As civil war rages in Syria and other nations ponder potential involvement, some Bible teachers believe we can see biblical end-times prophecy unfolding right before our eyes. The Middle East is a religious-political powder keg and has been for years, but the Syrian Crisis seems to be making the situation that much more explosive. Because of Syria’s proximity to Israel, Egypt’s troubles, Iran’s threats, and the United States’ ultimatums, there is talk of the end times, Armageddon, and World War III.
It is true that, with every passing day, we draw closer to the Second Coming of Christ (James 5:8). And the prophecy of Isaiah 17:1 has yet to be fulfilled: “A prophecy against Damascus: ‘See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins.’” Damascus, the capital of Syria, has a longstanding reputation for being the oldest continuously occupied city in the world. It has never been without citizens or totally destroyed. But Isaiah’s prophecy still stands; there is coming a day when Damascus will be nothing but a “heap of ruins.” The current war in Syria could indeed be one of the events leading up to the capital’s destruction.
There are other verses in the Bible tethered to Isaiah 17:1, but the idea of a ruinous heap suggests that not one building is left standing in Damascus. The city will no longer be a city. Some students of prophecy believe a nuclear bomb could be the means of fulfilling this prophecy; others suggest the possibility of an earthquake. Regardless of exactly how or when it happens, two things we know for sure: God is sovereign and His Word will stand (Isaiah 40:8).
There is much unrest in the Middle East, and the war in Syria is capturing the attention of the whole world. However, this particular conflict, even if it expands to other nations, cannot be associated with Armageddon. That battle occurs near the end of the Tribulation, during the bowl judgments, as the nations of the earth gather to fight against the Lord (Revelation 16:12–16). The war in Syria, if it is indeed part of end-times prophecy, is more likely part of the “birth pains” described in Mark 13:7–8.
In 700 BC, Isaiah wrote of the demise of Damascus. Today, 2,700 years later, many believe that we are close to seeing that long-standing prophecy fulfilled. However chaotic the events on the world stage appear, we know that all things are working toward the fulfillment of God’s Word.
“The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17)—are you ready for His coming?
Damascus Syria in Bible Prophecy
Bible Prophecy : Damascus Will Be Destroyed Before The End of Times !
Damascus Will Be Destroyed
What role does Iran play in the end times?
There are several biblical prophecies of the end times that mention Iran, called Persia or Elam in the Bible. Given the fact that Iran is often in the news as a nation seeking armaments (possibly nuclear) and repeatedly issuing threats against Israel, students of Bible prophecy are taking note.
Iran does have a role to play in the end times, but, first, a little history of Iran and its neighborhood, as it relates to biblical history. Jeremiah prophesied that Elam, a nation east of Babylon, west of Persia, and south of Media, would be conquered and then rise to power again (Jeremiah 49:34–39). True to that prophecy, Babylon conquered Elam in 596 BC. But then Persia, under Cyrus the Great, took control of that area, and the Elamites and Medes became part of the Persian Empire. The Medo-Persian Empire ascended to power and conquered Babylon in 539 BC, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 21:2. This happened during the time of Daniel (Daniel 5); in fact, Daniel later resided “in the province of Elam” in Persia (Daniel 8:2). Persia is the setting for the book of Esther and the first part of Nehemiah.
Alexander the Great’s conquests put an end to Persia as a world power, fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel 8. In the following centuries, Persia was ruled by the Seleucids, the Parthians, the Sassanians, the Romans, the Byzantines, and finally, in AD 636, the Muslims. In 1501, the state of Iran was founded.
In the New Testament, men from Iran are mentioned indirectly as “Parthians, Medes and Elamites” were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9). All three of these people groups were Jews who lived in the area of ancient Persia, modern-day Iran, and they were present in Jerusalem to witness the birth of the church.
Iran’s involvement in the end times will be as one of the nations involved in the battle of Gog and Magog, which probably occurs during the first half of the tribulation. Ezekiel 38:5 specifically mentions Persia as an ally of Magog/Russia. Other nations included in this coalition will be Sudan, Turkey, Libya, and others. This vast army will come against Israel, who at that time will be “a peaceful and unsuspecting people” (verse 11).
