On Sunday we’ll be looking at the last of Zechariah’s eight visions, rounding off the first section of the book. Here’s a chance to read ahead and get thinking about the passage ahead of time.
Read: Zechariah 6:1-15
The four chariots of 6:1 mirror the four horses from chapter 1. How do the first and last visions compare, and what has changed between the two?
What is being promised in this last vision? In what way does it bring together all of the visions in these first six chapters?
What questions are still unanswered at this stage in the book? What more would you want to know from Zechariah if you were living in the 6th Century BC in Jerusalem?
What one thing in particular have you learnt from Zechariah 1-6? How will you ask God to change you as a result?
Pray: Giving praise to the Lord of the whole world (6:5), and praising God that he sent his priest-king, Jesus Christ. Pray ahead for the service on Sunday afternoon, for teachable and obedient hearts.
Text: There will be a question time during the service. If you have any questions about Zechariah chapters 1-6, you can send them now or any time this weekend to 60777, starting your text with the code P7WYC
Already Zechariah’s sixth and seventh visions have taught God’s people important truths about the guilt and evil of their land, as they seek to return to God.
- Evil is measured against God’s standards
- Evil must be met with God’s judgement
- Evil is contained by God
- Evil will one day be taken away by God
Today, though, adds incredible encouragement about the ultimate fate of evil in God’s world.
Read: Zechariah 5:10-11
When was the last time that you longed for evil to be removed from the world? Why did you feel that way?
The word ‘Babylonia’ is ‘Shinar’ in the original language. From Gen 11:1-9, what was that part of the world renowned for? Why, then, is it a suitable destination for all the evil in the world?
The fact that evil is set in its place (other versions say ‘on a pedestal’) suggests that evil will be worshiped in this location. Why do you think that those who reject God end up focusing their attention on wickedness?
Why is it reassuring in the book of Revelation that Babylon will be thrown down forever (see, for instance, Revelation 18:21)?
Pray: Longing for the day when evil will be destroyed, and praising God that, supremely at the cross, he has demonstrated his power over guilt and wickedness.
During this seventh of eight visions, God’s people may well have been feeling despondent. God’s standard of judgement has been set, and all of those who have failed to keep all of God’s laws will be banished and destroyed by God’s judgement (5:1-4). Now a basket has appeared, representing all of the guilt and wickedness of the people throughout the land (5:6). What if on this basis, God condemns the nations?
Read Zechariah 5:9
What happens in this verse? What do you think it represents?
The phrase ‘wind in their wings’ could also be translated ‘Spirit in their wings’. Why might Zechariah want to remind us that it is the Spirit at work?
The two women are going to lift up the basket of guilt and carry it away. Why would God treat his people like that? What will that mean for them (think of a number of things)? How does that remind you of Zechariah 3:4?
Jesus is the one who carried away our sin (see 1 John 3:5). Why would he treat us like that? What will that mean for us?
Pray: giving great thanks for God’s continued determination to take away our sin and deal with it, and praying that his grace will be setting the direction of your thoughts during the day.
Zechariah’s eight visions start off by looking at a picture of the whole world (1:10-11), and then zoom right in to the heart of the high priest in Jerusalem (3:1). Now, in effect, Zechariah is beginning to take us away from Jerusalem again, until the final vision will once again give us a view of the whole world (6:7). As he does so, he gives us a vivid picture of sin, both in terms of its seriousness and its solution.
Read: Zechariah 5:5-8 and think about the following questions.
What does Zechariah see in the vision and what is he told about it?
The woman representing wickedness is inside the basket, held down with a lead weight, and pushed in. What does that imply about God’s power over evil?
If you were one of the people living in the land, would you feel encouraged or discouraged by these verses?
What comfort is there for us as Christians, knowing that God is more powerful than evil, and that even the Devil is under God’s ultimate control (e.g. Job 1:6-12)? How will that help you in the situations you will face today?
Pray: giving thanks to God that in his sovereign care, he limits the evil that we face, and that his power over his world is unchallenged even by an opponent such the Devil. Pray for those who you know will be up against suffering and evil this week.
Zechariah’s sixth vision is certainly unusual – a scroll the size of an advertising hoarding which flies! Symbolising the power and urgency of God’s word, its connection with 1 Samuel 6:3 might be intended to remind us of the way that God’s word was proclaimed from the portico of Solomon’s temple. Whatever, the impact of God’s word in this part of Zechariah is incredibly dramatic…
Read: Zechariah 5:3-4 then think about the following questions.
Compare these verses with Exodus 20:1-17. Which commandments might the “thief” and “him who swears falsely by God’s name” have broken?
What standard, then, do you think the scroll represents? Why might this scroll be a terrifying thing to come across?
In fact, the scroll turns up in the house of those who have disobeyed the law. What effect does it have?
If we have all disobeyed the law, and the law simply makes us more conscious of our sin (see Romans 3:20), why is this vision actually very bleak?
Pray: thanking God that he reminds us about our sinfulness for our benefit. Acknowledge to him that you deserve condemnation, and pray that your unbelieving friends would realise the danger they are in from God’s terrifying judgement.
Zechariah has come to the sixth and seventh visions out of eight – visions which centre around the cleansing which God offers. These two visions, mirroring visions 2 and 3 in Zechariah 1:18-21 & 2:1-13, help to explain what God is doing to deal with evil and banish it forever.
Read Zechariah 5:1-2
When you think about the Bible, what images come to mind?
Zechariah, though, sees God’s word as being like a huge flying scroll. What does that image convey? Why do you think we need to know that it is like that?
The flying scroll is the same size as the portico of Solomon’s temple in 1 Kings 6:3, from which the law was read. Why might Zechariah be wanting to make that link?
What is it about God’s word, then, that you may have forgotten?
Pray: giving thanks that God’s word is living, active, unmissable and impressive. Why not repent of the times when you may have underestimated its significance.
Read Zechariah 4:1-14
God is building his house and he will complete it by the power of His Spirit. This is what is right at the heart of Zechariah 4:1-14 (Verse 6 is the key verse in this passage).
But what does this mean for us as Christians today?
In chapter 1 of the book of Acts Jesus tells the disciples to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through the Power of the Holy Spirit the disciples will be Jesus’ witnesses ‘to the ends of the earth’. In Acts 4:1-8 the Spirit comes in power at Pentecost and they declare to all nations the wonders of God. However this isn’t a one off event.
Read Acts Acts 2:1-4 and 4:31
If the disciples already knew the gospel why did they keep needing to meet together to pray? Why didn’t they just go out and tell people?
What is the result of the disciples prayer in both of the Acts passages?
Pray: That you, along with the church family, would be filled with boldness through the power of the Holy Spirit to speak the wonders of God to those around us. Praise God that in our weakness He works powerfully to bring Glory to His name. Pray that many people would be brought into God’s great building project as His word is boldly proclaimed.