When will judgment take place? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
When talking with these Preterists, another passage that came to my mind was Isaiah 13. We’ll go through the latter part of it bit by bit, though not exhaustively, of course.
9 See, the day of the Lord is coming
—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations
will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
and the moon will not give its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
more rare than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
and the earth will shake from its place
at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,
in the day of his burning anger.
Now if you read this normally, many of us will think that this is something far off in the future. The start of the chapter tells us that this is a prophecy against Babylon. Well, isn’t Babylon supposed to be brought back in the end? That’s it. This must be something in the future and it sounds really bad. The sun is dark, the moon doesn’t give light, and all the world is punished!
14 Like a hunted gazelle,
like sheep without a shepherd,
they will all return to their own people,
they will flee to their native land.
15 Whoever is captured will be thrust through;
all who are caught will fall by the sword.
16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes;
their houses will be looted and their wives violated.
Okay. This doesn’t seem to fit in. If all this destruction has taken place, how are people fleeing to their native land? How are people being captured? Kind of hard to do that if everything is dark. Oh! This is the future! Right! Electric lighting or something of that kind!
17 See, I will stir up against them the Medes,
who do not care for silver
and have no delight in gold.
18 Their bows will strike down the young men;
they will have no mercy on infants,
nor will they look with compassion on children.
19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms,
the pride and glory of the Babylonians,
will be overthrown by God
like Sodom and Gomorrah.
20 She will never be inhabited
or lived in through all generations;
there no nomads will pitch their tents,
there no shepherds will rest their flocks.
21 But desert creatures will lie there,
jackals will fill her houses;
there the owls will dwell,
and there the wild goats will leap about.
22 Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds,
jackals her luxurious palaces.
Her time is at hand,
and her days will not be prolonged.
Okay. This will take a bit of time. The Medes? They’re not around anymore. Not only that, but these people don’t really seem to be bothered by universal destruction going on. Not only that, but the animals seem to get along just fine. This seems really difficult to put in the distant future.
But what if….
What if it was the future….
But not the distant future?
After all, all of this has happened before with Babylon being conquered and lo and behold, it was by the Medes. Okay. That did happen, but what about this language of great universal destruction? Oh wait. That’s the point of the 2 Samuel 22 post. That language there was not to be read in a literal sense either.
Now does that mean the text is false? No more than it means that a news report is false when it says a football game turned into a bloodbath for the loser team. No one hears that and expects that if they were to go to the stadium that they would see several dead bodies floating in blood. This is hyperbolic language, which Jews used a lot, to express a point of destruction. We could consider it in some ways to be akin to trash talking.
Isaiah was then giving a prophecy and it was of the future, but it was not of the far distant future. It was of the Babylon that existed in his own time. What does this mean for us?
It means we need to stop going to every prophecy in the Bible and thinking the only thing the prophets wanted to talk about was our own time in the future. They often spoke more of a fulfillment in their own time. However, there is still one possible objection remaining.
What about dual fulfillment? Could something like this happen in the future. That could be, but the problem is this is the burden of the futurist at this point. If I have a past fulfillment, why should I think there is another future one except to save the case for the futurist viewpoint? Even if this happened in the future for a specific prophecy, it does not follow that it will happen for all.
This opened up to me a new way of reading the texts. Preterism started to make a lot more sense and showed me ways I was misreading the texts. It is now also a point of mine to try to find out how the text was most likely immediately relevant to the audience of the time instead of reading our own questions into the text when the text could not even have our concerns in mind.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)