With President Barack Obama working tirelessly to garner congressional approval for attacking Syria for its use of chemical weapons, some Christians are debating if it could lead toward the fulfillment of end-time prophecies in the Bible.
"Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins," says Isaiah 17:1, which some Christians believe is now coming to pass. The last verses of Isaiah 17 are interpreted by some as envisioning Armageddon.
In Syria, a fierce civil war between President Bashar al-Assad's supporters and rebel forces seeking his ouster has taken the lives of more than 100,000 people over the last two years, and Christians have been speculating over the fulfillment of Isaiah 17 on their blogs and websites.
The speculations have grown since the Syrian regime allegedly used chemical weapons in an attack in a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21, killing 1,429 people, including at least 426 children. The attack led to Obama's plan to bomb Syria as punishment.
Even as the possible U.S. military action on Syria dominated news last week, several media ran stories on the linking of Syrian crisis to biblical prophecy.
"The long prophesied end days are here," Time Magazine quoted a blog as announcing. "With the terrorist groups that operate out of Damascus building up arms caches on the border of Israel in anticipation of another war in the near future, it may not be long before this prophecy from Isaiah 17 becomes history," predicts another blog, it noted.
OneNewsNow interviewed Jan Markell, founder and director of Minnesota-based Olive Tree Ministries. She said the chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime brings to her mind Isaiah 17.
"If one Israeli dies from chemicals coming from Syria, Israel is going to take the issue into her own hands," she was quoted as saying. "She would do some real destruction to the city of Damascus. Israel will send a huge message to the rest of the Islamic world [that] this is what happens when you mess with us."
"Many students of the Word of God see a major alignment of ancient prophecies regarding the end times being fulfilled right before our eyes," pastor and radio host Carl Gallups told WND. "More importantly, we are the first generation in history to see such dramatic and striking alignments," added the author of The Magic Man in the Sky: Effectively Defending the Christian Faith.
Gallup also referred to Psalm 83, which is about Israel's surrounding nations conspiring against it.
"The ancient Hebrew prophecy contained in Isaiah 17 is presently poised to find final fulfillment, and it could easily be provoked by a poorly calculated political move by America," Bill Salus, author of Psalm 83: The Missing Prophecy Revealed, was quoted as saying.
However, Dr. Charlie Dyer, professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, told Chicago Sun-Times that Damascus was destroyed in the 7th and 8th centuries. "Isaiah 17 predicted the destruction of the city, along with the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel…Damascus was captured by Assyrians in 732 BC and the northern kingdom of Israel fell when the capital city of Samarai was captured by the Assyrians in 722 BC."
And 100 years later, the prophet Jeremiah also predicted the fall of Damascus, which had been rebuilt, he added. "His message was fulfilled when the city was captured by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon."