Damascus is the oldest city upon the face of the earth. It is mentioned as an existing city in the book of Genesis, or at least existing at the time that Genesis was written. It has a history that parallels the history of man’s struggles. Damascus is not a very pleasant place to live these days, however. Even before the current political-uprising riots, you didn’t want to be out after dark. Shops have always closed at dusk and the sane people remained indoors at night, while crazy political activists and religious nuts violently take to the streets. Power outages are a way of life, so most residents must own generators. The place is a veritable powder keg, and thus seems a fitting location for an unfulfilled Bible prophecy of doom and destruction. What-do-you-know, we find just such a prophecy in Isaiah 17.
Isaiah 17:1-3 speaks of Damascus becoming a heap of ruins. Flocks of animals will lie down there and have no reason to become afraid. The royalty will vanish from it. That certainly seems to indicate a permanent destruction, lest one should start wondering if perhaps this prophecy has already been fulfilled sometime in the past. It has not.
Since the time of Isaiah’s writing the region has been conquered numerous times, but the city has never been destroyed. Every world empire has possessed it; the Babylonians, the Medes and Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans. In more recent history, the Ottoman Empire had control of it for hundreds of years. Through all this, the city was never reduced to a heap of ruins. The closest thing was when the French bombed it in 1926, leveling a certain neighborhood in the “old city” portion of it. (Reading the Wikipedia page about Damascus is quite fascinating.)
It is interesting that all of Southern Syria was supposed to be part of Israel, according to God’s original intentions. In Exodus 23:31-33 the boundaries of the land that God is giving them are described. They include land from the Eastern wilderness (Sinai) all the way to the Euphrates River, which would actually be most of Syria including Damascus. However the Israelites proved not to be as ambitious as God wanted them to be. They settled in when they figured they had gotten enough. They found their comfort zone. Because there were hot chicks in the neighboring nations, they mingled – against God’s instructions – and eventually became corrupted by their false religions.
So when will the destruction of Damascus take place? Watching the headlines today, you almost expect to see it happen at any time. But since the place becomes an uninhabited heap of ruins, it will take a major war to accomplish. If you are in the camp who believes that Psalm 83 is also an unfulfilled prophecy, then you can expect the destruction of Damascus to occur at that time. According to this eschatological viewpoint, there will be an attack upon Israel consisting of a federation of all its immediate neighbors, including Assyria (modern day Iraq). Israel will win this battle impressively, creating the state of peace which seems to be a requirement for the invasion of Gog and Magog in the prophecy of Ezekiel 38 and 39. However, it is possible that Psalm 83 was fulfilled in 1948; see the article on this site about Psalm 83 for more details.
I think it is quite likely that Damascus will finally be destroyed in one of the wars fought during the tribulation period, with the final Anti-Christ on the scene. If you continue on in Isaiah 17 you will come to Isaiah 17:7-8 which describes the day that man looks to his maker and stops looking to his idols. It seems to me that man isn’t likely to do that unless his maker is right here with him, ruling with a rod of iron, to keep him away from his fleshly nature. That will happen during the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, after the tribulation period, after the war of Armageddon, after the physical return of Christ to this earth. Satan will be chained in a bottomless pit for most of that 1,000 years. What a glorious time that will be!