Zechariah 5: 1 – 6:8
The Flying Scroll (5:1-4):
Zechariah’s first five visions were visions of peace and all the words Zechariah heard were comforting. However, God’s prophets are not only His ambassadors of peace but proclaim war against those that delight in war, and persist in their rebellion. In chapter 5, we have two visions, by which “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.” God will do great and kind things for His people, which the faithful sons of Israel shall rejoice in, but “let the sinners in Zion be afraid;” for God will reckon severely with those particular persons among them that are wicked and profane. While God is showing kindness to the faithful of the nation and blessing them, the wicked and profane and their families shall be under the curse Zechariah sees in a flying scroll.
The angel with Zechariah asked him, “What do you see?” Zechariah answered, “I see a flying scroll; its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits.”
The angel, to get Zechariah’s attention, and to raise in him a desire to have what he sees explained asks Zechariah, “What he sees?” Zechariah tells the angels he sees a flying scroll and as near, as he can guess by his eye it is twenty cubits long (ten yards) and ten cubits wide (five yards).
The angel with Zechariah told Zechariah, “This is the curse that is going forth over the face of the whole land; surely everyone who steals will be purged away according to the writing on one side, and everyone who swears will be purged away according to the writing on the other side.”
The scroll contains a declaration of the righteous wrath of God against those sinners especially who by swearing affront His majesty or by stealing, invade their neighbor’s property. Let every Israelite rejoice in the blessings of his country with trembling; for if he swears, if he steals, if he lives in any course of sin, he shall not have the comfort of them.
The flying scroll goes over the face of the whole earth, not only the land of Israel. It goes over the face of the whole earth because that law only shall judge those that have revolted against the law written in their hearts. All humanity is liable to the judgment of God; and, wherever sinners are, any where upon the face of the whole earth, the curse of God can and will find them and seize them.
The sinners, this curse is leveled against is thieves. Every one that by fraud or force takes that which is not his own and especially that robs God and converts to his own use what was devoted to God and his honor. Those that robs their fathers and mothers and say it is not transgression (Proverbs 28:24).
The swearer, this curse is leveled against is those who swear rashly and profanely. They bring the curse upon themselves by their perjury, against those who use God’s name to confirm a lie.
The enforcer of this curse is the Lord of hosts. The Lord of hosts bring the curse forth denotes it is a righteous curse, for He is righteous. He brings it forth with power. Who can put aside or resist the curse that a God of almighty power brings forth? The effect of this curse; it is very dreadful. Every one that steals are cut off, not corrected, but destroyed, cut off from the land of the living. God will not spare the sinners He finds among His own people, nor shall the holy city be a protection to the unholy. He will cut them off from the face of the whole earth, over which the curse flies, according to the curse, for the judgments of God’s hand are exactly agreeable with the judgments of his mouth.
God’s curse comes with a warrant to break open doors where the sinner is most secure, and thinks himself out of danger in his own house the curse of God will seize him. It shall fall not only upon him but also upon his family. It shall not only beset his house but it shall remain in the midst of his house. It shall dwell where he dwells, and be his constant companion at bed and board, to make both miserable to him. Having got possession of him it shall keep it unless he repents.
The curse shall consume the house even though the timber be the heart of oak and the stones rigidly set they shall not be able to stand before the curse of God. Their ruins will be standing monuments of God’s justice and lasting witnesses of the sinner’s injustice. Sin is the ruin of houses and families, especially the sins of injury and perjury.
The Woman in the Ephah (5:5-11):
The vision of the flying scroll was very plain and easy to understand. In the vision of the woman in the ephah, things are dark and hard to understand. Some scholars believe it foretells the final destruction of the temple and the nation and the dispersion of the Jews following the crucifixion of Jesus and the persecution of His followers. Therefore, these events are in obscure figures and expressions, lest the plain denunciation of the second overthrow of temple and state might discourage those who were restoring the temple.
