The current unrest in the Middle East, especially ISIS and the civil war in Syria, has many Christians talking about the destruction of Damascus. Some believe that Damascus will be destroyed before the tribulation, possibly by a nuke, while others think that the city will be destroyed at some other point in time. The question for this article is “When will Damascus be destroyed?” The relevant text in Scripture comes from Isaiah 17:1-3:
“See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to flocks, which will lie down, with no one to make them afraid. The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and royal power from Damascus; the remnant of Aram will be like the glory of the Israelites…”
[Note: Aram is the ancient name for Syria; Ephraim was one of the twelve tribes of Israel and it became another name for the Northern Kingdom of Israel; Aroer was a town in present-day Jordan.]
The prophet Isaiah clearly teaches that the city of Damascus will one day be completely destroyed and will become “a heap of ruins.” This has never happened in history. Damascus is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world, and has never been a ruined city. It is obvious to Christians who believe that the Bible is the Word of God that the city of Damascus still has to be destroyed. It is still in the future. The question is “when will it happen?”
The thing to notice is that the verses above do not say when the city will be destroyed. They just simply say that it will be a ruin. However, when we look at the rest of chapter 17 a picture begins to emerge. Verses 4-11 speak about Israel wasting away and the Israelites turning their hearts back to the Lord because of their problems.
However, it is in verses 12-14 that we get a possible timeframe for the destruction of Damascus. Verses 12-14 say,” Oh, the raging of many nations – they rage like the raging sea! Oh, the uproar of the people – they roar like the roaring of great waters! Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters, when he rebukes them they flee away, driven before the wind like chaff on the hills, like tumbleweed before a gale. In the evening, sudden terror! Before the morning, they are gone! This is the portion of those who loot us, the lot of those who plunder us.”
Scholar Thomas Ice believes that these verses are similar to passages in Scripture that speak about the battle of Armageddon (see for example Joel 3:1-17, Matthew 24:29-31, Revelation 16:14 and 19:11-21.) I believe that this is probably the best interpretation of Isaiah 17. God will judge and destroy Damascus when he judges the other nations that surround Israel (see Joel 3:11-12, Zachariah 12:2, 6; 14:14).
The ancient city of Damascus is going to be destroyed in the future. However, it seems more likely that it will be destroyed at Armageddon when Christ judges the nations instead of before the tribulation.
What do you think? Do you agree with this interpretation? If not, when do you think Damascus will be destroyed?