Welcome to a Revelation of Jesus and the study of the meaning of “abomination of desolation”. We have been studying the Seven Trumpets, which are divided into two sections. In Revelation chapters 8 and 9 the great tribulation begins with a brutal end-time war. Satan appears as the angel of the bottomless pit, and an army of 200 million soldiers kills a third of humanity.
But chapter 10 abruptly shifts to reveal what God is going to do during the Great Tribulation. John sees the mighty angel messenger who appeared in Daniel chapter 12, holding a book full of mysteries about the future.
The angel roars like a lion and seven thunders roar with him, but the messages of the seven thunders are sealed up. In video 33 we saw that the Seven Thunders, like the book of the mighty angel of Daniel 12, were to be sealed up “until the time of the end” (Daniel 12:4,9).
We have now reached that time and we can expect, as Daniel’s angel predicted, that “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4). That is what we have been doing In the last three videos as we looked into the prophecies of Daniel 7,8, and 9.
In this video we will look at Jesus’ amazing prophecy in Matthew 24.
The setting was two days before the Passover feast when Jesus would be crucified. But instead of feeling sorry for Himself, He wept for His city and His people: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her… See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:37,38).
The disciples were shocked to hear this. The temple was one of the wonders of the world, the pride of the nation, and the thought that it would be left desolate was inconceivable. “His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1,2).
For something this momentous to happen the disciples assumed that Jesus must be talking about the end of the world when He would come to establish His kingdom. “His disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). Although they didn’t know it, the disciples were actually asking three questions, about three events that they mistakenly assumed would happen at about the same time.
They asked, “When will these things be?”
With this they asked when the destruction of the temple would happen. This took place in AD 70 when the Roman army invaded Jerusalem to quell a rebellion and ended up destroying the temple and the city of Jerusalem.
They also asked, “And what will be the sign of Your coming?”
Jesus had previously told His disciples, “The Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works” (Matthew 16:27). The disciples assumed that if anyone destroyed the temple that Jesus would return immediately to make things right. Little did they know that Jesus would not be returning for 2000 years.
Finally, they asked, “[What will be the sign] of the end of the age?”
At first glance, this seems to be just another way of saying the Second Coming. But in other passages Jesus used the phrase “end of the age” (Greek suntelia aeonos) to refer to the first phase of the judgment that is such a prominent theme in the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation.
For example, in the parable of the wheat and the tares Jesus said “the kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat” (Matthew 13:24-43). At the time of the harvest there would be a process of separating, gathering, and bundling.
“At the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, first gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn” (v. 30). In His interpretation Jesus said, “the harvest is the end of the age (Greek suntelia aeonos). The reapers are the angels… at the end of this age the Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 13:24-43).
The process of judgment, separation, and reward is even more clear in the parable of the dragnet.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age (Greek suntelia aeonos). The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire” (Matthew 13:47-51).
Here Jesus makes it clear that “the end of the age” is the time when believers are distinguished from unbelievers. In video 36 we saw that this is the central theme of the most important prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, the first phase of the judgment, which began in the 19th century and will continue until the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ.
We see then that when Jesus’ disciples asked the question, “When will these things happen? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) they were actually asking three questions concerning three separate events which happen at three separate times.
Jesus did not clarify their thinking, and in fact, they were psychologically and spiritually unprepared for a full revelation of the future. Instead, He gave a skillfully blended reply which answered all three questions at once. This answer enables us to learn from the past applications so that we will be ready for the final crisis.
Jesus began by warning His followers that it would not be easy to understand the last events. “Jesus said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name” (Matthew 24:4). He warned that if we listen to people without the discernment that can only come from God’s word and the Holy Spirit, we are in danger of being deceived.
Jesus particularly cautioned against finding the application of prophecy from the current headline news. “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet…And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:6-8).
Every time there is a war, a major earthquake, or other natural disaster people begin to speculate about the end of the world. But these are like labor pain. Epidemics, social unrest, and weather-related disasters will get closer together and more intense, but Jesus said we should look elsewhere for the true signs of His coming.
The first sign Jesus gave was worldwide persecution. “They will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another” (Matthew 24:44).
There has always been religious persecution somewhere in the world, but there was particularly widespread persecution in the three periods Jesus addressed. In the decade before the destruction of the temple in AD 70, Nero was emperor and he instigated the first major persecution of Christians by the Roman empire. This included the execution of Peter and Paul and the murder of many Christians, who he blamed for the burning of Rome.
In the medieval period before the time of the end began, there was also vicious persecution, particularly of the reformers.
Finally, in our time Christians are tolerated or even respected in most parts of the world, but Revelation chapter 13 makes it clear that before Jesus returns, the final persecuting powers will “cause as many as will not worship the image of the beast to be killed” (Revelation 13:15).
The next sign, which Jesus repeated three times, was false Christs and prophets. “For false Christs and false prophets will rise, and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:5,11,24).
This was fulfilled during the apostolic period. The apostle John wrote that “even now many antichrists have come” (1 John 2:18). It was also fulfilled by the increasingly blasphemous claims of the medieval papacy, culminating in the statement by the pope Leo XIII that “We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty”.
The ultimate fulfillment will be just before the Second Coming of Christ when “the false prophet [will] work signs by which he deceives those who receive the mark of the beast” (Revelation 19:20) and “[the final antichrist] will be revealed with all power, signs and lying wonders” and will “sit as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:9,4).
