The Abomination of Desolation

By Vince Finnegan

Matthew 24:15   "Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)”

Mark 13:14   “But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

Luke 21:20   "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.

The Greek translation can be “the abomination that makes desolate.”

Solomon’s Temple

Many pages in the Bible are dedicated to the original temple, its building, dedication, services, and destruction. This temple was built as Yahweh instructed and was accepted by Him as the fire of God signified when it was dedicated. Yahweh’s glory was upon this temple.

The destruction of Solomon’s Temple and Jerusalem occurred before Daniel prophesied; however, this event foreshadows that which Daniel and Jesus foretold. History repeats itself. Eschatological prophecy often refers to more than one event.

In 601 BC, Nebuchadnezzar unsuccessfully attempted to invade Egypt and suffered heavy losses. The failure led to numerous rebellions among the Mediterranean Kingdoms that were in subjection to the Babylonian Empire. Jehoiakim, king of Judah, stopped paying tribute to Nebuchadnezzar and took a pro-Egyptian position (1 Kings 24:1-6). The prophet Jeremiah warned Israel to repent of their evil or be destroyed by the Babylonians (Jeremiah 25:1-11). They did not listen.

In 597 BC, Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem. Jehoiakim died during the siege and was succeeded by his 18-year-old son Jeconiah. The city fell about three months later. Nebuchadnezzar pillaged both Jerusalem and the temple carrying his spoils back to Babylon. Jeconiah, his family, and his court with other prominent citizens, including craftsmen, were marched off to Babylon.  About 10,000 people were deported from the land and dispersed throughout the Babylonian Empire.

Nebuchadnezzar installed Jeconiah's uncle, 21-year-old Zedekiah as vassal king (a king that owes allegiance to another king or emperor) of Judah.  However, despite the strong warning of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 27:1ff) and others, Zedekiah revolted against Nebuchadnezzar by ceasing to pay tribute to him and entered an alliance with Pharaoh. He repeated the same foolish mistake of Jehoiakim, his brother. Nebuchadnezzar returned to Jerusalem, again this time to completely destroy it. The siege was in January 589 BC. Many Jews fled for refuge in surrounding countries of Moab, Ammon, and Edom. The city was under attack for 30 months with no water or food entering therein. Lamentations describes the horror.

Lamentations 4:4, 5, 9-10   The tongue of the infant cleaves to the roof of its mouth because of thirst; The little ones ask for bread, but no one breaks it for them.

Those who ate delicacies are desolate in the streets; those reared in purple embrace ash pits.

Better are those slain with the sword than those slain with hunger; for they pine away, being stricken for lack of the fruits of the field. The hands of compassionate women boiled their own children; they became food for them because of the destruction of the daughter of my people.

The city fell in the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign (2 Kings 25:2Jeremiah 39:2); Nebuchadnezzar broke through Jerusalem's walls, conquering the city. Zedekiah and his followers attempted to escape but were captured on the plains of Jericho and taken to Riblah. There, after seeing his sons killed, Zedekiah was blinded, bound, and taken captive to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-72 Chronicles 36:12Jeremiah 32:4-534:2-339:1-752:4-11), where he remained a prisoner until his death.

After the fall of Jerusalem, the Babylonian general Nebuzaraddan was sent to complete its destruction. Jerusalem was plundered, and Solomon's Temple was destroyed. Most of the elite were taken captive to Babylon. Daniel and his companions spoken of in the book of Daniel were among those taken to Babylon. The city was demolished. Only a few people were permitted to remain to tend to the land (Jeremiah 52:16). This was indeed a time of great desolation for Jerusalem similar to Daniel’s and Jesus’ prophecies about the abomination of desolation. The book of Ezekiel describes the abomination that proceeded this desolation. Jeremiah spoke for Yahweh in Jerusalem, while his contemporary, Ezekiel, spoke in Babylon. Ezekiel was among the first taken captive to Babylon. In the sixth year of his captivity, he received the revelation recorded in Ezekiel 8.

