The Abomination of Desolation


As we now make this detour away from directly discussing the Olivet Discourse and take some time to get a better grasp of the phrase, Abomination of desolation,: we will take a few minutes to discuss what we have discovered thus far in regards to what is an abomination and to look at how Daniel uses the same term.

In our study of Matthew and the parallel passages we have noted a few important items regarding this abomination

  • It may be, or is at least related to, the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem
  • If it is not the actual armies surrounding the city, the abomination takes place between the time of the city’s surrounding and it’s eventual destruction
  • The abomination is an event or events that determines the city’s destruction
  • It is something that is visible as Jesus warns His disciples to note when “they see” the abomination
  • It is the last sign that will be seen and will serve as the last warning to escape the city
  • It is centered in either the city or the Temple (or both)
  • It may, if Old Testament parallels remain true, involve worship or the spiritual act of worship
  • Jesus tell us that Daniel hold the key to this mystery.

It is this last point that we will now turn our direction. It is most common to move directly to Daniel 9 and Daniel’s 70 Week prophecy to start the discussion of the abomination of desolation because of how theologians have married the two concepts, especially in the lat 50 to 100 years. But Daniel uses the phrase or similar constructs on three other occasions. The serious Bible student need take note of the other uses and see if by chance they are related to the event in question in Matthew or possibly belong to another event.

The three other uses, which will be listed below are all related to the taking away or eliminating of the burnt offering system at a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. Daniel in prophesying that a time will come when the burnt offering will be taken away for a time period of 1,290 days.

Daniel 8:13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to the one who spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?”

Daniel 11:31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.

Daniel 12:11 And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days.

The above passages deal with an invading force that will take over the city and Temple, do away with the burnt offering system and set up some sort of abomination in the Temple some 3 1/2 years later. We must immediately ask the question as to whether something historically can account for the events described. We will then address the use of the term in the Daniel 9 passage to determine the placement of events as described there as well. But, as has been our system thus far, we will look at the “brighter” verses first to see if they can shed light on the more difficult or darker verses.

Other than the most ardent Dispensationalist, most commentators, theologians and historians would argue that the abomination of desolation described in the above passages relates to the persecution and tribulation Israel faced at the hands of the Syrian Ruler Antiochus Epiphanies in the first and second centuries BC. After the restoration of the city and rebuilding of the Temple under Ezra and Nehemiah the Syrians were the foes of the Israelites. The greatest and most powerful rules was Antiochus.

The list of atrocities is plentiful and the revolt and expulsion of the city of Jerusalem in found in the Apocryphian books of Maccabees. This is called, by Protestants, the “quiet time” of God between the final prophets and the birth of Christ. The snapshot history is as follows.

  • Called himself Theos Epiphanies (God manifest)
  • In 168 BC he killed 40,000 Jews and controlled the city over 3 years
  • Sacrificed a pig and sprinkled the altar with it’s blood and broth
  • Erected a statue of Zeus above the altar
  • Sparked the Maccabean revolt which overthrew the Syrians in 3 ½ years – 1,290 Days (Book of Maccabees)

The above history matches perfectly the prophesied events of three of Daniel’s uses of the term “abomination of desolation.” The atrocities that are most related to the the actual abomination would be the sacrificing of a pig on the altar and the erection of a statue of Zeus above the altar. It should not take much if any explanation as to why those actions would be seen as an abomination and how it would leave the the Temple desolate.

What is most important about Jesus’ use of the term “abomination of desolation” is not to necessarily discover the exact event prophesied but to initially understand that the first century reader, especially the Jew, would be immediately reminded of the events of Antiochus Epiphanes as they read Jesus’ words. They were being instructed to look for an event that was either similar or had the same repercussions as the actions involving Antiochus. Actions that would leave the Temple or city desolate.

So keep that in mind as we next turn our direction toward the most popular usage of the term “abomination of desolation” in Daniel’s 70 Week prophecy found in Daniel 9.


5 Responses to “The Abomination of Desolation”

  1. 1 Yehoshuamyking

    If you were to take a look at the KJV or a different modern English translation of the Holy scriptures.Then use a Strong’s Concordance or a another bible Concordance of your choosing.You will discover that the word SACRAFICE or BURNT OFFERING does not appear in the Hebrew/Aramaic manuscripts in Daniel 8:13 11:31 or 12:11… You will be surprised to discover that the actual word SACRIFICE or BURNT OFFERING as translated in the version that you are using is Hebrew/Aramaic number 2077. It is only used in Daniel 9:27…Therefore the other three passages must be speaking of something other than a sin offering…Perhaps prayers and supplication…

    You are already on to something that many have not thought of… Keep going and you will discover the truth of who is really being spoken of in Daniel 9:27. Read Jeremiah 31:31 Matthew 26:28 Hebrews 8:6-8 and Finally Hebrews 10:6-9 and Hebrews 9:15,16 in this order.Please

  2. 2 low5point

    You are getting a couple posts ahead of me as you will probably eventually see. Without giving to much away, and since the purpose of this blog is to take baby steps through every argument, if you are going where I believe you are then we are probably in agreement. There is only one sacrifice – only one who can “put an end to sacrifices” … one true lamb! I do appreciate the clarification. I am not so sure it changes how the first century Jew would respond to the warning of Jesus. The Dan 11 passage would most obviously be seen as a reference to Antiochus and makes the most sense historically.

    As to the Daniel 9 usage, the most obvious and exclusive context belongs to the only character introduced in the entire passage….Messiah the Prince

  3. 3 Yehoshuamyking

    Yes. And i will slow down and follow you instead… This is fascinating!!! In the context of the Holy Scripture that is.

  4. Greetings! The term “putting an end to the daily sacrifies” is in reference to that man of lawlessnes when at midway through that last seven year period, which is still future, will set up that abomination in the holy place, which causes the desolation of Jerusalem (Matthew 24:15-27). This event is synonymous with Rev. 12:14-16 where the woman (Israel) flees (desolation) into the desert to a place prepared for her by God for that last 3 1/2 years up until Christ’s return to set up his millennial kingdom. We know that the abomination spoken of as the act performed by Antiochus Epiphanes could not be the what Jesus is speaking about since he said to his disciples “When you see”, meaning still future to them and which is still future to us. From the time that this man of lawlessness makes his covenant with many for one seven up towards the middle point, they will be saying “Peace and Safety”, then at the setting up of that abomination in the holy place, then the Jews will know that he is not their true messiah, which causes the desolation. At that time the mark of the beast will also become manditory and the beginning of this last 3 1/2 years is the time spoken of that the beast is given authority over the saints, to make war against them and to conquer (Dan 7:25; Rev 13:7). These are those who come out of the great tribulation, which no man can number seen in Rev. 7:9-17

    • 5 low5point

      I do not normally respond to comments unless they are in question form, but I do not want to let this go by without some points understood. First off I am familiar with Dispensational view being espoused. the view that is less than 200 years old and NO ONE in Church history taught or believed until the 19th century. It is the view I was raised in and believed for most of my life until I realized that I had to force passages to say things that simply were not there or I had to make characters be what the passages never state them to be.

      1. There is NOTHING in the entire Bible that EVER allows for timing text to be manipulated and there is NOTHING in the Daniel passage regarding the 70 weeks to have the 70th week ripped out of it’s timing context and placed into some arbitrary future. It simply isn’t there or anywhere else in the Bible. When God says something will happen it will happen WHEN he says it will happen. There is no warrant for moving the 70th week out of it’s context.

      2. Nothing in the 2 Thess passage mentioned sacrifices AT ALL…nothing! To make the claim that the Man of Lawlessness is the same “Prince” of Daniel 9 is pure conjecture and esisegesis since NOTHING in the two passages are in any way similar. In fact, the Daniel passage ONLY introduces ONE character…Messiah the Prince. Daniel NEVER introduces a different character, especially by using the SAME NAME (Prince) for two different characters. That is both pure conjecture and horrific Biblical exegesis. If Daniel wanted to name two different characters he wouldn’t use the same name and he would actually introduce a second character, which he never does.

