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SYRIA IN PROPHECY


Isaiah 17, An Oracle Concerning Damascus. Part One ... Prophecy To History

"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. 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. (Isaiah 17:1-3)

Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Many read the passage above and realize that although the Assyrians conquered it in the 7th century BC, Damascus has never been destroyed in the manner described. If so, then this event awaits us in the near future. Although Damascus is the capital of Syria today, it was originally an Aramean city, and was actually allied with the Northern Kingdom of Israel against Assyria, just before its defeat.

A Case Of Double Vision
In chapter 17, as in much of his book, Isaiah was writing both short and long term prophecy, the short term now confirmed to us in history. In that sense, the verses above describe the defeat of Aram, followed closely by the defeat of the Northern Kingdom of Israel as indicated by the phrase "the fortified city will disappear from Ephraim" a reference to Samaria, its capital. (Ephraim is an alternate name sometimes used to identify the Northern Kingdom following the civil war that divided Israel after King Solomon died. Judah was the name given to the south). Following their defeat the Arameans and Israelites were systematically uprooted and dispersed through out Assyria, something the Assyrians routinely did after conquering their enemies to break up alliances among the conquered people and reduce the likelihood of future rebellion.

"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. 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 17:4-6)

The Lord also sometimes used the name Jacob in place of Israel. When He did, it was to distinguish the unfaithful (Jacob) from the faithful (Israel). So these verses explain that in the idolatrous Northern Kingdom, the leadership strata of society would be so scattered throughout Assyria that only a few would be left intact. Like the few olives that are left on a tree after harvest.

"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 17:7-9)

When Did That Happen?
There is no historical indication that the Assyrians turned to the Lord following their victory over the Arameans and Israelites and left their idolatrous religions. Nor has this happened anytime since. Today the remnant of Assyria is called Syria, with Damascus its capital, and the religion is overwhelmingly Islam. There was a revival in Judah under King Hezekiah, and that saved them for a time, but the focus of the passage is not Jewish. So this prophecy is one of several indications that there is still a long term fulfillment to come.

As I've said, Isaiah was writing both short and long term prophecy. The Lord often had prophets do this so their writings would be validated by events occurring within the span of their lives. The short term, often partial, fulfillment confirmed that the long term would also take place as prophesied. (see Deut. 18:21-22)

"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. 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 17:10-14)

Is That You, Lord?
All the peoples of the world had once known their Creator but over the centuries had abandoned Him in favor of their pagan religions. The Assyrians and Arameans, for example, were cousins, descendants of 2 sons of Shem, the oldest son of Noah. Shem was still alive when Abraham was called to be the father of the Israelites, and so was knowledge among these cousins of their Creator. (Read Adam to Abraham)

The Assyrians continued to the very gates of Jerusalem, defeating everyone in their path, all their plans bringing immediate success. But one night as they camped on Mt. Scopus overlooking Jerusalem and planned their final assault, the Lord sent His destroying angel and 185,000 Assyrian troops were slain as they slept. (2 Kings 19:35-36) At daybreak those left alive retreated in defeat and the faithful remnant in Judah enjoyed a generation of peace. The revival in Judah had come just in time to avert a major defeat and the total elimination of the Jewish nation. These events so parallel prophecies of the End Times that in Jewish circles Sennacherib, the Assyrian King, is seen as a model for the anti-christ while Hezekiah, King of Judah represents the Messiah. But this was another partial fulfillment. The passage calls for many nations, not just the Assyrians, to rise up against Israel and is another indication of what's to come.

More Next Time
In Part 2 we'll place the prophecy of Isaiah 17 in the context of current events as the nations of the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent edge slowly but certainly toward war. And never before in our generation, even at the height of the Cold War, has there been such open and frank talk about the use of nuclear weaponry. Among the nations currently raging, India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, Iraq, and the US all possess at least some nuclear capability and all appear ready to use it. But the nation most active in preparation, and therefore perhaps the spark that will ignite the region, is Syria. Secretly funded by Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, Syria is most likely to start something, and in fact has in the past week given the Lebanese Hizballah the green light for a major escalation of terrorist operations. Stay tuned. 06-16-02



