Articles nuke-damascus

Published on September 12th, 2013 | by Gary DeMar

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The Isaiah 17 Damascus Bible prophecy has been fulfilled

Because of the latest developments in Syria, prophecy prognosticators are coming out of the woodwork . . . again. The same thing happened in 2011 when prophecy hobbyists were claiming that Isaiah 17 was being fulfilled right before our eyes. Here’s an example from a video that was uploaded on July 21, 2011:

Damascus in Isaiah 17 is going to be destroyed in 1 day. This is about to occur in our lifetime in just a matter of months. It’s in the news and everywhere you look! This is going to fulfill one of the biggest biblical prophecies of all time! Be ready for Christ’s Return after this occurs! I hope this gives you hope of His coming!

Notice the time reference: “in just a matter of months.” That was more than two years ago making it a false prophecy about a true prophecy that was fulfilled nearly 2700 years ago.

Never learning and people forgetting, the claim is being made again that the events prophesied in Isaiah 17 about Damascus were never fully fulfilled in history, and like clockwork, naïve Christians are getting sucked in.

The topic has even gotten attention from the mainstream media. TIME magazine picked up on the story. So did the Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and USA Today among other media outlets. Glenn Beck’s The Blaze has an extended article on the topic: “Why Some Believe These ‘End Times’ Bible Verses Could Hold the Key to the Syrian Crisis.”

Not all end-time prognosticators teach that the Damascus prophecy is being fulfilled in our day. Surprisingly, Dr. Charles Dyer, who is a professor at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, argues that Damascus “was destroyed in the 7th and 8th centuries” B.C. I say surprisingly since in 1991 he wrote The Rise of Babylon: Sign of the End Times in which he claimed that present-day Iraq is the Babylon of Isaiah 13 and Revelation (16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21). He maintained that Saddam Hussein’s building program was proof that Babylon would rise from the desert sands in fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

Dyer’s book even had Saddam in a Nebuchadnezzar look-a-like pose with the following caption:hussein

SADDAM HUSSEIN and the ancient world conqueror Nebuchadnezzar. Not only do they look alike, but their mission is the same — to control the world. And the symbol of this world domination is an ancient city [Babylon]. . .

It’s obvious that Dyer has taken a different approach when it comes to the Damascus prophecy:

“Isaiah 17 predicted the destruction of the city, along with the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel… Damascus was captured by Assyrians in 732 BC and the northern kingdom of Israel fell when the capital city of Samaria was captured by the Assyrians in 722 BC.”

And 100 years later, the prophet Jeremiah also predicted the fall of Damascus, which had been rebuilt, he added. “His message was fulfilled when the city was captured by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.”

In addition to Dyer, dispensational author Mark Hitchcock, who sees prophetic fulfillment in everything that’s going on today, makes a strong case that the Damascus prophecy has been fulfilled. After offering a helpful critique of some speculative interpretations of the Isaiah 17 prophecy, Hitchcock offers this cogent commentary:

I believe it makes more sense to hold that Isaiah 17 was fulfilled in the eighth century BC when both Damascus, the capital of Syria, and Samaria, the capital of Israel, were hammered by the Assyrians. In that conquest, both Damascus and Samaria were destroyed, just as Isaiah 17 predicts. According to history, Tiglath-pileser III (745–727 BC) pushed vigorously to the west, and in 734 the Assyrians advanced and laid siege to Damascus, which fell two years later in 732.(1)

It’s unfortunate that Hitchcock couldn’t leave well enough alone. At the end of the chapter he writes, “Having said that, I do believe that events today in Syria point toward the fulfillment of biblical prophecies that have not yet come to pass.” He claims that “the stage is being set for a Middle East peace treaty prophesied in Daniel 9:27.”(2) There is no mention of a Middle East peace treaty in Daniel 9:27, an antichrist, a gap of nearly 200 years, a rebuilt temple, a covenant with the Jews, etc.(3)

Even Tim LaHaye’s Prophecy Study Bible concludes that the Isaiah 17 prophecy was fulfilled when “God used Tiglath-pileser of Syria to destroy Damascus in 732 B.C.”(4) Notice the word “destroy.”

