The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.(Isaiah 17:2)
Damascus is known as the oldest continuously occupied city in the world. The prophets Elijah and Elisha went there to minister to Assyrian Kings. The blinded Saul of Tarsus was led by the hand to a home on Damascus’s Straight street, where he found his Christ, and recovered his sight. That very street still exists in Damascus.
This Ancient city has a rich history spanning thousands of years, encompassing influxes of Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans, Crusaders, Byzantines, and Muslims. The population of Damascus currently is about 85 percent Muslim, 10 percent Christian, and 5 percent other.
But according to scripture, the city is doomed to utter destruction in the last days, as are several other Arab cities.
Presently Damascus is the capital of Syria, which is ruled by Bashir Assad, a secular Arab leader, but also an implacable enemy of Israel. Assad’s Ba’athist ruling party is a relic of the Pan Arabist, fascist, secular experiments of the 1960′s and 70′s. The other notable Ba’athist government was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which has since been dismantled.
Assad is an Alawite Muslim, but his rule has been secular. Assad’s Syria has been a harshly ruled police state, with the Alawite minority ruling over the Sunni majority, breeding much resentment .
The Syrian regime has waged a decades long war against the Muslim brotherhood, at one time even cordoning off large sections of Hama(Syria’s fourth largest city, and a long time Muslim Brotherhood stronghold), and carpet bombing entire sectors where Brotherhood sympathizers lived.killing 20,000. Bulldozers leveled the rubble of what were once teeming neighborhoods.
Syria is an ally of Iran, Israel’s bitter enemy and of Russia.
Perhaps part of the Judgment coming upon Damascus has to do with its implacable enmity with Israel. Every major Islamic terrorist group is allowed to headquarter openly in Damascus . Syria has participated in four major wars against Israel, and continuously wages proxy wars against her through Hamas, Hezbullah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
There is constant tension between Israel and Syria over the Golan heights, seized by Israel in the 1967 6 day war. The Syrians had been using the heights to shell Jewish villages in the Galilee.
In September ,2007 the world was surprised at the news that Israeli warplanes took out the al-Kibar Nuclear facility in Syria. Israeli Intelligence had noted that Syria had been visited by Abdul Khan the father f Pakistan’s Nuclear program, and had closely monitored the near completion of the Nuclear facility, according to an article in the Jewish Policy center,
In hindsight, there were several warnings in recent years that Syria might be pursuing nuclear weapons. The December 2001 National Intelligence Estimate, focusing on foreign missile development, noted the U.S. intelligence community’s concerns about “Syria’s intentions regarding nuclear weapons.” An unclassified 2004 report by the Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis stated that Pakistani investigators had confirmed that Abdul Qadeer Khan—the Pakistani nuclear scientist who ran a clandestine black market network—offered “nuclear technology and hardware to Syria.” The report expressed concern “that expertise or technology could have been transferred.”
Press reports also began to circulate in 2004 that Khan had visited Syria on several occasions, and had met with senior Syrian officials in Iran. While Syria denied this, Bashar al-Assad acknowledged in a 2007 interview with an Austrian newspaper that he had received a letter from Khan in 2001. He claimed that he rebuffed the overture, unsure “if it was an Israeli trap.”( The Attack On the Syrian al-Kibar Nuclear Facility,by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Joshua D. Goodman inFocus Quarterly Spring 2009)
The Syrian reaction to the Israeli attack was unusually timid, according to the same article,
Syria’s response in the wake of Israel’s bombing was curious. The regime sought no retaliatory measures. It did not even ask the U.N. Security Council to discuss or condemn the incident. Rather, satellite photos show Syria’s efforts to scrub the site of any traces of the nuclear reactor that Syria denied having. Reuters reported that Syria bulldozed the area, “removed debris and erected a new building in a possible cover-up.” Former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright, president of the prestigious Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), told the New York Times, “It looks like Syria is trying to hide something and destroy the evidence of some activity. But it won’t work. Syria has got to answer questions about what it was doing.”(ibid)
As of late the winds of the “Arab Spring” are blowing in Syria . However the longing for freedom from Assad’s police state is being countered by the sheer brutality of the Syrian regime. As many as a thousand people have died in the last two months, as a result of the Government suppression of street protests.
Nightmarish reports are coming out of Syria of military assaults on civilians, massacres of defecting soldiers, thousands of refugees fleeing to Turkey and Lebanon, political murders , atrocities, tortures of civilians and even children. At this point the outcome is unknown as to whether Syria will fall into the hands of the Muslim brotherhood, or remain a Ba athist police state.
But we do know that Syria plays a major role in the End Times scenario,
The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.(Isaiah 17:1-2)
A dreadful thing which has not ever happened in history is about to occur, Damascus will cease from being a city, no longer will it be a seat of Government, a heap of rubble is it’s future.
Jeremiah implies that shortly before her destruction, Damascus will be surprised that Jerusalem is not “deserted” as she expected, this causes Damascus to lose heart herself.
Damascus has grown feeble; She turns to flee, And fear has seized her. Anguish and sorrows have taken her like a woman in labor. Why is the city of praise not deserted, the city of My joy? Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, And all the men of war shall be cut off in that day,” says the LORD of hosts. “ I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, And it shall consume the palaces of Ben-Hadad.”( Jeremiah 49:24-27)
Whatever the provocation, the destruction of Damascus will reflect badly upon Israel in the court of world opinion. The world will turn on Israel, blaming her for what happens to Damascus. What little favor Israel had enjoyed up till then will shrivel up, it will resemble the last few olives left after the shaking of the olive tree by the reapers.
“ In that day it shall come to pass That the glory of Jacob will wane, And the fatness of his flesh grow lean. It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain, And reaps the heads with his arm; It shall be as he who gathers heads of grain In the Valley of Rephaim. Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it, Like the shaking of an olive tree, Two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough, Four or five in its most fruitful branches,” Says the LORD God of Israel.(Isaiah 17:4-6)
Damascus shall be obliterated in the context of a wider war, which will be destructive of other Arab cities as well, such as the area we call Gaza, which is a terrorist state designated as part of the U.N.imposed “two state solution”, but which God calls, “the nation not desired”…
Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, Before the decree is issued, Or the day passes like chaff, Before the LORD’s fierce anger comes upon you, Before the day of the LORD’s anger comes upon you! (Zechariah 2:1-2)
For Gaza shall be forsaken, And Ashkelon desolate; They shall drive out Ashdod at noonday, And Ekron shall be uprooted. Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, The nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines: (Zephaniah 2:4-5)
The one positive aspect of these terrible times, is that even the hardest of men will begin to seek the living God,
In that day a man will look to his Maker, And his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 17:7)
Zechariah echoes Isaiah,
The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD.(Zechariah 9:1)
The international outcry that will be raised against Israel will be unprecedented. The nations line up to register complaint in the U.N., newspaper headlines will scream, pundits will wax eloquent with moral indignation, religious leaders will pontificate against Israel, her former lovers will leave her, and it will be extremely unfashionable to stand with God’s chosen people in that day.
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! 13 The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; …(Isaiah 17:11-12)
But the outcry will merely be the prelude to the outpouring of Divine wrath upon all nations . Tribulation such as never occurred upon the earth, the wind and the sea raging, and men’s hearts failing them for fear…
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.(Isaiah 17: 13-14)
But it is as in the evening, which seems always darkest before dawn, such is the tribulation and time of Jacob’s trouble, as Isaiah says,
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 17:14)