The Olivet Discourse – The Abomination of Desolation Part 2

13Jun11

With this post we will conclude the introduction to the discussion of the “abomination of desolation” and set up our foray into Daniel 9. This discussion will revolve around trying to discover what an “abomination” is and what would have possible been in the minds of the first century reader, especially the Jew. We will not venture to offer historical options for the first century at this point, but will leave that to a time following the discussion of Daniel 9 passage of the 70 Week Prophecy.

Biblically speaking, most of the references of the term “abomination” are used in reference to the profaning of worship. We will find that the profaning of true worship was done in two ways and that those two ways of profaning worship continue today in modern evangelical circles.

Worship must be understood in such a way as the recipient of worship must be God alone. And as a result of the exclusivity of the object of worship in must also be granted that the purpose of worship is not for “our enjoyment” though that can be a natural result of true worship. In other words, worship is NOT a “what’s in it for me” type experience.

When the congregation meets on Sunday Morning to worship it is vital to understand that the audience does not sit in the pews, but rather there is an audience of one. That is why worship must be God focused and not man focused. That is also why we must be careful in the songs we choose to sing that they are focused on the worship of God and not on what we get out of that worship. This, as many will probably agree, it a great problem in today’s Church. When someone complains that they “didn’t feel” like worshipping or didn’t feel “lead” by that morning’s worship “experience” they are in great violation of the mandate of true worship. But this is nothing new.

This abomination shows itself in two ways in the Scriptures.

  1. False Worship – Worshiping in a way that is forbidden or not commanded
  2. Profane Worship – Not worshiping in the way that is commanded or with a faithless heart

These two ideas may sound identical, but are actually different. But one thing in common is that this struggle to worship “in spirit and in truth” continues today and many will find the examples of the Old testament relative to the modern evangelical Church today.

FALSE WORSHIP

In this instance one worships in a way that not commanded. Worship that employs acts or actions not commanded by God for true worship. This is not related to music or musical styles as only in the modern Church does worship even mean the singing of praise songs. Worship includes all that is done when the Church body meets, from the songs that are sung to the Scrip0tures that are read, to the offering that is given and the word that is preached.

In this case the worshipper uses objects, actions or techniques that are not commanded by God. remember this is important here as since God is the object of worship it is His right to establish the way He prefers to be worshipped. For us to add our own desires and inclinations toward certain preferences is to tell God that He does not know how He wishes to be worshipped, but we do and we will show Him. At this point we becomes like God and are guilty of eating a different forbidden fruits.

The examples of this type of abomination are more obvious than the second type will be dealing with. Examples of this type of worship in the Old Testament include the use of statues or objects, the use of strange fire, or by using sacrifices that are prohibited.

Deut. 7:25-26 The carved images of their gods you shall burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them or take it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to the Lord your God. [26] And you shall not bring an abominable thing into your house…

Deut. 27:15 ” ‘Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the Lord

Exodus 32:4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

In these instances the worshippers would either warned not to, or actually did, worship in a way that was prohibited. And it was a curse upon them

PROFANE WORSHIP

In the case of profane worship we will see what the modern Church struggles with the most. For the most the modern Church has avoided the trapping of the Roman Catholicism and it’s veneration of saints and use of icons and statues in it’s worship. But the area of Profane worship where the Church worships in a way that is not commanded is where we fail the most.

One glaring example also from the Roman Catholic Church is the means of the Eucharist. Ignore for a moment the theologically troubling aspects of the act with the concept of transubstantiation, and just consider the act itself. The priest holds the elements above his head while stating a non-Biblical blessing upon it and the congregants. We find no Biblical case for this rite and in doing to there is a profanation of worship and the body worships in a way that is not commanded.

Before dealing with more modern examples and seeing how this relates to the discussion off the Olivet Discourse, let us examine the examples found in the Old Testament and one popular one found in the New Testament. We will also discuss the issue of the heart in some examples as well.

Leviticus 7:18 If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten on the third day, he who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him. It is tainted, and he who eats of it shall bear his iniquity.

Is there something intrinsically wrong about eating three day old meat? Not really, but doing so was a violation not because the actual act how some sort of damning nature to it, but rather because it violates the mandate of God. Again, He is the author and object of worship and it is His right to determine it’s actions.

Deut. 17:1 “You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the Lord your God.

Again, the blood of each animal is the same, but the picture created of a Holy and Perfect sacrifice demands a worship that is also Holy and Perfect.

The following story makes a very strong point often overlooked, or simply unknown because it’s found in an Old testament book that’s not Psalms or Daniel!

In 2nd Kings 16 we read the story of King Ahaz. While travelling in Damascus he saw an altar that was bigger and more beautiful than the altar for the Israelites. It was larger and made of gold and made the bronze altar built under the command of God look pale in comparison. He had the High Priest fashion an altar after the exact design of the altar in Damascus and have God’s altar removed. He also commanded that the sacrifices for the king and the people be performed on the new altar.

The next we hear about King Ahaz is that he died!

Was the new altar “demonic” in some way? Were the sacrifices not the same kind of grain or animal? God told them how to worship Him and as a result of their rebellion King Ahaz was :sleeping with his ancestors! They worshipped in a way that was not commanded.

When we worship today in a way not prescribed by Scripture we have become like King Ahaz. We have determined in our hearts to worship God in the way “WE” prefer and not the way God commands. When the worship of the Church is determined by popularity and how the pagan may respond we have gone even further. Should worship be defined by how the congregants respond and, worse yet, how the pagan visitor’s “comfort” is viewed? Have we changed what we say, how we say it and the means of worship to fit the “needs” of the participant or do we worship with a God centered focus and with His heart in mind.

Finally we will examine the heart in worship and how the heart, even when worshipping “properly” can be an abomination unto the Lord.

Gen 4:3 In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

With Cain we find a matter where the heart outweighed the matter of the sacrifice. God told him plainly that if he did well he would be accepted. It wasn’t a matter of the offering or the process, it was a matter of the heart. Now consider the following.

Isaiah 66:2 But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. [3] “He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig’s blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations

This is a very powerful passage showing how much of an abomination the faithless heart is to God. If one does not have a humble or contrite heart even if they perform the sacrificial rite perfectly it would be as blasphemous or as much an abomination as sacrificing a man, dog or pig!

So, what does this all have to do with the Abomination of Desolation? This is will detailed much more thoroughly in future posts but consider for a moment what types of things and what type of worship was taking place in the Temple between the time of Christ and it’s destruction. Hebrews declares the end to sacrifices once and for all with the finished work or Christ. With that sacrifice rejected, the continuing of sacrifices in the Temple was a true abomination.

But for the purposes of our discussion this option will be discussed along with several other in upcoming posts. For now, though, we will turn our attention the 70 Week prophecy of Daniel for the next several posts.

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One Response to “The Olivet Discourse – The Abomination of Desolation Part 2”

  1. 1 Yehoshuamyking

    The SACRIFICE of the WICKED is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is his delight… The WAY of the WICKED is an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that FOLLOWETH after righteousness.
    Proverbs 15:8,9 KJV emphasis added


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