Then Jesus referred the disciples to read and understand the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel. He said when that prophecy comes to pass it would be the warning sign of the Great Tribulation and that people would need to take action. Matthew 24:15-21 reads,
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.”
Since Jesus pointed to this prophecy specifically, it seems important to study it and understand it in order to recognize it when it happens. Daniel 11:29-35 describes the actions of the king of the north who will ignore the false treaty he made with the king of the south, despise the holy covenant and invade the kingdom of the south.
At the time appointed he shall return and come into the south, but it shall not be this time as it was before. 30 For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and shall turn back and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant. He shall turn back and pay attention to those who forsake the holy covenant. 31 Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate. 32 He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. 33 And the wise among the people shall make many understand, though for some days they shall stumble by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder. 34 When they stumble, they shall receive a little help. And many shall join themselves to them with flattery, 35 and some of the wise shall stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made white, until the time of the end, for it still awaits the appointed time.
Verse 31 mentions the abomination that makes desolate. This is a picture of two warring kings, one who desecrates the Temple in some horrific manner. It is that specific act that we need to keep alert for so that when it happens, we will know. In Matthew 24 Jesus said when it happened we were not even to go home and get a jacket, but just get out of Dodge!
Get this! The prophecy has come to pass already! But it was somewhere about 165-168 B.C. that Antiochus Epiphanes interrupted the temple sacrifices and placed a pig on the altar. Since Jesus had not yet been born it is obvious he was not referring to that event, though it did foreshadow the prophecy he was talking about. This is much more than worshipping Roman standards over the One True God; it will be something meant to truly offend those who love God, something done with rage against the LORD and His people.
This means Daniel’s prophecy also refers to the future when an atheistic charismatic ruler will do some blasphemous thing to the Temple in Jerusalem and reveal himself as the anti-christ, the beast described in Revelation (at least to those of us who understand as Jesus commended us to do). Because we will recognize his profanity, we will be able to stand firm. Verse 33 says we will be able to teach and help people understand. As we recognize the signs and see prophecies fulfilled we can and should be teaching others to see them.
But how can we recognize a fulfilled prophecy if we refuse to read them because they are “scary” or “too hard” or whatever. Believer, we have nothing to fear in these words, Jesus conquered sin and death already, Satan just hasn’t figured it out yet. God wins and if we are in Him, we win with Him. These scriptures are not as hard to understand as so many have been deceived into believing. The Holy Spirit reveals the truth to us as we read and today, we have the benefit of history, science, and all kinds of knowledge recorded and available to us and at our fingertips. We have scripture, and technology makes it easy to search the Word, compare passages, and even read what Bible scholars from the ages have gleaned from their studies.
The very next verse warns us that people will align themselves with believers and be half-hearted followers who use flattery and cause some to stumble. But the severe testing of the Tribulation will refine believers, show the true from the false, and prepare us for the Wedding Feast, pure and white until the time of the end. Revelation 3:3-5 talks reads,
Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
Daniel 11:36-39 further describe this arrogant charming and magnetic leader and what he will do and further define what the abomination of desolation will be.
And the king shall do as he wills. He shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against the God of gods. He shall prosper till the indignation is accomplished; for what is decreed shall be done. 37 He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women. He shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all. 38 He shall honor the god of fortresses instead of these. A god whom his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts.39 He shall deal with the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god. Those who acknowledge him he shall load with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land for a price.
He’s going to be successful for a while, until The Day of the LORD when he’s defeated. He’s going to make a whole new religion and in the name of that religion he’ll conquer nations and give imaginary power, honor, and wealth to those who stand by him. We know from John’s Revelation that the god he sets up is himself. His religion will require people to worship him and receive a mark sealing themselves to him (Revelation 13:4, Revelation 14:9-11).
The last verses of Daniel 11 say describe how successful the king will be as he fights those who try to stand against him, but in the end when he thinks he is about to win it all, he, his army and all who are with him will be destroyed. Verses 40-45 reads,
At the time of the end, the king of the south shall attack him, but the king of the north shall rush upon him like a whirlwind, with chariots and horsemen, and with many ships. And he shall come into countries and shall overflow and pass through. 41 He shall come into the glorious land. And tens of thousands shall fall, but these shall be delivered out of his hand: Edom and Moab and the main part of the Ammonites. 42 He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 He shall become ruler of the treasures of gold and of silver, and all the precious things of Egypt, and the Libyans and the Cushites shall follow in his train. 44 But news from the east and the north shall alarm him, and he shall go out with great fury to destroy and devote many to destruction. 45 And he shall pitch his palatial tents between the sea and the glorious holy mountain. Yet he shall come to his end, with none to help him.
Daniel chapter 12 continues by describing what will happen next. Verses 1-3 read,
At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
The Day of the LORD will be more terrible than anyone has ever seen and more wonderful than anyone has ever seen. For the unbelievers, both dead and alive, those whose names are not written in the book, they will experience the wrath of God, His Justice, the deserved price for their sin. But for believers, we whose names are written in the book, both dead and alive will be taken up to our reward. Revelation 14:14-20 describes it like this,
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.”16 So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.
17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20 And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse's bridle, for 1,600 stadia.
That much blood will have to be from every lost person who ever lived from Cain to the end. What a terrible day for them. Yet, for us what a marvelous day! But remember, God loves the lost just as deeply as He loves you and He doesn’t want them to die that day (2 Peter 3:9). You and I have the great privilege to love people enough to give them a chance to believe Jesus is the Savior and the King of kings so they won’t follow the king of Satan, the prince of this world.
There is more to read and learn from Daniel’s prophecy and we will continue tomorrow. For now, I want you to remember what Daniel says about the abomination of the desolation so that when it happens, you will recognize it. Remember there are other signs that will come first. As we see these signs, and we see prophecies coming to pass or see them about to be birthed, we who understand should be helping others to understand.