The Abomination of Desolation
Picking up where we left off in the last post, let us look again at Matthew 24. Understanding verse fifteen is pivotal to understanding the time-frame of the events of the last days. Jesus makes reference to the Abomination of Desolation standing in the Holy Place. To unpack this we have to understand three things
- What is the abomination of Desolation?
- How does it stand?
- Where or what is the Holy Place?
The Abomination of Desolation was spoken of by Daniel the Prophet in Daniel 11:31, and 12:11. In Daniel’s prophecies he was speaking of a future event. We have the benefit of being able to look back into time and see how that was fulfilled in history. The abomination of desolation was an idol and a pig sacrifice that was done in the Temple of God by a Syrian King named Antiochus Epiphanes in the year 164 B.C. This desecrated the temple.
Matthew 24 has Jesus also speaking about this abomination of desolation as a future event. Remember prophecy often has two or three fulfillments. There will be another abomination of desolation before the return of Jesus. Daniel mentioned the abomination of desolation twice in his prophecies. One of those had a fulfillment in the days of Antiochus, but the other one was wrapped around a prophetic utterance concerning the future anti-Christ that has not yet come. The book of Revelation speaks of the Antichrist setting up an image in the temple of God.
How does it stand? It is an image made to resemble the antichrist, that will speak, and many will be forced to bow down to it during his reign. Therefore, it will have legs like a human, and it will be set up in the Holy Place of the Temple.
To understand clearly what is being said here in Matthew 24 – In order for us to have an Abomination of Desolation we must have the Antichrist on the scene BEFORE the return of Jesus Christ. This is critical to understand. Paul said “concerning the coming of the lord, and our gathering together to him (the rapture)….that day shall not come except there be a falling away first, and the Man of Sin be revealed” (2 Thess 2:3). The Man of Sin is another title for the Anti-Christ. A man who lived in the past, who will be raised from the dead and come to a place of prominence in these last days. This must all take place before Christ comes, and before we can be gathered to Him in the clouds.
Where is the Holy Place? The Holy Place is a section of the Temple. Remember, how we said that the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, and as of right now there is no temple. There is a Muslim mosque standing on the site of the temple. In order for this prophecy from Christ to come to pass, we must have a temple built in Jerusalem before we can have an image standing in the Holy Place. Does that make sense to you? This means that before Jesus can return, we will see a physical temple rebuilt in the city of Jerusalem.
The Great Tribulation – Verse 21
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” The setting up of this Abomination of Desolation is the event that marks the beginning of the Great Tribulation. The Great Tribulation is a period of time that lasts 3 ½ years. It is primarily centered on Israel, but will have worldwide impact. Much of the book of Revelation deals with the judgments and severe trials that shall come upon the earth during that time. It is beyond the scope of this lesson to fully dive into the details of the Great Tribulation, but what we need to get from this is to be ready spiritually. God will take care of his people who follow Him, and most of the church will be here on the earth. How can I say that? Because verse twenty-two says “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” The elect are born again believers and the Tribulation will be shortened for their sake. Think about this logically – if the Christians are all in heaven would it be necessary to ease a trial that is taking place on earth for their sake? No, not at all. Those in heaven will not be affected by the trials on earth. This means that many of the believers will be here on the earth.
Verses 23-24 warn us again about false Christs and false prophets. The time of the Tribulation will be during the reign of the Anti-Christ. He is a king who lived in the past and will rise again. There is a very important warning in verse 24: “and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Three important things we need to glean from these verses:
- Satan and his followers will be doing miracles during this time. The true church will be in revival and doing miracles at the same time.
- The deception will be so great that it is possible for Christians to be deceived, and to lose their salvation.
- If Christians are being deceived, they must NOT be in heaven, but they must be here on the earth during those days.
Vs 26-27 – The sign of the coming of the Lord will be very obvious. There is no such thing as a secret coming. When he comes again it will be like when the lightning strikes – the light is seen all around. Revelation 1:7 tells us that when he comes “every eye shall see him”. Everyone on the earth will know when Jesus comes again.
After The Tribulation of Those Days
When will the Lord Jesus come back? The exact day and hour is not for us to know, only the Father knows the exact timing. However, we are able to know the season in which He will come and prepare ourselves appropriately for His coming. We must be clear that there are a few things that take place before He can come again. Here in verse 29 he says “After the Tribulation of those days…” It is very clear as to the order of events here. After the tribulation there are a few things that need to happen.
- The sun shall be darkened
- The moon shall not give light.
- The stars shall fall from heaven.
- The powers of heaven shall be shaken.
The Second Coming and the Gathering Together of the Saints
After these things take place, then the Lord will appear and come in the clouds of heaven, just as He left 2,000 plus years ago (Acts 1). When the Lord comes back not everyone will be happy to see Him. The tribes of the earth will mourn because they have not accepted Him nor repented (vs. 30). He will come as a judge and as a king.
Verse 31 says that there will be a great sound of a trumpet and the elect will be gathered. This is what is commonly referred to as the Rapture. This takes place at the Second Coming of Christ, as is clearly shown to us in Matthew 24. There will also be a resurrection of many Saints who have died before this time. Paul had an understanding of this event when he wrote “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
When the Lord returns He is going to set up a kingdom centered in Israel. He will reign as king of the earth for 1,000 years. He will set up princes and governors to rule over all the nations, provinces, and cities on the earth (Rev 20:4). Those rulers will be Christians who have qualified for such a privilege during their life on earth. They will receive an immortal body at the resurrection Those who are holy have allowed the Lord work in them and transform them, and those who have hit the mark that God had purposed for their lives will be used to govern the earth during this time. There will be many Christians who were martyred throughout history who will be chosen for this special privilege.
Jesus is coming again. We want to be ready and waiting when He comes. It is now the time for us to be preparing our hearts, and allowing the Lord to work in us and through us so we will be ready. As we see the events unfolding before us and the world being plunged into great darkness we can look forward to a mighty outpouring of His Spirit. When it comes we want to let it get into our hearts because some severe tests are coming upon the earth. We want to be those who are prepared. Amen.