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Bible Articles and Lessons: M

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Man of sin, Zec 5

A first-century Man of sin (as outlined in Lesson, Man of sin, first century) can scarcely be the complete fulfillment of the words of Paul. The letters to Thessalonica are so dominated by the theme of Christ's second coming; and the Judeo-Christian "man of sin" of Paul's day has long passed from the scene (along with his adherents). So it is reasonable to expect that another "man of sin" will be a dominant element in the prophetic framework of the last days. There is one system, the Papacy, that is eminently "qualified'' to fill this role, as the Notes on the Text which follow should demonstrate. The question remains, however: Is there a transition, and a discernible link, between the first-century "man of sin" and the Roman Catholic apostasy?

Zechariah 5 offers such a link: Some of its connections with 2Th 2 are set out below:

Zechariah 5
2 Thessalonians 2
"This is their iniquity in all the land" (v 6, RV mg).
"The mystery of iniquity doth already work" (v 7)... "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness" (v 10).
"A woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah (v 7).
"Sitteth in the temple of God" (v 4).
"He cast her down into the midst of the ephah: and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof" (v 8, RV).
"That which restraineth" (v 6, RV)..."there is one that restraineth now" (v 7, RV).
"This is Wickedness" (v 8, RV).
"Then shall that Wicked be revealed" (v 8).

Zec 5 appears to be a prophecy of the evils of Judaism which were manifested in New Testament times, corrupting the early ecclesias, and which eventually became firmly established in the Roman Catholic church, along with many pagan ideas.

In its immediate context, Zec 5 presents a false worship in a detailed contrast to the true worship depicted in Zec 4. Zec 5 has the house of wicked women and unclean birds in the land of Shinar (Babylon) (vv 9,11), whereas Zechariah 4 has the true house of God, the true temple (v 9), wherein are the anointed ones (v 14) and the lampstand (v 12). In the picture of the false worship, the flying roll or scroll (v 3) is a "curse" which "declares innocent" ("naqah" -- not "cut off" as in AV) those who steal and swear falsely. The dimensions of this scroll of wickedness (20 cubits by 10 cubits) (v 2) are the precise dimensions of the holy place of the temple and tabernacle, indicating again the nature of this worship: a deliberate parody of that which is true.

The scroll, then, represents wicked teaching, which releases men and women from their obligation to obey God's laws. Such teaching, with a Jewish flavor, may be traced in the Pharisees' use of "Corban" -- a legal fiction that effectively released a man of his obligation to his parents (Mark 7:6-12). By some similar misapplication of law Pharisees enriched themselves by "devouring widows' houses" (Mat 23:14) and swearing falsely (v 16). This same attitude was carried forward into the early church and became part of the Roman Catholic apostasy. So-called saints are alleged to have accumulated large excesses of virtue which could be transferred, at a price, to sinners. The clerics, from the pope down to the parish priest, claimed the power to excuse on God's behalf sins of lying, stealing and so on at the confessional. Hence the links between Zec 5 and the Man of Sin.

Then there is the ephah (v 6), a unit of measure. This aptly portrays Judaism in New Testament times, where everything became a matter of measure, of keeping rules and regulations, rather than of developing a character pleasing in God's sight. Again this entered the early ecclesias and became fully developed in the Roman Catholic church. Col 2:20-22 warns against making religion a matter of rules and regulations which results only in fleshly pride when they are kept. In 1Ti 4:3 Paul prophesied of the time to come when apostasy would make rules about "forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats", these are examples of the kinds of rules and regulations which Roman Catholicism invented so that the keepers of those rules might be considered as especially virtuous. The idea of a religion of "measure" comes out in other ways too: the idea that, after attending church, the rest of one's time is one's own; and the idea that after a fixed sum of money has been handed over, the rest is one's own to use exactly as one pleases.

Zec 5 is thus a portrayal of apostasy, not so much in its false doctrines as in its iniquitous practices. Hence its use in 2Th as the background for the Man of Sin prophecy. It is noteworthy that in Zec 5 it is a woman who goes to Babylon (Shinar) and builds a house there. The connection with the woman of Rev 17 is obvious. Note also the stork, the unclean bird; the "Babylon" of the Apocalypse is "a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (Rev 18:2).

Indeed, without trying to trace actual historical links, the essential unity of the two false systems (apostate Judaism of Christ's day and modern Roman Catholicism) is perfectly evident:

As the great false religious system of the first century was destroyed by divine edict (in AD 70) so the great false religious system of the Last Days will be destroyed -- by Christ in his coming in power and glory.

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