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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

Zechariah 5

 

 

Verses 1-11

The Sixth Vision - A Flying Scroll

(vv. 1-4)

The five previous visions have beautifully emphasized the grace of God in His restoring great blessing to Israel after years of sorrow and desolation. The two visions (the sixth and seventh) in this chapter are of a different character. Not all "who are of Israel" will have part in Israel's future blessing (Romans 9:6). Some will persist in their sin, as Isaiah 26:10 shows, "Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord." Therefore God will deal with this stubborn perversity in righteous judgment, not in forgiving grace. Sin must be purged from the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Zechariah looks up to see a large flying scroll, twenty by ten cubits. It was unrolled for him to discern the measurements, which are the same as the porch of Solomon's temple (1 Kings 6:3) and of the outer sanctuary of the tabernacle. Writing is seen on both sides, just as was true of the law on the tables of stone (Exodus 32:15) and later in connection with the scroll of God's judgments in Revelation 5:1. The scroll shows that God keeps accurate accounts, and just as the law condemns every infraction against it and pronounces a curse against all who disobey it (Deuteronomy 22:15-26), so this scroll is designated as the curse that goes forth over the face of the whole land. The whole land of Israel had been contaminated by the disobedience of the people, and those who remained in their sinful state of rebellion would suffer the solemn judgment of this curse. The flying of the scroll indicates that when judgment comes it will come swiftly.

Only two classes of guilty people are mentioned here, those who steal and those who swear (v. 3). Verse 4 further designates the swearers as those who swear falsely by God's name. Both would be judged by the curse, the one according to the one side of the scroll, the other according to the other side. This signifies that the one side of the scroll involves sin against mankind (stealing) and the other side sin against God (false swearing). In this case it answers to the summing up of the ten commandments in Luke 10:17, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." Whatever sin we commit against others has the element of stealing in it, and any sin we commit against God will always have some element of falsehood in it. Those who have not judged these roots of evil in their own hearts (those who are not saved) will not escape the curse of the judgment of God, but will be cut off.

It is the Lord of hosts who will bring forth the curse (v. 4). The thief may now enter other people's houses, but the curse will enter his own house, not coming just for a brief visit, but remaining to destroy it to its very foundation. The destruction of its timber and stones is symbolical of the destruction of all the personal interests and possessions of the deluded unbeliever in Israel. This does not speak of the judgment of the lake of fire, but of the Lord, during the tribulation, purging out of His kingdom all things that offend. Therefore this judgment is carried out on earth. Long after that, these same unbelievers will have to stand before the Great White Throne and be judged according to their works (Revelation 20:11-13).

THE SEVENTH VISION: THE EPHAH AND THE WOMAN

(vv. 5-11)

The angel now draws Zechariah's attention to another vision, asking what he sees that "goes forth" (v. 5). The ephah was a standard of measurement, and the vessel of that size took the same name. It stands for the principle of trade and commerce, which should be honest (Ezekiel 45:10), but in Israel was commonly perverted by greed (Amos 8:5) as we know it is everywhere today. Are things to remain this way? No! God had decreed that the ephah will go forth because "this is their resemblance throughout the earth." All the land of Israel has been affected adversely by this perversion of the ephah, for the perversion was seen inside the ephah (v. 7). He saw a woman sitting. Women who maintain their scriptural role often are more godly and devoted than are the men, but a woman out of her role can corrupt herself more than the men do, as Jezebel the wife of Ahab illustrates (2 Kings 21:25). Jezebel is used in the New Testament as the symbol of the wickedness of the false church (Revelation 2:20), and similarly the false church, Babylon the Great, is pictured as a woman in Revelation 17:4-5.

The woman here speaks of Israel given up to lust for gain through trade and commerce. She is personified as "Wickedness" and thrust down in the midst of the ephah, with a lead lid weighing a talent (well over 100 pounds or 45 kg.) put over the opening of the ephah. This illustrates what riches commonly accomplish. They become a terrible weight by which the victim is trapped without hope of extrication. Sin must be punished! This vision shows that the root principle of sin will be banished, but those who choose it will also suffer banishment from God.

Having seen in this vision a woman called Wickedness thrown into an ephah and a weighted lid put on its mouth, Zechariah then sees two women coming (v. 9), having wings like a stork, with the wind in their wings. These indicate civil authority and spiritual authority reduced to an evil state, in contrast to Zerubbabel (the civil authority) and Joshua (the spiritual authority) ordained by God for Israel's blessing. By these corrupted authorities apostate Israel (the woman in the ephah) is carried rapidly away from Jerusalem ("the foundation of peace"). The wings of a stork (an unclean fowl of the air) signify satanic power that energizes these authorities.

Where do they carry the ephah? When Zechariah asks this question the angel who spoke with him answered, "To build a house for it in the land of Shinar" (v. 11). This calls to mind the plain in the land of Shinar where the tower of Babel was built (Genesis 11:2-4). Hence, the carrying of the ephah is the very essence of apostasy (a deliberate turning from the truth of God), indicating that the ungodly in Israel will revert to the same evil designs and intentions that gave birth to the building of the tower of Babel. The ephah will be established there on its own base, a contrast to God's foundation which is in the holy mountains (Psalms 87:1). How closely related is the lust for base gain (the ephah holding the corrupt woman) to the abhorrent principle of apostasy!

Apostasy can build a house to honor the lust of its greed, and give it high religious dignity, just as is seen in the false church Babylon the Great, in the New Testament (Revelation 18:10-16). But its foundation is not God's foundation, and total destruction is in store for it, just as "great Babylon" will suffer destruction from the hand of God in a coming day (Revelation 18:1-24).

This chapter therefore shows that those in Israel who prefer their own sin will be judged; and the root principle of sin, seen in the rebellion of apostasy, will be relegated to the place where judgment will completely destroy it.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Zechariah 5:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/zechariah-5.html. 1897-1910.

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