucked out of the Fire

      Zechariah chapter three presents a dualism in prophetic types.  Joshua, “the high priest,” represents the nation of Israel still under captivity but released back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.  We can also see by the description of Joshua’s high priestly attire, that Israel is still defiled before the LORD.  We know from history that God’s purpose in this return of this remnant and rebuilding of the temple is that Messiah would be the rejected stone.  The point is that God is building a living Temple of a New Genesis in which to dwell amongst His redeem.  The cornerstone (Luke 20:17) of that living Temple and that whole New Genesis “in Christ” is the birth, death, burial, and resurrection/glorification of Jesus Christ.  There is no other way! 
Jesus had to die for the sins of the people before He could be their kinsman Redeemer.  The point of the text is not just that the Jews killed their promised Messiah.  The point of the text is that every one of us necessitated the death of Jesus because of our condemnation and sin (Romans 3:23, 5:12, and 6:23).  It was my sins personally that necessitated the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  It was our sins that nailed Him to the Cross and brought Him to give “up the ghost” (John 19:30) for our sins.  It is only when we understand all of this that we can understand the words, “IT IS FINISHED” (John 19:30).  This means God’s whole redemptive plan in Christ “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) “is finished.”  Your eternal destiny can rest in a finished work of redemption.  

Imagine yourself standing in the judgment hall when Pilate asked the question, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ (Matthew 27:22)?  How would you answer?  You know from Scripture that if Jesus does not die, you are damned to an eternal existence of unimaginable torment prepared for fallen angels.  You know from Scripture, that in the death of Jesus, He will crush (Genesis 3:15) Satan’s death hold on humanity and redeem all that will trust in what His death accomplishes.  You also know from Scripture, that the grave will not be able to hold Jesus and He will be resurrected and glorified to reign forever on the throne of David.  How would you answer Pilate’s question?  The very knowledge of the word “Christ,” by which Pilate identifies Jesus, represents an understanding of a Redeemer born to die for the sins of humanity.  Knowing what you know, how would you answer Pilate’s question?  Knowing what we know, we MUST say we would shamefully answer with the crowd, “Let him be crucified.”  We MUST answer, “Let him be crucified,” because His crucifixion was the will of God!  And, we MUST acknowledge that each of us contributed to the necessity of our Saviour’s death.  Weep oh sinner!  Weep not for your sins, but for what your sins have necessitated.  Then, and only then, will you understand what it means to repent.  

1 And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD {preincarnate Son of God}, and Satan {the adversary of redemption and all of humanity} standing at his right hand to resist him {hinder humanity’s salvation}” (Zechariah 3:1).

The picture before us in Zechariah chapter three is what God sees.  We must always be cognizant of the reality that how we see things is not always what God sees.  God shows us three individuals involved in the conflict of the Ages.  The conflict is about who is in dominion and who will ultimately possess dominion over this creation.  We see Joshua representing the remnant of the redeemed but still defiled and clothed in his defiled garments.  We see Satan the fallen and defiled angel whose purpose of existence since his fall is to keep humanity bound to his destiny by the chains of sin and death resisting everything God does to reconcile humanity to Him.  Finally, we see the “angel of the LORD,” or the Messenger of redemption in the Son of God the promised Redeemer.  

Although Satan is presently the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) and the “god of this world” (II Corinthians 4:4), his eternal destiny is sealed.  Satan is neither omnipotent (all-powerful) nor omniscient (all-knowing).  Although angels are superior in abilities to humans, Satan is a still a created being with many limitations.  Although Satan has taken humanity’s lordship over the first creation, every individual human can still choose God to be Lord over his soul, spirit, and body.  This is the opportunity of salvation offered by grace and received through faith.  The point is that even though all of humanity is fallen in sin and condemnation with Satan, we do not need to remain in that fallen state.  There is a “door” of escape from the lordship of Satan in the Person of Jesus through His death burial, and resurrection.  We can choose another Lord and another existence.  The door of the prison is opened, and the chains of sin are broken.  There is no need to stay in the prison living under your deserved condemnation.  Freedom is offered to “whosoever will call upon the Name of the LORD” (Romans 10:13). 

“And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand {Joshua representing the remnant of Israel redeemed by grace through faith} plucked out of the fire” (Zechariah 3:2)?

The emphasis of this text is that although Satan is the “god of this world,” he is not God.  Satan seeks to obfuscate the will of God and the simplicity of redemption offered by grace and received through faith.  Satan's adversity to God’s will of redemption is rebuked and the will of God is brought into focus.  

Joshua, typical of all the redeemed, is the “brand plucked out of the fire.”  The “brand” was another stick or poker used to tinder the embers in a fire.  The wooded poker as it is used to tinder the embers would become dried and ready to burst into flame itself at any further exposer to the fire.  This is how we must see every soul.  Every lost soul is like a brand kindled and ready to burst into the fire of damnation at any moment.  Hell is inevitable and imminent for the lost.  