The same is true of the comment on the passage found in The Apologetics Study Bible:

“Damascus continued to be a city in the OT era (Ezk 27:18), the NT (Ac 9:19-27), and today. This does not negate Isaiah’s prophecy, which referred to the destruction of Damascus as the powerful capital of Syria during the Syro-Ephraimite War. His words were consistent with his prophecy about the fall of Damascus in 7:7-8 and 8:4, and his announcement that Assyria defeated Damascus and exiled its inhabitants to Kir (2 Kg 16:9). After many years in ruin, it later became a small city in the Assyrian province of Hamath. Isaiah was not claiming that it would remain a ruin for all time.”(5)

I’ve written numerous articles about how modern-day prophecy writers twist and distort prophetic texts that end up being used by skeptics to call the authority of the Bible into question. Biblical skeptic Tim Callahan follows the arguments of today’s prophecy watchers and concludes along with them that the prophecy has not been fulfilled, thus, making it a false prophecy. He writes, Damascus “has been sacked numerous times, to be sure. But the prophecy explicitly states that it would cease to be a city forever, and the prophecy is explicitly wrong. Curiously, neither Gleason Archer(6) nor Josh McDowell(7) mentions this failed prophecy.”(8) The reason is quite clear as why they don’t. The Hebrew text does not include the word “forever” in 17:2. More about this issue below.

Here are six contemporary examples from evangelical, Bible-believing prophecy writers who claim — like the skeptic Callahan — that the Damascus prophecy found in Isaiah 17 (and Jer. 49:23–27) has not been fulfilled:

  • Joel C. Rosenberg: “These prophecies have not yet been fulfilled. Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth. It has been attacked, besieged, and conquered. But Damascus has never been completely destroyed and left uninhabited. Yet that is exactly what the Bible says will happen.”
  • Jan Markell, founder and director of Minnesota-based Olive Tree Ministries, says the Syrians’ use of chemical weapons makes her think about Isaiah 17, which foretells the complete destruction of Damascus, which hasn’t happened in thousands of years.”
  • Harry Bultema: “The judgment that will strike Damascus is that it will be no longer a city but a ruinous heap. This prediction has yet to be completely fulfilled, for in Jeremiah’s day it was a flourishing city, and even today is said to be the oldest city in the world (cf. Genesis 15:2 where Damascus is already mentioned). According to II Kings 16:9 Tiglath-pileser captured it and killed its king Rezin; but he did not make it a heap.”(9)
  • Thomas Ice: “Most commentators contend that Isaiah 17:1–3 was fulfilled in 732 b.c. at the conquest of Tiglath-pileser(10). However, Tiglath-pileser did not totally destroy the city, but merely captured it, as has happened numerous times throughout its history.”
  • Britt Gillette: “In the very near future, Damascus will once again play a major role in human events. The prophet Isaiah provides us with God’s commentary on a future conflict between Damascus and Israel, and in so doing, he reveals certain prophecies which have been partially fulfilled in the past. However, the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah 17 remains in the future.”

You get the picture. According to the above comments, the belief among futurists (mostly but not all dispensationalists) is that Isaiah 17, and its counterpart in Jeremiah 49:23–27, have not been completely fulfilled because Damascus is still in existence. How can a prediction about cities that would become a “heap of ruins” still be in existence today?

Forever and Ever?

The first item that needs to be discussed in the addition of “forever” to the Isaiah 17:2 that is not found in the majority of Bible translations. The TIME magazine article offers this translation of Isaiah 17:1–2: “See, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins. Her towns will be deserted forever.” I’ve checked numerous translations, and only a few include the word “forever.” The Revised Standard reads “her cities will be deserted forever,” while the New American Standard version includes a marginal note based on the Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation that includes the phrase “forever.”

The inclusion of the word “forever” is based on the Septuagint (LXX) Greek translation of Isaiah 17:1–2 that reads as follows:

1. See, Damascus will be removed from among cities

and will become a ruin,

2. abandoned forever, to be a fold and resting place for flocks,

and there will be no one to drive them away

The translations that do not include the word “forever” follow the Hebrew text. The LXX uses the phrase εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (eis ton aiōna = “into the ages”) to translate a disputed Hebrew word. The “forever” translation is based on the Hebrew word “Aroer” which in other contexts is the name of a city.

Dead Sea Scroll_Isaih 17

Isaiah 17:1-2 from the Isaiah scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament considers the word עֲרֹעֵר to be a proper noun, a place, a particular city named “Aroer” — “a Biblical town on the north bank of the River Arnon to the east of the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan.” There are three cities in the Bible named Aroer, “one in the territory of Judah (1 Sam. xxx. 28), one at the southern extremity of the land of Israel east of Jordan (Jos. xii. 2, xii, 6), a third farther north and near to Rabbah (Jos. xiii. 25, Num xxxii. 24).”(11)

I checked numerous commentaries and found several(12) that follow the LXX translation and others(13) that mention the LXX variation but do not follow it. So why the difference in translation? How does the city “Aroer” become “abandoned forever” in Greek? A little knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet is necessary in order to understand why the LXX translators came up with εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα (“into the ages,” i.e., “forever”) in Isaiah 17:2. The Hebrew letters r (r) and d (d) are similar in shape. The resh (r) is rounded while the daleth (d) is squared on their right corners. So arō ‘ēr (עֲרֹעֵר = Aroer) becomes ‘adê ad (עַד עַד) for the LXX translators. The double use of the Hebrew עַד is translated as “forever and ever” elsewhere in Isaiah (e.g., Isa. 30:8; 32:14, 17; 34:17; 59:21).

