Church of God, New World Ministries

The Abomination Of Desolation

You and I are living in the death throes of civilization! Never have there been times such as these! Simultaneously, the world writhes in struggles between the great powers, flames of racial tension, violence and hatred; the eruption of volcanoes, earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, topsy-turvy weather conditions and raging forest fires. These are ominous times, and Jesus Christ of Nazareth said it would be this way. He predicted these days!

    Christ warned: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand in the holy place, (whoso reads, let him understand :) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matt. 24:15-22).

Christ’s strange warning about an “abomination of desolation” means, literally, “the abomination of the desolater,” which all authorities generally agree meant an idol, or idolatrous apparatus, to be set up in the holy place by the individual who would destroy Jerusalem, or cause it to become “desolate.”

An “abomination” is something God hates, and comes from the Hebrew word shakaz, for an idol; something, or someone who is worshiped in place of the true God.

Christ specifically stated He was referring to the same thing written in the book of Daniel. Daniel’s prophecy mentions this “abomination” several times: Daniel 9:27; 11:31 and 12:2 are examples. These scriptures identify, in symbol, the perpetrator.

Of Daniel’s prophecy, Kitto says, “This appears to have been a prediction of the pollution of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes who caused an idolatrous altar to be built on the altar of burnt offerings, whereon unclean things were offered to Jupiter Olympius, to whom the temple itself was dedicated” (Encyclopedia of Biblical Literature, John Kitto, Vol. 1, p. 22).

Daniel wrote of a “little horn” coming up among the ten horns of the beast, a symbol of a government, or ruler, who succeeds in overthrowing three successive kings, then holds sway over the final seven heads of the Holy Roman Empire.

Of the abomination of desolation and the one who puts it in place, Daniel wrote, “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down” (Dan. 8:11).

The Critical and Experimental Commentary says, “Though robbed of its treasures, it was not strictly ‘cast down’ by Antiochus; so that a fuller accomplishment is future. Antiochus took away the daily sacrifice for a few years; the Romans, for many ages, and ‘cast down’ the temple; and Antichrist, in connection with Rome, the fourth kingdom, shall do so again, after the Jews in their own land, still unbelieving, shall have rebuilt the temple and restored the Mosaic ritual” (Fausset, Vol. 4, p. 427).

Obviously, since Antiochus reigned hundreds of years before Jesus Christ, his desecration of the temple was only a forerunner of Daniel’s prophecy, which is referring to the time of the end (Dan. 12:4-11).

A second forerunner of this prophesied event took place shortly after Christ’s warning prophecy of Matthew 24:15, at the destruction of Jerusalem by the armies of Titus.

There was another later and more specific abomination of the holy place accomplished by Emperor Hadrian, who with “studied insult to the Jews, set up the figure of a boar over the Bethlehem gate of the city which rose upon the site and ruins of Jerusalem (Euseb. Chron. 1, i, p. 45, ed) but he erected a temple to Jupiter upon the site of the Jewish temple and caused an image of himself to be set in the part which answered to the most holy place” (ibid., Vol. 1, p. 23).

These abominations, which took place over a vast span of time in history, are not the fulfillment of Christ’s end time prophecy.

The warning concerning the final abomination to be set up in the “holy place” is directly connected to the beginning of the great tribulation, which has as one of its main features the horrible martyrdom of saints (Dan. 7:20-21 and Matthew 24:9).

This famous Olivet prophecy provides a key to Bible prophecy! Prophesy is dual! That is, prophecy has a double fulfillment. The duality of the plan of God is illustrated in many parts of the Bible.

Jesus plainly showed that there was a Father in heaven, to whom He prayed. Yet, He said He and the Father were one! There is the “first Adam,” and the “second Adam,” as the apostle Paul said in I Cor. 15. There is the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Bible reveals many basic truths by the use of Bible types, or examples, which are dual! There is physical Israel, and there is spiritual Israel-- the Church (Gal. 3:29). Just as the ancient Israelites came out  of Egypt through the Red Sea and into the wilderness, so, says the Apostle Paul, the New Testament Christian is to come out of spiritual sin, through baptism, and into his life of trials and testing (I Cor. 10:1-11)!

Actually, there is no clearer proof of the duality of prophecy than the 24th chapter of Matthew itself! Jesus was asked to show the signs prior to His second coming. This He proceeded to do. Unless Jesus Christ was a liar, a fake, a charlatan and a fraud, or unless He was honestly mistaken, and all of His words were totally untrue, then the 24th chapter of Matthew is absolutely dual!

Why? Simply because most all of these prophecies have never yet occurred! If Jesus was talking of the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., then what of His promise of his return “immediately after the tribulation of those days” (v. 29) to this earth with His mighty angles, gathering together His elect! Has Christ returned? No, He has not! And neither has Matthew 24 yet been fulfilled!

