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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 13

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-22

Chapter 13

Now as we move into chapter 13 and he speaks of the burden of Babylon which Isaiah saw, you remember that we mentioned when we started the prophecy of Isaiah that in many of the prophecies, there was what we called the near fulfillment and the far fulfillment. The prophecies were sort of like a two-edged sword in that they had an immediate connotation, but oftentimes there was also a future connotation. So in the seventh chapter when he said, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, shall call his name Immanuel" ( Isaiah 7:14 ), and that had an immediate kind of a connotation, not of the virgin bearing a son, but a child born at that time before he is old enough to really know much the kings would be destroyed from Samaria and from Syria. But the far was a prophecy of Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary as was interpreted by Matthew in his gospel. So the near and the far of the prophetic fulfillment.

With Babylon in the book of Revelation chapter 17 and 18, we have details of the destruction of the ecclesiastical Babylon in chapter 17 and the commercial Babylon in chapter 18. Now this particular cry against Babylon is the same as Revelation 17:1-18; Revelation 18:1-24. It is talking about the ecclesiastical commercial Babylon of the last days. So this prophecy is carrying us out to these end times.

Lift up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them, shake the hand, that they may go into the gates of the nobles. I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness. The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: for the LORD of hosts is mustering the host of the battle ( Isaiah 13:2-4 ).

The kingdoms of nations. This, of course, Jesus said, "Kingdoms against kingdoms, nations shall rise against nations, kingdoms against kingdoms" ( Matthew 24:7 ). This would be one of the signs of His second coming, the worldwide state of wars. And so the gathering of God of these nations, the kingdoms of nations. This great gathering which is spoken of in Psalms 2:1-12 , "Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?" ( Psalms 2:1 ) For they have gathered together, the kings of the earth have gathered together against Jehovah and against His anointed or His Messiah saying, "We will not let them to rule over us," but God who dwells in the midst of heaven shall laugh, seeing that He has them in derision. And yet He will establish His kingdom upon the holy hill of Zion. So the whole Psalms 2:1-12 comes in to this picture here as we see now the kingdoms of nations gathered together in this last portion of the Great Tribulation period. And we're dealing now with that final period of Great Tribulation prior to the return of Jesus Christ. As the nations have gathered together really in a sense to try to hinder the establishing of the Lord's kingdom.

They come from far countries, from the end of heaven, even the LORD, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land. Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty ( Isaiah 13:5-6 ).

The day of God's vengeance and wrath, the day of God's judgment that is to be poured out in the Great Tribulation.

Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man's heart shall melt: and they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travails: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened ( Isaiah 13:7-10 )

We are told this in Matthew 24:1-51 . Definitely we're in the Great Tribulation period.

the sun will be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine ( Isaiah 13:10 ).

Now upon whom is this coming? God's people, the church? Those servants that have been faithful unto Him? God forbid! We've not been appointed unto wrath, Paul tells us in both Romans and in Thessalonians, in case you didn't get it the first time. But God says,

And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity ( Isaiah 13:11 );

It is a punishment against the evil world and against the iniquity of the world. But "God has not appointed us unto wrath" ( 1 Thessalonians 5:9 ). Our iniquity has been forgiven through Jesus Christ. He bore God's wrath for my sin. And therefore, I will not have to face God's wrath when it is poured out upon the world. It is to be poured out upon a Christ-rejecting world. But I haven't rejected Christ. And that is why when Jesus talks about these very things, in Luke 21:1-38 , He says in talking of these things, "Pray ye always, that you'll be accounted worthy to escape all of these things, and to be standing before the Son of man" ( Luke 21:36 ). So when these things begin to take place, don't look for me down here; I'll be up around the throne of God saying, "Worthy is the Lamb to receive glory and honor and might and dominion and power."

and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. I will make a man more precious than fine gold ( Isaiah 13:11-12 );

There will be a tremendous slaughter.

even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. Therefore [God said] I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place ( Isaiah 13:12-13 ),

Now this is interesting because more than one place God has made reference to the earth being shaken out of its place. In fact, God speaks about the "earth staggering to and fro like a drunken man" ( Isaiah 24:20 ). We'll get that as we move on in Isaiah. Isaiah tells us that. And will be moved out of her place. It would seem that the earth has gone through changes in its past.

It would appear that at one time the earth's orbit was a 360-day orbit, rather than the 365 and a quarter. It would seem that at one time the earth was not tilted at twenty-three and a third degrees on its axis. Because we know that at one time, there were tropical jungles around the North Pole. There were forests in the South Pole area. So the earth has gone through some tremendous upheavals. They believe that there has actually been a polar shift. In the book, Worlds in Collision, Immanuel Velikovsky suggests that the earth actually has changed its rotation from the present; that before, the earth actually rotated from west to east instead of east to west. And he gives you his reasons. You want to read the book, Worlds in Collisions; he gives quite a bit of argument in that vein.

