Sunday, September 1, 2013

Isaiah 17: An Unfulfilled Prophecy!

Update 1 September 2013: Considering the very high volume of reader interest is this blog item I am moving it forward from the original posting date to the present. It is the position of Eschatology Today that Isaiah 17 is fast approaching the date of its literal fulfillment in our day.

12 February 2012: It has come to my attention recently through Christian foum posts and Email exchanges that there are Bible prophecy teachers today who are teaching that the prophesied destruction of Damascus by Isaiah (Chapter 17) was fulfilled in 723 BC in the Assyrian conquest of Aram-Damascus by Tiglath-Peleser.

I am going to be very blunt about this: such teaching does not originate from within the Word of God. Period.

Damascus was not destroyed in the Assyrian conquest. Damascus did not "cease from being a city," and it was not reduced to "a heap of ruins" as prophesied by Isaiah.

The conclusive answer to this question originated elsewhere within God's Word. The Assyrian conquest of Aram-Damascus in 732 BC is discussed in detail in 2 Kings 16. 2 Kings 16 is the Lord's historical record.

As the 2 King 16 historical record points out Judah's king Ahaz instigated Tiglath-Peleser of Assyria to launch an invasion of Aram-Damascus which then was under the reign of king Rezin. Moreover, it was Judah's king Ahaz who paid for the Assyrian invasion of Aram-Damascus with gold and silver he took from the Temple in Jerusalem.

Then we read in 2 Kings 16:9:

"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."

In the very next verse (verse 10) we see Judah's king Ahaz meeting with Assyria's king Tiglath-Peleser in the city of Damascus. Clearly the city of Damascus was not destroyed in any manner, and most certainly not according to the prophecy of Isaiah 17. The Aramean population of Aram-Damascus was deported as the Assyrian standard operating procedure following a conquest dictated. The Assyrians then re-populated the city with people from elsewhere within the empire and Damascus has remained a settled city continuously for the past 2,744 years.

There are these additional facts which have been known to scholars and historical researchers for thousands of years.

  • Damascus was still mentioned in Assyrian sources in 727, 720, and 694 B.C.E. and even as late as the reign of Ashurbanipal (668–627 B.C.E.).

  • Assyrian decline led to Damascus being taken over by Pharoah Necho II of Egypt circa 610 BC. Damascus then fell to the Babylonians when Pharoah Necho II lost the epic Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC.

  • In the Persian period, Damascus was an important administrative center, and may have been the capital of the satrapy of Trans-Euphrates (cuneiform, ebir nĂ£ri; Aram. avar nahara [Ezra:4:10, etc.]; Heb. ever ha-nahar [Ezra 8:36; Neh. 2:7, 9]).

  • Circa 333 BC there occurred the conquest of Damascus under the rule of Darius III of Persia by Alexander the Great. Damascus was thereafter a Macedonian colony and the capital city of Coele-Syria and Phoenicia to 111 BC.

  • Then to the Roman times when Damascus was conquered from the Seleucid's by Roman General Pompey in 64 BC, and of course, the many references to Damascus in the New Testament.
Let this information serve as an attention-getting red-flag to all Christian prophecy teachers who are incorrectly interpreting and teaching Isaiah 17 to their lay people and those who read their work online or in periodicals.

Let these teachers take note and make the required correction immediately. Since 2 Kings 16 does not tell us that Damascus ceased "from being a city," that it became "a ruinous heap" at the hands of Assyria's Tiglath-Pileser, then what would the correct prophecy teaching regarding Isaiah 17 be?

Obviously, Isaiah 17 is an unfulfilled prophecy!


  1. One thing still puzzles me tho, we know damascus is obliterated prior to the tribulation as is russia so who is the "king of the north" in Daniel 11:40? Some scholars say its syria and others say its russia but they're both destroyed prior to the day of the Lord.

  2. hartdawg,

    Russia is not completely destroyed prior to the day of the Lord; Russia will be present during the 70th Week.

    How do I know this?

    God said so in Ezekiel 39:2a

    "And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel"

    God leaves 1/6th of Russia intact to survive and enter the 70th Week.

  3. True....that's in the KJV. its been awhile since i read that version. (I use the NKJV) I'm wondering if it can still be syria tho. damascus is destroyed not necessarily all of syria.

  4. hartdawg wrote,

    "damascus is destroyed not necessarily all of syria."

    Oh really? Is that how your read Isaiah 17:3 (with appropriate emphasis added)

    "The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, AND THE REMNANT OF SYRIA (ARAM): they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the LORD of hosts."

