The Flying Scroll: Zechariah 5:1-4

“I will send it [the flying scroll of the Law] out, declares the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter the house of him who swears falsely by my name.  And it shall remain in his house and consume it, both timber and stones.”  -Zechariah 5: 4, ESV


How dangerous it is to use the Lord’s name in vain practice.  Our very lips will condemn us.  This is a message that the liberal churches need to hear and be warned about.  The things that they are doing in the name of worship and in the name of “Christian scholarship” are shameful and in clear opposition to the third commandment (which is one of the two that are highlighted in this passage). 

The other commandment that is illustrated in this passage as being broken is the eighth commandment:  “Thou shalt not steal.”  Many of the Jewish Targums make a connection between these two commandments.  Remembering that names have power, the abuse of God’s name is a misappropriation of that power.  And what is misappropriation but theft?  Theft is taking something that does not belong to you for your own gain.  Oh how the liberal churches of today have used the name of God and Christ to give themselves a certain legitimacy that does not belong to them.

In the end, the law will convict them.  The Law of the Lord leads either to repentance or to destruction.  Those called by God will recognize their sin and they will repent.  Yet, where there is no repentance, there is no grace.  They who do not have the Spirit moving in them will be destroyed in vain attempts to keep the law.  They and their house will fall under its weight.

This ought to be both a warning and a pointer to us.  It is a warning, lest we not repent, that we will be judged by a holy law that we cannot stand before.  And it is a pointer toward someone greater than ourselves who satisfied that holy law.  Let us turn to Christ, for in him and in him alone is salvation.

About preacherwin

A pastor, teacher, and a theologian concerned about the confused state of the church in America and elsewhere...Writing because the Christian should think Biblically.

Posted on March 14, 2009, in Expositions and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Rachael Browne

    Flying scroll needs to be understood with the correct Hebrew interpretation. Replace “woman” with “fire” to make it make sense. It’s a missile (20mx10m) obviously the author could only compare it to a scroll with his understanding.


    • Rachael,
      There have been many who have followed the interpretive model of which you speak, yet consistently have found themselves humbled when what they are predicting does not come to pass. Lightheartedly, your exegetical model is what is called “Newspaper Exegesis,” in other words, you look at the world around you and use what you see to interpret the Scriptural Imagery.

      Not only is such methodology entirely arbitrary (I might say it is a jet plane, for example, and another might say that it is a rocket ship–who is right?), but it is also nonsensical when you recognize that the original audience understood the message of the prophets. Had Zechariah employed images that meant nothing to his people because they were of our age, the people would have never preserved his writings, but would have sent Zechariah off to a mad house and written him off as a phony and a blasphemer.

      God gave his word to Zechariah to encourage the people of Zechariah’s day (and to encourage us as well). They understood what Zechariah was pointing toward (which is evidenced by many of the Jewish commentaries on the book) and were encouraged by it. No missiles, no jet planes, no rockets, but the flying scroll of God’s Law is an image that the people understood and could relate to.

      Similarly, to suggest that “woman” (ish-shah)(two syllables with a daghesh in the shin) should be replaced by “fire” (ish) (one syllable) demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of Hebrew. The Hebrew language is a tri-consonantal system with some bi-consonantal words. Just because words share two out of three consonants, does not necessarily mean that the words are related (as is often the case in English). The word for fire contains two consonants: aleph and shin. The word for woman contains three consonants: aleph, shin, and hey. The word for woman, we are told from Genesis 2 is derived from the word for man (iysh): aleph, yod, shin. The yod, in the word for man is what is called a “hireq yod” which simply means that the consonant is acting as a vowel. Thus, when the feminine ending (hey) is added, the hireq yod fell away and became simply a hireq (a non-written, but pronounced vowel) and thus preserved a three-consonant word.

      It is certainly true that there are lots of nouns that have more than three consonants, all I am trying to do is to help you understand why “fire” should not replace “woman” in the text given–especially in the absence of scribal notations, which I won’t go into here.

      Sorry to take the fire out of your idea (or out of your basket), but the correct Hebrew interpretation is not that of a missile, but of just what the text states, despite the way certain pop-endtimes-preachers on television might wish to present things.




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