Thursday, November 06, 2008

Zechariah 5:5-11

Continuing the picture of 1-4, wickedness is now removed from the land. Thus where the first promised the destruction of individuals who did evil, now the picture is of a more general cleansing of the land. Of course, this introduces ambiguity. Are the people involved? But I don't think that's the emphasis, particularly because wickedness is given a "resting place" (often used for the temple) in the vicinity of Babylon. It seems that evil is given a new home. Given God's attitude to evil, this also guarantees his opposition to Babylon, as was already expressed in the 2nd and 3rd events in the vision. Evil is powerful—it needs to be restrained. But the angel of Yahweh is able to do it.

Where the previous picture was of God's standards imposed on the land, here is assurance that God will act to ensure the cleansing. The land will not be left polluted so God will live among his people and will make it happen.

Where we observed the need for holiness, now we observe God's ability to guarantee it. He demonstrated his ability in judgment through the exile to these people. Will he demonstrate it in some other way now? The details are not spelt out. But it sets up not only a realm of his holiness, but a conflict with another realm where evil dwells. Similarly, Paul speaks of being delivered from the dominion of Satan and delivered into the kingdom of the Son whom God loves (Col 1:13-14). Here is the Bible's form of duality. Satan is under God's control and his defeat is certain. With Christ's coming, the divide between the world that opposes Christ and Christ who is the holy one of God becomes stark. And it is only in his mercy that some are delivered from judgment to be counted holy in Christ and are ensured of being conformed to his image.

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