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Oracle Against Damascus
(ch. 17:1 – 14)
This chapter is getting a
lot of press here in 2013 with the present day civil war in
Syria. Isaiah 17 deals with the
city of Damascus, which is the capital of present day
Syria. In modern times it became
the capital in 1946. The
population of present day metropolitan Damascus is about 2.7 million people. It's
the longest continuously inhabited city in human history.
It has been overthrown and battled over many times, but it has
never been so destroyed that people didn't live there any more, as we will
see Isaiah predicts.
is first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 14:15 when Abram, (before he
was called Abraham) went to war to rescue
from his enemies. He drove the
opposing army to just north of Damascus. The second mention of Damascus
is in Genesis 15:2 where we see that Abram's servant Eliezer was from
Damascus. Abram did not have a son to
be his heir and if not for the miracle God provided for him, Eliezer of
Damascus would have been his heir. That would have meant that a
traditional enemy of
would have been an heir to Abraham, the very lineage that our Lord Jesus
Christ came from. I wonder
what would have happened if God hadn't have stepped into Abraham's life
and miraculously gave him a son. I
think it was probably satan that caused Abraham's wife Sarah to not be
able to have children. It
would have totally messed up God's plan if satan's plans for Sarah had of
In verse 1 we see the
word "oracle" in the NIV. The
KJV better translates the Hebrew as "burden".
What is said here is obviously both a burden for Isaiah to speak
and a burden for
to experience. The prophetic
word of the Lord is often called a burden in the Old Testament.
Verse 1 simply states
will no longer be a city. It
will be totally destroyed. The
point to be made here is that Damascus
has never been destroyed. Moab, in the last chapter had been destroyed, but not
Damascus. Therefore, this prophecy is
yet to be fulfilled. Many are
looking closely at
right now in 2013 because of the present day problems in Syria. Only time will tell if we
are getting close to the fulfillment of this prophecy.
In verse 2 we see the
cities of Aroer mentioned. Some
think because of the association of these cities to
that the cities of Aroer are suburbs of
Damascus, but there's no historic fact to back this up.
There were at least three Aroers mentioned in the Old Testament,
none of which are really that close to
Damascus. The word "aroer"
comes from a Hebrew word meaning "a scrawny tree" probably
caused by some kind of destruction. Maybe
the name "Aroer" represents fallen towns around Damascus. Some think this is the case.
There was another Aroer in present day Jordon and one for sure in
present day southern Israel. The third city is a bit
allusive. If these cities are
to be interpreted as real cities, then we should think that Jordon and
have something to do with the fall of Damascus, which might well be possible.
The simple fact is that
no one really knows, at least not yet, what towns Aroar refers to.
We do know that whatever places these are, they have some kind of
association with Damascus
and because of the ruin of Damascus, they are affected as well. Isaiah
doesn't say they are totally wiped off the face of the earth as Damascus
is. He only says that they are
deserted. Only flocks are left
in and around the cities, with no one to bother them.
Note the mentioning of
Ephraim in verse 3. Ephraim is
the most predominant tribe in the northern kingdom of Israel. For this reason, the
northern kingdom of Israel
is often called Ephraim in the Old Testament.
One reason why Ephraim might be mentioned here in connection with
the judgment of Damascus
is that because she joined forces with
to attack Judah, the southern kingdom
of Israel in and around 732 B. C.. So,
because of the destruction of
is associated with
Israel, Damascus' fall has something to do with Israel.
If you look at what is
happening today in 2013 in Syria with the problems of chemical weapons
that may be in the process of being shipped west to Hezbollah in southern
Lebanon; this might account for what we see here.
Of course, this is only assuming what is now taking place is what
Isaiah is speaking of. Hezbollah
is an enemy of
and often attacks Israel
on her northern border. The
whole conflict over
today could easily spill over into Israel
and cause what we see in verse 3.
Verse 3 speaks of a
fortified city in Ephraim that will disappear. As
I've said, Ephraim is present day northern Israel, or, the Northern Kingdom of Israel in Isaiah's day.
What particular city is being spoken of here, we don't know.
As we will see later, the Northern Kingdom of Israel suffers along
with the destruction of
Damascus. This is a reasonable
possibility in our day because north east Israel
borders on Syria. The possibility of warfare
that includes Syria
could easily destroy
and hurt the north of Israel.
Verse 3 also speaks of
the "royal power" of
being taken from her. She
doesn't give it up voluntarily. This
clearly suggests warfare. This
would simply mean that Damascus
will no longer be the place of power, or, the capital city of Syria.
Also mentioned in verse 3
was another word for Syria.
In verse 3 the prophet
says that Damascus
"will be like the glory of the Israelites".
You'd think that would be a good thing, but it's not.
It wouldn't really even fit into the context of what is being said
if it were a good thing.
Verse 4 actually tells us
what verse 3 is talking about when it comes to
becoming like the glory of Israel. Verse 4 tells us that the
will fade, and thus, so will the glory of
Syria. Whatever happens to
sets in motion other bad events happening to other places, including
Israel, or, at least northern Israel. The other possibility, and
maybe more probable, is that bad events happening in or around
Syria, as in northern
Israel, sets off the destruction of
Damascus. Again, with present events
in mind, you can see these things happening.
