2007-09-14 - Summer Question #13
Daniel 11:31, "And forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation."
Today's Question: What is the "abomination of desolation?"
I try to avoid prophetic subjects for two reasons. First, there is very little agreement concerning such things, and second, they are generally of little practical use. I guess I figure that when I have gotten a handle on being holy and living faithful before the Lord, maybe then I will have time to solve the mysteries of the Second Coming, and other prophecies of Scripture still to be fulfilled. My sanctification has a long way to go before I will be tackling such subjects with any zeal. However, this question respects something that has been fulfilled, by most interpretations, and thus we will seek to answer it here today.
The Abomination of Desolation is generally thought to have been set up in the Jewish Temple by Antiochus Epiphanes, December 15, 168 B.C. It was when the image of a pig and of Jupiter (Zeus) Olympius (Olympios) were set in place as a pagan altar and ten days later pagan sacrifices were offered on it. This is how the Alexandrian Jews interpreted the fulfillment of the prophecy during the inter-testamental times between Malachi and Matthew. The term is indicative of something set in place, here upon the great altar of the Temple, that is vile, disgusting, and desecrates the holy place of the altar. However, in some respects, besides referring to the image set up by Antiochus, it can be a general reference to anything that is abhorrent or that defiles something that is holy. It is generally agreed that the specific fulfillment of this prophecy found in Daniel 11:31, and it 12:11 took place in 168 B.C. The Daniel 12:11 passage is taken by some to be a direct reference to the Anti-Christ.
This is not the end of the discussion however. The Abomination of Desolation is mentioned, by Jesus, in the New Testament in Matthew 24:15, and Mark 13:14. Here he seems to point to a still future coming of the Abomination of Desolation. A related passage is found in Luke 21:20, where we read, "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand." It is generally thought that Christ is referring to the future when the armies of the Romans, who where already there in Jesus' day, had images of idols, and emperors set up in the Temple. This would have first occurred under Cestius (Gallus) in 66 A. D., Vespasian, 68 A. D., and Titus in 70 A. D., when Jerusalem was destroyed. In this case, taking especially the passage in Luke as the lead, since he was writing to a Gentile audience, the Abomination of Desolation would be the Roman troops. The Matthew reference does not require the Abomination of Desolation to be in the Temple proper because Matthew's rendering speaks of the Abomination of Desolation being "in the holy place," which may or may not mean the Temple.
In a practical manner I would like to suggest that, rather than look for the Anti-Christ proper as a fulfillment of prophecy in these passages, or as the Abomination of Desolation, let us look at anything that takes away from the glory of the person of Jesus Christ in His Deity, life, and work as an Anti-Christ or Abomination of Desolation. We can point to the fulfillments of both the Old Testament passages in Daniel, and the New Testament passages Christ spoke of already in history, but the concept can still be instructive to us today. Anything that takes from Christ is an abomination. Anything that lessens the authority of Christ in our lives, or stands in our way of serving our Lord is a desolation to be overcome. The Temple, as a physical place, is no longer needed because the true temple is now in our hearts. All those things that displace Jesus Christ from having first place in our hearts must be defeated and conquered. In a practical sense, today, there are Abominations of Desolation everywhere because everything that make Christ less, when He must be more, is an Abomination to everything the follower of Christ holds dear and precious.
Soli Deo Gloria,