PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY › Forums › Forum › Is Isaiah 13:6 evidence of “Near” Referring to the Distant Future?
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March 10, 2017 at 12:39 am #8284adminKeymaster
Isaiah 13:6 reads, “Wail, for the day of the Lord is near! It will come as destruction from the Almighty.” Isaiah lived until at least 681 B.C. and it is possible that some of the Book of Isaiah may have been written around that time. Assuming Isaiah 13 was written later in Isaiah’s life this about 140 years before Isaiah 13 was fulfilled in the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C. Is 140 years considered “near” from a Biblical perspective in Isaiah 13? No. In the Bible future predictions are often written in the future tense. However, the Bible also often records future prophecies in present or past tense. Isaiah 13 predicts the future in the present tense. The present tense of Isaiah 13 refers to a time in Isaiah’s future when the Medes were preparing to besiege Babylon. In other words, Isaiah 13 looks to the future and establishes this time as the “present.” The “present” tense of this prophecy is the time in which the Lord was mustering the armies of the Medes against Babylon. Let us look at Isaiah 13:4-6 again:
A sound of tumult on the mountains, Like that of many people! A sound of the uproar of kingdoms, Of nations gathered together! The Lord of hosts IS MUSTERING the army for battle. They ARE COMING from a far country, From the farthest horizons, The Lord and His instruments of indignation, To destroy the whole land. Wail, for the day of the Lord IS NEAR! It will come as destruction from the Almighty [emphasis mine].
In this prophecy Isaiah is given a vision of the Medes beginning their march on Babylon. In other words, this prophecy presents a snapshot of the future just prior to the fall of Babylon. This is why the gathering together of the army of the Medes and the start of their march on Babylon is depicted in the present tense. The nearness of Isaiah 13:6 must be understood in the context of the time in which these armies were being mustered for battle, which, of course, was not at the time in which Isaiah recorded his vision. Isaiah 14:6 cannot be used as evidence of “near” or “at hand” language being applied to the distant future (140 years or more) as the setting of the vision is in the distant future and the nearness is relative to that setting. One cannot say the “near” of Isaiah 13:6 refers to the time in which Isaiah recorded his vision otherwise one is forced to concede the absurd idea that the Medes were actively approaching Babylon at that time as they are depicted in v. 5: “They ARE COMING from a far country, From the farthest horizons, The Lord and His instruments of indignation, To destroy the whole land [emphasis mine].” .We are not to understand the nearness from Isaiah’s day as the Medes were not “coming” to Babylon at that time.
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