THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
Larry T. Smith
© 2002 Rightly Dividing The Word
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The term "Abomination of Desolation" either strikes joy or fear in a person depending on their position in Christ, and their stance on the time of the rapture. Many people have purchased numerous books in the pursuit of understanding this subject so that they will not be left behind to suffer its wrath, or so they will be able to endure until its carnage has ended. The real issue does not lie in the many endtime scenarios that man has come-up-with, but rather lies in what the Bible has to say about this event. The real question in understanding this event for today is whether it is scheduled for a "time of the end," [a time now in the past], or for the "end of time" [a coming time yet to be accomplished].
Matthew 24:15 gives the key sign to recognize the time of the end -- the Abomination of Desolation. Luke revealed this occurrence to be the armies surrounding Jerusalem. That is exactly what the early church saw and thereby knew to flee to safety before the coming judgment on Jerusalem took place. To prove this we simply have to compare Matthew's account with Luke's on this subject.
Notice that Jesus said, "When YE [which is "you" in modern English] see." This meant that the people to whom Jesus was speaking at that time would see it in their day. Proof this could not be referring to some future antichrist stopping animal sacrifices is found in the next verses.
This is referring to the country areas of Judaea. How could people in these areas see what was happening in the Temple? They couldn't. But they could see what the true sign was: a Roman army surrounding Jerusalem.
People have applied this to a rapture of the Church, but this is nothing more than Jesus telling His people to hurry and to get out of the city of Jerusalem before He judges her.
Jesus would only give such a warning because He knew when this judgment took place that there would still be some who were still engaged in the Jewish Law and its customs. How can we know this? Simply because the unbelieving Jew's reluctance to accept Jesus' New Covenant was the very reason He brought judgment against them.
Jesus let those to whom He spoke know that they were the ones that would see the heathen army surround Jerusalem. When they saw this they were to escape that city because Jesus said there was a great tribulation coming there the likes-of-which had never been seen before, and never would be seen again. For a person to teach that this tribulation is for a future time, he would need to ignore these scriptures' time references, and the obvious context in which Jesus spoke them.
Josephus, in his Volume One of the Works of Josephus, says, "Whereas the war which the Jews made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of; both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations."
Some men today repeatedly contend that several different modern day events have been the greatest prophetic fulfillment since the crucifixion of Christ. One would have to wonder how this could be possible with any modern day event since Jesus even said, "For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." [Luke 21:22] Furthermore when one compares Matthew 24:21 with these words of Josephus it is easy to see that this occurrence was without doubt the greatest prophetic fulfillment since the crucifixion of Christ.
Luke made the same statement as Matthew concerning the Abomination of Desolation, except he revealed what the Abomination of Desolation was.
This is the same statement as Matthew, except Luke replaced the phrase, "abomination of desolation" with what it actually was, "Jerusalem compassed with armies." If you accept all Scripture as being divinely inspired, then this scripture needs no further interpretation since it leaves no room for guesswork. Here in Luke, Jesus is clearly saying that the instrument He would use to bring the desolation was the Roman army who would surround Jerusalem in preparation for her destruction.
The Abomination was actually the abominable sins of Israel, which are revealed in Ezekiel chapters 8 and 16. The judgment, however, would be carried out by a heathen army just as God has always done in the past. This is the judgment that was to be brought against those that refused the seal of God. The New Testament reveals this seal to be the seal of water and spirit, which is pictured in Ezekiel 9.
This seal is the same one that is found upon the 144,000 of Revelation. They had experienced the new birth, which means they had the seal of God on them. Because of that they escaped the judgments of the Law that came against Jerusalem. Revelation 14:1-6 says these people were the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. They also were the same people who preached the everlasting gospel which is found described in Acts 2:38. Both Paul and James confirmed that the early church was the firstfruits of the Spirit.
God's usage of numbers in the Scripture has a message of importance for us. To give you an example, first look at the way the Scriptures use the number twelve. Twelve is recognized as God's number of perfection in the Church. You can really see this truth about twelve in the descriptions written about the New Jerusalem as is found in Revelation 21. There everything is in twelve's or multiples of twelve, and if you take 1,000 [a number of unending perfection], and multiply it by 12 you get 12,000. If you take that 12,000, and multiply it by 12, you get 144,000. The number 144,000 is a symbolic picture of those in the Church who are sealed by the preaching of the gospel.
Seven is also a number that holds a lot of importance in God's Word. It is His number of perfection as well. If you take 10 [a number that symbolizes unending perfection], and multiply it by 7, you get 70. Take this 70 and multiply it by 7 and you get 490, which is exactly the number of times that Jesus told Peter he must forgive; it is also the number of years that Daniel's 70-week prophecy said would transpire before perfect forgiveness would come to all nations. This forgiveness did come to all through the blood of the Messiah Jesus Christ. These numbers are significant because they help us better understand to what these prophetic passages are referring. An example of this is the 144,000. Some claim that the 144,000 are a people that are yet to happen some time in the future. If that were true then they would be the last fruits and not the firstfruits as Romans 8:23, James 1:18, and Revelation 14:4 describe them. The 144,000 were warned by Jesus in Luke 21 and Matthew 24 to flee from Jerusalem when they saw the approaching judgment and go into the wilderness. They were the same ones who were sealed by the Holy Spirit and born again in Jesus' name.
