The first six chapters of Zechariah are prophecies given during the 2nd year of Darius when the returned Jews from Babylon were restoring their temple –
In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo. Zechariah 1:1
Zechariah exhorted the returned exiles to build up the true house of the Lord, but they failed. In the 4th year of Darius, Zechariah records that the heart of the Jews was as hard as flint –
They refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets. Zech. 7:12
Zechariah 8 follows with the same thoughts – the back drop is the rejections of foreigners, but a time will come when they are accepted –
“In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue will tightly grasp the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” Zech. 8:23
In chapter 5, prophecies of a flying scroll and a woman in a basket were given to Zechariah, they are connected. They foretell the destruction of the very temple the Jews were building and describe their spiritual failings. Although they had physically left Babylon, in spirit they were still there, behaving as a kingdom in darkness instead of a light to the Gentiles –
THE FLYING SCROLL
The flying scroll measured 20 X 10 cubits –
“What do you see?” asked the angel. “I see a flying scroll,” I replied, “20 cubits long and 10 cubits wide.” Zechariah 5:2
This is a reminder of the dimensions to the entry of The Temple –
The entrance at the front (of Solomons temple) extended the width of the temple, that is 20 cubits, and projected 10 cubits from the front of the temple. 1 Kings 6:3
The flying scroll would
“Enter the house of the thief and those who swear falsely and would destroy it down to its timbers and stones” Zechariah 5:4
This is a reference to the prophecy of Jeremiah which gives a message from the entrance of the Temple, also referring to thieves and those who swear falsely –
Jer. 1:1 – “Message at the Temple Gate (the entrance – which measured 20 x 10)… V 9 Will you steal, (thief) murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you know not.”
SWEARING FALSELY & ROBBING GOD
The flying scroll of Zechariah repeats two of the messages of Jeremiah – the condemnation of thieves and those who swear falsely. Burning incense to Baal was not an issue to the returned Jews, it was their fear of contamination by foreigners that was the problem. Thus the Jews rejected the help of foreigners while building the temple at the very time Zechariah was telling them that God’s house is for all nations – just as all the prophets said –
Mal. 1:10 “Among you the doors shall be shut, and one will not kindle the fire of mine altar for nothing, I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. 11 For from the rising of the sun even to the going down thereof my name has been glorified among the Gentiles; and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering: for my name IS great among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty. ” (Septuagint)
Isaiah 60:10 “Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you…Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night,
Matt. 23:13 “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.”
Zech. 8:16 “Speak truth every one with his neighbour; judge truth and peaceable judgment in your gates: and let none of you devise evil in his heart against his neighbour (including foreigners)”
Malachi, the final Old Testament prophet, also condemned the Jews for robbing God (stealing), swearing falsely, and oppressing the foreigner –
v 5 I will come to you in judgment, and I will be ready to witness against sorcerers and adulterers; against those who swear falsely; against those who oppress the widow and the fatherless, and cheat the wage earner; and against those who deny justice to the foreigner. They do not fear Me,” says the LORD of Hosts. “… v8 Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me”. Malachi 3:5, 8
Malachi was contemporary with Ezra –
The prophecies of Malachi were contemporary with the leaders of Israel swearing to separate from their foreign wives –
“Then Ezra got up and made the leading priests, Levites and all Israel take an oath to do what had been said” Ezra 10:5
Malachi made it clear that God wasn’t happy with sending away the foreign wives –
The LORD has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have broken faith Malachi 2:14
Because the Jews failed to build the house of worship for all nations that God wanted, the prophecy of the flying scroll with words on both sides from their own Law, condemned them – God said He would tear down this house they were building, its foundations were wrong –
“It (the prophecy of the scroll) will remain inside his house ( the scroll measurements 20 x10 show it entered the house that was the Temple ) and destroy it, down to its timbers and stones.”
This happened to the Jewish temple, it was destroyed in 70 AD, even its stones were ploughed into the earth.
Jesus told us that the Jews murdered Zechariah son of Berekiah who wrote the words of this prophecy – yet Jews like Ezra and Nehemiah left his murder out of their glorious records which focussed on pure Jewish lineage and exclusion of foreigners. Jesus summed up this period –
Upon you (Jewish leaders) will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling! Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you that you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23: 36-39
THE WOMAN IN THE EPHAH
The judgement of Israel becoming ‘Babylon’ follows the prophecy of the flying scroll –
Then the angel who was speaking with me came forward and told me, “Now lift up your eyes and see what is approaching.” “What is it?” I asked.
And he replied, “A measuring basket (ephah) is going forth.” Then he continued, “This is their iniquity in all the land. And behold, the cover of lead was raised, and there was a woman sitting inside the basket.
“This is Wickedness,” he said. And he shoved her down into the basket, pushing down the lead cover over its opening.
Then I lifted up my eyes and saw two women approaching, with the wind in their wings. Their wings were like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth. “Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking with me.
“To build a house for it in the land of Shinar (Babylon),” he told me. “And when it is ready, the basket will be set there on its pedestal.” Zechariah 5:5-11
This prophecy describes the Jews as ‘wickedness’ in the land, the woman in the ephah. The prophecy was given after the Jews who had returned from Babylon, had rejected offers of foreign help to build the temple –
Offer of Foreign help: “Let us help you build because, like you, we seek your God and have been sacrificing to him since the time of Esarhaddon king of Assyria, who brought us here.” Ezra 4:2
Rejection of Foreign help: But Zerubbabel, Joshua and the rest of the heads of the families of Israel answered, “You have no part with us in building a temple to our God. We alone will build it for the Lord” Ezra 4:3
In Zechariah 5, God was saying ‘you hypocrites – you are the uncleanness in the land. Your judgment is carried out by those you condemn ( foreigners – women with stork wings – unclean birds = unclean foreigners) they will send you back to Babylon where you belong.
Thus the Jews in spirit were the wicked woman in the ephah (meaning a measure) . They were sent back to Babylon – measured and judged just as Belshazzar King of Babylon had been. They failed in their own Law to perceive that it was never about being born a Jew, but being a Jew of faith. But God uses them as witnesses that He is still carrying out His plans –
The JEWS BECAME –
‘Mystery Babylon’ of Revelation 17 – See Revelation a Message to Israel
‘The Man of Lawlessness’ in 2 Thess. 2 –
‘The Beast of the Earth’ See 666 – Counting the Number of the Beast
‘The 2 Witnesses in Disbelief’ – See 2 Witnesses – Revelation 11
One day soon, when Israel is defeated by her enemies she will look on Jesus (her Messiah) and mourn. That is the time the Jews become Christians – they recognise Christ – and so ‘all Israel’ (Jews & Gentiles) will be saved.
For more events at the end of the Old Testament, See Last Events of Old Testament