The Abomination of Desolation

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The Bible describes what the Antichrist does halfway through his 7-year contract with Israel and many others.

And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” Daniel 9:27 NASB

Abomination of Desolation

Jesus also talks about an abomination of desolation which happens prior to his Second Coming, which was predicted in the book of Daniel:

So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)," (Matthew 24:15 ESV)

Here Jesus mentions the "abomination of desolation.” Jesus makes special note that the reader of the book of Daniel should understand what the term means. Though confusing for us, his wise listeners would be familiar with this term, as they were aware of the story behind Hanukkah.

The abomination of desolation is referenced only three times in the Old Testament, all of which are in the book of Daniel. Two refer to a future event, while one refers to a past event. Daniel 11:31 says:

Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate. (Daniel 11:31)

This was fulfilled in 168 B.C. when Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded Israel. He set up an altar and idol of Zeus on the temple altar. After a successful revolt, the temple was rededicated. This re-dedication is celebrated every year during Hanukkah. Throughout the Old Testament, “abominations” often refer to idols. Furthermore, the image set up by Antiochus caused the temple area to be abandoned in disgust and horror, making it “desolate.” This historical fulfillment, as well as the language itself, show that the phrase “abomination of desolation” is a technical term for an idol in the Jewish temple. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

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However, Daniel 9:27 implies the end time abomination of desolation is a person, not just a statue. It says:

And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator. (Daniel 9:27)

Jesus also indicates this in Mark 13, which is the parallel passage to Matthew 24:

But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Mark 13:14)

In the end times, the idol is the Antichrist himself. Paul clarifies this for us when he says:

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

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Revelation goes into more detail on the surrounding events. The Antichrist’s sidekick, the False Prophet, orders an image to be set up of the Antichrist. Revelation 13 says:

And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. (Revelation 13:15)

Sacrifices Stopped

All of this implies that the Jewish temple must be rebuilt, in order for the Antichrist to step inside it and proclaim himself God. When the temple is rebuilt, the system of regular temple sacrifices will be re-established. The Antichrist will disrupt this system of sacrifices at the midpoint of the final 7-year period.

And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” Daniel 9:27 NASB

The Hebrew literally says that he stops the sacrifices for “half” or the “middle” of the week. (6) Therefore, he causes the sacrifices to stop for three and a half years. This is also found in Daniel 12:11, which also mentions the end-time abomination of desolation:

And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. (Dan. 12:11 ESV)

1290 days is only 30 days longer than 3 1/2 Jewish years (1260 days). (The reason for this discrepancy is outside the scope of this article). This 3 1/2 year period roughly corresponds to the 3 1/2 year (42 months) reign of the beast in Revelation:

And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling,[a] that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. (Rev. 13: 5-7a ESV)

This is also described in Daniel 7 where the boastful ruler of the end-times Roman Empire makes war on God’s people for a time (1 year), times (2 years), and a half a time (half a year). This adds up to 3 1/2 years.

He shall speak words against the Most High,
and shall wear out the saints of the Most High,
and shall think to change the times and the law;
and they shall be given into his hand
for a time, times, and half a time. (Dan. 7:25 ESV)

Jesus says that those living in Judea must flee to the mountains when they see the abomination of desolation.

“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matt. 24:15-16 ESV)

This corresponds to Revelation 12. In that chapter, a woman, representing Israel, flees to the desert for protection for 1260 days, which is 3 1/2 Jewish years.

She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule[a] all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days. (Rev. 12: 5-6)

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References:

  1. Ginzberg, Louis. "JewishEncyclopedia.com." ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION - JewishEncyclopedia.com. Accessed November 2, 2018. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/353-abomination-of-desolation.

  2. MacArthur, John. "The Abomination of Desolation." Grace to You. October 16, 2017. Accessed November 2, 2018. http://www.gty.org/library/bibleqnas-library/QA0093/the-abomination-of-desolation.

  3. Price, Randall. "Abomination of Desolation :: By Randall Price (PDF)." Rapture Ready. January 24, 2017. Accessed November 2, 2018. http://www.raptureready.com/2015/04/07/abomination-of-desolation-by-randall-price-pdf.

  4. Zuck, Roy B., and John F. Walvoord. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty: Old Testament. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.

  5. Ice, Thomas. "Part 13 - Matthew 24:15 The Abomination of Desolation by Thomas Ice." Blue Letter Bible. Accessed November 2, 2018. https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/ice_thomas/Mat24-25/Mat24-25_Part13.cfm.

  6. “Daniel 9:27 Interlinear.” Bible Hub. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://biblehub.com/interlinear/daniel/9-27.htm.

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