Some Evangelicals See Biblical Prophecy In Syrian Crises

The Syrian region was second only to Jerusalem in importance for Christianity's initial growth

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Khaled al Hariri / Reuters

Patriarch Gregorios III Laham of Antioch and All the East holds a Bible for a child to kiss during the Palm Sunday mass at al-Zitoun church in Damascus April 1, 2012.

“See, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins. Her towns will be deserted forever.”

That’s a prophetic passage from the Biblical book of Isaiah, chapter 17, and now some fundamentalist Christian blogs are buzzing with the belief that the escalating violence in Syria means the ancient text may soon be fulfilled. “The long prophesied end days are here,” one blog announces. “With the terrorist groups that operate out of Damascus building up arms caches on the border of Israel in anticipation of another war in the near future, it may not be long before this prophecy from Isaiah 17 becomes history,” another group awaiting Jesus Christ’s return predicts.

Nearly all Biblical scholars, however, argue that such a literalist interpretation of the text is highly problematic. The passage was written more than 2,500 years ago, and it condemns Jerusalem’s enemies around the time of the Assyrian invasion. The prophetic oracles, as that section of Isaiah is called, name not just Syria but numerous ancient nations, including Moab, Babylon, Egypt, and Tyre, that threatened the Jewish people at the time.

(MORE: Obama Pulls Back from the Brink of War)

Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus of Columbia Theological Seminary and an expert on the book of Isaiah, tells TIME the interpretation of Isaiah 17 as a reference to the current conflict is absurd. “You cannot read the Bible that way. It is an ancient poem about an ancient context,” he said. “If we are going to contemporize it with such an easy connection then we have to learn to read the text against the United States as well because the United States now plays the role of Babylon and all those ancient superpowers. We have to tread very gently about making such silly connections.”

A better interpretation of the passage, Bruggemann explains, would be that all nations are answerable to the God of justice, even  nations like Syria and Babylon. “No nation has high moral ground,” he says. “That is a bite against every exceptionalism, including American exceptionalism.”

Isaiah 17 is not the only time Syria is mentioned in the Bible. Jesus himself probably never travelled to modern-day Syria, but the Apostle Paul, Christianity’s second-most famous leader, was converted to Christianity just outside the Damascus. According to the New Testament book of Acts, a bright light from heaven blinded Paul on the road approaching the city: “He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, […] ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’” Ananias, a Christian disciple in Damascus, then laid hands on him, and his sight was restored. Paul was then baptized, and his preaching in Damascus became so popular that leaders plotted to kill him. As the story in Acts goes, disciples helped Paul to escape by lowering him down the city wall in a basket.

(MORE: In Syria, Relief and Anger as Obama Delays Syria Strike)

The Syrian region was also second only to Jerusalem in importance for Christianity’s initial growth. The church in Antioch of Syria—a city 60 miles west of Aleppo, just past today’s Syrian border into modern-day Turkey—became a refuge for early Christians fleeing persecution in Jerusalem after Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, was stoned to death. Paul made Antioch his headquarters for his famous missionary journeys when he founded churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth and Ephesus. Some scholars believe that Antioch was where the Gospel of Matthew was written, and the book of Acts notes that Antioch was the first place where the disciples were called ‘Christians.’

The region also birthed some of Christianity’s earliest theologians, including Saint Ignatius, bishop of Antioch; John of Chrysostom, a contemporary of Augustine; and John of Damascus, foundational for eastern orthodox theology.

MORE: Three Reasons Congress May Not Approve War in Syria

255 comments
DanBruce
DanBruce

There is a more important Scripture about what is going on in the Middle East, one confirming that the Temple Mount belongs to the Jews. The liberation of the Temple Mount and its return to Jewish sovereignty on June 7, 1967, was precisely foretold in the Bible. That key to understanding the Middle East is found in the eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel, and explained in plain language at http://www.scribd.com/doc/170047570/The-Temple-Mount-belongs-to-the-Jews Even skeptics about the Bible should read and consider what it says.

AdamMaarschalk
AdamMaarschalk

I agree with Walter Brueggemann that current events in Syria have nothing to do with Isaiah 17. Isaiah and Amos were contemporary prophets, and both predicted (in Isaiah 7-8, Isaiah 17, and Amos 1) that Syria and Israel would soon be destroyed by the same opponent, Assyria. II Kings 16 shows in detail that their prophecies were fulfilled, and this is validated by historical records, as outlined in this article:

http://kloposmasm.com/2013/09/08/the-bible-does-not-teach-that-damascus-syria-is-about-to-be-destroyed-2/

As a follower of Christ, it's frustrating to me that many Christians appear to be excited over the idea of Syria's demise, because it will supposedly hasten "the rapture" or "the end of the world."

