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Identifying the abomination of desolation

February 8, 2011

An article written for the Lexham Bible Dictionary by A. Boyd Luter on the Abomination of Desolation briefly reviews opinions of various scholars, but omits to mention the interpretation that prevailed among the Reformers. And IMO, it fails to convey the meaning of the expression that is indicated by the scriptures. In Daniel, the abomination of desolation is associated with time prophecies. This is seen in Daniel 9:27, where it is associated with events in the final week of the 70 weeks prophecy, and in Daniel 12:11, where it is associated with the time, times and a half of vs. 7, and with a period of 1,290 days. After the daily sacrifice is taken away, and abomination of desolation set up, the remaining time is 1,290 days.

Daniel also indicates that the ending of sacrifices and offerings will occur in the midst of the week.

Daniel 9:27 NIV
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

The first two sections of Daniel’s 70 weeks were fulfilled with precision. The prophecy began with the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC, and the first section of seven weeks consists of seven weeks of leap years with 13 months. There are seven such leap years in 19 years, and 49 leap years span 133 years. The second section of the prophecy was 62 weeks; 7 x 62 = 434 years. Together the first two sections of the 70 weeks span 567 years, and point to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in 28 AD. However, the interpretation of the last week has been controversial.

John’s gospel describes the ministry of Jesus in a three and a half year framework, and the book of Revelation depicts the age of the church in terms of a symbolic three years and a half; together they make a “week,” which is the week in which he “confirms the covenant with many,” as it is said in Daniel 9:27.

The entire age of the church, the last half-week of the 70 weeks, is represented by the 1,335 days in Daniel 12:11, where Daniel says, “Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.” This must be Christ. He waits for the end of the age, when the resurrection of the saints of all ages will occur.

The 1,290 days is a smaller number, so it represents a smaller portion of the church age; it began some time in the last half of the first century, after the offering of sacrifices ended at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Luter omits any reference to the 1,290 days in his dictionary entry. And he fails to recognize the earthly temple as being typical of the temple that is not made with hands, which is the church. As the earthly temple was profaned during the reign of Antiochus IV, the church is the temple that has been made desolate in the 70th week.

The nature of the time units in the last half-week changes when they apply to the heavenly city. The first two sections of the prophecy apply to the earthly Jerusalem. But earthly units do not apply, in a literal sense, to spiritual things. Rather, for the part of the prophecy that applies to the heavenly city, time is symbolic. The months are not real lunar months, but ideal months of exactly 30 days. Daniel represents the final half-week by the numbers 1,335 days, and 1,290 days, which do not fit a real three and a half years in any calendar. John represents it by the smaller 1,260 days, as he wrote in the last decade of the first century, after the destruction of Jerusalem, and after the setting up of the abomination of desolation, which is the spirit of antichrist that he refers to in his epistles. [1 John 4:3]

The numbers representing the remaining time of the church fit the pattern of a time, times and a half.

1,335 days = 12×30 + 2x13x30 + 13×30/2
1,290 days = 13×30 + 2x12x30 + 12×30/2
1,260 days = 12×30 + 2x12x30 + 12×30/2

After the sacrifices and oblations stopped when the temple was destroyed, the remaining time was less, so it is represented by a smaller number, 1,290 days. And when John wrote Revelation, the remaining time was yet smaller, so he used a smaller number to represent it, 1,260 days. Near the end of the age, it is represented by a tiny three days and a half. [Rev. 11:11]

Symbolic periods representing the remaining time of the church

All these numbers, along with the 42 months of Revelation 11:2 and 13:5, represent a diminishing period, the remaining time of the church.

The spirit of antichrist which has been present since the time of the apostle John, is the abomination of desolation that Daniel referred to.