Ezekiel 8:3-18   He [Yahweh’s messenger] stretched out the form of a hand and caught me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the idol of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy, was located. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain. Then He said to me, "Son of man, raise your eyes now toward the north." So I raised my eyes toward the north, and behold, to the north of the altar gate was this idol of jealousy at the entrance. And He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations which the house of Israel are committing here, so that I would be far from My sanctuary? But yet you will see still greater abominations." Then He brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, a hole in the wall. He said to me, "Son of man, now dig through the wall." So I dug through the wall, and behold, an entrance. And He said to me, "Go in and see the wicked abominations that they are committing here." So I entered and looked, and behold, every form of creeping things and beasts and detestable things, with all the idols of the house of Israel, were carved on the wall all around. Standing in front of them were seventy elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah [11:1, 2 leader that devised iniquity and gave evil advice] the son [grandson] of Shaphan [an honorable holy man in the court of Josiah] standing among them, each man with his censer in his hand and the fragrance of the cloud of incense rising. Then He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his carved images? For they say, 'Yahweh does not see us; Yahweh has forsaken the land.'" And He said to me, "Yet you will see still greater abominations which they are committing." Then He brought me to the entrance of the gate of Yahweh’s house which was toward the north; and behold, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz [god of fertility]. He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? Yet you will see still greater abominations than these." Then He brought me into the inner court of Yahweh’s house. And behold, at the entrance to the temple of Yahweh, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of Yahweh and their faces toward the east; and they were prostrating themselves eastward toward the sun. He said to me, "Do you see this, son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they have committed here, that they have filled the land with violence and provoked Me repeatedly? For behold, they are putting the twig to their nose [idolaters carried twigs in their hands, and put to their nose, in honor of the idol they worshipped, sign of humility]. "Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I will not listen to them."

Ezekiel 9 reveals that everyone in the city was an idolater, and chapters 10 and 11 show that the glory of Yahweh was removed from the temple and the city. The glory of Yahweh went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city [Mount of Olives] (Ezekiel 11:23).

The prophets, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, revealed the reasons behind the desolation of the temple and Jerusalem, which were idolatrous abominations.

Deuteronomy 7:25-26   The graven images of their gods you are to burn with fire; you shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, or you will be snared by it, for it is an abomination to Yahweh your God.

You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned.

Important to note is Israel’s disobedience and idolatrous ways were the abomination that caused desolation. There were three phases to the complete desolation that served as a type for the destruction of the third temple in the first century.

The Second Temple

After the 70 years of Babylonian captivity, Israel was allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah were all involved with this temple. After many years, this temple was also destroyed.

Antiochus Epiphanes

Antiochus Epiphanes was a descendant of one of Alexander's generals. He was a Greek Hellenistic king who ruled the Seleucid Empire 175BC to 164BC. He is famous for his brutal persecution of the Jews. The book of Maccabees tells what happened.

“They [traitorous Jews] said, Let's come to terms with the Gentiles, for our refusal to associate with them has brought us nothing but trouble. This proposal appealed to many people, and some of them became so enthusiastic about it that they went to the king and received from him permission to follow Gentile customs…. They had surgery performed to hide their circumcision, abandoned the holy covenant, started associating with Gentiles, and did all sorts of other evil things.”

This is just like when the Babylonians destroyed the temple and Jerusalem’s idolatry opened the door for the abomination of desolation.

“Antiochus attached the city of Jerusalem and entered the Temple and took away the gold altar, the lampstand with all its equipment, the table for the bread offered to the Lord, the cups and bowls, the gold fire pans, the curtain, and the crowns. He also stripped all the gold from the front of the Temple and carried off the silver and gold and everything else of value, including all the treasures that he could find stored there. Then he took it all to his own country. He had also murdered many people and boasted arrogantly about it. There was great mourning everywhere in the land of Israel.

Two years later Antiochus sent a large army from Mysia against the towns of Judea. When the soldiers entered Jerusalem, their commander spoke to the people, offering them terms of peace and completely deceiving them. Then he suddenly launched a fierce attack on the city, dealing it a major blow and killing many of the people. He plundered the city, set it on fire, and tore down its buildings and walls.

Antiochus now issued a decree that all nations in his empire should abandon their own customs and become one people. All the Gentiles and even many of the Israelites submitted to this decree. They adopted the official pagan religion, offered sacrifices to idols, and no longer observed the Sabbath.

The king also sent messengers with a decree to Jerusalem and all the towns of Judea, ordering the people to follow customs that were foreign to the country. He ordered them not to offer burnt offerings, grain offerings, or wine offerings in the Temple and commanded them to treat Sabbaths and festivals as ordinary workdays. They were even ordered to defile the Temple and the holy things in it. They were commanded to build pagan altars, temples, and shrines, and to sacrifice pigs and other unclean animals there. They were forbidden to circumcise their sons and were required to make themselves ritually unclean in every way they could, so that they would forget the Law which the Lord had given through Moses and would disobey all its commands. The penalty for disobeying the king's decree was death.

On the fifteenth day of the month of Kislev in the year 145, King Antiochus set up The Awful Horror on the altar of the Temple, and pagan altars were built in the towns throughout Judea. Pagan sacrifices were offered in front of houses and in the streets. Any books of the Law which were found were torn up and burned, and anyone who was caught with a copy of the sacred books or who obeyed the Law was put to death by order of the king.  Month after month these wicked people used their power against the Israelites caught in the towns.

On the twenty-fifth of the month, these same evil people offered sacrifices on the pagan altar erected on top of the altar in the Temple. Mothers who had allowed their babies to be circumcised were put to death in accordance with the king's decree. Their babies were hung around their necks, and their families and those who had circumcised them were put to death. But many people in Israel firmly resisted the king's decree and refused to eat food that was ritually unclean. They preferred to die rather than break the holy covenant and eat unclean food—and many did die.”

