Questions about the abomination of desolation

February 2, 2012

The church’s recognition of the abomination of desolation is mentioned in several prophecies. This is not completely negative news, as when that recognition occurs, the meaning of many prophecies will be understood. This is illustrated in Matthew 24, where Jesus says, “flee to the mountains.” He meant flee to the promises of God, which are represented by mountains in prophecy. He was not referring to people escaping in order to preserve their lives, as he said,  “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” [Matthew 16:25]

Jesus referred to the abomination of desolation in his Olivet Discourse:

Matthew 24:14-18
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation… The prophecy is about recognition of a great apostasy, and a falling away from the “faith once delivered to the saints.” Jesus’ reference to the abomination of desolation is interpreted in different ways in the synoptic Gospels. Luke’s account identifies the abomination with armies surrounding Jerusalem and so alludes to Zechariah 14. Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 mention Daniel’s prophecy. Daniel 9:27 refers to a “wing of abominations,” often supposed to be some sort of idol set up in or upon the temple, but 11:45 describes an Antichrist figure, the king of the north, setting himself up in “in the glorious holy mountain.” In other scriptures, to be discussed below, the promised land becomes desolate.

the holy place… this refers to the church, and the figurative mount Zion upon which it is built. The holy place is the mountain of the Lord’s house that is raised up in Isaiah 2:2; it is where the saints “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” [Ephesians 2:6] and Paul said, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12] The “spiritual wickedness in high places” may allude to spiritual corruption in the church, that needs to be purged.

them which be in Judaea… this does not refer to the modern Jewish state, but Jerusalem represents the holy city, where Jesus reigns as king, and similarly, Judea represents Christ’s kingdom. Jesus said: “salvation is of the Jews.” [John 4:22]

flee into the mountains… not literal ones, but the promises and revelations of God that the mountains represent. See Mountains as promises; What is the mountain of the Lord’s house? and Mountains of refuge.

clothes… the saints are to be clothed in fine linen; [Revelation 19:8] the meaning is, do not go back for your old clothes, when Christ supplies new ones; don’t go back to old worn-out interpretations when the truth is revealed.

One of the places where Daniel refers to abominations causing desolation is in the last verse of the 70 weeks prophecy:

Daniel 9:27
And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

confirm the covenant… Christ confirms the covenant with his saints. See The covenant confirmed in the 70th week; What covenant is meant in Daniel 9:27?; Dispensationalism and the one week covenant; Daniel’s 70 weeks and the church’s covenant.

one week… The final week consists of the ministry of Jesus, and the whole age of the church, the time, times and a half. See The one week covenant.

abominations… Some translations refer to a “wing of abominations.” The prophecy alludes to false interpretations of prophecy, as wings are sometimes associated with prophecy. See The two wings of a great eagle; The 70th week and the mount of Olives; Identifying the abomination of desolation; The nature of the seventy sevens.

upon the desolate… The church is desolate, and she is to be anointed with the spirit, while wrath is to be poured out on those that cause its desolation.

Daniel 11:45
And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.

in the glorious holy mountain… refers to the church. In Daniel, Antiochus IV, the Syrian king who desolated the Jerusalem temple and tried to impose hellenism upon the Jews in the second century BC was a figure and type of a future antichrist, who is not one person, but represents the influence of Satan, the antichrist spirit who sets himself up in the church. See Antiochus IV a type of the Antichrist.

Paul alluded to Daniel’s prophecies when he wrote of a coming “man of sin:”

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

the temple of God… Again, the temple refers to the church, rather than a literal temple, and Paul’s words “a falling away” very likely allude to “a great forsaking” in Isaiah 6:12, discussed below:

Isaiah 6:9-12
And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.
Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.
Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,
And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land.

Until … the land be utterly desolate… The land is referred to in a metaphorical sense. In Israel’s history of possessing the land, and their exile from it, because they had not kept the covenant, going into captivity meant removal from the land; they were scattered among the countries of the Gentiles. Spiritually, remoteness from the land of promise typifies the removal of the people from the true worship, and alienation from the covenants of promise. See Until the land be utterly desolate.

removed men far away… removal to a place far distance from the promised land is a prophetic metaphor, meaning spiritual removal from the true worship and from God’s family.

a great forsaking… the prophet refers to a forsaking of God’s covenant, and abandoning true worship. This also implies they are deceived.

Isaiah 66:4
I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.

I also will choose their delusions… their delusions frequently result from a misguided, literal approach to prophecy.

Isaiah 40:3 is applied to John the Baptist in the New Testament, and was part of John’s message:

Isaiah 40:3-5
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

a highway for our God… A highway for people to return to Zion. “The highway of the upright is to depart from evil” [Proverbs 16:17]

every mountain and hill shall be made low… mysteries of the prophecies are to be revealed. Mountains represent the promises and revelations of God. See J. A. Alexander and the mountains of Isaiah 40:4.

the crooked shall be made straight… flawed teachings and interpretations will be corrected.

the glory of the LORD shall be revealed… properly understanding and explaining the Gospel, and meaning of the prophecies, reveals God’s glory. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” [Romans 1:16-17]

all flesh shall see it together… The entire world will be enlightened by the Gospel.

Isaiah 57:13-15
… he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain;
And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people.
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land… The land represents spiritual things promised to the saints, such as understanding prophecy. See Isaiah 60:21: “they shall inherit the land for ever”.

take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people… In other words, remove the obstacles to belief in God. Some that are prevalent today are materialism, greed, lack of understanding about Scripture; flawed ideas on literalism; the doctrine of the trinity; the doctrine of hell, misunderstanding the identity of Israel, the views of critical scholars; apostate churches; simony, denominationalism etc.

Psalm 74:3
Lift up thy feet unto the perpetual desolations; even all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary.

all that the enemy hath done wickedly in the sanctuary… the judgment of God falls upon the evil prevalent in the church. Peter said, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” [1 Peter 4:17]

Ezekiel 38:8-9
After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.
Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.

against the mountains of Israel… The invaders come against the mountains of Israel which represent the promises and revelations of God; they misinterpret the Scriptures. See Is the land in Ezekiel 38-39 a metaphor?

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