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*Reading Time: 9 minutes*

Before reading this brief study, please read the previous article in this series, The Gospel Preached Unto All Nations – Part 2

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES

Matthew 24:15 — “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand)” 

Mark 13:14 — “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 

Luke 21:20 — “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 

WHY QUOTE NON-CHRISTIAN HISTORIANS?

Before I begin this study, I’d like to answer two question which are often put across to me often by many who agree to and preach the dispensationalist view,

  1. Why do you give references from books outside the Bible?
  2. Why do you give references from non-Christian historians and scholars?

Let me answer both,

Answers 1 & 2: We must be open and mature enough to understand that History, Archaeology, Science, etc. confirm the Bible. The historians I quote were people living in the days of Christ and the first century Church.  Others were the early Church Fathers or direct disciples of the apostles. They have written books which confirm the accounts in the history of the Church and the history of the people in those days.

Josepehus was a Jewish historian living in the time of Christ and the first century Church. There were other Roman and Greek historians living in the same period too. Their books give us detailed accounts of what happened during those days and confirm the prophecies which came to pass during the first century Church.

DISPENSATIONAL VIEWPOINT 

Dispensational gurus give us their meaning of what they think the Abomination of Desolation is,

The abomination of Desolation: “When the Antichrist sits down in the rebuilt Jewish temple and declares himself to be God, the great tribulation of 42 months will then begin. At the occurrence of this event, the Jews living in Israel are commanded to flee into the wilderness. All tribulation saints will know, from that day on, they must now wait 1260 days before the Lord returns. (Daniel 9:27), (Mat 24:15-19)”

This popular dispensationalist view of the abomination of desolation is from people who read into the text the interpretations that are just not there.

When we read the scriptures with the help of the Spirit of God, we need not follow such speculations to receive the correct interpretation. The best way to interpret scripture is with scripture, and the Bible tells us what is the abomination of desolation. Let’s examine the scriptures to find this out.

Luke records an additional sign that was to warn the Christians,

Luke 21:20 — “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.” 

Jesus was speaking directly to His disciples as He said that they would be the ones to see the abomination of desolation. The Jews knew this prophecy by Daniel the prophet. As Jesus spoke, His disciples recognized this prophecy referenced from the old testament.

Daniel 9:26 — “And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.”

 THE SIGN TO FLEE

The abomination of desolation would be a sign to flee Jerusalem. How would they understand if the abomination of desolation was near and it was time to flee? 

Jesus gives them clear instructions through Luke: 

Luke 21:20 — “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.”

When His disciples would see Jerusalem surrounded by armies—which they saw when Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem, they clearly understood that its desolation was near, even at the door. 

When the disciples would “SEE” the “abomination of desolation” which was in reality “Jerusalem being surrounded by armies,” their response had to be fleeing to the mountains.

Matthew 24:16 — then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

 Mark 13:14 — “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

Luke 21:21 — Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it…”

This gives us a clear understanding that Jesus was speaking of His disciples and Christians who would flee the city as soon as they saw Jerusalem being surrounded by the Roman armies.

Jesus had agonizingly spoken to Jerusalem, 

Matthew 23:38 — “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!  

CLEAR ANSWERS TO CONFUSED HEARTS 

The instructions Jesus gave His disciples were clear answers to all the confusing questions that erupted in their hearts. They were commanded to remember and obey all that He said, which would save all who trusted the gospel during those trying times. The disciples obeyed! 

They were ordered to do these things when they would see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, 

“…when you see the Abomination of Desolation…”

• Let those in Judea flee to the mountains, 

• Let him who is on the housetop not come down to get the things out that are in his house, 

• Let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak, 

• Woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days, 

• Pray that your flight is not in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

Jesus was not speaking of some future time when we would face this, but, He was speaking directly to His disciples on the Mount of Olives concerning events that would take place during their lifetime and generation. 

Many prophecy teachers teach that we must go to Israel to be saved from the coming tribulation which will follow the abomination of desolation and the revealing of the Antichrist. I have also heard some Messianic Jews teach this and to which I firmly disagree. This is completely inaccurate.

Jesus spoke about events that would go before the sign and establishment of the Kingdom. All these events would signal the end of the old covenant nation and the Mosaic age, and culminate with the city and temple being destroyed. These instructions were passed by the disciples to the church, which would help them discern the signs of the times and flee for their lives—which they did!

ANTIOCHUS EPHIPHANES 

Many believe the prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled when Antiochus Epiphanes slaughtered a pig on the temple altar and subsequently destroyed much of the temple precincts, the city of Jerusalem, and thousands of its inhabitants in B.C. 167.

Bloomberg writes, 

“The ‘abomination that causes desolation’ might also be translated as a desolating sacrilege. In the days of the Maccabees, the Jews wondered if this prophecy had been fulfilled when Antiochus Epiphanes slaughtered a pig on the temple altar and subsequently destroyed much of the temple precincts, the city of Jerusalem, and thousands of its inhabitants.” [Blomberg, Matthew, 358]

However, we must recognize that Jesus did not speak about past sacrilege. He was speaking to His disciples of a coming abomination— beginning with the surrounding of Jerusalem by the Roman armies. 

ABOMINATION? 

The Jewish Zealots desecrated the temple in the winter of 67-68 AD, by coming “into the sanctuary with polluted feet” and “the sanctuary was now become a refuge and a shop of tyranny” [Josephus, Wars, 4:150–157 ]

KEENER

“The first-century Jewish historian Josephus felt that Daniel was fulfilled when Zealots slaughtered the priests in the temple in AD. 66, committing a sacrilege for which God brought about the desolation of the temple (human bloodshed in the temple desecrated it; cf. comment on Mt 23:35). This sacrilege would have been the signal for Christians to flee Jerusalem (24:16); early Christian historians tell us that Christian prophets warned the Jewish Christians to flee Jerusalem at this time.” [Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: new testament, n.p.]

JOSEPHUS 

 “And now, when the multitude were gotten together to an assembly, and everyone was in indignation at these men’s seizing upon the sanctuary, at their rapine and murders but had not yet begun their attacks upon them (the reason of which was this, that they imagined it to be a difficult thing to suppress these zealots, as indeed the case was), Ananus stood in the midst of them, and casting his eyes frequently at the temple, and having a flood of tears in his eyes he said,— ‘Certainly, it had been good for me to die before I had seen the house of God full of so many abominations, or these sacred places that ought not to be trodden upon at random, filled with the feet of these blood-shedding villains.” [Josephus, Wars, 4:162–163 ]

JOSEPHUS 

“And now, as the city was engaged in a war on all sides, from these treacherous crowds of wicked men, the people of the city, between them, were like a great body torn in pieces. The aged men and the women were in such distress by their internal calamities that they wished for the Romans, and earnestly hoped for an external war, in order to their delivery from their domestical miseries.

The citizens themselves were under a terrible consternation and fear; nor had they any opportunity of taking counsel, and of changing their conduct; nor were there any hopes of coming to an agreement with their enemies; nor could such as had a mind flee away; for guards were set at all places, and the heads of the robbers, although they were seditious one against another in other respects, yet did they agree in killing those that were for peace with the Romans, or were suspected of an inclination to desert them, as their common enemies. They agreed in nothing but this, to kill those that were innocent.” [Josephus, Wars, 5.1.5 ]

The Abomination of Desolation in actuality was the armed invasion of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. The prophecy says absolutely nothing about the modern-day Middle East or Israel. It was within that generation [Matthew 24:34] the Christians were to leave Judea.  

As with the rest of the Olivet Discourse, the abomination of desolation is history. This was the near common view for most of church history.                      

ST. AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (AD. 379) 

“Luke to show that the abomination spoken of by Daniel will take place when Jerusalem is captured, recalls these words of the Lord in the same context: When you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army, then know that the desolation thereof is at hand (xxi. 20). For Luke very clearly bears witness that the prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled when Jerusalem was overthrown.” 

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (Second Century) 

“For he said that there were two thousand three hundred days from the time that the abomination of Nero stood in the holy city, till its destruction… These two thousand three hundred days make six years four months, during the half of which Nero held sway”

EUSEBIUS 

“It is fitting to add to these accounts the true prediction of our Saviour in which he foretold these very events. His words are as follows: “Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day; For there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” 

“ …These things took place in this manner in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, in accordance with the prophecies of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who by divine power saw them beforehand as if they were already present, and wept and mourned according to the statement of the holy evangelists… 

 Moreover, the people of the church at Jerusalem, in accordance with a certain oracle that was vouchsafed by way of revelation to the approved men there, had been commanded to depart from the city before the war, and to inhabit a certain city of Peraea. They called it Pella. And when those who believed in Christ had removed from Jerusalem, as if holy men had utterly deserted both the royal metropolis of the Jews itself and the whole land of Judaea, the Justice of God then visited upon them all their acts of violence to Christ and his apostles, by destroying that generation of wicked persons root and branch from among men. 

 …at last the abomination of desolation, proclaimed by the prophets, stood in the very temple of God, so celebrated of old, the temple which was now awaiting its total and final destruction by fire– all these things any one that wishes may find accurately described in the history written by Josephus.” [Eusebius, “Proof of the gospel” Book 3, Chapter 7, written in AD. 314.]

EUSEBIUS 

“But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella. And when those that believed in Christ had come thither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgement of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men.” [Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.5.3]

REMIGIUS (AD. 437-533) 

“For on the approach of the Roman army, all the Christians in the province, warned, as ecclesiastical history tells us, miraculously from heaven, withdrew, and passing the Jordan, took refuge in the city of Pella; and under the protection of that King Agrippa, of whom we read in the Acts of the Apostles, they continued some time.” 

ATHANASIUS (BISHOP OF ALEXANDRIA) 

“And when He Who spake unto Moses, the Word of the Father [i.e. Jesus], appeared in the end of the world [age], He also gave this commandment, saying…, ‘When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand); then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains…’ [Matt. 24:15-16]. Knowing these things, the Saints regulated their conduct accordingly” [Athanasius, Defence of His Flight]

The Greek rendering for “desolation” is the same in all three gospels— which is ‘erēmōsis.’

By now, I am sure; the entire picture fits in the right frame. The “Abomination of Desolation” in Luke’s gospel was Jerusalem being surrounded by armies. These armies were set up and set out by the Lord Himself as instruments of His judgment. Do not be shocked when I say the armies were instruments of God’s judgment, but keep your hearts open to understand the truth.

We will conclude the topic in the next part.

Blessings,

Godwin.

All content © Godwin Sequeira, 2019.

error: *Blessings*