St. Paul, Minnesota’s Downtown Skyway


I had never experienced downtown living until August 2012, when Jasmine and I got married and moved into an apartment in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. We found it to be a beautiful city, and really enjoyed living there. (A month ago we moved to Bowling Green, Ohio.)

Downtown St. Paul 02 - Copy

           View of downtown St. Paul from just south of the Mississippi River  (Credit: Personal photo)

Mississippi River

View of the Mississippi River and the Smith Avenue high bridge from downtown St. Paul (Credit: Personal photo)

One of the things we liked most about downtown St. Paul was its skyway system. Downtown St. Paul is relatively small, but it has five miles of skyway, all of it elevated one story above street level. It’s like a city within a city, linking 47 city blocks. Inside are two food courts, various shops, additional eating places, access to apartments and buildings, etc. (Minneapolis, by the way, has eight miles of skyway.) This map of downtown St. Paul shows the skyway routes in red:

St. Paul Skyway Map-page-0

Map Source

Winters are excessively cold in St. Paul, so having a skyway system is a great idea and a very welcome addition to the city. Please enjoy a series of photos from inside the skyway:

Skyway 01

Skyway 02

Skyway 03

Skyway 04

Skyway 05

Skyway 06

Skyway 07

In future posts, I plan to include more photos and videos from our time in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. I have plenty of organizing to do first.

**The photos above can also be viewed in a slideshow on Youtube.

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The Bible: Interesting Facts and Study Principles


Fun Quiz

(Answers are below.)

1. How many books are contained in the Bible?

A. 56 B. 66 C. 76 D. 86

2. How many books are in the Old Testament?

A. 27 B. 29 C. 37 D. 39

3. How many books are in the New Testament?

A. 21 B. 24 C. 27 D. 37

4. What is the only book of the Bible that doesn’t mention God?

A. Esther B. James C. Hezekiah D. Ecclesiastes

5. How many accounts of the gospel are in the Bible, and what are those books called?

6. What is the name of the last book of the Bible?

7. Which book of the Bible has the most chapters, and how many are there?

8. What book of the Bible has the shortest name (i.e. the least amount of letters)?

9. Which five books of the Bible contain only one chapter?

10. Can you name any secular historians who lived during the time when the New Testament was written, and whose writings back up many of the narratives written in the New Testament?

INTERESTING FACTS

There are many interesting facts about the Bible, which, according to Daniel Radosh of The New Yorker, is not only the best-selling book of all time, but also the best-selling book every year. The following are just a few of these facts:

  • Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible, containing only two verses. Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, containing 176 verses.
  • Psalm 118 is the middle chapter in the Bible (there are 594 chapters before Psalm 118, and 594 chapters after Psalm 118).
  • The middle verse in the Bible is Psalm 118:8, which reads, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
  • The book of Psalms, the longest book in the Bible, contains 150 chapters and 43,743 words. The book of 3 John is the shortest book, and contains only 299 words.
  • The longest verse in the Bible is Esther 8:9, with 90 words. The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, with only two words (“Jesus wept“).
  • There are 31,102 verses in the Bible (more than 23,000 in the Old Testament, and almost 8,000 in the New Testament. That’s an average of 26 verses per chapter.
  • The Bible was only divided into chapters in the year 1228, by Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The New Testament was only divided into verses in the year 1551, by Sir Robert Stephens.

PRINCIPLES FOR UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE


Distinguish Between Literary Forms and Genres

The Bible is made up of narratives (stories) more than any other type of literature (other genres include law, poetry, wisdom, prophecies, parables, and epistles). Narratives sometimes teach things indirectly, rather than directly. For example, in the story of David committing adultery with Bathsheba (II Samuel 11), we’re not told directly that adultery is wrong. However, this was already taught directly in the law of Moses (e.g. Exodus 20:14). Still, II Samuel 11 illustrates how David’s adultery harmed his personal life and his ability to rule over Israel.

Note the Context

In the Bible, it’s rare that we seek to understand a single verse by itself, or isolated from all surrounding verses. There are exceptions to this, of course, in the book of Proverbs. Looking at a verse or a passage in context means considering a larger portion of the text as a whole.

The word “earth,” for example, is used many times in both the Old and New Testaments. In some places where it’s used, it’s not a reference to the entire globe. Instead, it’s a reference to the land of Israel (i.e. the Promised Land) only. In fact, some Bible translations will use “earth” in the same passages where other translations will use the word “land.” Luke 21:23 is one example of this pattern. Even if a translation uses the word “earth” in this verse, the context ought to clearly show that Jesus was speaking specifically about Israel. He predicted that Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies (verse 20), and He warned “those living in Judea” to flee to the mountains (verse 21). He then spoke of “great distress in the earth” (or “land”) and “wrath against this people” (verse 23). The context shows that He didn’t speak of people in Chicago, or of people living in the 21st century, but of Jews living in his own generation.

Consider Audience Relevance

“Exegesis” is a literary interpretation method that involves determining what a text meant to those who first received it. This method should guide “hermeneutics,” the science of interpretation. So the first question to ask is, “What did the text mean to the original audience that first heard or read it?” Then, and only then, is it time to ask the second question: “What does this text mean to us now?”

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and other Old Testament prophets often announced the future. However, were they speaking about our future, or were they speaking about the more immediate future of Israel, Judah, and other surrounding nations? Many today believe that Ezekiel 38-39 speaks of a future invasion of modern-day Israel by Russia, Ethiopia, and a few other countries. This is despite the fact that Ezekiel described ancient warfare (e.g. the use of horses) in his prophecy.

In II Thessalonians 2, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica about the man of sin and the Day of the Lord. Many today assume that what Paul told them will be revealed soon and will take place for our generation to see. Yet consider what Paul said to his first century readers: “Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” (verses 5-7).

