Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Behold the burden of Damascus

Bible students and those interested in prophecy will know that the title to this entry is from the introduction to Isaiah 17. The first verse in the ESV reads: "An oracle concerning Damascus. Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins."
Source Britannica.com
"Oracles are the divine revelations given to God's people. God's method of communicating these oracles varied from dreams and visions (Num. 12:6-8), to wisdom (Prov. 30:1), and even the Urim and Thummim (Num. 27:21; 1 Sam. 14:37)."

In Isaiah 17:1 He is telling the people what will happen to Damascus, capital of Syria. It will be destroyed. I wrote extensively about the prophecy of what is foretold for Damascus, and the wider areas of Syria mentioned in the ensuing verses, here.

I've always thought that the Isaiah 17:1 prophecy is one of the more dramatic unfulfilled prophesies because of its clarity and the absolute fact that though parts were fulfilled in 732BC it has never been completely fulfilled yet. The overnight destruction of the world's oldest continuously inhabited city will be sudden, dramatic, and a clear sign of God.

Given that the so-called "Arab Spring" has wrought geo-physical changes in the Middle East that bible students see brings us to the brink of fulfilled prophecy, such as Ezekiel 38-39, Isaiah 19, and Psalm 83, it is wise to watch Damascus, Syria and the events unfolding there.

The events unfolding there are terrible.

Syria's uprising began along with the other neighboring nations' in the Arab Spring last year, but unlike those events in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya et al, there has not yet been a conclusion. In the other cases, Kings bought off citizenry, depots fell, revolutions staved off, concessions made, elections held. In some form or fashion, even if only on the surface, order was restored. Not so in Syria.

source
The violence of the ongoing revolution has not petered out, it has not swung one side or another to victory or near-victory, it has simply gotten worse. By this point, it is terrible to even read the news. On twitter the other day, I saw a photo that made my heart drop with grief. It was not a violent photo, not a drop of blood was in it. I did not report on it at that time because the sign the protester is holding is in Arabic and I had not been able to find a translation to verify that is indeed what the sign says. But now, given other events of today, I will show you.

There had been unconfirmed reports of massacres earlier in the week. Massacres are almost a daily event now in Syria, even in Damascus. That much has been confirmed by UN observers. This particular massacre though, involved the killing of children. Hence, the photo.

The caption on twitter states, "A boy in Homs holds this sign during a protest: "Kill me and leave the other children alone."
Speechless. A boy in Homs holds this sign during a protest: "Kill me and leave the other children alone." #Syria -
I freely admit to you, I cried. Then I prayed.

That same day, Ynet News from Israel reported,

Syria opposition: Regime lost control of Damascus, other cities
Iran and Hezbollah bear some responsibility for the recent atrocities in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday."It's not just the Syrian government. It is being aided by Iran and Hezbollah," the PM the weekly cabinet meeting. "The world must recognize this focused axis of evil. People must understand what kind of environment we are living in."Netanyahu said Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime is massacring civilians. "We see horrific photos of children and elderly people," he said.

That was Sunday. Sunday saw "the heaviest fighting in the Syrian capital since the beginning of the uprising" and those battles were in Damascus, and there were tanks.

The UK Telegraph reported, Syrian rebels take battle to heart of Damascus: "Government tanks opened fire in central Damascus for the first time in the 15-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad this weekend, as William Hague compared the situation in Syria with “Bosnia in the 1990s”."

MSNBC reported, "'Battle is in Damascus' as Syrian tanks fire in 12-hour exchange"

As horrific as all that is, what of the children? Is that photo a fake or is it true that that little brown eyed Syrian boy holding the poignant sign?

Associated Press reports the following today: "Assad regime also charged with killing and maiming, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, and sexual violence against kids"
"UNITED NATIONS (AP) — A UN report released Monday includes Syrian government forces and their allied “shabiha” militias for the first time on a list of 52 governments and armed groups that recruit, kill or sexually attack children in armed conflicts.In Syria, it said, children as young as 9 years old have been victims of killing and maiming, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, and sexual violence, and have been used as human shields.“In almost all recorded cases, children were among the victims of military operations by government forces, including the Syrian armed forces, the intelligence forces and the shabiha militia, in their ongoing conflict with the opposition, including the Free Syrian Army,” the report said." Left, Bashar Al-Assad, Wikipedia photo

That information is from a UN observer report. Almost 19,000 are estimated to have been killed in fighting and outright massacres by the Assad regime since the uprising began last February, a regime that the Russians have been allies with since the cold war and still are today, despite the horrors the Assad regime is perpetrating. Russia (and China) have several times invoked their UN Security Council veto power to prevent intervention into the ongoing revolution in Syria. The US has ruled out military intervention. Israel has said nothing but of course is watching intently. Turkey, though an ally of Russia and Syria, is getting angry about the influx of refuges into their abutting nation. But still, the fighting goes on.

The Lord is in control.

Children and women are trapped in Homs, and UN observers are trying to negotiate their release. And the regime uses children as human shields. This is brutality beyond endurance.

The US intervened in Libya, Viet Nam, Bosnia, Grenada for heaven's sakes. Will the world stand by and watch children be horrifically used? The LORD'S timing is perfect. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. I know it must grieve Him to see children be so evilly used. Yet I will trust Him.

An entire city of 2.6 million people is prophesied to be destroyed in mere hours. That is what Isaiah 17 foretells. There is no weapon that can do that so quickly and so thoroughly as is described here except for nuclear device. The chapter in Isaiah 17 goes on to describe blowback against Israel. Parts of Israel will be reaped when the oracle is fulfilled. (Isaiah 17:4-5).

