Zechariah Bible Study # 7
The Flying Scroll
5:1 Then I lifted up my eyes again and looked, and behold, there was a flying scroll. 2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” And I answered, “I see a flying scroll; its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits.” 3 Then he said to me, “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. 4 I will make it go forth,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of the one who swears falsely by My name; and it will spend the night within that house and consume it with its timber and stones.” NASB
After 5 visions emphasizing hope and future glory, come 2 visions displaying the cleansing judgment that must come.
Before the millennial reign on the earth
from this very land,
through this very people
there must be a time of cleansing from everything that defiles.
“The God of Israel has two methods in dealing with sin and removing iniquity, both of which are in perfect accord with the absolute holiness of His character. One of these methods—the one He delights in—is the method of grace. This is beautifully unfolded in the 3rd chapter, where we are shown how that, on that ground of His sovereign immutable 'choice', and because of the full atonement and perfect righteousness accomplished by His Righteous Servant, 'The Branch,' the iniquity of that land shall be removed 'in one day,' and repentant Israel (upon whom the Spirit of grace and supplication shall in that day be poured)shall be cleansed from all defilement (as signified by the removal of the 'filthy garments') and clothed in 'rich apparel,' and with the 'fair,' or 'clean,' mitre on his head, on which the words 'Holy to Jehovah' are graven, shall be fitted to go forth among the nations as the priests of Jehovah and the ministers of our God.
But what about those who persist in their wickedness, and, in spite of the marvellous display of God's grace, 'will not learn righteousness' but continue even 'in the land of uprightness' (as Immanuel's land shall then be called) 'to deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of Jehovah'? (Isaiah 36:10) With them God's method is that of judgment. Sin must be purged away, iniquity, must be stamped out in the city of God; and when the sinner is so wedded to his sin that he is no longer separable from it, he becomes the object of God's curse, and must be 'cleansed away' from the earth. In short, then, the two visions in chapter 5 give us the reverse side of the truth unfolded in the first four chapters.
They show us that if there is grace and forgiveness with God, it is not in order to encourage men to think lightly of sin, but that 'He might be feared' (Psalm 130:4). They also take us, so to say, a step backward, and show us that, before the glorious things symbolically set forth in the first five visions will finally be fulfilled, a period of moral darkness and corruption, and of almost universal apostasy, was yet to intervene." David Baron (3 amazing paragraphs)
Verse 1 – The prophet is looking toward the scroll that is the starting point for the angel to explain it. Just like if someone visits your house and is looking at an object, without them verbally asking, you start to tell them about it. Ezekiel 2:9 is an example of a scroll that appears in a vision that foretells, “lamentations, mourning, and woe.”
Verse 2 – The dialogue begins with a simple question, “What do you see?” Don't attempt to explain its meaning, or symbolism, or anything else just yet. Let's keep it simple. The prophet sees a scroll specifically that is flying. So it must have been “launched” from somewhere. He is able to give its dimensions. The measurements are the same as two areas of the temple; (1) the porch of Solomon's temple (which had been destroyed) (2) the Holy Place of the tabernacle. This would seem to say that this judgment is based on God's standards. They are unchanging, unlike the culture around us. They are final.
Verse 3 - “This is the curse...” It is singular, no matter how long the list is. Deuteronomy 30:1 “So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, “ It is singular because it is coming from one source. The law of God, has been broken, the curse now comes forth. This curse is going out to the face of the 'whole land' (not the whole earth) indicating once again that blessing and privilege for the Jewish people also exposes them to judgment. Amos 3:2 “ You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Two sins are mentioned, swearing falsely by the Name of Jehovah and stealing. The third commandment and the eighth commandment, both in the middle of the each table that God wrote the law on. Two sides of a tablet and now two sides of a scroll. “Purged away” could also be expressed as 'cleansed away.' Even in the judgment, there is a redemptive element. One just gets the feeling that God is holding back, giving grace, in only specifically identifying these two sins. The judgment is poured out, “according to the writing” again, which has not and does not change. There is a definite tendency in our thinking that 'wishes' the commandments could be weakened or altered. Can we come to the point where we see that the “hardness” of the demands is meant to draw us, to drive us, to the beauty of His grace. “Of course you are going to fail, I knew that, and I have made the way to return, to be healed.” The horror and the beauty is shown most magnificently at the cross.
Verse 4 – Here we find out who “launched” it, God Himself. Baron calls this verse, “one of the most solemn in the whole Bible, as showing what an awful thing it is to come under God's curse against sin.” 'I will make it go forth' and 'it will enter' both emphasize that there is no turning back, judgment has come. 'The house', the place where you may imagine yourself most hidden or least vulnerable, is neither, with God. The judgment 'stays' until the work that it was sent to do is accomplished. This is no visit that when the person leaves or when you exit the principles office you can wipe your brow and say, 'I'm glad that is over.' This is not over until God's judgment has been satisfied. These transgressions bring punishment with them. Baron again, “But there is yet a climax in the train of calamities which the curse will bring to the house of the wicked. It shall not only 'dwell' there, but is 'shall consume it with the timber thereof, and the stons thereof.' Here we see the terribleness of the punishment which sin brings down upon itself. It shall be utterly 'cleansed away,' or 'consumed' from the midst of God's congregation, together with those sinners who are no longer separable from it.” In Leviticus 14:45 the same type of destruction came to a house stricken with leprosy.
This makes our joy even more full, when we see, truly see, that “His blood can make the vilest clean, His blood availed for me.”
One day at the time of the end this prophecy will have its full terrible fulfillment. The Day of the Lord. When the earth will be cleansed.