Christ did give the definite signs which would announce His second coming. He repeatedly warned in this important chapter “watch therefore, for you know not what hour your Lord does come” (Matt. 24:42). Christ was talking about watching world news – watching world conditions! What were these major world events Christ said we should look for?

Remember, the very first thing of which Christ warned was great religious confusion. The apostle Paul asked, “Is Christ divided” (I Cor. 1:13)? In his letter to the Church at Ephesus Paul stated. “There is one body (the Church) and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, (doctrine, belief) one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph. 4:4-6).

Jesus prayed that His true Church would be kept one, and absolutely guaranteed by His own power that it would be!

But how would you answer this ancient question of Paul’s, today? Is Christ divided? No! Christ is not divided. But the churches of this world are! Look around you. How do you describe or come to understand this unusual phenomenon of hundreds of differing, disagreeing, arguing churches, schisms, sects and cults, each one disagreeing with all the others, yet all claiming to get their practices and beliefs from the same book?

Remember, Jesus warned there would come a time of great religious confusion of differing doctrines which He said would deceive the many! Never has this been truer than now.

Jesus said the very next major world event His true disciples should watch for would be world chaos and wars as never before! Think of it! Just since the great chaotic shambles of World War II, culminating in the explosion of the world’s first known atomic bombs as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this world has groped its way blindly through more than 135 small wars; and now, as we write, the Middle East is in an uproar ready to explode.

There are ominous rumblings of far more wars to be fought! And above and beyond it all, the world waits with bated breath in terrible fear of the possibility of a great nuclear disaster, perpetrated by either of the major powers today, or even by an accident. Never have world conditions any more accurately and perfectly fit the description Jesus gave of the times just before His return.

It is easy to delude ourselves by the permanent-appearing present into believing these striking predictions of Christ’s are not actually happening! But they are!

As never before in human history, this world faces the dread specter of a monstrous famine unknown since nations began! Nobel prize winners called upon the United Nations for an immediate world-wide program on birth control under the direction of the United Nations, because they said, “Unless a favorable balance of population and resources is achieved with a minimum of delay, there is in prospect a dark age of human misery, famine, under-education and unrest which could generate growing panic, exploding into wars fought to appropriate the dwindling means of survival!”

Certainly, recommendations from a body of men so respected, and to a source so high, cannot be dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders and a casual opinion to the contrary!

At this very moment the world’s population is 7, 694, 761, 670 and counting. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million people, or one in eight people in the world, were suffering from chronic undernourishment.

A well-known newspaper columnist once said: “If there are no accidental wars, then my guess would be that one will be started by design, it will be a food war. The populations of the nations are increasing so swiftly that some of the big ones will begin to feel the pinch of starvation, within a few years. When that happens, either the people revolt or the government goes to war. If you lock 10 men in a room,” he continued, “and there was no way out, and enough food was sent in for 6, do you think that you would have trouble? No matter how peaceable the 10 might be, the craving for sustenance would overcome the men and they would have to fight to the death!”

This writer went on to describe how the world, in a sense, finds itself “in a room!” The only way out of this “room” of overpopulation and lack of foodstuffs is by death! If the world did not have its gigantic headaches of chemical and biological and nuclear war or racial tensions, religious confusion or the topsy-turvy conditions in the weather; this world still stands in terrible danger from the threat of famine unchronicled in the experience of man! Jesus Christ meant what He said!

   Christ next prophesied this world would know “pestilences” such as never before! Dreaded diseases of all description – long thought to be conquered by medical science have made their sinister reappearance in all parts of the world.

Here are a list of just some of the disease that exist today: Hepatitis A, B, and C; Influenza, cholera, Aids, measles, cancer, strep throat, leishmaniasis ( a disease spread by a sand fly), trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), pneumonia, malaria, tuberculosis, meningitis, yellow fever, typhoid, shigellosis and bubonic plague is still around.

Thousands of people die every year from some kind of a disease; these are facts we need to realize, they are real. They are daily factors in our life on this earth. They fit precisely with the exact word of Jesus Christ of so many centuries ago. We are truly living in the exact times of which Christ spoke!

This world has entered an era of unprecedented earthquakes and volcanic activity. Something is wrong! Something big is brewing!

But all these major events – every one of which is poignantly real – right how, Jesus said were only the beginning! As each of these major world-wide conditions grow in intensity, Jesus said a great “spiritual,” a great “religious” event would begin to take place! He said this great event would lead to the persecution, as never before in history of His true servants, or of any who would not actually bow down to worship this great false system which He predicted!

Christ said, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and you shall be hated of all nations for my names’ sake” (Matt. 24:9). This great religious martyrdom is the last climactic phase of what Christ called the Great Tribulation!

