This is the fourth installment of an article by Gary DeMar, refuting the idea being promoted by televangelists, that Isaiah 17 is about to be fulfilled. What we are hearing now is more of the same false fear mongering of the Dispensational world, that latches onto any headline that happens to use words found in the Bible, and then insists that the headlines are the fulfillment of the ancient prophecies. DeMar does a fine job debunking the modern claims about Isaiah 17 and Damascus. Be sure to read the first four installments: #1 #2 #3
Headlines such as that in the picture below are a true problem. It is a false claim that continues to bring shame on the name of Christ.
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)?
In the next installment, DeMar will demonstrate the how Isaiah 17 truly was fulfilled, long ago.