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There are two events that will happen around the same time as the coming of Gog and Magog. More importantly, both of these events may have already started. They are:
The permanent destruction of Damascus
The drying up of the Nile
Neither of those has ever happened. Ever. Damascus has been conquered many times, but never permanently destroyed. And, the Nile has never been dammed up like this, nor has the population of Egypt ever been this large or such a big consumer of water.
As we go through these two chapters, we'll discover a few things:
Israel will suffer a massive change
God will rebuke the nations
Egypt will become Christian
Israel, Egypt and Assyria will unite in a confederation
The fulfillment of Isaiah 17 and Isaiah 19 will glorify God and prove to the world that the Bible is true. But as always, there is a price. So, let’s look at that.
Some time ago, a friend of mine called me up from the Netherlands. We talked about what we were up to and mutual friends that were still in Israel. Then we stumbled onto the subject of eschatology, and I said that the next big thing that’s going to happen is Gog and Magog and the salvation of Israel.
“No it’s not,” he responded.
I was taken aback. What? Really?
“Why?” I growled.
“Damascus hasn’t been destroyed yet,” he replied – blissfully ignorant of how close he was to being rhetorically torn limb from limb.
I sat and blinked for a moment. I remembered reading something in the Bible about Damascus being destroyed, but I thought that it had already happened – and that there was no need to think about this prophecy as the future. I sputtered a bit in deflated indignation before flipping through the scriptures that referred to Damascus. Sure enough, it needed to be permanently destroyed – with an emphasis on permanent.
(Maybe I wasn’t quite the expert that I thought that I was.)
Once THAT was clear, I did a quick search of the history of Damascus and found that it had NEVER been destroyed. It had only been damaged and then quickly repaired. And Isaiah said that it wasn’t just going to be destroyed, but that the damage would be forever – that it would never rise again as a city.
That is an incredibly serious problem.
Well, if Damascus has never been permanently destroyed, then Isaiah 17 is about the future. And, there’s not a whole lot of future left in our ‘future’ – if you know what I mean.
But, there’s worse.
It appears that a lot of Israelis are killed also. A LOT of Israelis. In fact, I can see how this fits with Zechariah 13 when it speaks about the same time frame:
And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the Lord,
“That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one-third shall be left in it:
– Zechariah 13:8 (NKJV)
Again, if there is anyone out there that can prove that all of this has already happened, and that millions of Israelis will not die…
Well, my joy would be boundless.
However, until someone can prove that Isaiah 17 and Zechariah 13:8 have ALREADY been fulfilled, I live in dread of what is coming. But, let’s start working through the terrible predictions of Isaiah 17.
1 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.
– Isaiah 17:1-2 (KJV)
Again, never has Damascus suffered this kind of annihilation. Every time it was conquered, the battle damage was repaired and city life resumed. No one ever completely destroyed Damascus, mainly because no one wanted to.
Damascus has always been the perfect place for a regional capital, which is why everyone chose to rule the eastern shores of the Mediterranean from Damascus, instead of Tyre, Sidon, Yaffo or even Jerusalem. There was more water. It was easy to defend. It was at a key location to control trade routes. It was perfect.
So perfect, that every empire ruled this part of the Middle East from Damascus. The Babylonians, Persians, Hellenes, Seleucids, Romans and all the Muslim empires – they all made Damascus the regional capital for that part of the Middle East.
In fact, do this search:
Damascus is on almost every list that you will find in that search, but Isaiah 17 indicates it will one day join a different kind of list:
It will start out as a ‘ghost town’, and then – depending on how long this period lasts – it will become a ‘lost city’. And, when you do the research into why major cities are abandoned and never rebuilt, you’ll see a lot of possible reasons. However, in Isaiah 30, we see something that explains everything:
There will be on every high mountain
And on every high hill
Rivers and streams of waters,
In the day of the great slaughter,
When the towers fall.
– Isaiah 30:25 (NKJV)
There will be an earthquake so big, that everything will be knocked down. So, you can see how Damascus would be destroyed. But, there’s also something else, and it’s connected to the first part of the verse:
There will be on every high mountain
And on every high hill
Rivers and streams of waters,
This means that underground rivers and aquifers will change where they are and how they flow. What Isaiah describes is a LOT of underground change. In fact, almost everything will be altered – including the sources of water for Damascus (via the Barada River). So, not only will the city be knocked down, but the reason for why the city exists will disappear – forever.
You can’t have a city, if you don’t have water.
By the way, that would also explain why the ‘cities of Aroer’ would be ‘forsaken’ (verse 2). If the underground rivers that feed Damascus are blocked or changed, then you can bet that the same thing will happen to other areas in this part of the Middle East – like Aroer, which is now the Wadi Mujib area of Jordan, near the Dead Sea.
