Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
By clicking any link on this page you are giving your consent for us to set cookies. More Info
[Gary Petty] Today we are going to talk about the abomination of desolation.
You know, you and I live in turbulent times. And one of the dangerous flames of conflict with international, and prophetic implications, is unknown to most people. It is the Jewish desire to rebuild a temple in Jerusalem and the Muslim desire to keep it from happening.
In the Olivet prophecy, Jesus foretold of a future time of unprecedented global conflict so intense that it will threaten the very existence of humanity. He also gives this curious warning for people in Jerusalem to flee when they see the “abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (Matthew 24:15).
Now how can we decipher this strange phrase—the abomination of desolation? And what does it have to do with the Jewish desire to rebuild a temple in Jerusalem?
The Middle East is a focal point of biblical prophecy and it has far reaching implications. How will future events in Jerusalem affect your life?
Well today, we’re going to explore and answer “What is The Abomination of Desolation?”
[Announcer] Join our host Gary Petty and his guests as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Gary] When Jesus spoke of the abomination of desolation, He was referring to a phrase from the Old Testament prophetic book of Daniel.
Now Jesus expected His followers to understand the meaning of this enigmatic phrase. In the Gospel of Matthew, Matthew adds an edit to Jesus’ words with “whoever reads, let him understand” (Matthew 24:15).
But how can we understand Jesus’ prophetic meaning of the abomination of desolation?
An important key to discovering the profound meaning of this prophecy is to recognize the principle of prophetic duality . This means that some biblical prophecies apply to more than one event in history. A prophecy may be partially fulfilled at a specific time in history, but will have a more complete fulfillment at a later time.
To understand Christ’s words about the abomination of desolation, we need to recognize that Daniel’s prophecy—where the term is first used—has two fulfillments—one that has already happened in the past and one that is yet to happen in the future.
To comprehend the full story, we must go back in time to a Babylonian king troubled by a nightmare.
When the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar invaded the kingdom of Judah around 605 B.C., he took many of the most intelligent and talented Jewish youths to Babylon to serve in his court. Now Daniel, who wrote the Old Testament book that bears his name, was taken to Babylon with the first of the Jewish captives. There he was trained to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s government.
Daniel tells us that Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by a dream. In this dream he saw an image of a statue of a man. The image had a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, stomach and thighs of bronze and lower legs and feet of iron and clay. Through Daniel, God revealed to the king that Babylon was to be the first in a great series of four empires (Daniel 2).
History shows these four kingdoms to be the Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman empires. The head of gold represented Babylon, the chest and arms the Persian Empire, the stomach and thighs the Grecian Empire and the lower legs and the feet the Roman Empire.
Now with the knowledge of the four successive empires in mind, let’s look at a prophecy in Daniel chapter 8.
Daniel had a vision of a ram imbued with the power to stand against all other animals (Daniel 8:1-4). A goat with a large horn attacks and destroys the ram ((Daniel 8:5-7). The goat’s large horn grew strong but broke off and was replaced by four smaller horns (Daniel 8:8). Out of these four horns would grow an even smaller horn that would invade the “Glorious Land,” establishing the “transgression of desolation” (Daniel 8:9-14).
So how can we make any sense of Daniel’s vision of a ram and a goat?
Well there are two important terms in this passage we need to look at; one is the “Glorious Land.” Jerusalem is ground zero for biblical prophecy. The Glorious Land is a reference to the land of Israel. The second term is the “transgression of desolation.” Two other passages in Daniel mention events known as the “abomination of desolation.” You can get more details about the prophecies in Daniel that we are covering on today’s program by going to BeyondToday.tv .
Now besides realizing that prophecies can be dual or have multiple fulfillments, a little exploration shows that the Bible often interprets itself. If we read just a little farther in Daniel 8, we find that God sent the angel Gabriel to reveal to Daniel the meaning of the vision.
Gabriel explains to Daniel that the ram represents the kingdom of Persia and the goat, the kingdom of Greece. The goat’s large horn represents the first Grecian king. The four horns represent four more kings who would follow the first king (Daniel 8:15-22). This is a remarkable prophecy of events that happened actually many years after Daniel’s death.
It is also important to what we are discussing today because it is a Greek king who brings about the first abomination of desolation. We’ll see the relevance of that in just a moment.
The Greeks, under Alexander the Great—who is the great horn of Daniel 8—overthrew the Persian Empire in 331 B.C. Alexander, after conquering much of the known world from the Mediterranean to India, died in his early 30s around 323 B.C. The Greek empire was thrown into confusion and divided among four of Alexander’s generals. Now these generals are the four horns that followed the first great horn, the first king.
Historians record that the four kingdoms rising out of Alexander’s empire eventually came together into a northern kingdom ruled by the Seleucids and a southern kingdom ruled by the Ptolemies.
