In 1996, the Lord drew my attention to certain verses in the prophet Amos, with an accompanying revelation that a fourth and final war between Syria and Israel will be a significant milestone in Bible prophecy signaling the approach of the end of this present age. The verses were:
"Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron: But I will send a fire unto the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad. I will break also the bar of Damascus..." (Amos 1:3-5, KJV)
The revelation was this: Syria has engaged war with the State of Israel three times (1948, 1967, 1973), but the fourth time will bring about Syria's downfall, marked by the total destruction of its capital city, Damascus. This will be a prophetic sign of an even more significant event to follow: a direct invasion of Israel by Russia, supported by Iran (Persia) and Russia's other allies as described in the book of the prophet Ezekiel, chapters 38-39.
As if to confirm the above, I also came upon this verse:
"Behold,Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap." (Isaiah 17:1)
It should be noted that the 5,000 year-old city of Damascus is the world's oldest perpetually inhabited city. However, according to the prophet Isaiah, Damascus will be "taken away from being a city" and be turned into a "runious heap." This has never happened before in all of history, but has been reserved as a sign of the end-time, unfolding biblical scenario.
Increasingly in 1996 and 1997, Syria began deploying Russian-supplied VX gas warheads on its medium-ranged Scud-C missles, prompting Israel's defense minister to then warn the Syrians that launching any of these chemical weapons against Israel would "put the (Syrian) regime at risk." It was generally assumed by the Israeli press and governmental officials that Israel was implying the certain destruction of Syria's capital city, Damascus, even if it meant the use of nuclear weapons to do so. Since the renewed violence inside Israel stemming from the Palestinian "intifada" that began afresh in September, 2000, the situation has only worsened, including the border threats.
In November, 2000, the commander of Israel's Galilee Forces, Brig. General Moshe Kaplinksy, stated that Israel might be forced to attack Damascus because of increasing terror attacks by Hizb'Allah forces operating in southern Lebanon along Israel's northern borders, who are supported from Damascus by the Syrian regime and also by Iran. The Damascus airport has always been the main conduit for Iranian and other arms to Hizb'Allah, and warnings from Israeli officials to Syria continue.
In 1973, near the end of the Yom Kippur War, Israeli tanks had approached within 20 kilometers of Damascus, but halted at the request of the United States, because the Soviet Union (Russia) was poised to move to Syria's defense. Syria was a major client state in which the Soviets were heavily invested both militarily and politically. Russian paratroopers were in planes and the U.S. military went on world-wide alert ("defcon 3") for what might have become World War III.
As in all Arab-Israeli conflicts in modern times, Russia has trained, equipped and provided manpower to help the Arab nations fullfill their Islamic-driven mandate to "drive Israel into the sea." However, as promised in the scriptures, God will not let Israel's enemies win--nor will he allow Russia itself, like a Goliath against little David, to destroy the Jewish state, which it will attempt to do following the coming Syrian conflict.
Another scripture concerning Syria's final challenge to Israel comes from the prophet Micah (chapter five, verses 2-6) in a messianic-related verse that predicts a Syrian ("Assyrian") invasion in the latter times of history, one that would occur after the fame of Israel's "ruler" (e.g., messiah, Jesus Christ) would have spread to the "ends of the earth," and after God had "regathered" the Jews back to their ancient homeland, as confirmed by many other prophecies.
"And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he comes into our land, and when he treads within our borders." - (Micah 5:6)
Since modern Iraq was encompassed by the ancient Assyrian empire, and in light of recent alliances formed between Iraq and Syria, it's likely that Iraq will be involved in this war and suffer the same fate. During October, 2000, Saddam Hussein of Iraq begin massing several divisions of troops along the Jordanian border in preparation for joining any war against Israel. With the consent of the new president of Syria, Iraq has also moved some divisions near its Syrian border in order to assist in the "liberation of Palestine." He also has relocated 70,000 troops near the Kuwait border again, possibly to stage another occupation of Kuwait during the turmoil of a regional war against Israel.
As indicated in Micah 5:6, response to Israel's aggressors will be severe: "And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword." Obviously, at no time since Israel's modern rebirth as a nation-state has it wasted the "land of Assyria," much less its capital, Damascus. Apart from losing the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War, Syria has been mostly untouched. However, according to the prophetic scriptures a breaking of Syria and the destruction of Damascus is certain:
"So shall it stand: That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders." (Isaiah 19:1)
WHERE IS EGYPT?
