Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 5

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verse 1


In Zechariah 4 the people are shown after the ideal of God. Zechariah 5 shows the people as they really are. Therefore, it deals with judgment, as well as the last night vision in Zechariah 6 (Zechariah 6:1-Ruth :). So far encouragement has been heard, but now the judgment is announced because of the true condition of the people.

In the sixth night vision, with the flying scroll (Zechariah 5:1-Numbers :), the transgressors of the law are judged and thus sinners are removed. In the seventh night vision, with the woman in the ephah (Zechariah 5:5-1 Kings :) the land is cleansed by removing wickedness, the principle of sin. In this way the land will truly become the “holy land” (Zechariah 2:12).

A Flying Scroll

Zechariah lifts up his eyes again in a vision. In the vision he sees “a flying scroll”. The flying scroll represents the active power of the Word of God, working in judgment, a judgment that is quickly carried out.

The scroll plays an important role in Scripture. It contains the councils of God regarding Christ (Psalms 40:7), His grace which He reveals in the Lord Jesus. The scroll also contains God’s intentions with the earth. That scroll is in the hand of God and is given to the Lord Jesus, the Lamb (Revelation 5:7; cf. Ezekiel 2:1; Ezekiel 2:2Ezekiel 2:9; Ezekiel 2:10). The main idea in Revelation is, on the one hand, God’s grace in salvation for His people, the believers, and on the other hand, the judgment of the wicked. Here in Zechariah it is the judgment of His unfaithful people.

Verse 2

The Sizes of the Scroll

The LORD asks Zechariah what he sees. Zechariah answers with an accurate description of the scroll. He sees it flying. He also gives its length size and width size because they are striking sizes.

The sizes of the scroll are the sizes of God’s sanctuary, the holy place of the temple (1 Kings 6:3). This indicates that the Word of God does not differ in anything from what is appropriate for God’s presence, but is fully in accordance with it. It is a great book, because it contains many curses because of the many sins of the people. It is a completely unrolled book, it can be read by everyone, and also long and wide, by all to see and perceive. The message of judgment is hidden from no one.

We can learn from this that God applies judgment to the spiritual state of the people according to the measure of the sanctuary. The relationship between this book of curses and the sanctuary also tells us that judgment begins with the house of God (Ezekiel 9:6; 1 Peter 4:17). With this measure all sinners will be measured. This means that they are not part of the church of God and that they will be and remain removed from the holy place where God dwells.

Verse 3

The Twofold, General Curse

It is a book of curses for “the whole land”, because the whole land is full of sin. The curse particularly affects the members of God’s people who are thieves and who swear falsely. Not all sins are enumerated. They are summarized in stealing, that is sin against one’s neighbor, and swearing a false oath, that is sin against God. We see this division also in the ten commandments on the two stone tables of the law (Luke 10:27). He who is guilty of one commandment is guilty of all (James 2:10).

Stealing is the violation of the eighth commandment (Exodus 20:15). It is a sin against one’s neighbor, but also against God, because with every sin is stolen from Him what He is entitled to. Every little Christian confession that is not the work of God is stolen. For example, we steal from Him when we use time due to Him for ourselves and when we spend money due to Him for ourselves. In this way we have to apply to ourselves what is written on the scroll.

False swearing is the violation of the third commandment (Exodus 20:7). It is a sin against God in which His Name is wrongfully used and connected to our own affairs. This sin occurs when a wrong thing is approved by attaching the Name of God to it. Thus, God’s Name is connected to many things in Christianity that He hates and about which He will bring judgment, the curse.

Abuse of the Lord’s Name can also be related to coming together in the Lord’s Name or expressing prophecies in His Name, like ‘so says the Lord’ in charismatic circles. If we profess to come together in the Name of the Lord, but we do so on a sectarian basis, it means that we abuse His Name, swearing false.

Verse 4

The Curse Goes Forth

The LORD Himself makes the curse go forth, that is to send it from His presence. He says this as “the LORD of hosts”. If he makes the curse go forth, it can be stopped by nothing and nobody. The curse goes forth and is sent straight to the house of both the thief and him who swears falsely. God knows where to find every evildoer (Jeremiah 23:24) to give him his righteous punishment. Though they think no one sees their sins, nothing is hidden from God (Psalms 94:7; Psalms 94:9).

The curse enters the house of the lawbreaker and takes its place there, “within that house”. He cannot be expelled from it, there is no spell against it. The curse spends the night there and does its destructive work from within. The whole house is destroyed (cf. Leviticus 14:45). There is nothing left of their own house for which they have worked so hard, while they have neglected God’s house.

