The past week has been filled with so many events. There is no lack of things to write about. But the most important event (regarding Bible prophecy) is the recent moves of Iran (and Israel) near Damascus.
In real time we’ve watched Iran inch closer and closer to Damascus in the erroneous belief of safety there. They now have no choice but to either give up their weapons depots and munitions/missile factories and ambitions (not likely) OR to bring them inside Damascus itself.
Last year, we saw that Iran had been using a remote area outside of Damascus for their base of operations. They built some of their own structures and also used Syrian buildings, which were already standing (even though Putin had promised Israel that they would not permit Iran to build or use ANY permanent structures in Syria). All the while, Iran was clear on their intent: They avow to “wipe Israel off the map.” Israel warned Iran that they would not tolerate such provocation. And Israel struck those Iranian operations numerous times.
Iran also (covertly, or so they thought) has been transferring arms to Hezbollah in (what’s left of) Lebanon, as well as supplying missiles to Gaza. Israel has disrupted a number of those weapons convoys as well.
After Iran realized they were vulnerable in that location that was further out, they moved their operations to an area just outside of Damascus, to a suburb of Damascus, in a Syrian (Assad) base. Iran had (erroneously) thought that Israel would not strike there. They were wrong. This past week (Tuesday, Jan.9, 2018) Israel did indeed strike that location as well.
Already the liberal leftist media around the globe is putting out propaganda pieces against Israel for the most recent strike Israel conducted. The typical leftist rhetoric (such as the terms “occupied Golan”) appears in these hit pieces.
We are now watching (in live time) as Iran pushes to move their operations INSIDE of Damascus. They are again counting on an erroneous assumption – that Israel will not strike inside Damascus. They are wrong (according to Isaiah 17).
Sadly, this will mean loss of life for those who reside in Damascus when Isaiah 17 occurs. But let’s keep in mind these three key factors:
#1. It is Iran who is putting the Damascus residents at risk by placing their weapons depots and factories inside a populated city, knowing full well Israel has promised to destroy them.
#2. We’ve seen some so-called ‘Christian’ organizations calling for Israel to consider the ‘Christians’ residing in Damascus. IF there are any true believers residing in Damascus, they had better heed God’s scriptural warning and flee. Just as Noah warned for many years prior to the flood (according to scriptural exegesis by some Bible scholars, possibly for 120 years prior), mankind didn’t heed God’s word and warnings then because they didn’t BELIEVE it… so too must those so-called ‘Christians’ in Damascus not believe God’s word and warning; otherwise, they would have already fled.
#3. God’s word is sure; Damascus will be a ruinous heap. It will happen overnight. It will be complete and utter destruction. We cannot say if nuclear weapons are used (as some have speculated) or if Israel may strike a weapons cache of Iran’s (or who knows? Maybe Saddam Hussein really did have WMD’s, and maybe they really are hidden in Damascus?) But whatever and however the means, we know of a certainty that at some point Damascus will be entirely “taken away from being a city.”
Many (myself included) believe that Isaiah 17 could very well be the catalyst for Ezekiel 38-39. It will be a good excuse for Russia (and the Ez.38-39 coalition) to invade Israel (after all they will receive the green light from the rabidly pro-Islamic and anti-Israel UN). But the wording in subsequent verses within Isaiah 17 seems to allude to some of the same things Ezekiel 38-39 speaks of. For instance, Isaiah 17:12-13:
“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.”
When we contrast and compare with Ezekiel 38-39, we see many similarities. It also seems telling that God’s word speaks of “the mountains” in v.13 of Isaiah 17, just as Ezekiel 39:2-5 describes the Golan as the place where Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, and N. Sudan will invade Israel.
I’m sure most of you are also keeping watch on this situation. The nearness of Isaiah 17 also brings with it much hope in the nearness of the rapture. Please allow me to explain.
As many of you also do, I believe God’s word clearly presents a pre-trib rapture (1 Cor.15:49-53; 1 Thes.4:16-18; 1 Thes.1:10; Rom.5:9; 1 Thes.5:9; et al). The doctrine of imminence (no signs preceding the rapture; it can happen any moment) is also plentiful in scripture. We aren’t looking for any specific sign, but we recognize the prophetic significance of Isaiah 17, Damascus.
