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Bible Prophecy: Damascus and Hamath

City of Damascus

In view of current events in Syria, two prophecies are worth considering. (There are other scriptures of interest concerning these cities, but will not be referred to in this short post.)

The two scriptures are:

Jeremiah 49: 23-27 (NIV)

23Concerning Damascus:

“Hamath and Arpad’ are dismayed, for they have heard bad news. They are disheartened, troubled like the restless sea.  Damascus has become feeble, she has turned to flee and panic has gripped her; anguish and pain have seized her, pain like that of a woman in labor.  25Why has the city of renown not been abandoned, the town in which I delight?  26Surely, her young men ° will fall in the streets; all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,” declares the lord Almighty

27“I will set fire to the walls of Damascus; it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad”

Isaiah 17:1 (NIV)

1 An oracle concerning Damascus:

“See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. . . “

Jeremiah’s prophecy is found in an end section of his book where God tells him of the judgments to come against the Nations, as well as some cities specifically mentioned. Right now Hamath and Damascus are the focus of our interest.

Isaiah’s prophecy is found early on in the book. It too occurs in the section dealing with judgment against the Nations and, in this case, where Damascus is specifically mentioned.

It is not our intention here to go into God’s reasons for His judgment against the Nations or cities, but to consider these scriptures in the light of current events. We certainly do not want to make light of these judgments or to “look forward” to their fulfilment. They are severe and final when they take place but, for us, they are important points on the prophetic path God’s has laid out.

(As a word of caution, when considering God reasons for judgment, be careful not to take a current world view which is that if these Nations, or cities, simply followed a democratic process all would be in order. God does not look at democracy. He looks at the actions of mankind in relation to His commandments. Keep in mind that democracy is a flawed man-made system. It has been said, by Churchill amongst others, that democracy is a bad system but it is the best we have.)

Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world and, unlike other cities in the region, including even Jerusalem, it has never been destroyed. In other words, the prophecy in Isaiah has never been fulfilled. Damascus is only a short distance to the north of Israel and is the capital of present-day Syria.

Damascus was part of David’s and Solomon’s kingdom. It was also the city where Paul was headed specifically to persecute Christians. On his way there he was confronted by Jesus and lost his sight. It was in Damascus that Jesus told Ananias to go and lay hands on Paul because Paul was His “chosen instrument” to take the Word to the Gentiles, their kings and the people of Israel. In the house in Straight Street, where Paul was staying, Ananias laid hands on him whereupon his sight was restored and he was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 9: 1-19) NIV.damascus-pigeons

Straight Street is still there to this day!

So clearly Damascus is a city with an important past, yet God says He will destroy it and it will become “a heap of ruins”.

Hama, which lies some 50 kilometres directly north of Homs, is almost certainly the Biblical city of Hamath, within provincial Hamath. Homs is about 150 kilometres north of Damascus. While Damascus came under David’s and Solomon’s kingdoms, these other two cities did not, although they were both under Solomon’s control. Since at least 1925 Hama has been the source of a number of uprisings, mainly from Islamic fundamentalists.

Currently Syria is in the throes of a violent civil war; the roots of which run deep and which are extremely complicated. We have seen images of the devastation taking place within the country, especially in Homs, Hama and to some extent in Damascus itself. We have heard about the huge numbers killed, well over a hundred thousand now, the two million or more who have fled the country and are living in tents in the desert, often without enough food and other problems. It is a situation so bad that the average person not directly involved is unable to fully comprehend it.

We know that both the Syrian and opposition forces are well armed and have the means to turn Damascus into a “heap of ruins”. Could one or other of these adversaries in a final act of desperation resort to such tactics? And what if Israel is brought into the conflict and needs to defend itself? These are merely possibilities leading to the destruction of Damascus. Certainly there is a lot of pain and suffering going on right now throughout Syria as well as in Damascus, Homs and Hama.

damascusThe question we pose is this: “Is it possible that we are witnessing an aspect of God’s prophetic Word about to be fulfilled”?

A sobering question!

We do not say it is – although we do urge readers to be aware of Bible prophecy and current events in the Middle East and, above all, to keep their focus on Jesus.

 

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.


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Bible Prophecy: We Are Close to Christ’s Return

bible_prophecy1Today we want to consider some well-known and often quoted prophetic verses of scriptures, not so much as a teaching exercise but, as a reminder of how close we are to the return of Jesus.

The verses we refer to are found in Luke 17: 26-28:

“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;…”’

There are, in fact, two very different aspects in these three verses.

