About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Damascus Is Doomed


There's a difference between knowing something and understanding something.  Before one can understand anything, he must first know the facts about what is to be understood.  Jesus knew this when He prophesied severe persecution that would befall His disciples.  He concluded His prediction by saying, "I have told you this, because when the time comes you will remember that I warned you". (John 16:4)  Even though the disciples did not totally understand this prophecy of persecution, Jesus didn't withhold this prophetic knowledge from them.  He wanted them to know the prophetic facts in advance so when they experienced the persecution they would both remember and understand the prophecy.  I wonder if the apostle Peter remembered Jesus' prophecy when the blood ran to his head as he suffered a slow death by hanging up-side-down on a cross.     


The idea that knowledge precedes understanding is important when studying Biblical prophecy.  We first study the Biblical facts even though we don't totally understand them.  Then, when the prophetic facts appear on the horizon, we both remember and understand them.  Without the knowledge there is no understanding. 


After Jesus predicted events surrounding the end of this age He said, "I have told you everything ahead of time". (Mark 13:23 - NIV)  This tells me that Jesus wants us to know the prophetic facts concerning the end of this age long before they are fulfilled.  He went on to say, "be on guard.  Be alert". (Mark 13:33 - NIV)  The King James Bible says, "watch".  Jesus expected His disciples to be on guard, to be alert, and to watch, for the prophetic signs that point to the end of the age.  I suggest that He expects the same from us.       


Here's an example of what I'm saying.  The city of Damascus is the capital of present day Syria.  It has a population of close to 3 million people.  Historians say that Damascus is the longest continuing existing city in history.  Unlike other cities that have come and gone over the centuries, Damascus still exists without interruption, despite the battles fought over her.  Damascus is mentioned as early as Genesis 14:15 in the Bible.  This bit of historical knowledge is important in understanding the future of  Damascus as stated in the Bible.   


Isaiah 17:1, along with Jeremiah 49 and Zechariah 9, predict the 
total destruction of Damascus.  That's the prophetic fact.  The historic fact is that Damascus has never been destroyed.  Put these two facts together and we learn that Isaiah 17:1 is yet to be fulfilled.  With this in mind, and with Jesus' command for us to watch for fulfillment of prophecy, we should be alert to what is happening in Syria, and especially in Damascus.  A lot is happening right now in 2012.  We know the facts. We now seek the understanding.  


Syria has been in great turmoil over the last year and a half.  It has been estimated that more than 16,000 Syrians have been killed by their dictatorial government.  Until recently, most of the violence has taken place outside of Damascus, but now the violence, the killing, and the bombing, has reached the city centre.    


Syria recently shot down a Turkish jet fighter.  Turkey, and NATO, are seriously considering how or if they should respond.  Syria has outraged her next door neighbour and it appears she doesn't really care. 


Russia has recently sent war ships to Syria to protect her military interest along the Syrian coast.  When the Soviet Union fell apart in the 1980's many people said that the world power status of Russia would disintegrate.  Despite the bad Russian economy in recent years Russia has emerged as one of the main players in middle eastern affairs, especially concerning Syria and Iran.  Russia is in support of both these nations as seen in the United Nations debates.  We know the prophetic facts about Russia's involvement in the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39 that comes at the end of this age. The re-emergence of Russia is prophetically important, and maybe important when it comes to the future of Damascus.  


Damascus has been the home base for many international terrorist groups, especially Iranian backed groups who terrorize Israel.   


These facts and events alone give us ample reason to watch for the fulfillment of Isaiah 17:1.  Our understanding is still vague on this matter, but if we watch with intelligence, as Jesus commanded us, we'll eventually understand the facts we know.     


I've  heard people say that trying to figure out Bible prophecy and watching for its fulfillment is a waste of precious time.  I suggest it's not a waste of time but a Biblical mandate.  We must know the prophetic facts and we must watch for their fulfillment in an intelligent manor.  As Jesus warned His disciples in John 16 and Mark 13, so the Bible not only warns us about the future of Damascus but the future of all nations on earth.    


The Lord Himself says that His people are often destroyed because of lack of knowledge". (Hosea 4:6)  Knowledge is not the be all and end all to this matter but it is the starting point for understanding.  Both knowledge and understanding is sadly lacking in our Biblical illiterate Christian world these days.  Without knowing what the Bible says, especially about prophecy, we will have no understanding how to live as we approach the end of this age. 



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