Friday, August 12, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 45

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 45

Today we begin a chapter that deals with a prophecy against the city of Damascus. This was the capitol of the nation known in the Bible as Aram, known to us in modern times as Syria. 

"A prophecy against Damascus: 'See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to flocks, which will lie down, with no one to make them afraid. The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and royal power from Damascus; the remnant of Aram will be like the glory of the Israelites,' declares the Lord Almighty." (Isaiah 17:1-3) Damascus has been attacked numerous times throughout history, but the major destruction Isaiah refers to is the attack by Assyria. In Isaiah's day King Pekah of Israel and King Rezin of Aram were allied together against Assyria. (As he often does, Isaiah calls Israel by the name of its largest tribe: Ephraim.) But this political and military alliance will not be able to stand before the mighty armies of Assyria. When Damascus was conquered, her king was killed (removing the royal power as predicted) and the city was burned to the ground, making it a heap of ruins. 

King Pekah of Israel ended up being assassinated by one of his own countrymen, Hoshea, who was an Assyrian sympathizer. To reward him for taking out King Pekah, the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser set Hoshea up as king of Israel and even wrote about this event in Assyrian historical records. Here began the downfall of Israel's royal house and the throne, for a succession of kings ruled briefly and with no real sovereign power until the nation fell. When Pekah was assassinated, Tiglath-Pileser took many captives from Samaria and later his successor, Shalmaneser, began a three-year siege against Israel's capitol of Samaria, with his successor Sargon successfully accomplishing the defeat of the city.

There has been much debate among Bible scholars as to whether Isaiah's prophecy against Damascus has yet been fully fulfilled. It is one of the oldest cities on earth and has never permanently become a heap of ruins. It has been ruined many times but has always risen from the ashes. So there are some who believe there is something yet to be fulfilled in Damascus and that is why the subject keeps coming up lately concerning the current conflict in that area of the world. If the prophecy against Damascus has not been fulfilled in its entirety, then certainly it has to be fulfilled before Christ reigns from David's throne, but it does not need to be fulfilled before Christ comes for His church. According to the Scriptures, a day will come when our Bridegroom will call for us, and we will go to be with Him while the dark drama of the Great Tribulation plays out upon the earth. Our wedding to our Bridegroom does not hinge on the prophecy of Damascus being fulfilled beforehand. It may well be that the city will fall again during the Great Tribulation, with its destruction permanent. After those days that are like no other since the world began, Christ will come to claim the throne of David and He will reign over the earth forever and ever. So we cannot look toward Damascus in our times and make any concrete judgments about when anything on God's timetable will take place. Even if that city falls today, that still doesn't tell us what day Christ will call for His bride and it doesn't tell us when the Great Tribulation will officially begin. 

I enjoy reading end times prophecy and even looking at it in light of events going on in the world today. But I think its important for us as Christians, the bride of Christ, to keep our main focus on the Bridegroom. In ancient times a man would ask a woman to be his wife and if she accepted he would go back to his father's house to build a room for her. When all things were complete, the bridegroom's father would inspect the work and if all met with his satisfaction he would tell his son to go get his bride. Meanwhile, the bride didn't know the day or the hour when her bridegroom would call for her, so she kept her bag packed. This is where we, the bride of Christ, find ourselves today. After betrothing us to Himself, Jesus went to prepare a place for us. We, the bride of Christ, are to eagerly await His return at every hour or every day, ready to go as soon as He calls. When all is complete to the satisfaction of God the Father, He will say, "Son, go get Your bride." Like a bridegroom in ancient times, Christ will come for us joyfully, shouting our name, and we will arise and go with Him.

The study of prophecy, both that which has been fulfilled and that which remains to be fulfilled, can be a fascinating pursuit. But it should never take the place of keeping our ears attuned for the sound of our Bridegroom's voice. We don't know the day or the hour but we are to remain ready to go as soon as He calls. I can't imagine anything that must have delighted the heart of a young woman more than to hear the voice of the man she loves calling her to the wedding. How much more glorious will our wedding be to the One who loved us enough to die for us, the One who loves us with a true and faithful and eternal love? 

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