†he Burros of Berea

The Dispensational Road to Damascus

The Dispensational Road to Damascus


Copyright © Robert E. Cruickshank, Jr (December 11, 2023)

All Rights Reserved


The pronouncement concerning Damascus: Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city and will become a fallen ruin.  -Isaiah 17:1


Everybody has a morning routine. We get up, we put the coffee on, and we get on the road to work.  The routine for the Dispensationalists is probably much the same, but with an added element. The Dispensationalists get up, only to be once again disappointed that the rapture didn’t happen while they were asleep. Next, they turn on the news to see if there were any new prophetic signs throughout the night – indicating that they’ll soon be taking flight.  As Cortney S. Basham puts it, “How people think about the end of the world greatly affects how they live in the present.”[1]

Another part of the morning routine for many involves listening to music to start the day, and Basham’s statement reminded me of John Mayer’s song, “Waiting on the World to Change.”[2]  With that said, the Dispensational version of Mayer’s song could be titled, “Waiting on the World to End.”  Every major crisis, every bad news report, and every cultural decline is viewed as a sign. These are all signs along the road to their destination – the world’s obliteration.


Looking for Clues in 30 Seconds of News

Jack Hibbs is a classic case in point. In a recent video that generated over a half a million views in one month, Hibbs told his audience: “I get up every morning, and the first thing I do is 30 seconds of news…30 seconds, that’s all I need. I turn it on to find out if Damascus has been struck. Because if I understand my Bible right, and my timetable right, Isaiah 17:1’s gotta take place.”[3]

After Hibbs made the comment about Damascus being struck, he had to pause for a few seconds as the crowd broke out in laughter. Unfortunately, they weren’t laughing at the silliness of a man waking up every morning to see if Damascus was bombed sometime throughout the night. Rather, they were laughing in supportive approval. In other words, the sentiment of the laughter was: “Yep, that’s the next big event on the prophetic calendar. Then the world will see that we’ve been right all along.”

In and of itself, this is as silly as it is sick. If Damascus gets “struck,” people in Damascus are going to die. A lot of them. But death and destruction are nothing more than prophetic “signs” along the Dispensational road to Damascus, a road which they think is going to take them on their one way ride straight to heaven.


Six Months and Counting

For Hibbs, however, the daily drill to see if Damascus has taken the spill is about much more than the Dispensational dream of the world splitting apart at the seams.  Back on April 11, 2023, Hibbs told his viewers:


“According to the Bible, what we should see soon, is some sort of massive, massive explosion, some sort of contamination of fallout, in the city of Damascus, based on Isaiah chapter 17, that should happen at any time.”[4]


Fast forward to the October 25, 2023 video, where Hibbs talks about his morning ritual to check the news, and it’s no wonder that he’s anxious to “see if Damascus has been struck.” It’s been over half a year already, and the Damascus demolition never came to fruition.  The longer that Damascus exists, Hibbs’s problem persists.  If this keeps up, he’ll need to write a book called, “23 Reasons why Damascus Didn’t Explode in 2023.”  In reality, only one reason would be needed. Isaiah 17:1 wasn’t fulfilled in April of 2023, or in October of 2023, because it was fulfilled in 732 BC.[5]  That’s the year that Damascus fell to the Assyrians.[6]


Interpreting Fulfilled Prophecy as Unfulfilled 

True to form, Hibbs is following the standard Dispensational hermeneutic of interpreting already fulfilled prophecy as unfulfilled. In fact, the fulfillment of Damascus’s demise is recorded for us in the very pages of Scripture itself: “…and the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and captured it and led the people of it into exile to Kir and put Rezin to death” (2 Kg. 16:9).  Rezin was “the head of Damascus” (Isa. 7:8).  The city was taken, its people were exiled, and its leader was put to death. For all intents and purposes, it was “removed from being a city” (Isa. 17:1).  Davide Nadali gives a nice overview of the historical situation and the way in which things played out:


“The conquest of Damascus by Tiglath-Pileser III (733-732 BC) is the final result of the Assyrian intervention against the anti-Assyrian coalition of Rezin of Damascus and Pekah of Israel against Ahaz of Judah. Rezin and Pekah tried to capture Jerusalem, capital city of the kingdom of Judah, but they failed (about 735–734 BC). Tiglath-Pileser III came to the aid of Ahaz of Judah, who promptly asked for the help of the Assyrian king. He finally destroyed the power of Damascus, by besieging the city, forcing king Rezin to surrender, as well as by conquering the whole region once under the control of Damascus. Rezin of Damascus died during the siege, according to the Bible (II Kings 16:9). After the conquest by Tiglath-Pileser III, Damascus was no longer the capital of the independent and rich kingdom of Aram.”[7]


In an effort to dismiss and downplay the destruction of Damascus in 732 BC, Dispensationalist Britt Gilbert writes:


“The prophet Isaiah says Damascus will disappear, become a heap of ruins, and see its power and influence end forever (Isaiah 17:1-3). Now, some scholars claim the Assyrian king, Tiglath-pileser, fulfilled this prophecy in 732 B.C. when he conquered Damascus and killed its king (2 Kings 16:9). However, Tiglath-pileser did not make the city ‘a ruinous heap’ … He simply attacked the city and enslaved its people.”[8]