Why is that so important? Because of two factors: #1. Rom.11:25-26, and #2. The timing of Ez. 38-39.
The first factor: Romans 11:25-26. Recognize three things:
#1. Israel is blind (in part) for now. Many of those precious Jews who are not blind (as they are corporately blind in part, not in full) have come to Christ during the age of grace (Hallelujah!) But for now, this study, we are focusing on those who are still blind.
#2. There is an end point to that blindness (which means they will be given to see again, at some point). When is that point? When the “fullness of the Gentiles be come in.” When that last Gentile in the age of grace comes to Christ, then two things happen: The church is removed, and God’s plan for Israel resumes.
#3. By verse 26 we see Israel being saved and coming to Christ. This can’t come while we (grace/church-age believers) are still here. The verse prior excludes that option. Once the “fullness of the Gentiles” be come in, then and only then can Israel have their eyes opened and the blindness removed.
Note: Please do not confuse the “fullness of the Gentiles” with the “Gentiles treading the city.” Those are two separate and distinct time periods.
The “fullness of the Gentiles” (Rom.11:25) occurs during the age of grace/church age. It is a time period (in which we now reside, and have been in for almost 2,000 years) in which both Jews (those Jews who were not blinded, as they were only blinded in PART) and Gentiles (a Gentile is anyone not born a Jew) can both come to Christ for salvation, by grace through faith (Rom.1:16; Gal.3:28; Col.3:11; 1 Cor.1:23-24; et al).
We Gentiles who have come to Christ during this time period (now) are “wild olive,” and we’ve been “grafted in” (Rom.11). This time period ENDS with the rapture of the church. All grace/church-age believers in Christ, those who have believed upon Him alone for salvation, both Jew and Gentile, will be taken up in the rapture.
THEN God opens the eyes of Israel; those other Jews who HAD been blinded will no longer be. Now that doesn’t mean all of them will come to Christ during the tribulation (just as all Gentiles and unblinded Jews do not in this current age). But we know that a THIRD of them will (Zech.13:8-9). And that third will survive until the end of the tribulation in order to enter the Millennial Kingdom (but I’m jumping ahead here).
We discussed what the “fullness of the Gentiles” (Rom.11:25) means. And now we are going to look at the “treading underfoot of the city” by Gentiles (Rev.11:2). This is a distinct period of time during the tribulation in which the Gentiles shall tread the city (Jerusalem) underfoot for exactly 42 months (on Israel’s 360-day year calendar).
These two terms only have one thing in common: the word “Gentile,” but these are not the same Gentile groups at all. (Sadly, many a denomination has confused the two.) The first group is the group that occurs all throughout the age of grace (this present church age): the “fullness of the Gentiles.” The second group occurs in the tribulation: the “treading underfoot of the Gentiles.” Both have very different purposes and very different groups of Gentiles.
With those two people groups (and dispensations) now recognized as separate, we can see why it’s so important to comprehend that once the “fullness of the Gentiles be come in,” then the rapture occurs, removing ALL grace/church-age believers (both Jew and Gentile, who are all one body in Christ). THEN God turns His attention back to Israel, bringing them through the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer.30:7). Opening their eyes, they will no longer be blind, not even in part.
This timing is key to both Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38-39 (most pre-tribulational Bible scholars concur). Here’s why:
Ezekiel 38-39. When studying Ez. 39:27-29 we can readily see that by the end of that war (and it doesn’t appear to be a long war), God will be pouring out His Spirit on the house of Israel. They will recognize that it was God who (against all odds) saved them from what would have been certain death. It will be so apparent. And what’s more, their eyes are being opened. Once their eyes are opened, they will (of course) no longer be “blind in part.”
So to put this all together here… If (as many suspect) Isaiah 17 is the catalyst into Ez. 38-39, and since by the end of Ez. 38-39 the church has to have been raptured prior (as God is opening Israel’s eyes by then), then how close might we be to the end of the age of grace/church age?
That pre-supposes that Isaiah 17 is the catalyst into Ezekiel 38-39. But when we compare and contrast parts of Isaiah 17 with parts of both Ezekiel 38 & 39, we can see this one event (Damascus’ destruction) may likely lead right into Ezekiel 38-39.
