The "Abomination of Desolation!" The term itself is enough to make one feel very uncomfortable. It conveys a sense of uneasy anxiousness. There is an aura of grim restlessness about the phrase and all that it portends; a sense of apprehension and uncertainty; a premonition of impending doom. But how? Why? It all seems so ambiguous and ethereal.
But this much we can say with certainty: the evil impact of this event will be directed against the "Temple of God," and will plainly divide the first half of the Seventieth Week from the second half. Indeed, it will be the special cause of all the supernatural activity of this period - the Great Tribulation. Specifically, II Thessalonians 2 indicates that the act of desecration will be the entering of Satan into the "Temple of God," wherein he will sit down [or inhabit the Temple], declaring himself to be God:
That such an event will clearly take place, and that it will be directed against the "Temple of God," there can be no doubt. However, a number of things mitigate against the thought that this act of desecration will be directed merely against a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem - though there can be little doubt that after Israel regains total control over Jerusalem (and the Temple Mount) following the Gog / Magog War, they will probably attempt to rebuild the Temple and reinstitute Temple Worship together with animal sacrifice1 as depicted in the book of Leviticus, etc. - and that, therefore, there is reason to believe that the Abomination of Desolation will be played out against this backdrop. But there are much greater reasons to believe that the desecration of the Temple will reach out far beyond the desecration of a rebuilt Jewish sanctuary.
First, from a scriptural standpoint, the whole tenor surrounding the Biblical term, "Abomination of Desolation," suggests something much more than the mere desecration of a temple made of stone and mud. If this is all that is meant, then Antiochus Epiphanes [the Greek (not Syrian) king of Sulussia], who desecrated the old Jewish Temple in Jerusalem in 173 B.C. [by sacrificing a pig], did as much, if not more, than anything the Antichrist could do. Also, surely Titus desecrated the Temple in 70 A.D. when he took Jerusalem and burned the Temple to the ground. One would think that these acts, which parallel in most every respect the act of desecration most evangelicals believe the Antichrist will commit, would bring on the same retribution that God will pour out on Antichrist. Yet both Antiochus and Titus died quietly in their sleep - Antiochus in Tabae in 165 B.C., and Titus in Rome towards the close of the First Century A.D.
Second, how could the stopping of animal sacrifices in a rebuilt Jewish Temple constitute an abomination to God? After all, the old animal sacrifices merely pointed to the sacrifice of Christ. After Christ was sacrificed on the cross for the sins of the world, the old animal sacrifices became meaningless - and this was indicated by the rending of the veil in the temple after Christ's death on the cross:
Then to what does the term "Abomination of Desolation" really have reference? It must surely mean more than the mere desecration of a temple made with human hands.
The word "abomination" means something extremely disgusting or hateful - something worthy of or causing loathing. The adjective "desolate" means abandoned, devoid of habitation, deserted, forsaken, lonely, showing the effects of abandonment. The verb "to desolate" means to make desolate, to lay waste, to forsake. The word "desolation" means the action of desolating, the condition of being desolate - a barren wasteland implying grief, sadness, and loneliness. Thus, it could be fairly stated that from a grammatical standpoint, the term "Abomination of Desolation," taken in conjunction with the "Temple of God," means the "loathsome and hateful action which causes the abandonment by God of the "Temple of God," making it void of His habitation and [in conjunction with II Thess. 2] possessed by Satan.
In its scriptural context, what then is the meaning of the term "Abomination of Desolation?" The scriptural link that some Biblical scholars make between a rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the "Abomination of Desolation" is highly tenuous and largely the result of certain evangelicals [very strict dispensationalists] who contend that the Old Testament - and even, as astonishing as it might seem, certain books of the New Testament - were written specifically to the Jews and do not concern Christians at all. Hence, according to this kind of teaching, since the "Abomination of Desolation" mentioned in Daniel 9:26-27 is made in the Old Testament, the passage must have reference only to the Jewish Temple, since the Old Testament is a Jewish book.
[Of course, the "Abomination of Desolation" is mentioned in several books of the New Testament - in all the Gospels except John, II Thessalonians, etc. - which would make these books, we suppose, Jewish books, at least according to this kind of thinking; but such thinking is so ridiculous, that it hardly bears refutation - nonetheless, this is the precise origin of the kind of thinking which connects the "Abomination of Desolation" simply with a Jewish Temple.]
Moreover, there is a great difference to be remarked on between the glory which will flow out from the Millennial Temple as opposed to any glory which will attend a rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem prior to the Millennium - again, the fact of the matter is God is forever through with "temples made with hands." [And in this connection, it should be noted that the Millennial Temple which is described in the Book of Ezekiel will evidently not be made by human hands - the context seems to indicate that it will be solely a work of God.] Ezekiel had seen the Shechinah [the glory and presence of God] leave the Temple of Solomon prior to the Babylonian sack of Jerusalem, NEVER TO RETURN. No Shechinah ever filled the Second Temple [the Temple which existed at the time of Christ].