This certainly isn’t the way that Tiglath-Pileser remembered things. The Assyrian king himself, who was responsible for the siege, paints a completely different picture in his Annals:


“I took 800 people together with their property, their cattle (and) their sheep as spoil. I took 750 captives of the cities of Kurussa (and) Sama (as well as) 550 captives from the city of Metuna as spoil. I destroyed 591 cities from the 16 districts of Damascus like ruins from the Flood.[9]


Once again, the Dispensationalists take a prophecy, zoom right past its historical fulfillment at warp speed,[10] and transplant the prophecy into our own day and age to fit their agenda and narrative. As Gary DeMar writes, “Damascus was utterly destroyed in fulfillment of what was predicted in Isaiah 17. The destroyer himself —Tiglath-pileser — said so in his Annals … Tiglath-pileser ‘destroyed’ Damascus — made it a ‘heap’ — just like Isaiah predicted. The Bible is true, and all modern-day prophecy writers who claim that the Isaiah 17 passage has not been fulfilled have unwittingly aligned themselves with skeptics and promoters of war because prophecy demands it.”[11]


Following Isaiah’s Timetable

To their credit, DeMar lists several Dispensational commentators, like Charles Dyer and Mark Hitchcock, who are honest enough to concede that Isaiah 17:1 was in fact fulfilled in the Assyrian invasion of the 8th century BC.[12]  They need to get the memo out to Hibbs. Again, Hibbs says, “…if I understand my Bible right, and my timetable right, Isaiah 17:1’s gotta take place.”  One must wonder what version of the Bible Hibbs is reading?  God Himself gives Isaiah the “timetable” for Damascus’s destruction:


Then the Lord said to me, “Take for yourself a large tablet and write on it [a]in ordinary letters: Maher-shalal-hash-baz. And I will take to Myself faithful witnesses for testimony, Uriah the priest and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah.” So I approached the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz; for before the boy knows how to cry out ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 8:1-4).


The fall of Damascus, in the book of Isaiah, is as far in the ancient past as the prophetess’s baby’s first words. As John N. Oswalt comments, “…it is said that Isaiah’s son will not be able to speak clearly before Damascus and Samaria are plundered” and “within three years Damascus had been destroyed and most of Samaria’s holdings had been plundered.”[13]  Unless there is a 2700+ year-old infant alive somewhere in the world today who still hasn’t learned to speak, this prophecy has been fulfilled and Hibbs’s “timetable” is way off.


Getting Back on the Right Road

In terms of prophecy and fulfillment, the Dispensational road to Damascus takes us on a completely different route than the one upon which the prophet Isaiah takes us.  Those who’ve hitched a ride with Hibbs need to stop the car and get out. Hibbs keeps fiddling with the dial on his radio, trying to tune in to the news station that meets his prophetic expectations, and he’s not paying attention to the road. The 500K+ viewers who’ve tuned into his YouTube channel need to change the channel and their daily routine.  The deprogramming starts when we stop following the program of the prophecy pundits and start following the Biblical program. Hibbs talks about the importance of rightly understanding the Bible. A good place to begin would be understanding that when the Bible itself shows that a prophecy has been fulfilled already, this means the prophecy has been fulfilled already.


[1] Basham, Cortney S., “Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth and the Rise of Popular Premillennialism in the 1970s” (2012). Masters Theses & Specialist Projects. Paper 1205: v. https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2207&context=theses

[2] John Mayer – Waiting on the World to Change Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLI6ShkYsYs; 59:33 – 59:53.

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfXz_VBvYhc ; 00:53 – 1:14.

[5] John N. Oswalt, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Isaiah Chapters 1-39 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1986), p. 7.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Davide Nadali, “Sieges and Similes of Sieges in the Royal Annals: The Conquest of Damascus by Tiglath-Pilester III, KASKAL Rivista di storia, ambienti e culture del Vicino Oriente Antico, vol. 6 (2009), p. 138. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/sargon/downloads/nadali_kaskal6_2009.pdf

[8] The Coming Destruction of Damascus (end-times-bible-prophecy.com)

[9] Brent A. Strawn, Sarah C. Melville, Kyle Greenwood, and Scott Noegelm “Neo-Assyrian and Syro-Palestinian Texts II,” Ancient Near East: Historical Sources in Translation (Blackwell Sourcebooks in Ancient History), ed. Mark W. Chavalas (Wiley-Blackwell, 2005), p. 333, bold emphasis added; Q: Gary DeMar, “The Isaiah 17 Damascus Bible prophecy has been fulfilled” (September 13, 2023) The Isaiah 17 Damascus Bible prophecy has been fulfilled – The American Vision

[10] See: Robert E. Cruickshank, Jr., “Isaiah 66:8 in 1948?  Dispensationalism’s Warp Speed Hermeneutic” https://burrosofberea.com/isaiah-668-in-1948-dispensationalisms-warp-speed-hermeneutic/

[11] DeMar, Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] John N. Oswalt, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Isaiah Chapters 1-39 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1986), p. 214, see also p. 223.