The Abomination of Desolation
What is “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet” (Matthew 24:15)? Does it apply to a future Antichrist entering a rebuilt Jewish temple, as many suppose? What does the Bible really say?
Here is a quick summary of what “Daniel the prophet” wrote about this hot subject:
- Daniel 8: The “little horn” attacks “the place of his [Jesus] sanctuary,” “casts down the truth to the ground,” and establishes “the transgression of desolation” (8:11-13).
- Daniel 9: At the conclusion of the 70th week, the Word says, “for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, and that determined shall be poured out upon the desolate” (9:27).
- Daniel 11: The forces of evil “pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice [the word “sacrifice” is not in the original Hebrew] and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate” (11:31).
- Daniel 12: Finally, Daniel’s last chapter refers to a time when “the abomination that maketh desolate” is “set up” (12:11
All of these expressions are not the easiest to interpret, that’s why Jesus said, “whoso readeth, let him understand” (Mathew 24:15).
First of all, let‘s read the whole verse in Matthew 24. Jesus Christ told his disciples, “When you shall therefore seethe 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 Judea flee into the mountains…” Matthew 24:15, 16. Jesus was plainly talking to His own disciples about something they would “see.” When they saw it, they were to “flee to the mountains.”
Jesus said the same thing in Luke‘s gospel, yet with some added information: “And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which be in Judea flee to the mountains…” (Luke 21:20,21). Again He was talking to his own disciples about what they would “see.” Yet here He added that they would “see Jerusalem compassed with armies.” When they saw this, they were to know that “the desolation thereof is nigh.” This clear passage reveals that one simple application of “the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet,” has reference to the destruction of Jerusalem with its temple in 70 AD, by the armies of Titus. Historically, the disciples did see this. Abundant documentation reveals that right before the destruction of Jerusalem, all the Jewish Christians inside the city fled to the mountains and found refuge in the city of Pella. Not one perished in the siege.
But there is more. A careful study of Daniel’s statements also reveal another “abomination of desolation,” against another “sanctuary,” by the “little horn,” which represents the Antichrist. In harmony with the Protestant Reformers, we take the position that the little horn represents Papal Rome. Our Lord Jesus Christ is now our great High Priest in His heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:1,2,6). The good news is – we sinners can now be saved by going directly to our loving heavenly Father through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). But officially, and sadly, the Roman Church says no. It teaches that people cannot be saved by going directly to God through Jesus Christ (a Protestant doctrine), but rather that we must go through Mary, popes, priests, and saints – through the Roman Catholic Church. Amazingly, this earthly priesthood with its many mediators is actually an attack on “the prince” (Daniel 8:11) and on “the place of his sanctuary” (Daniel 8:11). Truly, Papal Rome has “cast down the truth to the ground” (Daniel 8:12). It has “practised, and prospered” (Daniel 8:12).
This earthly priesthood, which really points away from Jesus Christ and His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, is truly a “transgression of desolation” (Daniel 8:13) and the setting up of “an abomination that maketh desolate” (Daniel 12:11). Bible prophecy has given it such a name because this massive diversion away from Jesus Christ alone, which has been “set up” in the heart of Christianity, is not only an attack on Christ’s heavenly sanctuary ministration (Hebrews 8:1,2,6), but also leads to “desolation” in the heart of the sinner, who is also spoken of as “the temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16). True salvation can only come through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Only the love and matchless grace of Jesus Christ can cleanse the sanctuary of an unworthy, sin-polluted human heart.
In conclusion, there are really two major abominations of desolation “spoken of by Daniel the prophet.” This first occurred when the armies of Pagan Rome , led by Titus, destroyed the literal Jewish Temple in 70 AD. This is very clear in Luke 21: 20-22. The second has occurred because Papal Rome has set up its own priesthood and many mediators against the heavenly Temple of Jesus Christ , our great High Priest (Hebrews 8:1,2), whose grace alone can save from sin.
“Whoso readeth, let him understand” (Matthew 24:15)