Zechariah 5 - Outline of Zechariah (MENU page)
I. Symbolic Visions - Israel's Messianic Hope: Sure (ch. 1-6)
  1. Introduction and Message of Warning, 1:1-6
  2. Ten Visions, 1:7 - 6:15 -
    1. A Rider among the Myrtle Trees, and Horses behind Him (1:7-17)
    2. Four Horns (1:18-19
    3. Four Smiths (1:20-21)
    4. Man with Measuring Line (2:1-13)
    5. Joshua and Satan (3:1-7)
    6. The LORD's Servant, the Branch (3:8-10)
    7. Lampstand and Two Olive Trees (4:1-14)
    8. Flying Roll (5:1-4)
    9. Woman in the Ephah (5:5-11)
1. Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked,
and behold a flying roll.
2 And he said unto me, What seest thou?
And I answered, I see a flying roll;
the length thereof [is] twenty cubits,
and the breadth thereof ten cubits.
{one cubit is about 18 inches}
3 Then said he unto me,
This [is] the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth:
for every one that stealeth shall be cut off [as] on this side according to it;
{Ex 20:15}
and every one that sweareth shall be cut off [as] on that side according to it.
{Ex 20:7}
4 I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts,
and it shall enter into the house of the thief,
and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name:
and it shall remain in the midst of his house,
and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.
...I see a flying roll {ie., scroll}...-
A "roll" in Scripture symbolism, means the written word, whether of God or man (Ezra 6:2; Jer 36:2-4; Eze 3:1-3). [The vision of the flying scroll] is of the rebuke of sin by the Word of God. The two sins mentioned really transgress both tables of the Law. To steal is to set aside our neighbor's right; to swear [falsely] is to set aside God's claim to reverence. As always, the Law can only curse (v.3; Gal 3:10-14).
[Adapted from ScofRB note at this passage.]
As observed in the previous vision, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment (Zech ch. 4; Joh 16:8). In this vision, we see that He does so through the Word of God.
- - The two 'sides' (or pages) of the scroll correspond to the two tables of the Law, which Jesus summarized in Mat 22:37-39.
- - The large size of the opened scroll (approx. 30 feet by 15 feet) illustrates that its message (like that on a billboard sign) is presented openly, for all to read. But unlike a roadside billboard, which is read only by those who pass nearby, this scroll flies to the ends of the earth, to make its message known.
This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth...-
God's Law, which is good and perfect, condemns all men everywhere, because they fail to meet its requirements (Rom 7:12-14; Rom 3:10-20). As Zechariah and the returned remnant were well aware, the curse of the Law had been demonstrated by the consequences of sin upon the nation of Israel (cp. Daniel's confession in Dan 9:11). But God's Word applies, not only to Israel, but also to every nation, for the whole world lies in wickedness (1Joh 5:19).
- - The curse of the Law is death (Rom 5:12; 6:23a) for everyone who is found guilty before God will be 'cut off' from His presence eternally.
- - The sentence of death is rendered 'according to it.' In other words, men are judged according to God's Word, not according to public opinion or vain religious traditions.
I will bring it forth...-
The LORD will ensure that His Word is proclaimed throughout the whole world, reaching people of every kindred, tongue and nation. The Word, that condemns man under sin and death, also presents the way of salvation from man's condition. For God does not desire anyone to perish (Joh 3:16,17; Rom 6:23b; Gal 3:13; 1Joh 2:2). Observe that in Zech 3:8,9, the LORD promised to "bring forth my servant the Branch," who would cleanse and restore His people.
It shall enter into every house...- Today, the gospel penetrates into private homes,
even in places where missionaries would not be welcome, by means of radio and the internet.
- - Even during the reign of wickedness, in the Tribulation period, the gospel of salvation will be proclaimed widely (Rev 14:6,7). Note the similarity of that passage to the passage before us. The Gospel message flies, with urgency and speed to all that would receive it. It is made large and clear (note the size of the scroll in v.2), that all may understand.
It shall enter into every house... and shall consume it...-
Although, for a time, God may patiently withhold the heat of His wrath upon sin, the time will come when those who refuse to heed His Word (by repenting of sin and turning to the Savior), will be 'cut off' {HB=naqah, made desolate, cp. this word in v.3; Isa 3:26) and be 'consumed' {HB=kalah, brought to a complete end} without escape or remedy (cp. v.4; Ex 32:10; Ezra 9:14; Isa 29:18-20; also see Prov 29:1; 2Pet 3:9,10)
5. Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me,
Lift up now thine eyes, and see what [is] this that goeth forth.
6 And I said, What [is] it?
And he said, This [is] an
{lit., the} ephah that goeth forth.
He said moreover, This [is] their resemblance through all the earth.
7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead:
and this [is] a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.
8 And he said, This [is] wickedness.
And he cast it into the midst of the ephah;
and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.
...this is an ephah...-
An 'ephah' is a dry measure (slightly larger than a 'bushel'), or a container for that measure (eg., a 'bushel basket').
...that goeth forth... through all the earth...-
Whatever this basket contains has spread throughout the 'whole earth,' the same territory previously described (using the same HB words) as under the condemnation of God's Word (vs.2,3).
