I suppose something like the following was inevitable, given the circumstances and the historical sensitivity of the region:

The deadly violence percolating half a world away in Syria and the warnings of a possible U.S. attack have some people not only looking ahead to what might happen in the coming days—but also looking backward into ancient, apocalyptic prophecies in the pages of the Old Testament. In recent weeks, some dire prophecies have turned up on websites, in book stores, as the subject of Bible studies and in sermons by some Christians and others who see a link between the old passages and modern-day events in Egypt, Libya and Syria.

That’s from a report in USA Today. I’ve seen similar murmurings in my Facebook newsfeed.

Still … really?

Looking at a 20th-century timeline of Syrian history compiled by BBC News, one can’t help but notice several years as seemingly pregnant with apocalyptic significance as the present day. For instance: “1920 July—French forces occupy Damascus, forcing Feisal to flee abroad.” And: “1925-26—Nationalist agitation against French rule develops into a national uprising. French forces bombard Damascus.”

This is to say nothing of Syria’s wars with Israel in 1967 and 1973.

Delving further into the past, there’s this bit from Wikipedia’s entry on the history of Syria, chosen more or less at random:

In 1400, Timur Lenk, or Tamerlane, invaded Syria, defeated the Mamluk army at Aleppo and captured Damascus. Many of the city’s inhabitants were massacred, except for the artisans, who were deported to Samarkand. At this time the Christian population of Syria suffered persecution. By the end of the 15th century, the discovery of a sea route from Europe to the Far East ended the need for an overland trade route through Syria. In 1516, the Ottoman Empire conquered Syria.

I’m not scorning the current spate of prophetical dot-connecting. Consider this an offering of friendly advice its practitioners: Beware the mental affliction of presentism.

This, too—whatever this turns out to be—will probably pass.