Devotional Commentary on Zechariah 5


Ever heard Adventists complain that 1 Peter 4:17 does not speak of a Judgment that will start at the House of God as the Investigative Judgment that will be prior to the Executive Judgment or Hell-event?

Well, this chapter will make those people think twice. And it is not just Adventists that think in this direction. It was the common way to interpret Zechariah 5 as a case of God’s judgment, and secondly, as cleaning the remnant from the impure in the remnant and to remove them. A cleansing of the sanctuary as some Victorian scholars suggested.

Two scholars cannot be off the table for this chapter. They are Friedrich Delitzsch and August Köhler. Not because they are always right but because they are always helpful for Adventists living in the wake of the start of the Advent Awakening and thinking also in the same lines at times. Yet they still fall short of the reality.

Umbreit and Rabbi Kimchi saw that the size of the roll and the size of the Temple Holies are the same so the Judgment goes out from the throne of God in the Temple (Köhler 1860: 164). Köhler wanted to see it as the size of the curse or evil actions of the sinners to such an extent that it is the same size as the holies of the Temple. Other scholars thought that it is just a complaint by the Lord against all unsanctified places so that explains the sanctuary size of the roll, but Köhler was not convinced by this. Köhler said that the fact that it is not the size of the Most Holy, or the outer court, indicates that the visible and public sins of the people is the issue here.

Neumann indicated that the Holy is the place where the blessings for [spiritual] Israel is pronounced (Köhler 1860: 164). Thus, concluded Neumann, this roll is the size of the evil of those who did not want to join the blessings of spiritual Israel. Neumann may be on something here.

It is true that Hengstenberg declared that the roll is not a symbol of the Temple or the Holies. Köhler said that this judgment is against all sins, not just public sins. Secret sins and public sins are involved.

The curse written on this roll is against the “whole earth” kol ha-arezt (so Hoffmann and Neumann) and not only against the whole land [of Israel] (so Köhler, Delitzsch, Hengstenberg, Hitzig, Umbreit, Ewald and Baumgarten).

Thieves and cursing people will be removed. This is the cleansing of the sanctuary or the Holies from the thieves and cursing people. The word for “cleansing” or “becoming clean” is niqqa (see Isaiah 3:26). Adventists know very well about the cleansing of the sanctuary since they know the time when this would happen: After 2300 years, then the sanctuary would be cleansed or justified.

Köhler said that if His people or people of the world did not take advantage of the cleansing and expiation of sins that were offered in the Holies, then they have to be exposed to the executive judgment of rejection symbolized by the roll (Köhler 1860: 166).

On one side of the roll are the curses against the thieves and on the other side the curses against those who curse in the name of the Lord. They will be removed from the earth.

It is the sins of the hand and the mouth that are involved here (so Ewald). However, most commentators think it refers to sins of both the tables of the Law of God. Theft is on one side and cursing on the other side of the two tables of the Law.

How this judgment, this investigative judgment is to take place in biblical terms is when the thrones are set up before the Almighty in the time of the Most Holy according to Daniel 8:14 when the Son of Man (Christ) will appear before the Father in the Most Holy phase of the Day of Atonement event function.

This flying roll with their sins, utilized during the holies part of the sanctuary in antitypical heavenly sanctuary investigative judgment since 1844, was brought forth by the Lord “I have brought it forth, says the Lord of Hosts…” verse 4. What is brought forth? The deeds of the thief of the second table of the Law of God mentioned first and the deeds of the one who is swearing in His name second from the first table of the Law of God. Investigative Judgment takes place in relation to the Law of God. We are judged by our works of faith or no faith. We are saved by our faith. Thus, the Adventist systematic professor, Edward Heppenstall in his book, Christ our High Priest.

The endresult of these found unworthy of the price Christ paid for us will be that disaster will strike their homes (verse 4 last part).

The angel then left Zechariah and came back again to him (verse 5). Rabbi Redak in the Middle Ages said: “After the angel showed the prophet the vision of the flying scroll, he vanished from the prophet’s sight. Then he reappeared, spoke to the prophet and showed him the vision of the ephah”.

He then saw an ephah going forth (verses 5-6). “And He said, this is the eyes upon the whole earth”. For Delitzsch and Köhler is it just the land of Israel (Delitzsch 1884: 280 “is just the land of Canaan”) but for Adventists it may mean the whole earth as also Hoffmann and Neumann argued in the Victorian period.

Delitzsch translated the that the ephah “is going out”.

