In his sixth vision Zechariah sees a large scroll flying through the air. Surely he would have immediately called to his mind the references to scrolls by Jeremiah (Jer 36:1-3) and Ezekiel (Ezek 2:9-10). These prophets made reference to scrolls as signs of coming judgment for sin. Zechariah knew that the people were returning from exile, which was itself a judgment from God, but what could this flying scroll mean if now that judgment was concluded? Was there another judgment coming?
The scroll Zechariah described was 30 feet long and 15 feet wide. On one side he read the eighth commendment, against stealing, and on the other side was the ninth commandment, against bearing false witness. The sins of theft and lying were prevelant in Zechariah’s day, and the vision reveals the truth, such sins will be judged. There will be consequences for dishonesty.
According to the vision, sin among the people will be discovered. It will not remain hidden in the dark. It will be brought into the light. The curse for sin here goes throughout the land, seeking those who have so sinned. It can be rather frightening to know that we so tolerate sin, and we so doubt God’s Word as to believe that we can sin in private and that it will never be found out. God’s Word tells us that we will reap what we sow and that our sin will not remain hidden.
The dimensions of the scroll are similar to the Holy Place within the Temple (that was currently being rebuilt by the people). So we have a flying bill board the size of the Holy Place seeking sin to expose it with the commandments of God. We see then that it is God’s Law that determines what is and is not sin, and His Word is rooted in His character, in His own holiness.
No matter how hard we try to redefine the uses of the Law in an era of grace, we cannot escape the truth that it is God’s Word that tells us what is right and what is wrong. And no opinion of man, no matter how learned, how persuasive, or how reasonable can undermine the everlasting Word of God.
The curse found in connection with the scroll reminds us that sin has a price. Just as sin will be discovered, so too, sin will be judged. Sin is cursed and judged because God is holy. For Him to wink at sin, to close HIs eyes and ignore it, because we are after all, just human, would be contradictory to Who God is.
In the seventh vision then we see wickedness personified by a woman. She is sitting in a large basket with a lead cover on top. Just as sin is discovered and judged, it must be removed from among the people of God. Wickedness must be removed.
It is often proclaimed today that because God is love, He hates the sin, but loves the sinner. This misses the truth found throughout God’s Word that tells us that His wrath burns hot against sinners. Even those of us who have been saved are told before regeneration we were by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:1-2). Let us not delude ourselves. God is His holy hatred, hates sin and the sinner! Hell is not populated by sin, it is full of sinners. And those taken away by sin and judged for sin are people just like you and me. The woman in the basket shows us that those who sin and are judged are real people, people we live with, work with, and pass on the street every day. They live under God’s wrath and the threat of judgment, and if they do not repent of their sina nd trust Christ, then they will die in their sin and suffer the consequences forever in hell.
At the close of this vision Zechariah sees the basket with the woman carried away to Babylon. The location given is the place that the Tower of Babel was built, the land of Shinar. This place represents the first organised wide spread rebellion of mankind against the Lord.
The vision very much fits with what we read in Revelation 17 as a woman arrayed in purple and scarlet, adorned with gold and jewels has set up house in Babylon. Revelation sees rejoicing among the people of God as this woman will finally fall and be judged. She will be consumed by fire for her sin and wickedness.
We are still awaiting the fulfillment of this vision, as sin has yet to be completely removed from among the people of God. We are saints, but we are also sinners. Sinners saved by grace. And while the penalty for our sin has been dealt with through the live and death of Christ on the cross, we do still sin. So we wait for the fulfillment of this vision, for the final removal of sin from the people of God. That day is coming. Are we ready?
Join us this Sunday, September 4, for worship as we study the sixth and seventh visions of Zechariah in a message titled “A House of Thieves” from Zechariah 5:1-11.