By Dr. Douglas Levesque
Saul was converted to Christianity and became Paul the Apostle while traveling on the road to Damascus. The voice of the Lord Himself spoke to Paul and told him to go into that city. Paul was baptized in Damascus and immediately preached to the people there. It was, after Jerusalem, one of the first cities to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many Christians were “born again” in Damascus, and were then dispersed around the ancient world because of the persecutions there. Paul, only just narrowly escaped by being lowered down the walls of the city in a basket of all things. Damascus has continued for over two thousand years to have a Christian, albeit, persecuted community.
At the end of World War One the leftovers from the Ottoman Empire were divided up in the Sykes Picot Agreement, named after the British and French Diplomats responsible for the strange map lines and national boundaries on the map ever since then. The various Middle eastern nations met in Damascus in order to discuss the possibility of a pan Arab identity, a so-called Caliphate, but it was not to be. Multiple evolutions of that idea have been attempted since then with varying measures of success and failure. Christians and the Gospel of Jesus Christ have always had a marginal place in these deliberations. The purveyors of Christianity have continually been “lowered from a basket” or “shown the back door” so to speak from the gates of Damascus.
Today, Syrian President Assad’s Alawites (A reincarnation cult), Islamic extremists (Sunni Muslims), Iranian expansionists (Shiite Muslims), Russian nationalists (Former Communists) and other regional powers (Saudis, Israelis, Jordanians, Iraqis, Turks, and Kurds), as well as the United States are all represented as armed interests whose strategic flanks include the city of Damascus. The oldest continually inhabited city in the world, highlighted in Scripture since the book of Genesis is surrounded by nuclear powers just miles away. This stare down among the nations is not likely to end well. Damascus is between a NUKE and a hard place. Most Christians have fled once again. Damascus has had millennia of chances to receive Jesus Christ as King. Now Isaiah’s prophecy of utter and instant destruction seems to be taking shape. “ The burden of Damascus . Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” Isaiah 17:1.
Perhaps it is a sign of the times and, for the beleaguered Christians there, a hope for the promised return of Jesus Christ.
“But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” -Acts 26:20