Isaiah 17

Some time ago, a friend of mine called me up from the Netherlands. We talked about what we were up to and mutual friends that were still in Israel. Then we stumbled onto the subject of eschatology, and I said that the next big thing that’s going to happen is Gog and Magog and the salvation of Israel.

“No it’s not,” he responded.

I was taken aback. Here I was, incredibly knowledgeable about Israel and the Bible and eschatology, and this… this… Dutch person DARES to disagree?

“Why?” I growled menacingly.

“Damascus hasn’t been destroyed yet,” he replied – blissfully ignorant of how close he was to being rhetorically torn limb from limb.

I sat and blinked for a moment. I remembered reading something in the bible about Damascus being destroyed, but I thought that it had already happened – and that the prophecy didn’t apply to the future.

I sputtered a bit in deflated indignation before flitting through the scriptures that referred to Damascus. Sure enough, it needed to be destroyed.

Once THAT was clear, I did a quick search of the history of Damascus and found that it had NEVER been destroyed – at least as far as we could tell.

That is an incredibly serious problem.

Why?

Well, if Damascus has never been completely destroyed, then it is going to be completely destroyed in the future. (There’s not a whole lot of future left in our ‘future’ – if you know what I meant.)

But, there’s worse.

It appears that a lot of Israelis are killed also. A LOT of Israelis. In fact, I can see how this fits with Zechariah 13 when it speaks about the same time frame:

And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the Lord,
That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one-third shall be left in it:

 – Zechariah 13:8

If there is anyone out there that can prove that all of this has already happened, and that there is going to be no massacre of Israelis in the future…

Well, my joy would be boundless.

However, until someone can prove that Isaiah 17 and Zechariah 13:8 have ALREADY been fulfilled, I live in dread of the future. But, let’s start working through the terrible predictions of Isaiah 17.

1 The burden against Damascus.

“Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city,
And it will be a ruinous heap.
2 The cities of Aroer are forsaken;
They will be for flocks
Which lie down, and no one will make them afraid.
The fortress also will cease from Ephraim,
The kingdom from Damascus,
And the remnant of Syria;
They will be as the glory of the children of Israel,”
Says the Lord of hosts.

“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.

THIS is utter destruction, an utter destruction that has never happened, except POSSIBLY during the Assyrian conquest. However, it is my understanding that Damascus was not made a ruinous heap by the Assyrians, and that they left much of it intact as a city. It was certainly still a city when Alexander the Great was rampaging through the Middle East. So, as I said before, it doesn’t appear that Damascus has ever been utterly destroyed.

But, if the Damascus is to be utterly destroyed, who destroys it? Who destroys Damascus?

Israel?

Does the Assad regime use chemical weapons against Damascus?

Does Gog and Magog do this?

What does it mean when verse 4 says, “the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean”?

This sounds like Israelis being killed – lots and lots of Israelis being killed. And that is beyond disturbing. It’s horrifying.

Unless someone can prove to me, beyond the shadow of doubt, that all of this has happened already and that there is no possibility that this will happen in the future – I will live in dread of the near future.

And, when talk of war in the Middle East occurs, I often think of these passages. But, moving on…

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 nor the incense altars.

In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough
And an uppermost branch,
Which they left because of the children of Israel;
And there will be desolation.

To me, this confirms my understanding that this is in our future, because the Assyrian captivity did not result in Israel looking to God.

And again, we see horrifying casualties in verse nine. The kind of thing that we would expect when two thirds of the people in the Land of Israel are killed. But, we should not focus just on the horror.

There is a very, very important and positive development in verse 7:

In that day a man will look to his Maker,
And his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel.

Almost any amount of horror is worthwhile if it ends in redemption, but you will forgive me if I do not look forward to seeing people that I care deeply about suffering and dying. This will be really bad.

Unfortunately, God has good reasons for allowing this to happen:

10 Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation,
And have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold,
Therefore you will plant pleasant plants
And set out foreign seedlings;
11 In the day you will make your plant to grow,
And in the morning you will make your seed to flourish;
But the harvest will be a heap of ruins
In the day of grief and desperate sorrow.

Israel has forgotten God. The Jews have forgotten God. Instead of embracing the One who came, they spent two thousand years rejecting Him. And, there is no tragedy greater than THAT.

Then, as we complete this chapter…

12 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;
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.
14 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.

…I am reminded of what happens at the time of the coming of Gog and Magog.

If you haven’t read my book, Ezekiel’s Fire, I highly recommend that you do so. It’s about this verse:

And I will send a fire on Magog, and on them that dwell securely in the isles; and they shall know that I am Jehovah.

 – Ezekiel 39:6 American Standard Version (ASV)

I’m afraid that the ASV is more correct than most of the other translations, since they translate ISLANDS (איים) as COASTLANDS (אדמות החוף). Sorry… but, ISLANDS ARE NOT COASTLANDS!!!

The point is that a fire will descend upon the Earth. And, when you look closely at the other passages that refer to this, it’s pretty clear that this will be the biggest solar flare in the history of the world. And, we’ve seen other stars like our own, shoot out superflares like this. So, read Ezekiel’s Fire.

It might just save your life.

And, since I find myself talking about Ezekiel’s Fire, it should be clear that I believe that Isaiah 17 is talking about the coming of Gog and Magog. It fits far too well with Ezekiel 38 and 39, and the catastrophe that this implies is something that I don’t like to think about.

Please, please be ready for the worst moment in human history. Billions will die, and I don’t want you to be one of them.

[NEXT: ISAIAH 19]

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