1 An oracle of Damascus: “See! Damascus stops being a city and becomes a pile of ruins. 2 The cities of Aroer will be deserted; they will be for the flocks, and they will lie down and there is not one who disturbs them. 3 And any fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and kingdom from Damascus; and the left over of Aram will be like the glory of the children of Israel,” — a declaration of Yahveh of armies. 4 “And this is going to happen: On that day, the glory of Jacob will be brought low, and the fat of his flesh will become lean. 5 And it will be like a reaper’s gathering of standing grain and he reaps grain by his arm, and it will be like one who gathers ears of grain in the valley of Rephaim. 6 And gleanings will be left over in it, like after beating an olive tree: two or three ripe olive berries atop a branch, four or five on its productive branches,” — a declaration of Yahveh, the God of Israel.
God takes left-overs
The northern kingdom had formed an alliance with Syria, whose capital was Damascus. Isaiah predicts that the alliance would not save them from judgment. The coming army would swoop down, destroy Damascus, and decimate Israel as well. Damascus will be left so wiped out that shepherds can let their flocks graze there, with no fear of them (that is, the flocks) being disturbed by the presence of any people. Israel will be so wiped out it will be like a crop that has been harvested, with only a very few left-overs remaining.
When I was a child, my family raised chickens – 30,000 at a time. After the harvesters came and took the mature chickens to the plant to be processed, there were always about five or six birds per house that were left behind. We took those left-over birds and put them in a separate pen. We raised them to produce eggs for our household. As a boy, I can remember being happy for those left-overs, because it meant more eggs.
God’s promise of left-overs for Israel meant that he still had a plan for the nation – beyond judgment. The judgment would be real, and most would be lost, but a few would be saved. Jesus said that the final judgment would be similar. While destruction is coming, a few will be saved by grace. God takes left-overs.
LORD, we cling to Christ, and trust that we will be among your left-overs, saved from judgment by faith in him.
 The first four words of this verse begin with the Hebrew letter ayin.