The “fire” is the judgment and chastisement of God upon national Israel.  Satan thinks he has won in the battle for dominion because Israel is in captivity.  He may have won a momentary victory, but the war is not over.  The promise of redemption in the promise of the coming Redeemer still looms upon the horizon of eternity.  The immutability of God’s promise makes the event of redemption inevitable.  What God says He will do, He will do!  

God has chosen Israel to be His dominion nation from which to rule the world.  God has chosen Jerusalem to be His dominion city from which to rule the world.  Satan, the adversary, will be bound for the whole Kingdom Age.  This is Satan’s rebuke sealed ultimately when he is cast into the “lake of fire” at the end of the Kingdom Age.  Satan’s eternal destiny, and those refusing to repent and be “born again,” has been sealed by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all {the redeemed} be changed {glorified}, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting {poisonous stinger}? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting {poisonous stinger} of death of is sin {whose penalty is now removed}; and the strength of sin is the law {the pronouncement of guilt being placed upon the substitute and borne vicariously by Him}. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:51-57).

Zechariah 3:2 is the ultimate rebuke of Satan, which is spoken by the LORD Jesus.  Although the glorification of the redeemed has not taken place yet in time, it is a sure thing.  The redeemed are predestined “to be conformed to the image of” of the glorified Jesus (Romans 8:29 and I John 3:2).  Just as the restoration of national Israel has not taken place in time yet, it is a sure thing.  The restoration of national Israel to be the nation through which Jesus will have dominion over this world is predestined of God by prophecy and covenant.  You can count on it!  

We must always remember that we do not see all the participants in the eternal battle of the Ages.  The purpose of God’s revelation in Zechariah 3:2 is to reveal to humanity His understanding of the major contributor to the corruption of humanity and especially the fact that Satan has targeted the corruption of the nation of Israel.  Therefore, God is longsuffering and patient with sinners in their struggle to live in any semblance of righteousness.  God understands that humans are like little children under the influence of an evil adversary who uses a network of evil to get them to defile one another before God.  Satan’s methods are subtle, and covertly hidden in the dark secret lusts of men’s hearts.  It is there in the shadows hidden from the eyes of their parents and peers where Satan corrupts and inculcates the human nature with the wicked filth of human licentiousness in pursuit of the momentary pleasures of “sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).  Satan and his devices need to be understood.  Therefore, it is the grace of God in exposing him through prophecy and direct teaching of the Word of God.  Learn Satan’s devices.  But even more important, learn to use what God has provided to defend against those devices. 

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong {be strengthen or spiritual enabled} in the Lord, and in the power {strength or dominion} of his might {this is the power or might of God that indwells the believer in the Person of the Holy Spirit -enabling GRACE}. 11 Put on the whole armour of God {God’s enabling grace is define in the provision of the pieces of spiritual armament provided to the believer by God.  Putting on this spiritual armament is what defines putting “on the new man”; Ephesians 4:24 and Colossians 3:10}, that ye may be able to stand {in spiritual combat} against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood {The greatest resource of a wrestler is to out-strength his opponent.  In a battle of two wrestlers of equal abilities, the one with the greatest strength will overwhelm the resources of the other.}, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places {This struggle cannot be won with human wit, or human strength}. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand {to stand against the constant barrage of satanic onslaught of evil devices and weapons of temptation beyond human imagination} in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:10-13).

Satan’s two main devices against believers have been historical constants:

1. Divide with false doctrine and selfishness and conquer by creating the necessity for doctrinal warfare and contending for the faith
2. Defile with sin and conquer when the power of God is lost due to the breach of fellowship with God

“3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. 4 And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. 5 And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by” (Zechariah 3:3-5).

          Joshua as the High Priest of Israel represents the nation of Israel trusting in the “works of the Law” for their righteousness before the LORD.  Joshua is clothed “with filthy garments” - excrement covered and defiled.  This is how God sees our own efforts at self-righteousness.  The prophet Isaiah accurately reflects God’s view of man in self-righteousness; “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags {as menstrual rags}; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).  Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, expands upon God’s view of humanity striving for their own righteousness before God.  This is how God sees all humanity, even the best of the best. 

9 What then? are we better than they {those living in blatant, licentious unbelief without any restraint upon their lusts}? No, in no wise: for we have before proved {previously charged and proven guilty} both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin {under bondage of condemnation; death and eternal separation from God and capable of the most heinous wickedness}; 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulcher {If we were able to look inside ourselves, we would see ourselves as God sees us; an open grave filled with a rotting corpse}; {now God gives examples of how the rot and decay in our souls manifests itself in our actions and attitudes as corrupting tools of Satan} with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:9-18).

          What would humanity become if left apart from the restraints of the Word of God and the convicting of our consciences by the Holy Spirit of God?  We are only beginning to see in our own day what the world must have been like just before the great flood of Noah’s day.  We are just beginning to see what the cities and people of Sodom and Gomorrah must have been like before God necessitated their destruction.  

We are watching the warning of Christ about the social evolution where “iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12) before our very eyes.  Iniquity will fully develop to its fullest extent once the Church (all true believers) is raptured from the face of the earth at the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation of God’s judgment of the nations. 

