We had Friday evening Bible Studies here at my home. During one such series we studied the Book of Zechariah. It’s a very uplifting book – the first verses give the keys to the entire book:
In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying… (Zechariah 1:1 ESV)
The English translations of the names of Zechariah, his father and grandfather, say it all.
Zechariah means “whom the Lord remembers”
Berechiah means “the Lord blesses”
Iddo means “at the appointed time”
God raised up His chosen people by Zechariah – He remembered them – and will bless them. at His appointed time.
This also goes for His protection of His chosen people – and His judgment of those of their enemies! It all boils down to this: God is in ultimate control – and will always have His will, regardless of what we might want to do to speed things up.
The first six chapters contain what are called the “eight night visions” which were given to Zechariah. The first five are very uplifting – bringing God’s people to do His work – getting the Temple rebuilt. We won’t cover these here.
Chapter 5 is where we are in our study, and because of the Thanksgiving holiday, and my health issues the following week, we couldn’t hold our study – but given the current climate in the world – and yes, here in the USA as well, I felt it appropriate to blog the study.
You see, chapters 5 and 6 are the last three night visions – and they have to do with – sin – and how God feels about it.
Former US President Calvin Coolidge was not known for his talkativeness. A story says that one Sunday he attended a worship service without his wife. When he returned home, she asked him what the minister had talked about. “Sin,” replied “silent Cal” (as he is affectionately known). “What did the preacher say about sin?” his wife persisted. Coolidge replied, “He was against it.”
That pretty much sums it up. God’s against it.
Chapter 5 covers two of the three visions – and we’ll stick with one of these two tonight. The central theme is that God will be relentless in judging all sin.
You see, there are quite a few people who consider themselves godly – many in the ministry – who look at their work for God – as a purchase of indulgence against sin. That our work somehow builds holiness credit against the sins we might commit.
“I mean – just look at all of the work I do for the Lord! He’ll overlook the [insert sin here].”
Guess what – God doesn’t overlook any sin. He don’t wink at sin. God is holy, and He cannot be anywhere there is unholiness. As soon as we all learn that – that God is holy – and he expects all of us – and especially those of us in ministry – to lead holy lives.
Yes, it’s true that we are fallen beings – which is why we need to be seeking God’s forgiveness – always. Our “bank of sins” should be kept as empty as possible, by asking for God’s forgiveness – early and often!
Your bank of sins is not a good investment account – the interest it earns is God’s increasing judgment to repent – and He can be relentless!
So let’s get started.
The first vision – “The Flying Scroll”
Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a flying scroll! And he said to me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits.” Then he said to me, “This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land. For everyone who steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side, and everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side. I will send it out, declares the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter the house of the thief, and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. And it shall remain in his house and consume it, both timber and stones.” (Zechariah 5;1-4 ESV)
In this vision, God shows Zechariah a flying scroll measuring about 30 feet (20 cubits) long and 15 feet (10 cubits) wide. It had writing on both sides.
On one side, it stated that the curse would track down every violator who steals, and on the other side, it state that the curse would track down every violator who swears falsely by God’s name and would remain in the house, and ultimately consume it.
This scroll has two important lessons for us.
First – The Standard for God’s judgment is God’s Word.
The scroll symbolizes God’s Word, and especially the Ten Commandments. Just as God wrote on both sides of the tablets, so both sides of the scroll contains writing.
On one side mentions stealing – the middle commandment of he second table of the law – which deals with our relationships with each other.
The other side of the scroll mentions swearing falsely by God’s name – the middle commandment of the first table of the law, which deals with our relationship with God.
Jesus pointed out in Matthew 22:37-39:
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Zechariah was being shown the same thing – that this summed up the entire law. The size of the scroll was large, and the fact that it was flying through the air meant that everyone could see it – and read it. Its warnings were proclaimed to all – and none would be without excuse.
In addition, the dimensions were identical to the size of the Most Holy Place in the Temple – the holiest place in the Temple – where the Spirit of God resided. It was also identical to the size of the porch of Solomon’s Temple, where the Law was read aloud to the people.
What we take away from this is that not the imagery – but the fact that we need to judge our lives by God’s Holy Word. Our culture drifts morally with the times – but God’s Word is absolute and an unchanging, moral standard.
Second, The extent of God’s judgment is relentless and thorough.
If we think we can secretly sin and get away with it – we are deceiving ourselves. I’ve been saying on Facebook and Twitter a lot lately – the following scripture:
Numbers 32:23 – “… you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out“.
Verse 4 of our text in Zechariah shows us that our sin is never private. It pictures homes leveled and destroyed.God is committed to the holiness of His people – beginning with the thought level.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30 ESV)
Paul mentions that in Corinth, some were sick and others were dying because they weren’t judging their own sins before coming to the Lord’s Table.
For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. (1 Corinthians 11:29-31 ESV)
You know, you can fake it and put on your church face when around the holy crowd – but God knows your every thought and deed.
If we call ourselves by His holy name, then we have business to do with Him – starting on the heart level. God is committed to our holiness – so we must commit to growing in holiness according to His Word.