Other than the LXX, there does not seem to be any reason to adopt changing the Hebrew letters. These comments from the Pulpit Commentary are interesting and might shed light on the historicity of the city of Aroer as it relates to the Damascus prophecy:

Sargon’s annals tell us of a “Gal’gar,” a name well expressing the Hebrew ערער, which was united in a league with Damascus, Samaria, Arpad, and Simyra, in the second year of Sargon, and was the scene of a great battle and a great destruction. Sargon besieged it, took it, and reduced it to ashes (‘Records of the Past,’ 50. s.e.). There is every reason to recognize the “Aroer” of this verse in the “Gargar” of Sargon’s inscriptions. They shall be for flocks (comp. Isaiah 5:17; 7:25). It marked the very extreme of desolation, that cattle should be pastured on the sites of cities. None shall make them afraid; i.e. “there shall be no inhabitants to make any objection.”

John N. Oswalt notes that the Hebrew construction “the cities of Aroer” constitutes “a very special wordplay”(14) that ‘adê ad (עַד עַד) does not give. So it’s most probable that the Hebrew is correct and the LXX’s reworking of the Hebrew is based more on an interpretive hunch than actual manuscript evidence.

Contextually, Isaiah does not use עַד in places that describe the ultimate destiny of cities. This means that its use in Isaiah 17:2 would seem to be out of character with how עַד is used elsewhere in Isaiah and translated as “forever” (Isa. 9:6; 26:4; 30:8; 45:17; 57:15; 64:9; 65:18). Isaiah prefers to use the Hebrew word olam when he’s describing the destruction of an enemy or city (14:20; 25:2; 32:14; 34:10).

Compare Isaiah 25:2 with 17:2 and notice that the Hebrew word olam is used for the word “forever” for an unnamed city:

For You have made a city into a heap,
A fortified city into a ruin;
A palace of strangers is a city no more forever [עֹלָם/olam],
It will never be rebuilt.

We know from the history of the period that a number of cities were destroyed never to be rebuilt, for example, Babylon:

And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans’ pride,
Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation;
Nor will the Arab pitch his tent there,
Nor will shepherds make their flocks lie down there  (Isa. 13:19–20).

The use of olam in a context that is very similar to what’s found in Isaiah 17:2 may be one of the reasons that the majority of translations stay with the Masoretic Hebrew text arō ‘ēr (עֲרֹעֵר) instead of the LXX variation עַד עַד since עֹלָם (olam) is the preferred word used by Isaiah when the destruction of cities and nations are in view.

So if the Hebrew is followed, there is nothing in Isaiah 17 that indicates that Damascus and its surrounding cities would be destroyed “forever.”

Timing

“When” a prophecy is said to be fulfilled is very important to know in determining what events fulfill the prophecy. Time indicators can tell us if the prophecy is going to be fulfilled in the distant future or in the near future. Sometimes a prophecy’s fulfillment is open ended. The New American Standard has “Damascus is about to be removed from being a city” (Isa. 17:1). According to Oswalt in his commentary on Isaiah, the Hebrew construction “hinnēh . . . mûsār is a participial construction indicating imminent action, ‘Behold, Damascus is on the point of being removed.’”(15)

Joel Rosenberg, who believes that Isaiah 17 is a prophecy that has not been fulfilled, appeals to other chapters in Isaiah in an attempt to make his case that the Damascus prophecy is like Babylon, never really fulfilled:

In Isaiah 13, we read about the coming judgment/destruction of Babylon. But the context makes it clear that the prophecies will happen deep in the End Times, just prior to the Second Coming of Christ. In Isaiah 13:6, for example, we read, “Wail, for the Day of the Lord is near!” In Isaiah 13:9, we read, “Behold, the Day of the Lord is coming.” Both of these references indicate that the prophecies concerning the destruction of Babylon will occur in the last days leading up to the “Day of the Lord,” an eschatological biblical term that refers to the actual, literal, physical return of Christ to earth at the end of the Tribulation.