Having said that, there’s some possibility that the reference to Aroer, is about something else. The same Hebrew word – ערער – also means juniper, as in the juniper berries that are used in the making of gin. Another, modern form of the word – ערערות – also means desolation (or, ‘appeals’). However, locating Aroer is a problem for a different time.
There is also a distinct possibility of a change in the mountains that affect rainfall in the Middle East. If the Lebanese mountains grow too high, rain won't get to Syria. Also, the air currents that bring rain to the Levant in the winter are directed by mountain ranges in southern Europe. Any change in the height of those mountains could shift rain southwards - giving us a reason for why there is a King of the Negev in Daniel 11.
This King of the Negev - usually translated as King of the South - would likely occur because Israel's Negev got more rain. It's currently a waste howling wilderness, but won't stay that way. Spend some time in southern Israel, southern Jordan and the Sinai if you want to understand what I mean. You literally cannot have a King of the South without more rain - lots more rain.
Unfortunately, the next two verses in Isaiah are not something that I want to see:
3 The fortress also will cease from Ephraim,
The kingdom from Damascus,
And the remnant of Syria;
They will be as the glory of the children of Israel,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
4 “In that day it shall come to pass
That the glory of Jacob will wane,
And the fatness of his flesh grow lean.
– Isaiah 17:3-4 (NKJV)
Syria will become even more of a ‘failed state’ than it already is, but the fortress ceasing from Ephraim is something more than just the destruction of a city. This shows northern Israel – Ephraim – becoming defenseless. And, it doesn’t look like it’s voluntary, since the glory or honor of Israel diminishes. In fact, the word ‘impoverished’ comes to mind. This is not something that I want to contemplate, so I can understand if you don’t either.
Of course, when you knock everything down with the biggest earthquake since the Great Flood, you would expect a lot of poverty. And, the next two verses continue with this idea:
5 It shall be as when the harvester gathers the grain,
And reaps the heads with his arm;
It shall be as he who gathers heads of grain
In the Valley of Rephaim.
6 Yet gleaning grapes will be left in it,
Like the shaking of an olive tree,
Two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough,
Four or five in its most fruitful branches,”
Says the Lord God of Israel.
– Isaiah 17:5-6 (NKJV)
These verses mean that a lot of Israelis will be killed. And that is so far beyond disturbing that it’s horrifying.
Unless someone can prove to me, beyond the shadow of doubt, that all of this has happened already and that there is no possibility that this will happen in the future – I will live in dread of this. And, the grim nature of this prophecy continues, even though the Return of Jacob is a part of it:
7 In that day a man will look to his Maker,
And his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel.
8 He will not look to the altars,
The work of his hands;
He will not respect what his fingers have made,
Nor the wooden images nor the incense altars.
9 In that day his strong cities will be as a forsaken bough
And an uppermost branch,
Which they left because of the children of Israel;
And there will be desolation.
– Isaiah 17:7-9 (NKJV)
This is exactly like what Zechariah 13 says. In Zechariah 13:8, many Israelis are killed. And, in verse nine, the survivors are put through great suffering by God to refine them. And, the result is described in the second half of that verse:
I will bring the one-third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, ‘This is My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ ”
– Zechariah 13:9 (NKJV)
Zechariah and Isaiah are clearly speaking of the same moment in time. At least, the same period of time. The differences are that Zechariah speaks of an invasion – Gog and Magog – while Isaiah speaks of a gigantic earthquake. And, most of you probably know that earthquakes happen most often along the borders of tectonic plates. One of those borders follows the Jordan Valley, from northern Syria down to the East African Rift.
This seismology of Israel reinforces our understanding of how terrible these events will be. Yet, almost any amount of horror is worthwhile if it ends in redemption, but you will forgive me if I do not look forward to the suffering. This will be really bad.
Unfortunately, God has good reasons for allowing this to happen:
10 Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation,
And have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold,
Therefore you will plant pleasant plants
And set out foreign seedlings;
11 In the day you will make your plant to grow,
And in the morning you will make your seed to flourish;
But the harvest will be a heap of ruins
In the day of grief and desperate sorrow.
– Isaiah 17:10-11 (NKJV)
Because they rejected God, they will bring this upon themselves. Instead of embracing Jesus, they spent two thousand years rejecting Him. And, as bad as these events will be, it is far, far worse to reject God for two thousand years – condemning your people to an eternity in Hell. It would be better to suffer terrible tragedy, and go to heaven – than to be prosperous and suffer for all of eternity, after you die. No suffering in this life will ever equal what awaits those who reject God.
