Is a Burden Coming to Damascus?
By Jack Kinsella
July 17, 2012
Isaiah 17:1 - "The burden of Damascus: Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap."
There are reports that Syria has started to move some of its huge stockpile of chemical weapons out of storage and is deploying its weapons of mass destruction in various places around the country, including the beleaguered city of Homs.
The New York Times is reporting that some analysts and lawmakers said Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, might use chemical weapons in a last-ditch attack against an increasingly potent rebel force, possibly as part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Other officials said Syrian security forces might be moving parts of the arsenal to prevent it from falling into rebel hands.
"The truth is, we just don't know," said one American official who has been monitoring intelligence reports since the Syrians began moving the chemical weapons in recent days. "There's a big gaping hole in what we know."
Over the past four decades, Syria has amassed one of the largest undeclared stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in the world, including sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide, the officials said. It is unclear which agents are being moved, how big the transfers have been, and where the weapons are being taken.
Andrew J. Tabler, a senior fellow and Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said some chemical weapons had been moved in an area around Homs, where some of the heaviest fighting has taken place in recent weeks.
"The Assad regime is losing control of its territory," Mr. Tabler said. "You don't move this stuff unless you have to, and they obviously felt they had to move it."
The government of Israel is quietly preparing itself for the possibility of a Syrian missile attack, as are the surrounding states deemed enemies by the Assad government, including Turkey and Jordan. There are reports that Syria is attempting to draw Lebanon into the fray by launching a series of kidnappings there.
The fear is that Syria will use chemical or biological weapons as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign aimed at the centers of revolt in places like Homs, Latakia and Aleppo, which would force international military action against Syria. Syria would then retaliate with missile strikes against Israel, prompting an Israeli military response. Assad hopes that by bringing Israel into the conflict, he will kick over the first domino.
Israel hits Syria, Hezbollah counter-strikes Israel, Israel responds against Hezbollah, Iran comes to Hezbollah's rescue, maybe drawing Turkey and Jordan into the conflict, and while everybody is fighting everybody else, Assad's shabiha can finish the job of wiping out his domestic opposition. That is the way that Assad hopes it would play out, basing that opinion on his actions so far. And it is a pretty good plan with some strong likelihood of success, provided everybody responds the way they are expected to.
But IF (and it is still an "if") this is the war described in Psalms 83 and alluded to by the prophets Isaiah and Obadiah, then that's not how it will play out.
Israel is under pressure from within and without to restrain itself from being drawn in, for precisely the reasons outlined above. During the 1991 Gulf War, the Israelis endured 39 separate Scud missile attacks without responding directly in order to prevent a similar scenario from playing out.
So it seems probable that Israel will show similar restraint in the face of a Syrian missile attack, provided it is limited and conventional. That's what history and current events tend to dictate as the most likely course of action.
Except that Assad needs Israel to counter-strike, and should they show restraint, he will be forced to escalate, which could lead to his first use of chemical or biological weapons. And it is at this point, I believe, that the Bible's scenario will begin to play out, if this is the appointed time and not another false alarm.
The prophet Isaiah predicts a quick war between Israel and Damascus, culminating with the total destruction of the city in a single night. In the event of a WMD attack against Israel, the destruction of Damascus would be Israel's only defense against potential annihilation.
Isaiah's vision mentions all the nations creating a tumult, but God limits the engagement.
"Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!"
"The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: But God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind."
The nations have rushed to the U.N. The U.N. has made its noise. The U.N. sent monitors from many nations. Assad's forces attacked them. The U.N. withdrew monitors and they fled afar off.
While Assad hopes to draw Iran into the conflict, Iran's appointment with destiny is as part of an anti-Israel alliance led by Russia and consisting almost entirely of non-Arab Islamic states of the former Persian Empire, according to the prophet Ezekiel.
The Psalms 83, Obadiah, Isaiah, etc. combatants are ALL Edomite, or ethnic Arab states. This is not the Gog-Magog war. Before the war with Gog-Magog, Israel is pictured as living in peace and safety in a land of unwalled villages.
If this is the Edomite war, then it will begin with the utter destruction of Damascus by Israel. AFTER that, (and perhaps BECAUSE of it) the enraged Edomites launch their own doomed assault against Israel, which both the Psalmist and Obadiah predict puts an end to them as a future threat to Israel.
The prophet Ezekiel predicts that, at a time when Israel is a land of unwalled villages, dwelling in a sense of peace and security, Gog (Russia) will be drawn into another conflict with Israel, as part of a wider alliance with the old Persian Empire nations, all of which are currently Russian satellite states. Somewhere on this timeline, between the destruction of Damascus and the Edomite war and the outbreak of Gog- Magog, the prince of Daniel 9:27 confirms a peace covenant between Israel and her neighbors.
Sometime after that, Iran joins Russia and Ezekiel's vision plays out.
I am going to go way out on a limb here and say that I believe that Assad's gamble will ultimately fail. If this is Isaiah's Burden of Damascus, Russia, Turkey, and Iran, will sit this one out. So will the majority of the rest of the Arab world, at least initially.
It will be primarily between Syria and Israel, and it will be settled in a single, overnight strike.
"And behold at evening tide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us." (Isaiah 17:12-14)
How it will play out all depends on where we are on the Bible's timeline. If we are where it looks like we are, we're almost within earshot of the trumpet.