How can a prophecy state that “the Day of the Lord is near” (Isa. 13:6) when, according to Rosenberg, the prophecy hasn’t been fulfilled yet? John Walvoord, who Rosenberg quotes approvingly, makes a valuable comment about the multi-faceted character and application of the “day of the Lord: “The ‘Day of the Lord’ is an expression frequently used in both the Old and New Testaments to describe any period of time during which God exercises direct judgment on human sin. The Old Testament records a number of times when Israel endured a day of the Lord, lasting a few days or, in some cases, several years.”(16)

“Day of the Lord” is not code for “deep in the End Times, just prior to the Second Coming of Christ.” Consider these extended remarks by dispensational prophecy writer Ronald Showers on the meaning of “day of the Lord”:

The Day of the Lord refers to God’s special interventions into the course of world events to judge His enemies, accomplish His purpose for history, and thereby demonstrate who He is — the sovereign God of the universe (Isa. 2:1–2; Ezek. 13:5, 9, 14, 22–23; 30:3, 8, 19, 25–26).

Evidence for this significance of the Day of the Lord is found in references in the Scriptures to past Days of the Lord. The Bible indicates that there have been several past Days of the Lord in which God exercised and demonstrated His sovereign judgment on other nations. He raised up Assyria to judge the northern kingdom of Israel during the 700s B.C. (Amos 5:18, 20), Babylon to judge the southern kingdom of Judah during the 600s and 500s B.C. (Lam. 1:12; 2:1, 21–22; Ezek. 7:19; 13:5; Zeph. 1:7–13; 2:2–3), Babylon to judge Egypt and its allies during the 500s B.C. (Jer. 46:10; Ezek. 30:3), and Medo-Persia to judge Babylon during the 500s B.C. (Isa. 13:6, 9).(17)

Notice his statement about the judgment of Babylon in Isaiah 13, thus, contradicting Rosenberg’s claim that the Babylonian judgment is yet in our future.

Isaiah 13 is a description of a localized judgment of a world power that existed long ago. Who did God raise up to judge Babylon? “Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them” (13:17a). There are no Medes today. We know from Daniel that Darius the Mede conquered Babylon (Dan. 5:30–31).

To claim that after 2700 years the Damascus prophecy has not been completely fulfilled is to question the integrity of the Bible as skeptic Tim Callahan has done. “Being removed” does not necessarily mean “being removed forever.”

A Heap of Ruins

If the Hebrew text is followed, the cities, including Damascus, are not said to be a “heap of ruins” forever, only that they would be destroyed and become a “heap of ruins.” Consider language about the judgment of Jerusalem by the Babylonians:

“Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her. But she has rebelled against My ordinances more wickedly than the nations and against My statutes more than the lands which surround her; for they have rejected My ordinances and have not walked in My statutes.’ Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Because you have more turmoil than the nations which surround you and have not walked in My statutes, nor observed My ordinances, nor observed the ordinances of the nations which surround you,’ therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I, even I, am against you, and I will execute judgments among you in the sight of the nations. ‘And because of all your abominations, I will do among you what I have not done, and the like of which I will never do again’” (Ezek. 5:7–9).

As compared to every other nation, Israel’s judgment would be worse (“I will do among you what I have not done”), and that would have to include the judgment on Damascus and her surrounding cities. And yet, we know that after 70 years of captivity (Jer. 29:10; also 2 Chron. 36:21-23; Jer. 25:12; 27:22; Dan. 9:2; Zech. 7:5). God restored the people of Israel to their land and Jerusalem as a city even though its judgment was parallel with that of Damascus in Isaiah 17:3–6:

The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim,

And sovereignty from Damascus
And the remnant of Aram;
They will be like the glory of the sons of Israel,”
Declares the Lord of hosts.

Now in that day the glory of Jacob will fade,
And the fatness of his flesh will become lean.

It will be even like the reaper gathering the standing grain,
As his arm harvests the ears,
Or it will be like one gleaning ears of grain In the valley of Rephaim.

Yet gleanings will be left in it like the shaking of an olive tree,
Two or three olives on the topmost bough,
Four or five on the branches of a fruitful tree,
Declares the Lord, the God of Israel.

Mark Hitchcock makes the following good point:

When we read Isaiah 17:1–2 and 17:3–7 together, we are forced to conclude that at the same time Damascus suffers devastation, Israel will also fall. . . . Isaiah 17 was fulfilled in the eighth century BC when both Damascus, the capital of Syria, and Samaria, the capital of Israel, were hammered by the Assyrians.”

The same is true of Jeremiah 49:23–27. Hamath (Isa. 10:9; Jer. 39:5; Amos 6:2) and Arpad (2 Kings 18:34; 19:13; Isa. 10:9) are no more. Where are “the fortified towers of Ben-hadad” (Isa. 49:27; 1 Kings 15:18-20; 2 Kings 13:3)?