BillyDavis1
BillyDavis1

I am so glad that the Scriptures say we are to believe ALL that the prophets have spoken.

They also tell us we are fools if we don't believe ALL that the prophets have spoken. Luke 24:25

When we believe the Scriptures over the traditions of men it unfits us for most of the preacher we have among us today.

Have a great week end

Billy Davis 613

tcat
tcat

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON WITH SYRIA?
 
AND IRAN?
 
AND ISRAEL?
 
I am an avid Bible student and writer. Just today, I just published a book that looks very critically and deeply at the vocabulary used by the writer of Isaiah 17 to describe the event of which we share an interest and passion.
 
I know it will help any and all who read the research. It is timely, to say the least... and very compelling.
 
A previous book I wrote was about what the Bible has to say regarding Iran and Israel. It, too is timely... and very intriguing. The key to this prophecy is also in understanding the vocabulary used by the writer Isaiah 18 and in identifying the rivers associated with the Garden of Eden. Then, the rest is easy.
 
Here is the link to the books that will help us all. They are available in paper or electronic versions.
 
I WOULD VERY MUCH APPRECIATE YOUR FEEDBACK AND ANALYSIS OF THE WORK.
 
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1/192-9142538-1575531?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=timothy+h+cator
 
Current reviews are on my website. www.timothycator.com
 
Also on facebook... Timothy H. Cator.
 
Tweets: #WittyWednesdays and #SabbathDaySoulFood. Very cool!
 
I believe there will be another radio interview in the near future. Check our website and/or facebook page for updates.
 
I hope you enjoy the reading and that all will be inspired to read the Bible and know what it says and share the Good News with others.
 
Tim Cator

JohnAbrams
JohnAbrams

16 We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (2 Peter 1:13–18 ESV )

glennra3
glennra3

Why do some Christians spend so much time with their heads buried in the abstruse and enigmatic Book of Revelations and so little time on Jesus' very clear and oft stated message of helping the poor and downtrodden?


These are the same people who think the entire Bible was written to express God's views on homosexuality. There are eight versus that refer to homosexuality (only two of which are specific), yet there are at least 300 versus about helping the poor and God's concern for social justice.


The Book of Revelations is so convoluted and baffling that it is futile to try to decode it. In my opinion, the book should have never been included in the New Testament, so unlike the rest of the Bible as it is. It was the last book included in the canon, nearly 100 years after the rest of the Bible, after much dispute, which has never been completely put to rest.


For those who believe this sort of thing it is wise to remember that even Jesus did not know the day of his return ("No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father..." Mark 13:32-33). 


If he didn't know isn't it a bit presumptuous and pointless for modern day evangelicals to speculate?



AntonneWalker
AntonneWalker

man i see ya on time comments are very atheist wow.

arvay
arvay

OK, Christians, you need to face a fact. One simple fact. Jesus failed.

Read:“For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there aresome of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.(Matthew 16: 27, 28)

Got that? he said that some of the people standing in front of him would see him returning, in power, and his father's kingdom established. Never happened. All those folks are dead, and it hasn't happened for two thousand years.

Your religion is based on a promise that was not fulfilled. A flop. All the rationalizations that have been offered cannot erase those "inerrant" words above.

So all this end of world stuff has exactly the same validity as those Mayan scripts,

Nada, bunko, Bigfoot, Nessie. 

The guys collecting the money from you are bilking you, even if they also believe. because Jesus -- was a flop. I'm not a big fan of Israel, but I hope some day they find his remains and publicize the discovery.



LoneStunMan
LoneStunMan

Most Americans would be surprised if 'evangelicals' did NOT see eschatological implications in a old bar of soap, much less the possibility of American intervention in Syria.

Couple the conservative extremism of these 'end times experts' with their abject hatred for a Black President and you get a perfect recipe for the 'right wing rapture' that is constantly trumpeted from many bully pulpits in America.

watsonword
watsonword

Because some nuts see Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich does not diminish the teachings of the Bible. Don't be so quick to whitewash all Christians with your brush. 

TheWarriorPrincess
TheWarriorPrincess

FYI - many conservatives are opposed to striking because they realize what this can set into motion.  Ignorance is bliss.  Knowledge is not.

