Fatal Attraction By Wendy Wippel A church I visited recently, as an overture to the…
Destiny in Damascus
By: Wendy Wippel
A Mother Jones article, “Oh Magog! Why End-Times Buffs are Freaking Out About Syria”, recently explained the prophesied destruction of Damascus for the Biblically illiterate (i.e, their audience). The article (shocker!) mocked those who might believe that Isaiah’s prophecy is unfolding. I don’t think so, but it doesn’t really matter. Here’s why.
Isaiah foretold a coming destruction of Damascus in Isaiah 17:
“The burden against Damascus. Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap.” (Isaiah 17:1-2 NKJV)
Damascus, believed to be the oldest continuously occupied city in the Bible, is mentioned in Genesis and appears dozens of time thereafter in the Biblical text.
Mostly as an enemy of Israel.
David killed 22,000 men from Damascus who joined the enemy against the kingdom of Israel (2 Samuel 8:5), then another 12,000 in defense of his kingdom.
Davids’ kingdom, finally solidified, was short-lived. After Solomon it broke into two: Israel (the northern kingdom) and Judah (the southern). By virtue of geography Damascus plagued primarily Israel for the next several hundred years. Joash and his son Jerobaom campaigned against Damascus time and time again.
Jeroboam, we are told in II Kings, finally recovered what Damascus had taken:
“Now the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he didâ€”his might, how he made war, and how he recaptured for Israel, from Damascus and Hamath, what had belonged to Judahâ€”are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel?” (2 Kings 14:28)
Jeroboam recovered Israel’s tribal lands, but didn’t destroy Damascus.
Mistake. Big one.
Why? Before long Tiglath – Pileser– head of Assyria, had swallowed up Israel as well as Damascus:
“So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, that is, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He carried the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh into captivity. He took them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river of Gozan to this day.”
What Tiglath -Pileser (or his son, Shalmaneser V) didn’t destroy, the next in line, Sargon, did. Sargon in fact, boasted on the walls of his palace at Khorsabad that : “In my first year of reign… the people of Samaria … I carried away.”(Samaria being part of Israel, a part apparently not completely exiled by Tiglath-Pileser and son. )
And the beat goes on. Assad himself has openly called Israel a nation built on treachery and a threat to Syria’s existence. And just this morning he warned that an American attack on Damascus will not go unanswered.
But not by the (Syrian) government, Assad said. By different factions, different ideologies. Translation: Hezbollah. Translation: Iran. Two entities who have not bothered to keep their desire to “wipe Israel off the map” any secret.
It was, in fact, Damascus radio that in 1948 called for a consolidated Arab strike against the infant nation of Israel, calling Israel’s Arab brethren to a “liberation battle that will tear the hearts from the bodies of the hateful Jews and trample them in the dust.” Damascus, with its Arab allies, defeated in that war, raised the “liberation battle” banner twice more, again in 1967 and again in 1972. Three “liberation battles” in all. And every one failed.
Funny. Amos also mentions the coming destruction of Damascus. “For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment.”
Damascus has attacked the modern nation of Israel three times. Apparently the fourth will be the last.
So how do we know when this coming final liberation battle will be fought?
We know it’s not past. Isaiah’s prophecy says Damascus will cease from being a city, and that hasn’t happened since the days of Genesis. So the prophecy is still on the horizon.
So when? Can we place it with any confidence in the prophetic framework revealed by Daniel and Revelation?
The prophecy in Isaiah 17, when taken in context (and remember, a text out of the context is a con job), makes it pretty clear:
1) The text that follows the “Burden of Damascus prophecy places the destruction clearly in association with a time of trouble for Jacob:
“In that day it shall come to pass That the glory of Jacob will wane, And the fatness of his flesh grow lean….”Says the Lord God of Israel. (Isaiah 17:5-6)
2) It places it clearly in association with a spiritual regeneration of some of Israel:
“In that day a man will look to his Maker,And his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, The work of his hands;He will not respect what his fingers have made, Nor the wooden images[b] nor the incense altars.” (Isaiah 17:7-8)
3) The passage makes clear that the trouble for Jacob is judgment for forsaking their God:
“In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough …And there will be desolation. Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, And have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold… the harvest will be a heap of ruins In the day of grief and desperate sorrow.” (Isaiah 17:9-10)
4) And then the clincher. God promises to come against those who have come against Israel:
“Woe to the multitude of many people Who make a noise like the roar of the seas, And to the rushing of nations That make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. Then behold, at eventide, trouble! And before the morning, he is no more. This is the portion of those who plunder us, And the lot of those who rob us. (Isaiah 17:12-14)
The passage ends with a clear description of the all the nations of the world coming together against Israel, and his rising to their defense.
Which should sound familiar, because that is exactly the judgment put in place by the sixth bowl:
“Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon. (Revelation 16:12-16)
Armageddon. A word that only appears one time in the Bible, describing one definitive prophetic event.
The fourth attack by Syria on Israel will be the last, because it occurs at Armageddon, a battle previewed in Psalm 45 wherein the bridegroom straps His sword on His side and leaves His wedding feast to go out and put the nations under his feet. A battle that, by definition, occurs at the very end of Tribulation.
So no worries, Assad. The immediate forecast does not include the destruction of Damascus. When, exactly, will it? No way to tell. Right now we don’t know.
What we do know is this: God’s word, every yod and tittle, is true, and we’ve witnessed that yet again as it plays out on a world stage:
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” (Matthew 24:6)
“Kingsâ€™ hearts shall be bent on evil, and they shall speak lies at the same table; but it shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time.” (Daniel 11:27)
What man does is irrelevant, because our times are in God’s hands, and His plans are never thwarted. And He uses sinner and saint alike (all of them S-I-N+, to be sure) to bring those plans to fruition. He used Tiglath Pileser. He used Sargon. And today, it would seem, he used John Kerry, whose random musings may have averted the crisis.
John Kerry…Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?