In the latter portion of Part Four we went into detail, mainly provided by the prophet Isaiah, about what the Bible foretells of the destruction of Damascus just prior to the Day of the Lord.
The prophet Jeremiah also prophesied the doom of Damascus and the details God provided Jeremiah help to broaden the picture. As we see both prophecies side by side, we have a better perspective on the much larger unfolding scenario in the Middle East.
One of the most prophecy-packed chapters in the Book of Jeremiah is chapter 49. Within the 39 verses of this chapter, Jeremiah was given details of God’s judgment on several ancient kingdoms. As we identify what modern nations are represented by the ancient kingdoms written about by the prophets of the Bible, we are able to see how prophecy is unfolding in the current events of our day.
There is one item of great importance that bears mentioning here before I proceed with the subject. The majority of readers of this article and others in this series, are likely Gentiles, many of them Muslim or formerly Muslim. It is important for you to understand that God does not love the Jews more than other people in this world. God created all peoples, all races, male and female. God however made a covenant with Abraham and his seed in order to bring the Messiah into this fallen world. The Jewish race was chosen as the vehicle to bring Yeshua / Jesus into the world. The Jewish race needed to be especially protected in order that the fallen Lucifer would not be able to destroy the plan of salvation God had set into motion. Jews disobeyed God, just like every other nation or peoples have. Jesus had to come in order to die for all men, Jew or Gentile. God however gave His law to the great prophet Moses, who then gave it to the Israelites. The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were commanded to follow that law. They failed greatly; so much so that the Jews were eventually scattered all over the known world. God however will never go back on the covenant He made with Abraham, and He brought the Jews back to their land, nearly 2,000 years after they had been scattered by the Romans in 70 AD. God does not lie, nor does He change. God has and will continue to preserve the Jewish race just as He promised Abraham—but not for the sake of the Jews, it is because He made a promise and He will keep it–for His own Name’s sake. The Jews will never be destroyed. They cannot be destroyed as long as God is keeping His eternal promise, and that is not in question!
How do the Gentiles of the world fit in? God made provision for the Gentile to be incorporated into the Jewish nation and thereby receive the same benefits, but it had to be by accepting Jehovah God for themselves as well. If Gentiles accepted Jehovah God’s ways, Gentiles would be as blessed along with the Jews. But, if they refused, eventually, God would pluck these rebellious, trouble making Gentiles out from among His chosen people, and off the land and out of the city Jerusalem, which He calls His very own. We the Gentiles, as do the Jews, have the choice. To this point in time, the Jewish people, for the most part, have rejected their Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus however, is not just the Messiah of the Jews; He is also the Messiah of the Gentiles, and Gentiles by the multiplied millions have been receiving Jesus / Yeshua as their Saviour and Lord all over the world. This is what the Age of Grace is all about. The Age of Grace however is now swiftly coming to an end. God will then once again turn His full attention to the Jews so that they can be brought out of their blindness to who their Messiah really was, and is. At the same time, God will judge this wicked, rebellious God-rejecting world. This approaching time in history is called “The Day of the LORD”, or “The Apocalypse.” That time, the end of the Age of Grace, is now at the door! As Elijah said on Mount Carmel so long ago: “Choose you this day, whom you will serve!” I hope this explanation helps some, maybe especially those from the Muslim world.
Now back to Damascus…
One of these ancient nations, Assyria, is modern day Syria. The Bible has much to say about Syria, specifically God’s judgment of its capital, Damascus. Jeremiah’s description of this judgment is found in verses 23-27. This is how the passage reads in the New King James Version of the Scriptures:
Against Damascus, “Hamath and Arpad are shamed, for they have heard bad news. They are fainthearted; there is trouble on the sea; it cannot be quiet. Damascus has grown feeble; she turns to flee, and fear has seized her. Anguish and sorrows have taken her like a woman in labor. Why is the city of praise not deserted, the city of My joy? Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day,” says the LORD of hosts. I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Ben-Hadad.”
It was mentioned earlier in this series of articles that the destruction of Damascus will extend far past the metropolitan area of the city itself, but many miles to the north and to the south. Right at the beginning of the above passage, we find Hamath and Arpad specifically recorded. These cities are mentioned many times in the Bible and are historically found to be some of the most important cities of Aram which is modern day Syria. Hamath is approximately 120 miles (193 km) north of Damascus, and Arpad is over 200 miles (322 km) northeast of Damascus, about 25 miles (40 km) north of modern day Aleppo.
We have witnessed tremendous destruction and death in these northern areas of Syria since the beginning of Syria’s civil war. But there is much more to come, including extending far below Damascus. In our study of Isaiah’s description of the destruction of Damascus, verse 9 of Isaiah 17 informs us that Syria’s “strong cities will be as a forsaken bough and an uppermost branch.” As we lay Isaiah’s prophecy alongside Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning Damascus, we see that the destruction brought down on Syria’s head is so severe that not only is Damascus decimated, so are these northern cities, right to Syria’s border with Turkey.