Similarly, John told his first century readers in the book of Revelation that they were capable of calculating “the number of the beast”: “Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666” (Revelation 13:18). In other words, they could figure out who the beast was. Many have not considered the audience relevance when thinking of this text, and have insisted that the beast (or “Antichrist,” they might say) was Napoleon, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Barack Obama, etc.

It’s also important to note that we don’t live under the Old Covenant, as ancient Israel once did. This covenant, through Jesus, has been made obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). There are commands that were given to the ancient Israelites under the law, which are no longer instructive to God’s people on how to live. We can still derive principles from those laws, understand God better by reading those portions of Scripture, and understand how certain types and shadows are now fulfilled in Jesus, etc. Yet we are not bound by the Old Covenant laws which functioned as a national constitution for ancient Israelites who lived in the land of Israel. We are told in Hebrews 8, for example, that this first covenant was not faultless (verse 7), was made obsolete (verse 13), and has been replaced by a new covenant with better promises (verse 6).

Scripture Interprets Scripture

We are not the ultimate authority when it comes to interpreting Scripture. If we believe that the Biblical authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit, then we can appreciate how they interpret older Scripture passages, even if it means setting aside our own preconceived notions. We see an interesting example of this principle very early in the New Testament when Matthew takes an Old Testament passage from Hosea 11:1 that clearly refers to ancient Israel (“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son“), and applies it to Jesus:

Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring your word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.’ When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt I called My Son’” (Matthew 2:13-15).

The implication is that Matthew viewed Israel, not as his own homeland, the political nation of Israel, but rather as Jesus.

In Isaiah 11 and Isaiah 65 we see a prophecy that a wolf will lay down with a lamb. Many today believe or teach that the animal kingdom will literally be transformed in this way in a future millennium, a period lasting 1000 years. However, Paul demonstrated in Romans 15 that Isaiah 11 was fulfilled through Jesus’ work on the cross, and His bringing together Jews and Gentiles in Himself. In other words, the wolf and the lamb represented Jews and Gentiles.

In Matthew 23 Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, the religious rulers of Israel, when He said:

“I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:35-36).

Who did Jesus say would be responsible for shedding the blood of all righteous people, and which generation would be held responsible? Clearly, it’s first century Israel. So what do we conclude then when we see these passages in the book of Revelation?

[1] “Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, ‘You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be, because You have judged these things. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.'” (Revelation 16:4-6)

[2] “I saw the woman [Babylon the Great], drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” (Revelation 17:6)

[3] “Alas, alas, that great city… Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you holy apostles and prophets, for God has avenged you on her! … And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.” (Revelation 18:20, 24)

Not only do Jesus’ words in Matthew 23 tell us who shed this blood and when they did it, but the principle of “first mention” can help us here as well. “The great city” is first mentioned in Revelation 11:8. There it is described as “the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” We know, of course, that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem. The “great city” then is Jerusalem, which also happens to be the city Jesus said in Matthew 23 would be held responsible for the shed blood of all the saints. 

Types and Shadows Point Toward Fulfillment

The New Testament follows the Old Testament in the Bible. Within the Old Testament, there were many practices and laws which foreshadowed realities that have been fulfilled in Jesus. The book of Hebrews speaks much about the types and shadows (e.g. in the sacrificial system) which pointed toward Jesus. One form of eschatology, the study of last things, teaches that in a future millennium there will be renewed animal sacrifices and offerings in a rebuilt temple. Does this teaching not promote a return to types and shadows? One author, Kim Riddlebarger, calls this ” a redemptive-historical U-turn.” Perhaps this teaching persists because some view certain prophetic passages in the Old Testament through a lens that doesn’t recognize apocalyptic language, and assumptions are made that they haven’t yet been fulfilled.

ANSWERS TO THE QUIZ

1. B (66)

2. D (39)

3. C (27)

4. A (Esther); P.S. There is no book called “Hezekiah.”

5. Four: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

6. Revelation

7. Psalms; 150

8. Job

9. Obadiah, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, Jude

10. Josephus (a Jew); Tacitus (a Roman)

Sources:

1. Maarschalk, Adam. “Romans 15 Shows That Isaiah 11 Is Fulfilled.” Pursuing Truth Blog. January 29, 2012. http://kloposmasm.com/2012/01/29/romans-15-shows-that-isaiah-11-is-fulfilled/
2. Radosh, Daniel. “The Good Book Business.” The New Yorker. December 18, 2006. http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/12/18/061218fa_fact1
3. Riddlebarger, Kim. “Jesus, The True Temple.” The Riddleblog. April 9, 2008. http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/the-latest-post/2008/4/9/jesus-the-true-temple.html

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This article first appeared on the Yahoo Contributor Network

An Outline of the Book of Isaiah


The last two posts on Isaiah 17 (covering verses 1-6 and verses 7-14) have rekindled my desire to study Isaiah’s prophetic writings more deeply. As time allows, I hope to complete and post more studies from this rich and wonderful book, especially verse-by-verse studies. A few studies from the book of Isaiah are already listed on our Bible Studies page.

One of the rich features in Isaiah is the level of insight he was given into the new covenant age we presently live in and enjoy. He not only gave warnings to Judah, Israel, and other surrounding nations, but he also spent a great deal of time sharing the visions he was given of the spiritual blessings available to God’s people now in Jesus Christ.

Another feature I hope to bring out is Isaiah’s accuracy as a prophet for his own time. God used Isaiah as a voice to foretell times of judgment and redemption that his own people and surrounding peoples would soon experience. And his words came to pass. This is important at a time when books are being sold by the millions speculating on how Isaiah’s prophecies are about America, Syria, a “resurrected Babylon,” and other modern nations, while often ignoring how they were beautifully fulfilled in his own generation or soon afterward. For example, a well-known author left a comment at this site last week implying that Isaiah 13-23 will be fulfilled in the future. However, looking just at Isaiah 13 (Isaiah’s burden against Babylon), not only did Isaiah prophesy at a time in history when there really was an empire named Babylon, but verse 17 even identifies who would overthrow Babylon: “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them…” (Isaiah 13:17). The fulfillment of this prophecy is shown in Daniel 5-6 when the Medo-Persians defeated Babylon.