Zechariah contemplating the power and terror of the curse which consumes the houses of thieves and swearers is told, “Lift up now your eyes and see what this is going forth.”
Zechariah will see greater desolations than those made by the curse of God for the sin of man. It seems Zechariah could not tell what it was he was seeing, so he asked the angel, “What is it? The angel said, “This is the ephah going forth.” Again he said, “This is their appearance in all the land and behold, a lead cover was lifted up” and there is a woman sitting inside the ephah.
Zechariah saw an ephah, a barrel, used in commerce to measure corn. The ephah represents the Israelite filling up their measure of iniquity, which God has set for them. When it is full, as the ephah of corn, they will be delivered into the hands of those to whom God has sold them for their sin as an ephah of corn is measured to be sold at the market or to be milled. On the other hand, an ephah, used in buying and selling, represents the fraud, deceit, and extortion in commerce that these people were guilty of committing. The woman represents the sinful state of the religion of Israel and the nation. God’s people are called the corn of His floor (Isaiah 21:10). Here He puts this corn into the ephah in order to part Himself from them.
The angel told Zechariah, “This is Wickedness! And he threw her down into the middle of the ephah and cast the lead weight on its opening.”
The angel told Zechariah, Israel is a wicked nation. If she were not a wicked nation, God would not reject her. The wickedness of Israel is an abominable wickedness. No wickedness is more abominable, scandalous, detestable, and outrageous, as when found among professors of religion.
The purpose of the vision is to show the people the wrath of God against impenitent sinners is, unavoidable, and they cannot escape it. Guilt is upon the sinner as a talent of lead, to sink him to the lowest level of hell.
Zechariah sees the ephah with the woman in it carried away into some far country. The instruments employed to carry the ephah and woman into some far country were two women. These two women had large and strong wings that enabled them to fly swiftly. They had the wind in their wings denoting the great violence and expedition with which the Romans destroyed the Jewish nation. God has not only winged messengers in heaven, but He can, when He pleases, give wings to those also whom He employs in this lower world; and, when He does so, He sends them with the wind in their wings.
The two women lifted up the ephah and the woman between earth and the heavens denoting the terrors that will pursue the wicked Israelites and their being a public example of God’s vengeance to the world. The lifting up the ephah and the woman between the earth and the heavens implies the ephah and the woman in the ephah were unworthy of the earth and the heavens and abandoned by both.
Zechariah asked the angel, “Where are they taking the ephah?” Zechariah enquired where the women were carrying their prisoner. The carrying away of the ephah indirectly implies that the punishment of the Israelites will be a final dispersion and forced to dwell in foreign countries, particularly in the country of Babylon, where many of the scattered Israelites went after the destruction of their country by the Romans. This implies the distress of the Israelites will continue from generation to generation and that they shall be so dispersed that they shall never unite or incorporate again. They shall settle in a perpetual unsettlement, and Cain’s doom shall be theirs, to dwell in the land of shaking. Their iniquity shall continue and their hearts shall be hardened in it. Blindness has happened to the Israelites. God has given them a spirit of slumber, lest at any time they should confess and be healed (Romans 11:8).
The Four Chariots (6: 1 – 15):
In this chapter we see, God, as King of nations, ruling the world by the ministry of angels, in the vision of the four chariots. And God, as King of the saints, ruling the church by the mediation of Christ, in the figure of Joshua the high priest. It seems as if Zechariah is looking forward to receiving this vision. He lifted up his eyes and saw “four chariots were coming forth from between the two mountains; and the mountains were bronze mountains. (v. 1), horses of different colors drew the four chariots.
Zechariah asked the angel that was with him, “What are these, my lord?” The angel answered and said, “these are the four spirits of heaven, going forth after standing before the Lord of all the earth’” (v.5).