Then, after describing this terrible time of religious persecution, when even brothers, fathers and sons, and members of families would begin to horribly persecute one another, Jesus pointed to the one biggest and most vitally important event of all!

Why important? Because this one great event was to be the sign for God’s true people to flee, in order to escape the great tribulation which was to befall all those who had not been watching! If there is any one major world event you need to thoroughly understand, this is it!

Christ gave a stern warning, He said, “Whoso readeth, let him understand” (Matt. 24:15)! This interjected warning sternly positioned in this seemingly “vague” reference to a great world event, is too clear to ignore! Christ meant this great event, which your Bible calls a great “abomination” – an abomination which is going to make desolate, is too significant to ignore!

Let’s notice it! “When you 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.”

Matthew records a great abomination, which was to “make desolate,” which would be standing in the “holy place!”

In Luke’s account, Luke describes it this way, “And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh!”

So, once again, the warning is dual! Matthew’s account, inspired by God’s Holy Spirit, includes the “spiritual” event which is to take place, the great “religious” event which will actually stand in what is called the holy place!

What does it mean? Few seem to know! Theologians of past centuries have tried to assign this great event to the standards of Roman soldiers occupying Jerusalem, the desecration of the Temple by the Zealots, who seized it, and made it into a stronghold just before the armies of Titus attacked, or the attempt of Emperor Caligula to have his own statue set up in the Temple and worshipped!

But none of these events happened as a culmination of super-world events as Christ foretold! The sacking of Jerusalem and the Temple was a partial fulfillment of this great dual prophecy, but only a forerunning type of the really awesomely great event Jesus said was to come!

This great warning is for us – now! First, then, where is this event to occur? Jesus said to watch for Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, and to watch for a great abomination in God’s sight being set up in the “Holy Place!” Could anything be clearer? The ancient Tabernacle, and then the Temple, was partitioned into two rooms, beside the outer courts, porches and living quarters.

There was the outer court, in front of the Holy Place, where the priests made continual offerings and sacrifices. The innermost room was typical of God’s own throne, called the “Holy of Holies,” or the most Holy place. Into this innermost room the high priest could enter only one time each year, on the Day of Atonement, picturing  mankind made “at one” with God. The outer room, through which the priest had to pass to enter the Holiest Place, was known as the Holy Place. In it were located the table for the showbread and the golden candlestick.

It is in this precise room of the Temple Jesus said a great abomination is to be set up! The place of this great abomination couldn’t be clearer! It must take place in the city of Jerusalem, inside a Temple which apparently must yet be built, in a room called the Holy Place! That, at least, is half of the abomination which Christ warned!

The other half, explained in Luke’s Gospel, is the warning of imminent military takeover of Palestine! But by whom? When? Why?

Let’s do as Jesus said – lets go to the prophecies of Daniel to understand this strange warning!

Daniel was given specific visions of events to occur in our time! He told Nebuchadnezzar, “there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days” (Dan. 2:28).Daniel was told his prophecies were for the time of the end – now (Daniel 12:4)!

The answer to Christ’s warning is found in the 11th chapter of Daniel, the longest and most clearly detailed single prophecy in the entire Bible.

    Notice! “And at the time of the end (this prophecy, then, is absolutely dated as pertaining to our day, now) shall the king of the south push as him (the “king of the north”) and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships, and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over” (v. 40).

    It is known, for example, that the ancient kings of the north were the Seleucidae of Syria, warring against the Ptolemies of Egypt. But what of the modern powers meant by these designations?

Remember the Bible is written, spiritually and geographically, from the point of view of Palestine! If you were to look on a map, and try to find two powers fitting this description, you would have a fairly easy task – if you knew the “king of the North” could not be Russia!

How can you know this? Because Russia is to the North and East of Palestine, and is mentioned as yet a third power in this same prophecy and one that challenges the power of the king of the North (v.44).Who else could this be, then, except the coming United States of Europe, a resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire, just as this Church has been fearlessly proclaiming for nearly 80 years (the vast majority over the old World Tomorrow program). A rearmed Germany, heading up a final union of ten nations in Europe – this is the Biblical “king of the north.”

The “king of the south” was, anciently, one of the Ptolemy’s of Egypt, a lesser dynasty of pharaohs who waged war with Syria. Syria and Egypt were but two of the four smaller kingdoms left after Alexander’s death (Dan. 11:4).The “king of the north” was, eventually, the same Antiochus Epiphanes who set up a typical abomination of desolation.

But the prophecy is specifically stated to be for a definite time in history “the time of the end” (Dan. 11:40). Therefore, Ptolemy Soter and Antiochus Epiphanes were but types, historical representatives, of the two human leaders who will be used to fulfill this end-time prophecy.

