Study Notes

Zechariah 5:1-11


We are continuing our study of Zechariah's eight visions which he received one night. Tonight, we will examine the sixth and seventh of them, contained in chapter five.

5:1-3 A Flying Scroll

The sixth vision was that of a flying scroll, which was measured in cubits. As you may recall, a cubit is the measurement from a man's elbow to the tip of his fingers, or approximately 18 inches. With the measurements given here, we estimate this scroll to be 30 feet long and 15 feet wide.

Is there a significance to the dimensions given? Well, 1Kings 6 tells us that the front porch of Solomon's temple to the Lord was exactly this big (1Kgs. 6:2-3). Each side of the altar of sacrifice in that temple was this dimension as well (2Chr. 4:1).

Another interesting detail about this scroll is given to us in verse three, in which we learn that the scroll is written on both sides. There are three other similar mentions in Scripture:

When Moses received the tablets on which God wrote the Ten Commandments, they...

Exod. 32:15 ...were written on both sides; they were written on one {side} and the other.

A scroll that Ezekiel was shown also had this feature:

Ezek. 2:9-10 Then I looked, behold, a hand was extended to me; and lo, a scroll {was} in it. When He spread it out before me, it was written on the front and back; and written on it were lamentations, mourning and woe.

This scroll was spread out because the sons of Israel had rebelled against God.

Lastly, in Revelation John saw a seven-sealed scroll, of which he wrote,

Rev. 5:1 And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals.

As these seals began to be broken, God's judgments began to be poured out upon the earth (Revelation 6).

And so the details regarding the scroll seem to be pointing us to the temple, the altar, and the Law of God, along with the judgment that takes place when that Law is neglected.

A Curse

The angel who'd been interpreting these visions for Zechariah explained that this scroll was a curse against two groups of people: those who steal, and those who swear falsely.

The Law of God was very simple and specific regarding these sins:

Exod. 20:15 "You shall not steal."

Lev. 19:12 "And you shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God..."

The curse written against these two kinds of sinners was also forewarned in the Law:

Deut. 27:26 Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them...

How would this curse be applied? What form would it take? In verse four, the Lord explains...

5:4 Entering The House

The curse was going to go forth and enter the houses of the thieves and those who swore falsely. It was going to spend the night and consume the house.

Several of the prophets were shown that God's Word would consume those who did not obey it. Isaiah wrote,

Isa. 5:24 Therefore, as a tongue of fire consumes stubble, and dry grass collapses into the flame, so their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away as dust; For they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Jeremiah was told by the Lord,

Jer. 5:14 ..."I am making My words in your mouth fire and this people wood, and it will consume them."

This scroll is one houseguest that you don't want spending the night!

5:5-6 An Ephah Going Forth

Now we see the seventh vision, one of an ephah going forth.

Because of the antiquity of the Bible, we sometimes come across terms (like cubit) that are no longer in use. An ephah was a dry measure for things like flour, grain, and barley. It was equal to ten omers (Exod. 16:36), was one tenth of a homer, and was the same as a bath (Ezek. 45:11). In today's measurements, we would call it about six or seven gallons.

The term also came to apply to not just the measurement, but the container in which it was measured, just like we refer to both milk and its container as a "gallon." However, as we're about to see, this ephah is bigger than normal, just as the scroll in the previous vision was unnaturally large.

5:7-8 A Woman Named Wickedness

The ephah was covered by a lid of lead. When it was lifted up, Zechariah saw that there was a woman inside. Who was she? The angel describes her as "Wickedness."

After saying this, the angel threw her back down inside the ephah and then threw the lid back on top of the ephah.

What a strange thing to see! What could this symbolism mean? And why does the angel so obviously despise her?

Commentators are all over the place with what this represents, but I believe that what I'm going to share with you tonight is by far the most Scripturally-based of the many theories. I believe that Wickedness is the same woman who we see in Revelation. John writes,

Rev. 17:3-5 And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and upon her forehead a name {was} written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."

This woman is the mother of harlots and of all abominations. "Wickedness" is certainly an accurate description of her. What is her name? Babylon.

Harlotry And Abominations

The Bible calls people harlots when they claim to know God, but are idolaters. God looks at them like a wife who cheats on her husband with other men - a harlot.

Abominations are similar, in that they are practices which seem to be religious, yet are detestable to God.

Babylon, The Mother

How could this woman Babylon be the mother of every abomination and all harlotry? To understand this, we must go back to the book of Genesis.

As you remember, Noah had three sons who came with him on the ark. But his son Ham was wicked. As it turns out, Ham's son Cush was worse, and Cush's son Nimrod became the first dictator on the earth (Gen. 10:8).

Gen. 10:10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel and EH-rek and Ak-KAD and Kal-NEH, in the land of Shinar.

The beginning of Nimrod's kingdom was Babel in Shinar. And although man had rebelled against God's rule, it was not until Babel that man turned to false gods - to harlotry and abominations.

The tower of Babel was built because of this very thing. The people said,

Gen. 11:4 ..."Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top {will reach} into heaven..."

Notice that the "will reach" is in italics. The true purpose of this tower wasn't to reach as high as heaven, but rather it was built "unto the heavens." This is where the worship of the planets, the Zodiac, and all other false gods began. This was the beginning of every single religious practice and system that deviates from God's revealed Word.

5:9-11 The Woman Taken To Shinar

In his vision, Zechariah sees that the woman is being relocated - moved from the place she is to the land of Shinar. Now, if you recall from Genesis 10, Babylon originated in the land of Shinar (Gen. 10:10). If this wicked system personified as this woman began in Shinar, and will be relocated to Shinar, she must currently be somewhere else. Where is that? Revelation 17:9 tells us that she sits on seven mountains. And, according to more than a dozen ancient writings, the city called "the city of seven mountains" was Rome.

Nowhere today are harlotry and abominations more obvious than in Rome. The corruption of Biblical truth, idols worshiped in the name of God, and false religious practices purported to be Christian permeate the city.

The wicked woman Babylon will, according to the book of Revelation, continue to increase in influence. She is pictured as sitting on many waters (Rev 17:1), which are then explained to be the nations and people of the world (Rev 17:15).

Even during the final seven years of man's reign on earth, she will seem to have control - reigning over the kings of the earth (Rev 17:18). But they will hate her and turn against her. She will be stripped of her religious garments and revealed for what she really is - a commercial system. Her false religion removed, she will be relocated to her place of origin - Babylon, in the land of Shinar, in the middle of modern-day Iraq, about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

If this subject interests you, I highly recommend picking up the tapes from Revelation 17 and 18 for a more detailed study.

Next week, we will continue our study with chapter six, seeing Zechariah's eighth vision of the evening.

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