Jeremiah then says that trouble on the sea has Syria greatly disquieted; in fact, in a panic. What would cause so much panic in our day? We know that currently several nations have a military presence in the region. Russia has a very strong presence in and around Syria; Iran has tens of thousands of Republican Guard troops all through Syria; and of course the United States has a powerful presence in the Middle East along with other NATO allies, many of which have nuclear weapons at their disposal. Yet, as we have pointed out, Isaiah has been shown by God that it is Israel’s military that is the force behind the destruction of Damascus and the entire surrounding area. What would be the source of Damascus’ paralyzing fear–specifically from the Mediterranean Sea? (Damascus, as its capital, is representative of all Syria).
Along with the named nations possessing nuclear weapons, the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, India, North Korea, Great Britain, and France, is Israel. A nuclear capability has never been admitted to by Israel, nor has it been denied. Israel possesses a substantial arsenal of nuclear weapons, some of them powerful enough that one bomb detonated over a huge city like Tehran would cause total destruction. Israel was actually the sixth nation in the world to achieve nuclear weapons capability. Israel’s nuclear capability today, along with weaponry that has not been disclosed, gives all nations pause when considering all-out war with the tiny nation. Even Vladimir Putin’s Russian Federation takes Israel seriously today, not to mention Israel’s Arab neighbors.
Israel has several means of delivering such weapons including their Dolphin class submarines. Syria has no answer to Israel’s submarines. And, gathering from what we read in Biblical prophecy, no other military force stops Israel when the time comes for this massive military attack. Once again, as in Old Testament times, God will use Israel’s “David”, this time the Israeli Defense Forces, and take down Goliath–the confederated nations intent on Israel’s extinction–and remove his head.
One thing seems to be clear in what the Bible says of this war: Israel responds to being brutally attacked. This provides Israel’s justification for such an overwhelming retaliation. It has been Israel’s “never again” policy for many years that if the survival of the nation comes into question due to enemy attack, Israel will use the “Samson Option” as a last resort. This option defines an overwhelming response to destroy any enemy that intends to annihilate the Jewish State.
The Scripture in Jeremiah above makes it clear that many young men fall in the streets and all Damascus’ men of war are destroyed. As Syria gets wind of what is really about to come down upon the nation, fear takes over. Jeremiah says that “Damascus grows feeble, turns to flee, fear has seized her, anguish and sorrows have taken her like a woman in labor.” Most of Syria’s population is located within Damascus and the six western provinces. Israel will be faced with a multi-front war and will have to hit very fast and very hard.
The government of Syria is one of Israel’s neighbors who still refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Although Jordan and Egypt presently have a treaty with Israel, Syria has refused to make peace with Israel. They demand the return of the Golan Heights which Israel took during the 1967 war, before ever agreeing to any talks of peace. Israel will never concede the Golan as it leaves the nation too vulnerable to attack from the north. Syria has been one of Israel’s main enemies in the 1948, 1967, and 1973 wars, and the two countries are technically still at war with one another.
Syria still today has the most advanced Scud missiles in the world. Damascus is also very near the Israeli border and has been a major hub of terrorist activity for many years. Most every terrorist organization in the world has had a representation in Syria’s capital. It is easy to see how this city, which would likely be a staging location for another major attack on Israel, would be one of the first targets for a massive response if the Jewish State intends to survive. Israel’s defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, several years ago warned Syria’s president, Bashar Assad, that he and his family would lose the regime the next time Syria attacks Israel. According to the Bible, this in fact does happen and we in this generation are due to see this unfold–likely very soon. Syria will be left without a capital or many of their major cities. Syria essentially will cease to exist as an autonomous state.
God has also promised, however, that no matter who or what nation or coalition of nations comes against Israel, He will not allow Israel to be destroyed. Is it for the sake of Israel? No. Actually, God says that He will see to it that Israel survives, for His own Name’s sake. He has promised and His promises never fail.
As we conclude our discussion on Damascus, this is a good time to clear up a point of confusion. The true Author of the Bible, the Holy Spirit, makes a statement through His prophet, Jeremiah in verse 25 and says: “Why is the city of My praise not deserted, the city of My joy?”
Within the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 12:3, He included a declaration. He promised a curse-for-curse-in-kind retribution for those who try to destroy or even harm Israel. We remember that it is God who tells us not to take vengeance on our enemies on our own. Listen to what He said in Deuteronomy 32:35:
“Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them.”
