I grew up in Oklahoma. I know tornadoes. I know about the damage and upheaval of people’s lives when a tornado dips down from the sky to wreak havoc as it vacuums up everything in its path and deposits it recklessly somewhere else. What once was is no longer. But not all is lost. Within hours after the dark clouds blow over and the rain stops, a clean up operation begins as people attempt to put their lives back together. Family and friends gather to clean up the mess left behind. God helps them through the storm. God is given credit for saving their lives.
The people of Israel have suffered a storm of a different kind. They have been sucked up into the vortex of evil, taken into captivity with resulting slavery by a nation who does not know or believe God. They have spent seventy years in a land of idol worship, pagan rituals that include sacrificing infants, lying and cheating in the marketplace, along with sexual abuses through orgies of all kinds. The land is full of deceit. The land is full of evil. God is working with the remnant, those who survived it all, to rebuild what they knew before the “storm” hit. Rebuilding God’s Temple, left in ruins by the Babylonians and others, is an exercise to get their attention and focus back on God.
God gives his prophets visions of how His restoration will occur. God wants His best for His people. His people are so corrupted that only God will be able to pull their lives out of the rubble sin has caused. Only God. Only God can provide “Operation: Clean Up” to those He still and always will love, His beloved chosen, the remnant, who have been faithful, preparing them for this cleansing of all their sins. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” …
Are you sitting in a pile of rubble caused by your sins and/or the sins of others? Guess what?! There is no sin too horrible, deplorable, or despicable that God cannot forgive. There is no life lived so full of evil that He will not save and restore. I just wanted you to know that today. I needed to write it “out loud”—God’s leading.
Zechariah 5, The Message
Sixth Vision: The Flying Book
I looked up again and saw—surprise!—a book on the wing! A book flying!
2 The Messenger-Angel said to me, “What do you see now?”
I said, “I see a book flying, a huge book—thirty feet long and fifteen wide!”
3-4 He told me, “This book is the verdict going out worldwide against thieves and liars. The first half of the book disposes of everyone who steals; the second half takes care of everyone who lies. I launched it”—Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies—“and so it will fly into the house of every thief and every liar. It will land in each house and tear it down, timbers and stones.”
Seventh Vision: A Woman in a Basket
5 The Messenger-Angel appeared and said, “Look up. Tell me what you see.”
6 I said, “What in the world is that?”
He said, “This is a bushel basket on a journey. It holds the sin of everyone, everywhere.”
7 Then the lid made of lead was removed from the basket—and there was a woman sitting in it!
8 He said, “This is Miss Wickedness.” He pushed her back down into the basket and clamped the lead lid over her.
9 Then I looked up and to my surprise saw two women flying. On outstretched wings they airlifted the bushel basket into the sky.
10 I said to the Messenger-Angel, “Where are they taking the bushel basket?”
11 He said, “East to the land of Shinar. They will build a garage to house it. When it’s finished, the basket will be stored there.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
The vision of the flying scroll and the vision of the basket focus primarily on the land of Israel. In both visions, God performs a cleansing operation and deals with the sins of the nation.
Later, Jesus, sent to clean up all the sins of the world, yours and mine, now stands ready to present us to God, holy and whole, when we repent of our sins, believe in Him, and follow the One and Only who restores what was torn apart—mainly our relationship with God! God welcomes us home with open arms!
Consider this for understanding: God knew sin would be a problem in our lives since Adam and Eve chose evil in their lives. So God provided a Way to cleanse us from our sins. The “flying book” represented the law of God that brings sin’s curse on all who disobey it. (See also Deuteronomy 27:26 and Galatians 3:10–12) But no one is perfect. For that matter, the law was never given to save people (See Galatians 2) but to reveal that people need to be saved; “the law simply shows us how sinful we are” (Romans 3:20).
What about the sins of lying and cheating of each other? Warren Wiersbe gives us a greater understanding of these visions that relate to the marketplace where cheating and lying became common practice. (Sound familiar? Who hasn’t been cheated by business people with a focus solely on making more money and gaining more power?)
“To understand this vision, we must ask, “What did the Jews bring to their land from Babylon when they returned after their captivity?” It wasn’t idolatry, for their years of exile cured them of that sin. The answer is—commercialism. The Jews were people of the land when they went to Babylon, but many of the Jews born in Babylon became people of the city and successful merchants. So the spirit of competitive commercialism is represented by the woman in the basket, for both the basket and the talent were measures of commodities.
Both believers and unbelievers, Jews or Gentiles, can be manufacturers and merchants and faithfully do their work. But if the worldly commercial spirit infects the child of God, the result will be twisted values, confused priorities, and a craving for wealth and position that grieves the Lord (1 Timothy 6). The best antidote is Matthew 6:33. –Warren Wiersbe, Study Bible
And what is Matthew 6:33? Glad you asked! “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
God provided Operation Clean Up of all our sins through Jesus, His Son. Believe in Him and be saved. Repent and be restored. Rejoice and be glad as a redeemed people. Grow in relationship with God who loves us most, above all others.
Cleanse my heart of all that offends you, renew my mind, refresh and fill my soul with Your Holy Spirit, and restore the joy of your salvation at work in me.
In Jesus Name, Amen