The Biblica website has a very informative outline of the book of Isaiah published by Zondervan. I’m reproducing it here, and also including much of Zondervan’s description on the book of Isaiah. I believe it will be helpful as a guide to future studies on Isaiah at this site, as well as helpful for anyone at anytime:

Isaiah

Outline

Part 1: The Book of Judgment (chs. 1–39)

  • Messages of Rebuke and Promise (chs. 1–6)
    • Introduction: Charges against Judah for Breaking the Covenant (ch. 1)
    • The Future Discipline and Glory of Judah and Jerusalem (chs. 2–4)
      1. Jerusalem’s future blessings (2:1–5)
      2. The Lord’s discipline of Judah (2:6—4:1)
      3. The restoration of Zion (4:2–6)
    • The Nation’s Judgment and Exile (ch. 5)
    • Isaiah’s Unique Commission (ch. 6)
  • Prophecies Occasioned by the Aramean and Israelite Threat against Judah (chs. 7–12)
    • Ahaz Warned Not to Fear the Aramean and Israelite Alliance (ch. 7)
    • Isaiah’s Son and David’s Son (8:1—9:7)
    • Judgment against Israel (9:8—10:4)
    • The Assyrian Empire and the Davidic Kingdom (10:5—12:6)
      1. The destruction of Assyria (10:5–34)
      2. The establishment of the Davidic king and his kingdom (ch. 11)
      3. Songs of joy for deliverance (ch. 12)
  • Judgment against the Nations (chs. 13–23)
    • Against Assyria and Its Ruler (13:1—14:27)
    • Against Philistia (14:28–32)
    • Against Moab (chs. 15–16)
    • Against Aram and Israel (ch. 17)
    • Against Cush (ch. 18)
    • Against Egypt and Cush (chs. 19–20)
    • Against Babylon (21:1–10)
    • Against Dumah (Edom) (21:11–12)
    • Against Arabia (21:13–17)
    • Against the Valley of Vision (Jerusalem) (ch. 22)
    • Against Tyre (ch. 23)
  • Judgment and Promise (the Lord’s Kingdom) (chs. 24–27)
    • Universal Judgments for Universal Sin (ch. 24)
    • Deliverance and Blessing (ch. 25)
    • Praise for the Lord’s Sovereign Care (ch. 26)
    • Israel’s Enemies Punished but Israel’s Remnant Restored (ch. 27)
  • Six Woes: Five on the Unfaithful in Israel and One on Assyria (chs. 28–33)
    • Woe to Ephraim (Samaria)—and to Judah (ch. 28)
    • Woe to David’s City, Jerusalem (29:1–14)
    • Woe to Those Who Rely on Foreign Alliances (29:15–24)
    • Woe to the Obstinate Nation (ch. 30)
    • Woe to Those Who Rely on Egypt (chs. 31–32)
    • Woe to Assyria—but Blessing for God’s People (ch. 33)
  • More Prophecies of Judgment and Promise (chs. 34–35)
    • The Destruction of the Nations and the Avenging of God’s People (ch. 34)
    • The Future Blessings of Restored Zion (ch. 35)
  • A Historical Transition from the Assyrian Threat to the Babylonian Exile (chs. 36–39)
    • Jerusalem Preserved from the Assyrian Threat (chs. 36–37)
      1. The siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib and the Assyrian army (ch. 36)
      2. The Lord’s deliverance of Jerusalem (ch. 37)
    • The Lord’s Extension of Hezekiah’s Life (ch. 38)
    • The Babylonian Exile Predicted (ch. 39)

    Part 2: The Book of Comfort (chs. 40–66)

  • The Deliverance and Restoration of Israel (chs. 40–48)
    • The Coming of the Victorious God (40:1–26)
    • Unfailing Strength for the Weary Exiles (40:27–31)
    • The Lord of History (41:1—42:9)
    • Praise and Exhortation (42:10–25)
    • The Regathering and Renewal of Israel (43:1—44:5)
    • The Only God (44:6—45:25)
    • The Lord’s Superiority over Babylon’s Gods (ch. 46)
    • The Fall of Babylon (ch. 47)
    • The Lord’s Exhortations to His People (ch. 48)
  • The Servant’s Ministry and Israel’s Restoration (chs. 49–57)
    • The Call and Mission of the Servant (49:1–13)
    • The Repopulation of Zion (49:14–26)
    • Israel’s Sin and the Servant’s Obedience (ch. 50)
    • The Remnant Comforted Because of Their Glorious Prospect (51:1—52:12)
    • The Sufferings and Glories of the Lord’s Righteous Servant (52:13—53:12)
    • The Future Glory of Zion (ch. 54)
    • The Lord’s Call to Salvation and Covenant Blessings (55:1—56:8)
    • The Condemnation of the Wicked in Israel (56:9—57:21)
  • Everlasting Deliverance and Everlasting Judgment (chs. 58–66)
    • False and True Worship (ch. 58)
    • Zion’s Confession and Redemption (ch. 59)
    • Zion’s Peace and Prosperity (ch. 60)
    • The Lord’s Favor (ch. 61)
    • Zion’s Restoration and Glory (62:1—63:6)
    • Prayer for Divine Deliverance (63:7—64:12)
    • The Lord’s Answer: Mercy and Judgment (ch. 65)
    • Judgment for False Worshipers and Blessing for True Worshipers (ch. 66)

Position in the Hebrew Bible

In the Hebrew Bible the book of Isaiah initiates a division called the Latter Prophets…including also Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Twelve Minor Prophets (so called because of their small size by comparison with the major prophetic books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and not at all suggesting that they are of minor importance)… Thus Isaiah occupies pride of place among the Latter Prophets. This is fitting since he is sometimes referred to as the prince of the prophets.

