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Thursday, April 19 2012
Damascus In History And Prophecy
Damascus, the present-day capital of Syria, has existed for more than 4,000 years. Located about 220 kilometers / 135 miles northeast of Jerusalem, Damascus was recorded frequently in the Holy Scriptures.
Abraham stopped in Syria for some time on his journey from Ur (in what is today Iraq; see The Journey From Ur Of The Chaldees) to the land of Canaan (where Abraham lived the remainder of his life as a foreign resident). A part of Abraham's family remained in Syria (where the wives of Isaac and Jacob/Israel would later be found; see The Syrian Marriage Wells), while Abraham's family group, which included his nephew Lot, continued on into what much later became known as the land of "Israel," after Abraham's grandson Jacob, who the LORD God (i.e. Jesus Christ; see Appearances Of The LORD God and What Does Word of God Mean To You?) renamed as "Israel" while Jacob himself was on a journey from Syria (see Where Jacob Became Israel).
After Abraham and Lot parted company because their herds became too great for them to remain together (see The Herds Of Abraham, Isaac And Jacob), Lot made the unwise choice of living near, and then in, Sodom (see also Why Did Lot's Wife Look Back?). When northern kings invaded the land and looted Sodom (the "men" of Sodom weren't very good at defending themselves), Lot was taken away by them. When he heard of it, Abraham pursued the invaders all the way to Syria where he rescued Lot in the area around Damascus. It was on his return from Damascus that Abraham had his famous meeting with Melchizedek (see A History Of Jerusalem: Melchizedek's Salem).
"14:11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 14:12 And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
While Abraham was yet without children, his designated heir was a man from Damascus - an obvious statement of Abraham's high regard for people of Syria.
"15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
"The head of Syria is Damascus"
The Kingdom of Israel reached its greatest territorial extent during the time of King David when Israel became an empire that extended far into the northeast - in which Emperor "David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus."
"8:1 And after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them: and David took Methegammah out of the hand of the Philistines.
The Empire of David began to decline in the time of David's son Solomon because Solomon was unfaithful to the LORD (see A History Of Jerusalem: The Glory Of Solomon). For that reason, the LORD permitted Israel's enemies to become strong and free to attack - from both Egypt and Syria.
"11:14 And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite: he was of the king's seed in Edom. 11:15 For it came to pass, when David was in Edom, and Joab the captain of the host was gone up to bury the slain, after he had smitten every male in Edom; 11:16 (For six months did Joab remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom:) 11:17 That Hadad fled, he and certain Edomites of his father's servants with him, to go into Egypt; Hadad being yet a little child. 11:18 And they arose out of Midian, and came to Paran: and they took men with them out of Paran, and they came to Egypt, unto Pharaoh king of Egypt; which gave him an house, and appointed him victuals, and gave him land.
The united kingdom of Israel divided into "Israel" and "Judah" because of Solomon's unfaithfulness to the LORD (see Rehoboam's Answer). From that time on, Israel and Judah even fought wars against one another - while acquiring foreign allies. In this example, Asa of Judah (see Asa Of Judah) allied himself with "Hezion, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus" against Baasha king of Israel (see Baasha Of Israel; see also Kings of Israel and Judah).
"15:16 And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days. 15:17 And Baasha king of Israel [see Israelite Monarchy - The Northern Kingdom and No Levites In The Lost Ten Tribes?] went up against Judah [see Israelite Monarchy - The Southern Kingdom], and built Ramah, that he might not suffer any to go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. 15:18 Then Asa took all the silver and the gold that were left in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants: and king Asa sent them to Benhadad, the son of Tabrimon, the son of Hezion, king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, 15:19 There is a league between me and thee, and between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent unto thee a present of silver and gold; come and break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me.
The aftermath of the foreign-allied wars of Israel and Judah involved the prophets of the LORD. In this incident, the prophet Elisha was involved in the reigns of Syrian kings in Damascus.
"8:7 And Elisha [see The Prophets: Elisha] came to Damascus; and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither. 8:8 And the king said unto Hazael, Take a present in thine hand, and go, meet the man of God, and inquire of the LORD by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?
In this example, Ahaz, the king of Judah became a subservient "ally" of the king of Assyria, against the allied kings of Israel and Damascus.
"16:7 So Ahaz [see Ahaz Of Judah] sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me. 16:8 And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king's house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria. 16:9 And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin.
One of the most famous Messianic prophecies, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel," was given within a prophecy of those wars of divided Israel and Judah, with their foreign allies, including Damascus i.e. "the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken."
"7:1 And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it.
This Day In History, April 19
65: Milichus betrayed Piso’s plot to assassinate the Emperor Nero (see also Nero's Torches).
1012: Aelfheah, the 29th Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by Danes who had been ravaging the south of England.
1529: In Germany at the Diet of Spires (Speyer), a document signed by Lutheran leaders lodged a "protest" that demanded freedom of religion and the right of minorities. From then on, the German Lutheran Reformers were known as "Protestants."
1539: Holy Roman Emperor Charles V signed the Truce of Frankfurt with rebellious Protestant princes (see The Holy Roman Empire).
1587: English Admiral Sir Francis Drake entered Cadiz harbor and sank the Spanish fleet, an action he referred to "as singeing the king of Spain's beard."
1689: Queen Christina of Sweden died. Queen from 1644-54, she gave up the throne because of her secret conversion to Roman Catholicism, which was outlawed in Sweden.
1713: Holy Roman emperor Charles VI issued the Pragmatic Sanction, giving women the rights of succession to Hapsburg possessions.
1770: Captain James Cook sighted the eastern coast of what is now Australia.
1802: The Spanish reopened the port of New Orleans to U.S. merchants (the U.S. then consisted of the former New England colonies).
1809: The Battles of Abensberg-Eckmuhl began. Over the next 4 days, a series of defeats for Austria, which cost it the support of other German states in the 1809 campaign against Napoleon. The battles were fought in Bavaria between 190,000 Austrians under Archduke Charles and 176,000 French and allied troops under Napoleon.
1839: The Treaty of London was signed, establishing recognition of the new Kingdom of Belgium, which had separated from the Netherlands, by all the states of Europe.
1850: The Clayton-Bulwer agreement was signed under which Britain and the U.S. agreed not to obtain exclusive control of a proposed Panama Canal (the U.S. later did anyway).
1882: Charles Darwin, English naturalist who developed the theory of evolution, died (listen to our Sermon Darwin's Theory of Evolution).
1906: Pierre Curie, French chemist and physicist, was run over and killed in Paris. With his wife, Marie, he had made numerous discoveries involving magnetism and radioactivity.
1933: President Franklin Roosevelt issued a proclamation removing the U.S. from the gold standard - in effect, money became nothing more than printed paper with "nothing to back it up," which enabled governments to print as much money as they wanted, thereby reducing its declared value even more each time.
1938: General Francisco Franco declared victory in the Spanish Civil War.
1943: The Warsaw Ghetto uprising against Nazi occupation began.
1993: Over 80 members of the "Branch Davidian" group, including their leader David Koresh, died when U.S. federal agents stormed their compound in Waco, Texas.
1995: The worst act of terrorism in U.S. territory (until September 11 2001, if one doesn't include the many documented incidents of genocide of native American men, women and children through the 1800s) occurred when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed by the terrorist Timothy McVeigh (a white, "Christian," U.S. Army veteran who demonstrated that anyone can be a "terrorist"). 168 people, including infants, were killed.
2005: After the death of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope of the Church of Rome. The new Pope assumed the name Benedict XVI.