The Syrian kingdom is dissolved
1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
'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 Yahweh Tsbaoth. (Jer 49:23-26)
"Burden" is that which is heavy, and, applied to a message, means heavy tidings.
There is much of heavy tidings in the prophets which is one result of their message being divine; reproof and condemnation for evil ways come from God. When it is left to man he speaks pleasant things. The prophets do not deal in pleasant things, but the reverse. "Gladness is taken away," says Isaiah in the chapter before the one we have read:
"and joy out of the plentiful field; in the vineyards there shall be no singing."
In the chapter before us Damascus is to
"become a ruinous heap: the cities of Aroer are to be forsaken: the fortress is to cease from Ephraim." Even "the glory of Jacob" is to be "made thin in that day, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean."
The harvest of the human activities then going on would not be such as they were aiming at and expecting: it would be
"a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow."
In a word, as at verse 9, "there shall be desolation." Why all this terrible blackness in human prospects? The answer is in verse 10:
"Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the Rock of thy strength."
Here we have an important teaching of revelation—one that runs through every phase of that revelation—namely, that forgetfulness of God is the ultimate cause of human ruin. The thing is true, both historically and in current experience, and whether affecting individual men or nations—although it apparently it may not be so at any one particular moment. It is a point on which the sons of God should rouse themselves. The world at large are guilty of this forgetfulness: and we are liable to be tinctured by the thoughts of the world at large.
If we remember what Christ has said that "we are not of this world," we also remember that this being not of the world, consists of being not of its mind—not of its forgetfulness—not of its way. Our affections are not set upon the things that engage their loves; our memories are open to those things that they have no inclination for:
"They say unto God, depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of Thy ways. What is the Almighty that we should serve Him; and what profit should we have if we pray unto Him?" (Job xxi. 14).
The sons of God say the very reverse:
"The desire of our soul is to the remembrance of thy name and to the remembrance of thee. With our soul have we desired thee in the night: Yea, with our spirit within us will we seek thee early. . . . My soul thirsteth for thee: my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is." (Isa. xxvi. 9: Psa. lxiii. 1).
Seasons 2.91/ Sunday morning 255
Could we go back to that time, we should find every appearance of stability in Damascus and Ephraim - cities with high walls, rearing their towers to heaven, streets thronging with healthy, busy people, engrossed with the interests of the day as men now are, and pompous official men, swelling with the importance always associated with sense of power and possession.
In these surroundings the words of the prophet would seem not only improbable, but insane. Yet those words, written in quietness at a long distance from Damascus, have prevailed, and are with us today, when the pomp and glory they denounced are a dream of the past. They were the word of the Lord which endureth for ever. The lesson is of great practical value to us, because of other prophecies that are as yet only matters of hope.
Men around us condemn these prophecies; but where are their little heats when even a generation is past? Ask this of a hundred years ago. There were men of busy thought and brilliant diatribe among the adversaries of the Bible, and their words were powerful with many, both in exciting public meetings and in the eagerly scanned page of written declamation.
...time has rolled on, and they have passed into the grave, and their stout words are forgotten, while the word of the Lord, enduring for ever, has quietly and irresistibly, like the laws of the universe, accomplished itself in the history of mankind, tending by degrees toward the appointed consummation when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever.
Bro Roberts - The word enduring forever, Seasons 1: 41.
A Ruinous Heap
"And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Ben Hadad" (Jer 49: 27) (Assad 's palace?).
Then the city is torched and burnt with incendiaries. In the initial Sense this is the Assyrian, Nebuchadnezzar, Tamerlaine, but none of these totally destroyed Damascus, one of the most ancient cities on the face of the earth. But the testimony speaks of a Damascus being reduced to a total ruin. This therefore must be a result and continuation of the present internecine war and enemy bombing.
This is in the context of the final scenario depicted by the prophets, or at least earlier invasion and desolations are a type of the end.*
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 Yahweh of hosts.
4 And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.
The invasion at some point continues south into Israel "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer.30.7) when 2/3rds are cut off (Zech. 13.8).