Author

Isaiah, the son of Amoz is often thought of as the greatest of the writing prophets. His name means “The Lord saves.” He was a contemporary of Amos, Hosea and Micah, beginning his ministry in 740 b.c., the year King Uzziah died (see note on 6:1). According to an unsubstantiated Jewish tradition (The Ascension of Isaiah), he was sawed in half during the reign of Manasseh (cf. Heb 11:37). Isaiah was married and had at least two sons, Shear-Jashub (7:3) and Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (8:3). He probably spent most of his life in Jerusalem, enjoying his greatest influence under King Hezekiah (see 37:1–2). Isaiah is also credited with writing a history of the reign of King Uzziah (2Ch 26:22).

Many scholars today challenge the claim that Isaiah wrote the entire book that bears his name. Yet his is the only name attached to it (see 1:1; 2:1; 13:1). The strongest argument for the unity of Isaiah is the expression “the Holy One of Israel,” a title for God that occurs 12 times in chs. 1–39 and 14 times in chs. 40–66. Outside Isaiah it appears in the OT only 6 times. There are other striking verbal parallels between chs. 1–39 and chs. 40–66. Compare the following verses:

1:2 66:24
1:5-6 53:4–5
5:27 40:30
6:1 52:13; 57:15
6:11–12 62:4
11:1 53:2
11:6–9 65:25
11:12 49:22
35:10 51:11

Altogether, there are at least 25 Hebrew words or forms found in Isaiah (i.e., in both major divisions of the book) that occur in no other prophetic writing.

Isaiah’s use of fire as a figure of punishment (see 1:31; 10:17; 26:11; 33:11–14; 34:9–10; 66:24), his references to the “holy mountain” of Jerusalem (see note on 2:2–4) and his mention of the highway to Jerusalem (see note on 11:16) are themes that recur throughout the book.

The structure of Isaiah also argues for its unity. Chs. 36–39 constitute a historical interlude, which concludes chs. 1–35 and introduces chs. 40–66 (see note on 36:1).

Several NT verses refer to the prophet Isaiah in connection with various parts of the book: Mt 12:17–21 (Isa 42:1–4); Mt 3:3 and Lk 3:4 (Isa 40:3); Ro 10:16,20 (Isa 53:1; 65:1); see especially Jn 12:38–41 (Isa 53:1; 6:10).

Date

Most of the events referred to in chs. 1–39 occurred during Isaiah’s ministry (see 6:1; 14:28; 36:1), so these chapters may have been completed not long after 701 b.c., the year the Assyrian army was destroyed (see note on 10:16). The prophet lived until at least 681 (see note on 37:38) and may have written chs. 40–66 during his later years. In his message to the exiles of the sixth century b.c., Isaiah was projected into the future, just as Ezekiel was in Eze 40–48.

Background

Isaiah wrote during the stormy period marking the expansion of the Assyrian empire and the decline of Israel. Under King Tiglath-Pileser III (745–727 b.c.) the Assyrians swept westward into Aram (Syria) and Canaan. About 733 the kings of Aram and Israel tried to pressure Ahaz king of Judah into joining a coalition against Assyria. Ahaz chose instead to ask Tiglath-Pileser for help, a decision condemned by Isaiah (see note on 7:1). Assyria did assist Judah and conquered the northern kingdom in 722–721. This made Judah even more vulnerable, and in 701 King Sennacherib of Assyria threatened Jerusalem itself (see 36:1 and note). The godly King Hezekiah prayed earnestly, and Isaiah predicted that God would force the Assyrians to withdraw from the city (37:6–7).

Nevertheless Isaiah warned Judah that her sin would bring captivity at the hands of Babylon. The visit of the Babylonian king’s envoys to Hezekiah set the stage for this prediction (see 39:1,6 and notes). Although the fall of Jerusalem would not take place until 586 b.c., Isaiah assumes the destruction of Judah and proceeds to predict the restoration of the people from captivity (see 40:2–3 and notes). God would redeem his people from Babylon just as he rescued them from Egypt (see notes on 35:9; 41:14). Isaiah predicts the rise of Cyrus the Persian, who would unite the Medes and Persians and conquer Babylon in 539 (see 41:2 and note). The decree of Cyrus would allow the Jews to return home in 538/537, a deliverance that prefigured the greater salvation from sin through Christ (see 52:7 and note).

Themes and Theology

Isaiah is a book that unveils the full dimensions of God’s judgment and salvation. God is “the Holy One of Israel” (see 1:4; 6:1 and notes) who must punish his rebellious people (1:2) but will afterward redeem them (41:14,16). Israel is a nation blind and deaf (6:9–10; 42:7), a vineyard that will be trampled (5:1–7), a people devoid of justice or righteousness (5:7; 10:1–2). The awful judgment that will be unleashed upon Israel and all the nations that defy God is called “the day of the Lord”… Throughout the book, God’s judgment is referred to as “fire” (see 1:31; 30:33 and notes). He is the “Sovereign Lord” (see note on 25:8), far above all nations and rulers (40:15–24).

Yet God will have compassion on his people (14:1–2) and will rescue them from both political and spiritual oppression. Their restoration is like a new exodus (43:2,16–19; 52:10–12) as God redeems them (see 35:9; 41:14 and notes) and saves them (see 43:3; 49:8 and notes). Israel’s mighty Creator (40:21–22; 48:13) will make streams spring up in the desert (32:2) as he graciously leads them home. The theme of a highway for the return of exiles is a prominent one (see 11:16; 40:3 and notes) in both major parts of the book. The Lord raises a banner to summon the nations to bring Israel home (see 5:26 and note).

Peace and safety mark this new Messianic age (11:6–9). A king descended from David will reign in righteousness (9:7; 32:1), and all nations will stream to the holy mountain of Jerusalem (see 2:2–4 and note). God’s people will no longer be oppressed by wicked rulers (11:14; 45:14), and Jerusalem will truly be the “City of the Lord” (60:14).