Verses 5-6

The Ephah

It seems that the Angel has withdrawn after the vision of the scroll and now comes forward again with a new statement in a new vision (Zechariah 5:5). He tells Zechariah to lift up his eyes to see what is going forth.

This night vision, the seventh, is about “the ephah”, which is a size of probably between twenty and forty-five liters. The ephah symbolizes a profession and trade that must be done fairly (Ezekiel 45:9-1 Kings :; Amos 8:5). God has measured sin precisely and also under control. Here the ephah represents the sinful system, while the previous vision is about sinful deeds. This sinful system is found and maintained throughout the land. Care is taken that this ruling system is not affected. It controls the entire spiritual climate.

Verses 7-8

The Woman Inside the Ephah

On the ephah there is a lead cover (Zechariah 5:7), which emphasizes the absoluteness of the prevailing wickedness, but at the same time prevents full revelation. This is how God indicates it here. The cover is not a hindrance for God to reveal what hidden power is at work behind the wickedness, which controls the wickedness. The cover is lifted up to let Zechariah and us look into it.

In the ephah is a woman sitting. The woman or the female as a symbol often represents a certain position that someone or something occupies. This woman symbolizes the position that idolatry has received in God’s people. Idolatry has been given a fixed place there. That the woman sits, means that she is in complete rest and that she controls the situation.

The woman is called “wickedness”. She represents wickedness (cf. Revelation 17:3-Deuteronomy :). This corresponds to what Paul calls “the mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament – uses the same words here in Zechariah as Paul uses in the second letter to the Thessalonians.

“Sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:5), i.e. not recognizing any authority. In our days we see the forerunners of the great apostacy. The presence of the Holy Spirit still holds back the full development. Our moral norms are imperceptibly lowered to those prevailing in the world. This lowering has an effect on our service to the Lord.

This vision shows that in the people of God idolatrous principles are at work. This is not hidden from God, but many of God’s people do not see this. Zechariah gains insight into it, just as every believer who lives with the Lord gains this insight when he reads God’s Word.

Evil is here present in the bud. It is still restrained by the lead cover. God does not yet allow the full revelation of wickedness (2 Thessalonians 2:6-Ruth :).

Verse 9

Two Women and the Ephah

When Zechariah lifts up his eyes once more, he sees two women coming out. We can consider them as twin sisters. They represent civil and spiritual authority, or superstition and unbelief, or Pharisees and Sadducees. We can consider them as the demonic counterparts of Zerubbabel and Joshua. The idolatry has pushed Zerubbabel and Joshua from their God-given place as leaders of God’s people and has taken their place.

They are carried and propelled by the wind, a picture of demonic powers – ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ are the same word – and lead the people to total apostacy. They have, so to speak, the wind in their sails and have prosperity in their evil enterprise. We often see that wicked people live in prosperity (Psalms 73:2-Deuteronomy :).

The women have “wings like the wings of a stork”. A stork is an unclean bird (Leviticus 11:19). Through these depraved powers, the ephah with the woman in it – the apostate Israel – is lifted up “between the earth and the heavens”. In that position no earthly power can reach it and do something with it. God can, but He allows evil to develop until the measure is full. The stork is a strong bird capable of covering a long distance.

Verses 10-11

The Ephah Taken to Shinar

The prophet does not ask what the ephah means, neither does he ask the meaning of the women who carry it, but only wants to know where the ephah is taken (Zechariah 5:10).

The answer goes beyond the question (Zechariah 5:11). The Angel answers the question of where the women take the ephah, and adds a few more details. The ephah is taken to the land of Shinar. In Shinar lies Babylon (Genesis 10:10; Genesis 11:2Genesis 11:9). It is the land where man unites for the first time in rebellion against God. That is where the woman in the ephah belongs. The principles of idolatry belong in Babylon, but they are found under the remnant.

In the – now near – future these idolatrous principles will regain their true place, “her own pedestal”. In faith we must give them that place now. The building of a house presupposes a permanent dwelling place. That is where ungodliness came from. Wickedness is traced back to its origins.

Babylon does not deny God, but wants to make itself equal to God in its pride. It is a religious system that is always in rebellion against God. This system has great appeal to the people of God (Joshua 7:21). How much of ‘Babylon’, the nominal Christian world, has been taken over by us in our service to God? It is idolatry and must be removed from the land.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Zechariah 5". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/zechariah-5.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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