The most important of all signs takes the attention off the enemy’s successes. “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
The apostle Paul declared that in his day “the gospel… was preached to every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23), testifying to the power of Spirit-filled men and women who spread the good news of Jesus Christ by word of mouth to the whole known world.
In the 1790’s William Carey launched the modern missionary movement, which by the mid 1800’s had sent missionaries to nearly every country in the world. But the ultimate fulfillment will not take place until Jesus’ disciples “preach the gospel to every creature” “and then the end will come” (Mark 16:15, Matthew 24:14).This is one of the most important themes in Revelation, the story of the 144,000 who are used by God to win the great multitude. Check it out in video 25.
There is one sign that is so important that the writer of the book of Matthew said, “whoever reads, let him understand”, or, as the New Living Version puts it, “Reader, pay attention!” (Matthew 24:15).
Jesus said, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand!) then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Matthew 24:15,16). In these verses Jesus tells us that there will be a time when we will have to flee for our lives, and the signal will involve our understanding the “abomination of desolation” that is spoken of in the Old Testament book of Daniel.
The abomination actually appears three times in the book of Daniel, and interestingly, the contexts correspond to the three events Jesus foretold in Matthew 24. The first is in Daniel 9 which we studied in video 36. We saw that 70 weeks, symbolizing 490 years, “were determined for [Daniel’s] people and for [his] holy city” (Daniel 9:24).
This period ended when “the Messiah the Prince” (that is, Jesus) would be “cut off, but not for Himself,” and would “bring an end to sacrifice and offering”. Jesus was “cut off” when He died on the Cross, “not for Himself” but to atone for the sins of humanity and by doing so He brought all other sacrifices to an end.
After the 70 weeks “the troops of the prince who is to come” (that is, the Romans) “shall destroy the city and the sanctuary… and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates” (Daniel 9:26,27). In these verses, the abomination of desolation is linked to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans in AD 70.
The siege of Jerusalem began in AD 66 when the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem following a Jewish revolt against Rome. Before Jerusalem fell the Romans inexplicably withdrew, allowing the Christians who remembered Jesus’ words, to “flee to the mountains” where they were safe when the Romans returned and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. In Matthew Jesus said, “When you see the abomination of desolation… standing in the holy place… flee to the mountains”.
The parallel passage in Luke says: “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Luke 21:20,21). This shows that the abomination of desolation in AD 70 was the presence of Roman soldiers in the Holy City, demanding that the Jews surrender or die.
Daniel’s second reference to the abomination of desolation is in chapter 11, which outlines the history of the long war between the King of the North and the King of the South. In video 31, we saw that these are two opposing forces that started as competing Hellenistic kingdoms in Syria and Egypt.
The King of the North evolved into the Roman Empire and later the Holy Roman Empire under the controlling influence of the papacy, opposed by the southern Muslim empires during the time of the crusades. In verse 29 the disastrous fourth crusade is mentioned. “And [the king of the North] shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant and do damage… they shall take away the daily sacrifices and place there the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:29-31).
This passage shows that just after the fourth crusade a coercive movement would develop to try to force God’s followers to submit or perish. History shows that this was the establishment of the inquisition, which continued until the 19th century.
It was a religious court that tried people who refused to submit to the laws of the church. The inquisition used interrogation with torture by the church, followed by sentencing and punishment by the state.
The third reference to the abomination of desolation is in Daniel 12.
This is a controversial passage so I will give a brief overview of what I believe and a link to an article in the description that gives more details and scriptural support. An angel explained that at the culmination of the war between the king of the North and the king of the South “Michael shall stand up” (God will intervene) And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake… Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars” (Daniel 12:1-3).
Daniel heard two angels talking about the atrocities that would take place during the reign of the King of the North. But Daniel wanted to know about the good things that came at the end, like his people being delivered and his friends and family rising from the dust.
He asked, “My Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” (Daniel 12:1). The angel told him, “the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:9). But he left him a clue: “From the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days” (Daniel 12:11,12).
This is the final abomination of desolation, the one that Jesus said we must watch for. Again, it will be a demand that we submit or die. And we already know where this fits with the Book of Revelation. The death decree is in chapter 13 verse 15. The beast from the earth, which symbolizes the United States of America, will establish the image to the beast, in other words, a persecuting union of church and state that will be like the medieval wicked horn. But instead of affecting only the countries of Europe, it will take in the whole world.
The final abomination of desolation will demand that we receive the Mark of the Beast. We will have to wait for another video to see just what that is, but Jesus predicted that when we see the abomination of desolation it will be a sign for us to “flee to the mountains” because “there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21).
Like the other signs, the Great Tribulation has three applications. The siege of Jerusalem was a terrible time of trouble for the Jewish people, and the inquisition was one of the greatest horrors of human history that continued for hundreds of years. But nothing the world has ever seen can match the Seven Trumpets and the Seven Last Plagues.
It’s a scary scenario, but Jesus promises a good outcome: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven… and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with power and great glory. And He will send His angels… and they will gather together His elect, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31).
Here is a timeline that shows how Jesus’ prophecy correlates with other prophecies we have studied.
With this basic framework I would suggest that you go back and read Matthew 24 again and spend some time in the parables that follow: the fig tree, the days of Noah, the faithful servant, and in chapter 25 the wise and foolish virgins, the parable of the talents, and the sheep and the goats. There is so much insight in these parables as to how we should live in preparation for the final events.
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To find out in advance where this is all going, you can order the book A Revelation of Jesus by David Lackey, available from online bookstores.