Moreover, the Millennial Temple2 will differ from the old Jewish Temple to the extent that the sun differs from the moon. Why? Because the Millennial Temple will contain the glory of Christ which no rebuilt Jewish Temple ever could. There will be no need for animal sacrifice in this Temple either, for the sacrifice of Christ will be fully honored, Christ Himself being the High Priest - and there will be no human High Priest in the Millennial Temple. Finally, a stream of healing water will flow forth from the Temple for the healing of the nations. Can anyone reasonably assume that such a stream will flow forth from a rebuilt Jewish Temple destined to be desecrated by the Antichrist?
Certainly, no rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem could match such a description.
It seems, then, that we are once again faced with a dilemma - a desecration directed against a Temple which doesn't seem to exist; unless, of course, we've been looking in the wrong place.
Let's admit that such might indeed be the case and reconsider the whole question in the light of the New Testament, if only because it's impossible to get anywhere by just examining the issue exclusively in light of the Old Testament. The fact of the matter is that while Daniel 9:26-27 does make mention of an event known as the "Abomination of Desolation," we can get no real clue from these verses as to what the term really means. It is not until the New Testament that a firm connection is made between the "Abomination of Desolation" and the "Temple of God." Interestingly enough, it is made by Jesus Himself in an entirely "New Testament setting" just prior to His crucifixion (cf. Matt. 24 and II Thess. 2:3-4). The context in which the connection is made occurs when Jesus had finished telling the Pharisees that He would tear down the Temple and in three days raise it up again. The Pharisees thought that Jesus was referring to the old Jewish Temple; but of course, He was not. He was making reference to His own body:
Thus, when the connection between the "Abomination of Desolation" and the "Temple of God" is first made, it is made essentially at the same time when Jesus described the "Temple of God" as man, and not as a temple made of stone and mud. The old Jewish Temple [and we speak here not of the Millennial Temple] was forever put away after the crucifixion of Christ; whatever glory was left the old temple departed from it [which was signified by the rending of the veil in the old temple] and instead was deposited forever in man on the day of Pentecost.
Paul himself reminds us of this when he tells us that God no long dwells within the cold, dead stones of temples made with hands, when he says:
Isaiah also prophesied that the true house of God would be a house of prayer for all nations (Isa. 56:7; Mk. 11:17) and in fulfillment of that prophecy, believers of every nation are today, as living stones, being built up into a spiritual house (I Peter 2:5), "an habitation of God through the Spirit." (Eph. 2:22)
Finally, it is of interest to note in this respect that when Paul referred to believers as the temple (I Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19; II Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:20-22), he used the Greek word NAOS. But when he referred to the physical temple in Jerusalem (Acts 22:17; 24:12, 18; 25:8; I Cor. 9:13), he used the Greek word Hieron. NAOS is the word Paul used for temple in II Thessalonians 2:4 when he spoke of the "Temple of God" in connection with the "Abomination of Desolation:"
Therefore, it is obvious that Paul did not mean that Antichrist was simply going to sit down [dwell or make his home] in a physical temple made of stone and mud [Hieron].
Like the old Jewish Temple, man is a three part entity - body, soul, and spirit, each corresponding to the three parts of the Jewish Temple - the Outer Court [the body], the Inner Court [the soul], and the Holiest of All [the spirit]. [Please see G.H. Pember, Earth's Earliest Ages, chapter 4, "The Creation of Man," for a thorough but concise treatment of this subject.] It was in the Holiest of All in the old Jewish Temple that the glory of God [the Shechinah] dwelt. No one was ever permitted access to this part of the Temple except the High Priest, and that but once a year on the day of Atonement, when he entered it to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the "Mercy Seat" for the sins of the people. The Holiest of All was the dwelling place of God; it was reserved for Him alone.
So also with man. The spirit of man is the dwelling place of God. It is our spirit that the Holy Spirit enters and inhabits when we receive Jesus at the time of our new birth. The old Jewish Temple was but a type of this present reality - a symbolical representation of God's true dwelling - man. And while the entire old Temple symbolized the dwelling place of God, it was, nevertheless, in the Holy of Holies where God actually dwelt, with the Holy Place [the Inner Court] and the Outer Court standing for those spheres of divine activity which were in accordance with His divine presence. Thus answering truly to this typology, God's Spirit dwells in our spirit, which is the reality in our time of the Holy of Holies.
