The End Times According to Isaiah, Part 5
This installment of the End Times According to Isaiah takes us
to Isaiah 17 and the never fulfilled
prophecy of the destruction of Damascus.
In the past couple of years it has become even clearer that
Isaiah's prophecy of the destruction of Damascus may soon come to fulfillment.
If so, it would explain why Syria is not included among the coalition of Moslem
nations who will gather against Israel in the Battle of
Emboldened by the outcome of the 2006 Hezbollah Israel war,
Syria has become ever more bellicose in it's behavior toward Israel. Aggressive
acts have included moving large military forces onto the Golan, opening the
crossing that gives Syrians access to Israel for the first time since 1973,
forming and training a Syrian terrorist force to infiltrate Northern Israel, and
demanding that the Golan be returned at once or else this force would begin
committing terrorist acts inside Israel.
It's been known for some time that Syria has one of the
world's most advanced chemical weapons programs, even though such things are
illegal, and probably inherited the bulk of Saddam Hussein's WMDs that the MSM
(main stream media) delights in telling you never existed. They've
mobilized reserves, set up alternate communication centers, and moved all
official historical and legal documents out of Damascus. They did this because
they believe that Israel will respond to a chemical attack by destroying
Damascus with nuclear weaponry. They've recalled all their citizens living in
Lebanon. They've purchased Russian arms and defensive systems costing hundreds
of millions of dollars in an effort to protect Damascus.
In July 2007, a chemical warhead exploded at a Syrian missile
facility while being fitted to a Scud missile, killing dozens of Iranian and
Syrian technicians. The only likely target within range of the missile is Tel
Aviv. Then, just 2 months later, the Israeli bombing of a secret Syrian
facility deep inside the country made headlines and demonstrated Israel's
ability to render the Russian state-of-the-art anti-air defenses ineffective.
These systems were sold to both Syria and Iran to protect against US or Israeli
attacks by air. The presence of nuclear materials at the Syrian base has
been confirmed, so it might have been the location of at least a dirty bomb
assembly plant and perhaps even a clandestine nuclear weapons facility.
The North Koreans were heavily involved in this, and are suspected of still
helping Syria to develop some kind of nuclear weapons capability.
Most recently, Israel's Gaza incursion has opened a rift
between Israel and Turkey, causing Turkey to suspend its role as the mediator in
Syria-Israel peace talks, breaking one of the few lines of communication between
the two countries.
While some of this is more than the MSM has been willing to
share with you, it is a matter of public record. My guess is that
there's a lot more going on that we don't know about, making matters even more
urgent. So let's take another look at
Isaiah 17, An Oracle Against
Damascus, while it's still prophecy.
An Oracle Concerning Damascus:
"See, Damascus will no
longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer will be
deserted and left to flocks, which will lie down, with no one to make them
afraid. (Isaiah 17:1-2)
Because of the language of these verses, many scholars believe
that this prophecy was only partially fulfilled when the Assyrians defeated the
Arameans and overran their capital, Damascus, in 732 BC. To this day Damascus is
thought to be the world's oldest continuously inhabited city with a 5000-year
history and a population close to 2 million, yet
Isaiah 17:1 indicates that it will
one day cease to exist.
Some believe the phrase "cities of Aroer" refers to Aramean
territory east of the Jordan River around the Arnon River, which flows into the
Dead Sea in southern Jordan. However, the Jewish Encyclopedia claims that
this phrase in Isaiah 17:2 is
probably translated incorrectly because the geographical distance from
Damascus is too great. While they say it's possible that there may have
been another Aroer near Damascus, it is more likely that the passage should be
rendered "the cities thereof shall be
forsaken." If that's the correct translation, it would include the Hezbollah
stronghold in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, which was part of Aramean territory
in Isaiah's time, and is in a direct line between Beirut and Damascus.
The fortified city will
disappear from Ephraim, and royal power from Damascus; the remnant of Aram will
be like the glory of the Israelites," declares the LORD Almighty. "In that day
the glory of Jacob will fade; the fat of his body will waste away. It will be as
when a reaper gathers the standing grain and harvests the grain with his arm- as
when a man gleans heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim. (Isaiah
This segment speaks of the defeat of Damascus in 732BC and the
destruction of Samaria 10 years later (722 BC). Damascus continued to
exist as part of the Assyrian Empire and is still here today, but the ruins of
Samaria are just now being excavated out of the sandy soil of Israel. The
systematic relocation of the ruling classes to the far reaches of the Assyrian
Empire is also in view. This was standard Assyrian policy to reduce the
likelihood of subsequent rebellion among their conquered peoples.