The outcome of this end-times invasion is predicted: God supernaturally intervenes, and Gog’s coalition is utterly destroyed. “On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals” (Ezekiel 39:4–5). Iran, allied with Russia, will think their invasion of Israel is a sure victory, but God has different plans. In protecting Jerusalem, God will send a strong message to the world: “I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the Lord am the Holy One in Israel” (verse 7).
What are Gog and Magog?
Historically speaking, Magog was a grandson of Noah (Genesis 10:2). The descendants of Magog settled to the far north of Israel, likely in Europe and northern Asia (Ezekiel 38:2). Magog seems to be used to refer to “northern barbarians” in general, but likely also has a connection to Magog the person. The people of Magog are described as skilled warriors (Ezekiel 38:15; 39:3-9).
Gog and Magog are referred to in Ezekiel 38-39 and in Revelation 20:7-8. While these two instances carry the same names, a close study of Scripture clearly demonstrates they do not refer to the same people and events. In Ezekiel’s prophecy, Gog will be the leader of a great army that attacks the land of Israel. Gog is described as “of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal” (Ezekiel 38:2-3). Ezekiel’s battle of Gog and Magog occurs in the tribulation period, more specifically in the first 3 1/2 years. The strongest evidence for this view is that the attack will come when Israel is at peace (Ezekiel 38:8, 11). The description from Ezekiel is that of a nation that has security and has laid down its defenses. Israel is definitely not at peace now, and it is inconceivable that the nation would lay down its defenses apart from some major event. When Israel’s covenant with the Beast/Antichrist is in effect at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week (also known as the 7-year tribulation, Daniel 9:27a), Israel will be at peace. Possibly the battle will occur just before the midpoint of the seven-year period. According to Ezekiel, Gog will be defeated by God Himself on the mountains of Israel. The slaughter will be so great it will take seven months to bury all of the dead (Ezekiel 39:11-12).
Gog and Magog are mentioned again in Revelation 20:7-8. The duplicated use of the names Gog and Magog in Revelation 20:8-9 is to show that these people demonstrate the same rebellion against God and antagonism toward God as those in Ezekiel 38-39. It is similar to someone today calling a person “the devil” because he or she is sinful and evil. We know that person is not really Satan, but because that person shares similar characteristics, he or she might be referred to as “the devil.”
The book of Revelation uses Ezekiel’s prophecy about Magog to portray a final end-times attack on the nation of Israel (Revelation 20:8-9). The result of this battle is that all are destroyed, and Satan will find his final place in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
It is important to recognize that the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38-39 is quite different from the one in Revelation 20:7-8. Below are some of the more obvious reasons why these refer to different people and battles.
1. In the battle of Ezekiel 38-39, the armies come primarily from the north and involve only a few nations of the earth (Ezekiel 38:6, 15; 39:2). The battle in Revelation 20:7-9 will involve all nations, so armies will come from all directions, not just from the north.
2. There is no mention of Satan in the context of Ezekiel 38-39. In Revelation 20:7 the context clearly places the battle at the end of the millennium with Satan as the primary character.
3. Ezekiel 39:11-12 states that the dead will be buried for seven months. There would be no need to bury the dead if the battle in Ezekiel 38-39 is the one described in Revelation 20:8-9, for immediately following Revelation 20:8-9 is the Great White Throne judgment (20:11-15) and then the current or present heaven and earth are destroyed, replaced by a new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1). There obviously will be a need to bury the dead if the battle takes place in the early part of the tribulation, for the land of Israel will be occupied for another 1,000 years, the length of the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).
4. The battle in Ezekiel 38-39 is used by God to bring Israel back to Him (Ezekiel 39:21-29). In Revelation 20, Israel has been faithful to God for 1,000 years (the millennial kingdom). Those in Revelation 20:7-10 who are rebellious are destroyed without any more opportunity for repentance.
Does the Bible say anything about Russia in relation to the end times?
With Russia back in the news in a big way, many people are wondering if recent events in eastern Europe have anything to do with end-times prophecy—and, if so, how? Much of the discussion has to do with an ancient prophecy from Ezekiel: “The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshek and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, Gog, chief prince of Meshek and Tubal”’” (Ezekiel 38:1–3). The identities of “Gog,” “Magog,” “Meshek,” and “Tubal” are the key to fully understanding the prophecy.