Always desiring to be the leader of the Arab world, Egypt must eventually break its peace treaty with Israel and join Syria once again in the fray--but it too will suffer great calamity:
"The burden of Egypt. Behold, the Lord rides upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it." (Isaiah 19:1)
The prophetic metaphor of a "swift cloud" coming into Egypt that causes the "melting" of Egypt's heart and the "moving" (shaking) of its idols might aptly describe an incoming nuclear-tipped missle and its results. But whatever the meaning, divine judgment upon both Syria and Egypt seemed to be linked prophetically (see Isaiah chapter 31), which is possibly the reason why those two nations share a restoration together (Isaiah 19:23-25) later during the millenial reign over earth by Israel's returning messiah, Jesus Christ.
In 1996 Egypt held its most extensive military maneuvers ever to "counter the Israeli nuclear threat." At that time, President Mubarak warned that Egypt "would not stand idly by" if war breaks out again between Syria and Israel. The Angry Sphinx, an article in the December, 1996, issue of The Jerusalem Post, cataloged the rising tensions between Egypt and Israel. In response to the renewed Arab "intifada" (uprising) that began in September, 2000, Egyptian officials have repeatedly affirmed their county's willingness to assist Syria in any war against Israel. The Egyptian ambassador to Israel was withdrawn in November, 2000, a diplomatic move that also preceded the 1972 Yom Kippur War.
Although Israel will survive the next round with Syria and Egypt, it could be the most costly yet in Jewish lives and the destruction of Israel's actual or perceived military strength. No doubt this would be an enticement for Israel's more powerful enemy, Russian, who has always desired to control the Middle East and its oil, to try to exploit the situation soon thereafter. Such a perception might even be the "hooks in the jaws" that God says, through Ezekiel, He will use to draw Russia into its destructive conflict with tiny Israel. Little does Russia know, however, that its armies will actually be facing off with the God of Israel, who will unleash His powers upon earth again on a scale unseen since ancient times to annihilate the Russian-led invaders.
The next Syrian/Egyptian battle with Israel, including the destruction of Damascus, will be a major step forward towards Israel's more explosive conflict with "Gog and Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal" (Russia). In great detail the prophet Ezekiel (38-39) describes this Russian-led invasion that will involve Iran (Persia), Libya, Turkey (Togarmah), Ethiopia and others. An alliance of western nations, referred to symbolically as "the merchants of Tarshish with all its young lions," will verbally oppose Russia's attempt to dominate the Middle East by conquering Israel, but it is yet unclear whether Russia's western enemies actually get a chance to fight, due to the quick, divine intervention on Israel's behalf that Ezekiel describes.
However, Ezekiel 38-39 does seem to describe events of near global proportions, possibly a limited nuclear war. Remarkably, God himself enters the fight according to the scriptures, for without His help tiny Israel would surely be destroyed by such overwhelming forces. This divine intervention is not necessarily good news for the rest of mankind however, because it also signals the arrival of the infamous "time of tribulation," a period just prior to the second-coming of Jesus Christ characterized by unprecedented troubles according to the Bible. Of that time Jesus warned:
"For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Matthew 24:21)
EZEKIEL, WHY DID YOU LEAVE OUT SYRIA AND EGYPT?
It's important to note that Ezekiel's description of a Russian-led invasion of Israel does not include either Syria or Egypt among Russia's followers. Why? Obviously because these two nations will be out of the picture then, having been neutralized by Israel beforehand in the initial conflict described above. Since Syria and Egypt have always been prominent players in Israel's history and foremost subjects of biblical prophecy affecting Israel (Egypt is referred to about 800 times in the Bible), it's inconceivable that their absence during Ezekiel's war is anything but intentional, particularly since Israel's other Islamic and/or Arabic opponents are listed specifically by name.
The scenario unfolding in the Middle East will affect the lives of everyone on earth, perhaps sooner and more profoundly than even prophecy-minded Christians and Jews have imagined. The enemies of the modern State of Israel are moving rapidly into a scenario that converges with the words of the Bible. It will happen, for the Bible has recorded what "is to come." Now is no time for anyone in this world to have a "foundation built on sand" rather than on the eternal rock of God's word and faith in Jesus Christ the Lord. With God's help alone will men and women be able to cope with the momentous times ahead.
For more information on Ezekiel's war, click here. Also, for more information on the prophecies concerning the destruction of Damascus, including the important transition to the Russian-led invasion described by Ezekiel, please read the following excellent paper by Paul Robertson, Damascus Will No Longer Be A City.
Glenn Allen website: http://www.thealphaomegapages.homestead.com/