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away {religious apostasy or revolt against the truth of God} first, and that man of sin be revealed {the embodiment of evil influences and corruption in the antichrist} , the son of perdition {possessed of Satan}; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth {restrains or holds down} that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth {same word translated ‘withholdeth’ in verse six; refers to the Restrainer in the Person of Holy Spirit through His filling of indwelled believers} will let, until he be taken out of the way {in the rapture of all Church Age believers}. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them {the Christ rejecting antichrist unbelievers who are in rebellion against God and all of God’s inspired truths} strong delusion, that they should believe a lie {that the antichrist is there new god, who will deliver to them the world of total licentiousness that they want and demand}: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thessalonians 2:1-12).

          Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel” (Zechariah 3:3).  The way things are can be changed by the Word of the Creator.  Most people have little understanding of what the clothing of the High Priest of Israel represents.  The High Priest of Israel represents the people of Israel to God.  Joshua, meaning everything he is and does is defiled by his filthy garments in this text, is how God saw the nation of Israel represented in Joshua. 

11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. 13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. 14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean” (Haggai 2:11-14).

          The picture before us in Zechariah 3:3-5 is the miraculous work of God during the last half of he seven-year Tribulation known as “Jacob’s trouble.”  Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it” (Jeremiah 30:7).  Revelation chapter seven gives us the details of what God does to bring Israel to faith in Jesus during these last three and a half years of Great Tribulation.  During these last years of “Jacob’s trouble,” God will miraculously turn the hearts of Jews living on Earth to trust in Jesus as their Messiah and be “born again” through the Blood of the Lamb.  One hundred and forty-four thousand glorified Jews living in Heaven will be sealed in their foreheads with the Name of God.  They are returned to Earth to Israel to preach the Gospel to the Jews during the last half of the Tribulation.  A new nation of “born again” Jews will be created. 

9 After this {the sealing of the 144,000} I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 1 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation {no definite article, therefore this is not referring to the seven-year tribulation}, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears {remorse for previously having rejected Jesus and blasphemed His Name} from their eyes” (Revelation 7:9-17).

          Clothing Joshua with clean priestly garb and the turban of the High Priest shows the restoration of the office of the High Priest.  However, the position of the High Priest will one day no longer be Old Covenant, but a new Melchisedecan priesthood where Jesus will be the High Priest (Hebrews chapters five and seven).  Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua.  Therefore, the transition is from the the High Priesthood of Joshua under the Old Covenant to the High Priesthood of the glorified Jesus under the New Covenant.  We see the transition from the imperfect shadows (types) of the Old Covenant to the perfect reality fulfilled in Christ in the New Covenant.  This is detailed in one of the most remarkable texts in the Bible.

7 Then said I {Jesus, the Messiah}, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein {the constant ritualistic Old Covenant repetitive offerings}; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first {Mosaic Covenant and its priesthood}, that he may establish the second {the New Covenant and it new priesthood}. 10 By the which will {the ‘finished’ once forever offering of Jesus to fully propitiate the wrath of God} we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every {Old Covenant} priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man {the incarnate Jehovah as High Priest Jesus}, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down {work of redemption was ‘finished’} on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant {the New Covenant} that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more {under the New Covenant, sins are perfectly cleansed and removed as far as East is from West, not just covered over as they were under the Old Covenant}. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:7-18).

          Zechariah 3:6 begins a warning to the Mosaic Covenant Levitical priesthood of Israel represented in Joshua, the present High Priest at the time of Zechariah.  The admonition is a repetition of the “blessing and curse” of the Mosaic Covenant applied particularly to the responsibilities of the priesthood under the Mosaic Covenant.  If the Mosaic Covenant remnant priests remained faithful to God in their duties, God would retain their priesthood for the time being.  If they were not faithful, God would replace their priesthood with another.  

6 And the angel of the LORD protested {a duplication or repetition} unto Joshua, saying, 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these {probably the angels} that stand by” Zechariah 3:6-7).

          Again, the longsuffering of God is emphasized.  Although most of the priesthood of Israel had already failed in their “charge” to teach the Word of God and administrate righteousness in the nation by judging the household of God in their trespasses against God, Joshua represents the faithful remnant now restored to their duties and are back in Jerusalem.  Every new generation does not need to continue in the consequences of failure from their preceding generation.  God is the God of forgiveness and new beginnings.  Every believer can be faithful to his commission regardless of failures of preceding generations.  

Every day dawns anew with a freshness of opportunity before God if the believer wants it.  Regardless of yesterday’s failures, each new day can begin fresh when our hearts and minds are filled with repentance and a new desire to serve God that day.  Sins and failures will bruise us and wound us spiritually leaving many scars to remind us of our frailty in the struggle for righteousness before God.  Yet, it is through our daily struggles, failures, and revivals that we learn of our human and sinful frailties and God’s omnipotent grace available to us.  Only then will we learn to cling to “the Rock that is higher” than ourselves (Psalm 61:2). 

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
 Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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