Awareness of the prophecies of Isaiah 17 & Jeremiah 49 concerning the future of Damascus continues to grow. So does interest in whether these prophecies have already come true, or whether they are yet to come to pass. (For examples, see here, and here, and here.) Meanwhile, there are certainly plenty of skeptics and critics, and this is understandable.
My goal in writing Damascus Countdown and publishing my study notes on these prophecies is not to try to persuade people to believe that these prophecies are true. They are true. The Scriptures are inspired by God. Of the thousand or so prophecies in the Bible, more than half have already come true. Most of the rest will come to pass between now and the Second Coming of Christ. I hope people will take them seriously. But I’m not worried about that. The Lord God is sovereign. He will accomplish His purposes in His own time. People can believe or not believe. That is their choice.
That said, my goal is to help make people aware of what the Bible says about the future of various countries and cities, help them understand Bible prophecy, answer their questions, and encourage them to seriously consider whether they want to follow Christ or not. And for Christians, I want to encourage them to know the power of God’s Word, and encourage them to obey Jesus when He commanded us to love our neighbors and love our enemies.
To be clear: We don’t know when the prophecies regarding Damascus will come to pass. But we can — and should — demonstrate real love and compassion towards the people of Syria generally, and the people of Damascus, in particular, right now, given all the trauma they are going through.
In this context, I agreed to an interview this week to help answer some of the questions that are arising. I hope you find it helpful.
By Billy Hallowell, The Blaze, September 12, 2013
Is the beginning of the end of the world upon us? Well, that depends upon who you ask.
In case you haven’t noticed, End Times theology has become a hot topic in media this summer. From discussions surrounding Syria and its alleged role in Biblical prophesy to grander curiosities about Jesus Christ’s supposed Second Coming, the debate over these themes has been a spirited one, as TheBlaze recently noted. And as supporters continuously speak out, critics of End Times theology are vocal of late, highlighting their contention that applying Old Testament Bible verses to future unforeseen events and happenings is haphazard (we highlighted some of the main arguments against this prophetic inclination in past coverage of the issue).
Considering these critiques, TheBlaze once again interviewed author and Bible expert Joel Rosenberg to see what he has to say in response to those who disagree with his interpretation of scripture.
Rosenberg, who believes that Isaiah 17:1-3, among other verses, highlight what’s to come, attempted to poke holes in counterarguments, charging that those who dismiss the view that the Bible holds many keys to the End Times fail to see the full picture.
As a refresher, Isaiah 17:1-3 reads, “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.” Considering the current international conflict, this is obviously capturing attention.
Some critics dismiss the application of these verses to future prophecy and note that Damascus has been attacked numerous times throughout its history. Thus, they believe prophecy has already been fulfilled. Some hold that there’s no remaining foresight at any level and simply believe that what is described already unfolded in 732 B.C.
1. Damascus has been attacked before, but….
TheBlaze asked Rosenberg to respond to this latter claim and he noted, first and foremost, that Damascus certainly has been attacked in the past – but the Bible expert added an important caveat: Damascus has never ceased to be a city, something that Rosenberg believes is clearly prophesied in Isaiah 17.
“There’s no question that Damascus has been attacked and conquered numerous times through history. Nobody is debating that,” said the author. “The question is whether the actual text has come to fulfillment.”
Rosenberg pointed out a unique fact about Damascus, the capital of Syria: It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the earth. It is first mentioned in Genesis and yet it still appears in modern-day headlines.
While he agrees that the 732 B.C. attack undeniably unfolded (Isaiah 7 and 8 predict this event, Rosenberg believes), he also holds that the prophesy in Isaiah 17:1-3 hasn’t yet been fulfilled, because Damascus continued to be a city following the attack by the Assyrians — and it remains an active and inhabited locality even today.
2. Rosenberg says Isaiah didn’t receive the prophecy until after 732 B.C.
Rosenberg’s second argument is that Isaiah, in the expert’s estimation, didn’t receive the contents of Isaiah 17 until after 732 B.C. If this is true, it would mean that the Assyrian attack on Damascus was not what was being referenced in the text.
“It’s true that Isaiah prophesied about the conquering of Damascus — that happens in chapter 7 and 8 — and that is exactly what came to fulfillment in 732 B.C., but in chapter 14, in verse 28, Isaiah says something that’s fascinating and relevant,” argued the author.
Isaiah 14:28 reads, “This prophecy came in the year King Ahaz died.” Rosenberg believes this line is key to the debate.
Since King Ahaz (king of Judah) died around 710 B.C., Rosenberg (who said the year of death was closer to 715 B.C.) runs through some logic that would, at the least, force his critics to respond with their own timeline of events. Perhaps only the text in Isaiah 14 and not 17 came in 710, but regardless the language does create some questions.
“This means that the prophesies of Isaiah 17 were not given to the prophet until 715 B.C., which is nearly two decades after the conquering of Damascus [in 732], so this helps us have assurance that Isaiah 17 wasn’t fulfilled in 732,” he continued.
Rosenberg said that it’s easy to overlook the verse referencing the king – one that seemingly provides context to Isaiah 17. The 732 B.C. prophesy, Rosenberg argues, gives Isaiah credibility, however what he promises in chapter 17 has yet to, in the Bible expert’s view, come to fruition.
“When he gives us end times prophesies, we can be assured that those will happen one day because the other things he had said had already come true,” Rosenberg told TheBlaze.
2. Isaiah 17 isn’t the only alleged prophecy to come.
The “Damascus Countdown” author also notes that it’s not only Isaiah 17 that makes apparent End Times references. You have to look at Jeremiah, too.
While the Syria conflict has shed light on the first three verses of that chapter, Rosenberg made it clear that Isaiah 11 through 24 is filled with “big picture” prophesies that he believes are set to take place in the future. These even include timestamps, Rosenberg claims.
“It’s really sad what the Bible says will happen to Damascus one day and I’m not saying that I know when it will happen,” he added. “I don’t know when these prophesies will come to pass. Will they happen in our lifetime? Well, they could.”……