      3. The Prince did put an end to sacrifices! Jesus Christ (Messiah the Prince of Dan 9) put an end to sacrifices with His death and Resurrection. This is plainly taught in the book of Hebrews where it states that Jesus ended the sacrifice of Bulls and goats once and for all.

      4. Jesus, referring to the abomination, is making a clear reference to an historical event that His audience would be familiar with. Matthew purposely uses the more Jewish/Covenantal term of Daniel’s “Abomination that leaves desolate” so that Matthews readers (primarily written to Jews) while the Gospel author Luke (writing to primarily Greeks) does not use the term as his audience would not be familiar with the terminology due to their lack of Old Testament knowledge. Luke makes it easier for the Greek reader by defining the abomination when he states “when you see the city surrounded by armies you know her desolation is near.” These two Gospel authors are writing about the same thing. Look at the text side by side and it is undeniable. Jesus by way of Matthew is giving His audience a reference point. They would think about the last time the armies surrounded the city and defiled the Temple.

      5. Jesus did say “when YOU see” …and just who was Jesus speaking to? Look at the first few verses of the passage. In fact, in Mark’s parallel passage it states that Jesus was speaking to just a few of the Disciples. He told them that YOU would be arrested…YOU would be brought before counsels and governors…YOU will see these things…and THEY did!

      6. They also saw the abomination Daniel spoke of standing in the Holy Place. Holy Place has three meanings in the Old Testament. The Temple, the City and the entire Judean area. In fact, any place that is a residence of God is considered a Holy Place including a mountain in the desolate area outside of Egypt and Mt. Sinai. But even by limiting the Holy Place to Just the Temple there is no doubt that both Antiochus Epiphanes and Titus, General of the Roman Army that assaulted the city and completely leveled the Temple (with not one stone left upon another) committed very similar acts. Note again that Luke makes it easier to understand by stating that this abomination is the city (Holy Place) surrounded by armies.

      7. The covenant made during the 70th week is also fulfilled by Jesus Christ. When He took the bread He said “this is the NEW Covenant of my body…and the new Covenant of my blood.” He made that covenant with the many (exclusively the Jews) and it lasted the final 3 1/2 years of the 70th week which began exactly at the initiation of His earth ministry. That covenant promised in Jeremiah is instituted by Jesus. The Disciples preached the Gospel nearly exclsuively to the Jews for the next 3 1/2 years until the death of Ste[hen and the beginning of Paul’s ministry.

      8. Again I note this tendency to make the Prince of Daniel, the Man of Lawlessness and the Beast of Revelation to be the same person…also the Antichrist. But where in Scrippture are those things tied together as one? NO WHERE! This is pure conjecture and eisegesis. The Antichrist is actually never said to be a person, and the one time John uses the term to reference an individual he corrects his audience and states that there is NOT ONE but several and that they were already in the world. John calls the Antichrist as “spirit” or ideology and those that espouse those false ideas are antichrists. Read every single instance of the term Antichrist and note that John states that there are several and that is how he knew is was the LAST HOUR…not last day, last days, last years…LAST HOUR!

      9. John is also the same author of Revelation where the term Beast is used. If the Beast and ASntichrist are the same person he could have used the same term but doesn’t. One because Antichrist isn’t an individual as all of the references to the Antichrist clearly point out, and because the Beast is both a NATION and a PERSON. Revelation 17 explains Revelation 13 quite plainly. The Beast sits on the city of seven hills, which is Rome. The seven heads of the Beast are the seven kings of that city. The first 5 kings have died (fallen), the sixth one was presently reigning and the seventh would reign for only a short time…Who are kings of the city on seven hills (Rome) and who were the first five, the sixth and who was to be the seventh that would last only a short time?

      1. JULIUS
      2. AUGUST
      3. TIBERIUS
      4. GAIUS (Caligula)
      5. CLAUDIUS

      6. NERO – who died by a sword wound to his head)

      7. GALBA – who reigned for six months before being killed.

      10. Nero made horrific was against the Saints including putting to death Peter and Paul. His torturous actions against the Christians were unbelievable including impaling them with a pole while still alive, poured flammable tar on them and lit his garden parties. We are told that he would torture Christians to get the names of more Christians so that he could feed his hunger for brutality by placing small children in the arena nad having them torn apart by wild dogs.

