A Basketful of Sin

July 2, 2023

David Sorn

In a fascinating vision, Zechariah sees God fly away a basket that is full of sin. And through this vision we learn more of how sin works and how God handles it.

A Basketful of Sin

July 2, 2023

David Sorn

In a fascinating vision, Zechariah sees God fly away a basket that is full of sin. And through this vision we learn more of how sin works and how God handles it.

SERMON TRANSCRIPT | Zechariah 5:5-11


Good morning. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.

Happy 4th of July weekend!

It’s great to be back outside on this holiday weekend!

As a church this summer, we have been studying the book of Zechariah together.

So go ahead and grab a Bible

If you’re using a church Bible, we’re on page 648

Otherwise, turn to Zechariah chapter 5

If you’re using our app, tap on Summer Services, and then Weekly Verses.

While you’re finding your spot, let me catch you up on Zechariah.

Zechariah was a prophet who ministered about 520 years before Jesus.

And he was speaking to Jews who had just come back to Jerusalem from a long exile in Babylon.

And God gave Zechariah eight different visions..

….Many of them were visions about the future, or about God’s grace, or just encouragement to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed.

We are doing one chapter a week this summer, so we’re on chapter 5 (our 5th week of summer)

This chapter has 2 visions, so we’re just doing the 2nd vision.

It’s the 7th of 8 visions overall

All right, we’re starting on verse 5.

(Zechariah 5:5-11)

5 Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, “Look up and see what is appearing.”

6I asked, “What is it?”

He replied, “It is a basket.” And he added, “This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land.” 7 Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! 8 He said, “This is wickedness,” and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed its lead cover down on it.

9 Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.

10 “Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me.

11 He replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place.”


All right, this is another interesting vision in Zechariah.

What does it mean? Let’s start walking through it

Firstly, let’s start with verses 6 & 7

Zechariah sees a vision of a basket, but when the cover was raised, a woman is found in the big basket.

And we saw in verse 7 that the contents of the basket represent our iniquity, which is just a fancy word for sin.

And then look at verse 8: The angel says, “This is wickedness”

Now, just in case your mind went there, this vision is in no way saying women are wicked and men are not (so guys, stop looking at your wife like that!).

Just two weeks ago, we had a vision where a man (Joshua) represented sin.

The woman is just a personification of wickedness.

And what does “wickedness” try and do in this passage?

She tries to get out of the basket!.

And the angel has to stuff her back in, and put a heavy lead cover on the basket to keep her in!

So what’s happening here in this VISION?

God is removing some wickedness from the land, but wickedness wants to get out.

Wickedness does not want to get boxed in

It longs for the freedom to deceive people, and lure them into its chaos.

But God’s angel, pushes it back down.

And in this chapter, we’re actually going to learn 3 things about sin today, and we’ve just seen the first one:

3 Things about Sin

#1: Sin is often restrained by God

We see this point in the angel pushing back wickedness into the basket

Now, how much God restrains sin in the world, I suspect we may never know.

But hear me, if God removed Himself, His angels, and His power from the earth (or even a country, or a city) it would get very ugly…very fast.

You can see this in history.

Listen, not every culture is the same.

When a large group of people in a culture, begin following Christ, there is a spillover blessing to the larger culture.

Even if everyone isn’t following Christ.

As a person who’ve traveled to many developing countries around the world, I can tell you that America, for all of its flaws (and it has many), has been blessed by being a country where people, largely, in our history anyway have been seeking God and to walk in His ways.

It grieves me a bit that our current culture is so focused on our mistakes, that they miss the good…and they don’t realize what the rest of the world even looks like.

For example, when pollsters have done massive, worldwide polls, do you know what the #1 problem on earth is…when they ask people, globally?

And it’s not even close.

The #1 problem is: Corruption.

In Africa, in Asia, in the middle East, Central America, people cite the #1 challenge to life as: corruption

They can’t trust any business, any official…anywhere.

Even down to the local police, mayor, if you want things done at the local DMV, you’ve got to bribe the agent!

Again, America isn’t perfect, but living here looks nothing like living in Haiti, or Africa.

Okay, you might have to wait a long time at the DMV, but I’m guessing you’ve never offered them a bribe.

And if you did, you’d go to jail!

Because there isn’t widespread corruption!

In part, because God’s hand has held back wickedness (at a broad level anyway) here for a long time…

And it’s not just America.

America is not a new holy land or anything like that

There are other places who’ve experienced the same blessings in history…and some even lost that blessing.

Look at German history for example.

I think a good principle on this is 2 Chronicles 7:14 where God speaks to Solomon about his people

(2 chronicles 7:14) – NIV

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

He will keep the spread of wickedness at bay…if we SEEK Him and turn from our wicked ways.