Now according to Daniel’s vision, these four kings were to be followed by a “little horn.” A king who would come after the division of the empire into four parts.
This little horn, a Grecian king, is prophesied to invade the “Glorious Land.” Now remember that the Glorious Land is the land of ancient Israel which is the same area as the modern day Israel.
In Daniel 8:11 we find that this king, “…even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down” (verse 11).
Now notice Daniel 8:12: “Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices…”
The prophecy of the little horn, a Grecian king who would come after the death of Alexander the Great and the division of the Greek Empire, involves the cessation of the daily sacrifices in the Jewish temple which he enforces by military power.
Now remember, Daniel was given this prophecy during the Jewish Babylonian captivity. At the time of Daniel’s prophecy, Solomon’s temple had already been destroyed by the Babylonians. There were no daily sacrifices being offered in Jerusalem. For this prophecy to be fulfilled, there had to be a future second temple.
Shortly after Daniel wrote his book, God began to intervene in human history. Jewish refugees were allowed to return to their homeland. Under the leadership of men like Ezra, Nehemiah and Zerubbabel the Jews rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple and renewed the temple sacrifices. These events had to happen before Daniel’s prophecies could even be fulfilled.
Daniel’s vision then sweeps across the time some three and a half centuries to 167 B.C. At that time, one of the Seleucid rulers, Antiochus Epiphanes, known as Antiochus IV, invaded Judah (Daniel 8:23-27).
The historical book of 1 Maccabees describes the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes:
> “The king then issued a proclamation to his whole kingdom that all were to become a single people, each nation renouncing its particular customs. All the gentiles conformed to the king’s decree, and many Israelites chose to accept his religion, sacrificing to idols and profaning the Sabbath.
“The king also sent edicts by messenger to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, directing them to adopt customs foreign to the country, banning burnt offerings, sacrifices and libations from the sanctuary, profaning Sabbaths and feasts, defiling the sanctuary and everything holy, building altars, shrines and temples for idols, …so that they should forget the Law and revoke all observance of it. Anyone not obeying the king’s command was to be put to death” ( 1:41, 44-50, New Jerusalem Bible).
[Gary] For Jews who refused to adopt paganism, punishment was swift and brutal.
Not content to merely stop the sacrifices, Antiochus desecrated the temple by setting up a statue of Jupiter in the sanctuary. The Greeks sacrificed pigs on the altar previously used to sacrifice to God. This is the past abomination of desolation that Jesus said was relevant to understanding future events that are to happen before His return.
Notice, however, that Daniel’s prophecy also has a fulfillment “in the latter time of indignation” (Daniel 8:19), “when transgressors have reached their fullness” and the king of the “abomination” rises against the “Prince of princes” (Daniel 8:23-26). This king is to fight against the Messiah, who comes to establish God’s Kingdom on the earth!
In Daniel 11 and 12 there are prophecies about the abomination of desolation that weren’t fulfilled at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes but will be fulfilled before Christ returns. It is this future abomination of desolation Jesus talks about in the Olivet prophecy.
Jesus warned the inhabitants of Jerusalem of a future siege and destruction. Here’s what he said: “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:43-44).
Luke’s version of the Olivet prophecy supplies another warning: “…When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20).
Those who actually heard Jesus give this prophecy experienced a time when the Romans surrounded Jerusalem with armies and destroyed Herod’s temple. But when we read all of the Olivet prophecy, we see that Jesus is also referring to the time just before His return as King of Kings.
Just as the partial fulfillment of the abomination of desolation by Antiochus Epiphanes involved invading Jerusalem, desecrating the temple and forbidding the daily sacrifices, the future fulfillment will involve armies surrounding Jerusalem and the cessation of animal sacrifices.
This means that for Jesus’ prophecy to be fulfilled, animal sacrifices will again be instituted in Jerusalem before Christ’s return.
You need to be aware of an important movement in modern Israel to rebuild a third temple. An organization called the “Temple Institute” in Jerusalem has been working for years towards this end. They have even established a school to train men who have been carefully identified as descendants of the ancient priestly tribe of Levi. They’ve studied the Torah and reproduced the temple utensils and priestly garments to precise specifications, including the garments worn by the high priest. Through genetic engineering they are attempting to reproduce the “red heifer.” This animal is needed as a sacrifice to purify the temple (Numbers 19:2).
According to the prophecies of Daniel, sacrifices—outlined in the ancient laws given to Israel—will once again be established in Jerusalem. With the Muslim occupation of the Temple Mount this seems utterly impossible. The Bible reveals that there is coming a time when unbelievable events will bring about the reestablishment of Jewish sacrifices. This is one of the important signs that the return of Jesus Christ, the Messiah is close at hand.
