Summary: Though sinners may seem to prosper, they & the whole system of religious, political & commercial ungodliness, that will so powerfully dominate the earth & its people, will also ultimately fail.
ZECHARIAH 5: 5-11 (THE 7TH VISION)
[Revelations 17:1-6, 15-16]
Religious Lawlessness & the World Commercial System.
The previous vision of The Flying Scroll is related to this vision of The Woman in the Basket in that they refer to the judgment which flagrant, persistent sinners will receive when God’s curse against sin finally falls. Therefore this vision’s final fulfillment also occurs in the end time when religious wickedness or lawlessness is revealed as giving no safety from the wrath of God against ungodliness.
For not only will individual sinners be judged (the Flying Scroll vision) but wickedness itself will be removed from the land or earth. Though sinners may seem to prosper, they, and the whole system of religious, political and commercial ungodliness, that will so powerfully dominated the earth and its people, will also ultimately fail (CIM).
The religious system of the last days will gain power by teaming up with the world-wide commercial system and political system known as Babylon and for awhile escape its economic persecution. The Apostate Church which joins this world wide religious system will do its bidding. This religious system of wickedness will eventually be seen by even the political-commercial system which supports it to be completely bankrupt and will turn on it. Thus it eventually will find the liberation which it sold-out for short lived and treacherous.
The vision also had application to the prophet’s own time. The remnant of the land had only recently been exiled from Babylon. Outwardly they had put away pagan idolatry. However an intense commercial preoccupation gripped the people with greed for gain. The basic motivation of the people, what dominated their thinking and their living, was not loyalty or faithfulness to the LORD, but worldly gain.
[Haggai had rebuked them for it (Haggai 1:4). Nehemiah scathingly rebuked the nobles and rulers for extracting heavy interest from their impoverished brothers (Neh. 5:1-13). He called upon these selfish interest extractors to restore the vineyards, olive groves and houses of the brothers they had oppressed. The prophet Malachi would also have to confront the people with their robbing of God (Mal. 3:8-9).]
I. THE WORLD DOMINATION OF COMMERCIAL BABYLON, 5-7a.
II. THE RELIGIOUS HARLOT OF BABYLON, 7b-8.
III. THE TEMPORARY DELIVERANCE OF THE RELIGIOUS HARLOT, 9-11.
I. THE WORLD DOMINATION BY THE COMMERCIAL BABYLONIAN SYSTEM.
The new vision is marked by the interpreting angel returning to Zechariah in verse 5. Then the angel who was speaking with me went out and said to me, "Lift up now your eyes, and see what this is going forth."
The interpreting angel again advances to the foreground. He came forward to speak to the prophet in order to prepare him for the coming vision. He does this by commanding the prophet to look up and see. See is the object of the imperative lift up. So little is human nature capable of readily appropriating divine revelation that it is not only necessary for God to send a vision but it is also necessary to stimulate the recipient’s attention step by step while he is caught up in the powers of the heavenly appearance or He would fail to grasp all that God has to offer.
The command raise your eyes and see by the interpreting angel now has Zechariah’s attention fully aroused. He is told to see what is going forth. It is as if the prophet is looking at a scene set out before him, and something is coming closer from a distance. Again movement is an indication of action. Moral forces in the world do not remain stationary or stagnant; there is either progress or regression.
In verse 6 Zechariah once again asks for help in understanding the revelation. And I said, "What is it?" and he said, "This is the Ephah going forth." Again he said "This is their appearance (lit.-eye) in all the land (or earth)."
So striking was the object’s appearance and significance which the prophet now sees that he inquires concerning its identity. What is it? His question allows the interpreting angel to state its symbolic appearance, to describe its going forth and imply its function.
The interpreting angel identifies the large object as an ephah (container or basket). An ephah was the most common measure of dry goods or grain used among the Jews. An ephah measure contained ten omers (Ex. 16:36) which is equivalent to 1.05 bushels American measure or about 6-7 gallons (though this special one is enlarged - large enough to hold a person).
The ephah was the best possible symbol for large commercial trade (particularly agricultural). To the people of that time who saw it used every time large quantity trading was going on it would represent trade or commerce.
This measure is pictured as "going forth," thus it is symbolized as a principle of power. This ephah, or measuring container which represents commerce, goes forth or pervades with its influence the whole land (earth), which must mean it becomes the dominating economic power and stamps its character over the whole earth. (The Septuagint and Syrian versions read "this is their iniquity" which would fit the context also).