The Historical Record

A study of the historical record indicates that Damascus became a heap as Isaiah predicted. Consider these examples:

  • The Encyclopedia Britannica (11th ed): “Tiglath-Pilesar invaded Syria, and in 732 succeed in reducing Damascus. . . Except for the abortive uprising under Sargon in 720, we hear nothing more of Damascus for a long period.”
  • International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:Damascus had now lost its political importance, and for more than two centuries we have only one or two inconsiderable references to it. It is mentioned in an inscription of Sargon (722–705 BC) as having taken part in an unsuccessful insurrection along with Hamath and Arpad. There are incidental references to it in Jer 49:23 ff and Ezek 27:18; 47:16 ff.”
  • Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible: “[T]he city’s doom was predicted by Isaiah (8:4; 17:1), Amos (1:3–5), and Jeremiah (49:23–27). Rejecting God, Ahaz of Judah turned for protection to an alliance with the Assyrians, whom he bribed with the temple treasure. The Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III (‘Pul’) agreed and marched against the Syro-Israelite confederation. After defeating Israel he attacked Damascus, plundered the city, deported the population, and replaced them with foreigners from other captured lands. Damascus was no longer an independent city-state.”
  • William Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible:Under Ahaz it was taken by Tiglath-pileser, (2 Kings 16:7, 8, 9) the kingdom of Damascus brought to an end, and the city itself destroyed, the inhabitants being carried captive into Assyria. (2 Kings 16:9 ) comp. Isai 7:8 and Amos 1:5.  Afterwards it passed successively under the dominion of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Macedonians, Romans and Saracens, and was at last captured by the Turks in 1516 A.D.”
  • “The conquest of Damascus by Tiglath-Pileser III (733-732 BC) is the final result of the Assyrian intervention against the anti-Assyrian coalition of Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Israel against Ahaz of Judah. Rezin and Pekah tried to capture Jerusalem, capital city of the kingdom of Judah, but they failed (about 735–734 BC). Tiglath-Pileser III came to the aid of Ahaz of Judah, who promptly asked for the help of the Assyrian king. He finally destroyed the power of Damascus, by besieging the city, forcing king Rezin to surrender, as well as by conquering the whole region once under the control of Damascus. Rezin of Damascus died during the siege, according to the Bible (II Kings 16:9). After the conquest by Tiglath-Pileser III, Damascus was no longer the capital of the independent and rich kingdom of Aram.”(18)

Contemporaneous with what happened to Damascus, “in that day the glory of Jacob will fade” [lit. “be made thin”] and the fatness [Isa. 10:16] of his flesh will become lean” (Isa. 17:4). This most likely refers to the famine that followed the siege and deportation of the northern tribes (2 Kings 16:9).
Damascus was utterly destroyed in fulfillment of what was predicted in Isaiah 17. The destroyer himself —Tiglath-pileser — said so in his Annals:

“I took 800 people together with their property, their cattle (and) their sheep as spoil. I took 750 captives of the cities of Kurussa (and) Sama (as well as) 550 captives from the city of Metuna as spoil. I destroyed 591 cities from the 16 districts of Damascus like ruins from the Flood.(19)

Tiglath-pileser “destroyed” Damascus — made it a “heap” — just like Isaiah predicted. The Bible is true, and all modern-day prophecy writers who claim that the Isaiah 17 passage has not been fulfilled have unwittingly aligned themselves with skeptics and promoters of war because prophecy demands it.Endnotes:

  1. Mark Hitchcock, Middle East Burning: Is the Spreading Unrest as Sign of the End Times? (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2012), 176.()
  2. Hitchcock, Middle East Burning, 178.()
  3. See Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church, 4th ed. (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1999), chap. 25.()
  4. Tim LaHaye, gen.  ed., Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2000), 707, note on 17:1–14.()
  5. Gary Smith, “Isaiah,” The Apologetics Study Bible, gen. ed. Ted Cabal (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 1015, note on 17:1.()
  6. Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1982).()
  7. Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, 1979).()
  8. Tim Callahan, Bible Prophecy: Failure or Fulfillment? (Altadena, CA: Millennium Press, 1997), 60–61.()
  9. Harry Bultema, Commentary on Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publishers, 1981), 184.()
  10. For example, Peter A. Steveson, A Commentary on Isaiah (Greenville, SC: BJU Press, 2003), 142.  See also, John D. W. Watts, Word Biblical Commentary: Isaiah 1-33, rev. ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 293.()
  11. J. A. Alexander, Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah, 2 vols. in 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan (1875) 1953), 1:333.()
  12. For example, George Buchanan Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Isaiah, I-XXXIX (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1912), 298()
  13. For example, John A. Martin, “Isaiah,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Victor Books/Scripture Press, 1985), 1064.()
  14. John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 1–39, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986), 348, note 3.()
  15. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 1–39, 348, note 1.()
  16. John F. Walvoord, Prophecy: 14 Essential Keys to Understanding the Final Drama (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993), 114–15.()
  17. Ronald Showers, “The Biblical Concept of the Day of the Lord,” Israel My Glory, April/May 1992, 30.()
  18. Davide Nadali, “Sieges and Similes of Sieges in the Royal Annals: The Conquest of Damascus by Tiglath-Pilester III,” KASKAL Rivista di storia, ambienti e culture del Vicino Oriente Antico, vol. 6 (2009), 138.()
  19. Brent A. Strawn, Sarah C. Melville, Kyle Greenwood, and Scott Noegelm “Neo-Assyrian and Syro-Palestinian Texts II,” Ancient Near East: Historical Sources in Translation (Blackwell Sourcebooks in Ancient History), ed. Mark W. Chavalas (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005), 333.()
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About the Author

Gary is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. He is the author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles, His most recent book is Exposing the Real Last Days Scoffers. Gary lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and four grandchildren, Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).



16 Responses to The Isaiah 17 Damascus Bible prophecy has been fulfilled

  1. Mike Ramirez says:

    Actually, the next prophecy that needs to unfold prior to the Second Advent of Christ will be the signing of a “false” peace treaty between Israel and Islamic nations. The Islamic Caliphate will rise to power and organize a one world/one religion system. Today, modern-day Turkey is preparing itself to take the lead in organizing all Muslim nations into one entity and revive the Ottoman Empire and introduce the Caliphate system to “show the way to peace” in this world. Here is an excerpt from Sept. 2008 when Turkish spokesman, Adnan Oktar, described the plans that he envisions for Turkey’s role during this century:
    ADNAN OKTAR: The Turkish-Islamic Union will be a glorious one, stretching from Cyprus to China, and including Bosnia, Kazakhstan in Russia, Morocco, Tunisia and even Kenya. It means the salvation of the world, the salvation of America, Russia and China. It is a splendid system that will bring peace to the whole world. And it is non-Muslims who will benefit most from it. The Armenians, Cypriots and Jews. It means salvation for Israel. It means the demolition of those walls in Israel and an easing of the situation. It means Israel attaining freedom. It means an end to terror and violence. It means prosperity and abundance for Armenia. They are all bunched up together in Armenia. Squeezed in and contracted. It means relaxation for them and good for the whole region.
    http://www.turkishislamicunion.com/transcripts.html

    • TIA says:

      “Actually, the next prophecy that needs to unfold prior to the Second Advent of Christ will be the signing of a “false” peace treaty between Israel and Islamic nations.”

      So you don’t believe the Lord could return at any moment? Obviously He can’t, if a peace treaty needs to be signed first.

      This is a major contradiction in the dispensational system. On the one hand, they say that the Lord could return at any moment. On the other hand, they point to all kinds of “signs” that indicate He is coming soon. Which is it? You can’t believe both and be consistent (although you can believe neither and be consistent, which I would assert is the correct view).

      • Mike Ramirez says:

        Good question. However, you may be confusing the “Rapture” with the Second Advent of Christ. The Rapture, many believe, will be an instant transformation of born-again believers in Christ who will be spared from going through the “Tribulation Period of anti-Christ” when people will be persecuted and beheaded for not accepting the “mark” of the beast. At the rapture, people simple are removed and others who were not believers in Jesus Christ at the time will be left behind. Some who were left behind will accept Christ afterward but suffer great persecution for doing so. It is at the end of the tribulation period when anti-Christ and his minions make a move to go in to destroy Israel. That is when Christ returns to defeat antichrist, bind Satan and set up the Millennial Kingdom of God’s Peace on earth – for 1000 years. So – the “Rapture” could happen at anytime – but, according to prophecy, there must be a false peace treaty in the world, (the two-state solution) which allows Israel to be able to rebuild the Third Temple. Antichrist desecrates the Temple at mid point of a seven year period and that’s when the Great Tribulation begins.

        • TIA says:

          I understand that view, but that’s not what the Bible teaches. That view is the result of taking verses out of context and piecing them back together into a manmade system.

          The Bible doesn’t say that there will be a “rapture” before the second coming of Christ or that the temple will be rebuilt. Those are assumptions that people insert into what the Bible actually says.

