Series: When Does It End? [#4]
THE GREAT ABOMINATION
"Then the end will come." This was what Jesus said in verse 14. At this point, Jesus began to focus on the End.
Matthew 24:15-22 (NIV)
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel- let the reader understand- 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now- and never to be equaled again. 22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
Jesus was telling them of a time worse than there has ever been. He tells them that when this event happens that they need to flee Judea to the mountains immediately. He told them not to go back for anything. Jesus makes it clear that He does not know when this will happen; but we should hope that it does not happen in the Winter or on a Sabbath. In verse 15, Jesus says something directly to us. "Let the reader understand." Jesus wants us to consider this passage very carefully.
1. Daniel's prophecy.
Jesus begins telling us about the sign of the close of the age. Jesus says, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel” that it is the end of this time. The sign our Lord refers to is mentioned in Daniel at least 3 times. It is the sign of a man, a man who offers himself to the Jews to be worshipped as God. The disciples clearly understood that he was referring to the predictions in Daniel of the coming of a man who would take away the continual burnt offering of the Jews and instead offer himself as "the abomination which makes desolate" or the desolating sacrilege by sacrificing a pig on the altar. That man is described in Daniel 8:23-26.
Daniel 8:23-26 (NIV)
23 “In the latter part of their reign, [that is, the rule of certain kings who will come upon the world's scene in the Middle East], when rebels have become completely wicked, [that marks the time when evil has come to its full expression], a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24 He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. 25 He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. 26 “The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.”
2. A double fulfillment.
Note that Daniel was told that the vision was not concerning his own days; but “it concerns the distant future.” The critics insist that this was fulfilled in the turbulent days of the Maccabees in 168-165 B.C., when a Syrian king, Antiochus Epiphanes, did indeed desecrate the Temple in Jerusalem, offer a pig upon the altar, and erect a statue of Jupiter to be worshipped; but though that was undoubtedly an historic fore view of the final "abomination of desolation" it could not have been the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy, for otherwise Jesus would not have said, more than 165 years after Antiochus, that men could yet expect to see "the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place."
Another reference in Daniel to this sacrilege is found in chapter 9.
Daniel 9:26-27 (NIV)
26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One [literally, Messiah] will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. [This was fulfilled under Titus 40 years after the crucifixion.] The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. 27 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.
These passages in Daniel agree concerning the coming of a man who shall be the fulfillment of our Lord's prediction and shall be the sign of the end of the age. There are also other references in Scripture to this man.
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (NIV)
3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
Once again, we have a clear description of him in the Book of Revelation, where John describes him.
Revelation 13:5-8 (NIV)
5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast- all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
Before he uttered these words on the Mount of Olives, Jesus himself had referred to this coming man when he said to the rulers of the nation on one occasion, "I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive." This is that Antichrist which has been predicted in all the Scriptures, and who shall symbolize in his person all that stands against God. There are many other references to him in the Old Testament prophets; but we do not have the space to consider them all.