Here in this upcoming major mideast war, God sees to it that the Israeli Defense Forces overwhelmingly defeat their enemies. With Israel’s victory as decisive as God says it will be, Islam and its god, Allah, will be looking pretty weak. Muslims from around the world will be faced with the dilemma of having to explain how their god, Allah, was so impotent against the Jews in what they had seen as the “promised” major Islam / Jewish war. Many will come to the conclusion that the Jewish God, Jehovah, truly is GOD, and there is none other.
In Scripture, we sometimes find rhetorical questions, and this is what is the source of confusion for some in verse 25. The reason why Jerusalem is not deserted is because the coming Psalm 83 war could not destroy, nor dislodge the Jews from Jerusalem, nor drive them from their land. The God of the Jews will have proven victorious over Allah, the god of the Muslims. Damascus, on the other hand, has been totally destroyed and left a “ruinous heap.”
Damascus will be destroyed for attempting to separate the Jews from Jerusalem, “the city of praise, the city of Jehovah’s joy.” Is there any other answer to why such a massive coalition could not defeat Israel, and why Jerusalem does not become deserted by the Jewish people, apart from the fact that God is truly GOD? God, using Jeremiah’s pen, would like to hear Israel’s enemies give an answer to His question!
In verse 27, God confirms that, although He uses Israel’s military, it is He that brings Damascus and all of Syria down. He kindles the fire that will bring the capital and the palace down to the ground. This great city that has been continually inhabited for the past 5,000 years or so, will be no more!
EDOM AND AMMON
Early in this series of articles, considerable time was spent with Edom, the Tents of Edom, and the Palestinians. These are all names for the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. The judgments of God upon Israel’s Arab neighbors are intertwined from beginning to end with ancient Edom. The fate of many nations are intertwined with the descendants of Esau. As we look into some of the Scriptures concerning Edom and Ammon, we will see what God has to say about some of these other nations.
Jeremiah’s description of how God is going to judge Edom is very closely aligned with what the prophet Obadiah had to say. Both of these men described God’s latter day judgments against Edom, and they appear to come in two parts. The first portion of this judgment is to come through God’s backing of the Jews in battle just prior to the Day of the Lord, and the second will come at the return of Jesus Christ against all who are aligned with the Antichrist. Both of these judgments will change the geography of Edom, or what is Southern Jordan today.
In Jeremiah 49:1 we find another rhetorical question asked by the Lord through his messenger, Jeremiah. The question reads this way:
Against the Ammonites, thus says the LORD: “Has Israel no sons? Has he no heir? Why then does Milcom inherit Gad, and his people dwell in its cities?
This question is understood as referring to the coming confederated war attempt against Israel. God is asking why the territory of land the Ammonites had claimed as their own was not in the hands of the Israelites to whom God had given it. Is it because they have no descendants? If they do have descendants, then they should be in the land that God had deeded to them instead of the Ammonites. “Milcom” in this verse is referring to the Canaanite god who the Ammonites worshipped in ancient times. This pagan god was also known as “Molech.” God’s answer to this wrongful confiscation of Israel’s inheritance is found in the following verses:
“Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will cause to be heard an alarm of war in Rabbah of the Ammonites; it shall be a desolate mound, and her villages shall be burned with fire. Then Israel shall take possession of his inheritance,” says the LORD. “Wail, O Heshbon, for Ai is plundered! Cry, you daughters of Rabbah, gird yourselves with sackcloth! Lament and run to and fro by the walls; for Milcom shall go into captivity with his priests and his princes together…” verses 2-3
In verse seven we find yet another rhetorical question:
Against Edom, Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Is wisdom no more in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom vanished?
In reality, the God of the Jewish people is asking the Edomite descendants, who we saw earlier can be linked to a contingency of today’s Palestinians, “What do you think you are doing? Is there no more wisdom left in Teman?” “Teman” was the grandson of Esau, and the Temanites who came through his lineage were well known in ancient days for their wisdom. Teman knew from his grandfather that the birthright to the Abrahamic covenant was passed through to Isaac, Esau’s father. He was also taught that the birthright passed over Esau to Jacob. What God was asking the Edomites through Jeremiah is how they, as descendants of Esau, had forgotten this foundational understanding. The God of Teman’s great-great-grandfather Abraham made an everlasting, unconditional covenant that guaranteed the survival of the very people that the descendants of Teman were attempting to destroy. Esau’s twin brother is Jacob, Jacob is Israel, and his descendants are indisputably Jews.
So the question must be asked, has counsel been lost? This brings us back to the seer Asaph’s prayer in Psalm 83:
Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God! For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You have lifted up their head,. They have taken crafty counsel against your people, and consulted together against Your sheltered ones. They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against you; the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also has joined with them; they have helped the children of Lot. verses 1-8
In Jeremiah 49, the prophet continues asking questions that God poses. The substance of the questioning has to do with several aspects of the covenant between God and Abraham that has been forgotten. Some of the things God is confronting are these:
- Ammon is asked concerning the inheritance of the land (verse 1)
- Edom is confronted with the birthright of Jacob and his descendants (verse 7)
- Damascus is confronted with the fact that God’s eternal throne was to be established in Jerusalem (the city of MY joy)
In the coming war, not only do these enemies of Israel deny the facts of the Abrahamic covenant, but they intend to get rid of the Jews to whom the covenant was given to protect and provide for.
