Summary: In Zechariah, you see God’s incredible forgiveness and promise of restoration and depth of love for His people, who had been slaves in Babylon and were now returning to rebuild their country, their lives, and their faith
Called to Be Holy
Zech 5 August 10, 2008
I distinctly remember a conversation with a young man back in the days that I was a youth pastor. He was making some really destructive decisions in his life, and I was trying to convince him to make some better ones. I tried to help him see the path he was heading down was dangerous, wrong, and was leading him away from God. And that this was not good! His reply cut deeply: “Steve, you have always taught me that God loves me, right?” “Yes, absolutely,” I replied. “And that God will always forgive me, right?” “Yes, God will always forgive you when you ask.” Then he said, “ok, then I’m perfectly fine to go ahead with these decisions you don’t approve of, and later on, if I want to, I can come back to God and that will be easy because you just said He’ll always love me and forgive me.”
Ouch. What had been missing in my teaching? Where had I gone wrong, that led this young man to the place where he felt it didn’t matter how he lived, because there was always this spiritual safety net, benignly waiting for whenever he wanted to come back and pick up where he left off. How had I managed to create an image of God as nothing more than the gentle, harmless grandpa who just says “there there, it’s ok, don’t worry about anything, just forget about that bad stuff because it doesn’t matter, it’s not important, do whatever you like and if you get into trouble just call and I’ll come and rescue you and shield you from any harm and pamper you and give you all kinds of nice gifts…”
How did this young man get to the place where sin didn’t matter?
This summer we’ve been reading Zechariah, and seeing again God’s incredible forgiveness and promise of restoration and depth of love for His people, who had been slaves in Babylon and were now returning to rebuild their country, their lives, and their faith. The first part of the book of Zechariah records a series of supernatural visions that the prophet saw, and what they mean. The last two visions have been about two key leaders – Joshua the high priest in chapter 3, and Zerubabbel the governor in chapter 4. The focus of these visions has been on the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Now we come to chapter 5, which contains two more visions. These two visions extend from the focus on the leaders to the entire people. Let’s read them together.
Zech 5 (NLT):
1 I looked up again and saw a scroll flying through the air. 2 “What do you see?” the angel asked. “I see a flying scroll,” I replied. “It appears to be about 30 feet long and 15 feet wide.” 3 Then he said to me, “This scroll contains the curse that is going out over the entire land. One side of the scroll says that those who steal will be banished from the land; the other side says that those who swear falsely will be banished from the land. 4 And this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: I am sending this curse into the house of every thief and into the house of everyone who swears falsely using my name. And my curse will remain in that house and completely destroy it—even its timbers and stones.”
5 Then the angel who was talking with me came forward and said, “Look up and see what’s coming.” 6 “What is it?” I asked. He replied, “It is a basket for measuring grain, and it’s filled with the sins of everyone throughout the land.” 7 Then the heavy lead cover was lifted off the basket, and there was a woman sitting inside it. 8 The angel said, “The woman’s name is Wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and closed the heavy lid again.
9 Then I looked up and saw two women flying toward us, gliding on the wind. They had wings like a stork, and they picked up the basket and flew into the sky. 10 “Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel. 11 He replied, “To the land of Babylonia, where they will build a temple for the basket. And when the temple is ready, they will set the basket there on its pedestal.”
The Flying Scroll (vs. 1-4):
We’ve all seen huge banners flying behind airplanes before, advertising something or other, so this vision might seem not quite as weird as some others. But when we think from the point of view of an Israelite in 520BC, a giant billboard flying in the sky would be extremely unusual. The size and the fact that it is flying both would identify it as coming directly from God, and thus something to which we should pay attention.