Zechariah’s Seventh Vision
In the first three visions, God showed Zechariah God’s future plan to judge the world and restore Israel in the Messianic Kingdom. The next three dealt with His present plan to guide the Jews in Zechariah’s time.
The seventh vision is linked with the sixth because both deal with sin. In the sixth vision, God curses the land of Israel because of persistent sinners whom it won’t punish. But in the seventh vision, God removes Israel’s sin some time in the future. That’s what the angel means when he tells Zechariah, “Look up and see what this is that is approaching”.
Let’s read the vision:
Then the angel who was speaking with me came forward and told me, “Look up and see what this is that is approaching.”
So I asked, “What is it? ”
He responded, “It’s a measuring basket that is approaching.” And he continued, “This is their iniquity in all the land.” Then a lead cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting inside the basket. “This is Wickedness,” he said. He shoved her down into the basket and pushed the lead weight over its opening. Then I looked up 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 earth and sky.
So I asked the angel who was speaking with me, “Where are they taking the basket? ”
“To build a shrine for it in the land of Shinar,” he told me. “When that is ready, the basket will be placed there on its pedestal.”
Zechariah 5:5-11 (CSB)
There are two “literal” clues which helps us understand this unusual vision.
The first clue is in verse 8, which tells us that the woman in the basket represents wickedness or sin. The angel pushes wickedness into the basket with a lead cover to show God removing sin from Israel. This looks forward to the time when God will purify Israel. You can find the same promise in Psalms 103:12, Isaiah 1:18, Jeremiah 33:5-8, and Ezekiel 36:24-25.
The second clue is in verse 11, when wickedness is carried away to a place called Shinar. It stays there until one day when the people of Shinar put it on a pedestal. Shinar is first mentioned in Genesis 10:10, when humanity came together to defy God by making a wicked worship center, the Tower of Babel. To place something on a pedestal is to use it in a worship context (1 Kings 7:27; 2 Chron 4:14; Jer 27:19, 52:17; and Ezra 2:68, 3:3). One day God will allow sin to be celebrated by humanity like it was at the tower of Babel.
This vision gives us a bittersweet view of the future. During the same period in which God purifies Israel, sin will be allowed to flourish among Gentile unbelievers. This is a sobering reminder that God has a mysterious plan to save Gentiles until one day when He brings Israel to repentance. When Israel repents, the rest of the world will form a one-world celebration of sin. Thus, the stage will be set both for Israel to be attacked and for God to bring judgment on the nations.
In 2 Thessalonians, the apostle Paul taught about this same period when humanity will exalt sin:
“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed. The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of his mouth and will bring him to nothing at the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is based on Satan’s working, with every kind of miracle, both signs and wonders serving the lie, and with every wicked deception among those who are perishing. They perish because they did not accept the love of the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe the lie, so that all will be condemned — those who did not believe the truth but delighted in unrighteousness. -- 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12 (CSB)
One application of this passage is that we must develop spiritual discernment through a deep-seated love of God’s word. Paul predicts that this period of lawlessness will be accompanied by Satan working “every kind of miracle, both signs and wonders serving the lie”. It should be no surprise that the world would be captivated by a display of Satanic power. Christians who resist that deluding influence need minds that are prepared to detect it.
Those who perish by believing the lie “did not accept the love of the truth and be saved”. Those who are saved will do the exact opposite. We love the truths we learn from God's word. We love that God has saved us, but we also love the truths God reveals about our salvation. And by His Spirit, we want to grow in our knowledge so that we can have more delight in God and fewer delusions from Satan.