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A Brand Plucked from the Burning

Rev Dr Malcolm Tan, 24 May 2020

Watch the video recording of the service and sermon here.


Zechariah 3: 1-5  The vision which Zechariah had related to Joshua the High Priest who was part of the movement to build up Israel after their exile.  ⁃ See Haggai 1:14 ⁃ There was a moving of the Holy Spirit which swept through Israel and stirred the heart of Joshua the High Priest. There was a great nationwide revival and the city of God was rebuilt in the Holy Land.  From Zechariah  3: 1-5, 3 things can be said of this Joshua.  First, Joshua was the High Priest and a man under siege.  ⁃ See v. 1.  ⁃ A picture of the two-fold reality in our own lives. ie, the standing before the Lord and the adversary of our own soul.  ⁃ See Colossians 3: 1-3 which talks about our standing before the Lord. Jesus has been raised from the dead and raised to heaven through the ascension. Where Jesus is, there we are spiritually. We have been raised in Christ and therefore our hearts are with Him.  ⁃ We are in Christ and Christ is in us but we will always be under siege.  ⁃ Our Christian life on earth will not be easy. See 1 Peter 5: 8-9. Christian life will always have its struggles as there will always be a battle for our soul. We have the enemy of our soul who is the devil.  Secondly, Joshua was also a man who was speechless.  ⁃ See v. 2 ⁃ This is not like our human experience as Joshua was silent in the face of the accusations of the evil one. We would normally fight or answer back.  ⁃ The Lord was the one who spoke up for him. There was the defence for the speechless.  ⁃ The Lord defended Joshua and there was a release of a rebuke against Satan. God affirmed the destiny of Jerusalem.  Q: What was the holy destiny of Jerusalem? ⁃ See Zechariah 1: 12, 16-17 ⁃ God had not forgotten his people Israel. He said that He would bless the holy city and that He would allow the house of God to be built in the holy city. He would cause the people to prosper as they came back to the place where they were meant to be.  See v. 2 ⁃ Joshua was a stick who was snatched from the burning fire. God intervened in his life. He had a destiny  and better plan for him.  ⁃ Likewise in our own Christian lives, God will speak up for us. See Romans 8:1, 31-34. We are protected and legally defended in the heavenly courts by our great high priest Jesus Christ.   ⁃ God has already settled our destiny in life.  ⁃ God loves us and He has a plan for every one of us. See Ephesians 2: 10.  ⁃ God has saved us to do a life of doing good. We are not saved by good works but we are saved to do good works. May we live our lives in such a way that we will live our lives in the way God has planned for us.  ⁃ The Lord knows how to rescue and preserve us for our life’s purpose. See Psalm 46:1. The Lord is our refuge and strength and ever present in trouble.  Thirdly, Joshua was also man made new in life.  ⁃ See v. 3-5 ⁃ Joshua looked unpresentable but God caused a change in his appearance from filthy to clean.  ⁃ More than external, it was a change in an inward spiritual condition of the man. This cleansing came from God and had to come first in order to allow Joshua to be useful for His kingdom.  ⁃ Similarly, God sometimes has to do a deeper sanctification of our hearts so that we can do a greater work for Him and His kingdom.  ⁃ See Psalm 51: 9-13 where David prayed for an inner work and sanctification of his own heart whereupon he received the joy of his salvation.  We see the possibility of our purging before God as well as its necessity so that  God can fully and freely use us.  ⁃ Joshua fulfilled his role in the community by fulfilling God’s destiny in his life and that of Israel.  ⁃ The social relevance of biblical faith isn’t so much as how God can help me, but rather how God can look after me so that I can be a blessing to others.  Relevance to Aldersgate since it’s Aldersgate Sunday: ⁃ the ‘burning stick’ in this passage goes back to when John Wesley was 6 years old when the old parsonage which he lived in caught on fire.  John Wesley was left behind but was rescued by the villagers. The whole roof collapsed as soon as he was rescued. Wesley therefore took this verse and applied it to himself. He called himself as the “burning stick snatched from the fire”. God spared his life because God has a destiny for him to fulfill.  Link to Family Life Sunday because Wesley received his evangelical values from his family. His father had told him on his death bed that the witness of the Holy Spirit was the infallible proof of God.  ⁃ Families carry values which are cherished and remain with us for the rest of our lives.  Link to Small Group Sunday ⁃ See Zechariah 4:10.  ⁃ God can use small things to do great things for His kingdom and glory.  ⁃ So don’t despise a small ministry for God can do great things with it in His perfect time.  Link to Ascension Sunday  ⁃ This is a comparison here between Joshua the high priest and Jesus the Great High Priest.  ⁃ Joshua had filthy garments on here as a picture of his many sins. See Hebrews 4: 14-16 where Jesus did no sin, had no sin and lives forever.  ⁃ Jesus is above all.  ⁃ We follow Jesus in the company of Mr Wesley but Christ is above all.


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