Abomination of Desolation

by: Bill Bratt

Email: info@icogsfg.org

It seems that the Jewish nation of Israel is always in the news. Terrorist attacks on them is a way of life for them and occasionally they have to retaliate against their enemies who would like to exterminate them from off the face of the earth. When we see the nation of Israel fighting for survival and we see them expanding the theater of war we may wonder if ‘end time’ events will begin soon.

One of the ‘end time’ events that we may wonder about is the ‘abomination of desolation.’

The Olivet Prophecy

Jesus and His disciples were on the Mount of Olives and they asked Him a question which is the same question that we would ask Him if we had the opportunity: "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3.)

Jesus answered their question by telling them: "Take heed that no man deceive you, you shall hear of wars and rumors of war, there shall be famines, pestilence and earthquakes."

Now let's take a closer look at what Jesus told them next: "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13.)

Notice that we must endure, persevere and strive unto the end in order to receive salvation. The apostle Paul said: "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12.) We must strive to overcome all of our sins in order to obtain salvation.

The next comment that Jesus had in His Olivet prophecy was: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matthew 24:14.)

Notice that before the "end" can come that the true "gospel" must be preached in all the world for a witness. The word "gospel" means good news or glad tidings. What is the gospel that is to be preached? Mark answers this question in his gospel with the following comment: "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, {15} And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15.) What is the gospel that is to be preached? The answer is given as the "gospel of the kingdom of God" not about dying and going to heaven.

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What comes next in the Olivet Prophecy?

The Abomination of Desolation

Jesus said: "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand) (Matthew 24:15 NKJV.)

Let's ponder this peculiar statement that Jesus made here. Jesus' disciples who were listening to him knew the term ‘abomination of desolation.’ It was a term that had been used commonly among the Jews and they even knew who the person was who had placed the ‘abomination of desolation’ and they also knew precisely what the abomination was. In their mind it was Antiochus Epiphanes, who entered the Temple of God in 167 B.C. and desecrated the altar by offering swine's flesh upon the altar and then he placed a statue of Jupiter Olympus in the Holy Place. This was known by the Jews as the ‘abomination that makes desolate.’

But now, here is Jesus reaching back into the Book of Daniel and taking a prophecy that His listeners would have assumed had been fulfilled in history and telling them that when you see the ‘abomination of desolation’ stand in the Holy Place, let them who be in Judea flee into the mountains. (Matthew 24:15-16.)

Jesus took an Old Testament prophecy, that His disciples thought had been fulfilled, and he placed it squarely into the future. Jesus did not allow for a previous fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy. He understood Daniel's prophecy, not to deal with Antiochus Epiphanes, but with the future.

Let's continue with the Olivet Prophecy in verse 17: "Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. {18} "And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. {19} "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! {20} "And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. {21} "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matthew 24:17-21 NKJV.)

Did you notice in verses 17-18, the speed at which things will happen. The people who are leaving are people with only the clothes on their back, no extra clothes, suitcases, or carrying bags. They stopped what they were doing and immediately left. Verse 16 says that those in Judea, which would include Jerusalem, are to flee into the mountains. Where in the mountains might they flee? Perhaps it might be the "rose red city" of Petra which is located in the mountains of Edom, directly south of Jerusalem and Amman, Jordan, about 50 miles south of the Dead Sea. Petra was the capital of Edom and subsequently of Nabataea. The name is from the Greek word petra, meaning "rock," and the Hebrew word is sela. Petra was a notable fortress and stronghold. Petra is referred to in the Old Testament by the name Sela in 2 Kings 14:7 and Isaiah 16:1 and 42:11. Another interesting point about Petra is that it is located in an area that is protected by God in the ‘end time’. Daniel the prophet says: "He (the Beast Power) shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. {42} He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape" (Daniel 11:41-42.)

Jesus made an interesting comment in verse 20, now remember this is His Olivet Prophecy of ‘end time’ events, and Jesus said: "But pray you that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day." Obviously we know why we wouldn’t want to flee in the winter, but why should you pray that your flight be not on the Sabbath Day, if the Sabbath Day is not binding upon Christians? Obviously Jesus thought it was binding by His statement here or He wouldn’t have said it. Also the seventh day (Saturday) Sabbath is the ONLY day of the week made holy by God who made it holy at creation. The truth of the matter is that the day of worship was changed (by man and not God) from the (Saturday) Sabbath to Sunday by King Constantine and the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.

Notice in Verse 21, that Jesus says that the next thing to happen in prophecy is the great tribulation.

Now let’s see what Luke can add in his gospel account of the ‘abomination of desolation.’ Luke doesn’t use the full term ‘abomination of desolation,’ he just uses the term "desolation."

Luke records: "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. {21} "Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. {22} "For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. {23} "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. {24} "And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke 21:20-24 NKJV.)

So what are you supposed to do when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies? If you are in Judea, which includes Jerusalem, you are to flee into the mountains. This is going to be an extremely difficult period of time for everyone, whether you are old, young or pregnant.

