Focus On Jerusalem


The Burden of Damascus
By Jerry Robinson of Week in Review and by Jan Markell of the Olive Tree Ministry

'The Burden of Damascus'

Deciphering Current Events in the Middle East through the Lens of Scripture

 Focus on Jerusalem Prophecy Ministry is pleased to present some timely and interesting articles by Jerry Robinson of Week in Review and by Jan Markell of the Olive Tree Ministry that are very pertinent and insightful into the times in which we live. (March, 2005)

   For those who have been watching the Middle East for some time, this week's news was unprecedented. The events that have transpired in this region have occurred with such swiftness and transparency that any outside observer has little choice but to realize the uniqueness of our generation.

The Syria Factor
   The most pressing international topic this week has been deciphering the Lebanese revolt against the 29-year long Syrian occupation of its country. The week began with the forced resignation of Lebanon's pro-Syrian Prime Minister and Cabinet due to massive demonstrations by thousands of Lebanese protestors. Tensions between the Lebanese pro-Syrian government and the opposition party (anti-Syrian) have been mounting for years. But the Feb. 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 16 others has been the true catalyst for the recent seismic shift in Syrian-Lebanese relations. In essence, Lebanon has accused the Syrian government of being behind Hariri's assassination.

   Damascus, the capital city of Syria and the oldest continuously inhabited city on the planet, doesn't like all of the recent attention it has been getting. Numerous intelligence reports have long documented the hotbed of terrorism that exists in Damascus. Unfortunately, it not only exists in Damascus - it thrives. For too long, Lebanon has operated as a puppet state of Syria. The Lebanese have not been free to speak out against their Syrian oppressors for fear of reprisal. And for too long, Damascus has been the funnel of terrorism against the state of Israel.

This week, most of world agreed.

   Operating with a formidable coalition, President Bush demanded that Syria fully withdraw its 15,000 troops from Lebanon by May of this year. Mr. Bush's coalition consists of: France, Germany, Russia, and most notably Saudi Arabia, among others. The Syrian kleptocracy is nearing its end and interestingly, the Bible speaks to this very issue in the book of Isaiah.

'The Burden of Damascus'

The burden against Damascus. "Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap. (Isaiah 17:1 NKJV)

   This scripture has long puzzled Bible scholars. It states very clearly that the city of Damascus will be obliterated and forever uninhabited -- and yet Damascus stills stands. According to this scripture and others, it is my opinion that the world is getting very near to the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. And lest you think that God's word will not come to pass consider this passage:

"So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11 KJV)

   The Word of the Lord shall be accomplished!

From a more logistical standpoint, you might be wondering: What nation (or group of nations) will destroy Damascus and why? It is interesting to note that despite the growing international isolation faced by Damascus, it has defiantly ignored the demands for a quick withdrawal from Lebanon. Syria is in a grave situation and its only 'true' ally is Iran (which may make the danger they are in even greater.) Exactly how, when, or by whom Damascus will be destroyed is not detailed for us in scripture, but we can gain some clues from studying Middle Eastern affairs.

Israel: One possibility is that Israel may strike Israel. The Jewish State has been known to pre-emptively strike its opponents when there appears no other way of resolving a matter. If Israel were to strike Damascus with the full force of its military might, it could destroy it in the way conducive to scripture. However, it is hard to imagine that Israel would pre-emptively strike Damascus when so much international pressure currently exists. In other words, why would Israel need to strike Damascus if the US may strike it instead? This scenario would only appear to be logical if the current mounting international pressure on Damascus subsides leaving Israel more vulnerable than ever. Additionally, it is interesting to note that an Israeli invasion of Damascus could reasonably provoke the Russian/Iranian invasion of Israel as described in Ezekiel 38-39.

United States: Another possibility is that the US and its allies could demolish Damascus. While this scenario seems logical at first, in the end it raises more questions than it answers. Think about what the US does after it annihilates its enemies, it rebuilds them. This certainly would not fit prophetic picture of Damascus being a ruinous heap ceasing to be a city. With so much at stake in the Middle East, the US would certainly move in to stabilize the region after an attack.

The possibilities including other nations are endless and serve no real purpose other than meaningless speculation. At WIR, it is not our desire to speculate endlessly about how God's word will come to pass. But rest assured, it will come to pass. We have God's word on it.


The Burden of Damascus:

Isaiah 17--Jan Markell Olive Tree Ministries, Inc.

    Is democracy breaking out all over? It sure is trying and with some success. Currently headlines focus on the tiny nation of Lebanon and her Syrian "occupiers." Let's look more closely at Syria. The radical terror groups Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, under the encouraging eye of Syria's Bashir Assad, have an interest in triggering Israeli military reactions against Syria. This seems beyond belief to be sure. Walid Phares is an Islamic analyst with America's and Israel's best interests in mind. He works with many organizations, including Brigitte Gabriel's "The American Congress for Truth." Brigitte is a frequent radio guest of mine. Walid states, "By striking Israel (as they did in the Tel Aviv bombing a week ago), Syria aims to force Israel to retaliate in a limited way. They hope it will bring an entire breakdown of the Middle East peace process and new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Don't they know Israel will respond in anything but a limited way? Their belief is that the international community won't allow an Israeli invasion in the midst of an Iraq war." They just might be wrong--dead wrong, and Syria might actually be engaged in some fatal speculation. Would Syria ever use her massive chemical and biological weapons against Israel? What about the weapons of mass destruction moved there by Iraq just before the war? Who else would be the target of Syria's weaponry? The world clearly won't let Lebanon be the target. Syria should have been named as an original member of President Bush's "axis of evil." It's another Baathist regime, formerly led by Hafez el Assad and now led by the son, Bashir Assad. It is one of the world's worst human rights violators. In the 1980's Hafez el Assad thought nothing of wiping out cities in Syria with political opponents in a manner similar to Saddam Hussein. Syria has no intention of leaving Lebanon in spite of world pressure. She was told to pull out in the 1980's, ignored the warnings, and got away with them. One should not take lightly these new tensions, for Isaiah 17 speaks of "The burden of Damascus." At some point in the future (because it hasn't happened in the past) Damascus is going to get her just due for her evil. She will cease being a city. Will it be because she taunted Israel to retaliate against her far greater than Bashir Assad ever thought? With Europe and even the Arab world telling Syria to get out of Lebanon, will those allies even ignore such an attack on Damascus? Is Syria becoming the goat of the Middle East, certainly not on the level Israel is, but a great embarrassment to the Arab world? We are not privileged to know the timetable of many future events but we can watch various signs that are markers. It is no accident that in this very late hour of history as we know it, the nation of Syria is now gaining international attention and even scorn. Some day she will cease being a city. She is playing with matches to be taunting Israel and it is likely that even our own State Department would not stand in Israel's way if a show of brute, retaliatory force were necessary. Bashir Assad has few friends other than Iran now that Saddam Hussein is off the scene. Her strategy of being the wrecking ball of Mahmoud Abbas could be a fatal flaw in the burden of Damascus.

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