The Lord calls the Messianic King “my servant” in chs. 42–53, a term also applied to Israel as a nation (see 41:8–9; 42:1 and notes). It is through the suffering of the servant that salvation in its fullest sense is achieved. Cyrus was God’s instrument to deliver Israel from Babylon (41:2), but Christ delivered humankind from the prison of sin (52:13—53:12). He became a “light for the Gentiles” (42:6), so that those nations that faced judgment (chs. 13–23) could find salvation (55:4–5). These Gentiles also became “servants of the Lord” (see 54:17 and note)…

Literary Features

Isaiah contains both prose and poetry; the beauty of its poetry is unsurpassed in the OT. The main prose material is found in chs. 36–39, the historical interlude that unites the two parts of the book (see Author). The poetic material includes a series of oracles in chs. 13–23. A taunting song against the king of Babylon is found in 14:4–23. Chs. 24–27 comprise an apocalyptic section stressing the last days (see note on 24:1—27:13). A wisdom poem is found in 28:23–29 (also cf. 32:5–8). The song of the vineyard (5:1–7) begins as a love song as Isaiah describes God’s relationship with Israel. Hymns of praise are given in 12:1–6 and 38:10–20, and a national lament occurs in 63:7—64:12. The poetry is indeed rich and varied, as is the prophet’s vocabulary (he uses a larger vocabulary of Hebrew words than any other OT writer).

One of Isaiah’s favorite techniques is personification. The sun and moon are ashamed (24:23), while the desert and parched land rejoice (see 35:1 and note) and the mountains and forests burst into song (44:23). The trees “clap their hands” (55:12). A favorite figure is the vineyard, which represents Israel (5:7). Treading the winepress is a picture of judgment (see 63:3 and note), and to drink God’s “cup of wrath” is to stagger under his punishment (see 51:17 and note). Isaiah uses the name “Rock” to describe God (17:10), and animals such as Leviathan and Rahab represent nations (see 27:1; 30:7; 51:9).

The power of Isaiah’s imagery is seen in 30:27–33, and he makes full use of sarcasm in his denunciation of idols in 44:9–20. A forceful example of wordplay appears in 5:7 (see note there), and one finds inversion in 6:10 (see note there; see also note on 16:7) and alliteration and assonance in 24:16-17 (see note there). The “overwhelming scourge” of 28:15,18 is an illustration of mixed metaphor.

Isaiah often alludes to earlier events in Israel’s history, especially the exodus from Egypt. The crossing of the Red Sea forms the background for 11:15 and 43:2,16–17, and other allusions occur in 4:5–6; 31:5; 37:36 (see notes on these verses). The overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah is referred to in 1:9, and Gideon’s victory over Midian is mentioned in 9:4; 10:26 (see also 28:21). Several times Isaiah draws upon the song of Moses in Dt 32 (compare 1:2 with Dt 32:1; 30:17 with Dt 32:30; and 43:11,13 with Dt 32:39). Isaiah, like Moses, called the nation to repentance and to faith in a holy, all-powerful God. See also note on 49:8.

The refrain in 48:22 and 57:21 divides the last 27 chapters into three sections of nine chapters each (40-48; 49-57; 58-66; see Outline).

© Zondervan. From the Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Used with Permission.

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Isaiah 17:12-14 Is Addressed To the Enemies of Judah


Our previous post, “The Bible does not teach that Damascus, Syria is about to be destroyed,” concluded that Isaiah 17:1-6 was fulfilled during the days of the Assyrian empire, even during Isaiah’s own day. In this post we will study the final eight verses of Isaiah 17, and propose that Isaiah 17 is essentially a three-part prophecy which covers:

1. how Assyria defeated Damascus and Syria in 732 BC (verses 1-3)
2. how Assyria defeated the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC (verses 4-11)
3. how Assyria attempted to defeat Judah and Jerusalem in 701 BC, but miserably failed when God miraculously intervened (verses 12-14).

A Review of Isaiah 17:1-6

Here’s a summary of what we covered in the previous post:

  • Amos, a contemporary of Isaiah, prophesied that Damascus was to be punished and defeated, and that the people of Syria would be taken captive to Kir.
  • Isaiah 7 – 8 tell us that Syria (led by king Rezin) and Israel (led by king Pekah) conspired together in an attempt to destroy Judah and Jerusalem. Isaiah foretold that both Syria and Israel would be soundly defeated by Assyria.
  • Isaiah 17 again foretold that both Syria and Israel were about to be defeated, and that Damascus would lose its kingdom and be turned into a ruinous heap.
  • II Kings 16 shows Syria and Israel coming together to attack Judah and Jerusalem. This is followed by the king of Assyria conquering Damascus, killing Rezin (their king), and taking the people of Damascus captive to Kir.
  • Isaiah 17:4 uses the phrase “in that day” to describe when Israel would be defeated. We know that Israel was destroyed in 722 BC, and that it was at the hand of Assyria. “In that day” was a reference to the defeat of Syria and Damascus foretold in verses 1-3. So if Isaiah 17:4-11 was fulfilled when the northern kingdom of Israel fell to Assyria, then Isaiah 17:1-3 was also fulfilled around the same time.
  • We have the testimony of Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria that he destroyed 591 cities in the 16 districts of Damascus in 732 BC, and other secular testimonies that Damascus ceased to be a kingdom at this time in history (as foretold in Isaiah 17:3).

When Isaiah turned his attention from Syria (verses 1-3) to Israel, he predicted that Jacob’s glory would fade away, his flesh would grow thin, and Jacob would be like an olive tree which had only a few olives in the top branches of the tree (verses 4-6). In 722 BC Assyria struck a fatal blow to the 10 northern tribes of Israel, and they were all carried off to captivity in stages. One way to understand the few remaining olives is to consider that this left only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to the south, along with the pivotal city of Jerusalem. It could also be a reference to just a few citizens of Israel being left behind, or possibly escaping. The imagery of flesh growing thin may have also been a reference to famine caused by Assyria’s three-year siege from 725 – 722 BC (see II Kings 17:3-6).

