“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?’ ” (Zechariah 3.2).
In this dramatic scene that occurs after the captivity of God’s people in Babylon, we see a verbal battle taking place between the forces of evil and the forces of good. As usual, Satan is working hard to cause problems for those who choose to do good.
The Angel delivers God’s message: he rebukes Satan and points out to him that God has chosen Jerusalem—that is, God will once again favor His people. The “brand” refers literally to a brand that is placed into a fire before it is applied to an animal for branding.
It is the Israelite nation that is the “brand plucked from the fire,” meaning Israel has completed the school of correction into which God sent her in Babylon and He will once again bless her.
Satan has never tired of doing whatever he can to mislead and discourage God’s people as he did in this passage. We are blessed in the Christian Age in that we have an Advocate, stronger than Satan, standing at the right hand of God and pleading on our behalf. When we remain faithful to God, we, too, are a “brand plucked from the fire.”
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and seek diligently until she finds it?
“And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!
“Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents’.”” (Luke 15:8-10).
If any Christian ever becomes discouraged and feels God doesn’t care for him or that God really has no meaningful place for him in His kingdom, he needs to study this parable.
The woman in this parable shows diligence in searching for her lost coin and excitement at finding it: in this, she is representative of God’s attitude toward His children.
God loves us—let us never be far away from that thought—and He desires that we stay with Him and remain solidly grounded in His truth. If we fail to do so, He is grieved and remains poised to receive us back again with open arms.
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).
The concept of peace is put to an entirely new level as the Apostle Paul speaks to the Romans about the kind of relationship they are to have with one another. Obviously, addressing those believers who have mature consciences, he teaches them to pursue peace, not just to hope that it happens.
A prominent theme of the New Testament is the idea of doing things that will not only maintain but promote unity and peace among brethren. To accomplish this kind of atmosphere, a person must sometimes relinquish his personal preferences in matters that are not law for the benefit of a congregation or at least of his fellow brethren.
This teaching reaches far beyond the Romans, of course, and plies itself deep into the heart of any Christian in any age of time. Pursuing peace means working diligently to see that nothing is done—that no liberty is taken—to disrupt the harmony that is to exist among Christians.
“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ?” (Acts 5:42).
Early Christians took their Christianity quite seriously. It was obviously no brief Sunday morning affair with them. Rather it was a daily activity—it was a life. They worked continually in spreading the Cause for which the Savior died.
And this statement is made about them while the church was still quite young and after they had just had some serious trouble with the Jewish authorities. They had been called in twice and had been beaten the second time. This verse describes their response.
In view of this heritage from the founding fathers of Christianity, how could we stop short of giving our very best? Our response to the call of Jesus has not required nearly the sacrifice these brethren had to give.
This verse should give us pause so that we can conduct a thorough self-examination as we take stock of our attitude, our commitment to the Cause, and even our willingness to worship at every opportunity.