Let’s continue in Luke’s account of the Olivet Prophecy, he recorded Jesus as saying: "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. {35} "For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. {36} "Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:34-36 NKJV.) Notice that Jesus warns us to ‘watch and pray’ that we may be counted worthy to escape or to take flight for protection at the ‘end time.’

Now there are several things that come together at the same time according to what Jesus said in His Olivet Prophecy: First: The true gospel finally reaches all nations. Second: Jerusalem is surrounded by armies. Third: Daniel’s ‘abomination of desolation,’ whatever that is, is set up. What this is showing is that there is one short moment in this time period, in which to flee, so brief, that the difference in time of simply walking across the roof of your house to your neighbors and then on out of the city as opposed to going down into your house and collecting some clothes and warm garments and then leaving by your front door, that short period of delay could make the difference of whether you are out or whether you are in the great tribulation.

Read the Book of Daniel

Let’s read this verse again in which Jesus said: "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place" (whoever reads, let him understand) (Matthew 24:15 NKJV.) Notice the last phrase of this passage which says: "(whoever reads, let him understand)." When Jesus was on the Mount of Olives giving His Olivet Prophecy, He was talking to His disciples about the ‘abomination of desolation’ and probably not reading from a scroll of Daniel. So when Jesus said "(whoever reads, let him understand)" He must have meant that we are to read the Book of Daniel, which is a book of prophecy of ‘end time’ events.

Now let’s look at this particular account in Daniel that refers to the ‘abomination of desolation.’

Let’s pick up the story flow in Daniel 11:28: "While returning to his land with great riches, his heart shall be moved against the holy covenant; so he shall do damage and return to his own land." In B.C. 168, returning from Egypt with great plunder, Antiochus set himself against the Jews, massacred many, and then returned to Antioch with golden vessels from the Temple at Jerusalem.

Verse 29: "At the appointed time he shall return and go toward the south; but it shall not be like the former or the latter." The same year, he again invaded Egypt, but with none of his former success, because Philometor, king of the south, got help from Rome.

Verse 30: "For ships from Cyprus shall come against him; therefore he shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant, and do damage. So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant." The Roman fleet came against Antiochus, and he was forced to surrender to the terms of Popillius of the Roman fleet, and retire from Egypt and restore Cyprus to Egypt. Returning, through Palestine, smarting under the defeat, he vented his exasperation against the Jews, and extended special favors to those Jews who would turn from their religion. Verse 31: "And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation." Then, B.C. 168, the same year, came the climax of the horror. Antiochus sent troops to the Holy Land, who desecrated the Temple and Sanctuary, and ABOLISHED THE DAILY SACRIFICE (See also Dan. 8:11, 24), and (Kisleu 15, Hebrew calendar), PLACED THE ABOMINATION OF THE IMAGE OF JUPITER OLYMPUS in the HOLY OF HOLIES, making it DESOLATE. (Rawlinson, page 255). And so many who claim to teach the Bible try to apply the prophecy of this verse to Mohammedans in "the 7th Century A.D., building the Dome of the Rock on the site of the ancient Temple at Jerusalem! But every verse of this prophecy, step by step, verse by verse, unfolded in actual history, just as here recounted, so there cannot be the slightest shadow of doubt as to this ABOMINATION THAT MAKETH DESOLATE - it was the idol of Jupiter set in the Holy of Holies, B.C. 168, by Antiochus Epiphanes, king of the north.

Verse 32: "Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits." Antiochus tried to END the religion of the Jews. He took away the daily sacrifice, forbade the ministration at the Temple. He perverted by flatteries the Jews who were willing to forsake their religion.

BUT-RIGHT HERE, the prophecy cuts off from the continuation of events in the history of those ancient north and south kingdoms. Up to this point, the prophecy was unfolded, step by step, in the actual history of the northern kingdom of the Selucidae, or Syria, and the southern kingdom of Egypt. But, says the Exposition of the Bible, "all accurate details seem suddenly to stop short," with this verse.

(Comments from Daniel 11:28-32 is from our article: "Middle East in Prophecy" - You can request this article from us free of charge.)

Let’s ponder what we have just read. Antiochus Epiphanes entered the Temple of God and desecrated the altar by offering swine's flesh upon the altar and then he placed a statue of Jupiter Olympus, a pagan idol, in the Holy of Holies. This was the Old Testament fulfillment of the ‘abomination that makes desolate.’ This is a type of the ‘end time’ ‘abomination of desolation’.

Jesus said: "Let him who reads understand." There is something in the original event dealing with this ‘abomination of desolation’ that would help us to understand. As important as it is, it is a sign for God’s people to take flight and escape.

‘Abomination of Desolation’ in the Book of Revelation

The ‘abomination of desolation’ is an important sign for God’s people to take flight and you would think that you could find it in the Book of Revelation, but the term ‘abomination of desolation’ is not found in the Book of Revelation. But let’s take a look at Revelation 13 and see if we can read between the lines and see where it fits.