  5. I stand corrected. thank you for that, was much needed (more than you know)

  6. No problem dawg; I pay attention to the nitty,gritty details more than most people realize. :)

  7. Thank you Sean Osborne for the clarifying information on Isaiah chapter 17. I have been studying over that chapter this week since our President is wanting our military to take action in Syria.

    I am wondering is this the last thing needing to be fulfilled before the appearance of the anti-Christ?

    1. Anti-Christ doesn't come on the scene until well into the Tribulation. You'll see many things before Anti-Christ.

      Have you taken the time to read Revelation? How can anyone resist reading the only accurate book of the future in existence?

  8. When "teachers" can't even tell the difference between a city ceasing to exist from a city still standing, we are woefully bankrupt of wise teachers.

  9. The Baker Family,

    While i usually don't monitor the stats of which blog items are read, I did take notice that the "Isaiah 17: An Unfulfilled Prophecy" blog entry from February 2012 is the #4 most viewed after the most recent Global SITREP series numbers A22, A23 and A24. A25 is #5.

    Noticing this now has me thinking that this particular blog item should be updated to or brought to the fore. Perhaps the Lord has used you comment to get me to notice this. He definitely works in such ways!

    To answer your question, no, the fulfillment of Isaiah 17 is not the last prophecy to be fulfilled prior to the revealing of the antichrist.

    There will be a series - like a flood of prophetic fulfillments - that will occur just prior to the start of the 70th Week. Briefly, and this list is not all-inclusive, but the main ones are:

    The final Battle of Psalm 83
    Joshua 13:1-7
    Jeremiah 49
    Ezekiel 38/39

    I believe Isaiah 19 is now in the process of active fulfillment just as Psalm 83 has been in the process of active fulfillment since 1948.

    I believe that the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38/39 will be the final prophecy to be come to fulfillment just prior to the revealing of antichrist, and that revealing occurs specifically through the 7-year "covenant among many" (false peace treaty among many nations). The 7-year period of the coming "covenant among many" is also known as the 70th Week or the Tribulation/Great Tribulation.

  10. Kelly,

    The antichrist appears as a man of great influence, power and, obviously, authority at the start of the 70th Week.

    As just noted in my response to The Baker Family, the 7-year "covenant among many" is confirmed by this man who is the antichrist at the start of the angel Gabriel's prophecy to the prophet Daniel concerning the 70th Week.

    Daniel 9:27a
    Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
    But in the middle of the week
    He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.

    This confirmation is a revelatory act for us. It confirms both the start of the 70th Week, and the identify of the antichrist... right from the get-go.

    To expand a little, it is by this confirming of the false peace treaty that we, the Bride of Christ and our future brethren Tribulation Saints, do and will understand Gabriel's prophecy regarding the 70th Week. This is the vehicle by which we can positively identify the man who is the antichrist.

    At about the mid-week point, 3 years six months after the confirming of the "covenant among many," antichrist the man suffers what appears to be a mortal wound, but recovers from this as he is fully indwelt by the demon Abaddon/Apollyon and thens begin the Great Tribulation, the final 42 months of the 70th Week. This is point in time at the middle of the 70th Week of which Jesus spoke beginning in Matthew 24:15

    “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place...” which relates generally but directly to Revelation chapters 11-13, and specifically to Revelation 13:14-15. (men will build the image of the antichrist for the false prophet who will stand it up in the 'Holy Place' inside the 3rd Temple in Jerusalem.

  11. Adam Maarschalk wrote:

    "I respectfully disagree that Isaiah 17 remains unfulfilled."


    The above statement makes your view one of those which this article of mine addresses.

    That erroneous view is one which based in both interpretive and real-world historical error.

    Most importantly, however, it is a view which I believe the plain text of Isaiah 17 soundly refutes simply because the first rule of biblical hermeneutics is the plain text rule which is wholly based upon that which is written in 2 Timothy 2:15.

    Therefore, Isaiah 17 is a prophecy that clearly speaks for itself; it has a parallel prophecy in Jeremiah 49:23-27. Clearly is it unfulfilled.

    Isaiah is a prophecy for our time, and that which is to befall Syria is made clear in the text as coming from Israel in verse 9:

    "In that day shall his strong cities be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel: and there shall be desolation.

    Isaiah 17 is a prophecy about a war, a future war, an imminently future war the fulfillment of which we shall soon be the eyewitness thereof.

    There will be no further debate on the subject as the events which are about to occur shall decide the matter permanently.


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