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by Steve Ashburn


In Part 4 of this series we saw how Gaza was destroyed (“melted”) as a nation because of their participation in the Psalm 83 Arab invasion of Israel; and how after this, Israel possessed the entire ancient land of Canaan, including Gaza: “And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the Lord their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity” (Zephaniah 2:6-7). We now continue in our studies of this war, with a description of God’s judgment on Syria, one of Israel’s most inveterate enemies. 

Syrians generally are thought to be descended from Aram (the son of Shem; Genesis 10:22); their name possibly was derived from a Greek corruption of the name “Serug” (the sixth generation from Shem; Genesis 11:22). Descendants of Uz through Aram  also are thought to have migrated westward into what is now Syria. The Aramaic language of these peoples is still spoken in some places today.  

After World War I, Syria was administered under the French Mandate, and in 1946 gained its independence. Since then it has been ruled over by a succession of military dictatorships, most notably since 1970 by the Assad family. Currently Bashar al-Assad is president/dictator; and since 2011 he has been embroiled in a civil war—with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the US taking the sides of the rebels; and Russia, Iran, and the terrorist group Hezbollah supporting the Syrian government. As of fall 2020, it is unclear which side ultimately will win, especially since it appears to be a proxy war between major powers.  

Currently the Russian air force is bombing ISIS targets in Syria (and since ISIS is funded/controlled by the CIA/Mossad/MI6, the US and its allies are furious), and Iran is readying a major ground invasion. The whole issue appears to be refusal by Syria to allow a gas pipeline to be built from Qatar to Western Europe (transiting Syria), which would elimate Russia’s stranglehold over the continent. This pipeline almost certainly will be built after Israel wins the next nuclear war, but presently this conflict appears to be at a stalemate—although certainly it serves to increase tensions between Israel and their neighbor to the north. 

Regardless of the outcome, however, the Bible says that Syria will participate in the attempted invasion of Israel at the beginning of the end times. As noted previously, Psalm 83 gives an overview of this battle, while Isaiah 17 gives more specific details concerning Syria. Isaiah 17 describes God’s judgment on Syria: 

The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid. (Isaiah 17:1–2) 

Damascus and the other cities of Syria have never been converted to “ruinous heaps” at the same time; therefore, this prophecy almost certainly is still in the future. The description of Damascus as a “ruinous heap” implies the use of weapons of mass destruction (i.e., nuclear), and the future state of their country as being “for flocks” suggests complete conquest of their nation and evacuation (or death) of all their people by Israel, without any fear of future retaliation (“none shall make them afraid”). 

The key phrase “in that day” or “at that day” is used three times in Isaiah 17; this phrase refers to the end-times period and indicates that this entire chapter is still future. The first reference is in verse 4: “And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.” Israel will be blessed by God after they defeat their enemies at the beginning of the end times, as Ezekiel 28:26 indicates: “And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell with confidence, when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them.” Therefore the reference to Israel being made “thin” must apply to their temporary dispersion at the midpoint of the tribulation and further defines the timeline as being in the end times.  

The next two verses describe the condition of Syria after they are destroyed: “And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim. Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the Lord God of Israel” (Isaiah 17:5–6). 

Apparently, Syria will be surgically eliminated like a harvestman reaping corn with a scythe, although a few men will be left in it, like “two or three berries in the top” or “four or five in the outmost . . . branches.” God never leaves the world without a witness, and even in Syria there is a Christian presence; apparently some will be spared in the Israeli invasion at the beginning of the end times. 

As we saw in Part 1 of this series, the surviving refugees will be herded to a staging area near ancient Kir in Moab (near present-day Al-Karak, Jordan), thereby to await deportation to other countries by a UN-type agency. We will cover this subject in more detail later in this series. 

The second reference to “that day” is located in verses 7–8: “At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.” This seems to refer to the remnant of Syria that turns to the true God of Israel and worships him.  

In context this applies mainly to the millennium, although it could refer to the remnant of Syrians left after the end times Israeli invasion who will acknowledge God and turn from worshipping the “the work of his hands.” This is intimated in verse 6, which describes “gleaning grapes” being left “in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof” suggesting that a few faithful believers will be spared from the destruction. There was an early church in Damascus at the time of the apostles (mentioned several times in the book of Acts). Also, the Syrian Catholic church is one of the oldest in the world—predating the Roman Catholic church—and is still in practice today. It makes sense, therefore, for God to preserve his people in Syria. 

Verses 9–11 then describes the judgment on Syria at the beginning of the end times: 

In that day shall his strong cities be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel: and there shall be desolation. Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips: In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow. (Isaiah 17:9–11) 

In this third reference to “in that day,” Syrian cities will be destroyed as “a forsaken bough” which they will be abandon (“they left”); and then Isaiah gives the reason for this: “because of the children of Israel.” In other words, Israel will invade Syria and destroy her cities which will be abandoned, “and there shall be desolation.” Isaiah then described the underlying spiritual reason for this destruction: “Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation.”  

From this, we can see that Syria will be engaged in seemingly normal economic activity such as agriculture (“therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants”) at the time of the Israeli invasion, but suddenly they will be faced with “grief and of desperate sorrow.” The term “strange slips” refers to imported vine cuttings, and in context perhaps refers to high-yielding genetically modified seed (or generally speaking, to modern methods of agriculture). This passage suggests that although Syria may prosper materially in the absence of God, their seeming success eventually will result in destruction. 

We’ll cover more about God’s judgment on Syria in Part 6 of this series, including the destruction of surrounding nations, and relocation of refugees to other countries, including the US. So stand by for Part 6! 

I provide more details of this and many other end-times prophecies in my two books, The Next Nuclear War and  END TIMES DAWNING (available from Please read them! 

These books describe the timing and sequence of events of the end times, and at a level of detail which no one yet has ascertained from Scripture. I believe the Lord has given me the great personal honor of writing about these details for the first time, as this great time period draws near! 

The first book provides a concise overview of the end times, including the definition, timing and sequence of events—and the key role of the United States in Bible prophecy. The second book describes the end times in more detail, including an in-depth analysis of Isaiah. Both of these make an excellent addition to a Christian’s library, as well as gifts for friends and pastors—and for your Sunday school class! 

My publisher made me buy 2,000 books as part of my author agreement, and I really need your help in moving them! Also if you would, please leave book reviews on Amazon! 

Yours in Christ, 

Steve Ashburn


[This article was published on October 16, 2020]


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