The Trinity is God viewing everything and nothing is hidden from their eyes. Judgment is thus fair and just. It is penetratingly.

An ephah was a measure container in a market. It could hold 5-7 gallons. The SDA Bible Commentary cited in 1963 by A. V. Wallenkampf on Zechariah in the Sabbath School Quarterly suggested 5 gallons but the 1944 Sabbath School Quarterly by A. Chase on the prophets suggested 7.

Whereas I suggested that it is the eye of the Lord looking penetratingly at the works of the Law of the saints [1 Peter 4:17 saying ‘judgment must start first at the house of God’] in the Investigative Judgment since 1844, Rabbi Rashi of the 12th century CE suggested that it refers to the eyes of the wicked that were over the entire land to rob and oppress.

Delitzsch made a point that the “eyes” should not be translated such but rather with the semantics of “shape” or “appearance”. The ephah had the shape. Said Delitzsch: “The ephah (bushel) is the shape, i.e. represents the figure displayed by the sinners in all the land, after the roll of the curse has gone forth over the land, i.e. it shows into what condition they have come through that anathema (Kliefoth)”.

When the lead lid of the ephah was lifted, inside was sitting a woman but she is interpreted as “wickedness”. Delitzsch says that the sinners, the brokers of the law of God, first table and second table are viewed as one personality, an evil woman in the ephah (verse 7). Delitzsch said that the woman did not come into the ephah for the first time. She was already there when the lid was raised (Delitzsch 1884: 284).

In 2 Chronicles 24:7 the name of wickedness or mirsha`ath that is given to this woman in the ephah of Zechariah was given to Jezebel. In the time of the first Elijah, the name of wickedness was given to Jezebel and in the time of the third Elijah after 1844, the name of the sinners from the “house of God”, the wayward remnant, will be also the same “wickedness”.

Sitting in the midst of the ephah (verse 7) it seems that she stood up because the Lord “cast her into the midst of the ephah” (verse 8). Wickedness of the wayward remnant during the Investigative Judgment is placed where it belongs, in the penetrating visibility of the Lord.

Now the lead lid or cover is thrown at the woman where it ended up in the mouth, not of the woman but of the ephah container (so Köhler 1860: 175 and Delitzsch implied the same). The ephah, an instrument for measuring became a jail. Belshashar was weighed and found too light. He was measured as well that last night in 539 BCE when Gobryas entered the palace and Daniel exited.

In verse 9 Zechariah lifted up his eyes again and saw another image. It could be other detail in the same vision so that the flying roll, the woman in the ephah and this one in verse 9 are all connected (so Delitzsch).

Two flying woman, with wings similar to that of a stork came and lifted up the ephah between heaven and earth (verse 9). Zechariah wanted to know where they are going? (verse 10).

The answer was that they would take it to the land of Shinar [a name for Babylon] to prepare it [root kwn] and they shall place it there on its base [root kwn]. What Satan did through the Little Horn activities in Daniel 8:10-12 is to disturb the base or niche [kwn] of God. In the prophets that [kwn] would be restored in the eschaton.

Babylon is the word that means gate of the gods and every empire in history had a “Babylon” so that this name is almost symbolic. Babylon was built in ancient times in the land of Shinar. Delitzsch did not like the concept though. He felt that Shinar is “not the earth as the sum of all lands” (Delitzsch 1884: 280).

"The women denote the instruments or powers employed by God to carry away the sinners out of His congregation, without any special allusion to this or the other historical nation" (Delitzsch 1884: 284).

To interpret what is in the text thus far, is that when the time of the End comes, with speed and with swiftness, two females (good or bad or mixed) will be instruments to help carry the bad woman, symbolizing the lawbreakers, the first table and the second table, the Catholic Church maybe to set itself up on a foundation [kwn] as anti-foundation against the niche [kwn] of God sanctuary. This will happen near the end of the Investigative Judgment when the flying roll would have listed all the sinners “in the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17) in fullness so that the measures of the roll is equal to that of the holies, where saints are supposed to obtain grace from Christ our Righteousness as substitute on our behalf.

Ellen White said in Faith and Works page 30 “So great is the deceptive power of Satan that many have been led to regard the atonement of Christ as of no real value”. “The doctrine which teaches freedom, through grace, to break the law is a fatal delusion. Every transgressor of God’s law is a sinner, and none can be sanctified while living in known sin”.


Dear God

Open our eyes, that we may see, thy loving grace so dear and free. We pray in Jesus Name. Amen.