In addition to all stated above, an altar to Zeus was erected, and sacrifices were to be made at the feet of an idol in the image of the king. This was the abomination of desolation.

Herod’s Temple (considered the third temple)

The doorway for the desolation of the temple and Jerusalem was open because Israel rejected and crucified the Messiah, God’s plan for humanity’s salvation. What they did to Jesus was indeed an abomination.

Three Jewish-Roman wars occurred: 1) 66-73, 2) Kitos war, 115-117, 3) Kokhba revolt, 132-136. These three combined correspond with the things Jesus foretold.

Before the first war, the time in which the temple was destroyed involved no strictly idolatrous symbol, no abomination similar to the time of Maccabees. Josephus tells that 97,000 were taken prisoner throughout the war and 1,100,000 were killed in the siege.

The Kitos War in 115-117, which took place mainly in Cyprus, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and only marginally in Judea, while poorly-organized, was extremely violent and took two years for the Roman armies to subdue. Although only the final chapter of the Kitos War was fought in Judea, the revolt is considered part of the Jewish-Roman Wars. The immense number of casualties during the Kitos War depopulated Cyrenaica and Cyprus and also reduced Jewish and Greco-Roman populations in the region.

Third Jewish Revolt - Bar Kokhba Revolt 132-135

There was a rebellion by the Jews of the Roman province of Judea, led by Simon bar Kokhba against the Roman Empire. The revolt erupted as a result of religious and political tensions in Judea, related to the establishment of a large Roman military presence, changes in administrative life, and the economy.

The construction of a new city, called Aelia Capitolina, over the ruins of Jerusalem and the erection of a temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount triggered the revolt.  Jupiter was considered the king of the gods in ancient Roman religion and mythology. The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus. The construction of the temple for Zeus over the Temple Mount in 167 BC triggered the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid King Antiochus IV Epiphanes. History was repeating itself for the third time.

In 132, the revolt led by Bar Kokhba quickly spread from central Judea across the province, cutting off the Roman garrison in Jerusalem.  Despite arrival of significant Roman reinforcements from SyriaEgypt, and Arabia, initial rebel victories against the Romans established an independent state that included most parts of Judea for over three years. Simon bar Kokhba took the title head of state. As well as leading the revolt, he was regarded by many Jews as the Messiah, who would restore their national independence. This setback, however, caused Emperor Hadrian to assemble a large-scale Roman force from across the Empire, which invaded Judea in 134 under the command of General Sextus Julius Severus. The Roman army was made up of six full legions (4,800 men) with auxiliaries and elements from up to six additional legions, which finally managed to crush the revolt.

The Bar Kokhba revolt resulted in the extensive depopulation of Judean communities, more so than during the First Jewish–Roman War of 70 CE. 580,000 Jews perished in the war, and many more died of hunger and disease. 50 fortresses and 985 villages were destroyed. In addition, many Judean war captives were sold into slavery. Jews and Christians were barred from Jerusalem.

The Talmud refers to Bar Kokhba as "Ben-Kusiba", a derogatory term meaning "son of deception", used to indicate that he was a false Messiah.

The Jewish–Roman wars had a dramatic impact on the Jews, turning them from a major population in the Eastern Mediterranean into a scattered and persecuted minority. The Jewish–Roman wars are often cited as a disaster to Jewish society. The defeat of the Jewish revolts altered the Jewish population and enhanced the importance of the Jewish diaspora, essentially moving the demographic center of Jews from Judea to Galilee and Babylon, with minor communities across the Mediterranean.

These major events centered in the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem are all types for what will happen at the end of the age. The beast will rebuild the temple in Jerusalem for the purpose of allowing Israel to again worship according to the Mosaic covenant (Old Testament). During the first 3 ½ years of his reign, the world will enjoy peace and prosperity like never before in history. He will rule the world from the temple location and be worshipped by everyone in the world as god with the exception of the faithful Christians whom he will persecute. This final abomination will bring about the worse desolation ever, that will be followed by the return of Christ and the destruction of the beast and all he represents.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4   Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

The book of Revelation along with all that preceded here makes plain that the future abomination of desolation will be when the beast, (the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction), will set up in the temple to rule the world and will be worshipped as God.

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The Abomination of Desolation
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1 Response

  1. Great to hear the futurist approach to eschatology taught without apology of some kind, but as the Biblical truth it is. Just an aside. It is interesting that 3 1/2 years is very close to the term of a U.S. President (4 years minus the lame duck period). That's not suggesting that the lawless one will be a U.S. President, but at least right now the power of that office is of great importance to what happens internationally. Seeing a lot of Matthew 24 and Revelation 6 happening now in the global context they were meant to be understood I think.

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