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The Scriptorium

The Brand from the Fire

Redeemed, restored, renewed. Zechariah 3.1-5

Return from Exile: Zechariah 1-3 (5)

Pray Psalm 47.5-8.
God has gone up with a shout,
The LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding.
God reigns over the nations;
God sits on His holy throne.

Sing Psalm 47.5-8.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God has ascended with a shout, the Lord with sound of trumpet bold!
Sing praise to Him, let praise ring out! Let praise through all the world be told!

God is the King of all the earth, sing praise to Him with glorious psalms!
He rules the nations by His worth, and on His throne receives their alms.

Read and meditate on Zechariah 3.1-5.


1. Who appeared before the Angel of the LORD, and in what condition?

2. What was done for him?

We have previously met Joshua, the high priest in Zechariah’s day. Here the prophet sees him in a vision, standing before the Angel of the LORD, which is to say, before the LORD Himself (v. 1). He is functioning as on the Day of Atonement, when the high priest came before the Lord, bearing the sins and seeking forgiveness for the people of Israel. Joshua “was clothed in filthy garments” (v. 3), and Satan, that inveterate accuser of the saints, was opposing him (v. 1). But the Angel of the LORD silenced the devil, acknowledging Joshua to be “a brand plucked from the fire” (v. 2)—not unlike Daniel’s three friends (Dan. 3.19ff).

Then the Angel instructed that Joshua should be clothed in “rich robes” and all his iniquity should be taken away (v. 4). Zechariah, caught up in the moment, called out for a new turban to be put on Joshua as well, and this was promptly done (v. 5). Joshua’s sin was taken away—and the sin of God’s people—and he was restored to his priestly glory, while Satan skulked away with his tail between his legs.

We’ll see more about this vision in our next installment. For now, Joshua symbolizes Israel, who has been cleansed and restored so that they could resume the work for which God redeemed and saved them. Israel is the brand plucked from the fire, redeemed by the LORD Who came into the furnace of captivity and brought them out alive. Israel was to understand that they were no longer captive to sin and must put on garments of righteousness and work to recover God’s plan and purpose for them.

The message to us in our day is precisely the same.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The prophet Zechariah had boundless enthusiasm, like Peter, for the work that God was doing. “Let them put a clean turban on his head”, he said (Zech. 3.5). Just like dear Peter, so enthused about seeing Moses and Elijah and Jesus together that he said, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Lk. 9.33).

Jesus said in defense of responses like that: “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it” (Mk. 10.15). God wants us to love the googly eyes, glitter, and paste of the Kingdom! With many sides of cookies and cupcakes and candy and milk.

There is so much to thrill our souls about the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. So much to be over-enthused about—so much so, that we might even say something silly about turbans or tabernacles.

“I love the LORD,
because He has heard my voice
and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
therefore I will call upon Him
as long as I live” (Ps. 116.1, 2).

When Jesus calls back to us to follow Him, or to cast our nets on the other side, or to come eat breakfast with Him, He wants to see the same unabashed joy that Peter exhibited when John said to him: “It is the Lord!” It was the risen Lord calling to them from the seashore. “Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea” (Jn. 21.7). And swam to shore to be with Jesus.

“Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous!
For praise from the upright is beautiful” (Ps. 33.1).
“…I will see you again and your heart will rejoice,
and your joy no one will take from you” (Jn. 16.22).
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4.4)
“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
bearing seed for sowing,
shall doubtless come again
with rejoicing…” (Ps. 126.5, 6).

“Is this not a brand picked from the fire?” (Zech. 3.2). Think sparklers, fireworks, cotton candy…and rejoice!

For reflection
1. When do you most experience the joy of knowing the Lord?

2. In what sense are you a “brand picked from the fire”? How should you respond to this?

3. What is joy? How is joy different from happiness? Whom can you encourage today in the joy of the Lord?

We hence see that the faithful were taught what was extremely necessary, ― that their troubles arose from many nations, because Satan watched for their ruin. And though this vision was given to the Prophet for the sake of his own age, yet it no doubt belongs also to us; for that typical priesthood was a representation of the priesthood of Christ, and Joshua, who was then returned from exile, bore the character of Christ the Son of God. John Calvin (1506-1564), Commentary on Zechariah 3.1-5

Pray Psalm 47.1-4, 9.
Pray that God’s Kingdom will continue to come in you and through you and throughout the whole earth. Rejoice in praise and thanks before King Jesus!

Sing Psalm 47.1-4, 9.
(Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
O clap your hands, you peoples all, with joy to God your songs intone!
Shout out to Him, and on Him call, He is the mighty, sovereign One!

High is the Lord, O, fear His Name! He rules, a King o’er all the earth.
Nations and peoples He has tamed, the heritage of His holy worth.

Princes of peoples gather all to Abraham and to our God.
Exalt the Lord, and on Him call. The earth is His, so praise our God!

T. M. and Susie Moore

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking
here and here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available free by 
clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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