7.63 Zechariah -- More Visions in the Night

          5.  Two Olive Trees (Zech 4).  Zechariah sees in his vision a gold lampstand with seven lights, and two olive trees.  The lampstand is God's Presence, a burning flame at the heart of Israel.  The olive trees are the two leaders of the community: Joshua the priest, and Zerubbabel the governor (NIV Study Bible, p.1411).  This vision supported their work in rebuilding the Temple.  There was also a reminder of how to complete the task successfully:

          This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:"Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit," says the Lord Almighty (Zech 4:6).

           6.  A Flying Scroll (Zech 5:1-4): The tone shifts again as Zechariah was shown an enormous scroll that pronounces a curse on those who steal and those who swear falsely.  The curse, the specific infractions, and the fact that there is writing on both sides of the scroll all call to mind the Ten Commandments (Ex 20Deut 5; NIV Study Bible, p. 1411).  Here there is no promise of cleansing, as in chapter 3.  The Lord is reestablishing the covenant of Mt. Sinai, and He will act to maintain holiness in His land and among His people.

           7. Vision 7: A Woman in a Basket (Zech 5:5-11).  Continuing with the theme of sin, Zechariah next sees a basket containing the remnant’s sin, personified as a woman.  The basket is taken away by two (angelic?) women.  This is a form of cleansing and atonement, rather like the "scapegoat" sent away into the desert on the Day of Atonement, bearing Israel’s sin (Lev 16:8-10Lev 16:21-22).  What is striking about this vision is that we are told that the destination is Babylonia, where a permanent house for sin will be erected.  No doubt Babylonia was chosen because of its role in destroying Jerusalem and oppressing the exiles.

           So Babylon has played a threefold role in Israel's late history: the scourge of God, the place of banishment and purgatory, and finally the Outer Darkness, the place God does not dwell.

           8 .  Four Chariots (Zech 6:1-8 or Zech 6:1-15)  Zechariah comes full circle.  His first vision in this series (Zech 1:8-17) had angels on horseback patrolling the earth, and finding the nations lulled in false security.  Now the horses are replaced by chariots, perhaps equipped for offensive warfare rather than mere reconnaissance.  As they "go throughout the earth," an angel announces that those heading north — the direction from which Israel has traditionally been invaded — "have quieted My spirit [of wrath]" (Zech 6:8, Amplified), presumably by defeating or destroying the Lord’s enemies.