Q. My question today concerns the destruction of Damascus. In your series on Isaiah, you state that Israel will be the ones to destroy Damascus. When I read the passages in question, it does not seem to indicate that Israel is the one causing the desolation, rather, that it is the outcome for attacking Israel. Under the context that God has used many different nations in the past to carry out His plans, is it not possible that another party will be responsible for Damascus’ destruction? I can’t help but think that Assad, once he flees to his mountain stronghold, might unleash on Damascus himself. Do you think that such an alternative scenario is possible?
A. This can be confusing because Isaiah 17 is a dual prophecy and it jumps back and forth between the two fulfillments. Part of it concerns the defeat of both Damascus and the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 730-720 BC. The rest of it concerns the End Times because Damascus has never become a heap of ruins, as Isaiah 17:2 declares, and the defeat of Israel and Aram (Damascus) didn’t result in a return to God by any of them as foretold in Isaiah 17:7-8.
Isaiah 17:9 says they will leave their strong cities to become desolate because of the Israelites. This didn’t happen in the past and is what leads scholars to conclude that Israel will cause the future destruction of Damascus. Whether directly or indirectly remains to be seen.
Although Syria’s internal revolt is currently threatening the city of Damascus, it probably won’t result in its reduction to rubble. But no one would be surprised to see the Syrian government launch an attack on Israel to change the focus and direction of the struggle, and no one doubt’s Israel’s determination to respond in kind. Isaiah 17 is a prophecy that could be fulfilled very soon.