      11. Nero’s name Neron kaiser NRWN QSR = 666. He was also known as Nero Kaiser NRW QSR = 616. Many translations list that many of the earliest manuscripts actually had 616, not 666. Only Nero matches both references.

      12. In every instance the time text is completely ignored. In Daniel it states the 70 weeks of years – 490 years – would be the time text for all the things listed to be fulfilled. They were, including putting an end to sacrifices. It should also be noted that the context of Daniel 9 is the Jewish people and the Judean area, NOT THE WORLD!!! In Matthew the time text is “this generation” and no other usage of the term this generation in the entire New Testament means anything other than the generation present at the time. It does not mean a future generation nor does it mean a people group. It is a time text. Revelation uses several time text to begin and end the discourse. They are NOW, SOON, AT HAND and “presently.”

      13. As stated before one must prove by Scripture that the Prince, Beast, Man of Lawlessness and Antichrist are the same thing. The Scriptures do not make the connection. Antichrist is not a “person” according to the passages in 1st and 2nd John. The Prince in Daniel is Jesus as ONLY one character is introduced in the passage and if there is a second character he would not share the same name as the initial character who is undoubtedly Messiah the Prince. The Beast is proven in Revelation 17 to be Rome and the seven heads are the first seven kings of Rome, including the one who die by a wound to the head (Nero) and the one who would remain only a short while (Galba).

      14. The most difficult and obscure is Paul’s Man of Lawlessness. This is because Paul is answering a question without giving us the question of the background of information regarding to that “which he spoke to them in person previously.” So much is left to conjecture. What we do know is that the Thessalonians KNEW who the man was and who was restraining him. THEY were familiar with details including the man and his restrainer. How is this possible if this is some 2,000 years after all them have died? It can’t be! What we do know is that this person will sit in the Temple which is a great offense as a chair is not one of the pieces of furniture allowed. We also know that this takes place at the time of the rebellion. The word apostasia means rebellion and used most often to describe wars or skirmishes than some spiritual falling away. Right before the Jewish rebellion of 66 AD the zealots entered entered the Temple, killed every Priest, including murdering the High Priest and left his body to rot in the Temple proper. They installed a false High Priest named Phannius whose first order was to remove the furniture in the Holy Place and placed a large throne-like chair where he acted as a king, but was a puppet of the evil zealots that had murdered over 1,000 people IN THE TEMPLE!

      14. Finally, and most importantly to me. Both the Daniel passage and the Matthew 24 passage are judgments directed at the Jews. Daniel states that the 70 weeks were to finish the transgression of the Jews against God – which was a common occurrence throughout history. The Olivet Discourse is limited to the same area as well since it is related directly to the destruction of the Temple (not one stone) and that the warning to flee is limited ONLY to those in Judea. This is about the judgment against the Jews that was proclaimed in Matthew 23. Jesus states that ALL OF THE BLOOD OF ALL OF THE SAINTS in history would be held up against and applied to the account of the generation alive that the time He spoke. Matt 23 clearly is a curse against the Jewish leaders as Federal heads of the people of Israel. In Matt 20-22 Jesus tells stories about how the Kingdom that was promised was to be taken from them and given to another. He doesn’t state that He was going to start a “different” Kingdom and that the original Kingdom would one day be given back. He states clearly that the Kingdom was being TAKEN FROM THEM. Even the pharisees recognized this when they said they perceived He was speaking about them.

      Those judgments were against the one generation that took the Lord of Glory and nailed Him to a cross. No other generation could do that so no other generation could receive the punishment for doing so. Their punishment? The removal of the Kingdom and transference to others who would do the work and the destruction of the symbol of the Old Covenant – the Temple.

      Why do people want to continue to claim that those localized punishments of Israel must happen again? They have already been punished! It’s both sad and disheartening when the clear time text (this generation) and localized punishments (those in Judea) are applied to some future generation. Why must the Jews be punished again? And why must people take things that clearly are fulfilled in Christ and apply them to an Antichrist? That is both disturbing and blasphemous.

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