(This is a rerun in view of recent developments)
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)
To get an idea of just how apocalyptic our times actually are, consider recent events of heartbreaking and shattering significance , in the Middle East , just since the 2011 Arab Sring , which I wrote about in my book A Sword On The Land: The Muslim World in Bible Prophecy ,
Egypt went from being a relatively stable nation run by Hosni Mubarek, an ally in the war on terror and a hard headed realist, then descended into a time of bloody unrest and even civil war, due to Washington DC’s insertion of the once banned Muslim Brotherhood into Egypt’s politics. It took a coup to take the country out of the grip of the brutal Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi , but the country remains in tension.
Libya was also a stable Arab country, which offered her citizens amazing benefits for all of her citizens; full health care, full education, a monthly share of the nations oil revenues, and government help in housing, and basic needs. Libya was Africa’s richest and perhaps most stable Muslim country.
Though he admittedly had participated in terrorism in the past against the West, Gaddaffi co-operated in the war on terror also, and voluntarily relinquished his nation’s nuclear stockpile when the Gulf war 2 began in 2003.
But all of that ended when the Obama administration and the European Union decided Gaddaffi had to go. The nation’s leader was paraded through the streets and tortured on live television by a baying Muslim mob, then slaughtered. Libya has descended into a hellish chaos of warring factions, terrorism, corruption, rape, murder and violence to this day.
The hasty withdrawal of the US military from the hard won Iraq theater of war, virtually turned that nation and parts of Syria also into a hell scenario as well, leaving a vacuum which is being contested by factions such as the Kurds, the Shiites of Iran and Iraq, and ISIS, the Sunni militia which seized an area the size of the state of Indiana,and declared the resurrection of the Caliphate, the Sunni central authority which had been disbanded in 1922. This has released a reign of terror, Sharia imposition, sexual slave markets, Christian and Yazidi persecution, the resumption of beheading and crucifixion as punishments throughout the area.
Iraq had been the home of (recently 2,000,000) Chaldean Christians for 2000 years, going back to the days of the Apostles! Their number now, after US and western intervention and hasty withdrawal? Less than 200,000 remain. This is nothing less than genocide.
Then the West turned their attention to Syria, a nation of 22 million people, (almost ten million of which have gone into exile). Do we realize the magnitude of the suffering? Half of a modern nation’s population has had to leave their homeland? ill ions flowed into Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and now up into Europe and America. (None into the Sunni oil producing nations such as Saudi Arabia).
The double proxy war between Russia and the United States, and between the Sunni and Shiite world of Islam is so savage, whole cities have been deserted and ten million people have been displaced. Almost a million have been killed, and countless others have been maimed or wounded.
These are just four countries, I could go on and on! Egypt, the largest Arab nation in the world, Libya, Iraq, and Syria, decimated! Dissected and bombed and crushed, with millions streaming throughout the world, uprooted, homeless and battle hardened in many cases.
We often are so overwhelmed by one apocalyptic scenario crowding out the previous and the previous one before that, we are almost benumbed.
But all of this was foretold by the Prophets of the Bible, and what we are seeing is a portent of even more astonishing and nightmarish scenarios.
Damascus shall be a heap of rubble, it shall no more be a city…
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 .
Bashir’s allies are the Iranian shiite regime and the Russians, as well as the Shiite south of Lebanon(Hezbullah) and the Shiites of Yemen and southern Arabia.
He is opposed by the Sunnis of Syria,Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and their patron the United States,and the EU.
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.
Israel sees Bashir, the Russians and the Iranians as the more dangerous coalition, although they have recently been menaced by ISIS, which is a Sunni expression of terror.
Israel has recently sent air sorties up to Damascus and bombed Syrian stores of weapons of mass destruction, just outside of Damascus.
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)