>> UPDATE: I’m scheduled to be interviewed by Neil Cavuto on the Fox News Channel at 4:50pm eastern to discuss the Syria crisis.
(Washington, D.C.) — As the crisis in Syria intensifies, interest in Bible prophecies concerning the future of Damascus are growing. People all over the world are increasingly, and understandably, interested in the prophecies found in Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49. Do they describe a future judgment of the city of Damascus and its utter destruction?
Now, a growing number of media outlets are covering the growing interest. Most of the articles are dismissive, some are snarky, some find it all ridiculous, but at least the articles are making people aware that these Bible prophecies exist.
Here are a few examples:
- Some see biblical visions of doom in Syria trouble (USA Today — with a Drudge headline, as well)
- End of the world coming? Christian author offers scenario — Best-selling novelist speaks on Syria at Kansas Book Festival (Topeka Capital-Journal)
- Some Evangelicals See Biblical Prophecy In Syrian Crises (Time magazine)
- Is Syria conflict the latest sign of Armageddon? (UK Daily Mail)
- Oh Magog! Why End-Times Buffs Are Freaking Out About Syria — Novelist Joel Rosenberg has the ear of Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and the Heritage Foundation. He thinks conflict in Syria was foretold by the Old Testament. (Mother Jones)
- Isaiah 17:1 Is Syria War Part Of Jesus’ Second Coming? Christians And Muslims Quote Scripture (Huffington Post Religion)
- Why Some Believe These ‘End Times’ Bible Verses Could Hold the Key to the Syrian Crisis (The Blaze)
I’ve been writing and speaking about these prophecies for some time. Most recently, my novel, Damascus Countdown, considered this very subject, the coming Biblical judgment of the Syrian capital. We don’t know, of course, whether the prophecies of Scripture will come true in our lifetime, much less soon. But the novel provided me an opportunity to imagine one possible scenario of how they could unfold. What’s more, in becoming a New York Times best-seller, the novel has made many more people aware of the prophecies who otherwise might never even heard of them, much less considered them seriously. I’m encouraged to see that many people across the country and around the world are going back into the Scriptures to study the texts for themselves.
Given the growing interest in these specific prophecies, I have posted about two dozen pages of my personal study notes on Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah and the future of Damascus. I hope they are helpful both to pastors, Bible study leaders and lay people who want to study these issues more closely. Reporters and others are welcome to study them, too.
That said, let me make a few last points:
- First, these prophecies are very sad and sobering — Christians should not be gleeful or excited about the coming judgment of any city or nation. After all, Jesus told us to love our neighbors, and our enemies. Love does not hope for something bad to happen to other people.
- Second, the prophecies have not yet come true yet — As I explain in the study notes, Damascus has been attacked and conquered numerous times in history, but it has never been utterly destroyed and uninhabited, as the prophecies foretell. Rather, Damascus is widely regarded as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet. What’s more, while prophecies found in the first few chapters of Isaiah do describe the conquering of Damascus in 732 BC, the prophecies of Isaiah 17 were not even given to Isaiah until the year King Ahaz died (see Isaiah 14:28), which was in 715 BC. Thus, Isaiah 17 could not possibly have been referring to the events that had happened two decades earlier. Rather, Isaiah 17’s description of Damascus’s complete destruction is eschatological. It will come to pass in the End Times, at some point prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And, of course, Jeremiah’s prophecy about the destruction of Damascus was written more than a century after the events of 732 BC., and has not yet come to pass either.
- Third, while it is important to study the Bible and know what the Scriptures say about the future of the Middle, Christians should not argue and/or become divided over the interpretation of Bible prophecy. Rather, we need to be both hearers of God’s Word, and doers, as well, according to James 1:22.
That means that we need to understand the “whole counsel of God” and obey faithfully. Thus, we should be praying for peace in the Middle East. We need to be praying for safety and security for the people of Damascus and Syria. We need to be praying for an end to the horrific civil war there, and a diplomatic resolution. We need to pray for our President and Congress and national security leaders to have wisdom, and praying for the leaders in the region to have wisdom to do the right thing, as well. We also need to pray for the Arab Christians there to be strong and courageous amidst terrible darkness and persecution, to care for the needy and suffering around them, to show the love of Jesus, and to share the Gospel of Christ to everyone in Syria. And we need to be doing all we can to encourage the local Arab Church in the region, stand with them, help them provide humanitarian relief to Syrians who are fleeing from the bloodshed and cruelty, and let them know they are not alone. Numerous churches and Christian organizations are doing this and for this I am grateful. My colleagues and I at The Joshua Fund are certainly trying to do our part, as well. Real people are suffering.
Real people need the Church to step up show the love of Christ. This is our most important mission, for Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors, and our enemies.
* To learn more about The Joshua Fund — and/or make a tax deductible contribution to bless Israel and her neighbors with food, clothing, medical supplies, and other humanitarian relief, including war preparations; to provide humanitarian aid to refugees fleeing Syria and encouragement and support for Arab Christians assisting the Syrian people; and to educate Christians around the world about how to be a blessing to the people of the epicenter — please visit our website, www.joshuafund.net.