BY MOSES MARJI
Zechariah 5 :5-11
Key Verse 8
“He said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it.”
Last week we studied the first part of this chapter. It was a vision about a flying scroll. This is the curse that is going out over the land. This scroll says every thief and everyone who swears falsely will be banished. We need to be full of integrity wherever we are and under any circumstance. In this vision God was dealing with sin in the land and how this sin can be removed and overcome, so that the land is covered with blessings instead of the curse that came over the land. The curse comes to the house and destroys families. As you know, families are the heart and core of any healthy community. How about God’s community? Family is the backbone of God’s work. Family is the network of spiritual work movement. This movement progress the message of the gospel to all over the world. Blessed families by God lead to blessed nations and great work of God.
In the second part of this chapter, we are going to study a new vision. And this vision will tackle something that is much deeper than sin itself. It will tackle wickedness. Before we go deeper into this part, I will remind you that the period in which these visions came to Zechariah was the time when a remnant of God’s people returned to the promised land. They returned to build the house of God and the wall of the city. But somehow, they got very complacent to the point that they forgot their mission and focused on their own comfort and personal welfare compared to serving God. It happens all the time among us. We forget our mission before God and focus on our welfare be it individual, family or church mission. This was such a time when these visions started coming to Zechariah from God to be communicated to the returning people of Israel and to the future generations in God’s continuous history.
Let’s look at verses 5 and 6 “Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, “Look up and see what is appearing.” I asked, “What is it?” He replied, “It is a basket.” And he added, “This is the inquiry of the people throughout the land.” The angel brought Zechariah’s attention to a flying object that was appearing. The angel told Zechariah to look up and to see what is appearing. Zechariah looked up to see, but still did not recognize what he saw. He did not understand what he saw. So, he asked What is it? He was very curious to understand what he saw and did not recognize. The angel replied, “It is a basket.” I have an issue with the translation of the word the angel said “basket.” In fact, in other translations and in the Arabic version that I have, it refers to the object as a measuring unit or an ephah which was the largest measuring unit in the middle east at that time. They used to measure any produce with that ephah. For example, when they buy and sell grain they measure by ephah. This ephah has a price. At that time they did not reach to our sophistication with electronic scale to measure by the pound or the kilogram. This was the way they measured and counted units. The focus here is about a measuring unit not the size of that unit. That object was a measuring tool. With that measuring tool, God was measuring something. So again, the angel replied to Zechariah when he asked, “what is it?” It is “a measuring unit” The angel explained further and said, “This is the inquiry of the people throughout the land.” I really did not understand at the beginning. I thought the measuring unit was easier to understand than the explanation itself. So, I intently tried to understand what this mean. Looking at other translations I realized that the angel was talking about a package of sins over the land. It is like a measuring unit that measures the heavy weight of sin all over the land. God was overwhelmed of how much the land was full of sin that is accumulating and press very heavy over the whole land. At that point it seems that Zechariah was very interested to know what is inside the measuring unit as well.
Look at verse 7 and 8 “Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basked sat a woman! He said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it.” Zechariah was very curious about the what was inside the measuring unit. My understanding is that woman represented idolatry in all its forms. I really want to take you in a journey from the beginning from the time of the fall of man until now. We often study in the bible about the history of God. We study about the work of God throughout his history. This means we learn about all the men of God and their work in God’s history, we learn about their sins and about their repentance and how they conducted their lives before God. We learn how they overcame their sins and their disobedience to God and became men of renown faith and courage. We learn that these people are our ancestors of faith. This helps us so much in our journey with God. But we often forget, or don’t realize that from the time of the fall of man there is also another history that is written which is moving along while God’s history is moving over the years. There are two sides, one side is God’s history and God’s people which include sin and repentance. And there is completely another side of history that is dark and full of darkness. When we learn about God’s plan, we can see God’s direction and his ultimate goal. We can see where God wanted us to reach. The ultimate goal is the salvation of the world through our Lord Jesus Christ. But on the other side, on Satan’s side what is the ultimate purpose and what is the ultimate goal? There is no goal. There is only purposeless harm to destroy as many souls as possible. My brothers and sisters, this is wicked. This is not sin that can be repented of. This is wickedness. So, this purposeless harm has a system as well and it is very evil, deeply evil. When a man sins, he does because he was not able to overcome his sinful desires, so he sins. A man can come to God and repent. Man’s intention is not to sin, his intention to do good, but his weak spirit led him to sin. But when a man does a plot that is planned and a plot that is so evil with meditation, this is wickedness. It is a planned action that is led and directed by Satan to do Satan’s work. Men are used by the devil to do evil and wicked things in this world. So, there is a very deep distinction between sin and wickedness that you may understand. In the first four verses of this chapter God was dealing with the sins that people committed in the land of Israel and God is directing people to repent and come back to him. In this part of the chapter God is dealing with a completely different level and completely different side here. It is the side of wickedness. It is meditated and planned. In the judicial system there is a difference between an accident and a meditated murder. This is similar. Wickedness is meditated and planned.