With Iran now moving operations inside Damascus, how much longer could it be until Isaiah 17 comes to fruition? And then Ezekiel 38-39 to follow?
Of course God COULD decide to delay that mission. He MAY decide to forestall the complete ruin of Damascus. But will He? It may be days, weeks, months, or (some speculate) even years. God COULD take apart this coalition between Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, and N. Sudan. He could put it in the mind of Iran to back off on their ambitions in Syria. God could do that. He can do anything He desires. His will is perfect. Do I think that’s going to happen? No, I do not. But let’s put all possibilities out there.
Let’s also look to Matthew 24 and Christ Jesus’ own words pertaining to the “beginning of sorrows.” He likened events to a woman ready to give birth. Just as a woman goes into labor, her contractions get stronger, more forceful, more painful, and come with more frequency. As the water breaks, they grow ever closer together in frequency.
Not only do we see “wars and rumors of wars,” but we see “kingdom against kingdom,” not just in Syria, not just between Israel and Iran, Russia, Turkey, Libya, and N. Sudan, but all around the globe.
Then we also have 2 Tim.3:1-5 where we see numerous characteristics for those living in what that chapter calls the “perilous last days.” Many of you are familiar with that scripture; but if not, why not take a few moments to look that up? You will find that it describes modern-day society to a tee. What do we also see in that chapter? Verse 13:
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”
These last couple of years have been fraught with all of those characteristics. What’s more is Romans 1:18-32, those who have been given over to a reprobate mind. We see that in society more prevalently than ever before. Once a person has rejected Christ, and even claimed that “there is no God” nonsense, then God gives them up and gives them over to a reprobate mind. They can no longer comprehend truth from lie, good from evil. If they find others with the same perversions as themselves, then they think that somehow justifies their own actions.
They pat themselves on each other’s backs with approval for the depravity. And there is no low too low. It reminds me of the social media campaign last year: “Shout out your abortion.” They SHOULD be ashamed of murdering their own babies in the womb, but instead they are PROUD of it, and pat each other on the back for doing so (Rom.1:32).
All of the foretold characteristics of the last days are here. 2 Tim.3:1-5, 13; Rom.1:18-32; and so much more. We’re witnessing not only those things, but the apostasy in churches, as well as secular society in full rebellion against God. The leaven of the world has crept into the church doors and congregations. It’s even corrupted many pastors as well as the congregations. Some seem to open the door wide and welcome it in – twisting, omitting, and even mocking God’s word.
Have you ever baked homemade bread? When the bread has risen enough to bake, can you then try to take the leaven out of the dough? Is it even possible? That’s where we are today in society. The leaven has infiltrated so much of what used to be good. It’s too late to try to pick the yeast or leaven out of the ‘bread’.
I don’t see (scripturally) a revival prior to the end of the age of grace/church age. Yes, it could happen. But will it?
The USA murders almost 20% of babies in the womb (in many other nations the numbers are even higher, sadly). There are massive amounts of people who are now claiming there are supposedly 50+ “genders.” Our own Supreme Court has foisted “same sex marriage” upon the masses.
And on top of the fact that this goes against scripture (marriage is defined as between one man and one woman), it has also caused all kinds of legal ramifications for Christians who refuse to bake a cake, supply catering services, flower arrangements, etc. for those who desire to live outside of God’s word. They do not want “tolerance;” they want to break down Christian’s rights to keep themselves disentangled from participating or funding the sins of abortion, “gay marriage,” and numerous other anti-Biblical stances.
So do we see things getting better and better? No. Do we see a mass revival? No. Do we see huge numbers of people coming to Christ (or even willing to hear the gospel at all?) No… at least not here in the US (although there are, reportedly, people coming to Christ in Iran, N. Korea, and India; and thank the Lord if that’s true!) But a mass revival? No. I’m not seeing it. Are you?
Besides all those indicators of the perilous last days (and there are many more, but time doesn’t permit to cover them all), if we are as close to Isaiah 17 as I think we are, then we are that much closer to Ezekiel 38-39 and that much closer to the end of the age of grace, and with it, the rapture!
Some may disagree with me on Isaiah 17 and Ezekiel 38-39 (there are people who think the chapters have nothing to do with each other). But for me and for many others who see all these things converging, we have more hope and comfort than ever of our Blessed Hope!
We are “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).