And now, here is how this may affect you and me, with far reaching implications. Just like Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated Solomon’s temple and tried to stamp out the worship of the true God, a future influential and powerful leader will play a pivotal role in end-time events. In addition to performing great miracles, according to the apostle Paul he “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” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He will by the power of Satan deceive people “with all power, signs and lying wonders.” He will be a great false Messiah.
God, however, calls him “the lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:9). He represents a governmental and religious system that opposes God’s law. Antiochus Epiphanes, who engineered the original abomination of desolation, he is a minor player in world history compared to this end-time “man of sin.”
Antiochus Epiphanes tried to stamp out worship of God by ruthlessly persecuting all who remained obedient to Him. Many prophecies tell us history will repeat itself. You and I must be aware and vigilant to recognize the coming deception.
Jesus encouraged His followers to “watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). Understanding these two fulfillments of the abomination of desolation helps us know what to watch for in world events amidst the growing conflict, and chaos and violence.
Now we’re going to discuss the abomination of desolation with the Beyond Today panel but first let’s recap what we’ve covered so far.
First, Christians need to watch for a religious movement to reintroduce daily sacrifices in Israel.
Two, Christians need to watch for the rise of the “man of sin,” a charismatic leader who claims to speak for God.
Three, Christians need to watch for the geopolitical events that will lead to armies amassing around Jerusalem.
Before Christ’s return, the world will suffer a “great tribulation” like no other time in history. Then God will send His Son to earth to save humanity from self-destruction. Understanding the prophecies about the abomination of desolation will help you watch for and prepare for these end time events.
To continue to explore what Jesus meant by the abomination of desolation, we’re joined by bellow Beyond Today presenter, Darris McNeely.
Matthew adds this comment to Jesus’ prophecy about the abomination of desolation—“whoever reads, let him understand.” Why would he add this comment to what Jesus said?
[Darris] Well, it’s a part of the inspired Scripture, Gary so there is a very important lesson for any student of prophecy to look at. Obviously, this topic of the abomination of desolation is a very key event. Christ talks about it. He pulls it in from the book of Daniel and highlights it in this very important Olivet prophecy. Students of prophecy, no matter where they dip into the topics, always come out with differing ideas and differing interpretations.
On this one, it is very critical to understanding a great deal about prophecy and about the Bible. But, the understanding has got to be coming from a proper historical setting of the Jesus Himself in front of the temple there on the Mount of Olives and the event of Antiochus Epiphanes that you were talking about there and what he did. That was an event, even to Christ’s own audience, that was rather fresh in their minds even though it had been less than 200 years in the past. But because of the severity of persecution, the significance of it as an event upon their own national history—kind of like with America or Australia today and events of the last century impacting even generations today—that event had impacted Christ and they knew about it. Even their historian Josephus had talked about that. So it was a very real event that they understood.
As we seek to understand it, we’ve got to go back and understand the setting of the Greek world, the impact of Jerusalem within that setting. How all of that impacted them and the religious significance of such an act of sacrilege that was done in the temple upon the people and in its relationship, the relationship that God, the Creator God, what that meant to Him. All of this is very, very important. Understanding it properly comes out with a proper interpretation.
[Gary] What you just said is very important in that those people who are hearing Jesus talk…
[Gary] They knew about Antiochus Epiphanes and they called that the abomination of desolation. So they understood what He was talking about there was going to come a future destruction of the temple. So that is very important.
[Darris] And they, still living in a sense, with generational memories that was very, very long, recognized that it was a horrific event Christ was talking about.
[Gary] Okay, so Matthew adds this comment, that look you better look beyond what they were just seeing even then. So what can we do or how can we go back to Daniel? What can we take from that abomination of desolation and apply it to what we know are the future events before Christ returns?
[Darris] Good question. Here we are in the 21st century. We look at Jerusalem, the Middle East and world situation today and it’s very easy to make the connection between our time today and what Jesus was talking about, even to the point of Daniel’s day. And what Daniel was talking about actually took place in the second century B.C. Jerusalem—the city, Judea—the land of Israel, the land of promise, Palestine today, the State of Israel, all of that at that time, the setting of the abomination of desolation was—Jerusalem was a kind of a pawn caught between the world powers of the day. And the great world power at that moment was Greece and its aftermath. You had the King of the North and the King of the South anchored in what is today Syria and Egypt.
[Gary] The Ptolemy, Seleucids…
[Darris] Right, right. And Jerusalem was right in the middle and it was kind of a pawn. And, we read about Jerusalem being, becoming the capital of either a Palestinian State or the capital of the State of Israel and the contention that is there. So, you start with Jerusalem and understand its biblical, historic, prophetic, spiritual importance… you have number one…
[Gary] So the abomination of desolation is going to be…
[Darris] Right there in that spot. In Jerusalem, yes.
