Prophesy…it’s complex and beautiful, multi-layered and mysterious – all of which reflect God’s character. Today’s reading is thick with the many horizons of prophesy…
Our reading opens with Zechariah’s 5th vision. We learn that Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, will complete the rebuilding of the temple, not by his own might, but by the power of the Spirit (just as the world-wide church is supported by the power of the Spirit!).
In the 6th vision, we see a flying, gigantic scroll. It is a covenant-document declaring judgment on those who sin against both man and God. This one scroll finds fulfillment in the seven scrolls of Revelation.
In the 7th vision, iniquity is removed from the land. All wickedness, personified in a woman, would be held in a basket, deported away from Jerusalem and taken to “Shinar” which is Babylon. This was meaningful to the exiles, but it also points forward to the end of time – when Babylon is destroyed (Rev. 17-18).
Zechariah’s visions end with a reprise of the four horsemen from his first vision. This time they are equipped for war.
All of these visions are consummated in the symbolic act of crowning the High Priest, Joshua, with a golden crown. Reference is made to the “Branch” from Jeremiah 33:15 – which points forward to Jesus. Zechariah says of the ‘Branch,’ “It is he who shall build the temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule on his throne” (Zechariah 6:13). When Jesus came to earth, he did not build a physical temple, but rather a spiritual temple, His church.
This is the beauty of prophesy!! All of these visions applied to the exiles of Zechariah’s day and encouraged them to press on to rebuild the temple. These prophesies also point forward to the church age – to our present-time – when Jesus is building His spiritual kingdom and temple on earth in His church. But these visions also point even further forward in time to the end of the age, when all iniquity will be wiped from the land (Zec. 5:6)!!
Even today’s reading in Revelation is a prophesy that finds its roots in Jeremiah’s prediction of the destruction of ancient Babylon (Jer. 51). The similarities between Jeremiah 51 and Revelation 18 are striking. In Revelation, the prophesy is expanded to include the whole of the world that is against God – its economic systems, luxuries and even its entertainment. All of it will be destroyed in the blink of an eye. The world is left with nothing, mourning the loss of everything upon which they have built their lives. In the end, the foundation of prosperity proves to be sinking sand. And the persecuted saints watch the great Babylon’s destruction from the comforts of heaven. The irony is thick.
In the middle of the vision, another angel proclaims a message which is meant for us…
Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven (Revelation 18:4).
The lure of the harlot is strong. The temptress of prosperity is intoxicating. We must resist the devil and his schemes! We must come out of Babylon! We must fix our eyes on Jesus – daily reminding ourselves that we live not for today – but for eternity!! I pray for the grace to stand against the great Babylon – while leading others to the beauty and majesty of Christ!