This is the same scripture as found in Matthew 24. These people who are in the countryside will see the Roman army coming, and when they do, they are to flee away from them and from Jerusalem.
Now, would one want to question the New Testament? Is it right? Was it really true that by the time this event was completed, "all things" that were written in the Old Testament [at least concerning this subject] would be fulfilled? Or would one dare side with the critics that claim that Jesus' statement was incorrect?
This again is not talking about rapture. An expecting woman could be raptured just as easily as one who is not. This is speaking of the discomfort she would experience while fleeing, and the difficulties one would have trying to escape from God's judgments while traveling with a small child.
I would like to explain this "times of the Gentiles," but first let me reemphasize the fact that those who did not fall by the edge of the sword were led away captive into all nations is definite proof that this scripture refers to the 70 AD tribulation and not to some final future tribulation at the end of the Church age. I say this because Dispensationalists teach that Jesus will come at the end of this tribulation to rescue the Jews, and to set up His 1000-year reign of peace. This futurist scenario would leave no time for those who were spared the sword to be carried away captive into all the nations, but we do find a perfect fulfillment of this during the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem. During this siege 1.1 million Jews were killed, and over 900,000 captives were led away and dispersed into all nations. I cover this subject in more detail in my book The Coming of the Lord, the Last Days, and the End of the World.
The verses found in Luke 21, which parallel those of Matthew 24, are the exact fulfillment of those verses known as the Song of Moses [Deuteronomy 32]. We find Moses' song and the Song of the Lamb sung in the book of Revelation. The Song of the Lamb is the song of the redeemed of Jesus. The Song of Moses is a song about the judgment that God said He would bring against those who rejected Him as their Messiah, and against those who killed the servants that He sent. God said this judgment would be the destruction of Jerusalem and her worship system. That took place during the final Jewish generation that lived under Law, and those Jews were the ones who also fulfilled these horrible rejections of truth. Much of the language of Deuteronomy 32 is exactly the same language that the book of Revelation uses to describe the fall of Babylon [Jerusalem]. In Deuteronomy 32:41-43 God clearly says He will send vengeance [these are the "Days of Vengeance"] to those that hate Him and that He will kill with the sword and take captives. He also will avenge the blood of His servants by taking vengeance on their enemies and having mercy on His true people. When you compare that with Revelation 18:20, 24; 19:2, you find it is the same wording.
Compare this with Paul's statement in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16.
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
God plainly said in Deuteronomy 31:29 that this song of Moses was going to be about the evil that would befall Israel in the latter days, and Deuteronomy 32:5, 20 revealed that it would happen to a particular generation. Jesus warned in Matthew 23:33 & 36 that this would happen to the generation of Jews that He was talking to at that time. As you compare these passages, their prophetic interpretation becomes so easy to see that I can't help but wonder how anyone could continue believing the man-made unbiblical Dispensationalist teachings of Darby, Larkin, Scofield, and Pentecost over these clear teachings of Jesus and His Bible.
The Time of the Gentiles
Some teach this "time of the Gentiles" [Luke 21:24] refers to the time of the Gentile Church Age. The problem is there is no "Gentile" Church Age since the Church of Jesus Christ is plainly explained in Scripture as being Jew and Gentile together in one body. The Scripture makes it clear that a Jew is not cut-off from the salvation of Jesus Christ. They can easily receive the Holy Ghost now if they -- like everyone else -- believe in Jesus, and accept His message of salvation. It is Jesus' will for all of them to be born again right now! They are not cut-off except by their own unbelief.
I believe this reference to the "time of the Gentiles" is the time that God allotted to the Gentiles for the destruction of Jerusalem. In the generation following his 70-week prophecy, Daniel described this time as a war that would not end until there was a total destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its Temple. This siege was prophesied to last approximately 42 months, and according to history, it did.
Look at these 42 months in Bible prophecy.
Here God is separating the New Jerusalem -- the true Church -- from the old Jerusalem.
He is saying, "I don't want you to measure the old city, because it is no longer the exclusive city of My worship system. But I do want you to measure My true temple, the Church, My true worship system, because what's outside this ‘Holy City' is no longer part of it." God goes on to show that because Jerusalem is no longer the place of His true worship system, she is going to be, "trodden down of the Gentiles," for 42 months. This was fulfilled a few years later in 70 AD. This scripture is one of the "proofs" that help prove that the book of Revelation was written probably sometime in the early 60's, and before the fall of Jerusalem. The reason why I say this is because if the Temple and city were not still standing when it was written, then this scripture would not have made any sense to John's readers. The prophet Daniel agrees with this 42-month time period in the twelfth chapter of his prophecy.