      • Mike Ramirez says:

        Tia – another thing to consider is to see how things are unfolding right now in the Middle East. There is a cry for a “two-state solution” that will allow Jews and Muslims (Palestinians) to co-exist in “peace and safety”. Orthodox Judaism awaits two (2) Messiahs; Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben David. Orthodox teaches that ben Yosef will appear and be killed in battle and major wars and near destruction of Jerusalem. Then Moshiach ben David appears to bring peace. Today, Orthodox Jews have drawn up the plans to build the Third Temple of God – just waiting for the right time which could only be when the “false peace treaty” is drawn up – allowing for the Temple to be built. Research for yourself: Third Jewish Temple Plans; Two Messiahs of Judaism. These must occur prior to the physical Second Advent of Jesus.

  2. CJ Prince says:

    “Also, what do you consider the reason the Author of the Bible chose for these prophecies–from both Testaments–to reach us today? Why are they in the Bible?”

    You indirect assertion seems to be, “God put these prophecies in the Bible and they reach us today, therefore they are still future. Because if they were all fulfilled, why would God put them in the Bible to reach us today?”

    Well there is a prophecy about the incarnation and crucifixion in the Bible.
    Does the presence of that for us today, mean the crucifixion of Jesus is still future?

    The answer to your question is simple.
    We treat fulfilled prophecies like we treat other fulfilled prophecies.
    The faithfulness of God is observed in fulfilled prophecy.

    The presence of fulfilled prophecy doesn’t mean there isn’t meaning for us today. The meaning we derive is valuing God’s faithfulness to his promises.

    • Lee says:

      CJ, I’m assuming you meant “we treat UNFULFILLED prophecies like we treat fulfilled prophecies”. And if so, then my question is still valid: besides Christ’s second coming, what unfulfilled prophecies are there?

      Regarding Christ’s incarnation and crucifixion, its inclusion in the Word is many-fold, but to answer your charge specifically, the implication of its fulfillment is continuous. The physical act happened once, in linear time, for all, but the ramifications of that act are unceasing.

      Regarding His Second Coming, without it, His death and resurrection have no meaning. Therefore, to ignore what will be the second greatest event in the history of our world, to not teach about it in the Church, is foolishness on our part. Remember how many Jews missed the blessings of their Messiah walking among them because their religious leaders either ignored or incorrectly taught the prophecies of His first coming. Let’s learn from His-story.

      Lastly, there are prophecies in the Bible that are unfulfilled–several of them. They do reach us today because their Author deemed it so. He want us to study them because they have implications on our lives. To only say that certain accounts in the Bible are there for us to glean a moral lesson from or increase our faith in God is to miss half the point. God is more than a surface-level Author.

      • TIA says:

        Lee,

        Sometimes the best way to come to the truth is to root out what is false. Much like a sculptor chips away the part of the rock they don’t want. Gary is simply taking off the large corners (like dispensationalism). That’s the easy part. The harder part is chipping away the smaller parts to get the fine details. There is no shortage of Christians who will be dogmatic about fine points of doctrine (even if they’re wrong). I believe Gary’s approach is instead to weed out what is clearly wrong, and if we keep doing that over time, we will eventually be left with what is right.

        Gary does positively assert his position regarding certain things. For instance, the fulfillment of Matthew 24 in the first century A.D. in the events leading up to and including the destruction of the temple. However, he (wisely) chooses not to speculate about other things that he is not sure about.

  3. 4772020 says:

    ALL you really need to know is!!!! He is real, he is coming back, keep your lamp lit and full of oil and DON’T fall asleep……. Have a blessed day

  4. Gary DeMar says:

    There are all kinds of fulfilled prophecies in the Bible that have a lot to do with us. For example, the 300+ prophecies that refer to the first coming of Jesus. Obviously their fulfillment impacts us in a great way. I don’t understand your “hypocritical” charge when my responses are “well thought out.” On certainty — at least I thoroughly study an issue before I comment. Profit? I don’t make a dime off any of the books I’ve written. We should measure our topics in terms of what the Bible says, which I’ve done. There are numerous skeptics who have rejected the faith because of Bible prophecy. Bart Ehrman is one of them. There are others. I don’t like to rank biblical doctrines, but it was Paul who said that he was on trial for the “resurrection of the dead,” not the Second Coming.

    • Lee says:

      Mr. DeMar, my main question was “what unfulfilled prophecies do you believe in?” The problem I have in your response to people who disagree with your interpretation of eschatology is not your facts or even (necessarily) your interpretation. It’s with the tone.

