Judgment of Damascus

A little boy was walking down the beach, and as he did, he spied aa elderly woman sitting on the sand. He asked, “Are you a Christian??” “Yes.” “Do you read your Bible every day?” “Yes.” “Do you pray often?” And again sh … More


The fall of Damascus was a warning to Ephraim in the Northern kingdom of Israel. Both Ephraim, representing Israel, and Damascus, representing Syria, would be defeated (vv. 1-2). The emphasis in this chapter is on the God who controls the armies of heaven and earth (v. 3). Isaiah used several images to describe Ephraim’s downfall. He referred to the destruction of the fortified cities (v. 3), the wasting away of a sick person (v. 4), the gleaning of a small harvest (vv 5-6), the decaying of a garden into a wasteland (vv.  9-11), the over-flowing of a flood (vv. 12-13), and the blowing away of chaff and tumbleweeds into a storm (v. 13). In the evening they will be frightened and by morning no one will be left (v. 14). When judgment came, the people of Israel realized that their idols could not save them; so they turned to the Lord for help, but it was too late.

This is the first of three sections beginning with the phrase “in that day” (vv. 4-6). Next refers to the time of God’s wrath on His enemies (vv. 7-8) followed by His blessing showered on his people (vv. 9-11). This no doubt refers to the situation that takes place throughout the previous chapters. He is the Lord God of Israel (v. 6), the Holy one (v. 7), the God of our salvation, and the Rock of our strength (v. 10). How foolish it was for the Israelites to trust in their man-made idols (v. 8).


Like Israel of old, we tend to trust in the things we have made (our gods) instead of the God who made everything. These include the false gods of pleasure, money, sports, education, cell phones and even “religious experience.” If I don’t want the same treatment Damascus and Ephraim received, I must turn from these things and trust in God now.

Isaiah 17:1-14 (English Standard Version)

An oracle concerning Damascus. Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer are deserted; they will be for flocks, which will lie down, and none will make them afraid. The fortress will disappear from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus; and the remnant of Syria will be like the glory of the children of Israel, declares the LORD of hosts. And in that day the glory of Jacob will be brought low, and the fat of his flesh will grow lean. And it shall be as when the reaper gathers standing grain and his arm harvests the ears, and as when one gleans the ears of grain in the Valley of Rephaim. Gleanings will be left in it, as when an olive tree is beaten-- two or three berries in the top of the highest bough, four or five on the branches of a fruit tree, declares the LORD God of Israel. In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made, either the Asherim or the altars of incense. In that day their strong cities will be like the deserted places of the wooded heights and the hilltops, which they deserted because of the children of Israel, and there will be desolation. For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge; therefore, though you plant pleasant plants and sow the vine-branch of a stranger, though you make them grow on the day that you plant them, and make them blossom in the morning that you sow, yet the harvest will flee away in a day of grief and incurable pain. Ah, the thunder of many peoples; they thunder like the thundering of the sea! Ah, the roar of nations; they roar like the roaring of mighty waters! The nations roar like the roaring of many waters, but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away, chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind and whirling dust before the storm. At evening time, behold, terror! Before morning, they are no more! This is the portion of those who loot us, and the lot of those who plunder us.

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