This suggests besiegement and famine gripping cities such as Haifa, Netanya, Tel Aviv. The language of harvest is indicative of total defeat, death and captivity of Jewish forces by the oppressor (Gog's armies).
This is the sickle harvest of Armageddon (Rev. 16.16, Ezk. 38, Dan. 11. 40-45, Rev. 14. 14-17).*
Day of purging
5 And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim.
6 Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith Yahweh Elohim of Israel.
The harvest language again, this time of the grape and olive harvest, the gleanings only, speaks of a few survivors like a few grapes and a handful of olives on the outmost branches. The effect of this on survivors will be to completely humble them and cause them to open their eyes to their strong deliverer whom they crucified (Zech.l2 .9-14).
7 At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel. [Messiah]
Bro Roberts references AD 70 - the end of the Jewish commonwealth
There is a remarkable statement in the course of the prophecy we are considering. It is to the effect that when Israel's greatness shall have shrunk to the condition of a plucked vine, with only here and there a gleaning grape on the outmost branches,
"at that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel."
It seems to me there is a considerable parallel between this statement and the statement made by Jesus to the woman at the well of Samaria. They both refer at all events to the same period of Israel's experience (when there shall be desolation), and they seem to affirm the same thing: What I refer to will be found in John 4. You will recollect that the woman said,
"Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."
And Jesus answered,
"Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father ... But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."
Now there is great point in both statements, when we recollect that up to that time there was a visible ritual of divine appointment by which God was worshipped in the place He chose to place His name there. It was a great luxury to take part in such a divinely-appointed service. But the time was at hand when this service was to be suppressed, and the divine system of Moses scattered to the wind. The question would naturally suggest itself, Would worship therefore cease?
The statements of Isaiah and of Jesus both show that though there would be an interregnum in the national organization of worship, worship itself, during the period of Israel's downtreading, would continue, but in a simpler, even an individual form.
Seasons 1: 41.
Punishment for apostacy
Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers (1:4)
8 And he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall respect that which his fingers have made, either the groves, or the images.
9 In that day shall his strong cities be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch, which they left because of the children of Israel: and there shall be desolation.
10 Because thou hast forgotten the Elohim of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips:
11 In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow.The land and its inhabitants are reduced to desolation because they had forgotten Yahweh, the God of their Salvation and Rock of their Strength, so their planting would fail, their agricultural enterprises which they are so proud of fail. This would in turn be emblematic of their own degraded apostate unfruitful state spiritually, which is what we see today, where every abomination flourishes under the name of democracy.
Tel Aviv is the capital of licentiousness, Sodom and Gomorrah Isa. 1: 8.
Bro Thomas' translation
12. Hark! A multitude of many peoples making an uproar as the noise of seas. Hark! A tumult among peoples, roaring as a tumult of mighty waters;
13 They rage against peoples like a roar of many waters: but HE shall rebuke him, and he shall flee afar off; and He shall chase him as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and as stubble before the whirlwind.
The rush of the roaring hosts of the nations is to Jerusalem under the King of the North, who at the time is lord of Syria and Damascus, holding all that country against his enemies. This is the last of the horns of the Gentiles that scatters Israel, and lays their country waste. It is the power styled "the Assyrian," who by the voice of Yahweh shall be beaten down, and be no more, ere the dawn of the millennial day.
The Lord of hosts shall rebuke him, and chase his roaring multitude like mountain chaff before the tempest, and stubble swept before its whirl. This is the portion of Gogue, and the destiny of all his host: and thus perishes "a blossom" while a sour grape is ripening on the vine.*
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, May 1853
14 <Behold also at evening time sudden destruction; and before dawn he is not. This is the portion of our spoilers, and a lot for them who scatter us>.
Thus, He that said to the winds and the roaring waves of Gennesareth, "Peace, be still!" and they obeyed him, shall speak peace to a stormy world, and reduce it to a calm. His power is not only great but invincible.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, June 1855.
