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EXCLUSIVE: CURIOUS DEVELOPMENT IN SYRIA (Joel Rosenberg)
Joel Rosenberg's Weblog ^ | March 2, 2009 | Joel Rosenberg

Posted on 03/02/2009 1:13:14 AM PST by Squidpup

On Monday night, something remarkable is going to take place in the capital of Syria. More than 1,100 senior Syrian government officials, journalists, business leaders and religious leaders — Muslim, Catholic and evangelical Christian — will attend the gala premiere of a major motion picture entitled Damascus, written, produced and directed by entirely Arab Christians. The film, part documentary and part narrative drama, tells the story of how Saul of Tarsus — one of the first prominent persecutors of Christ-followers in the Holy Land — himself became a follower of Jesus during a miraculous encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and eventually became known as the Apostle Paul, going on to write much of the New Testament.

It is unheard of in the Middle East to have a major Christian film about the events of the New Testament debut in a Muslim-majority country run by the secular Ba’ath Party, much less have the premiere supported and attended by senior government officials. That’s what makes the Damascus docu-drama project so extraordinary. What’s more, the film is hosted and narrated by one of the most well-known Syrian TV newscasters who explains the historic events of the life of Paul in the very places where those events occurred. Numerous events in Paul’s life are then dramatized using famous Syrian Muslim actors playing the part of Jews and Jewish followers of Jesus.

After the premiere, the film is expected to be launched throughout Syria and the rest of the Muslim world. Sources indicate senior Catholic leaders in the Vatican recently reviewed the film and were favorable.

The remarkable film debut comes at a sensitive time for Syrian officials who are feeling quite isolated from the West. U.S. and European leaders have been sharply critical of President Bashar al-Assad’s government on a number of fronts, for supporting Hezbollah’s war against Israel, supporting Hamas’ war against Israel, forming a strategic alliance with Iran, buying billions of dollars worth of advanced weapons systems from Russia, and building a nuclear facility with the help of North Korea (a facility that was bombed and destroyed by an Israel airstrike several years ago). Syria’s government has never been controlled by Radical Islamic jihadists. Still, it has long stifled activities by Arab Christians to teach about their faith. It is not clear what the Assad government’s motives are for both allowing and supporting the release of the Damascus film. But it is an encouraging development indeed.

It is especially noteworthy given two Bible prophecies — one in Isaiah 17 and the other in Jeremiah 49 — that suggest the city of Damascus will be obliterated in what the Bible calls “the last days.” The Scriptures do not say exactly when or how the Syrian capital will be destroyed. But let us pray that the powerful message of Paul’s life and Jesus Christ’s love and forgiveness for all people is clearly communicated to every Syrian, particularly those in the capital.


TOPICS: Current Events; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: damascus; holyland; joel; joelcrosenberg; joelrosenberg; prophecy; rosenberg; syria

1 posted on 03/02/2009 1:13:14 AM PST by Squidpup
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To: Joya

Ping as you requested


2 posted on 03/02/2009 1:15:11 AM PST by Squidpup ("Fight the Good Fight")
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To: Squidpup

Why don’t we have names like that anymore? Like Jason of Yorba Linda. I mean I’m sure there were a lot of Sauls in Tarsus but that didn’t stop Saul of Tarsus.


3 posted on 03/02/2009 1:18:23 AM PST by exist
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To: exist

or Rick of Rancho Cucamunga...


4 posted on 03/02/2009 1:20:58 AM PST by Squidpup ("Fight the Good Fight")
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To: Squidpup

I’ve got news for you. The Syrian despotic regime is not so isolated anymore.


5 posted on 03/02/2009 1:43:50 AM PST by beagleone
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To: Squidpup

This is awesome! I understand that there has been a spiritual awakening in Syria in response to the fall of Saddam and the Iraq War. Nothing is impossible with God! On a political level, I think Assad is strengthening the Christian minority (10%) as a counterbalance to the Islamic extremists. Saddam used the Christians in Iraq in a similar way.


6 posted on 03/02/2009 1:44:38 AM PST by Judges Gone Wild (If a government becomes injurious ... it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.)
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To: Squidpup

God giving Syrians an opportunity to come to Him and be saved before the prophesied destruction?


7 posted on 03/02/2009 1:46:13 AM PST by GiovannaNicoletta
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To: Squidpup

Hallelujah! May the harvest be plentiful!


8 posted on 03/02/2009 2:13:44 AM PST by skr (May God confound the enemy)
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To: GiovannaNicoletta

God giving Syrians an opportunity to come to Him

How about God giving everyone an opportunity to come unto Him before the prophesied destructions of the last days, which prophecy is given as a warning that the destruction does not need to take place if certain conditions are met.

Unlikely, but nevertheless possible.


9 posted on 03/02/2009 2:23:42 AM PST by wita
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To: wita
How about God giving everyone an opportunity to come unto Him before the prophesied destructions of the last days...

That opportunity has existed for every human being on the planet since Christ died on the Cross. It's not something new that God needs to come up with.

Anyway, since we are well into the last hours of this Age, and Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled in our day at breakneck speed, and what God told us in Scripture will happen is occurring now, the only hope all of humanity has is to accept the free gift of salvation that Christ's death on the Cross provides.

We can know the end of the story; it will happen as written, there is no way to stop it or alter it, and the only escape is through Jesus Christ.

10 posted on 03/02/2009 2:35:12 AM PST by GiovannaNicoletta
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To: GiovannaNicoletta

Syria has had christians from before most of Europe has, being, as it is, closer to the scene of the action, as far as early Christianity is concerned.


11 posted on 03/02/2009 3:06:46 AM PST by ketelone
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To: exist
Why don’t we have names like that anymore? Like Jason of Yorba Linda

or Larry of Arabia

12 posted on 03/02/2009 3:13:58 AM PST by Hot Tabasco (Welcome to Detroit, the Renaissance city......)
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To: ketelone
Yes it has (every nation on earth has a remnant of Christians, small though it may be), but for most of it's history Syria, like most Muslim countries, has had repressive regimes in control which have refused to allow the free sharing of the Gospel to the people of that nation.

The prophecy about the destruction of Damascus will take place, and the fact that this film being shown is big news is an indication that God may be acting to get the Gospel into Syria to bring as many people to Him as will come before the prophecy is fulfilled.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

God doesn't want anyone to die without knowing His Son as Savior. He will always provide a way of escape and an opportunity for repentance before He sends judgment. The fact that this film is being allowed in Syria is very important.

13 posted on 03/02/2009 3:18:47 AM PST by GiovannaNicoletta
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To: Squidpup

This isn’t as surprising as it seems. Other than in some parts of Lebanon, there is nowhere in the ME, including Israel many would argue, where Christians are safer and more free to practice their faith than in Syria and that has been true for many years.


14 posted on 03/02/2009 3:24:56 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Squidpup

I think there’s a good chance that Syria does not want to be so isolated any longer, and I think this has been in the works for a number of years. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Syria is where Iraq’s WMD’s went to with the blessing of the US.


15 posted on 03/02/2009 4:01:24 AM PST by GLDNGUN
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To: Squidpup; Quix

Excellent. Thanks.


16 posted on 03/02/2009 6:29:18 AM PST by Joya (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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To: Joya

THANKS THANKS.


17 posted on 03/02/2009 6:35:02 AM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 2 presnt: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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To: GiovannaNicoletta

i THINK SO.


18 posted on 03/02/2009 6:36:07 AM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 2 presnt: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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To: GiovannaNicoletta

YUP.


19 posted on 03/02/2009 6:36:48 AM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 2 presnt: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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To: GiovannaNicoletta

I agree.


20 posted on 03/02/2009 6:37:25 AM PST by Quix (POL Ldrs quotes fm1900 2 presnt: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/2130557/posts?page=81#81)
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To: Squidpup; topcat54
It is especially noteworthy given two Bible prophecies — one in Isaiah 17 and the other in Jeremiah 49 — that suggest the city of Damascus will be obliterated in what the Bible calls “the last days.”

When did people start thinking Isaiah's oracle of Damascus was not about an an ancient Assyrian siege?

21 posted on 03/02/2009 7:15:30 AM PST by Lee N. Field ("I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it." -- J. Gresham Machen)
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To: Lee N. Field; Squidpup
When did people start thinking Isaiah's oracle of Damascus was not about an an ancient Assyrian siege?

When Scofield published his notes:

burden of Damascus

As in the burden of Moab, there was doubtless a near fulfilment in Sennacherib's approaching invasion, but 17:12-14 as evidently look forward to the final invasion and battle. ("Armageddon," Revelation 16:14 (See Scofield "Revelation 19:17") ) Cf. Isaiah 10:26-34.

The futurists started propagating the idea of “dual fulfillment” to invigorate their views and make (futurist) sense of all those OT prophecies that plainly pointed to events leading up to the first coming of Christ. In reality, they must spiritualize phrases like “the palaces of Ben-hadad” (Jer. 49:27; Amos 1:4) to give it a futurist look.
22 posted on 03/02/2009 7:41:14 AM PST by topcat54
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To: Squidpup

I’m thinking strictly short term here but I really hope the event doesn’t turn into a Jew-bashing occasion.


23 posted on 03/02/2009 7:44:15 AM PST by caseinpoint (Don't get thickly involved in thin things)
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To: GiovannaNicoletta; wita; Lee N. Field
and Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled in our day at breakneck speed,

Absolutely no one's neck is being broken. Strained perhaps, but only among those compelled by their agent to get another book published to explain to the unwashed masses what allegedly is going on in the middle east.

Besides, this description does not fit at all with what Jesus taught about the Second Coming.

36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matt. 24)

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)

How can this pop prophecy preacher talk about “Biblical prophecy is being fulfilled in our day at breakneck speed” when Jesus denied any such knowledge would be possible?

Notice also that the “day of the Lord” (aka the Second Coming) marks the end of this earth as we know it and the eschatological beginning of the new earth. There is no room in that passage (or any other) for the futurist millennium. When Christ returns He introduces the new heavens and new earth.

Do we believe the Prince of Peace or another futurist bookseller hawking his wares?

24 posted on 03/02/2009 8:06:19 AM PST by topcat54
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To: Kolokotronis; Squidpup; Lee N. Field
This isn’t as surprising as it seems.

It is for the futurist doom-and-gloomers. Imagine if the gospel had a real impact in Syria (and surrounding nations) and a significant portion of the population was converted to biblical Christianity.

[Speculation alert!] Even if the futurist rapture occurred, there would be no one left to wage war against Israel in the futurist tribulation.

That would put a real damper on the party.

“It's all hypothesis, of course, but fun to play around with.” (Prof. Groeteschele in Fail Safe)

25 posted on 03/02/2009 8:17:42 AM PST by topcat54
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To: topcat54

“Imagine if the gospel had a real impact in Syria (and surrounding nations)....”

It already has, tc. Antioch is where the followers of Christ were first called Christians. +Peter was its first bishop. Even after the Mohammedan conquest, Christianity has continued to be a major force within Greater Syria. The only real oppression of The Church there took place under the later Ottomans. Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy are growing in Syria. Monasteries are reopening and expanding. Some have become pilgrimage sites even for Mohammedans.


26 posted on 03/02/2009 8:39:31 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis
It already has, tc.
Syria's population is approximately 88% Muslim and was 12% Christian, though due to the high stream of refugees from Iraq the percentage of Christians has risen to 20% (Wikipedia)
Clearly the impact of the gospel in Syria has been reduced significantly over the centuries. But that can change, and we should pray that it does. Pray that the 80/20 number gets reversed!!
27 posted on 03/02/2009 8:54:37 AM PST by topcat54
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To: beagleone

The rulers of Syria and indeed the controllers of the Baath party in Syria are Allawis —> considered heretical by mainstain Sunni and Shia muslims. Their beliefs tend more towards the Gnostic. In addition, Syria has 10% Christian population (mostly maronites, but also others), Druze, Shia (twelvers and fivers), Ismailies, some Ibadis and Sunnis.


28 posted on 03/02/2009 9:24:36 AM PST by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: GiovannaNicoletta
Yes it has (every nation on earth has a remnant of Christians, small though it may

Except Saudia where it is illegal to wear a crucifix or bring a bible into the country...
29 posted on 03/02/2009 9:25:55 AM PST by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: Lee N. Field

Ah, Tiglath-Pileser. one of my favorite characters from history, along with Sargon of Akkad, Hammurabi, Cyrus the Great and Darius the Mede


30 posted on 03/02/2009 9:27:20 AM PST by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: topcat54; Kolokotronis
Imagine if the gospel had a real impact in Syria (and surrounding nations) and a significant portion of the population was converted to biblical Christianity.

But a significant number in Syria (10%) and Lebanon (40%) ARE Christians....
31 posted on 03/02/2009 9:28:12 AM PST by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: topcat54

This isn’t as surprising as it seems.

I think what they were trying to get across to you was there is a Christian minority in Syria and the head of the Antiochian Orthodox Church is located in Damascus.


32 posted on 03/02/2009 9:35:50 AM PST by peter the great
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To: Cronos
Believe me, God provides for those who know Him and love Him and trust Him as Savior.

They may not need crucifixes, after all, Jesus is risen and is no longer on the Cross, but they have Bibles and churches, even if the churches consist of small, quiet meetings in someone's home.

33 posted on 03/02/2009 1:00:14 PM PST by GiovannaNicoletta
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To: Kolokotronis

That is the (non PC) truth.

Syria is a much more open society than we are led to believe. Not that they have our best interests at heart or anything, but they are not like say, Saudi Arabia.


34 posted on 03/02/2009 4:48:12 PM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: GiovannaNicoletta

well said


35 posted on 03/03/2009 4:29:53 AM PST by Cronos (Ceterum censeo, Mecca et Medina delenda est)
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To: TaraP

FYI, Squidpup has posted some Rosenberg articles.


36 posted on 03/09/2009 5:29:05 PM PDT by Joya (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior, have mercy on me, a sinner.)
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