The Book of Zechariah
Pastor James J. Barker

[ Lesson 9 ]


  ZECHARIAH 5:1-11; 6:1-8


1.    We have been going through the book of Zechariah and I have pointed out that the prophet Zechariah had eight visions all in one night.  Some (e.g., Scofield) say there were ten visions but I have outlined them as eight:

(1) The rider on the red horse (1:8)

(2) The four horns and the four carpenters (1:18, 20)

(3) The man with the measuring line (2:1)

(4) Joshua the high priest (3:1)

(5) The golden candlestick (4:2)

(6) The flying roll (5:1)

(7) The ephah (5:5)

(8) The four chariots (6:1).

2.    Tonight, Lord willing, we shall look at the last three visions.  It is at this point that the series of visions takes a sharp turn from that which is comforting to a solemn warning that the Lord will not tolerate evil.

3.    Despite His manifestations of grace and mercy foreshadowed so wonderfully in the first five visions, God is also a holy and just God who must judge sin.

4.    There are several Biblical principles brought out in these final three visions, two of them are:

(1) Transgressors will be severely dealt with.

(2) Grace manifested and rejected will eventuate in punishment and death.

5. The three visions of chapters 5 and 6 are connected by their judgmental character and also by the words, “going forth” – the flying roll represents “the curse that goeth forth” (5:3); “This is an ephah that goeth forth” (5:6), and the four chariots, which are “the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth” (6:5).


I.     THE 6th VISION: THE FLYING ROLL (5:1-4)

1.    This sixth vision begins like the others – “Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes” (5:1; cf. 1:18; 2:1).

2.    The “roll” was a scroll, usually written on either animal skins or papyrus.  It was wrapped around a stick and unwound when read.

3.    This roll was “flying,” completely unwound and flying through the air like a large sheet.  We can tell that it is unwound because the Bible refers to its “length and breadth” (5:2), and also refers to “this side…and…that side” (5:3).

4.    Scofield says that this vision “is the rebuke of sin by the Word of God” (p. 968).  He also suggests that the two sides of the roll relate to the two tables of the law.

5.    The interpreting angel once again gives the interpretation – “This is the curse” (5:3; cf. Deut. 27:26).

6.    Therefore, the roll is a symbol of God’s curse against sinners – all sinners, “over the face of the whole earth” (5:3).  Some expositors (cf. Scofield margin) limit the word earth to mean land (i.e. Palestine), but it appears that the judgment is a worldwide judgment against all sinners, with thieves and perjurers (“him that sweareth falsely by my name” – 5:4) singled out as representative of the judgment to come.

7.    The judgment will be so severe that even the stones, which are normally incombustible, will burn up (5:4b).

8.    The size of the roll is interesting (5:2); it is the same size as the holy place in the tabernacle and the same size as the porch in Solomon’s temple (Ex.20:15-25; I Kings 6:3).

9.    That is a big roll!

10. You will recall that the golden candlestick of chapter 4 was also a symbol from the tabernacle.  This is not coincidental – the inference is that the judgments proceeding from these visions are in accordance with the holiness of God’s dwelling place.


II. THE 7th VISION: THE EPHAH (5:5-11)

1.    The flying roll represents judgment on sin; the ephah represents the removal of sin (cf. 3:9).

2.    When our Lord returns to set up His kingdom, wickedness will be removed – then Israel will truly be “the holy land” (cf. 2:12).

3.    An ephah was a dry-measure container, used to measure flour and barley – it symbolizes trade or commerce (5:5, 6).  It could hold ten omers (Ex. 16:36), or about seven and a half gallons, about the size of a bushel basket.

4.    The Israelites were a pastoral and agricultural people up until the Babylonian captivity.  The ephah symbolizes commerce and self-centered gain, which unfortunately has been characteristic of the Jewish people since that time.

5.    The ephah represents godless commercialism.  It speaks of a new power exerted over Israel after the Babylonian captivity (cf. Amos 8:4, 5; Micah 6:10-15). 