Gog is a person. Whoever Gog is, he is from the land of Magog and is the leader of Tubal and Meshek (some translations add “Rosh” to the list) and a confederacy of other nations: Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth Togarmah (Ezekiel 38:5–6). And, whoever he is, he will have plans to “attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people,” viz., Israel (verses 11, 14, and 18). But, regardless of Gog’s plans, the Lord God is against him and will defeat him soundly (Ezekiel 38:4, 19–23; 39:3–5).
Magog is a land “in the far north,” from Israel’s point of view (Ezekiel 38:15; 39:2). Most Bible commentators interpret “Magog” as Russia—and, indeed, Russia is straight north of Israel, all the way up to the Arctic Circle. According to this view, “Rosh” is a reference to Russia, “Meshek” is either Moscow or the people north of the Black Sea (the area of southern Russia and Ukraine), and “Tubal,” which is always listed with Meshek in Scripture, is identified as a city in Siberia or an area in central Turkey.
Others see “Magog” as a general term used in Ezekiel’s day to identify barbarians living near the Black and Caspian Seas. Regardless of the exact locations of Magog, Tubal, and Meshek, there is no doubt that the general area includes portions of Russia and the former Soviet Union, and possibly some Arab countries.
So, yes, the Bible does mention Russia, although not by that name, in connection with the end times. Ezekiel 38—39 definitely refer to a nation coming from northern Asia to attack Israel. After the Cold War, Russia lost its superpower status, making the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy seem unlikely in some people’s eyes. However, recent events have shown that Russia is gaining strength, and many believe that the invasion of Crimea is just a first step in Russia’s plan to restore its dominance in that hemisphere. It is also interesting to note that, in the Soviet era, Moscow was solidly aligned with several Muslim countries in opposition to Israel. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has continued to make overtures to the Muslim world.
According to the Bible, there will come a time when Russia, in alliance with several other countries, will amass a huge army against Israel, with a view to plunder the Jews’ land. The nations aligned with Russia for this military endeavor are Persia (modern-day Iran), Put (modern-day Sudan), Cush (modern-day Libya), Gomer (part of modern-day Turkey), and Beth Togarmah (another portion of modern-day Turkey or possibly Syria). Most of these nations are currently militant Islamic states with an express hatred of Israel. Ezekiel says that, when the aggressors move against Israel, a few other nations (“Sheba and Dedan and the merchants of Tarshish”) will remonstrate, as will “all her villages”—possibly colonies (Ezekiel 38:13). Sheba and Dedan are associated with areas of northern Africa. Tarshish could be a reference to Spain (which colonized much of South America), Britain (which colonized the United States), or somewhere in eastern Africa. The objections to Magog’s aggression will fall on deaf ears, however, and the invasion will continue.
Some commentators believe this war is one of the events leading up to beginning of the tribulation. Others believe it will occur close to the midpoint of the tribulation, since Israel will be “dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates” (Ezekiel 38:11)—in other words, Israel will feel secure at that time, possibly because of the covenant they have signed with the Antichrist (Daniel 9:27). Either way, this battle is distinct from the Battle of Armageddon, which occurs at the end of the tribulation.
God promises to destroy Gog’s army: “I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him” (Ezekiel 38:22). The bodies of the fallen army of Magog will be buried, but it will take over seven months to complete the macabre task (Ezekiel 39:12, 14). This supernatural judgment will have the effect of preserving Israel and turning many hearts to God: “And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 38:23). Many will be saved during the tribulation (Revelation 7), and the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38—39 will be one means by which God will bring people to a knowledge of Himself.
There is much we do not know for certain about Ezekiel’s prophecy, including the timing of these events. However, it is clear that Russia will be involved and will in fact lead an end-times league of nations to seize Israel’s land. The prophet Ezekiel comforts Israel in much the same way as Moses had centuries ago: “The LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory” (Deuteronomy 20:4).
What is the meaning of the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37?
Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37:1–14) came to him after God had directed him to prophesy the rebirth of Israel in chapter 36. God announced, through the prophet, that Israel will be restored to her land in blessing under the leadership of “David, My servant [who] shall be king over them” (Ezekiel 37:24), clearly a reference to the future under Jesus Christ the Messiah, descendant of David (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6–7; Luke 1:31–33). However, this promise seemed impossible in light of Israel’s present condition. She was “dead” as a nation, deprived of her land, her king, and her temple. She had been divided and dispersed for so long that unification and restoration seemed impossible. So God gave Ezekiel the vision of the dry bones as sign.
God transported Ezekiel—probably not literally, but in a vision—to a valley full of dry bones and directed him to speak to the bones. Ezekiel was to tell the bones that God would make breath enter the bones and they would come to life, just as in the creation of man when He breathed life into Adam (Genesis 2:7). Ezekiel obeyed, the bones came together, flesh developed, skin covered the flesh, breath entered the bodies, and they stood up in a vast army. This vision symbolized the whole house of Israel that was then in captivity. Like unburied skeletons, the people were in a state of living death, pining away with no end to their judgment in sight. They thought their hope was gone and they were cut off forever. The surviving Israelites felt their national hopes had been dashed and the nation had died in the flames of Babylon’s attack with no hope of resurrection.
The reviving of the dry bones signified God’s plan for Israel’s future national restoration. The vision also, and most importantly, showed that Israel’s new life depended on God’s power and not the circumstances of the people. Putting “breath” by God’s Spirit into the bones showed that God would not only restore them physically but also spiritually. The Israelites residing in the Holy Land today are not the fulfillment of this prophecy. It will be fulfilled when God re-gathers believing Israelites to the land (Jeremiah 31:33; 33:14–16) and Christ returns to establish His Millennial Kingdom (Matthew 24:30–31).
Does Bible prophecy predict that there will be a World War 3 (III, three) before the end times?
There is no doubt that world war will be a part of the future. Christ plainly taught that there would be war prior to His return (Matthew 24:4-31). Some hold that He spoke generally of the Church age in verses 4-14 and spoke of the tribulation period starting at its mid-point in verses 15-31. Others believe that Christ spoke of only the seven-year period known as the tribulation in verses 4-31. Though verses 4-14 do seem to be giving general descriptions, they parallel the description given early in Revelation 6, which records details concerning the beginning of the tribulation. Matthew 24:6-7 says there will be “wars and rumors of wars…For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” Here, Christ makes it very clear that war will play a significant role in the last seven years prior to His return.
To be more specific, the future does hold at least one more world war. There is nothing in Scripture that says there will be only a certain number of world wars. World Wars I and II are not explicitly mentioned in Scripture, nor is a possible third World War. It is only the last war that is mentioned in detail, which allows the interpretation that there may be others before the final conflict.
John the Apostle was shown what the end times would be like, specifically the last seven years prior to Christ’s return. Beginning in Revelation 6, he recorded what he saw concerning the future. War is found in this chapter, and continues to be a part of the unfolding events until Christ returns in chapter 19 (Revelation 6:2; 4; 11:7; 12:7; 13:4, 7; 16:14; 17:14; 19:11; 19:19).
Revelation 19:11 says, “. . . in righteousness He [Christ] judges and wages war.” Revelation 19:19 says John “saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, assembled to make war against Him (Christ) who sat upon the horse, and against His army.” Take special notice that it says the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Christ. This clearly describes a world war. It also should be noted that the victor in this war is clearly Christ, who seizes the beast/antichrist and the false prophet and casts them into the lake of fire, and the armies that followed them are destroyed (Revelation 19:20-21). So, although there will be at least one more world war, there is no doubt of the outcome—righteousness will prevail as Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, defeats all who oppose Him.
It is also worth mentioning at this time that following the 1,000-year reign of Christ, there will be another uprising which could possibly have the scope of a world war. Satan will be bound for 1,000 years and then released. Upon his release, he leads a rebellion among the peoples of the earth. Christ quickly puts down this rebellion and permanently judges Satan, casting him into the lake of fire as He did with the beast/antichrist and the false prophet (Revelation 20:7-10)