A regional war could easily wipe out
and cause Israel
to fade for a while. Remember,
that which is called The Great Tribulation is in part judgment on Israel. It is meant to bring her to
her knees in repentance. Thus,
her fading away is simply part of God's plan before He restores Israel
to her glory.
Verses 4 and 5 speak of
the judgment on Ephraim. As I
said earlier, we should remember that the Northern Kingdom of Israel
joined forces with Syria to attack the Southern Kingdom of Israel in and
around 732 B. C.. This might
well be why we see the north in judgment here.
The word "reaper" in verse 5 speaks of God's judgment.
Note the Valley
in verse 5. The Rephaimites
resided in the area of
before the Israelis entered their land.
The term "Rephaim" came to be known as those living in
Hades, (Greek) or Sheol (Hebrew). These Rephaimites were associated with
the Anakin, which many commentators say are the Nephilim giants that were
a result of evil angels having sex with women as seen in Genesis 6:1 –
4. The Rephaimites were
giants. So, we have hints of
Genesis 6, the reason for the flood in Noah's day, seen at the end of this
spoken of in verse 6 might refer to the remnant of
that will be saved from the Valley
in the last days.
Verse 7 begins with
"in that day". "In
that day" speaks of the day these things take place.
In context, the specific thing that takes place is the destruction
and the fading of Israel's glory. So, in that day, "men will look to their Maker, the Holy One
of Israel". The text
doesn't specify exactly what "men" are being talked about here.
Most scholars view the word "men" here in general terms,
as mankind. One reason for
this is that these men are viewing their Maker.
The Maker is the one who created all men.
The Holy One of Israel is
obviously the Lord Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah that returns to earth
and sets up His kingdom in Jerusalem.
Note also in this verse
that Jesus is in reference to the Maker, that is, the Creator of all
things. According to John 1:1
and 2, "all things were created" by Jesus.
In fact the very word that spoke things into existence as we see in
Genesis 1 is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as John says in John 1:1.
Verse 7 and 8 tells us
that in that day men, whether men in general or Israeli men, will no
longer worship that which they have created.
Note the "Asherah poles" in verse 8.
Asherah was a Canaanite goddess, a goddess of fertility, the mother
of Baal. Poles were erected to
represent her in worship. Some
suggest that these poles looked very similar to the cross or the letter
"X" that Jesus was executed on.
It is interesting, but somewhat speculative, that if this is true,
Jesus was executed on a cross that might have looked like an Asherah pole.
If so, that would fit into the significance of the death of Jesus.
He was executed as a criminal, a sinner of sinners, and maybe on a
cross looking like an Asherah pole. Remember,
Jesus died for our sins, even the sin of pagan god worship.
It would only be fitting that He would die on a pole that looked
like an Asherah pole.
Men today, whether
Israeli or otherwise, don't necessarily worship at Asherah poles or
worship gods as they did in pagan cultures in Isaiah's day.
We do however, worship materialism, the works of our own hands.
That being said, as I write, pagan worship is making a comeback,
North America. Jesus Himself said that as
it was in the days of Noah, it will be before He returns.
Part of what it was like in the days of Noah might well be pagan
god worship that we're beginning to see now.
The desolate cities of
verse 9 would be the Syrian cities that would
be destroyed by Israel
in one of the last great battles of this age.
Over the last few decades
has caused her desert lands to flourish with all kinds of vegetation.
Verses 10 and 11 refer to God judging Israel's revitalized deserts. I say this because of the words "God your
Saviour". God was the
Saviour of the Jews. Therefore, it's the Jews revitalized land being
spoken of here. You could see
how this could happen today. These
verses tell us that
had replenished their farms and gardens to make them productive and
beautiful, but all of their work will be for naught when judgment comes to
Verses 12 to 14 seem to
me to be judgment against all the nations of the world.
I say this because of the use of the words "many nations"
and "peoples" in verse 12. It
seems that all nations get involved in the events surrounding the fall of
at this point, which in today's world, is a real possibility as well.
When all nations get involved in the
Middle East, this is a strong clue that the end is near.
Verse 13 says the
"he will rebuke them". I
believe the pronoun "He" refers to Jesus and the pronoun
"them" refers to the nations of the world.
Jesus will rebuke the nations with the word of His mouth and the
nations will melt and flee at His rebuke.
This sounds like the end of this age when all nations will fall
before the Lord.
Verse 14 ends this
chapter with the sudden destruction of the nations of the earth. They are
destroyed because of they "loot us".
The pronoun "us" refers to Israel. Throughout Biblical prophecy
we see God judging any nation that loots Israell. It's all about the Abrahamic
Covenant that states, "He that blesses
will be blessed and He that curses Israel
will be cursed".
Isaiah 17 begins with the
total destruction of
Damascus, followed by the judgment of Israel. The chapter ends with the
Lord judging the nations of the world and bringing them down to
destruction as well. It would
seem to me that the destruction of Damascus
is then directly related to the final chapter of this age.
Damascus' destruction is part of the final great battle, and the way things are
shaping up in the
here in 2013, the end might not be far off.
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