Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said to me, Lift up now your eyes, and see what is this that goes forth.…
Utter mercenariness is an abhorrent object to an angel's eye. The prophet still looks, and what does he see? The meaning of the new scene may be easily discovered. The ephah, with the woman in it, is carried away between earth and heaven, i.e. through the air. Women carry it because there is a woman inside; and two women, because two persons are required to carry so large and heavy a measure, that they lay hold of it on both sides. These women have wings, because it passes through the air; and a stork's wings, because these birds have broad pinions, and not because the stork is a bird of passage or an unclean bird. "The wings are filled with wind, that they may be able to carry their burden with greater velocity through the air. The women denote the instruments or powers employed by God to carry away the sinners out of His congregation, without any special allusion to this or the other historical nation. This is all that we have to seek in these features, which only serve to give distinctness to the picture." — Thiel and Delitzsch.
I. Such a community is ENCASED BY THE MATERIAL. This woman, the emblem of the worldly Jews, was not only "in the midst of the ephah," but was closely confined there. "He cast the weight of the lead upon the mouth thereof." To an utterly worldly man matter is everything. He is utterly shut out from the spiritual; there is no glimpse of it, no interest in it. Like the woman in the ephah, he is encompassed by that which shuts him in. The bright heavens and the green fields of the spiritual world are over and around him, but they are nothing to him. He is in the ephah.
(1) Your secular scientist is in the ephah. He sees nothing but matter, believes in nothing but matter.
(2) Your sensuous religionist is in this ephah. He judges after the flesh.
(3) Your man of the world is in this ephah. All his ideas of wealth, dignity, pleasure are material.
II. Such a community is being DISINHERITED BY THE MATERIAL. This woman in the ephah, emblem of the worldly Hebrew, is borne away from Palestine, her own land, into a foreign region. Materialism disinherits man. His true inheritance as a spiritual existent is "incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away." But materialism carries him away from it, away to the distant and the gross.
(1) The process was rapid. No bird so fleet with wing and foot as the stork, and with this fleetness this woman in the ephah was borne. How rapidly do animalism and worldliness bear away the spirit of man from the realm of spiritual realities, from a love of the true and the beautiful!
(2) The process was final. "And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established and set there upon her own base." "To be carnally minded is death. He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption." What ruined Simon Magus? The world. What ruined Demas? The world. And, "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"
Parallel VersesKJV: Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.