Jacob and Ephraim are alternate names for the Northern Kingdom, and Samaria was
Yet some gleanings will
remain, as when an olive tree is beaten, leaving two or three olives on the
topmost branches, four or five on the fruitful boughs," declares the LORD, the
God of Israel. (Isaiah 17:6)
Not all the people were dispersed. Farmers were left
behind to tend the crops and protect the harvest. They were joined by refugees
from other parts of Assyria and their descendants were known as the Samaritans
in the time of Jesus. (A quick reading of
2 Chronicles 11:16 shows that all
the faithful from the 10 northern tribes moved south at the time of the civil
war that divided the nation after King Solomon's death 150 years earlier.
From then on, all 12 tribes were represented in the Southern Kingdom of Judah,
so the 10 tribes from the North weren't totally lost. The Lord has always
preserved a believing remnant from all the Tribes of Israel.)
In that day men will
look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. They will not
look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for
the Asherah poles and the incense altars their fingers have made. In that day
their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like
places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation. (Isaiah
This is another passage that's problematic for those who try
to consign the whole prophecy to history. There is simply no reason to believe
that the Assyrians turned to God following their conquest of Aram and Israel.
And far from abandoning their cities because of the Israelites, it was the
Israelites who were defeated and dispersed. The yet future Jewish attack on
Damascus causing the destruction and abandonment of Syrian cities, and the
eventual return of the survivors to their God is a much more likely fulfillment.
And it could happen soon.
You have forgotten God
your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though
you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, though on the day you
set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you
bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and
incurable pain. (Isaiah 17:10-11)
Asshur, father of the Assyrians, and Aram, father of the
Arameans were both sons of Shem. Aram's son Uz is the traditional founder of
Damascus. (The setting for the Book of Job is the Land of Uz.) The knowledge of
God in the memories of these patriarchs cannot be questioned. It wasn't that
they never knew Him, but that they had forgotten Him, abandoned Him in favor of
the Canaanite gods of the region, Baal and his consort Ashtoreth (aka Asherah,
Astarte, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus.) Currently Syria is almost totally Moslem.
Until they return to their Maker and Savior none of their plans and schemes will
prosper in the long run, no matter how promising they seem at the beginning.
Oh, the raging of many
nations- they rage like the raging sea! Oh, the uproar of the peoples- they roar
like the roaring of great waters! Although the peoples roar like the roar of
surging waters, when he rebukes them they flee far away, driven before the wind
like chaff on the hills, like tumbleweed before a gale. In the evening, sudden
terror! Before the morning, they are gone! This is the portion of those who loot
us, the lot of those who plunder us. (Isaiah
Having conquered most of the Middle East including the
Arameans and the Northern Kingdom, the Assyrians set their sights on the
Southern Kingdom, Judah. Assyria's King Sennacherib brought his armies almost
literally to the gates of Jerusalem, so close his commanders were within
speaking distance of the Jewish defenders. On the night before they were to
attack, the Lord sent His angel into the Assyrian camp on Mt. Scopus to
slaughter 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Before dawn they had packed up and fled,
ending 44 years of conquest. (Isaiah
37:36-38) This time in Israel's history so parallels the Jewish view of the
End Times that Sennacherib is seen by them as a type of the anti-christ, while
Judah's King Hezekiah models the Messiah.
But notice that Isaiah speaks of many nations raging against
God's people, not just Assyria, leading us once again to consider Sennacherib's
defeat as a partial fulfillment of Isaiah's prohecy.
Today many nations are stirred up against Israel. The various
Mid-East "peace" conferences have left Israel standing alone against all but
irresistible pressure to negotiate away its very existence. Syria and Iran are
dead certain that Israel will attack soon, and are preparing accordingly.
Israel's other next-door neighbors are also preparing for war, and indeed many
nations are taking sides.
Israel is not blind to these mounting threats, but until
lately the current government seems to have been ignoring them. That's
about to stop. Israeli Prime Minister candidate Benyamin Netanyahu, who's
almost certain to be elected, has warned Hamas that if the rocket attacks
continue after he takes office he will wipe out their leadership in both Gaza
and Syria, even if it results in a confrontation with the Syrians.
We can easily envision a scenario that includes the final fulfillment of
Isaiah 17, the destruction of
Damascus. Sudden terror in the evening, and before morning they and the
surrounding cities are gone.
The phrase "rushing of many waters" is often used to describe
a loud voice. Such a thing would certainly cause an incredible uproar among the
nations, and many loud voices. If you listen carefully, you can almost
hear the footsteps of the Messiah. Updated 02-07-09.