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Thursday, 16 May 2013

Visions of Judgement (Zech. 5)

Zechariah 5 contains two unusual visions. The first was of a very large scroll (about ten yards long and five yards wide) that flew through the air. On one side of the scroll was written the eighth commandment and on the other side was written the ninth commandment. The scroll depicted God’s punishment of those who persisted in sin, particularly the sins of stealing and lying. In a symbolic way, it would be sent by the Lord into the houses of such sinners and destroy their homes.

These two sins may have been highlighted because they marked those who opposed the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and (1) were taking the building material for their own use and (2) speaking against the project as well. Since they did not support the building of the Lord’s House, then he would knock down their houses. If this is the scenario, then it is a reminder of (1) not to speak against God’s revealed plans and (2) an act of divine judgement on a wrong practice often has a clear connection to the practice (in this case, the Lord’s House and their houses).

The other vision was of a woman in a basket. She represents Wickedness and was about to come out of the basket – the basket itself represents wicked practices. The angel with Zechariah forced her back in and replaced the heavy cover. Then two women with wings like a stork picked up the basket and took it to the land of Shinar (Babylon) where they would build a house for the basket.

Clearly, the vision indicated that certain types of wickedness were going to be removed from the land and taken to Babylon. Some interpreters suggest that this vision was backward looking and was a reminder to the Jews of what had happened to their forefathers when they had departed from the Lord’s commands – they went into exile in Babylon.

It could also be the case that the woman in the basket represents those who were hindering the attempts to recover the temple and its worship. In doing so, they were like the Babylonians who destroyed the previous temple. The most suitable place for them to live would be in Babylon and in God’s providence that is where they would find themselves soon. After all, if one behaves like Babylon, one will end up there.

The two visions are connected. In the first, particular sins are identified and, in the second, those sins are removed from the land. The message for the people back then, and for us too, is that we should not follow those who attempt to hinder the work of the Lord. Those who oppose him will lose out.

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