ISRAEL AN ENSIGN
"at evening-tide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us" (Isaiah 17:14)
-- referring, doubtless, to the overthrow and destruction of Gogue. Now, the invasion of their country by a spoiler at "evening-tide," who robs them, implies their previous return. This finished colonization Isaiah styles,
"a present unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled;"
for, speaking of "the time of the end," he says,
"In that time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of a people scattered and peeled to the place of the name of the Lord of Hosts, the Mount Zion " (Isaiah 18:7).
But, then, the question returns upon us, by whom is the present to be made? The prophet answers this question in the first verse, saying,
"Ho! to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Khush: that sendeth by sea whirling things, even on vessels of fleetness upon the waters, Go ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from this and onward: a nation prostrate and trodden down, whose land the rivers (invading armies, Isaiah 8:7) have spoiled."
Now, the geography of this passage points to the Lion-power of Tarshish as to "the land shadowing with wings." Taking Judea, where the prediction was delivered, as the place of departure, the word " "beyond" points to the east; that is, running a line from Judea across the Euphrates and Tigris, "the rivers of Khushistan," it passes into Hindostan, where "the Merchants of Tarshish, and its young lions," rule the land.
But the British power is still further indicated by the insular position of its seat of government; for the "sending of fleet messengers by the sea." implies that the shadowing power is an island state. Ambassadors are sent from the residence of the Court, and if they proceed to their destination by sea, the throne of the power must be located in an island.
The text, therefore, points to the north and east, to England and Hindostan, as the land shadowing Israel with its wings.
To Britain, then, the prophet calls as the, protector of the Jewish nation in the evening-tide trouble, and commands it to send its messengers in swift vessels because the crisis is urgent, and to plant Israel as "an ensign upon the mountains" (Isaiah 18:3); as it is written in another place, saying,
"The Lord shall set an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth" (Isaiah 11:12).
Elpis Israel 3.6.
The finale of Isaiah's wonderful vision is a poetic description of the nations rushing and roaring and finally meeting their demise at the hands of the Mighty One of Israel (Ail Gibvor). So Russia rushes and roars into the land as the latter day Assyrian, God gathering all nations against Jerusalem (Zech. l4. 1,2)
But although they occupy Jerusalem and terrible atrocities are committed including rapine and depopulation, then the spoiler is spoiled (Is, 10) for he has forgotten [knows not] he is simply Yahweh's rod of anger. He becomes like chaff and a rolling thing (galgal) before the whirlwind (Chriist and the saints) (Ezk, 1.4, Zech. 9. l4).
This is the evening tide of trouble (Dan.l2. 1), but gone in the morning of the clear shining of a new day, when the Sun of Righteousness arises with healing in his beams, to burn up the wicked like stubble (2Sam.23:4, Mal.4.l,2, Mal.3.2,3), Thus "before the morning HE IS NOT" Ezk.39.
... but it will take 40 years to accomplish to the overthrow of Babylon the Great.
The Apocalyptic Messenger, Feb 2017
At evening time sudden destruction; and before dawn he is not
This "morning" is one of the most beautiful of scripture figures. David said,
"Joy cometh in the morning:"
no doubt he meant it in a general sense in contrast to the weeping that he says "may endure for a night." ...He said of the son promised to him,
"He shall be like the light of the morning when the sun riseth."
The arrival of Christ will inaugurate "the day of salvation," whose morning must necessarily be glorious. The evening preceding this morning is an evening of blackness and darkness and trouble; but when the morning has come, the darkness has disappeared. The enemy "is not." The spoiler has ceased.
"The multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel (i.e., Jerusalem) . . . . and that to distress her shall be as a dream of a night vision" (Isa. xxix. 7).
...In the latter days, as the prophecy informs us, a stupendous military confederacy, under Russian headship, invades the land, and carries all before it.
Jerusalem is taken: the inhabitants made captive, and the whole land put under bondage. It seems as if Israel's prospects were shrouded in everlasting gloom. What arrests and turns back the flood is nothing less than the interposition of the glorious arm that broke the power of Egypt at the Red Sea—
"When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of Yahweh shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion" (Is. lix. 19-20).
No wonder, the Spirit of prophecy breaks out in the next chapter, into loud cheering apostrophe:
"Arise, shine, for thy light is come: and the glory of Yahweh is risen upon thee."