But when God’s hand is removed, and the wickedness is free to get out of the basket, there is almost no bottom to human depravity.

I read a book last year about a Christian who lived in Cambodia during the Cambodian genocide of the 1970’s where almost 2 million people were killed under Pol Pot and his Communist Regime.

The killings of that genocide were beyond brutal.

They were, in a sense, almost killing people for sport.

There is no bottom to how evil wickedness can become when God’s hand is removed…and wickedness can get out of the basket.

But I’m not sure that people understand this anymore.

One of the main problems I see with today’s secular, non-religious, thinkers is their doctrine of humanity.

You see this in every movie, every book, everything…Secular thinkers see humanity as basically “good”

And I wonder sometimes if they’ve read, not just the Bible, but history.

When God’s hand is removed…

When Christians stop spreading the Gospel …when they stop praying for their country…

When wickedness is given freedom to get out of the basket and roam free…times become dark, quickly.

And so we must learn from Zechariah 5 here….We must pray for God to restrain sin…to push it back down…and bring his Spirit to our land in revival.


And ultimately, we want to pray for God to take sin away, that’s the next point.

3 Things about Sin

#1: Sin is often restrained by God

#2: God can remove our penalty of sin

Look at verse 9 again

(Zechariah 5:9) - NIV

9 Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.

They fly away our sin…and we’ll talk in a moment about how they fly it to Babylon.

But the emphasis here is a removal of sin.

This is, again, the Gospel in the Old Testament.

That God, through our faith, can remove our sin.

And that is just as important today.

Not only can God hold back wickedness in our culture, and in our own lives, but even more importantly, he can remove the penalty of your sin.

Remember, verse 6 said that this basket was a symbol of the iniquity (the sin) of the people.

And God can remove (can take away) the penalty of our sin through our faith in Jesus…in believing He died on the cross for our sin.

In the book of John, when John the Baptist first sees Jesus, He says:

(John 1:29b) - NIV

“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

For those who trust in God,

(Psalm 103:12) – NIV

“as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Do you believe that this morning?

Believers in Jesus, do you believe, that through your faith, God has removed the penalty for your sin?

That it’s gone?

It’s been flown away?

It’s as far away as the East is from the West

Or Christians, are you living like the penalty of sin is still on you?

And like God is going to bring judgment on you for it?

Which is it?

If you have put your faith in Jesus, I cannot urge you enough today to trust God’s Word when it teaches about sin here

That God has taken it away.


And of course, we need to be careful with our language here.

Because while God has taken away your sin, we mean that He has taken away the final punishment for your sin

It’s not saying that sin doesn’t still exist.

As Christians, we believe that God is changing us from the old self to the new self.

We believe that we now have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us conquer over sin.

But our old sinful nature, still shows itself, doesn’t it??

Sin is still hanging around. Lurking.

And that’s the 3rd thing I want you to learn about sin from this passage:

3 Things about Sin

#1: Sin is often restrained by God

#2: God can remove our penalty of sin

#3: Sin still lurks around

So look at verses 10 and 11 again

(Zechariah 5:10-11) - NIV

10 “Where are they taking the basket?” I asked the angel who was speaking to me.

11 He replied, “To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place.”

So wickedness and sin, which is in the basket, has been flown away (by these women with stork-like wings) to Babylonia.

Now, the Hebrew (the original language this was written in), and honestly a number of other English translations even, actually say they’re flying it to Shinar, not Babylonia.

It’s actually the same place.

It’s like Saint Paul, which has two names.

Anyone know the old name for Saint Paul?

I learned this from my kid’s 4th grade homework this year.

It used to be called, Pig’s Eye.

“What’s the capital of MN? Pig’s Eye!”

You can see why it didn’t stick.

And so even though the Hebrew says that they flew the basket of sin to Shinar…some Bible translations (like our NIV here) write Babylonia instead…because they know you’re more familiar with that word, and it’s basically the same place.

But the fact that it says Shinar here, actually matters because it’s referencing really one of the only other places Shinar is mentioned in the Bible…Genesis chapter 11…where it says:

(Genesis 11:1-4a) – NIV

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves;

And they build the infamous Tower of Babel…an afront to God…a visible image of their own self-glorification.

And so think about this…of all the places in the world, God could have had the women fly a basketful of sin, it gets dropped off in Shinar.

The very place where the Tower of Babel once stood.

The very place and symbol of humanity trying to rise up and oppose God with their own pride.

And Verse 11 says fly it to Shinar and build a house for it…then set the basket there in its place.