GOGINDEX PROPHECY
PRIOR TO THE GOG-MAGOG WAR, there likely will be a war in which Damascus is destroyed as described in Isaiah 17:  "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. 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." (Isaiah 17:3 NIV)
"In that day the glory of Jacob will fade;" (Isaiah 17:4 NIV)
'Jacob' represents the Israelites. This statement indicates that after Damascus is destroyed, world opinion of the Israelites (perhaps including those living among the nations) will apparently plummet.  "...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. 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. 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." (Isaiah 17:4-9 NIV)
" And all will be desolation. You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress." (Isaiah 17:9-10 NIV)
"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 NIV)
"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 17:12-14 NIV) VISIT Apocalypse Soon
This war will create a world coalition against Israel as Israel so strongly defeats the Palestinians, Iraq and Syria.  The World is strongly against Israel as it is now with Israel seeking to destroy the PA and its terror network.  All nations do not want Israel to strike back, but she does.   The coalition will be built up and then Ezekiel 38 comes into play.
EZEKIEL 38
"Son of man, set your face against Gog , of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophecy against him, "and say, Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.  I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords.  Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet;  Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all of its troops - many people are with you.  Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them.  After many days you will be visited.  In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which has long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely."  "You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.  Thus says the Lord GOD: "On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan:  You will say, 'I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and have neither bars nor gates' - to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land."
"Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, 'Have you come to take plunder?  Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?'  Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "On that day when my people Israel dwell safely, will you not know it?  Then you will come from your place out of the far north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army.  You will come up against My people Israel like a cloud, to cover the land.  It will be in the latter days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me, when I am hallowed in you, O Gog, before their eyes.  Thus says the Lord GOD: "Are you he of whom I have spoken in former days by My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied for years in those days that I would bring you against them?
AND IT WILL COME TO PASS AT THE SAME TIME WHEN GOG COMES AGAINST THE LAND OF ISRAEL," SAYS THE LORD GOD, "THAT MY FURY WILL SHOW IN MY FACE.  FOR IN MY JEALOUSY AND IN THE FIRE OF MY WRATH I HAVE SPOKEN": SURELY IN THAT DAY THERE SHALL BE A GREAT EARTHQUAKE IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL, 'SO THAT THE FISH OF THE SEA, THE BIRDS OF THE HEAVENS, AND THE BEATS OF THE FIELD, ALL CREEPING THINGS THAT CREEP ON EARTH, AND ALL MEN WHO ARE ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH SHALL SHAKE AT MY PRESENCE.  THE MOUNTAINS SHALL BE THROWN DOWN, THE STEEP PLACES SHALL FALL, AND EVERY WALL SHALL FALL TO THE GROUND.  I WILL CALL FOR A SWORD AGAINST GOG THROUGHOUT ALL MY MOUNTAINS, SAYS THE LORD GOD.  EVERY MAN'S SWORD WILL BE AGAINST HIS BROTHER.  AND I WILL BRING HIM TO JUDGMENT WITH PESTILENCE AND BLOODSHED; I WILL RAIN DOWN ON HIM, ON HIS TROOPS, AND ON THE MANY PEOPLES WHO ARE WITH HIM, FLOODING RAIN, GREAT HAILSTONES, FIRE, AND BRIMSTONE.  THUS I WILL MAGNIFY MYSELF AND SANCTIFY MYSELF, AND I WILL BE KNOWN IN THE EYES OF MANY NATIONS.  THEN THEY SHALL KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD."

WHAT I BELIEVE
1.  Arab nations truly do not want peace with Israel.  They wish to destroy Israel by all means including a
    surprise attack.
2.  The Palestinians, Iranians, Syrians and Iraqi's believe that they can push the region into a large war against  Israel.  Thus these nations shall attack Israel at some point.  Right now, Bin Laden has made it be known that there will be no peace until Israel is no more.   Israel strongly defeats these armies brought against her and causes a World outcry just like Kosovo and Bosnia.  Worse yet, Israel  destroys Damascus as prophecised in Isaiah 17 due to the use of chemical weapons against Israeli troops.
3.  A World coalition is built-up against Israel.
4.  Russia or even China, in an attempt to reassert global influence shall assist Arab nations in a coalition against Israel.
5.  Jerusalem is the key issue that will start such a battle.
6.  Israel will be victorious through the miraculous assistance of GOD.
7.  Finally, a peace treaty will be signed setting up the Temple sacrifice, and ultimately the Anti-Christ.


TODAY:  PRAY, FOR THE TIME IS SHORT.  THIS GENERATION SHALL WITNESS THESE EVENTS STATED BY GOD.  "Immediately after the distress in those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky 27, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' 28 At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, 29 with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet 30 call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, 31 from one end of the heavens to the other. Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these
things have happened."(Matthew 24:29-34 NIV)
Check out this article Is this 1973 or 2000?

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