Let’s look at the world holistically from the fall of Man till now and summarize how it is working. While Adam fell and realized his sin before God with repentance, Cane was planning to murder his own brother. Cane did not have a heart to repent. God told Cane in Genesis chapter 4 verse 7 “If you do what is right will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must overcome it.” Cane did not listen to God and he went ahead and plotted to kill his brother. He carried on with his plan to kill him. Since that time there were two types of people, the children of God who sin and repent before God. And there are the people of the world who rely on this world. While time was moving the two worlds were developing. We have the history of God where all the people of God are and where all the heroes of faith are, and we have the history of the world where the heroes of man are. While Enoch was calling in the name of the LORD Lameck was proud of doing much more wickedness than his great grandfather. And while Noah was obeying the will of God, people of the world were attached to whatever element in this world they did not understand to call it a god. When man discover fire, they claim fire to be their god. And when there were many elements were coming stronger at man that mankind could not understand, they created as many gods as the hair of their heads. But don’t be mistaken. Even though men did not know what they were doing, Satan was going along to make sure he ignites that wickedness in man’s history to continuously instill it in the history of mankind. By the time God spoke to his servant Abraham Satan was well into his plan as well. Satan already created so many different religions to rule the people away from God to inflict as much harm as possible. At one point or another the wickedness of mankind spill over to God’s people and the gods of other nations influenced the people of God which brought punishment and distress on them through out the history. Idolatry is the core of wickedness and Satan planned that Idolatry in the history of mankind from generation to generation. All these new religions that come from time to time and generation to generation are not but planned wickedness by Satan to oppose God and inflect purposeless harm as much as possible. In some ways this idolatry reached to big portions of mankind. Muslim religion took a huge portion of people, Hedonism did so much harm and now even Christian religions are doing greater harm and more deceiving to the people of God. We need to understand this distinction. We need to stand our ground and understand that we are a people of God, we are followers of Christ and not in a religion. We live the gospel and not in a religion. When you go now and even visit the places where Jesus was born and was crucified you find idolatry there now adays with all the Christian religions brought with it during the history of mankind. Satan is so clever and so shrewd. Satan can even reach to the safest zone to infect harm on your soul. Be on guard and remember. Wickedness is always an evil act and it is always planned and meditated. Be on your guard. Man cannot handle that much wickedness. The people of God always need the help of God to overcome this wickedness. Let me give you some examples of wicked actions throughout the history so that you might understand. We agreed that the most wicked thing that Satan did was instilling all these religions in man’s history. These religions do not have anything to do with God. It used God’s name to do so many wicked things in the history of mankind. When a pastor was killed to stop him from translating the bible from Latin to English, this was very wicked. When a religion used children as human sacrifices to the gods, this was wicked. When the Egyptians used to throw a woman in the Nile every year as an offering for religious practices this wicked. When Islam created rules that does not have anything to do with the nature of God, this is wicked. ISIS did so many wicked things from systematic rape to beheading children for playing video games. All in the name of God. When scientists start using living humans for experiments and kill them, this is wicked. When man does not have God and is led by Satan, he is incited by Satan to do so much harm just to do harm. Satan loves destruction and disasters. Satan thrives on that. But we thank God that he sent our LORD to this mortal world, so that we can have a chance to repent of our sins and live according to his will.
Wickedness is so heavy that there was a heavy lead put to cover wickedness Inside the measuring unit or the basket. God is making sure that there is no wickedness among his people.
Look at verse 9-11 “Then I looked up and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings 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 to me. He replied, “To the country of the Babylonia to build a house for it. When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place,” Now we have the whole package a woman representing idolatry under the lead in the measuring unit carried by two other women with wings like the stork wings. This was a very legitimate question from Zechariah, where are they going? Or where are they taking the basket? The reply was, it is going to the country of Babylonia or Shinaar. I want to take you a little bit back to the development of mankind to understand Babylonia or Shinaar in Mankind’s history. Man did not know how to work the land. So, the only way to eat was to find something to eat, Man was hunting, and man was nomad moving from one place to another to find food. This continued until man was able to develop tools and learned that he can plant and eat from the land. This was revolutionary in the history of mankind. This discovery allowed man to settle down in one place, man did not have to move around anymore, even though some people still until now live as nomads by choice. So, man did not have to expand his territory that is required for hunting, instead man was able to use much more limited land to plant products and eat from the land. This revolutionary discovery helped the people to start building a city which was Babylon. This was the first civilization in the history of mankind. In fact, the people of Babylon became the most advanced compared to all other peoples on earth who were still hunting in Europe, Africa and the far east. This advancement got to the Babylonians heads. They felt for the first time in the history of mankind that they were in control of their destiny or they thought so, and they did not need God. They felt that they were as great as God. They built a city and a tower to reach the sky. This is the same arrogance of Cane and Lameck who wanted to handle things without God. They excluded God from their lives. This is Idolatry and this wickedness was absolutely incited by Satan. This original wickedness is coming back to Babylonia where it started. The world developed idolatry until our day in many shapes and styles, but it is still the same wickedness that is incited by Satan through out the ages. We can still look and see this wicked world. And this history is still going on. Babylon is coming to its last breath and last fight. Satan is preparing his last stand while God’s people are preparing the army of God to crush Satan forever after he was defeated by Jesus on the cross. Look at it this way, every time you labor to bring one soul to Christ, that soul is added to the army of God that will come at the end with Christ when he comes again.
I pray that we can really understand the battles we are in. We have two battles, one battle is our own struggles against our sins, which we can overcome with God’s help while we come to God with repentance. This is demonstrated in the vision from verses 1-4 and we have the other battle which is holistic between the world of God or the spiritual world and the world of Satan which is the world of wickedness. May God help us and lead us to fully realize the battels we are in and put our spiritual armor of God. Amen