TheWarriorPrincess
TheWarriorPrincess

I wonder how many of you who claim that this can't be fulfillment of Biblical prophecy have actually studied the Bible?  if you have, there is no denying that the current events remind you of the prophecy in Isaiah.  None of us know what will happen or whether it is the prophecy in motion but there is absolutely no denying how close this resembles it.  It also mentions the involvement of Russia and Israel so we will see if those parts fall into place. 

And a vision of Revelation 18 taught me on 9/11 that the US is Babylon.  And FYI, the Bible also teaches that most will NOT believe.  So go ahead make fun of believers.  We are prepared.  They mocked and insulted Jesus so we don't expect any less.

MrBenGhazi
MrBenGhazi

This is absolutely ridiculous. TIME should be ashamed for propagating such nonsense.

hivemaster
hivemaster

" Some Evangelicals See Biblical Prophecy In Syrian Crises"

Some Evangelicals see Jesus or Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich.  I'm just sayin'...

mrxexon
mrxexon

Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the world. It literally goes back to the beginning of time, or at least since the last ice age retreated and people began to wander around again.

The real danger to Syria is an Israeli nuclear strike, not the US Air Force. The Sampson Option is well known. And zionist Israel may just nuke the whole region (including themselves) if they feel threatened. It may sound crazy, but much of the world is prepared to try these zionists as war criminals someday.

If they sense their time is about up, they very well may push the button rather than face a Nuremberg style court and the hangman's noose.


x

DanBruce
DanBruce

@RockDadRice If you knew the Bible, you would know that he is not. If you are worried about it, though, better spend more time in the Scriptures and less time on the Internet.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@tcat What a moron holy roller, when you die nut case, you are going the same place as everyone else. most of you bible thumping dummys are so phony it is pathetic . You f-uck ,drink, lie and fornicate just like everyone else. You steal, cheat and have evil thoughts just like everyone else, you just hide behind the bible. just like ass holes like Jimmy swagert and jim jones and warren jeffes and i can go on and on, what BS preach to your family moron.

mplioplis
mplioplis

@arvay That's your interpretation. So why were the followers of Jesus stupid enough to leave these words intact after his death and therefore be ridiculed by people like you as a false religion and a false god, instead of doctoring up their own texts to never use this quote? The other interpretation is that the coming of God's kingdom is something entirely different than the judgment day. That's what the church has said for centuries, but people like you think that you've unlocked the bible. Not so, my friend. Not so.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@LoneStunMan he is not hated because he is black dumb ass, hes hated because he is a con man racist himself. And a Muslim. And you dumb bleeding heart liberals who buy into his bs rhetoric. You are same people say muslims are not violent they are peaceful people. What dummys.

sparrow
sparrow

@watsonword of course, many fairy tales have many teachings/moral lessons. the 'emperor's new clothes' is a good read for bible believers.

glennra3
glennra3

@TheWarriorPrincess

And yet the Bible instructs its followers to be ignorant; to "become as little children." 

Read 1 Corinthians: "...If any man among you seem to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness...."




glennra3
glennra3

@TheWarriorPrincess

In 2010 the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life conducted a survey of 32 religious knowledge questions. What group in American scored the highest?


Atheists and agnostics.





cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@ZacPetit  

TIME should be ashamed for most of the writing they try to pass off as "news"

TheWarriorPrincess
TheWarriorPrincess

@hivemaster It is usually Catholics that see the images of Mary and Jesus.  Evangelicals do not worship Mary or anyone else besides God.

TheWarriorPrincess
TheWarriorPrincess

@padresteve @LindaCollins11 @TIMEPolitics The book has been sold already and is the best-selling book of all time.  It was written and read already.  There are no new books to sell.  We did not make up and can not change what was written.  So hate to disappoint you but your theory makes no sense.  Some of us are aware of what is written.  Apparently you are not.  You probably have never studied the Bible but yet so quick to discredit it.  Hmm.

glennra3
glennra3

@mrxexon 


Obviously, you don't understand the meaning of the word "literally." Or the "beginning of time," for that matter. 



cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@mrxexon  

yawn...meanwhile, back in reality, those of us with brains in our heads are shaking them in a mixture of pity and amusement at your complete and total idiocy

Openminded1
Openminded1

@DanBruce @RockDadRice Why is Obama mentioned in the bible, what a stupid statement. The bible fiction or non-fiction who really knows? No one is around who knew the original author and his motivations. Think about it dummy. You want to believe that is ok  just do not push it on others leave that to the moron jehova witness dummys.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@DanBruce @RockDadRice stop with your holy roller BS Danny boy. Your man Obama is a Muslim  as his brother Malik is. The Bible and scriptures were written by who? And there is no one alive to verify any of the bible and its scriptures. Just like the Mormons who swear by the book of mormon. What bs. it is religious fanatics that are a danger to the middle east and this country.

richardjpapp
richardjpapp

@Openminded1 @tcat 

I'm sure you do not know the famous quote: "Vulgarity is a weak mind trying to express itself forcefully"

I'd like to see the expression on your face as you breath your last breath.

arvay
arvay

@mplioplis @arvay

LOL.

