Abomination Of Desolation

Abomination of Desolation – “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand.” (Matthew 24:15)

As noted in Chapter 1, Taming the Terminology, the phrase “the abomination of desolation” refers to the presence of an idolatrous person or object so detestable that it causes the temple to be abandoned and left desolate. (1)

Before Christ – Some argue that Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled with the desecration of the temple in 167 BC when the Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes erected an altar to the pagan Greek god Zeus over the altar of burnt offering and sacrificed a pig on it (1 Maccabees 1:41–64; 6:7; and Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 12. 5. 4). (2) But Jesus is referring to this as an event that is yet to happen.

After Christ – Some believe that the prophecy was fulfilled in the first century AD. Jewish historian Josephus, who lived through the war of 66–70 AD, thought the “abomination of desolation” happened in 66 AD, when Zealots shed the blood of priests in the temple. Others date the abomination of desolation three and one-half years later (70 AD) when Titus sacked Jerusalem, the temple was destroyed, and the Romans erected their standards over the desolated site of the temple. (3) Both of these events occurred after Jesus’ prediction and would nicely fit His other prediction that “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”

End Times – Others claim that Jesus is specifically referring to a yet future action by the anti-Christ and that the “abomination of desolation” will not be fully realized until the period of the Great Tribulation at the end of the age. (4) Thus, the events of 167 BC and 66-70 AD would merely be “types” that foreshadow the final fulfillment of Jesus’ words just prior to His Second Advent (Mark 13:24–27).

Next Up – Great Tribulation.

If you are interested, the entire book “Studies in Revelation” is now available for purchase in hard back or soft cover in the Store. Just follow the Store link on the homepage.

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  1. Grassmick, J. D. (1985). Mark. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 169). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  2. Grassmick, J. D. (1985). Mark. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 169). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  3. Keener, C. S. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament (Mk 13:14). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Mt 24:15). Biblical Studies Press.

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