A Ruinous Heap

In all my years of watching and waiting for the Lord’s return; and in all of my working and serving Him in the process, I have never felt so close to the Rapture as I do right now.  These recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria have really caused me to watch with more intention. I have also noticed other watchers doing the same. The heartbreaking stories that are coming out of that part of the world are moving to say the least.  I am impressed with the rallying of support from the global community who are showing up in groves in that part of the world to bring aid and help these precious people who are as destitute as they are lost.  Israel has sent service teams into that region to help, America has sent aid, and still other humanitarian relief efforts are being made to assist in the aftermath of this horrific event.  As the death toll rises, so does the desperation and feeling that this is only the beginning.  I believe that what we are seeing here, and in many other places on the planet, is the precursor to the seven-year tribulation.

The Prophet Isaiah said it this way, “The burden (oracle, prophecy) against Damascus. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap. The cities of Aroer are forsaken; they will be for flocks which lie down, and no one will make them afraid. 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.”                                                       – Isaiah 17:1-3

  • While there has been many a commentary commenting on this passage and this chapter, suffice it to say that what is happening in Syria today has escalated this prophecy to a new level and present reality.  

I have always assumed that the cause of Damascus ceasing from being a city, even a capitol city, and becoming a ruinous heap would be some form of military attack; perhaps a nuclear device or some other WMD. It never occurred to me that God Himself might be the one who causes Damascus to ‘cease from being a city’ and to become a ‘ruinous heap.’  God is sovereign over all kingdoms and peoples, He moves in time and space as He wills; but it’s becoming more clear that His judgment is coming and more will follow.  Those of us who have God’s Word hidden in our hearts and have discernment of the times and seasons that we are living in right now have also received a wakeup call and a reminder that we are not long for this world.

The ‘cities of Aroer are forsaken’ describe an area of east Jordon.  This indicates that the entire region will be affected by this oracle, not just Damascus.  The ‘fortress of Ephraim, the kingdom of Damascus, and the remnant of Syria will be as the glory of the children of Israel.’  This speaks to the geographical area of where these earthquakes have occurred, and this remnant are those people whom God has placed and is using for His glory, even now.  I have seen some powerful clips of people helping people, other people exclaiming their feelings of helplessness and desperation, and yet, in all of this death and chaos, God is moving and working through His remnant as they serve, help, and are empowered by the Spirit of the Lord in their witness and ministry.  Even as we see the terrible aftermath of this earthquake, we all know that more are coming, along with the political, economic, and military unrest and instability occurring right now in many nations.    

Earthquakes are just one of many judgment signs of the end times that Jesus spoke of in the Olivet Discourse. “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”    – Matthew 24:6-8

  • What we are seeing right now is yet another reminder that we are but moments away from the Lord’s return for His Church.  He is at the door and we need to be ready, working, and serving, all while watching for His catching away of us into heaven.

It’s not that we as believers have ceased in our labor and work for the Lord, in fact, it’s just the opposite. Many believers are working much harder and smarter than ever before, even to their loss.  Why?  Because our love for others is greater than our own needs.  

Isaiah continues, “In that day it shall come to pass that the glory of Jacob will wane (fade), and the fatness of his flesh grow lean. 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. 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.”    – (vs.4-6)

  • This passage speaks of a coming famine in the land, a famine that is not in the future so much, but has already begun.  Israel, a land that is currently flourishing and has been for many years now, unfortunately will begin to fade and suffer as the seven-year tribulation approaches and God’s people, the Jews (and future trib-saints) are subjected to the worst time in the history of the world.

For the Church, the body of Christ, we will not be subject to God’s judgment during the seven-year tribulation because we won’t be here.  However, many people will come to faith in Christ after the Rapture and will have to suffer, many unto death, the effects and judgments that will be cast upon this earth during that time; a very near future time that is about to manifest on this planet.

My heart breaks for the victims of these horrific catastrophes that are both man made and natural. The tragedy in the Ukraine and the fallout from poor choices of compromised Russian leaders who are bent on restoring the so-called former glory of a broken Soviet Union that will never occur.  I pray for these precious people on both sides of this conflict who are victims of their government and the consequence of their choices.  This suffering is not new to our history; a brief look back over the past 100 years reveals tragic loss at the hands of warring nations who were also desirous of world conquest; or at least their version of it.  It would seem that the enemy of our soul is determined to keep as many people as possible from coming to faith in the Christ as he can. 

In the end, we all must choose for ourselves whom we will serve; be it the gods of our forefathers who didn’t know the Lord, or the living Lord Jesus who is ready, willing, and able to accept the responsibility of a life that is wholly yield to Him.  I close this blog with this familiar passage from John 3.

Jesus said it this way, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”                                                              – John 3:14-21

  • This is the gospel, plain and simple.  Whether one hears it for the first time in a fox hole under fire, a pile of rubble after an earthquake, or on their way to the next thing that they think really matters in this life.  However we hear it, we must receive it, wholeheartedly, and believe, like the Apostle Peter, that ‘Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. ‘ 

If you know this truth, share it, live it, believe it, and most of all, don’t let go of it because the clock is running out and the first group of believers is about ready to launch.  Ooh Rah!


Encouragemen is a blog written by Pastor Rob Lee, recently relocated to Northern Missouri.  He lives with his wife of 33-years, near their three adult children, their spouses, and children (their grandchildren).  Pastor Rob is an Ordained Assemblies of God minister, a former Lead Pastor (25 years), police chaplain, and community advocate.  He continues to serve, consult, and disciple men of God, including those who are in the ministry. 

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