Words mean things. Thee's is only one "interpretation" -- and that's what the words say. The words are crystal clear, the "New Testament" is written in Greek, a very precise  language. 

People have believed all sorts of ridiculous things for aeons, sadly enough. 

Jesus' "promise" is the same as any of those hokey preachers who stand up from time to time and predict the "end." Then, it doesn't happen. Most of them just fade away : historical circumstances have turned the Jesus cult into a major racket -- or religion -- same thing --and gullible people believe it on the basis of no evidence. 

AnneMarieGiri
AnneMarieGiri

@glennra3 @TheWarriorPrincess The instruction to become as little children is to not be ignorant.  Jesus Christ instructs us to answer questions with reason.  And the term "world" refers to the ways of the non-believer.  It instructs us as to follow the wisdom of God a la the book of Proverbs.  Which is also known as the book of Wisdom.

TheWarriorPrincess
TheWarriorPrincess

@cjh2nd @ZacPetit This may not be of interest to you but we count also and some estimates state that there are billions of us.  Since the Arab spring, many of us realized how events closely resembled Biblical prophecy.  New organizations are just beginning to write about it.  No, we don't know if this is the prophecy in motion but there is no denying that current events appear to align with specific Biblical prophecies.  These prophecies mention specific geographic locations and refer to specific countries being involved.  There is no other time that things have lined up so closely with what is written.  So why should Time be ashamed for representing the interests of billions?  OK, I get it.  You're not a believer.  But it is not all about you.  Everything can't be about you and your interests.  Today's culture and media caters to non-believers and low values and you get upset when, once in a while, a story has a Biblical tie.  Believe me, your interests are more popular than ours so it seems that you are getting what you want - but still complaining. 

Openminded1
Openminded1

@TheWarriorPrincess @hivemaster Wrong some Evangelist see hookers on the side and get caught in motel rooms. They also see there bank accounts grow from the morons who give 20% or more of there income to the Evangelical cause , which is make the evangelist rich.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@TheWarriorPrincess @hivemaster And take your money moron, to make there lives better and screw your wife when you are at work. what a dummy. You idiots give them 10 to 20% of your money as they laugh all the way to the bank.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@TheWarriorPrincess @LindaCollins11 @TIMEPolitics hey dummy were you there when the bible was written. do you or anyone alive today have personal knowledge of who really wrote the good book as you call it? just like the book of mormons another bunch of bs. And the Koran that all those religious fanatics will kill you for if you step on it by accident. Morons all of you religious jerks who think priest are closer to god then anyone else. I saw a few priest close to little boys just before i arrested them. The Jimmy swagerts of the world and the likes of mormon Warren jeffs. What bs.

glennra3
glennra3

@TheWarriorPrincess @LindaCollins11 @TIMEPolitics 

I used to manage a book store. You are correct, the Bible is the best selling book of all time.


It is also the most shoplifted book. We had to keep them right near the counter, they were stolen so frequently.


Maybe I should have posted the 8th commandment on the end cap.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@richardjpapp @Openminded1 @tcat Number 1 ass wipe you will never see that last breath. Number 2 that famous quote is from another holy roller and my vulgarity is what got your attention thus the reason for my kind words. You are not just a holly roller you are a dumb ass too. So much for vulgarity and forcefulness, kiss my ass.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@arvay @mplioplis give it up you morons i do not care if you are catholic, baptist, Johova nut cases, idiot mormons ,presbyterins , jews or violent muslims you all have been duped and do not know what lies ahead for you when you kick the old bucket for the last time. one thing for sure all you bible thumping koran crying, book of mormon nut cases are going to die just like the next guy without virgins, without angels and without money.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@AnneMarieGiri @glennra3 @TheWarriorPrincess You all have a different interpretation and  it is all bs with your quotes from your own minds and someone who put them in a book of which there is no proof or anyone around today to validate the so called good book.

glennra3
glennra3

@mrxexon @glennra3 

Are you talking to yourself or responding to me, because I have no idea what you are saying.


By the way, I am an atheist and never said or implied anything about the age of the world (which is about 4.5 billion years old).


I merely pointed out your sloppy language.