The area of modern day Syria goes all the way back to the book of Genesis and, possibly, all the way to the end times. The Bible is full of references to Syria and, despite being a Muslim nation, Syria still has Christians in it.
Throughout the Old Testament, Syria (by other names) is mentioned mostly in context of being enemies of the Hebrew people. Although the first reference was not about battle with Syrians, it is about chasing an adversary into Syria.
“During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus.” ~ Genesis 14:15
Shortly thereafter, Abram puts at least one Syrian into a poor light.
“But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” ~ Genesis 15:2
It isn’t long before the litany of battles, wars, arguments, and territory disputes started between the Hebrew people and ancient Syrians. 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings speak a lot to the ongoing disputes.
Damascus is essential to the conversion of Saul to Paul. He starts out with the intent to persecute Christians in Damascus. Instead, while on the way there, God intervenes. Saul (now Paul) starts his ministry in Damascus.
In Acts 9, Saul asks for permission to persecute the Christians in Damascus. Then, on his way there, he has an encounter with God, which led to his conversion. He goes on to become one of Christianity’s greatest missionaries.
Ananias, the one who helped Saul when he was struck blind, lived in Damascus.
Later, Paul tells his conversion story to King Agrippa, explaining that he first started preaching the Gospel in Damascus. He also states this to others in the book of Galatians.
In Isaiah and Jeremiah, both books of prophecy, Damascus becomes of significant importance.
“See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins. The cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to flocks, which will lie down, with no one to make them afraid. The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and royal power from Damascus; the remnant of Aram will be like the glory of the Israelites,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” ~ Isaiah 17:1-3
“Concerning Damascus: ‘Hamath and Arpad are dismayed, for they have heard bad news. They are disheartened, troubled like the restless sea. Damascus has become feeble, she has turned to flee and panic has gripped her; anguish and pain have seized her, pain like that of a woman in labor. Why has the city of renown not been abandoned, the town in which I delight? Surely, her young men will fall in the streets; all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘I will set fire to the walls of Damascus; it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.'” ~ Jeremiah 49:23-27
Some believe these verses refer to the end times, and others think that they have already been fulfilled. For those that believe it refers to the end times, the current events in Syria leave many wondering if the end is near.