  • In the first (verses 26 and 27) Jesus tells his disciples that before He comes again it will be like the days of Noah when people were leading carefree lives unaware of the impending disaster about to overtake them. 
  • In the second (verse 27) He tells them it will be the same as it was in Sodom before it was destroyed.

It is interesting to note that in both cases people were eating and drinking, buying, selling and marrying; in other words leading apparently normal and carefree lives. Yet in both cases they were behaving in a manner unacceptable to God. In the days of Noah it was corruption and violence (Gen. 6:11) and in the days of Sodom it was sexual abomination, especially homosexuality (Gen 19). In time each was judged for their, different but, unacceptable behaviour.

But Jesus also says that before His coming again both of these sinful behaviors will be present in the world and He clearly warns of the consequences of such behaviour.

If we look around the world today we see violence and corruption abounds everywhere: we see it between tribes, nations, within societies and even in families. Certainly none of this is a new phenomenon, yet it appears to be on the increase everywhere; frequently confirmed by governments and law enforcement authorities, stating that violence is on the increase and becoming more difficult to deal with. In the light of Jesus’ remarks to His disciples, the question we surely have to now ask ourselves is: “How close are we to the point where God will not tolerate it anymore and step in to deal with the problem”?

Of course homosexuality and general sexual promiscuity is everywhere and also on the increase, being encouraged by the media, also governments, especially in the West. Even Christian denominations are now openly allowing practicing homosexual leaders to minister and teach their congregations; in flagrant violation of God’s Word which explicitly condemns such behaviour. The increase in these evils in recent years has been astounding.

In addition the secular world not only mocks God but denies his very existence. God will not tolerate such behaviour for much longer.

Surely, the world is fast approaching the point of the days of Noah and Sodom, which Jesus warned would happen before His return.  We can only conclude that there cannot be much time left before Jesus returns to correct matters.  As the Lord said to Abraham:

“Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” (Gen 18:20, 21)

Let us ask ourselves: Are WE at this point yet? 

And if not, how close are we…?

Bible believing Christians need to constantly remind themselves of this and not become complacent and allow themselves to be seduced by the ways of the secular world.

It is interesting to note that when Lot tried to warn his two sons-in-law to leave the city because God was about to destroy it, they would not listen because “his sons-in-law thought he was joking”. (NIV Gen: 19:14).

Even now, in our day, we see that many have disregarded the warnings that Jesus is coming soon, even to the point of ridicule.

But those Christians who hear and understand Jesus’ prophetic words of what will take place beforehand – that God will not forever tolerate the gross sin being perpetrated in the world today – must stand firm and persist in warning others of the nearness of His return.

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.


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Bible Prophecy: Why Study It?

bibsAmongst Christians, there seem to be two schools of thought concerning Bible Prophecy. One school of thought, possibly the vast majority of Christians, simply chose to ignore it; while at the other extreme they embrace it to the point of ridicule.

So how should we Christians regard Biblical Prophecy? To answer this question we need to look at a few facts concerning prophecy in the Bible and then ask ourselves a few pertinent questions. Hopefully we will be able to come up with a sensible answer to this apparent dilemma.

Firstly, let us make it very clear that we believe, and know, that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God.

There are various estimates about how much of the Bible concerns prophecy, but we go along with the view of a number of Bible scholars who have calculated that some 30% of the Bible is prophetic; therefore making bible-cover-pageprophecy a substantial portion of the Bible. They also calculate that 80% of Bible prophecy has been fulfilled; leaving 20% of it unfulfilled.

The Bible contains about 31,000 verses and if we assume one prophecy = one verse, we find that over 9,000 Bible verses are prophetic with nearly 2,000 prophetic Bible verses remaining to be fulfilled.

Since God included so much prophetic insight in His Word, how can we simply ignore it? Primarily prophecy is a message from God, not merely foretelling future events. Of course it goes without saying that we have to be careful not to interpret unfulfilled prophecy to suit our position, whatever that may be. Date setting is one particular example where some Bible scholars have opened themselves up to ridicule, as well as bringing disrepute upon Christians in general and the Bible in particular.

So yes, we believe in the importance of Bible prophecy and the need to study it to try to help us explain some of the events currently taking place or unfolding in the world. Some of these we will look at and discuss from time to time.

We also believe that we need to be aware of the “signs of the times” so that we are not like the people (and religious leaders) of 2,000 years ago who, from prophetic scriptures then known to them, should have known the time of Jesus’ coming.

We don’t want the rebuke they received from Him when he said in Luke 12: 56:

“Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” NIV

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in the new series of “Bible Prophecy” on this blog.