(Photo: Reuters/Molhem Barakat)
The question of whether or not the current events taking place in Syria are connected to the End Times is a "legitimate question," says an author and expert on the Middle East and End Times prophecy.
Joel C. Rosenberg, New York Times bestselling author of books such as The Last Days and Epicenter, and founder of the pro-Israel The Joshua Fund, told The Christian Post that such speculations should be taken with caution, but are legitimate ponderings. "I think we have to be very careful not to overreach or to sensationalize a terrible situation that's happening to real people right now and to draw a conclusion too quickly," said Rosenberg. "That being said, the prophecies of Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 are very important. They speak to the utter destruction and judgment of the city of Damascus at some point in the End Times future."
Rosenberg, whose bestselling novels often feature end times themes, also told CP that "these prophecies have never been fulfilled in history so far."
"Damascus has certainly been attacked and conquered in history, but it has never been removed from being a city. Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the planet," said Rosenberg, who has worked for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Is it possible that these events could set into motion the fulfillment of Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 in our lifetime or even soon? And that's a legitimate question and the answer right now is we don't know if it will happen but it could."
Regarding biblical prophecy and the Syria conflict, many have specifically pointed to Isaiah 17, which states in the first verse that "Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap."
In response to the curiosity about Isaiah 17, many Christian theologians have expressed skepticism about the passage applying to modern events.
Dr. Robert Mulholland, who is a recently retired professor of New Testament of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that he did not believe there was a connection.
"In this case, Isaiah was predicting the demise of Damascus at the hands of Assyria in the eighth century [Before Christ]," said Mulholland. "If one wanted to try to make the case for Isaiah 17 predicting the end times, then Iran (the present day successor to Assyria) would be responsible for Damascus' demise and not its primary ally."
Regarding the words of scholars, Rosenberg responded to CP that there were a couple of issues with saying that Isaiah 17 was fulfilled millennia ago.
"We know for certain that this prophecy of Isaiah 17 has not been fulfilled for several reasons. First Damascus had never been removed from being a city," argued Rosenberg.
"The text doesn't say it will be conquered, the text says it will to become a city. Of course it still is a city so it could not have been fulfilled."
Rosenberg also argued that the set of prophecies Isaiah makes that includes chapter 17 were made in the year King Ahab died, which was sometime after Assyria had conquered Damascus.
"So Isaiah had not even had the prophecy of the complete destruction of Damascus that he writes about in Isaiah 17," said Rosenberg.
"Isaiah did prophesy about the conquering of Damascus by the king of Assyria in 732 BC and we find those prophecies in chapters seven and eight."
'An Absolute Tragedy'
Rosenberg's remarks came the day after President Barack Obama made a speech to the American public about U.S. intervention in the Syrian Civil War. Obama had temporarily backed down on the idea of the U.S. striking Syria, asking for Congress to delay voting on an attack as Washington seriously considers Russia's proposal of Syria turning over its chemical weapons to the international community.
The Syrian Civil War has produced tens of thousands of casualties and an even greater number of refugees who have fled to neighboring Middle Eastern nations for sanctuary.
Regarding these happenings, Rosenberg told CP that "we're watching an absolute tragedy unfold in Syria and in Damascus," and that prayer is needed for both the United States and Syria.
"We need to be praying for him and for his advisors and that's what I am encouraging people to do. We also need to be praying for the people of Syria because Christians shouldn't simply study Bible prophecy and say 'oh good judgment coming to some city or country'," said Rosenberg.
"We need to have a heart of compassion for the people of Damascus who are going through a terrible time now and could be going through something much worse if this were to happen in our lifetime."