I know applying prophecy is risky, and I hesitated for several days and asked the opinion of others before I put out the post on Jer 30. Yeah, I could be dead wrong, because I am no prophet, and meaning can hinge on a fact or facts of which I am unaware, so, it is risky putting out predictions. All one has to do is look at the Millerites and know how risky applying prophecy can be. On the other hand, I am not predicting the Second Coming, and people were, after all, expecting the Messiah because of the prophets and were right about it at the time that He came the first time (Lk 2:38). Also, Daniel says that in the time of the end that knowledge would be increased (Dan 12:4). Peter said that he was in the last days at the time of Pentecost (Acts 12:16-17), and it is 2000 years past his last days. Seems like a pretty safe bet that we are fairly close to the time of the end, and knowledge is certainly increased, so we should not be surprised to understand more about what God has prophesied. It is also true that Jesus expected Christians in general to be able to identify the time when the abomination of desolation stood where he should not, for they were not to go into the cities, but were to flee to the hills (Mt 24:15-16, Mk 13:14). If one was unable to identify the situation described in the prophecy at the time when it occurred, Jesus’ warning was useless.
Because so much of the alloted time has passed for this world, opportunity for fulfillment of prophecy is sort of compressed. There are not going to be a bunch more carryings away into captivity, etc., before the end of the world. Based on the signs (a great falling away, for one–II Thes 2:3, the fig tree is budding–Israel has shown signs of life after a long winter of dormancy–Mt 24:32, the ten federated kings of Europe–Dan 7:24, the twleve last shepherds of Israel–En 90:19, et al.), the end of the world is probably not too far away, so that does not give a lot of time for any unfulfilled prophecy to be fulfilled. Therefore, just based on the time crunch, I should not be too far off on the destruction of Damascus. There has to be time after the DoD (Destruction of Damascus ) for Israel to have some time at peace (“Israel dwelleth safely” Ezek 38:14), for the invasion of Gog and Magog comes against “the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land” (Ezek 38:12). Obviously, the Ezekiel prophecy is for some time in the future, for while Israel surely has been gathered from the nations, it has just as surely not had peace. Peace is what comes to Israel after Isa 17 and Jer 30. Their enemies are then either dead, fled or servants.
From what we know about the history of the Middle East, it is extremely likely that Isaiah 17 has never been fulfilled. Damascus brags that it is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. They claim it has been there for 5000 years. Probably it has been there at least 3500 years. We can say positively that it has never been a heap since Isaiah wrote in 700 BC. Since God cannot lie, Damascus will become a heap, it will become a heap overnight (Isa 17:14), it will not be rebuilt (Isa 17:1), and Syria will cease to be a nation (Isa 17:3). You can plainly read all of that in Isaiah 17. It does not require any interpretation other than being able to read. Since Syria and Damascus continue to the present day, the prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. That’s not rocket science either. Further, Damascus and Jordan (“the cities of Aroer”–Isa 17:2) have to become uninhabited before the end of the world, because they become a place for flocks (Isa 17:2), and the people of Damascus and Syria become as the [riches] of Israel (Isa 17:3), and the text says that a remnant of Israel survives the same destruction that takes out Syria and Jordan (Isa 17:1-3, 6). When the end of the world comes, nobody survives, for it is appointed unto man once to die and after that the Judgment (Heb 9:27). When Christ comes, He and God burn the earth with fire (II Thes 1:7, II Pet 3:7) and destroy all unresurrected living things that remain, so Isa 17 cannot refer to the end of the world. The land of Syria belongs to Israel by God’s Royal Grant to Abraham (Gen 15:18). Syria was once possessed by Israel (II Sam 8:6), and God has promised to give the land that is in Syria to Israel.
Yes, the Bible teaches that some people from the nothern tribes moved into the south. Paul even mentions the twelve tribes in Acts 26:7. Howver, I have been unable to identify any descended from these northern tribes in my studies. I have found Judah, Benjamin, and Simeon mentioned in the NT, but nobody from the north. There is no evidence of which I am aware that anyone from the northern tribes that had returned with Judah had preserved his lineage. Some people came back from Babylonian captivity that could not prove their lineage (Ezra 2:62, Neh 7:64), so maybe that’s what happened to the folks from the north. However, if you look at the genealogies of the people that came back with Ezra, they go back to Judah (Ezra 2:1-35), and not to the northern tribes.
As far as James addressing his book to the twelve tribes scattered abroad, I think James’ address to the twelve tribes was not so much an affirmation that he could identify the 12 tribes as it was a general greeting to Israel, whereever his letter might chance to find them. He believed they still existed, and he might not have known where they were but recognized the possibility that his letter might fall into the hands of someone descended from the northern tribes. Paul and James likely were merely expressing their belief that these northern ten tribes still existed somewhere, for they evidently believed God had preserved them, as the Jewish writings affirmed (II Esdras 13:40-47).
As far as the restoration of Israel from the lands of Assyrians, it is possible that some returned from the 10 northern tribes, but so far as I have ever found, if they did, none of them preserved their lineage. The Jewish writings say that they did not return with Judah, because Israel had gone into a far country where mankind had not lived before (II Esdras 13:41) before Judah went into captivity. There is a prophecy of the return of the ten tribes in II Esdras 13:46 and also in the Sibylline Oracles, Book II, Line 215 and Hosea 1:11. The details of the prophecy in II Esdras 13:46 say the 10 tribes will return when the waters of the Euphrates dry up, and Rev 16:12 prophesies that the waters of the Euphrates WILL dry up. That event does not happen until the Man of Sin/the Beast arises (II Thes 2:2-12, Rev 16:14-16). Hosea 1:11 says that when Israel returns, they will be an identifiable body of people, for they meet with Judah and select a common leader. It will be just days before the end of the world, for when the northern 10 tribes return to Judah and select a common leader, they immediately leave the Land (“And they will go up from the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel” [Jezreel is near Har-Megiddo])!
Jer 30 parallels Isa 17. Like Isa 17:4 speaks of “Jacob” that includes people of the northern tribes, so also does Jer 30 place the prophecy in the time when God will “bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah” (Jer 30:3). Like “the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean” in Isa 17:4, so also Jeremiah says “that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7). Like Isa says “gleanings will be left in it like the shaking of an olive tree” (Isa 17:6), Jeremiah agrees that in the day of Jacob’s trouble “he shall be saved out of it” (Jer 30:7). Like Jeremiah says of the attacking nations, “They that spoil thee shall be a spoil, and all that prey upon thee will I give for a prey” (Jer 30:16), Isaiah promises that Syria will become “as the glory [riches–H3519] of the children of Israel” (Isa 17:3). God has not yet given the enemies of Israel to them as spoil. But it happens in a day (Isa 17:14), a day of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7-8), when Israel is nearly annihilated, but emerges from near annihilation to occupy the lands of its enemies and live at peace (Ezek 38:14) serving “the LORD their God, and David their king” (Jer 30:9).