Secondly, religion. Understanding the role of religion in the entire conflict is critical, too. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of three great world monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Islam, Christianity. And it’s a simmering caldron. The Jews want to go up on the Temple Mount and make sacrifices as you were talking about. That would inflame the Muslim world. That would create an international situation. You still have a very strong Christian presence there. And at times there is a thought or desire that maybe someone out of the Christian world would be a meditator in the conflicts that are simmering at the surface there. So religion is still…
[Gary] It’s the catalyst.
[Darris] It’s the catalyst there. So, Jerusalem as a geopolitical point on the compass. Religion and its role in the life of the nations—you can’t deny it. Understand that and you are more than halfway there to a critical understanding of this prophecy.
[Gary] And, of course, it’s interesting, this also involves armies.
[Gary] Multiple nations coming together so this is going to be a focal point too of violence.
[Darris] And even today, Israel, the State of Israel—it’s an armed camp. They are under siege always. They have nuclear weapons. There is the threat of nuclear annihilation from other countries. They are constantly on alert. Some type of a religious, spiritual incident that could spark what you are talking about there is not very far from the imagination.
[Gary] When we look at the end-time Antiochus Epiphanes. When we look at the end time man of sin, it says he deceives the world.
[Gary] How could Christians be sure that we’re going to be able to resist that, understand that and not be deceived?
[Darris] Well, it is more than Christians. Scripture says that the entire world will be deceived, all religions, people of all faiths and even people of no faith will be deceived. I think that we need to look for the spiritual answer to that as something in a sense, likely even far beyond what we can imagine today. Even with the prevalence of the three religions I talked about, but even people who read the Scriptures and have an understanding that something could happen and they plot out a way by that happening with the current map, they are subject to being deceived. I think that what the book of Revelation in Christ’s own words tell us is that we had better be looking far deeper than anything we can imagine for the type of deception that is described there as a man sitting there in a place claiming to be God and miracles that are causing people to worship a being, a figure in a way unlike any in past history.
[Gary] What I find interesting is it’s an ecumenical movement.
[Darris] It is.
[Gary] Because all religions are involved. So this is going to be a, not something that happens in…
[Darris] I would call it a spiritual movement beyond anything the world has seen to that point.
[Gary] Good way to put it. During today’s program, I’ve covered much about the abomination of desolation—as well as why it is important to keep up with major world events—especially in the Middle East. But with the global order experiencing constant and turbulent change, how can you make sense of what is happening, and why? To help you accomplish this, we have prepared a valuable, free study aid: The Middle East in Bible Prophecy.
When you hear about disturbing, unsettling events in that critical region of the world, you really need to understand its biblical and historical background. Our free Bible study aid,The Middle East in Bible Prophecy will help you better comprehend prophesied events and how they will affect your life.
So please don’t wait! Order your free copy right now, today! To do so, simply call us toll free, 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Or you can go online at BeyondToday.tv or write to us at the address shown on your screen [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
And, when you order your free study aid, we’ll also send you a free subscription to Beyond Today magazine. Each issue of Beyond Today contains well-researched articles designed to strengthen you and your family life—and assist you in better comprehending the Bible and what is ahead for your world.
Again, to order your free study aid The Middle East in Bible Prophecy and your free subscription to Beyond Today magazine call, 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv to read or download them.
And you can even learn more about the deep truths of the Bible! To help you do this, please join my fellow Beyond Today hosts and me every other Wednesday night for our live, online Bible studies at BeyondToday.tv . In these Bible studies we discuss in detail, a wide-variety of fascinating biblical topics. Of course, if you are unable to join us live, you can watch all of these informative Bible studies which are archived on our website.
And, when you visit BeyondToday.tv , we invite you to watch BT Daily. These 2- to 4-minute daily videos are on a range of Bible topics and current events. BT Daily is a wonderful way for you to obtain helpful insight about Bible prophecies and our Creator’s great plan for you and all humanity! Plus, you can watch BT Daily and our regular Beyond Today programs anytime on YouTube, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and other streaming-enabled devices.
[Steve Myers] Hi, I’m Steve Myers. We would love to have you come and visit and worship with us. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. We’re committed to growing in our relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ as well as fellowshipping with each other. We’ve found God’s way is the best way to live. We’re looking forward to meeting you soon! Come and join us!
[Gary] “Whoever reads, let him understand.”
That is what Matthew wrote to those who would read Jesus’ prophecy about the abomination of desolation. To not understand is to risk being deceived into following the coming anti-Christ.
Watch for a growing movement in Judaism and Christianity to rebuild a Jewish temple in Jerusalem and renew the temple sacrifices. Watch for the rise of a charismatic leader who will promise worldwide peace and claim to speak for God and be worshipped as God.
Perilous times are coming upon all humanity—only God can save those who are faithful to Him, those who strive to live by His ways.
Join us next week on Beyond Today as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom of God. We also invite you to join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today I’m Gary Petty. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv . Please join us again next week on Beyond Today !