Then, to clarify all of this, God shows us that this prophecy is about the coming of Gog and Magog:
12 Woe to the multitude of many people
Who make a noise like the roar of the seas,
And to the rushing of nations
That make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
13 The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters;
But God will rebuke them and they will flee far away,
And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind,
Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
14 Then behold, at eventide, trouble!
And before the morning, he is no more.
This is the portion of those who plunder us,
And the lot of those who rob us.
– Isaiah 17:12-14 (NKJV)
Everything that we have talked about, up to this point is reinforced in these last three verses of Isaiah 17. This is Gog and Magog. For those of us who will be elsewhere in the world, the ‘rebuke’ referred in verse 13 will be Ezekiel’s Fire:
And I will send a fire on Magog, and on them that dwell securely in the isles; and they shall know that I am Jehovah.
– Ezekiel 39:6 (ASV)
That fiery rebuke will destroy electronics around the world and knock down all tall buildings. Electricity will cease to work. All communications will fail. Those without ready access to water will die within days, and die terribly. Those who don’t perish from thirst will probably die of violence, followed by starvation. The cities will be consumed and billions will die.
Many of those who do not lose their lives, will probably wish that they had.
Please, please be ready for the worst moment in human history since the Great Flood. I know that it’s hard to believe that this is coming. I have struggled to believe it myself. But, the Bible is clear that it cannot be avoided. So, if you accept what the Bible says, you had better get ready for this.
Think of it as a test.
Isaiah 19 has never ceased to amaze me. This chapter foretells of the Nile drying up, Egypt becoming Christian and uniting in a confederation with Israel and northern Syria (Assyria).
No, it’s more than that.
It’s positively mind blowing.
Actually, there really are no words to adequately describe how incredible all that sounds, from the viewpoint of where we are today. Furthermore, since this prophecy has yet to be fulfilled, we must assume that this is also in our future. And as I’ve said before, we are in the Last Days, so there isn’t much future left for us. And, from everything that we have seen so far, Isaiah 19 MUST play a role in the Return of Jacob.
(Unless someone can prove to me that it has already happened?)
It’s just so hard to imagine how all this will come about, even though we are already seeing the first signs of it happening. But, our failure in imagination is no barrier to God’s will. God said that He would do this, so it will be done.
Now, the reason why this is important to us, is that this appears to be a sign that we are on the doorstep of Gog and Magog. And, it’s verse six that should capture our attention:
5 And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.
6 And they shall turn the rivers
far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.
7 The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more.
– Isaiah 19:5-7 (KJV)
The King James Version comes closer to the original Hebrew than the more corrupt and modern versions. And yes, the KJV is also corrupt, but they got this verse almost correct. Here’s a more literal translation:
And, they will dry, water from the sea, and a river will be destroyed and dried.
They will cast away the rivers, they will diminish and they will ruin – Niles (rivers) of Egypt, reed and bulrush will wither.
Bareness by/on the Nile on the mouth of the Nile, everything sown [by] the Nile will dry [up] be scattered and no more.
– Isaiah 19:5-7 (John Little Version)
The ‘they’ in this verse is not described. But, it does not appear – when reading the original Hebrew – that this is a natural occurrence. Someone takes action to diminish (make thin) and ruin the Nile river. The only thing that I can think of that would cause this, is a really big dam.
Like this one:
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – GERD
That dam will be the largest in Africa, when it is finally completed. And, it is pretty much finished. In fact, the Ethiopians have already started filling it up.
If they fill it too fast, Egypt dies.
(They're filling it too fast.)
Isaiah 19 seems to be saying that the Ethiopians will fill their dam too fast, and I’ve been talking about this threat to Egypt since 2015, when I first heard about it.
Why is this dam a threat?
Because it will block most of the Nile River, until the reservoir behind it has been completely filled. If Ethiopia fills this dam slowly, maybe Egypt will survive. But, it looks like Ethiopia needs to fill their dam as quickly as possible, because they need the electricity that it will generate. And, they have bills to pay, including Chinese loans.
Oh, and there’s another problem. Egypt is already consuming almost all of the flow of the Nile River. Very little of it actually reaches the Mediterranean Sea right now, and their consumption of the Nile is increasing every year – since Egypt’s population grows by almost 2% every twelve months. There are estimates that Egypt would completely consume the Nile by 2025 – even without the Ethiopian dam.
Egyptian Civil War
But wait… there’s more.
At the same time that the Nile is drying up – or even before – there will be a massive civil war. It will be everyone against everyone. The spirit of the Egyptians will be crushed and a hard and fierce lord will rule over them.
In one sense, the fire of this civil war was ignited in January, 2011, in response to the brutal murder of Khaled Said by Egyptian police in June 2010. Egyptians were angry at this horrific killing by the police, and when National Police Day arrived on January 25, it was just too much for the average person. They were angry and took to the streets.
The result was the fall of Hosni Mubarak and the explosion of political chaos.
