The Abomination of Desolation

…they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate… Daniel 11:31

History

This prophecy is often presented by theologians as having been fulfilled in 167 or 168 BC. The Seleucid king Antiochus IV, self-described as Epiphanes (God Manifest), had an altar constructed on the altar of burnt offering in Jerusalem, and dedicated it to Zeus/Jupiter Olympus. There he sacrificed a pig and scattered its blood throughout the temple. He replaced the inhabitant’s traditional feasts with Bacchanalia and Saturnalia, the licentious and hedonistic worship of Bacchus, god of pleasure, and Saturn, god of agriculture, respectively.

The pig had been declared by God to be an unclean animal (see Leviticus 11:7). Sacrificing a pig to Zeus in the same physical location that had been used by the priests to offer sacrifices unto God would have been horrifying to the Judeans. Scattering it’s blood throughout their temple (rebuilt) in Jerusalem added insult to injury. But was this act the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel?

As a side note: the sudden death of king Antiochus IV in 164 BC is recorded in 2Maccabees as having been due to his body being infested with worms, from which he suffered excruciating bowel pain. It is interesting to note that king Herod (Herod the Great), who died shortly after the birth of the LORD Jesus, is said to have suffered “an excruciatingly painful, putrefying illness of uncertain cause.” The Scriptures record that Herod the Great’s grandson, king Herod Agrippa I, died similarly:

…because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. Acts 12:20

I would suggest a pattern, here.

Prophecy

In His own words to His disciples, the LORD Jesus dispels any notion that the words spoken by Daniel were fulfilled via king Antiochus IV:

But when you see the abomination of desolation that was spoken by Daniel the Prophet, standing in the holy place… Matthew 24:15

This moves the fulfillment of the prophecy forward on the timeline, as He clearly stated that the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel was something yet to be witnessed.

Let’s explore three words/phrases used in this verse: abominable/abomination, desolate/desolation, holy place.

Abomination

In addition to the two (2) occurrences in Daniel, the word abomination appears several dozen times throughout the Scriptures. The Hebrew word most commonly translated as abomination is תּוׄעֵבָה (to‘ebah), and refers to something which is disgusting, detestable, an abhorrence.

…the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians… Genesis 43:32

Here are a few examples of תּוׄעֵבָה (to‘ebah), an abomination:

  • You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22
  • A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God. Deuteronomy 22:5
  • Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the LORD… Deuteronomy 27:15
  • A false balance (unequal weights and unequal measures) is an abomination to the LORD… Proverbs 11:1, 20:23
  • Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD… Proverbs 12:22
  • Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD… Proverbs 16:5
  • They built the high places of Baal… to offer up their sons and daughters to Molech… that they should do this abomination… Jeremiah 32:35

Two additional Hebrew words may be translated as abomination, depending upon the English Bible version:

שִׁקּוּץ (shiqquts, she-kets) translates into English as filthy, detestable.

Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you. Leviticus 11:12

פִּגּוּל (pig-gool) refers to that which stinks, is tainted, is offensive.

And if any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten at all on the third day… it shall be an abomination… Leviticus 7:18

Jesus said, “When to see the abominable, unclean, desecrated sign…”

Desolation

…of desolation… Matthew 24:15

More on this, soon…

Two roles are available for participation in the process that leads to believing those things that are completely false:

  1. Being the hearer having “itching ears”, wanting to hear only what you want to hear and availing yourself of teachers who will only tell you what you want to hear.
  2. Being the proctor who
    1. knowingly misleads the listener, or
    2. has been deceived into foolishly speaking words without knowledge, and/or
    3. is willing to prostitute himself by presenting whatever information people will pay for.

The Holy Place

Do you not know that you are the Temple of God, and that The Spirit of God dwells within you? 1Corinthians 3:16

As a youth I (wrongly) came to believe that the ragged Tent of Meeting which Joshua brought into the land, the Tabernacle of (the) Testimony constructed by Moses after the pattern shown to him by God, was some primitive precursor to the true purpose of God in the Earth: the construction of a Temple by Solomon (subsequently destroyed under Babylon’s king Nebuchadnezzar, rebuilt in the time of Ezra, and destroyed again under Rome’s emperor Vespasian).

God had commanded Solomon’s father, David, saying:

Thou shalt NOT build me a house to dwell in! …Did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house?’ 1Chronicles 17:4, 6

For more on this, see my article The House of God? .

In the same way the Tabernacle is presented (falsely) as a primitive version of the wood and stone Temple(s), so the emergence of the assemblies of believers after the resurrection of Jesus are regarded (falsely) as the primitive church; primitive when compared to the sophisticated organizations that comprise modern Christianity, of course.

This high-minded relegation of the handiwork of God to primitive stature in favor of the allegedly advanced handiwork of men is known as blasphemy.

You have been warned.

Firstly, God did not supersede His Tent of Meeting with the Temple of Solomon, or the subsequent Temple of Herod. He certainly did not supersede His Tent of Meeting with myriad cathedrals, temples and synagogues. God replaced His Tent of Meeting with the Promise of the Father, the Spirit of Holiness.

And I shall request from my Father and he will give you another Protector, that he will be with you for eternity. He is The Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it has neither seen him nor known him; but you know him, for he dwells with you and he is in you. John 14:16-17

Secondly, the pattern of God’s interaction with His people in that first century, recorded in the book of Acts, was not superseded by the religion of Christianity. His assembly (church) is the same worldwide, multi-generational construction project today as it was then, where living stones are set into place each generation by God’s appointed master builders.

But false teaching would be a necessary component to prepare the hearts and minds of mankind to eagerly receive that which was to come.

Knowledge of the Abomination of Desolation, the abomination that makes desolate, has been in the Earth since God gave the vision to Daniel in approximately 540 BC.

In Daniel chapter 11 we are introduced to several kings who engage in battle, back and forth. Historical timelines associate these kings with the likes of the kings of Persia, Alexander the Great and the four generals of Greece, Antiochus III (the Great), Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) and others.

In classic prophetic form, the specifics of the vision do not precisely match all aspects of the historical associations (e.g., Daniel 11:2 covers a 200 year period in which Persia saw nine kings, not four.)

The twelve (12) chapter book of Daniel ends with Daniel being told to conceal and seal the words spoken to him until the time of the end.

The question of the ages becomes: when is the time of the end?

 

More on this, soon…