Syria became the focus of our attention today. Just a few days ago, President Trump announced that he would withdraw all US troops from Syria. Then over the weekend, Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own citizens. The world is in shock to witness a chemical carnage in which even little children are not spared.
Since the Civil War started in 2011, over 400,000 people were killed in Syria during the last 7 years. That’s like over 150 people getting killed every single day. At the center of this mayhem is the President of Syria, Bashar Al Assad. The Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad has been using all his weapons to suppress his opponents. Some nations entered into this Civil War supporting Bashar Al Assad while some nations entered as his enemies. Russia, Iran, Iraq, Hezbollah terrorists have been fighting on his side. United States, England, France, Turkey, Arab league, and Al Qaeda have been fighting against him. The State of Israel also sent it’s air force into Syria recently. One by one the major powers of the world have been entering into Syrian quagmire. The rift between the United States and Russia is widening. The Right wing is angry at Putin because he is a bloodthirsty dictator, the Left wing is angry because Putin meddled in US election and, they think, took away the victory from Hillary Clinton. Putin recently released a video with the imaginary footage of his hypersonic nuclear missiles evaporating Disney World in Florida. That shows what is going on in his mind. Yesterday, in his tweet, President Trump mentioned Putin as one of the reasons behind Syrian chemical attack. Putin warned America of serious consequences for any possible attack on Syria.
The tensions between the United States and Russia reached a level not seen since the end of the Cold War. Where is our world going? Are we nearing the Third World War? Will AntiChrist appear from Syria mayhem? Let us see these events in the light of Bible prophecies.
What is happening in Syria is heart rendering. This beautiful Middle Eastern nation became a kingdom of death and destruction. In every direction we see, there are explosives, war planes, missiles, drones, AK 47s, chemical weapons, collapsed buildings and roads. Hospitals full of injured people, mortuaries full of dead bodies. Christians are under severe persecution. Churches are being demolished almost every day. In 2015, we have seen great archaeological treasures of the city of Palmyra being destroyed by ISIS terrorists. Most disturbing is the suffering of little children. Their bodies are being maimed by deadly explosives. Their tiny bodies are being scarred with the wounds of war. Many children are dying because of asphyxiation. Their faces buried in gas masks, many of them dying of suffocation. Their childhood is being marred by bombs and explosions. Over 400,000 people died and counting. No one knows when this anarchy and chaos will end.
Syria is mentioned many times in the Bible. This is where human civilization was born. In a region called Ebla in Syria, the world’s first ever language with written characters was born. In 13th century BC, the phoenicians built many cities in this region. Hittites and Assyrians also ruled in this region. Abraham left Ur in Chaldees region and went to Haran. This Haran is located in Syria. His children settled in Padanaram. Padanaram means the city of Aram. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Aram was the son of Shem. The children of Aram settled in the regions of Syria, Mesopotamia, Chaldees and Armenia.
Abraham’s son Isaac was married to Rebecca from Syria. We read their beautiful love story in Genesis chapter 25. Abraham’s grandson Jacob was called a Syrian in Deuteronomy 26:5. The children of Jacob went to Egypt and settled there for 400 years, most of the time enduring slavery. Then they returned to the promised land under the leadership of Moses. The Israelites engaged Syrians from time to time. In 2 Samuel chapter 8, we see King David conquering Syria. The Syrians became his servants and paid him tribute. After King Solomon’s reign, the united kingdom of Israel was divided into two separate kingdoms, the northern state of Israel and the southern state of Judah. Syria became a powerful nation during this time and started to attack both Israel and Judah. The Syrians also corrupted the the people of Israel with idolatry and pagan worship. The people of Israel drifted away from the living God and polluted their nation with horrible sins. The more idolatrous they became the more subservient they became to Syrians. God sent his prophets to both Israel and Judah but they did not heed God’s warnings.
King Ahab married Jezebel, the princess from Syria. This evil queen led Israel away from the Lord God Jehovah. The nation was filled with Baal worship. Then God sent prophet Elijah to warn Israel. Elijah has a special place in Bible prophecy. Even to this day, the Jews break a glass for Elijah in their weddings. They open a door for Elijah, they keep a special chair and pour wine for Elijah. Elijah judged Israel for its disobedience to God’s commandments. Jezebel wanted to destroy Elijah. Later, God supernaturally took away Elijah from this world. It seems to me that his miraculous exit from this world is an indication that he will come back to bring the judgment of God on our world when God’s time for humanity nears the deadline.
Elijah’s disciple was Elisha. Under King Ben hadad II, there was a general in the army of Syria whose name was Naaman. Naaman was a great military general but he was afflicted with leprosy. He heard about Elisha and wanted to be healed by the prophet. He got a recommendation letter from King Ben Hadad and sent it to the king of Israel. The king of Israel trembled after reading this letter, “Am I a god to heal someone with leprosy? He wrote me this letter to pick up a fight with me”. You can see the spiritual state of Israel in this encounter. The king of Israel was not confident that the God of Israel could heal Naaman through his prophet Elisha. He was also shaking and quivering before the Syrians. We know the rest of the story. Elisha healed Naaman of his leprosy. God did a great miracle. Naaman wanted to give lots of gifts to Elisha but as a true man of God, Elisha refused those gifts. Naaman went with faith and was healed.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ talked about the faith of Naaman. We read in Luke chapter 4, verse 27. Jesus said,
“And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed, except Naaman the Syrian”
There were many lepers in Israel, but they had no faith in God, they had no faith in Elisha and they all died with leprosy. But Naaman had faith in God, he left Syria and went all the way to Elisha and got healed.
Elisha did many great things before Israel and Syria with the power of God. When the army of Syria attacked Israel, he struck all its soldiers with blindness and took them to Samaria. He opened their eyes. Instead of killing them, he fed them and sent them back to Syria. However, the Syrian king had no gratitude. He attacked Israel again. God miraculously liberated Israel through his prophet Elisha.
So, we see a tug of war between Israel and Syria for many centuries. Then in 8th century BC, Assyrians came to power in the Middle East. The King of Israel Pekha joined hands with the king of Syria Rezin to dethrone Assyrians. Together they sought assistance from Ahaz, the king of Judah. However, Ahaz had other plans. He made a deal with the king of Assyria. Assyrians were enraged. The stage was set for complete destruction of Syria. Tiglath Pileser, the king of Assyria attacked Syria with full vengeance. He razed the city of Damascus. In 722 BC, he also attacked the Northern Kingdom of Israel and took 10 tribes of Israel into bondage. With their constant feeding of Israel with idolatry and paganism, Syria led Israelites away from God and his commandments. They led the people of God to their fall and destruction. Through his prophets, God expressed his anger towards Syria and Damascus.
We read in Isaiah chapter 17,
- The burden of Damascus: “Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. 2. The cities of Aroer are forsaken; they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid. 3. The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus and the remnant of Syria; they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel,” saith the LORD of hosts.
Jeremiah also proclaimed God’s judgment against Syria:
Jeremiah 49: verses 23 to 27
- Concerning Damascus: “Hamath is confounded, and Arpad, for they have heard evil tidings; they are fainthearted; there is sorrow on the sea; it cannot be quiet.
- Damascus is waxed feeble and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her; anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail.
- How is the city of praise not left, the city of My joy!
- Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day,” saith the LORD of hosts.
- “And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad.”
As prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah predicted, God’s judgment came upon Syria. After Assyrians, Babylonians came to power. After Babylonians, Persians came to power. After Persians, Greeks came to power. Alexander the Great ruled Syria. After his death, his empire was divided into four parts. Syria was under Seleucids.
When Daniel was in Captivity in Babylon, God gave him a specific prophecy concerning Syria under Seleucids. In Daniel chapter 11, we read about the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. The northern kingdom was Syria under Seleucids while the southern kingdom was Egypt under Ptolemies. The Seleucids and Ptolemies became hostile to each other and fought barbarous wars on each other. The Jews and their land Judea were trapped between these two enemy kingdoms. Often, the Jews became the target of their cruelty.
So, when the world powers fight against each other, Jews get trapped along the battle lines and suffer. The same thing happened down the history all the way to Second World War, when the Jews had to endure Holocaust as the world powers bulldozed each other. As the world powers make Syria as their battle ground in our time, the Jewish people will suffer again. This is just the fact of history. The chaos in Syria is endangering the security of Israel.
In Daniel chapter 11, we also read about coming AntiChrist. Let us read verses 21 and 31.
- And in his place shall stand up a vile person to whom they shall not give the honor of the kingdom; but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.
- And armies shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place there the abomination that maketh desolate.
Prophet Daniel talked about a vile person. Who was this vile person? He was Antiochus Epiphanes, the Seleucid king of Syria. What did he do? He came in peace, he deceived people with his flatteries, then he also attacked Israel, he assaulted Jerusalem, he massacred the Jews, he polluted God’s temple, he took away the daily sacrifices, he placed the abomination of desolation in the holy of holies.
The abomination of desolation. Lord Jesus Christ talked about it in Matthew chapter 24. He said,
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand)”
Here the abomination of desolation is AntiChrist. You see, Antiochus Epiphanes who prefigured AntiChrist came from Syria. It is possible that Antichrist might emerge from current crisis in Syria. You can see the rise of dictators around the world. Chinese President became the dictator for life. Russian President Putin became the dictator for life. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi became the dictator for life. North Korea President Kim Jong became the dictator for life. When these dictators come together to implement their strategies, democratic nations will become helpless. The spirit of AntiChrist is rapidly emerging. When antichrist emerge, he will be an absolute dictator for the entire world.
Our Lord said, ‘whoso readeth, let him understand’. Only those who read the Bible, only those who understand God’s prophetic calendar, will understand the current events in our world.
If you stop average Millennial in London or Berlin or New York, and ask him or her, ‘What is the biggest problem facing our world now?’ he or she would say, ‘Climate change’. Our generation is the most ignorant of Bible prophecies than all previous generations. They don’t think God is sovereign over His creation. They think climate change determines the future. Over the last 100 years, the secular West has been pursuing a utopia to build a welfare state in which government provides everything for everyone. The secular education minimized the impact of human evil on the future course of our history. They think a well funded welfare state is the answer to all of our world’s problems. They have no understanding of Christian worldview, they have no understanding of Bible prophecy, they have no understanding of the coming of the AntiChrist, they have no understanding of coming Armageddon. They think climate change is the bigger problem to the world than Russia’s aggression, China’s communism, North Korea’s nuclear weapons or Islamic radicalism. And that’s sad. Because your worldview determines how you prepare for the future. The problem that determines the future course of human history is not man’s irresponsible behavior towards earth’s climate but his rebellion against God. Take care of your climate but it is not going to stop the appearance of AntiChrist.
After Greeks, Romans occupied Syria. When Caesar Augustus was ruling this world, Lord Jesus was born in this world. We read in Luke chapter 2,
“And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria. And all went to be taxed, everyone into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, unto the City of David which is called Bethlehem”
When our Lord was born, the Roman governor was seated in Syria. Later, through the ministry of Lord Jesus, the grace of God extended into Syria. We read in Matthew chapter 4:24,
- And His fame went throughout all Syria. And they brought unto Him all sick people who were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those who were possessed with devils, and those who were lunatic, and those who had the palsy; and He healed them.
Lord Jesus did minister to the people of Syria. His fame went throughout all Syria. He did miracles: healing the sick, casting out the demons and preaching the kingdom of God. Not surprisingly, Christian church grew rapidly in Syria. The followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Syria. This happened in Antioch, a prominent city in Syria. In recent archaeological diggings, the very first churches of Christian faith were unearthed in Syria.
Saul of Tarsus went to Syria to persecute Christians in Damascus. As Saul was on his way, Lord Jesus appeared to him and confronted him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’. Saul asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting’.
Saul got up and dusted off his clothes. He became Apostle Paul. The history of the world would never be the same again. From Syria, from Antioch, Apostle Paul and his associates started great world missionary journeys. They took the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ from Syria to all corners of the world.
If you look at Syria today, it will break your heart. Syria, where Jesus walked, where Paul got saved, where Christians got their name, where global missionary work started, today became a kingdom of death and destruction. It’s streets are filled with the blood of infants and cries of the children. What happened?
A new religion occupied Syria in the seventh century after Christ. Welcome to Islam, the religion that refused the grace of God revealed in Lord Jesus Christ, the religion that relies on the works of man, the religion that denied the cross of Christ, the religion that denied the sacrificial substitution of Christ, the religion that denied the redemption God provided in Christ, the religion that denied the message of forgiveness preached by Paul and other apostles.
What is at the center of current conflict in Syria? It’s Islam. The 1400 years long bloody rivalry between Shiites and Sunnis which started after the death of Muhammad. They have been unable to forgive each other and embrace each other. Once upon a time they killed each other with swords and spears. Now, they are attacking each other with missiles and war planes supplied by the Western nations. That’s all the difference.
The Islamic Caliphate of Umayyads ruled their conquered world from Damascus. Their armies conquered the world from India to Spain. Later, Ottomans occupied Syria. In modern times, the French and the British ruled it. Then came the family of Assad. They became dictators of this land. Bashar Al Assad is now presiding over the mayhem in Syria. ‘I don’t care how many people die, I want my power’. There is no fear of God or love of God in his life.
He got a reliable friend in Putin, President of Russia. Putin calls himself a Christian, but we don’t see anything Christian in his life. In 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was brought down by a missile while it was flying over Ukraine. All 283 passengers and 15 crew on board were dead. Putin never acknowledged his role in this crash and never repented of this carnage.
Russia, Iran and Turkey joined hands to help Assad. They are joining hands to challenge the power of the Western nations and the security of the state of Israel. Today morning, two Israeli F-15 warplanes launched airstrikes on the T-4 base in central Syria. Three Iranians died in this Israeli attack. Israel has launched countless strikes in Syria. What’s new is Russia’s response. Russia will not hesitate to attack Israel when the relations between Putin and Donald Trump deteriorate. It will not surprise us because God told us in His word that Russia and its allies will attack Israel in the coming days. 2500 years ago prophet Ezekiel gave us those details. When you have time, read Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. Those chapters describe how Russia, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Libya, Pakistan will join hands and attack Israel. Yesterday Israel attacked Syria, three Iranians died and Russia became furious. You can see how Russia-Syria-Iran nexus encircling Israel in our time. Add North Korea to this vicious circle. North Korea has supplied chemical weapons to Syria which are now being used on the people of Syria. The armies of the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Australia are already fighting in Syria. Things can go out of hands very quickly from this point.
God sent the gospel around the world from Syria. God wanted to establish peace through the gospel of Lord Jesus Christ. But sadly, our world rejected the gospel and embraced its own false religions and ideologies. So, God will bring all nations to Syria to judge them for their rebellion.
We all know the story of Cain and Abel. Abel went to God with faith and offered a sacrifice from his flock. That prefigured the sacrificial, substitutory, redemptive work of Christ on the cross. Cain went without faith. He offered from the products of his farmland. God rejected his offering. Instead of repenting his sin, Cain filled his heart with anger and jealousy. He went and killed his brother. The first murder in human history came from unbelief, anger and jealousy. Remember that folks, violence always come from unbelief. Why is there so much violence in Syria? It’s leader Assad has no faith in God. Putin has no faith in God. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has no faith in God. Turkish president Erdogan has no faith in God. They chose violence for the sake of power. That is what Antichrist will do. He will bring unprecedented violence on this world to possess unprecedented power.
But there is good news. God will judge the nations of this world. Lord Jesus will come to put an end to human rebellion and to the rule of Antichrist. He will establish his kingdom in Jerusalem and rule the whole world.
If you look at Syria today, there is so much violence and bloodshed. You might ask, when will the violence end in Syria? Where is God? Why doesn’t he stop this carnage? You see, God did everything He could to help Syria. He sent Abraham to Syria. He sent Lord Jesus to Syria. He sent his apostles to Syria. But, the message of grace was rejected.
As he was traveling to Syria, Saul asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting’. Saul left the religion of works and accepted the religion of grace and forgiveness. Syria needs a fresh revelation of Christ. It should leave the religion of works and accept the religion of grace and forgiveness. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the only hope for Syria and the world. May God heal Syria.
PRAYER: ‘Lord Jesus, Syria, the nation you walked and preached, is in complete chaos and destruction in our time. We pray that you touch this nation, open the eyes of its people and its leaders. Help them see you as their Lord and Savior. We pray that you help them stop all violence and follow you with faith. In your precious name we pray, Amen.’