The manner in which the Assyrians carried off their captives was humiliating and fairly gruesome. The captives had to march naked, even for hundreds of miles, linked together with string and fishhooks pierced through their lower lips (PG-rated photo at link). Amos predicted that this would come upon Israel:

“The Lord God has sworn by His holiness: ‘Behold, the days shall come upon you when He will take you away with fishhooks, and your posterity with fishhooks. You will go out through broken walls, each one straight ahead of her, and you will be cast into Harmon,’ says the Lord” (Amos 4:2-3).

Isaiah 17:7-11

Isaiah goes on to predict the aftermath of Israel’s fall to Assyria:

In that day a man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands; He will not respect what his fingers have made, nor the wooden images nor the incense altars. In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel; and there will be desolation. Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, and have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold, therefore you will plant pleasant plants and set out foreign seedlings; In the day you will make your plant to grow, and in the morning you will make your seed to flourish; but the harvest will be a heap of ruins in the day of grief and desperate sorrow” (Isaiah 17:7-11).

What a picture of heartache and futility for the captives of Israel, but also a picture of lessons learned. They would finally see the uselessness of their idols and altars made to other gods, and they would see how true and worthy God was. The Pulpit Commentary (published in 1890) notes that during Josiah’s reign “offerings of money were made for the temple service by ‘men of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel,’ which the Levites collected and brought to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 34:9)” from the captives. Yet their former cities were forsaken, and their efforts at creating a harvest would yield only “a heap of ruins.” This expression, incidentally, was also used to describe the fate of Damascus (verse 1).

Isaiah 17:12-14

Woe to the multitude of many people who make a noise like the roar of the seas, and to the rushing of nations that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, and be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. Then behold, at eventide, trouble! And before the morning, he is no more. This is the portion of those who plunder us, and the lot of those who rob us” (Isaiah 17:12-14).

Here are a couple of questions to ask regarding these final verses of Isaiah 17:

1. Who are the “many people” and “the rushing…nations” spoken of here?
2. Who is Isaiah speaking of when he says “us“?

In the previous post, we saw Syria and Israel forming a coalition to attack Judah (Isaiah 7-8), and Isaiah predicting in detail that they would both be overwhelmed by Assyria. Recall that Isaiah described Assyria as “the waters of the river, strong and mighty” (Isaiah 8:7). This imagery was significant because Israel had “refused the waters of Shiloah that flow softly” (Isaiah 8:6). This was a reference (see Nehemiah 3:15) to the stream of water flowing from the Kidron Valley toward the temple in Jerusalem, the center of worship. Isaiah goes on to describe Assyria in terms of a violent, massive body of water: “He will go up over all his channels and go over all his banks. He will pass through Judah, he will overflow and pass over, he will reach up to the neck; And the stretching out of his wings will fill the breadth of Your land, O Immanuel” (Isaiah 8:7-8).

This indicates that Isaiah is now prophesying against the same entity, Assyria, in this final portion of Isaiah 17. Assyria was an empire made up of many nations, which often had to do Assyria’s bidding “or else.” Just like in Isaiah 8, Assyria was pictured as “rushing like the rushing of mighty waters…the rushing of many waters” (Isaiah 17:12, 13).  Assyria would have already had its way with Syria and Israel, so who were they to seek to plunder and rob next (verse 14)? Isaiah includes himself when he says “us.” He’s referring to his own people, and Jewish tradition has it that Isaiah was from Judah. The overall scheme of his book was also “concerning Judah and Israel” (Isaiah 1:1). Assyria would attempt to attack Judah.

This being the case, how and when were the prophecies of verses 12-14 fulfilled? Numerous older commentators are in consensus that Isaiah’s words played out when Sennacherib, another king of Assyria, came against Judah to attack it in 701 BC. This is the opinion of Albert Barnes (1834), Adam Clarke (1831), John Gill (1763), the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary (1882), and The Pulpit Commentary (1890). Matthew Henry (1710), John Wesley (1765), and the Geneva Study Bible (1599) also at least identify Assyria as the attacking army (Source: commentaries on verse 12, verse 13, verse 14). We can see the story of Sennacherib’s attack and resounding defeat in II Kings 18-19, II Chronicles 32, and Isaiah 36-37.

In these three accounts we see that Hezekiah, who had much favor from the Lord, rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. In the fourth year of Hezekiah’s reign, Assyria besieged Samaria, finished off the northern kingdom of Israel three years later, and deported the people of Israel to the cities of the Medes and elsewhere. A decade later, Assyria captured the fortified cities of Judah, causing Hezekiah to strip the silver and gold from the temple in Jerusalem and give it to Sennacherib, who had then become king of Assyria. Sennacherib then sent a great army against Jerusalem, believing that he would take this city too. He taunted and even bribed the people of Judah with many words, saying things like this:

Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands in any way able to deliver their lands out of my hand? Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed that could deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? Now therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or persuade you like this, and do not believe him; for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you from my hand?” (II Chron. 19:13-15).

Isaiah and Hezekiah prayed and cried out to God together (II Chron. 19:20). Hezekiah specifically prayed these words: “…Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone” (II Kings 19:7-9). God’s response was amazing:

And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians 185,000; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat” (II Kings 19:35-37, Isaiah 37:36-38).