Revelation 13:1 "Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name." This is talking about the seven revivals of the Roman Empire and the ten kings who submit their power with the beast (Revelation 17:12.)

Verse 2: Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority." In Daniel’s prophecy the leopard was a symbol for Alexander’s kingdom, the bear was the symbol for the Medo-Persian Empire, and the lion was the symbol for the Babylonian Empire. This beast incorporates the characteristics of all of the image that Nebuchadnezzar saw and that Daniel interpreted in Daniel 2. The ‘dragon’ is a symbol in the Book of Revelation for Satan the Devil (Revelation 12:9.)

Verse 3: "And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. {4} So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" Notice that the people marveled and followed after the beast and that doing this they were worshiping Satan the dragon.

Verse 5: "And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months." This forty-two months equals three and one half years.

Verse 6: " Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven." This person who is the beast has similar characteristics of Antiochus Epiphanes who fulfilled this in type.

Verse 7: "It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation." The beast will make war with the saints just as Antiochus Epiphanes made war with the Jews.

Verse 8: "All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." What is the defense that will keep a person from worshiping the beast? It is the fact that they have God’s Holy Spirt and their names are written in the Book of Life.

Verse 9: "If anyone has an ear, let him hear." Here’s the warning about hearing.

Verse 10: "He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. {11} Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon." The lamb is a symbol for Jesus Christ (John 1:29) but notice that this beast was like the lamb or we could say this was a false Christ or false prophet or someone pretending to be Jesus Christ who claimed to represent Christ but actually was an agent of Satan the devil speaking with the mouth of Satan representing a demonic religious system. Again the dragon is a symbol of Satan the devil.

Verse 12 "And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. {13} He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men." People will be deceived with these spectacular powers, perhaps thinking that this false prophet has the power of the Old Testament Elijah, but in reality it comes from demonic sources.

Verse 14: "And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. {15} He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed." Here’s another spectacular sight, the ‘image of the beast’ will be given breath and be able to speak and many people will worship this image. The Greek word for ‘image’ is ‘eikon’ and is defined as a likeness, statute, profile, representation, resemblance or an image. This would not lead us to think that this ‘image of the beast’ would be more than a statue or image. We may not know exactly what the ‘image of the beast’ is so we must keep our minds open and keep looking.

Verse 16: "He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, {17} and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. {18} Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666." The ‘mark of the beast’ is intriguing to people. It is interesting that it is received on the right hand or on the forehead. What do you do with your right hand? Your hands represents what you do, how you make your living, the physical things that you do. The forehead represents the things that you think and believe, the spiritual things relating to how you worship God or the beast.

Moses made some interesting comments about a sign on your hand and frontlets between your eyes: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! {5} "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. {6} "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. {7} "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. {8} "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes" (Deuteronomy 6:4-8 NKJV.) What should you put in your hand and in your forehead? You should love the LORD your God with all your heart and keep His commandments.

Let’s notice another passage involving your hands and forehead: "Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. {7} "Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. {8} "And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, 'This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.' {9} "It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord's law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt" (Exodus 13:6-9 NKJV.) God’s Holy Days (Leviticus 23) are to be a sign in our hand and a memorial between our eyes. It is something we should do physically and we should believe spiritually in what they picture and represent, which is God’s plan of salvation.

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God's Holy Days

The ‘mark of the beast’ is something you believe and something you practice. This is in place of what should be in your hand and your forehead which should be the ‘Law of God’ and the keeping of God’s Sabbath and Holy Days which are signs. Something to remember is that a ‘sign’ is done in a voluntary manner and ‘mark’ is something that is usually forced upon something.

The Man of Sin

The apostle Paul revealed the following: "Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, {2} not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. {3} Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the MAN OF SIN is revealed, the son of perdition, {4} who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. {5} Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? {6} And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. {7} For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. {8} And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. {9} The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, {10} and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. {11} And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, {12} that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 NKJV.)

The ’Man of Sin,’ the son of perdition, will be revealed and he will exalt himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. We can see similarities between this Man of Sin and the statue of Jupiter Olympus, both placed in the Holy of Holies. This ‘Man of Sin’ fits the ‘type’ of the ‘abomination that makes desolate’ in Daniel’s prophecy and it also fulfills the ‘abomination of desolation’ that Jesus described in His Olivet Prophecy.

Could this ‘Man of Sin’ be the ‘image of the beast’ of Revelation 13 that will be worshiped? There is a connection.

In conclusion: We have taken a look at the ‘abomination of desolation’ and should know the basics, but we still don’t know exactly all of the facts. We must do as Jesus told us to ‘watch’ world events and to ‘pray’ and draw closer to God and keep your eyes focused on Jerusalem for the armies that may be encompassing it and we must keep the question in our mind: Is this the beginning of the ‘abomination of desolation?’

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‘The Abomination of Desolation’
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