      Many times, it is easier to nay-say the position of someone else, even if you do it brilliantly, than it is to offer your own position. And maybe I haven’t read enough of your writings, but so far, I’ve only seen you contradict others’ positions, not give your own.

      Rejecting the faith because of Biblical prophecy is precisely my point. More people reject the faith due to a poor teaching of Creation vs. evolution than any other reason. Those who reject the faith are apt to do so for whatever convenient reason presents itself. Let’s not blame Biblical prophecy but instead be faithful to study and teach it as God intended. Also, during the Tribulation, even the Saints are subject to deception. Satan continues his old bag of tricks from Genesis (“Surely, God didn’t say…”). So let’s teach them well.

      Ranking Biblical doctrines is being done every week by our churches. Eschatology is last, and that is extremely dangerous. Paul also exhorts us to be alert to, keep watch for and not be ignorant of Christ’s Second Coming.

  5. Lee says:

    Mr. DeMar, as a subscriber to your newsletter, a purveyor of your website and a reader of your books, I have always respected your positions and studious attitude toward Biblical Truths. On the issue of eschatology, however, I have a few concerns. I will not argue the Damascus prophecy, mainly because it’s one of the few I haven’t studied. My main question is, besides Christ’s return, what unfulfilled Biblical promises do you believe in? Any from the Old Testament? Also, what do you consider the reason the Author of the Bible chose for these prophecies–from both Testaments–to reach us today? Why are they in the Bible? I ask these questions because your responses to other Bible teachers on the issue of eschatology appears to be hypocritical, though well thought-out. Are you 100% certain that their 100% certainty is incorrect? Whose desire to profit off of end times hysteria is greater? I also ask these questions because I am genuinely curious and believe, as Billy Graham said, that the study of Christ’s second coming is the most important issue of our time and the least taught subject in our churches. It is good to be having this discussion REGARDLESS of how it may affect Biblical scoffers. We should not measure our topics by what unbelievers think.

    • CJ Prince says:

      “Also, what do you consider the reason the Author of the Bible chose for these prophecies–from both Testaments–to reach us today? Why are they in the Bible?”

      You indirect assertion seems to be, “God put these prophecies in the Bible and they reach us today, therefore they are still future. Because if they were all fulfilled, why would God put them in the Bible to reach us today?”

      Well there is a prophecy about the incarnation and crucifixion in the Bible.
      Does the presence of that for us today, mean the crucifixion of Jesus is still future?

      The answer to your question is simple.
      We treat fulfilled prophecies like we treat other fulfilled prophecies.
      The faithfulness of God is observed in fulfilled prophecy.

      The presence of fulfilled prophecy doesn’t mean there isn’t meaning for us today. The meaning we derive is valuing God’s faithfulness to his promises.

      - See more at: http://americanvision.org/9371/isaiah-17-damascus-bible-prophecy-has-been-fulfilled/#comment-416309

    • Michael Paul Tuuri says:

      I cannot agree that the study of Christ’s second coming, whatever that means (coming in judgment? Coming physically?…I assume the latter) is the most important issue of our time, nor do I agree that this is the least taught subject in our churches. It seems to be the rage, given the present evil of our nation and our world. It is definitely taught when pastors expound either from the pulpit or extemporaneously that Jesus is returning soon. It may not be taught WELL, with that I can agree. Quite frankly, the subject of Jesus’ return at the end of the millennium is a very small issue when compared to the teaching that should be happening about the very real Lordship of Christ over the created order and what that means in terms of dominion. We have a theocracy, a real King, who expects us to subdue sin in ourselves and the effects of sin in the created order. He has sent men to lead us in assembly…men who should be preaching maturity…individual and historic…and how we are to bring all institutions, thoughts, all things cultural, into submission to Him. When the Gospel has covered the orb, and the grosser sins such as we see today are driven to the shadows where they belong, and when He is satisfied with the earthly maturity that has been achieved in the power of the Holy Spirit, He will return. At that time, He will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, who will be all in all. That will not be soon…in fact, it could easily be 100,000 years. Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy once opined that blasphemy of the Spirit is almost always a corporate sin…a sin that infects the church with faithlessness and torpor. Like George Tenet, I prefer to concentrate on the work of dominion and know that Jesus will return when He is satisfied with the results of dominion…our project with Dad. Until then, let’s hunker down and get busy with our work, rather than growing fatigued with our impatience and our lack of vision. My brothers, there is no way that we cannot succeed in this arduous task, for God has ordained it. “Where the Church Succeeds, the State Recedes.”

      • Michael Paul Tuuri says:

        Got a name wrong…it’s not George Tenet, it’s William Tennent. Duh.

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