5 Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, “Look up and see what is appearing.” 6 I asked, “What is it?” He replied, “It is a basket.” And he added, “This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land.” 7 Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! 8 He said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it. 9 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. 10 “Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me. 11 He replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place.” ~ Zechariah 5:5-11
Today, we continue our study of the Old Testament book of Zechariah. We have considered six visions, and today, we come to the seventh. This seventh vision that God gave to Zechariah to be delivered to Israel begins here in v.5-6 which reads, "5 Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, 'Look up and see what is appearing.' 6 I asked, 'What is it?' He replied, 'It is a basket.' And he added, 'This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land.'"
This vision deals with God’s judgment on sin itself. Not the sinner so much as sin, although the sinner is inextricably connected to sin. This again, is clearly millennial in its ultimate interpretation, yet it had a present condition in Zechariah’s time.
The Jews had recently returned from Babylon. Outwardly, they had put away pagan idolatry, but inwardly in their hearts, they had become attached to the offerings of this world. They had been in Babylon long enough to get drawn into the web of its materialism.
In this vision God uses a basket. The Hebrew word He used here for basket was, in that day, the largest dry measurement tool around. This basket held about 39 quarts. This basket, at that time, was the largest possible measurement in their world, and God was saying to Israel that they were not sinning by the quarts, they were sinning by the baskets full.
In v.7-8 we read, "7 Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! 8 He said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it."
The woman was a picture of Israel's sin likened to trash being pushed down into a trash can to be thrown out. Babylon granted the people of Israel the opportunity to see wickedness from a new angle, the angle of covetousness and greed that they had never known before. In this vision God was rebuking their selfish materialism that had traveled with them from Babylon. Incidentally, this is the same greed that will formulate the final world empire of Babylon as seen in Revelation 17-18.
This will be exactly what it will be at the end of time. Just before the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus, God will see nothing but materialism piled high all over the world. And, when God sees that, then He will respond in judgment as noted in Revelation 17-18.
In v.9 of today's text we read, "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."
Now, these women had wind in their wings. In other places in the Bible, God uses the same Hebrew word that can also be translated "spirit". So, the Spirit was in their wings. This means God will be the one who will oversee His cleansing work in the life of Israel, removing wickedness from them. It is always by His Spirit that God removes our sin.
In v.10-11 we read, "10 “Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me. 11 He replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place."
In the Bible, Jerusalem, is mentioned more than any other city. But, second to Jerusalem, is the city of Babylon which began in the plain of Shinar, as Babel, in Genesis 10. A guy by the name of Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, said, "let's build a city that reaches up toward the heavens." It was a city conceived in rebellion. Nimrod did not want God at the center of his life, much less the center of his city.
Ancient documents show that Nimrod married a woman by the name of Semiramis. And they bore a son they named, Tammuz. Semiramis claimed that Tammuz was miraculously born of a sunbeam. And that he was the savior of the world. So, in the early stages of human history, back in Babel, we have Satan working with a counterfeit, a virgin born savior. As Tammuz grew up in the land of Shinar, he was killed. He was gored by a bull and he died. And it was said that Semiramis wept for him for 40 days. But after 40 days he rose from the dead. So now, we have a virgin born savior of the world, who died and rose again. Stems all the way back to Babylon. Satan was working hard at producing a counterfeit, even back then.
The seeds of human rebellion that were birthed in Babylon so long ago, had laid hold of the children of Israel during their Babylonian captivity. And, all of the visions in Zechariah to this point have been future, not past. The Babylonian captivity had already taken place. So, this vision doesn't refer to the Babylonian captivity, it refers to a future event.
This vision, here in today's text, refers to the end of time recorded in the book of the Revelation when there will be a Jewish revival. In Revelation 7 God will raise up 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah, for themselves. Then, they will be used of God to evangelize the whole world. This will happen during the Tribulation.
During all of this, God will pour out his wrath on the earth. And, Satan will unleash his fury on the people of Israel and those led to faith in the Lord Jesus. At the end of the Tribulation, the Lord Jesus will return and in one fell swoop, in one day, as Zechariah has already said, he will remove all wickedness, and He will finally judge Babylon.
God is sovereign and He can be trusted with the smallest details of our lives, even the most unwanted moments that frighten us the most. This life-long issue that everyone who has ever walked this earth has struggled with, can be addressed through one simple quote from William Booth who once said, "The greatness of man's power is the measure of his surrender." I might add, "Measured in his surrender to God."