There are scholars who claim this is a reference to what Daniel saw in the vision of the four winds of the heaven stirring up the great sea and four beasts were coming up from the sea. (Daniel 7:2-3). The red horses (v. 2) represent the Babylonian Empire. The black horses (v. 2) represent the Persian Empire who executed God’s judgments upon Babylon and freeing the Jews from their captivity. The white horses represent the Grecians who overthrow the Persian Empire. The spotted horse (v. 2) represent the Romans who conquered the Grecian Empire and are said to go forth towards the south country, Egypt, which was the last part of the Grecian Empire that was subdued by the Romans.
In the Bible, angels are often called the “chariots of God” (Psalm 68:17). The servant of Elisha saw “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17). The decrees of God are the beginning of all events in the world and they are immovable as mountains of brass. God performs the things that are appointed for us and what He performs for us is according to His will. Whatever God has decreed we should see them coming from between mountains of brass and it is useless to oppose His will. It is our duty to submit to the will of God.
God executes His decrees in the world as a king who rides in an open chariot, to show His glory to the world, in which, as in chariots of war, He rides forth conquering and to conquer and triumphing over all the enemies of His glory and government. God is great and terrible in his doings (Psalm 66:3), and in them we see the goings of our God, our King (Psalm 68:24). He moves swiftly and strongly as chariots, but all directed and governed by His infinite wisdom and sovereign will, as chariots by their drivers.
The angels in heaven are the ministers of God and employed by Him as the armies of heaven for the executing of His decrees among the inhabitants of the earth. They are the chariots that come from between the mountains and are the horses that draw the chariots, great in power and might, and who, like the horse that God himself describes in Job 39:19, are clothed with thunder, are terrible, but cannot be terrified nor made afraid. They are chariots of fire and horses of fire that carried one prophet to heaven and guarded another on earth. They are as observant of and obedient to the will of God as well-managed horses are to their rider or driver. Not that God needs them or their services, but He is pleased to make use of them, that He may put honor upon them, and encourage our trust in His providence.
The horses pulling the first chariot were red signifying war and bloodshed. Those pulling the second chariot were black signifying the consequences of war, it puts all into mourning, lays all waste, introduces famines, and pestilences, and desolations. Those pulling the third chariot were white signifying the return of comfort, and peace, and prosperity, after these dark and dismal times. Those pulling the fourth chariot of mixed colors signifying different types of events, a day of prosperity and a day of adversity. These chariots are the four spirits that come from God, and from Him they receive their commissions and instructions.
When Zechariah asked the angel “What are these?” The angel told him, “These are the four spirits of heaven, going forth after standing before the Lord of all the earth, with one of which the black horses are going forth to the North Country; and the white ones go forth after them, while the dappled ones go forth to the south country.”
The four spirits stand before the Lord of the earth to receive orders from Him and report their activity on this earth. When He tells them to go forth, they go as His messengers and ministers of His justice and mercy. The black horses that went forth carried with them events that will make every thing look black. However, the white horses that will follow the black horses will carry joy to those that mourned, and turn the night into day, this is the way God deals with His people. If the black horses go forth, the white ones presently go after them; for where affliction abounds consolation abounds much more. The horses that went to the south country requested the privilege to patrol the earth.
If we go through out the earth, we shall find the events that occur in this world are neither all black nor all white, but ash-colored, or gray, mixed of black and white. Such is the world we live in. In this world, God’s people are to sing in times of mercy and times of judgment. We are to praise with our songs the God of both (Psalm 101:1) and at the same time seek the will of God for our lives.
Then the Lord cried out, “See, those who are going to the land of the north have appeased My wrath in the land of the north.”
God executed His wrath upon the enemies of His people and His favor conferred upon His people, in both God fulfilled His will, and accomplished His word as He spoke in Isaiah 1:24.
God in the past spoke to His people through the prophets He spoke in various manners. In the first part of this chapter, He spoke by a vision, which only Zechariah saw. In the second part, He speaks by a sign, or type, which many saw, and explained to them. It was an illustrious prediction of the Messiah as the priest and king of His church.