And that HOUSE is a TEMPLE

In fact, the “house word” is the same word in Hebrew where David earlier in the Bible says, I want to build a house (a temple) for you God

But what’s interesting is that, at the time of this vision, Babylon had just fallen as a mighty nation.

Remember, the Jews had just come back from there.

But the vision is pointing to the fact that Babylon will rise again.

Because the book of Revelation, in chapters 17 & 18, says that in the end times, Babylon will rise up again to oppose God in the end.

Now, whether that’s the literal city of Babylon rebuilt (maybe, Saddam Hussein tried to do it), or if it’s just symbolic of a future evil, we don’t know.

But Revelation says that, in the end, people will be intoxicated in their adulteries with the worldly system of Babylon.

In other words, they’re going to worship it.

So think about this, the Bible says, in the last days, that people are basically going to be obsessed with, and worship, wickedness.

As Zechariah says, the “basketful of wickedness” has been set up in the temple…and people are going to worship wickedness there.

And I fear that’s where we are headed.

Already, our culture is beginning not just to tolerate, not just to embrace, but to worship, to celebrate, to honor, that which God calls wicked.

And so not only do we need visions like this to warn us of what will come in the future, but we need it to warn us about what can happen in our own lives.

Because the Bible is talking about the future, but it’s also talking about your life.

Because, yes, God has removed the payment for your sin, but as the Lord says to Cain in Genesis 4:

If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you.

And so are you asking God to hold back, and put the lid on wickedness in your life…or have you just let the basket lid hang open lately?

And if you have, today is the day to ask God to help you put it back on.

Because, let me just be honest, if you follow Christ long enough, you’re going to have seasons where you let the basket lid hang open…

…lukewarm seasons where you’re not fighting sin like you used to.

And listen carefully, when you stop fighting sin, sin starts to regroup and grow in the Babylon of your heart.

When you’re not fighting it, it’s off in Babylon somewhere growing stronger and stronger.

Waiting for a later attack.

Just like Babylon in the Bible will rise up again, and attack in the end of days.

And hear me, you don’t want this attack to happen on your life.

Some of the most heartbreaking experiences I’ve had as a pastor are watching people who’ve followed Jesus for 20, or 30, or 40 years walk away from Him.

What happens is: they got in this extended Lukewarm season of their faith…

…and they stop reading their Bible, then they start drifting towards a particular sin, then they stopped coming to church, and then…they stopped seeing Christian friends, and they stopped following Jesus.

Even though they had been doing so for decades.

Listen to me, a lukewarm period can’t be taken lightly.

But the problem is almost ALL OF US take it lightly!

We say, “Yeah, I’m not fire for Christ right now, but it’s not like I’m rebelling!”

If that’s what you’re thinking, the devil’s got you right where he wants you.

Slowly backsliding into his arms without even knowing it.

You’ve got to acknowledge today (TODAY!)…where it is that you’ve stopped fighting against sin…where you’re letting sin regroup over in Babylon.

Maybe you’ve given up fighting against gossip and have your lips been looser than ever?

Maybe resentment against your in-laws just been building a mighty army in your heart…because you’re not doing anything about it anymore?

Maybe, rather than living a life that glorifies God, lately you’ve just been, honestly, building the Tower of Babel for your own life.

More than anything, your focus has been on building a life that’s going to impress your friends with your career, or your Instagram followers with how awesome you are at your hobby or parenting or whatever…

But life has becoming about building up your glory!

And my friend, that’s what sin does when we allow it to regroup

It goes to Shinar…and from the base of the Tower of Babel…it gets you thinking again about how to put YOU first…and not God first.

And so I urge you, as the old saying goes, “Always be killing sin, or it will be killing you”

And you can’t kill it with your own strength!

You’ve got to call on Jesus!

You’ve got call on your Christian friends for help and prayer.

Confess your sins and let God back in!

Trust in the one who can shut the lead cover on wickedness

Trust in the one who has already removed the penalty for your sin.

Look at Him anew today, and give him back those parts of your life that you have given Him before

Or give Him a part of your life that you’ve never given Him before.


And if you’ve never given your life to God before, do it today.

God sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to take the penalty for your sin.

The only way you can have the penalty of your sin removed is to believe in Jesus as your Lord, by faith.

To Believe He died for you, and turn away from your sin, and trust in Him as your leader.

You don’t have to be good enough, you just have to trust in him by faith…and turn your life over to His care.

And if you do that, He will fly away your sin as far as the East is from the West.

And you can be forgiven.

And so if you need to turn your life over to God today, to be saved, let’s do that.

Repeat after me

Dear God

I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.

But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place

And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.

And now I commit, to following you, with my life.

If you raised your hand, I’ll give you some instructions at the end of the service. LET ME PRAY.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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