Probably the man who will fulfill the role of “king of the south’ will be an Arab leader. He will “push at” the “king of the north,” who is the same personage as the beast of Bible prophecy. The expression “push at,” seems to fall short of armed aggression. Is it some political affront? Could it be an oil embargo or threatened disruption of energy to Europe and the world? We aren’t sure exactly what it will be.

Notice that the reaction of the “king of the north” is not protracted economic embargo, or warfare in the Persian Gulf, but a lighting-like attack into Israel, and “many nations” in the region, including Egypt (Dan. 11:40-42).

Israel and Egypt are both occupied by the “king of the north” at the end time. Daniel 11:40-45 absolutely precluded the possibility that the “king of the north” could be an Islamic leader, for Egypt is an Islamic nation, the largest in population of all Islam.

Now, when does this northern military power come storming into Israel? ‘At the time of the end,” says Daniel. And then, reading on to Chapter 12, verse 1, we see Daniel’s prophecy that “At that time Michael stands up, and a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation begins! In other words, the great tribulation. So the tribulation commences at the same time this king of the north invades Palestine.

Christ’s warning about the abomination of desolation included this invasion of Palestine by armies. Those forces are identified in Daniel 11:40-45 as being the forces of the king of the north. Christ said, “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh” (Luke 21:20).

Jesus warned, “Then (when the abomination of desolation is set up) let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains.” He continues to say the flight is so urgent, so sudden, that one should not return to retrieve clothing, or household items, even food! He warned, ‘Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house: “Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes” (Matt. 24:16-18).

Those to whom this warning applies will not read of some impending attack in their weekly news magazines, or see it on nightly television for months at a time. It will occur suddenly, with shocking swiftness!  The scene set by Christ is of a normal working day where a man might be in the fields, his wife on top of the roof, hanging up washing.  Yet, suddenly, when people least expect it, attacking military forces are seen around Jerusalem.

Daniel’s prophecy shows the time when Christ’s prophecy of armies around Jerusalem will be fulfilled!  Notice! “He shall enter also the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown, but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon” (Dan. 11:41)-- certain Middle East countries

“And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas (meaning Jerusalem) in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him” (v. 45).

Speaking in modern language, then, when you, yes you, yourself, see a revived remilitarized Germany at the head of a United States of Europe, the coming third world power bloc of the world in central Europe marching into Palestine, then you had better realize the abomination of desolation is beginning!

     But what about the rest of this stern warning from Jesus Christ? He said, “When you see the Abomination of Desolation stand in the Holy Place, then flee (Matt24).  Remember, the Holy Place is an actual room in the Temple!

Herein is the great “religious” fulfillment of Christ’s warning! The very first warning Jesus gave, and His most oft-repeated warning, was that of false ministers, false Christs, religious Babylon!

    The temple still stood when Christ uttered those words. His listeners knew exactly to which part of the temple He was talking about: the innermost part of the temple, called the “holy place,” which was the place of the priest’s daily offerings, and the “holy of holies,” behind the veil, into which the high priest entered only once each year, on the Day of Atonement.

The Apostle Paul clearly said the “man of sin” would sit “in the temple of God.” But today, there is no temple in Jerusalem. When such a temple is built, you should be aware that the final events depicted in this article are very near!

Consider, such an event would probably unite the Arab nations as no other single event. A great war could break out in the Middle East. A war in which chemical and even nuclear weapons might be used. Why? Because the Arabs might have witnessed the destruction of two of their most revered mosques-- holy places to all Islam – the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aksa Mosque.

They might unite, as never before, and their leader would probably be the “king of the south” of Daniel 11:40-45. To “push at” the “king of the north,’ who we believe to be the “beast” power, or a United Europe, this Arab leader might cut off all energy to Europe! This would bring an immediate response as Daniel’s 11th chapter shows.

If you see a ten-nation combine in Europe, probably called “The United States of Europe,” shockingly, suddenly intervene in the Mideast; if you see the head of the great universal church declare that he is going to move the Vatican to Jerusalem, that the “one true church “is going to go back to its birthplace; if you see him declaring that Jerusalem should become a corpus separatum, or open, internationalized city, exempt from military action, and then go there himself to insure it; if you see miracles performed; major churches including some state churches returning to the fold of their mother(Catholic Church); if you see this man making great and pompous statements, accepting the acclamation of millions as the man who saved the world from nuclear destruction; if you see him revered almost like Christ, acclaimed as if he were “God,” then be warned! For, when you see such things happening you should know that the Great Tribulation is beginning!

The consequences of all this to Americans, Britons, Canadians, the democracies of Northwestern Europe, are unimaginable!

May God help you to call upon Him for the changes you know you need to make in your life, to repent of sins, to call upon Jesus Christ as Savior, and to become a part of His own body, the spiritual organism that is His true Church!

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