The Lord is in control. It is still somewhat unsettling to realize the nearness of fulfillment predicted for thousands of years. It is still a grief and a woe to know that children are so horrifically violated. When our society has devolved to the point where small children are willing to sacrifice their lives on behalf of other children, and no doubt ARE sacrificing their lives at this moment, I can't help but plead to my savior for Him to return and gather us all away from this cruel planet.

11 comments:

  1. I have read about this before and it just makes my stomach turn. Immoral and totally disgusting.

    Praying and praying,
    <><

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  2. Great post. I now get sad whenever thinking of Isaiah 17, things are so terrible now and it will only get worse. I've felt from the beginning that we cannot trust the media and there's so much more going on in Syria that meets the eye, that's it's not so black and white...but that's another story. Of course, Syrians I've heard and alternative media are blaming the US and Israel for it.

    Either way, God knows all things and it stands that Syria has chosen to be a staunch enemy of Israel and of God. It's hard thinking about children and innocents that will be harmed but like you said God is in control.

    I'm also really, really curious if Christians in Damascus and Syria are at all aware of Isaiah 17. The war is slowly encroaching on Damascus. Anyway, Syrian people really need our prayer, it's an all around horrible situation.

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    1. HI Debbie,

      Thanks for the visit and the encouragement. It's a good question of whether the Christians in Syria know of the prophecy...the ones in the district of Homs, where much of the fighting has taken place, received an ultimatum this week. It was even blasted from the minarets of the mosques: leave or die. Here is the first paragraphs of a news story about it:http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/christians-flee-syrian-town_781180.html

      "Damascus: The Christian population in the Syrian town of Qusair has abandoned it following an ultimatum from the rebel military chief."

      "According to a newspaper, almost 10,000 Christians have fled the city, situated in the battleground province of Homs after the ultimatum expired on Thursday. "Some mosques in the city have relaunched the message, announcing it from minarets: 'Christians must leave Quasir'. The reasons for ordering Christians to leave Qusair "remains unclear," the report suggests. Qusair has been the site of intense clashes for months between the armed rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar-al Assad."

      "Christians represent about 10 percent of Syria's population, but their status in Syrian conflict zones has become more and more tenuous. "

      It must be excruciating to be there now as a Christian. Either way, knowing or not knowing the prophecy, they know their days are numbered.

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    2. WOW. Did not know any of that. I hope as many people flee the country as possible. The stories about children caught in this are the worst and they keep getting more terrible. You've probably seen this but just in case, it seems that UN has said Syria is OFFICIALLY (becauase they are the authority to say so) in a civil war. I think the report of Russia sending in helicopters tipped the scale. I think more people will definitely flee now.

      Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18417952

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  3. I teared up reading about that boy. Robbed of childhood, he became a man.

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    1. you said it so well. I hope he lives long enough to become one

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  4. With all that is happening there, I agree, with you, that the destruction could come at any moment. Tisha b'Av is coming up, and historically, much has happened to Israel on that date. I was thinking as I was reading tonight...I know that you believe the rapture to be a number-specific event (the fullness of the gentiles). Is it possible that the fullness referred to here is a level of fullness of the Holy Spirit, and that perhaps God has a point in time where He pours out His spirit - the latter day rain, so to speak - causing many to believe in Christ before the rapture can occur? Just a thought that I decided to throw out there.

    The Holy Spirit is greatly using you in these last days. You are blessed.

    Kim

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    1. Hi Kim,
      Thank you! I'm worried about Tisha B'Av too. It begins sunset July 28, 2012 and goes to nightfall July 29, 2012.

      I would love if the Spirit poured Himself out on people before the rapture so many would come to believe. I believe the opposite will happen, unfortunately.

      Romans 11:25 says that a partial hardening has happened to the Jews, a partial blindness, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. MacArthur explains that verse: "Jewish unbelief will last only until that time when the complete number of Gentiles who are entering the Kingdom have come to know the Lord...the number of completion, the time of completion." It is really clear. Jesus has a number in mind for His church and when that is reached we will be snatched up and the blindness released from the Jews. "After this I will return
      And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; 17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
      Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the Lord who does all these things." Acts 15:16-17

      The seven letters to the churches seems to indicate that by the end, the Christian church will be weak and ineffectual, lazy, rich, and thinking they need nothing, as Jesus charged the Laodicean church in Rev 3. Paul and Peter and other NT verses warn of perilous times and false doctrines and false teachers getting worse and worse in the latter days. There will be sin and falsity and therefore spiritual peril. As a matter of fact there will be so much false doctrine it will be harder and harder for people to truly believe because they won't know WHAT to believe.

      (1 Tim 4:1 and 2 Tim 4:3 are the support texts for the above position)

      So that's why unfortunately I don't see any revival poured out...and instead I see less belief, culminating in the great apostasy Paul spoke of. The Spirit *will* be guiding multitudes into truth during the Tribulation and a testament to Jesus is that multitudes DO come to belief. Praise Him! They are seen as the beheaded martyrs in Rev 6:9

      Blessings to you Kim!! :)

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    2. Its a pity your god likes to watch people suffer. Sado comes to mind.

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    3. God made this world perfect. It is satan who likes to watch people suffer. Satan brought sin into the world and we grabbed onto it like cotton candy. It's been downhill ever since. God sent Jesus to die for our sins, paying the penalty from God's court, so that we do NOT have to suffer. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." It is sin that makes us suffer. It is Jesus who is the salve for it.

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