Again I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, a flying scroll! And he said to me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits, and its width ten cubits.” Then he said to me, “This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land. For everyone who steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side, and everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side. I will send it out, declares the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter the house of the thief, and 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 5:1-4 ESV
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Galatians 3:10-13 ESV
A comet is an icy ball that moves through space and gives off a tail of gas or dust. Comets orbit the sun, but they have very long, narrow orbits that take them far out of the inner solar system. For that reason, some comets only travel through the part of the solar system we can see every few centuries, but when they do appear, they can be spectacular. Many ancient peoples were terrified of comets. They thought that the appearance of a comet meant doom. Because they couldn’t predict a comet or its movement, they thought that the gods sent them as warnings of disaster. Some of them thought that the long tail of a comet looked like a woman’s hair, and they thought the comet was a woman who was mourning something very sad that was about to happen. Other people thought a comet looked like a flashing sword, and they saw a comet as a sign of war and death.
Zechariah saw a vision of something flying through the sky that meant doom, but it wasn’t a comet. What he saw was a flying scroll! It was huge–30 feet by 15 feet–and it had writing on both sides. The writing was God’s holy law, a law that curses people who disobey it. In Zechariah’s vision, the curses were especially against people who steal things and against people who used the Lord’s name to swear to things that were lies that hurt other people. God said that this flying scroll would enter the home of people who did these things and burn down their house, wood and stones and all! This is a very scary picture, and the people would have been frightened to hear it. The Lord wanted his people to get a new start and to live once again in their homeland according to his laws.
The idea of a fiery punishment for disobeying God’s law is scary for us, too. We know that we haven’t obeyed God, and have done things that are against his law. The law of the Lord is good and holy, but for people who break his law it becomes a curse. The problem is that the law curses everyone, because there’s no one who can keep God’s law perfectly. But God has had mercy on us, and sent Jesus to be cursed instead of us. Jesus was cursed when he hung on the cross to die to pay for our sins, but because he did that, all our sins are forgiven. Because of Jesus, we are free from the curse of the law. God forgives our sins and sends us his Holy Spirit so that we can have a new start every day and live according to his laws.
Dear Jesus, thank you for becoming a curse for us and freeing us from the curse of the law. Amen