This is how God miraculously intervened when Judah was under threat by the most powerful army in the world at that time. It happened in the middle of the night, just like Isaiah 17:14 predicted. “Then behold, at eventide, trouble! And before the morning, he is no more.” Not only did Sennacherib depart, but he was chased for a long distance. Herodotus, the Greek historian known as “The Father of History,” records that when he retreated from Judah “the Egyptians pursued the army of Sennacherib and slew vast numbers” (The Histories 2:141). Isaiah 17:13 predicted that the surviving Assyrians would “be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind.” The result of these events was that God was glorified, just as Hezekiah had prayed:

Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side. And many brought gifts to the Lord at Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations thereafter” (II Chron. 32:22-23).

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Isaiah 17 contains fascinating examples of prophecies given and prophecies fulfilled. The way in which they were fulfilled is richer than any futile speculation about how Isaiah 17 might be fulfilled in our own future.

The Bible Does Not Teach That Damascus, Syria Is About To Be Destroyed


The Bible does not teach that Damascus, Syria will be destroyed in our future. We will see why this is true from both a historical and Biblical standpoint. Contrary to many predictions that are rapidly accumulating on the internet, not even Isaiah 17 contains such a prophecy for modern-day Damascus:

The burden against Damascus. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken; they will be for flocks which lie down, and no one will make them afraid. The fortress also will cease from Ephraim, the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria; they will be as the glory of the children of Israel,” says the Lord of Hosts. “In that day it shall come to pass that the glory of Jacob will wane, and the fatness of his flesh grow lean… Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it, like the shaking of an olive tree, two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in its most fruitful branches,” says the Lord God of Israel (Isaiah 17:1-6).

Isaiah, by his own testimony (Isaiah 1:1), prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, all kings of Judah. Uzziah died around the year 739 B.C. (Isaiah 6:1), and this is generally thought to be the beginning of Isaiah’s ministry as a prophet. So it appears that Isaiah delivered this prophecy against Damascus/Syria and Israel less than a decade before both locations were struck by Assyria for the first time.

 “…Furious, I dyed like a red flower [Rezin’s] charioteers, and their weapons I destroyed, and their horses. I captured his fighters, archers, and shield and lance bearers,.. In order to save his life, Rezin fled alone and entered the gate of his city like a mongoose. I impaled his foremost men alive on stakes and made his land watch. For 45 days I set up my camp around his city and enclosed him like a caged bird. I cut down his gardens, countless orchards. I didn’t leave one standing. I besieged and captured Hadara, the ancestral homeland of Rezin of Damascus and the place of his birth. I took 800 people together with their property, their cattle (and) their sheep as spoil. I took 750 captives of the cities of Kurussa (and) Sama (as well as) 550 captives from the city of Metuna as spoil. I destroyed 591 cities from the 16 districts of Damascus like ruins from the Flood…”

So said Tiglath-Pileser III, the king of Assyria, regarding his military attack on Damascus in 732 B.C. (Annals of the Assyrians 23:13’-5’ and 23:16’-7’). In this campaign he deported many of the surviving citizens of Damascus, replacing them with exiles from other parts of the empire. This was a common tactic used by Assyria to prevent conquered cities from re-emerging. It also ensured that the people and culture of each conquered territory were not left intact. The State Archives of Assyria Online (SAAo), a text database created by a team from the University of Helsinki (Finland) and based on materials found in the royal archives of Nineveh, has this to say about the fall of Damascus at that time:

“In 732 BC, the kingdom of Damascus lost its independence and existence, its holdings carved up into Assyrian provinces. Israel, on the other hand, was allowed to survive, albeit reduced to a fraction of its former size and cut off from the sea” (Source).

Peter Dubovsky, a scholar and professor from Slovakia, recounts the utter ruin of Damascus and the surrounding regions in the aftermath of Tiglath-Pileser’s campaign in his work titled, “Tiglath-pileser III’s campaigns in 734-732 B.C.: Historical background of Isa 7; 2 Kgs 15-16 and 2 Chr 27-28,” Biblica 87 (2006), pp. 153-170. It’s well-documented and worth checking out (See Link #1 or Link #2).

Israel was then attacked once again in 725 B.C., and after a 3-year siege was completely devastated. (Judah and Jerusalem remained intact until their defeat at the hands of Babylon in 586 B.C.) Damascus and Syria were also hit again in 720 B.C. when the newly crowned king of Assyria, Sargon II, crushed a regional rebellion that included these territories. UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) summarizes what happened to Damascus from this time forward:

“After being defeated twice by the Assyrians, it was definitively conquered by Nebuchadnezzar in 600 BC. It fell into Persian hands in 530 BC, and then in 333 BC it was annexed to the empire of Alexander the Great. The two adjoining areas were unified by the Romans, during the reigns of Septimius Severus and his son Caracalla (AD 197-217). The city was enclosed by a single ring of enclosure walls that are still be identified. After the interval of rule by the Sassanid Parthians, in 636 its fate was sealed permanently as part of the Arab world, becoming the prestigious and monumental capital of the Umayyad caliph. The city then began to expand outside the enclosure walls and enjoyed a time of particular economic prosperity,..” (Source)

Even more important than the validation of secular history, however, is the validation of Scripture. Isaiah 17 is a proclamation against both Syria and Israel. There is no doubt that the warnings against Israel were fulfilled soon after Isaiah delivered them. The northern kingdom of Israel never rose again after Assyria wiped it out. The warning against Israel begins with these words, “In that day…” (Isaiah 17:4). In what day? It would be in the day that Damascus would cease to be a city, would become a ruinous heap, and would have its kingdom taken away (verses 1-3). If Israel’s defeat took place in Isaiah’s day, as he prophesied, then so did the defeat of Damascus which he prophesied. The phrase, “in that day,” doesn’t allow for a 2700+ year separation between the two prophecies, as many attempt to create when they insist that modern-day Damascus is about to be destroyed in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

Amos was a contemporary prophet to Isaiah, and his ministry coincided with the reigns of Jeroboam II and Uzziah. Scholars tend to believe that his message was delivered in 750-749 B.C., perhaps a decade before Isaiah delivered his message. This was Amos’ warning against Damascus:

For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron. But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-Hadad. I will also break the gate bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven, and the one who holds the scepter from Beth Eden. The people of Syria shall go captive to Kir,” says the Lord (Amos 1:3-5).