...this is their resemblance {ie., appearance}...-
Wherever the basket is found, it contains the same thing.
behold... a woman... this is wickedness...-
In Scriptural symbology, a 'woman' often depicts that which is evil. Yet, throughout the Bible, women are afforded high honor, when in accord with God's order of society and the family. The first woman led in sin through her willful disregard of God's Word through her husband, yet, God's promise of salvation was through "the seed of the woman" (cp. 1Tim 2:11-15; Gen 3:13-15). 'Wickedness' is not a reflection upon womanhood in general, but rather, is pictured as a woman, refusing to submit to her head and walking insolently in her own way. Examples:
  • The leavening {fermentation, corruption} of the good meal {the Word of God}... a process leading to total apostasy, when "the whole was leavened" (Mat 13:33). Note that in this parable, "three measures" defines "the whole." The GK word which Jesus used for 'measure' {GK=saton} is equivalent to the HB word 'seah' which is one third of an ephah. Thus, in few words, Jesus reveals the nature of "the ephah that goeth forth." It is filled with disregard for God's Word, and with influences that corrupt or twist Scripture to make it agreeable to sinful men. This is the essence of the waywardness of these other 'women':
  • The spiritual adultery of Israel and Judah (Jer 3:1,2; Eze 23:1-4f; Hos 1:2).
  • The spiritual adultery of the Church (Rev 2:19-23).
  • The spiritual adultery of the final form of apostate ecumenical religion ('ecumenical' means 'worldwide'). (Rev 17:1-6).
    The same evil is found everywhere. Israel forsook her husband (the LORD) to pursue other lovers. The Church has not kept herself chaste for her Bridegroom (cp. 2Cor 11:2-4). The worldwide faith community, having heard the Word that "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" and that "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Joh 3:16; 14:6; Acts 4:12; cp. Rom 10:18), have rejected that Word and have agreed among themselves that all paths are equally acceptable.
and he cast it {ie., wickedness} into... the ephah... and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.-
Here we see wickedness restrained and contained because the LORD holds it back and puts a lid on it (2The 2:6).
9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked,
and, behold, there came out two women,
and the wind [was] in their wings;
for they had wings like the wings of a stork:
and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.
10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me,
Whither do these bear the ephah?
11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar:
and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base.
...behold, there came out two women... the wind was in their wings...-
No longer contained or restrained, wickedness goes out into the world with re-doubled vigor, at a time when the political and spiritual climate is favorable for its rapid spread (2The 2:7,8).
...the wind was in their wings...-
'Wind' (HB=ruach) can also be translated 'spirit.'
...wings of a stork...-
The stork is an 'unclean' bird (Deu 14:11,12,18) known for its powerful wings.
- - The wickedness of these two women is borne aloft and furthered by an evil spirit (cp. Eph 6:12; Rev 13:4), in great contrast to the two well oiled witnesses through whom the Holy Spirit flows to illuminate true Righteousness (Zech 4:2,3,14).
- - Compare the evil 'wind' which had held idolatrous Israel captive to its influence (Hos 4:19 and context).
...they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.
'Lifted up' can have the sense of exaltation.
...to build it an house in the land of Shinar... it shall be established... and set... upon her own base...-
Shinar is the land of Babylon, to which the people of Jerusalem had been carried away captive, for their wickedness and disregard of God's Word (Dan 1:1,2). In Zechariah's day, only a small remnant had returned to rebuild the city and Temple. The majority had become established in Babylon and preferred its business and luxuries to the the impoverished state of those who had returned (cp. Neh 5:1-9; Mal 3:8). Therefore, some interpreters see this unreturned portion of Israel as the wickedness established in the land of Shinar.
- - However, the vision looks beyond Zechariah's day to the Tribulation period, when wickedness will reign through the world system. This is Babylon (meaning 'confusion') the Great, and the Great Whore that will rule over the whole earth (Rev 17:1-6).
...it shall be established...-
The three words: "build, established, set" have similar meanings (v.11). Used together, they are emphatic that there will be a reign of wickedness.
to build it an house... - a dwelling place, a temple.
Wickedness will be at home in the world system, in all of its religious, political and commercial aspects.
- - The establishment of a temple of wickedness is also in stark contrast to the LORD's Temple as pictured in Zech 4. There, "the two sons of oil" lead the worship of the one true God, empowered by His Holy Spirit. Here, "two women of poison" (corresponding, perhaps, to the beast and the false prophet of Rev 13:1-4,11-15), lead in the worship of an imposter, empowered by Satan. [Two phrases in quotes from GWms]
set upon her own base...- resting upon her own resting place.
Having rejected the only sure foundation (eg., Isa 28:16; Zech 4:9; 1Cor 3:11; 2Tim 2:19), the wicked world will build upon a foundation to its liking. Mankind will think that it has finally established peace and security through a unity based on human wisdom and principles. The rebellion of men, against the one true God, will reach its pinnacle where it began, in Babylon (Gen 11:1-9). But it will not last long (cp. Mat 7:24-27; Rev 14:6-8).

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