Finally, when the dust settled in 2014, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was President of Egypt. And, you can bet that he will remain as president of Egypt until he dies. It’s how they do things in Cairo.
Is al-Sisi the ‘cruel master’ and ‘fierce king’ of Isaiah 19?
Well, I maintain that the civil war in Egypt isn’t over. The death of Khaled Said and the Arab Spring that swept North Africa were merely the sparks that touched off the conflagration.
The basic problem was – and still is – food. The average Egyptian isn’t getting enough, and the quality of their food is declining. Egypt has had to import more and more wheat, as well as the natural gas that they need to make bread. And, Egypt has less and less money to pay for all of that.
If the Egyptians had been getting enough food to eat, they wouldn’t have rioted in the streets, and Mubarak would not have fallen. But, there’s a ‘cosmic irony’ at play here.
If the Arab Spring had not happened… if Mubarak had stayed in power …the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would not have been built. When the Ethiopians drew up plans to build this dam in 2009, Mubarak threatened to build an air base in Sudan and attack the dam. But, when Mubarak fell from power, Ethiopia began construction.
So, civil war and the drying up of the Nile - we get it, and it's happening. But, this is the Hand of God, and the reason why He is doing this is important - because it is all about what comes after this. And, the next ten verses (Isaiah 19:8-18) sound like a reasonable result of everything that Egypt will experience. I'll leave you to read that for yourself, while we jump to the verses that describe something absolutely extraordinary:
19 In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border. 20 And it will be for a sign and for a witness to the Lord of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to the Lord because of the oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Mighty One, and He will deliver them. 21 Then the Lord will be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day, and will make sacrifice and offering; yes, they will make a vow to the Lord and perform it. 22 And the Lord will strike Egypt, He will strike and heal it; they will return to the Lord, and He will be entreated by them and heal them.
23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will serve with the Assyrians.
– Isaiah 19:19-23 (NKJV)
And, before you think that this is the Millennium, remember what happens here, when the Antichrist comes:
42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.
– Daniel 11:42-43 (NKJV)
The ‘he’ in those two verses is the Antichrist. And, Egypt opposes him. And, that is hard to understand when you look at Egyptian history. For more than two thousand years, Egypt hasn't been able to oppose anyone. And, with everyone in the world falling all over themselves to worship the Antichrist, you would think that the Egyptians would do that same. But, they don't.
This time, Egypt opposes the Antichrist, and the Man of Lawlessness is forced to invade Egypt and take it over by force. And, there’s literally only one reason that I can think of for why that is possible:
All Egyptians will be strong believers in Christ and won't fall for the lies of Antichrist.
Almost everyone else will follow the Antichrist willingly. But, not Egypt, and not the King of the Negev (aka, King of the South). This speaks to a transformation that is just as astounding as the Return of Jacob. And, God connects the salvation of Israel with Egypt’s redemption, in the last two verses of Isaiah 19:
24 In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land:
25 Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.
– Isaiah 19:24-25 (KJV)
Say what you want about the verses that come before this. But, the words ‘Egypt my people’ are more than a little surprising. And, there’s only one way that I can possibly understand that phrase:
Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ
I know that people want to say that this is during the Millennium. And, I understand why some would want to do that. But, I have a question for those who wish to push that narrative:
Does that fit with what we know about the Millennium?
When Jesus reigns for a thousand years from Jerusalem, it is hard to believe that there would be any nations. The world will be ruled by a single government, so this confederation between Egypt, Israel and Assyria would not make sense if it was during the Millennium.
And, what is this ‘Assyria’ that Isaiah is talking about?
It’s not the Assyria that invaded northern Israel and captured the ten tribes. That ‘Assyria’ no longer exists. Furthermore, Assyria, Israel and Egypt were NEVER in a confederation that was serving the Lord. So, this must be a moment in the future.
My best understanding is this:
This is the period of time alongside the salvation of Israel and before the coming of the Antichrist.
How long this period lasts is hard to know. But, what we do see is that the fulfillment of Isaiah 19 has begun. And, it’s something that will act as a sign of how close we are to the end.
The events described in Isaiah 17 and 19 are completely unprecedented. Nothing like this has ever happened. And, it's so astonishing that most want to put these two chapters into the Millennium. And yes, the Millennium is a fantastic time, but these two chapters must occur before Armageddon. Chapter 17 fits perfectly with the coming of Gog and Ezekiel's Fire - as described by Ezekiel, Zechariah and Isaiah 30. And, Isaiah 19 explains why the King of the North in Daniel 11 must fight Egypt, which would not make sense unless they were true followers of God. And, the fulfillment of these prophecies will point the way to what comes later.
© 2022 John Little. All rights reserved.
May God preserve the words that are true
and cast away those that are not.