THE END-TIME BABYLONIAN RENAISSANCE

Zechariah was in Jerusalem when he received the vision of the Woman in a Basket being Deported from Jeruslem to Shinar on the night of February 15, 520 BC. The temple rebuild project was well underway and eventually completed in 516 BC. The visions and prophecies of Zechariah map out the road of the Messiah through the First and Second Coming of Christ.

There are three components in the 5:5-11 vision: A wicked woman in a basket with a leaden lid (5:5-8); A two-woman transport team with stork wings (5:9-11); A house-temple under construction in Shinar (5:11).

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THE WICKED WOMAN IN A BASKET (5:5-8)

The basket is the leading player in the vision. Placed in the basket was “their iniquity in all the land.” Before the basket takes off on its journey to Shinar, the heavy leaden lid covering the mouth of the basket was lifted to reveal a woman sitting in the basket. The attending angel explained that the woman is “wickedness” and thrust her back down into the basket before she could escape. The heavy leaden lid was then slammed into place to secure the basket.

The Hebrew word translated “basket” is elsewhere translated as ephah. An ephah was a measurement, similar in size to a five-gallon bucket. “Estimates of the capacity of an ephah, the largest dry measure used by the Jews, range from approximately 5 to 10 gallons.”[1]

The imagery of the ephah basket housing “wickedness” may suggest a particularly viral form of greed and corruption in commercial enterprise. “The sins associated with commercial preoccupation were gripping Israel at this time (Neh. 5:1–13; cf. Mal. 3:8–9)” and is a problem among all nations in modern times. [2]

The basket would not usually be large enough to hold even a tiny person. For this reason, some Bible commentators assume that the basket “was undoubtedly enlarged—like the flying scroll—for the purpose of the vision.” [3] Other Bible teachers think the basket was the smaller standard size and contained a little statue of a woman as an idol. Either way, “the woman represents the sum total of Israel’s sins, wickedness being the opposite of righteousness (cf. Prov. 13:6; Ezek. 33:12).”[4]

 

THE TWO-WOMAN TRANSPORT TEAM TO SHINAR (5:9-11)

Zechariah watched as the basket was transported out and away from Jerusalem and the territories of Israel utilizing the two women with stork wings. The women with the wind in their wings deport the basket to Shinar in Babylon. The deportation supposes that the wickedness represented in the basket may have originated in Shinar and was being returned from whence it came. The point here is that the “iniquity of the land” and the “wickedness” of the people are cleansed from the territories of Israel and relocated to Shinar (Babylon).

Before Babylon was known as Babylon, it was called Shinar (Gen 10:10, 11:2). Shinar is the old name for Babylon (Da 1:2). Babylon is the name primarily used in the Bible for the land of Shinar. Shinar was the place where the tower of Babel was built in rebellion against the rule of God. The origin of religion that seeks to replace God with many gods began at Shinar. As a result, the Lord divided and then dispersed the people from Babel into language, ethnic, territorial divisions (Gen 11:7-9). Instead of one language uniting the people, the Lord diversified the languages, thus establishing separate ethnic and national groups throughout the world.

Shinar (Babylon) is the origin of religion antithetical to the true worship of God. The various pantheon constructs that arose in the ancient world were inspired by the Babylonian system (Re 17:5). The woman called ‘wickedness’ with her corrupting influence was sent home in a basket where she belongs to await the judgment of God.

 

A HOUSE-TEMPLE UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN SHINAR (5:11)

The removal of the basket from Jerusalem and to Shinar (Babylon) is an unexpected twist in the story. The destruction of the wicked woman would have been the expected outcome. Instead, upon the arrival to Babylon, the women with stork wings await the completion of a house-temple. Once completed, they were to place the basket on a pedestal in the house, apparently to be worshipped and revered. The 5:5-11 vision ends with the house-temple under construction, and the women with stork wings await its completion.

 

THE END-TIME BABYLONIAN RENAISSANCE

There may be a link between the Zechariah 5:5-11 vision and the end-time visions of the apostle John in the book of Revelation. Like Zechariah’s vision, John’s vision showed a wicked woman (harlot) being worshipped and revered in Babylon. John presented the woman as a powerful and prosperous force controlling the nations of the world. John further described her defeat and destruction at the fall of Babylon. The judgment of the woman and the fall of Babylon are prominent themes in the end-time prophesies of John.

The placement of the basket in a newly constructed house-temple may anticipate the end-time Babylonian renaissance predicted in the book of Revelation. The vision of John in Revelation also has a wicked (harlot) woman worshipped and revered in Babylon. In Revelation, the woman represents an evil economic and religious conglomerate in partnership with Babylon and other major cities of the world. The judgment of God falls upon the woman and the Babylonian system she represents (Re 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21).

The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations” (Re 17:4-5).

 

A MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH

There is a corrupting influence in the world today that permeates all of society. It is in the marketplace. It is in government. It is in religion. It is in the media. Its origin can be traced back to Babylon. It is antichrist, in the sense that it is in opposition to the rule of Christ.

  • The NT warns Christians to be aware of the influence of the Babylonian system in shaping values and ideals.

Do not love the world [system] or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world (Jn 2:15-16).

  • John defined the Babylonian system as ‘the spirit of antichrist.’

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour” (Jn 2:18). “This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already (1 Jn 4:3).

  • James, the half-brother of Jesus, was sterner in his injunction to resist the influence of the world system.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (Jm 4:4).

  • Paul challenged his readers to avoid being shaped by the world system,

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Ro 12:2).

  • He further advised Christians to aim higher than this world in their spiritual aspirations,

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Co 3:1-2).

  • Lastly, Christians do not need to fear the judgment coming upon the Babylonian world system with all the horror associated with it. The salvation we have in Christ delivered us from the destruction to come to the earth in the end times.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (1 Th 5:9-11)

 

[1] F. Duane Lindsey, “Zechariah,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1556.

[2] F. Duane Lindsey, “Zechariah,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1557.

[3] Kenneth L. Barker, “Zechariah,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 7 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 634.

[4] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Zec 5:8.

 

 

Digging Deeper!