Isaiah 17 begins with a prophecy against Damascus. It says that Damascus will cease from being a city and will become a ruinous heap.
According to 2 Kings 16:7, Tiglath-Pileser, the king of Assyria responded to King Ahaz of Judah when the king of Syria and the king of Israel were a threat to him. Tiglath-Pileser received silver and gold from King Ahaz and came against Damascus. Tiglath-Pileser:
- took the city of Damascus,
- carried the people from there to Kir,
- killed Rezin, the king of Syria.
- replaced the people of Damascus with Assyrians.[i]
The Bible does not say that Damascus ceased to be a city at that time. It is still inhabited today. It seems as if the prophecy of Isaiah 17 may be for the future unless this prophecy was a hyperbole.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, King Ahaz, the king of Judah went to Damascus after the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser made war against the Syrians. While King Ahaz was in Damascus, he saw an altar there. He sent the design and pattern of this altar to Urijah the priest who built a copy of it for King Ahaz. Once King Ahaz returned home, he made offerings on this altar instead of the one in the temple. Josephus says that King Ahaz eventually shut up the temple entirely and caused the sacrifices to cease prior to his death.[ii]
Hoshea became the king of Israel in Samaria in the 12th year of King Ahaz’ reign. He became a vassal of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria and paid tribute money but Hoshea eventually rebelled against Shalmaneser and stopped paying tribute. Hoshea was put in prison and the king of Assyria made war with Samaria for three years. In Hoshea’s 9th year (Hezekiah’s 6th year), the people of Samaria were carried away to Assyria and Assyrians were brought from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and Sepharvaim to live in Samaria.[iii] These foreigners learned about the ways of the Lord and how to worship Him; however, even though they feared the Lord, they continued to worship their own gods.
The foreigners tried to serve two masters. This is simply not possible to do. Their loyalty to their idols showed who they really loved.
Prior to this, in Hoshea’s 3rd year as king of Israel, Hezekiah began to reign in Judah. He trusted and loved the Lord more than any other before or after him. He destroyed the high places, the sacred pillars, and the wooden image. He also destroyed the bronze serpent that Moses had made. By doing these things, Hezekiah was a picture of what the Messiah will do when He returns to begin His millennial reign.
Hezekiah did not serve the king of Assyria. Although the king of Assyria eventually threatened Hezekiah, the Assyrians never destroyed Jerusalem.
Could all of this be a pattern for the last days? There is already trouble in Damascus. When will it finally cease from being a city and become a ruined heap? Will its people be destroyed or displaced? Will the people who are loyal to the coming Antichrist take over the areas nearby that remain?
Eventually, a temple is expected will be built in Jerusalem, sacrifices will commence, an abomination of desolation will be brought into the temple, the sacrifices will cease. Israel will be invaded, its people will be killed or displaced, and invaders will take the dwellings of the Jews. These invaders will worship their own god and not fear the Lord. The King of kings and Lord of lords will come but certainly not to serve the Antichrist.
As Isaiah 17 continues, it describes the glory of Jacob; his flesh will be lean; perhaps as lean as those who survived the Holocaust. Verse 7 says a man will look to his Creator and he will have respect for the Holy One of Israel and not look to idols. This day is coming in the future. The nations will rush to war against Israel but God will rebuke and chase them away. Certainly, this is a veiled reference to the Battle of Armageddon and not just about the Assyrians of Isaiah’s day.
Today, Israel must not forget the God of their salvation! The Jews must be mindful of the Rock of their stronghold. They must not fear the threats of the nations that surround them. God’s people must put their hope and trust in the Lord and never falter!
Lord, open the eyes and ears of Your people so they can see, hear, and know You! Turn their hearts to You! Let them cry out for You, O Lord! May they feast on The Manna and drink from The Water of Life!
[i] Complete Works of Flavius Josephus, Antiquites of the Jews, Book 9, Chapter 12, Verse 3, page 542.
[iii] 2 Kings 17:24.