The prophecy concerning Damascus and Syria
The prophecy concerning Damascus and Syria is detailed in Isaiah 17. Instead of attempting to analyze the entire chapter at once, I have decided it might be best to analyze one verse at a time, so here goes. Isaiah 17 begins with the following verse: ISA17.1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. The first question I'm guessing some of you might be asking is whether this prophecy is not one concerning an event that has already passed? Bible prophecies sometimes have dual fulfillment. Prophecies with dual fulfillment sometimes have a partial fulfillment at one time, and a total fulfillment at a later date. This prophecy is certainly one that has NOT been totally fulfilled. The reason I say this is because Damascus is still a city, but the prophecy predicts that Damascus will cease to be a city: "Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap." It is a well known fact among students of bible prophecy that Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. Although Damascus was invaded by the Assyrians in 734 BC, it has never been left desolate an uninhabited. The ultimate fulfillment of the Isaiah 17 prophecy will take place in "the Day of the Lord". Isaiah 17.4 tells us that this prophecy will be fulfilled "In that day," which is a reference to "The Day of the Lord." The Day of the Lord is a reference to the period of the Great Tribulation. Damascus is currently under siege, and the signs in Middle Eastern locations such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran all seem to point to the imminent fulfillment of the Isaiah 17 prophecy. I will provide more details in a later post about current events in the Middle East that suggest that the fulfillment of this prophecy is imminent. The fall of Damascus is tied to the time of Jacob's trouble or the Great Tribulation.
Isaiah 17.2 tells us that the cities of Aroer will be forsaken. There has been some speculation in some quarters about the physical location of Aroer. However, the bible is pretty clear about the location of Aroer. Deuteronomy 2.36 tells us that Aroer was a city on the edge of the valley of the Arnon river. Joshua 13.25 tells us that Aroer was east of Rabbah of the Ammonites. Numbers 32.34 tells us that the city of Aroer was built by the tribe of Gad. 2 Samuel 24.25 tells us that Aroer was across the Jorder river, in the middle of the valley, toward Gad. So we know there was a city called Aroer. However, in Isaiah 17.2, we find that several cities will be forsaken, not just one. All those cities are referred to as the cities of Aroer. I can think of two possible interpretations. One possibility is that the cities surrounding Aroer will be forsaken. Another possibility is that Aroer is a reference to one of the ancestors of the people of the region, so that the cities of Aroer might refer to the descendants of that common ancestor. Damascus is referred to as Aram-Damascus in some sources. Genesis chapter 10:22-23 tells us that Aram was the son of Shem, one of Noah’s sons. Aram is believed to be the father of the Aramaen people whose language is the Aramaic language. Since Isaiah 17.1 tells us that the prophecy concerns Damascus, which is also known as Aram-Damascus, the prophecy could also be referring to the cities surrounding Damascus.
Another theme the pops up in Isaiah 17.2 is the reference to flocks which lie down quietly with none to make them afraid. I think this reference to flocks could be both figurative and literal. Micah 4:4 tells us that after the Lord has judged the nations in the latter days, every man will sit under his vine, with none to make them afraid. “MIC4.3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. MIC4.4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.”
So to summarize, Isaiah 17.2 tells us that “The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.” Some cities around Damascus or around the ancient city of Aroer will be forsaken because of some events in Damascus and the surrounding regions. Afterwards, the remnant will lie peacefully with none to make them afraid.
Here is a map of the divided kingdom for those of you who like to have a map with locations for a better context: