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 (Aram); they will be as the glory of the children of Israel,” says the LORD of hosts.
"Moses also had given an inheritance to the tribe of Gad, to the children of Gad according to their families. Their territory was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the Ammonites as far as Aroer, which is before Rabbah, and from Heshbon to Ramath Mizpah and Betonim, and from Mahanaim to the border of Debir, and in the valley Beth Haram, Beth Nimrah, Succoth, and Zaphon, the rest of the kingdom of Sihon king of Heshbon, with the Jordan as its border, as far as the edge of the Sea of Chinnereth, on the other side of the Jordan eastward. This is the inheritance of the children of Gad according to their families, the cities and their villages."
In that day it shall come to pass that the glory of Jacob (Israel) will wane, and the fatness of his flesh grow lean. It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain, and reaps the heads with his arm; it shall be as he who gathers heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim. 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.
These wartime events will bring about a common theme found in much of the Bible’s “end of the age” prophecies. The common theme, beginning in verses 7 and 8, is that through these events Israel, which is represented by the gleaning grapes and olives of the uppermost bough and outmost fruitful branches, will at that time again look upon the "Qadowsh Yisra’el," the Holy One of Israel. This the same theme as found in the “end of the age” message from Paul in Romans 11; these are at a minimum some of the men of Israel who will become the 144,000 global evangelists of Daniel’s 70th Week. They will have absolutely no regard for and completely forsake all the things of this world and will then clearly see the Deliverer of Zion and serve God only. Israel will have its blindness removed and the root which supports all of us as the grafted in branch are themselves grafted back in to the olive tree.
At verse 9 through 11 we once again see the overwhelming demise of Israel’s enemies, consistent with the theme of Psalm 83, these enemies have nowhere to run and nowhere to hide; their “strong cities” shall offer no refuge and there will be widespread waste and desolation. Such is the fate of the descendants of Ishmael who turned their back on the true God who is the only source of salvation and embraced Islam and its false god instead. The harvest they shall reap from this devotion to a false religion and a false god will yield them nothing but a heap of grief and incurable sorrows.
Finally, the prophecy of Isaiah 17 culminates with verses 12 through 14 which clearly illustrate the global nature of this war and its effects on many nations, meaning the whole world. Again, the parallel to the warfare and results of Psalm 83 are unmistakable. These prophecies are a God-breathed foretelling of the same event. The cry of “Woe!” leaps out from the opening of verse 12 and goes out to the nations of the world who make a tumult like the rushing of flood waters as they rush in against Israel only to be rebuked by God which is expressed in language very similar to that given by Asaph in Psalm 83. They are driven back like chaff before a Divine wind which is likened to irresistible force of an off-the-scale tornado.
It is at this point I would direct the reader to the prophecy of Zechariah 9, verses 1-8, which paints a prophetic picture of how these coming events will unfold and the scope of the Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83 war; how it involves the rest of Syria, north to Hamath, all of Lebanon, and the terrorist stronghold of Gaza. This series of prophetic verses begin as does Isaiah 17 with a burden against Damascus and the land of Hadrach. The mention of Hadrach, the Hebrew Chadrak, meaning Lebanon, occurs only once in the Bible, right here in Zechariah 9:1. Again, the reference above to Judges 13 should be considered as intimate reference material to these coming conquests of Israel’s enemies.
“Fill their faces with shame, That they may seek Your name, O LORD. Let them be confounded and dismayed forever; Yes, let them be put to shame and perish, That they may know that You, whose name alone is the LORD, Are the Most High over all the earth. “
The final result is seen in Zechariah 8:9 where all of these lands, from Lebanon through to Gaza in the south, become the sovereign territory of Israel, never again to be the home of an oppressor of Israel. Additionally, there is no mistake in realizing that Israel will recognize these verses as a call to recognize Jesus the Messiah as we see in Zechariah 9:9. The overwhelming victories given to Israel, and harken back to what we saw above in Isaiah 17:7-8. This and the verses which follow speak to a conquering Messiah in the region and to the ends of the whole earth. This is a clear prophetic picture that we see in all “end times” prophecy – the coming Millennial Kingdom of Christ.
And, without going into much detail because it has been covered so well by other expositors, parallels of these same prophetic images are seen in Jeremiah 49.
As an end note to this article, I would remind the reader that while this war against the “inner ring" Arab Muslim states appears to be imminent, and I truly believe all of these prophecies are pointing to the same unprecedented scale of warfare in the Middle East, we are to be ever mindful of the words of our Lord Jesus Christ regarding wars and rumors of wars, that they must take place. And when they do they will come like a flood, meaning they will occur in a very rapid and powerful sequence of geo-political paradigm shifts which are brought about primarily through warfare, for it is warfare which is the central theme of all things connected to “end times” prophecy.
Maranatha, Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!