Isaiah 17:1-14 The Burden of Damascus

The Burden of Damascus CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

This prophecy against Damascus will be fulfilled in the Tribulation and at the Second Coming of Jesus.  There are parts of this prophecy that pertain to Israel.  Because the whole chapter is about this burden of Damascus, it will be easier to teach it as a running commentary, verse by verse.

v.1 – “taken away” – Damascus is the capitol of Syria, and though it was defeated by the Assyrian king, Tiglathpileser, in 2 Ki 16:7-9, it was not “taken away” from being a city – Damascus was rebuilt and was famous during the Persian period.  The city is 4,000 years old [Gen 14:15] and is the place where Saul was traveling when he was saved [Acts 9:2].

v.1 – “ruinous” – means dilapidated

v.2 – “Aroer” – situated on the bank of the river Arnon [Deut 2:36, Jos 13:16].

v.2 – “for flocks” – the cities located on the bank of the river Arnon will be desolate and flocks will rest quietly there after these cities are destroyed [Is 27:10].

v.3 – “Ephraim… Damascus” – Is 7:8-9, 16 – the ten northern tribes of Israel [Ephraim] and the Syrians [Damascus] were confederate against the two southern tribes of Israel [Judah] – Ephraim’s fortress will cease and the Syrians will be reduced to a remnant by the end of the Tribulation – the “glory of the children of Israel” will be diminished, see v.4.

v.4 – “the glory of Jacob” – will be diminished – “thin” and “lean” are like the kine and the ears of corn in Pharaoh’s dream in Gen 41, which pictured the 7-year Egyptian famine.

v.5 – “as when the harvestman gathereth the corn” – the picture is that of a farmer harvesting his wheat – the destruction of Damascus will be as easy and as thorough as a wheat harvest – “the valley of Rephaim” – this is the place where the Philistines put themselves in array for their battles with Israel [2 Sam 5:18, 23:13] – so the picture of harvesting wheat shows the thorough destruction of the armies in war.

v.6 – “gleaning grapes” – pictures the remnant of Syria left after their destruction.

v.7 – “Maker” – we still say today, “He went to meet his Maker;” the KJV is very up-to-date – Solomon said, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,” Ecc 12:1 – this command has been vehemently attacked by non-believers to remove the knowledge of God, our Creator, from society.

v.7 – “look” and “eyes” – according to Zech 12:10 and Heb 9:28, the Lord will appear to the tribulation saints and they will see him [Matt 5:8].

v.8 – “altars” – Ahaz went to Damascus and was so impressed by the altar there that he had one made in Jerusalem and offered sacrifices upon it [2 Ki 16:10] – men will forsake their altars, “groves” and “images” – Israel had plenty of warning to never worship images there in the first place [Deut 16:21-22].

v.9 – “forsaken bough” and “uppermost branch” – see v.6 – the Syrians are reduced to this remnant because of what they had been doing against “the children of Israel” – see the last half of v.14.

v.10 – “forgotten the God of thy salvation” – the worst thing any nation or individual can do is forget God [Deut 8:18-19; Ps 9:17] – “not been mindful of the rock” – they didn’t like to retain God in their mind [Rom 1:28].

v.10-11 – “pleasant plants” and “strange slips” “but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow” – slips are stems, roots and twigs used for planting or grafting – these pleasant plants are planted and cared for but in the end the harvest is a heap [v.1] – “the day of grief and desperate sorrow” is a reference to the end of the tribulation – notice that Lk 17:38 describes the events going on right before this time and includes “they planted.”

v.12 – “noise of the seas” – the sound of a multitude of people shouting like the sound you hear outside of a stadium during a football game – this sound is the rushing of nations gathered against Israel – Rev 12:15, Zeph 3:8.

v.13 – “God shall rebuke them” and “chaff” and “whirlwind” – God rebukes these nations that attack and they flee – they are we say, “blown away” like the chaff and like a whirlwind [Amos 1:14].

v.14 – “evening tide” and “before the morning he is not” – this prophecy is fulfilled so quickly that the trouble is seen in the night and by the next morning it’s done.

v.14 – “This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.” – this is the treatment any of the enemies of the Jews will get.