Zechariah 5:1-5 – In the first five visions God through His prophet offered comfort and encouragement to those who returned from the Babylonian captivity. Now the prophet in this vision answers questions they wondered about then and we wonder today. Is God really just and fair? Is God going to allow the nations to continue persecuting Israel? Will there ever be a day of reckoning for those hostile to God and His people? In the last three visions, Zechariah answers those questions. These visions shift from Israel’s consolation to judgment. Before the Lord could ultimately bless Israel, it is necessary to deal with sins and sinners.
God cannot look upon evil (Habakkuk 1:13), He cannot give total victory until the problem is resolved. The central point of this vision is that sin and crime will cancel out the blessing that comes from rebuilding the temple of God. Offenses against God and against one’s neighbor needed to be faced, regardless of the fact that the nation was actively involved in building a house for God. The “flying scroll” was about 30 feet x 15 feet. Its design is like the Torah scrolls in synagogues today only much larger.
This is exactly the dimensions of the holy place in the Tabernacle. Zechariah 5:3 tells us that the scroll had writing on both sides. According to the rabbinical teaching this flying scroll was a reference to the Torah (Gitten 60b. Soncino Talmud, p. 283). From Zechariah 5:3 they taught that the commandment “Thou shalt not steal.” was visible on one side of the scroll and represented sins against mankind. On the other side was visible the commandment against swearing, a sin against God.
And so they taught that the flying scroll symbolized the curse on Israel for failing to keep the whole law. Because these two commandments were representative of all the commands of God, the Lord was communicating through the prophet that all sin will be judged, whether it is against God or man.
This judgment covered the whole earth but particularly Israel, because the law had been given only to the Jewish people who were responsible for teaching the Nations the truths of God. Sinners will be banished (Zechariah 5:3). The Hebrew word for banished has the connotation of purged or cleaned out. This purging will come in the time just prior to the establishment of the messianic or Millennial Kingdom.
In Zechariah 5:4 we see that the judgment of the Lord will remain in the house of those who sin. It will not just touch the place and depart but will remain there until everything is completely purged. We have a picture of this in the laws regarding leprosy, which is a picture of sin.
Leviticus 14:45 says a leper’s house must be torn down–its stones, timbers and all the plaster and taken out of the town to an unclean place.” Separation of the wicked from the righteous will take place when the iniquity of the land is removed. This vision demonstrates God’s hatred for sin. And while people today scoff at the concepts of sin and subsequent judgment, it does not negate the consequences revealed to the prophet and to us. God has made provision for sinners in sending His Son. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Because the judgment for sin was placed on Jesus, we can be set free by faith in His finished work at Calvary and give thanks for God’s grace given to those who believe.
Zechariah 5:5-8 In the 7th vision given to Zechariah he is shown “a basket” (Zechariah 5:6).
The size of the basket is an “ephah,” which today would be the equivalent of 6 gallons. Zechariah is told that the basket is evil of the people. This was evil personified. Evil is portrayed in this vision as a woman sitting inside the basket. The word woman is often used in prophetic Scripture to show religious evil (Revelation 2:20;17:1-7).
It is almost described like a genie in a jar. This woman’s influence is covered with a lead lid (The KJV says it’s weight is a talent or 120 pounds), a picture of putting this evil under wraps. Evil had grown so much that it looked as if iniquity was coming in by the bushel. But it would no longer prevail; God is going remove the wicked (vision 6) and, as this vision shows, evil as well.
Zechariah 5:9-11 – In the second half of this vision, the prophet sees “two women coming with the wind with wings like the wings of a stork” . The Hebrew word for “stork” is a word that is the same root for “hasid” meaning “faithful one,” and is similar to the Hebrew word for “grace,” hesed. The faithful one—the stork—may symbolize God’s gracious removal of sin and iniquity from His people, just as God had removed the sin of the High Priest Joshua by His “grace” (Zechariah 3:4).
This woman will be taken away to Babylon. She depicts the apostate religious system that will reach its zenith at the end of the church age, climaxing during the Tribulation period, when apostate religion will be joined with a godless, commercial Babylonian system. Just as in ancient Babylon, there was a mammoth materialistic system, in the future this system will encompass the world.
We need to remember that the Jewish people had just returned from Babylon after 70 years in captivity. The Babylonian system had begun to rub off on them as it does on us. This vision was to remind them that they had been infected by that evil system. It was at this point that many turned from an agricultural life to commercialism, trade, and materialism.
Zechariah’s contemporary, Haggai, spoke against their new world (Haggai 1:3-5). He spoke against the people, because they were so involved with their own business that they let the Lord’s house lie in ruins for 18 years.
The sin of idolatry had been overcome by their captivity, but now they had become captive to a new system, secular materialism, which is actually idolatry of another kind. The woman in the basket taken back to Babylon is this evil being removed from God’s people and removing it which speaks of that day wne evil will be removed completely by the Messiah at His coming.
We can learn many lessons from this vision. Wickedness will be destroyed. People involved in wickedness will also be destroyed. Above all else is a great lesson concerning materialism. We cannot serve both God and mammon. The great materialistic system of this world is not of God, and it will be destroyed. Our goal in life should be to honor the Lord, not to get all we can out of life.