In Jeremiah 49:8 we find a strong warning to Saudi Arabia. The verse reads:
Flee, turn back, dwell in the depths, O inhabitants of Dedan! For I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will punish him.
The historical location of “Dedan” was northwestern Arabia. God through Jeremiah is warning the Saudis to stay out of this coalition and their attack on the Jews. In fact, He advises them to get themselves away deep into their own land and avoid the entire ugly affair. In the Psalm 83 passage above, we find the Ishmaelites mentioned. The ancient Ishmaelites are identified with the modern-day Saudis of today.
According to what we find in other passages of Scripture, the Ishmaelites / Dedanites / Saudis do not listen to God’s advice. The prophet Ezekiel has this to say in the 25th chapter of his prophetic book:
Thus says the Lord GOD: “Because of what Edom did against the house of judah by taking vengeance, and has greatly offended by avenging itself on them, therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “I will also stretch out My hand against Edom, cut off man and beast from it, and make it desolate from Teman; Dedan shall fall by the sword. I will lay My vengeance on Edom by the hand of My people Israel, that they may do in Edom according to My anger and according to My fury; and they shall know My vengeance,” says the Lord GOD. verses 12-14
There are those who might be tempted to say that all is well with Saudi Arabia and that the peaceful relationship it has with Israel today will continue. The Bible indicates something contrary. History has proven over and over that what seems to be one way today can be turned 180 degrees in the opposite direction tomorrow. As we have already seen in the news in the last three weeks, the brutal execution of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi has had a serious impact on the relationships between the Saudis and a number of other nations, including the U.S. There are those who claim inside knowledge, who see a serious threat of civil war within the kingdom. Saudi Arabia has been in the middle of a huge power struggle between the crown prince Mohammad Bin Salmon and many of the powerful members of the royal families. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has added to the instability of the situation in the kingdom.
It is also important to remember that Saudi Arabia is the host and protector of Islam’s two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina. When all is said and done, Saudi Arabia will never really turn on other Muslim nations in favor of Israel, no matter what bridges may currently be in place between the two nations. When war breaks out between Islam and the Jews, Saudi Arabia will side with the Islamic confederation lined up against Israel…albeit, to their great loss.
Scripture tells us that ultimately, the descendants of Esau align themselves with their Arab neighbors, coming against Israel in order to drive them into the sea. As we have already seen, the prophet Obadiah foretells a severe judgment coming upon these nations as a result of their hateful attack. As a result of the military defeat suffered by Israel’s enemies, there is a great plundering, which will extend well beyond the borders of Israel with her neighbors. One of these neighbors was defined in verse 8 as Saudi Arabia (Dedan). The others who join in with the descendants of Esau against Israel are Gaza, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. This great defeat finishes the enmity carried by Esau’s descendants for all these many centuries. “Esau” is no more!
For those who may not be familiar with how Israel’s ancient enemies correlate with the modern day nations they represent, below is a listing of the ten enemies listed by Asaph the seer in Psalm 83 and their corresponding nations today.
- Edom: Southern Jordan and Palestinian refugees
- Ishmaelites: Saudi Arabia (Ishmael was one of the fathers of the Arabs)
- Moab: Central Jordan and Palestinian refugees
- Hagrites: Egypt
- Gebal: Northern Lebanon
- Ammon: Northern Jordan and Palestinian refugees
- Amalek: The Negev and Sinai Peninsula areas
- Philistia: The Gaza Strip and Hamas
- Tyre: Southern Lebanon and Hezbollah
- Assyria: Syria and Northern Iraq
This has been a brief explanation of the enemies of Israel that are today located on their immediate borders. As we watch the daily news unfold, it very much appears that a major conflict is soon to erupt in the Middle East. Israel does not want war but they are prepared for war; in fact, they know that they will eventually not be able to avoid it. The question many ask is: Could this be the better-known Ezekiel 38-39 / Gog-Magog war? I do not believe so, but this conflict may very well be what sets the stage. One thing is evident, the unfolding of events contained in what the Bible calls “the latter days,” has escalated . The world is now on the fast track toward the conclusion of the Age of Grace.
In Part Six, we will take a look at Iran. In light of hard-hitting sanctions that are about to be enforced on the nation, how will the land of the ancient Persians react? We will discuss the Persians / Iran and the part it will play in the Biblical latter day puzzle.