Before directly addressing Zechariah 5, it may be helpful to look at the broader picture of what happened in Israel’s history prior to this time. Abraham was the father of Isaac and Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob was later named Israel, which means Prince of God. Israel had 12 sons and their descendants are known in the Scriptures as the children of Israel. The nation of Israel was divided beginning in Rehoboam’s reign. Rehoboam was David’s grandson and he reigned over the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Jeroboam reigned over the 10 northern tribes of Asher, Dan, Ephraim, Gad, Issachar, Manasseh, Naphtali, Reuben, Simeon, and Zebulun.  In 722 BC, the Assyrians conquered the 10 northern tribes of Israel and we do not read in the Bible that they have returned yet to the land of Israel. However, the Lord will someday regather all of Israel to the land of Israel in time for the 1000-year reign of Christ. In 586 BC the Babylonians conquered the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south, collectively known as the Kingdom of Judah. They were held captive in Babylon for 70 years and then some of the people returned to the land of Israel.

The book of Zechariah was written to this group of Jews who had returned from Babylon to the land of Israel. Zechariah was a prophet who brought a message from the Lord to this remnant. This book can be divided into three sections. The first section is chapters 1-6 and describes symbolic visions that are mainly intended to comfort and encourage the Jews about their future Messiah. For example, in Zechariah 1:16-17 we read, “Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.”  The second section is chapters 7 and 8. These chapters discuss the Lord’s answer to a question about fasting to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem and the Lord’s unchanged purpose to bless the nation of Israel in Christ’s millennial kingdom.  The third section is chapters 9-14. These chapters describe the Messiah in rejection and afterwards in power when He comes to reign over the earth.

In Zechariah 5 there is one vision in verses 1-4 and another vision in verses 5-11. In verses 1-4 it is a vision of a flying roll. In the Scriptures a roll is a symbol of the written word that can be from God or man. We know from Zechariah 5:4 that the roll in this chapter is the written word of God. The message of the roll is to rebuke the sins of stealing and swearing. As Mr. Scofield said, “The two sins mentioned really transgress both tables of the law. To steal is to set aside our neighbor’s right; to swear is to set aside God’s claim to reverence. As always the law can only curse.” We read in Galatians 3:10-14, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Praise the Lord that Christ was made a curse for us so that we could be redeemed from the curse of the law.  What a Savior He is!

Zechariah 5:5-11 describes a vision of an ephah. An ephah is the equivalent of 23 liters or 6.1 gallons. Mr. William McDonald said, “In the vision of the ephah there is a blending of elements from Zechariah’s time with those of the far distant future. The ephah, being a very large dry measure among the Hebrews, is employed to indicate how the measure of Israel’s sins had accumulated in that day. For such iniquity there must be, first of all, the restraint of God in order that the righteous may be permitted to live in the land; this is symbolized by the basket’s lead cover. Second, evil must be completely eradicated from the land and carried back to the seat of idolatry and defiance of God, namely, Babylon; this is indicated by the flight of the basket to Babylon, its base. Compare Revelation 18.” In Zechariah 5:11 Shinar is the same as Babylon. In Revelation it discusses a political and religious Babylon. Political Babylon will be headed by the beast and religious or ecclesiastical Babylon will be headed by the false prophet or Antichrist. Ecclesiastical Babylon includes all of apostate Christendom (all those who pretend to follow Christ but then reject Him). Ecclesiastical Babylon is called the “great harlot” in Revelation 17:1. We learn in Revelation 17:15-18 that ecclesiastical Babylon will be destroyed by political Babylon so that only the beast will be worshipped. The power of political Babylon, headed by the beast, will be destroyed by the return of the Lord in glory at the battle of Armageddon. This battle and the destruction of the beast are described in Revelation 19:19-21. “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”

The visions in chapter 5 show the importance of living godly lives and rejecting evil. These visions are not particularly pleasant, but God is giving an important message in them. The path to blessing for the Jews and for us today is to cling to the Lord and honor Him instead of doing our own will and sinning against Him. Let us not steal from others in any way and may we always have the utmost respect for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If there is sin in our lives, let us repent and turn to the Lord. He will help us to reject sin and live lives that bring glory to Him.  (403.1)  (DJ)