While Rosenberg was definitive in this sense, he did note that the Bible is not specific, in his view, about how the city will be destroyed or what that event will look like. Additionally he noted that the implications of this destruction are not known either, as the Holy Book does not go into substantial detail on the matter.
During a phone interview with TheBlaze in 2013, Rosenberg also explained Syria's significance in the Bible, again bringing up both Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49. Claiming that these predictions get "very little attention," he explained that they each speak about the future of Damascus: "The Bible indicates clearly that Damascus will be utterly and completely destroyed at some point in the future — it will be a great cataclysmal [event] and it will be part of God's judgment," Rosenberg said.
He added that he doesn't see "clean hands in the fight" in Syria and
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼wonders if it's possible "that the judgment of Damascus is not only
coming" but if it could be coming within our lifetime. Not everyone is on board with the claim that the Old Testament could be describing future — or even current — events that will befall Syria.
Hank Hanegraaff also spoke about supposed biblical prophecies associated with the end times back in 2013 on his radio show. A caller asked about claims that the Book of Isaiah details coming destruction for Damascus, the capital of Syria, a claim to which Hanegraaff pushed back.
"So, what you're saying is they're tying in the passages in Isaiah to what is currently happening in Syria...and this is just a classic example of newspaper eschatology and shame on the pastors that are doing this, because it either is a case of them not knowing the Word of God, which seems unlikely to me, or simply wanting to invite sensationalism and sophistry," he responded. "If you look at what the Bible actually says, it is very clear that the fulfillment comes in the biblical text as well." And Hanegraaff wasn't done there.
"This whole notion is fulfilled in biblical history when the king of the Assyria captured and destroyed Damascus...if you look at Isaiah chapter 7, there's a permutation of this as well...you see the fulfill- ment in the very next chapter, Isaiah chapter 8," he continued.
Hanegraaff went on to say that some pastors' decisions to transport pieces of prophecy to the twenty-first century are irresponsible. He called the action "embarrassing" and said that those pastors and Bible experts who embrace the idea are "dragging Christ's name through the mud."
He simply doesn't believe that, on these matters, the Bible's writers were looking so fervently into the future, and he contends that they were speaking about prophecy that would unfold in the immediate and that has already come to pass.19
"I think the point we have to probably recognize is that all of the Bible was written for us, but none of it was written to us," he contended. "This book of Revelation was written to seven churches."
Hanegraaff said that end-times prophecy has been touted for centuries, but none of it ever comes to pass. Rather than reading the ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Scriptures for what they are, he believes that some theologians are "reading into the Scriptures their own eschatological views."
Dr. Candida Moss, a professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, also penned a 2013 article attempting to debunk claims that Damascus may play a role in end times. She said that the city has already been repeatedly conquered.
"Isaiah lived and wrote in the eighth century BCE [BC] and scholars think that the original prophecy referred to the conquest of Damascus by the Assyrians in 732 BCE [BC]," she wrote. "But that's not the only time Damascus has seen conflict."
Moss went on to list those who had conquered Damascus, including Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander the Great. She also explained that, in the seventh century, Damascus was in the middle of a Muslim siege led by General Khalid ibn al-Walid. Later the Turco-Mongol armies of Timur conquered it around the turn of the fifteenth century, killing the entire population and apparently erecting a tower built with severed heads.
In the end, the debate is fascinating, as both sides — comprised of individuals who believe in Christ and who contend that Jesus will one day return — couldn't disagree more about the alleged signs and symbols present within the Bible's complex text.