Every Bible teacher that I have ever studied from or heard speak always says this is the three and one-half year Great Tribulation. The problem is that they usually place the tribulation sometime in the future instead of allowing it to stay in the timeframe in which the Bible says it should remain -- the generation that was alive during the 70 AD fall of Jerusalem.
It says, "time of the end," not "end of time." It was revealed to Daniel that there would be 7 seventies -- 490 years -- which would have to be fulfilled before this would come to pass. The Bible shows that this is exactly what took place because it was in the middle of this seventieth week that Jesus was crucified, and all that Daniel wrote concerning these 70 weeks were completed. The time of the end would be during the generation that followed the death of Jesus. History reveals the three and one-half year siege of Jerusalem began in the Spring of 67 AD, and ended around September of 70 AD. That would have made that siege to have lasted approximately 42 months. Some writers contend that the September date in which this war actually ended is consistent with the 1,335 days of Daniel 12:12.
Daniel and the Apostle John Spoke of This Time
Let's compare these scriptures of Daniel, which were commanded to be sealed until the time of the end, with the language of Revelation.
I believe that John opened the book that Daniel had sealed over 500 years earlier. John did this because "the time of the end," and not the "end of time" was at hand. This time period is recorded in Daniel 12:7 as being a "time, times, and a half." It would result in the scattering of the holy people and bring to an end all the other things that were prophesied.
Let's compare this now with the wording and time text of the book of Revelation.
He didn't say this was going to happen 2,000 to 3,000 years in the future. He said this was "shortly" coming to pass.
He said the time is "at hand." Compare the phrase "at hand" with its usage in the rest of the New Testament, and you will discover that this is a reference to it being close by, not far off, something that was soon to take place.
How are those who pierced [crucified] Him going to see Him coming unless they are still alive on that day? This fulfillment would be impossible if this is referring to a time in the future. It would have been easy to fulfill if this was referring to His coming in their generation. The word "earth" here is the same word that means "land," and is normally used in reference to the tribes of the land of Israel.
Many try to say the Jews looking on Jesus is future, because they claim this occurrence is the fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10. To the futurist mindset who have been taught Dispensational Theology all of their life, this all seems to fit so well. The problem is that this viewpoint goes against the Apostles' interpretation as recorded in the New Testament. The Apostle John quoted Zechariah 12:10 in John 19:37 and claimed it was being fulfilled at the time of Jesus' crucifixion, which in turn resulted in the outpouring of the "spirit of grace."
The Apostle John has given a very definite and accurate interpretation as to the fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10. He even said in John 19:36 that "these things were done, that the Scriptures should be fulfilled." A person is then faced with the choice of accepting the historical interpretation given in the New Testament by the Apostle John, or the recent Futurist interpretation given by Scofield, Larkin, Pentecost, Darby, and other followers of their Dispensational teachings. A careful examination of the Dispensationalist viewpoints, such as I have done in my coming book The Web of Deception, will reveal that a lot of Dispensational teachings either have no scriptural basis at all, or when it does use Scripture, it directly contradicts the way Jesus and the Apostles interpreted many of the same scriptures from the Old Testament. This inconsistency is why I made the decision to follow the interpretations of Old Testament Scripture given in the New Testament by Jesus and His Apostles, rather than the interpretations of Dispensationalism, and to use Old Testament biblical imagery when interpreting the same type biblical imagery in the New Testament. This allows scripture to interpret scripture, and keeps man's opinion out of it as much as possible, which allows an accurate interpretation of the scriptures.
Look now in Revelation 22, which is the closing chapter of that great book, for even more proof that the book of Revelation was to be fulfilled immediately after it was written.
Even at the closing of the Book of Revelation He said it again, "The things which must shortly be done."
He said you had better keep these things because I am coming soon!
As previously stated, I believe that John opened the sealed vision of Daniel because it was then "the time of the end." This does not mean that it was "the end of time" as most preach.
Jesus said in Matthew that some of them would still be alive when He came back to give His rewards. Here He is giving those rewards out: to the wicked He will destroy them in His wrath; to the righteous He is going to allow them to flee into the wilderness and be safe from the destruction of Jerusalem. The Song of Moses [Deuteronomy 32:4-43] says the same thing. There Moses says it will be a time when God will reward the wicked and be merciful to His people.
God told Daniel to seal his book because its prophecies would not be fulfilled in the days in which they were written. But that is not what He told the apostle John. God told John not to seal his book because the time for its fulfillment was at hand. Even though this is what the Bible says, some contend that the language of Revelation is misleading and say its prophecies will be fulfilled sometime in the future. What I want to know is how can they say such a thing when Revelation's wording is so clear? How can they honestly believe that the angel who spake to John missed it? Or that Jesus, who was the one who inspired John's writings, missed it? I contend that neither the angel nor Jesus missed anything! Rather, those who have misinterpreted Revelation's prophetic timetable are the ones who have missed it. They have done so because they refuse to see that most of Revelation, which was given in biblical imagery, is John's detailed account of the Matthew and Luke's Mount Olivet Discourse, which describes Jesus' AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem. That occurrence was the TIME OF THE END -- the time of the Abomination of Desolation.
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