What the Bible Says about Syria, Part 4 – Redemption

Golan Heights UN Peacekeepers. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Wolfgang Grebien.

Golan Heights UN Peacekeepers. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Wolfgang Grebien.

Most of the prophecies regarding what is modern-day Syria are tragic. Devastation, exile, and so on. But there is one prophecy for the northern corner of Syria that offers hope. Some day, there will be redemption. In fact, there’ll be a whole highway of hope.

First, a little history and background. Syria, despite it’s ancient history, is not the Syria of the Bible. It’s actually a hodgepodge mash of multiple countries and people groups that was formed into the current nation of Syria after World War I. Because of that, Biblical prophecy about Syria has to look past the “Syrians” to include all the people that live in Syria today.

One group that lives in Syria today are the Assyrians. Virtually wiped out as a nation hundreds of years ago, the Assyrian people actually have a very promising future according to the Book of Isaiah.

Isaiah 19 talks about a dramatic series of events in Egypt that leave it devastated and then promise healing and restoration. But they’re not the only ones with a happy ending. Assyria gets the same promise.

“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.

“In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of Hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance’” (Isaiah 19:23-25).

In other words, Isaiah prophecies that Egypt and Assyria will be linked in blessing, and that G-d Himself will claim them both as His own. Egypt and Assyria repent and are blessed. That’s real redemption.

So who are the Assyrians? Once upon a time, they were a powerful nation based in what is today northern Iraq. They briefly ruled most of the Middle East before being defeated by the many empires that followed them.

Today, however, many Assyrians live in northern Syria. The Enthologue website gave an estimate of 700,000 ethnic Assyrians in Syria in the mid-1990s. That’s roughly one-sixth of the entire world population of ethnic Assyrians living at the time.

In other words, if there is a location for G-d to fulfill His promise to the Assyrian people, the northern region of Syria is actually the most likely today.

So what does that have to do with today’s news? For one thing, there is a distinct possibility that Syria could eventually fracture into smaller countries, including perhaps a region more ethnically Assyrian.

Experts and even the King of Jordan have long feared that eventually Syria could implode and splinter into multiple countries. The current nation is a mix of different ethnicities, so such a division isn’t far-fetched. It would look something like the disintegration of Yugoslavia into Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and other states.

Not that this would be a good thing necessarily. It could result in multiple weak and sputtering nations, perhaps one that is ruled by Al-Qaeda and another led by the current Syrian regime. But it could also be the only diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war.

If the regime is scared of ever losing power, and the rebels don’t want them to maintain control, then the likelihood of the sides reaching a deal in which power is shared is low. But if the regime could keep a section, then the rebels might be allowed to do what they wish with the rest.

As a result, an ethnic break-up is entirely possible. Yugoslavia has broken into seven different countries since 1991. Some aren’t as well off as others, and violence remained a concern even after the break-up began.

Still, it’s better than than what’s happening in Syria today. At least there is potential for some level of peace and prosperity—at least for an Assyrian state.

So, while the Bible certainly outlines a lot of tragedy for Syria in the future—conflict and even the devastation of the capital city of Damascus—there is also promise. The potential that someday, at least some of Syria will not just be spared, but redeemed. Blessed.

The present looks grim. The near future looks worse. But eventually, dawn will break. And for the Assyrian people, the tragic path will become a highway of hope.

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, October 2, 2013)

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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