Zechariah Chapter 5

This chapter opens with Zechariah seeing a vision of a giant scroll flying through the land. The angel with him informs him that it represents the curse going out over the whole land (or earth). It has writing on it addressing two sins (or two categories of sin?): the sin of theft and its consequences is written on one side, and the sin of taking God’s name in vain and its consequences is on the other.

We then read the following references:

Galatians 3:10: '...For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.'
Deuteronomy 11:26-28: 'See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse - the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.
Exodus 20:7: 'You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.'
Deuteronomy 27:26: 'Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!'
Exodus 32:15: 'Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. The tablets were the work of God; the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets.'

These references have interesting links to the flying scroll Zechariah saw. It is most likely that the flying scroll represents the Law of God. But what can we conclude is the meaning of it flying throughout the land and coming to the homes of thieves and of those who take God's name in vain, resting on and then destroying those homes? What Paul writes in the reference above (Galatians 3:10) is enlightening. It is clear that anyone in Israel who did not keep God's Law was under a curse. Paul takes it even further and says that the person who relies on the righteousness that comes from the Law is under a curse for the simple reason that neither the Israelites then nor we today are able to keep the Law. So far, we have seen in our study that the book of Zechariah speaks in every chapter to that which was to come. It is almost an in-between Old Testament book with many clear Messianic references.

The application of this message to our own lives is that if we choose to gain our righteousness by way of the Law, we must expect to be held accountable by that Law and answer to it. We must quite literally expect that Law to fly into our homes and hold us accountable. Isaiah speaks of the same thing in Isaiah 28: 9-13: “Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast? For it is: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there.” Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen. So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there— so that as they go they will fall backward; they will be injured and snared and captured.'  Dear friends, if you still believe your righteousness depends on the Law, then expect that scroll to come flying to your home too...

Next we looked at the second vision in this chapter. Here, a woman in a measuring basket was taken to the land of Shinar (Babylonia). The woman in the basket represents the wickedness/sin of all the people throughout the land. It is put in a basket with a lead lid on it and taken away.

Let us first look at the reference to the land of Shinar. We read about it first in Genesis 10:8-12: 'Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first to be a mighty man on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord. The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of the land he [Nimrod] went forth into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah; all these form the great city.'

We also looked at Genesis 11:1-4: 'And the whole earth was of one language and of one accent and mode of expression. And as they journeyed eastward, they found a plain (valley) in the land of Shinar, and they settled and dwelt there. And they said one to another, Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly. So they had brick for stone, and lime for mortar. And they said, Come, let us build us a city and a tower whose top reaches into the sky, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over the whole earth.'

The history of this man Nimrod is very interesting. His name literally means, 'Let us rebel' and in the original Hebrew he walked not 'before' the Lord but 'in defiance' of Him. The word used in that verse means to 'openly defy'. We see that Shinar is also the place where the tower of Babel was built in defiance of God.

So this place Shinar (later called Babylonia) seems to be the very seat of wickedness and defiance of the Living God and it is the very place to which the woman in the basket in Zechariah's vision is taken. We then looked at the following references in Revelation 17 which gave us insight into the eventual destruction of wickedness personified by the woman. Revelation 17:1-6: 'One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls then came and spoke to me, saying, Come with me! I will show you the doom of the great harlot who is seated on many waters, [She] with whom the rulers of the earth have joined in prostitution (idolatry) and with the wine of whose immorality (idolatry) the inhabitants of the earth have become intoxicated. And the angel bore me away in the Spirit into a desert, and I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast that was all covered with blasphemous titles, and he had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was robed in purple and scarlet and bedecked with gold, precious stones, and pearls, [and she was] holding in her hand a golden cup full of the accursed offenses and the filth of her lewdness and vice. And on her forehead there was inscribed a name of mystery: Babylon the great, the mother of prostitutes (idolatresses) and of the filth and atrocities and abominations of the earth.

In the reference above, we find that all that which sets itself up against God is destroyed in the end. This is not a reference to the physical city Babylon that was eventually destroyed by Alexander the Great and his generals that inherited his empire, but a spiritual Babylon as the seat of all wickedness. This final destruction is the subject matter of Revelation 18:1-8: 'After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendour. With a mighty voice he shouted: “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Pour her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torment and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow; I will never mourn.’ Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.'  

Some final thoughts—we can rejoice and rest in that “place of repose” because God has removed our sin from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He comes and makes His home in us and writes His law on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). We look to Him and Him alone. Christianity is not about keeping the Law – that is mere religion. But with Him indwelling us, we keep the law and more (Galatians 2:20).