Because of the latest developments in Syria, prophecy prognosticators are coming out of the woodwork . . . again. The same thing happened in 2011 when prophecy hobbyists were claiming that Isaiah 17 was being fulfilled right before our eyes. Here’s an example from a video that was uploaded on July 21, 2011:
Damascus in Isaiah 17 is going to be destroyed in 1 day. This is about to occur in our lifetime in just a matter of months. It’s in the news and everywhere you look! This is going to fulfill one of the biggest biblical prophecies of all time! Be ready for Christ’s Return after this occurs! I hope this gives you hope of His coming!
Notice the time reference: “in just a matter of months.” That was more than two years ago making it a false prophecy about a true prophecy that was fulfilled nearly 2700 years ago.
Never learning and people forgetting, the claim is being made again that the events prophesied in Isaiah 17 about Damascus were never fully fulfilled in history, and like clockwork, naïve Christians are getting sucked in.
The topic has even gotten attention from the mainstream media. TIME magazinepicked up on the story. So did the Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and USA Today among other media outlets. Glenn Beck’s The Blaze has an extended article on the topic: “Why Some Believe These ‘End Times’ Bible Verses Could Hold the Key to the Syrian Crisis.”
Not all end-time prognosticators teach that the Damascus prophecy is being fulfilled in our day. Surprisingly, Dr. Charles Dyer, who is a professor at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, argues that Damascus “was destroyed in the 7th and 8th centuries” B.C. I say surprisingly since in 1991 he wrote The Rise of Babylon: Sign of the End Times in which he claimed that present-day Iraq is the Babylon of Isaiah 13 and Revelation (16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21). He maintained that Saddam Hussein’s building program was proof that Babylon would rise from the desert sands in fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Dyer’s book even had Saddam in a Nebuchadnezzar look-a-like pose with the following caption:
SADDAM HUSSEIN and the ancient world conqueror Nebuchadnezzar. Not only do they look alike, but their mission is the same — to control the world. And the symbol of this world domination is an ancient city [Babylon]. . .
It’s obvious that Dyer has taken a different approach when it comes to the Damascus prophecy:
“Isaiah 17 predicted the destruction of the city, along with the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel… Damascus was captured by Assyrians in 732 BC and the northern kingdom of Israel fell when the capital city of Samaria was captured by the Assyrians in 722 BC.”
And 100 years later, the prophet Jeremiah also predicted the fall of Damascus, which had been rebuilt, he added. “His message was fulfilled when the city was captured by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.”
In addition to Dyer, dispensational author Mark Hitchcock, who sees prophetic fulfillment in everything that’s going on today, makes a strong case that the Damascus prophecy has been fulfilled. After offering a helpful critique of some speculative interpretations of the Isaiah 17 prophecy, Hitchcock offers this cogent commentary:
I believe it makes more sense to hold that Isaiah 17 was fulfilled in the eighth century BC when both Damascus, the capital of Syria, and Samaria, the capital of Israel, were hammered by the Assyrians. In that conquest, both Damascus and Samaria were destroyed, just as Isaiah 17 predicts. According to history, Tiglath-pileser III (745–727 BC) pushed vigorously to the west, and in 734 the Assyrians advanced and laid siege to Damascus, which fell two years later in 732.1
It’s unfortunate that Hitchcock couldn’t leave well enough alone. At the end of the chapter he writes, “Having said that, I do believe that events today in Syria point toward the fulfillment of biblical prophecies that have not yet come to pass.” He claims that “the stage is being set for a Middle East peace treaty prophesied in Daniel 9:27.”2 There is no mention of a Middle East peace treaty in Daniel 9:27, an antichrist, a gap of nearly 200 years, a rebuilt temple, a covenant with the Jews, etc.3