Now the interesting thing is that we do know that in the Kingdom Age, God is going to restore the earth like it was during the time of Adam and Eve, back to the Garden of Eden where the deserts will disappear. The Bible speaks of that age where there will be streams in the deserts, rivers in dry places and all. And "the deserts will blossom and bud as a rose" ( Isaiah 35:1 ), and the desert areas being removed. The whole earth once again being like a giant garden.

Now, it is possible that in this earth being moved out of her place is a reference to another flip or a change of the polar axis, and rather than being tilted at twenty-three and a third degrees, which gives us our seasons, that the earth will be on pretty much a straight axis as far as its relationship to the sun, which would have quite a dramatic effect upon the earth. One, the ice caps of the polar regions would be melted. And the polar regions would again become very lush places as far as warmer climate. With this greater mass of water, there would be more evaporation now, as the sun would draw more water into the atmosphere and it could be that once again the earth would be covered with the water canopy. As the temperatures would be equalized with the equator and the poles, you would no longer have these tremendous cold-hot areas where the winds would be formed and created coming down from the poles from the cold areas, coming into these warmer areas where the heat rises and the cold air comes flowing in to fill it. And you could get rid of the violent storms. Again, you'd have only very gentle breezes and a very lush kind of an atmosphere around the whole earth. And I may not even have to go to Hawaii. You could go to Death Valley and the thing is going to be like a glorious garden with rivers and waterfalls and beautiful ferns and everything else, you know.

The whole earth, the scripture said, will be filled with His glory. And so God is going to restore it, and it could very well be that in this very shaking of the earth and removing it out of its place, it could be a reference to that.

Now the physicists who talk about the shifting of the polar axis refer to the earth's wobble. That the earth before the flip of the polar axis or the shift of the polar axis goes into a wobble state and then it shifts. When you read where Isaiah said, "The earth will stagger to and fro like a drunken man," it would be describing the wobble and then it said, "And shall be moved out of her place." So it is very possible that the scriptures are actually prophesying a polar axis shift that could bring a whole new climate around the whole world and setting it up for the Kingdom Age where God restores it back like it once was, where there were no burning deserts, where there, you know, where the whole earth was able to produce and all.

And really, if you fly from... You hear of the population explosion and all of this and the earth is getting too crowded, but all you have to do is get in a jet and fly all over the United States and you'll see all of that vast territory that is not inhabited. It's not fit for habitation because of the deserts and everything else. But if God would restore all of that, make all that area habitable, there's plenty of room for every child of God.

So interesting reference here. Just what it all indicates, we are free to guess, but we really don't know. But again he refers to

the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger ( Isaiah 13:13 ).

So this is in the period of the judgment where God shakes the thing and turns it. But this all is a preface to His return, the day of God's wrath. You remember that Revelation chapter 6 tells us that the people of the earth will be crying unto the rocks and the mountains saying, "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of the Lamb: for His day of wrath has come; and who shall be able to stand?" ( Revelation 6:16-17 )

Now does it really make sense to you that God would place His church in the middle of all of this when He specifically told us that He has not appointed us unto wrath? What kind of a mentality would try to insist and encourage everyone to gear up for it that you're going to have to be here? Calling us escapisms or escapists or whatever. I just can't understand.

And so he speaks about

And it shall be as the chased roe ( Isaiah 13:14 ),

And this is referring to the Jews.

They will be a sheep that no man takes up: they shall every man turn to his own people, and flee every one into his own land. Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword ( Isaiah 13:14-15 ).

The fierce anger.

Their children also shall be dashed in pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished ( Isaiah 13:16 ).

Now I told you Isaiah's prophecy jumped from far to near, near to far. This would seem to be a near reference to the Babylonian invasion as we get to verse Isaiah 13:14 , because in Psalms 137:8 , Psalms 137:9 ,the psalmist opens that Psalms 137:1-9 by declaring, "When we were in Babylon, we hanged our harps on the willow tree and we cried. They said unto us, 'Sing us one of your songs of Zion.' But how can we sing of Zion when we are in captivity?" ( Psalms 137:1-4 ), and so forth. And then he takes out against Babylon and he said, "Happy will be they who dash your children in the street, even as you dashed our children." Psalms 137:8 , Psa 137:9 comes into play here and it was a reference to the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem.

But then Babylon itself will be destroyed. Verse Isaiah 13:17 :

Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. And Babylon, the glory of the kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah ( Isaiah 13:17-19 ).

Now here is an interesting thing. Isaiah is predicting that the Medes will be destroying the Babylonian kingdom, and at this point, the Assyrian empire was really the predominant empire. Babylonian empire had not yet taken Assyria. And, of course, the Medes were just a small insignificant tribe when he actually prophesied that they will be the destroyers of the great Babylonian kingdom.

Only God could have known that, and thus, God proves that He is God and the author of the book by writing of these things, showing that He is outside of our time domain. Knowing the end from the beginning.

And speaking of the destruction of Babylonian:

It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs [or demons] shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged ( Isaiah 13:20-22 ).

So the destruction of Babylon by the Medes. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Isaiah 13". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/isaiah-13.html. 2014.
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