Isaiah’s prophecy against Damascus (in Isaiah 17) was an echo of Amos’ slightly earlier prophecy. In II Kings 16 we can see the fulfillment of both prophecies (and other prophecies that we’re about to look at):

In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, began to reign…and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem… Then Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to Jerusalem to make war; and they besieged Ahaz but could not overcome him. At that time Rezin king of Syria captured Elath for Syria, and drove the men of Judah from Elath. Then the Edomites went to Elath, and dwell there to this day. So Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, saying, “I am your servant and your son. Come up and save me from the hand of the king of Syria and from the hand of the king of Israel, who rise up against me.” And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasuries of the king’s house, and sent it as a present to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria heeded him; for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and took it, carried its people captive to Kir, and killed Rezin (II Kings 16:1-9).

Isaiah 17:3 says that the kingdom would be taken from Damascus. After Rezin’s death, history doesn’t record any other king of Damascus. This city lost its king (due to his death) and its people (due to their captivity and deportation). It was no small city, for Tiglath-Pileser said he destroyed 591 “cities” within Damascus. The mega-city of Damascus was the heart of Syria, and Rezin was supremely important to Damascus, as we see in Isaiah 7:

For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin” (Isaiah 7:8).

Just like in II Kings 16, the greater context of Isaiah 7 shows that Israel (the north) and Syria were joining forces in an effort to destroy Judah and Jerusalem:

“…Rezin king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up to Jerusalem to make war against it, but could not prevail against it” (Isaiah 7:1).

Furthermore, the same kind of analogy that we see in verse 8 concerning Syria is also given right afterward concerning Israel:

Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken, so that it will not be a people. The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son [Pekah]” (Isaiah 7:8-9).

So this is what Isaiah highlights concerning both Syria and Israel:

COUNTRY CAPITAL CITY KING
Syria Damascus (“head of Syria”) Rezin (“head of Damascus”)
Israel (Ephraim) Samaria (“head of Ephraim”) Pekah (“head of Samaria”)

What is God’s response to “these two stubs of smoking firebrands” (Isaiah 7:4) and their alliance against Judah and Jerusalem?

“…the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be taken away before the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 8:4).

God then goes on to describe Assyria and its king as “the waters of the river, strong and mighty” that He would “bring up over” Syria and Israel (Isaiah 8:7). It’s interesting that God compared Tiglath-Pileser to a river, and he described his destruction of Damascus as “hills over which the flood had swept.”

This, then, is the background of the prophecy in Isaiah 17. It also helps to explain why Isaiah prophesies, in chapter 17, against both Syria/Damascus and Israel at the same time. They were about to be soundly defeated by the same enemy, and during the same time period (“in that day” – Isaiah 17:4). So, in review:

  • Amos prophesied that Damascus was to be punished and defeated, and that the people of Syria would be taken captive to Kir.
  • Isaiah 7 and Isaiah 8 show that Syria (led by king Rezin) and Israel (led by king Pekah) conspired together in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy Judah and Jerusalem. Isaiah foretold that both kingdoms would be wiped out by the kingdom of Assyria.
  • Isaiah 17 again foretells that both Syria and Israel are about to be defeated, and that Damascus would lose its kingdom and be turned into a ruinous heap.
  • II Kings 16 shows Syria and Israel coming together to attack Judah and Jerusalem; followed by the king of Assyria conquering Damascus, killing Rezin (their king), and taking the people of Damascus captive to Kir.

Isaiah and Amos prophesied concerning events that would take place during the lifetime of the audiences that heard their warnings, not about events that would take place more than 2700 years later in the 21st century. Furthermore, by comparing Scripture with Scripture, and by considering historical accounts, we see how their prophecies were soon fulfilled.

Joel C. Rosenberg (a New York Times best-selling author) and Jan Markell (the founder of Olive Tree Ministries in Minneapolis) are two well-known leaders promoting the idea that current events involving Syria are about to lead to the fulfillment of Isaiah 17. In a September 1st article on World Net Daily, Drew Zahn compiles similar thoughts from Carl Gallups (author and radio host), James F. Fitzgerald (author of “The 9/11 Prophecy”), Bill Salus (author of “Psalm 83: The Missing Prophecy Revealed”), Joel Richardson** (author of “The Islamic Antichrist”), Dr. Tommy Ice, andWalid Shoebat, all agreeing that the stage is set (or being set) for “the Biblical doom of Damascus” to unravel “before our eyes.” One prophecy website even shows an aerial photo of the modern city of Damascus with the word “GONE!!!” posted above it in large letters, and Isaiah 17:1 posted beneath it.

If we’re not careful, our failure to recognize fulfilled prophecy can actually give way to a desire to see the destruction of people and nations in our world and in our time, so that we can place check marks next to prophecies that were already fulfilled a long time ago. The Bible does not teach that Damascus and Syria are about to be destroyed. It teaches that Damascus and Syria can experience the healing of the water of life that flows through the city of the New Jerusalem, made up of God’s people:

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2; see also Ezekiel 47:1-12, Hebrews 12:22-24 and Revelation 21:1-27).

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**Update: Joel Richardson has clarified that his position is somewhat different than what is stated above. Please see the comment section for that clarification, as well as his explanation of the good work he has been doing to share the viewpoint of Syrian Christians and lobby Congress not to attack Syria.

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A follow-up post to this one mainly focuses on Isaiah 17:12-14, showing that it describes how Assyria attempted to defeat Judah and Jerusalem in 701 BC, but miserably failed when God miraculously intervened: “Isaiah 17:12-14 Is Addressed to the Enemies of Judah.” Isaiah 17 has everything to do with the 8th century BC, and nothing to do with the 21st century.