Zechariah 5 gives us two different visions. The first vision is about how volitional sin in our lives will not stop the work of God in this world. The next vision given is another one dealing with sin. The fact that sin is prevalent in the land should not prevent the work of rebuilding the temple.
In both visions, we see that removing the systemic sin from Israel is needed before the coming of the kingdom.
Zechariah 5:1 – Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a flying scroll!
Almost immediately after seeing the vision of the lamp and the trees, Zechariah turns and immediately finds himself in another vision.
Zechariah 5:2 – And he said to me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits.”
The scroll that he saw is fully opened so that he can measure the size. An interesting note is that the size of the scroll is exactly the same size as Solomon’s Porch of the original temple in 1 Kings 6:2-3. The original temple had two porches made by Solomon. The dimensions describe the size of the second porch.
Zechariah 5:3 – Then he said to me, “This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land. For everyone who steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side, and everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side.
So this scroll is the curse for anyone who steals or swears falsely. In Revelation 18:5 we see that her sins have reached heaven and God has remembered her sins. This scroll is symbolizing at least part of the Law.
James 2:10 says that whoever keeps the whole law but fails to keep one point of it has become guilty of the entire Law.
The fact that there are only two points of the Law specified (the third and the eighth), holds up what James says in that failing to keep one point will violate the entire Law.
This message is both immediate and future. The future message brings us to something Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-46.
It is interesting that these two Laws were chosen. The stealing violates your neighbor’s rights. Swearing a lie is like lying under oath in court. It violates God. The focus of the Law is to love God and love others. The two Laws chosen show that loving God and others is of prime importance.
It could also be that these two sins were the main sins that those returning from captivity were falling prey to.
Zechariah 5:4 – I will send it out, declares the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter the house of the thief, and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. And it shall remain in his house and consume it, both timber and stones.”
There is no hiding from the scroll. Isaiah 55:10-11 says that God’s Word will not return empty after it goes out from His mouth and that it will accomplish its purpose. The only way to remove the curse is to repent.
This is similar to Leviticus 14 and the house of leprosy. In Leviticus, leprosy symbolizes sin. In Leviticus there is an opportunity to repent of the sin.
Zechariah 5:5 – Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, “Lift your eyes and see what this is that is going out.”
Basically this is the beginning of the next vision. It isn’t really clear where the angel is asking Zechariah to direct his eyes except to lift his eyes.
Zechariah 5:6 – And I said, “What is it?” He said, “This is the basket that is going out.” And he said, “This is their iniquity in all the land.”
Just like in previous visions, Zechariah is unsure of what he is seeing. Depending on the version you are reading, it is either a “basket” or an “ephah,” which is, in essence, a bushel. Inside this bushel is the sin of the people.
This is likened to Revelation 18:5 in which the sins of the people are heaped up high.
Again, depending on your interpretation, there is a little more depth to this verse. I don’t particularly like the ESV translation in that it simplifies it too much. In other versions, this is not just God saying that it is their sin. God is saying that this is the “resemblance” of their sin. This means it is what God sees.
God sees all their sin. He doesn’t approve, of course. He is seeing and observing it, preparing for vengeance.
Zechariah 5:7 – And behold, the leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket!
Inside this ephah is a woman. In the vision, the woman is Judea and they are being seen for their sins. The lead is the cover of sin for Judea.
This woman is a representation of the church in sin and a corrupt Judea. The woman in the basket could go on to mean that she is being carried away, perhaps forced to live elsewhere, such as in a diaspora.
The lead cover is heavy. And lead is poisonous. The sin that covers the woman is heavy and poisonous.
Zechariah 5:8 – And he said, “This is Wickedness.” And he thrust her back into the basket, and thrust down the leaden weight on its opening.
This woman is not a woman, but the personification of evil. Think of mystery Babylon in Revelation. It appears the woman tries to leave the ephah but is forced back down and the heavy lead cover is placed back over her.
Think of Genesis 29:2 where the great stone was on the mouth of the well so that there wouldn’t be access.
Zechariah 5:9 – Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, two women coming forward! The wind was in their wings. They had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven.
Now we move from the single woman in the basket to two other women with wings of storks. In the book of Leviticus, storks are seen as unclean. This means that these women are the protectors of evil. They are the demonic forces that are setting up the system of evil. There are several ways we can look at these women. It could be Samaria and Jerusalem. Or it could be the apostate church and mystery Babylon.
God allows this so that it can be destroyed as seen in Revelation 19:11-16.
The wind beneath their wings and the wings like storks show unclean and powerful creatures.
Zechariah 5:10 – Then I said to the angel who talked with me, “Where are they taking the basket?”
Zechariah is wondering where the women are taking the basket.
Zechariah 5:11 – He said to me, “To the land of Shinar, to build a house for it. And when this is prepared, they will set the basket down there on its base.”
And the angel tells Zechariah to Shinar, which is an ancient term for Babylon (see Genesis 10:10). The fact that they will be setting this basket on a base means that this will become an idol most likely inside of a temple.
This is very easily a foreshadowing of the second coming of Christ. This is the final Babylon (Revelation 17-18) and the second coming of Christ in Malachi 4:1-3.
This could be the warning for God’s people to leave Babylon, whether the physical Babylon of their day or the spiritual Babylon of the millennial kingdom.