In the always volatile region of the globe that is comprised of the nations that make-up the Middle East, the current hotspot of Syria’s civil war is boiling away at a fever pitch and spilling into neighboring countries, with the soon possible entrance into that quagmire of even larger outside forces. The ongoing conflict between those rebel groups seeking to overthrow the regime of Bashar al Assad and his loyal forces has raged on for over two years, claiming the lives of upwards of 70,000 people with no end in sight. Couple that fact with the now suspected usage of chemical weapons into the theater of operations by either the insurgents or more than likely, the Assad regime itself, has the international community─including some concerned Arab league nations as well─chomping at the bit to do something to end the violence and oust Assad from his reign of power.
To further add fuel to the out of control conflagration that is consuming Syria, the Israeli IDF over the past weekend felt compelled to launch two strikes within the country to prevent a shipment of Iranian missiles from being transferred to the nefarious terrorist group Hezbollah, which has long been an Iranian proxy organization seeking to destroy Israel. The nation of Israel has its own “red lines” in place. And the transfer of such weapons─sophisticated missile systems and/or any chemical or biological weapons is such a red line, or game changing event that it would necessitate such an incursion into Syria as to stop those movements. The coming days may reveal more required strikes by Israel, or could portend a backlash of retaliation from Syria prodded on by their Iranian counterparts.
The situation in Syria is a difficult one. The international community is fed up with the carnage and loss of life, and is not exactly sure which actions to take. Compounding the problem have been the veto wielding countries of Russia and China to implement any worthwhile procedures that might spell a resolution to the conflict, via sanctions, intervention or other countermeasures. Most would like to see the downfall of the Assad regime but now no one is sure which group would rise to power in the absence of the present government. To make matters worse, the terror group Al Qaeda is said to be among the rebel groups fighting Assad’s forces, and no one wants to see them gain a foothold in the nation and then seize control of the country.
Even the USA has backed down from its threats of how the usage of chemical weapons in the war would be a game-changing event that would entail strong repercussions, after it has been suspected by British and French officials that indeed those weapons have been used; so far, in a limited role. Just how to go about securing such an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction is a vexing problem. A war weary America and for that matter, the rest of the world also, does not want to see American or NATO troops on the ground there. The cache of WMDs may be secreted in various locations throughout the country and finding them all might prove to be difficult. There is also the risk that bombing known sites might disperse extremely dangerous agents into the air in and around populated areas. Given all these factors, it is a problematic issue for the international community to ponder and a lot of hand wringing has ensued.
There are prophetic verses all throughout the Bible that deal mainly with the nation of Israel, but also portend judgment against countries that decide to come up against the Jewish homeland. One such foretold event recognized by students of Bible prophecy has to deal with the country of Syria, and more precisely its capital city, Damascus. The prophecy is found in the book of Isaiah, the 17th chapter. It starts off talking about the burden of Damascus:
“Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap ““(Isaiah 17:1).
The prophecy concludes with this chilling prediction:
“And behold in the evening, trouble; and before the morning, he is not. This is the consequence of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us” (Isaiah 17:14).
The language of the prophecy seems to indicate that the destruction of the city will be almost immediate and not requiring days, weeks or even months to level the capital of Syria. There is only one device that is capable of utterly devastating a city in such a fashion: a thermonuclear weapon. The city of Damascus is said to be the longest, continually inhabited metropolis in the world and has never witnessed such a horrific demise. It is obviously still a future event. But what would compel another power in wielding such force against a city and people to fulfill such a prophecy?
Another verse of interest in Isaiah’s burden for Damascus─ a burden given to him prophetically from the God of the Bible─is the verbiage in Isaiah, verse 4:
“And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.”
Jacob was the name of the son on Isaac, and his name was changed to Israel: by the Lord Himself. This is an obvious reference to the nation and people of Israel and the description fits what would happen to a group of citizens if chemical weapons or biological agents were launched against them. Saddam Hussein of Iraq used chemical weapons against the Kurds in his country, and the vivid pictures broadcast to the world after the attack mirror the end-result described in the aforementioned verse: “the fatness of their flesh waxed lean.”
Israel repeatedly has been fired upon with salvos of crudely made rockets from the terrorist elements of Gaza to the west and from Hezbollah in the north. Israel has always responded by using conventional weapons. If Assad in Syria, or any rebel group within the country were to acquire and use such weapons against Israel and inflicted a massive amount of casualties, Israel would more than likely exercise their Samson option by using a tactical nuclear device against Damascus, especially if they felt the very existence of Israel was being threatened.
Assad has in the past, threatened to use such chemical or biological weapons against any force – foreign or domestic – that imperiled his continuance to govern in Syria. According to outside intelligence sources, he may have already used them on a limited scale. He is now promising that if Israel conducts any more strikes within Syria’s borders, that there will be retaliation. But how severe would those counterattacks be?
There are some students of Bible prophecy who believe that the Isaiah 17 prediction to destroy Damascus could be the fuse that ignites an even larger war that is prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39. This war, referred to as the Gog-Magog war, will most likely involve the nations of Russia, Persia (or modern day Iran), Turkey and some other Islamic nations of Africa that will ultimately invade the nation of Israel. What would instigate such a mass invasion into Israel by these forces?
The prophecy foretells that they come to take spoil─maybe the newfound gas fields off the coast of Israel or maybe even all the land itself, as the Islamic nations want to take back all the land─but almost certainly if Israel were to use a nuclear device against Damascus, these enraged nations would attempt to rise-up and end the existence of the nation of Israel. There will be no limit to the fury and hatred against the Jewish nation after such an attack against the Syrian capital.
Without a doubt, the seriousness of the situation in Syria and the fallout from attacks and counterattacks by both sides cannot be underestimated. One misstep by either party could ignite the entire region into an all-out war; maybe even the start of a World War III. The situation there bears very close watching. One last interesting piece of the puzzle of the tensions in the region, a couple of more verses in Isaiah 17 and toward the end of the prophecy:
“Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!”
The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.”
THEN, the prophecy concludes again with:
“And behold at evening, trouble; and before the morning, he is not. This is the consequence of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us” (Isaiah 17:14).
Are those verses regarding many people rushing into Israel an indicator that the destruction of Damascus will be concurrent with the Ezekiel 38 and 39 invasion─coming to take a spoil─or will the rushing into the nation result in the aftermath in the leveling of the city? It could very well be that Damascus will not meet its demise until the other nations of the Gog-Magog battle have already begun their invasion of Israel, which would be in agreement with the talk of rushing nations into Israel proper, then the resultant destruction of the Syrian capital.
Or, one last scenario could involve the almost expected strike by Israel against the nuclear facilities of Iran. Should Israel launch an attack, Iran has threatened retaliation and could use its proxies in Gaza (Hamas), Hezbollah in Lebanon, and their Syrian counterparts to launch missiles into Israel. They most likely would not physically march into Israel like rushing peoples, but could still inflict enough damage onto Israeli cities and populations to warrant a huge response from Israel─especially if chemical or biological weapons are deployed.
In any case or scenario, no matter what precipitates a decisive blow to the Syrian capital by Israel, the days leading up to such a conclusion are drawing near. The prophesied players are all in place; the ever-increasing tensions are mounting. Any misstep or rash decision could spark an inferno that engulfs not only the immediate region, but the world’s leading superpowers as well. We could wake up any day now and it could have already begun. The seriousness of what is transpiring in Syria presently could be a world-changing event.