6.    They learned how to be shrewd businessmen while in Babylon, but oftentimes through dishonesty (cf. 5:3, 4).  This is obviously not just a problem with Jewish people – the judgment goes forth “through all the earth” (5:6).

7.    There is a wicked, satanic world-system that we are to avoid.  The Bible says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (I John 2:15a).

8.    This satanic world-system is multi-faceted: religious, economic, commercial, educational, cultural, scientific, governmental, etc.  All of this is brought out in Rev. 17 and 18, especially the religious and commercial aspects of this system.

9.    The system is symbolized as a whore in Rev. 17 and 18.  In Matthew 13:33 she is the woman who hid the leaven in the meal.  In Rev. 2:20 she is identified as Jezebel, a prophetess who seduces God’s servants into fornication.

10. In Zechariah’s seventh vision she is woman sitting in the ephah (5:7).  She is trying to get out but the angel shuts her in and puts the lid on (5:8).  She is “wickedness” (5:8), the very embodiment of evil. 

11. J. Vernon McGee said that the first astronaut was a woman – the woman in the ephah!

12. She is assisted by two other women who are attempting to protect her.  “They lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven” (5:9), perhaps to try and avoid judgment.

13. They have “the wings of a stork” (5:9), an unclean bird (Lev. 11:19; Deut. 14:18), indicating that they are unclean spirits.  I do not believe most of what I hear concerning UFO’s but this I do believe – if they are real, they are demonic spirits.

14. They transported the ephah to “the land of Shinar” (5:11), i.e. Babylon, the location of the first great apostasy (Gen. 10:8-10; 11:1-9) and the last great apostasy (Rev. 17, 18).

15. Babylon has been marked for judgment and God’s people have been instructed to leave it (Zech. 2:7).

16. By way of summary, this seventh vision speaks of the heaping up of the full measure of Israel’s sins prior to the second coming of Christ, when He returns in judgment.  Our Lord said in Matthew 23:32, “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.”


1.    This is the last of the eight night visions, and is similar to the first.  You may recall that in the first vision riders on horseback were dispatched to patrol among the nations of the earth in order to watch out and protect God’s people.

2.    Here in this final vision the judgment of God is ready to commence and the findings of the horsemen are executed through these four chariots (6:1).  Chariots were not generally used for transportation – these are war horses.

3.    The two mountains are not identified (6:1), perhaps they are Mt. Zion and Mt. Olivet.  The valley of Jehoshaphat is between these two mountains and is a scene of judgment during the tribulation (Joel 3:2).

4.    The two mountains were “mountains of brass” (6:1b).  In the Bible, brass symbolizes divine judgment upon sin.  You will recall that, “Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived” (Num. 21:9; cf. John 3:14).

5.    The number “four” (6:1) represents world-wide judgment (6:5).  These could be the same four angels of Rev. 7:1-3 and 9:14, 15 (Scofield, p. 970).

6.    They are also very similar to the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Rev. 6:1-8).  The red horses represent bloodshed and the black horses represent famine and death (Zech. 6:2).

7.    The white horses represent victory and the grisled (grizzled) and bay horses symbolize pestilence and plagues (Zech. 6:3).

8.    The horses represent judgment and the chariots represent the angels who perform the judgments.

9.    The black horses “go forth into the north country” (6:6).  Historically this could has reference to Babylon who always attacked from the north (the desert was to the east) (cf. 2:6, 7).

10. The “grisled go forth toward the south country” (6:6b), always signifying Egypt (cf. Dan. 11:40-43). 

11. This judgment is said to “have quieted” God’s spirit, i.e. appeased His wrath (6:8).  Before we were told that God was “very sore displeased with the heathen” (1:15), but now God’s wrath has come to a rest.


CONCLUSION: The first time we see the word Alleluia in the N.T. is after Babylon is destroyed (Rev. 19:1-6).   Zechariah saw her impending doom but John gives us the details.


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