Moreover, by asserting that man is today the "Temple of God," we are not spiritualizing the Word of God at all, for such is the clear testimony of God. Jesus said:
Furthermore, in Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul speaks of regenerated man as the building or "Temple of God:"
If we once grasp the fact that the true "Temple of God" is man and not a temple made of mud and stone, then the difficulties which we encountered above dissolve. And, in all of this we can begin to see that the "Abomination of Desolation" is a crime much more heinous than we had at first thought - and one that portends a threat against man far greater than has ever been previously imagined - a threat against his very humanity?
Man is a human being precisely and only because he is a three part being - because he possesses in addition to his body and soul, a spirit. It is man's possession of a spirit which sets him apart from the beasts, not his mind. Through his spirit, man was meant to commune or have fellowship with God; the beasts were never meant to have such fellowship; and, thus, do not possess a spirit, only a body and a soul. The "Abomination of Desolation" is an attack against man's very humanity, and in this connection, it should be noted that after the occurrence of this evil act, the Antichrist is no longer referred to as a man, but as a BEAST!! - no more a human being, but a beast possessing no longer any possibility of ever again touching God, his spirit forever deadened and given over to another, HIS HUMANITY FOREVER LOST.
How? It is not all that difficult to ascertain. While Satan has corrupted man's body [making it "flesh"], and through it, he has contaminated man's mind (his soul), he has never had access to the spirit of man. Man's spirit, like the Holiest of All in the Old Jewish Temple, was reserved for God and Him alone. It was to be the seat of God, His throne, His ultimate place of habitation and dwelling. Satan has never occupied this part of man. Man's spirit has been wholly protected by the "RESTRAINING 3 power" of God. (II Thess. 2:7 - see RV or LB)
Only once - in a very limited and isolated case - has this restraining power ever been lifted. This instance involved Judas, the "Son of Perdition." At the time of the Last Supper, the Scripture says that Satan "entered into Judas:"
What could this possibly mean? We are aware today that Satan has great influence over man's fallen nature - the works of the flesh and the fiery darts of the wicked one which assault man's mind [soul] attest to man's vulnerability. There could be no reason for Satan to seek further expression of his personality through man's fallen nature [i.e., man's body and soul]. With regard to Judas, Satan evidently took FULL possession of him. He entered into a part of Judas that he apparently had never before had access - his human spirit. This probably accounts for the name that the Scripture has given to Judas - the "Son of Perdition." The term perdition is derived form the Greek word apoleia and means utter and eternal SPIRITUAL destruction or loss or damnation [please see note #684 in the Strong's Greek Concordance].
Now, we know that when God enters a man's spirit, man receives ETERNAL LIFE; so, no doubt, when Satan enters man's spirit, man receives eternal perdition or damnation. In the first act, man becomes a son of God; in the second act, man becomes eternally a "son of Satan" or the demons. It is probably this one sin, this final act of desecration, that Paul refers to as the unforgivable sin. Since that which is eternal remains eternal eternally, whether it be for good or whether it by for evil, there certainly could be no turning back from this particular sin.
In the light of all this, we must conclude that the "Abomination of Desolation" is nothing less than the final and COMPLETE desecration of man's being, the true "Temple of God" (II Thess. 2:7). As he did with Judas, Satan will enter 4 the Antichrist's spirit, and as with Judas, this accounts for the new title the Antichrist receives - the "Son of Perdition." (Please see II Thess. 2:3-8)
G.H. Pember, writing in 1876, fully grasped this concept when he wrote:
And what is even more terrible, there is reason to believe that the desecration of man's spirit6 will not simply be limited to the Antichrist, but that it will spread to all unregenerated men through the agency of the demons and the fallen angels which are let loose upon man after the "Abomination of Desolation" and during the Seven trumpets) - at least to all those who receive the "mark of the beast" (Rev. 19:20).
Thus, the antithesis of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit is the desolating work of Satan. Whereas, in the first case, one becomes the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit and thereby a "son of God," in the second case, one becomes a dwelling place of the agents of Hell, and thereby a "son of perdition." For as the believer is sealed or marked out by the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13; 4:30), the antithesis of this is the mark of the beast, which effectually seals or marks out those who are ultimately destined for eternal perdition (see Revelation 16:2; 19:20-21; 14:9-11). The antithesis of man being created in the image of God to be indwelt by the Spirit of God (Romans 8) and thus being brought into fellowship and/or relationship with God and fulfilling God's original design for the spirit of man, is the Satanic union through the "Abomination of Desolation" and the mark of the beast whereby man's spirit is desecrated and left void of any possibility of fellowship with God. Thus, the "sons of perdition" who have received the mark of the beast are contrasted to the "sons" or "children of God" who have been marked out by the Holy Spirit. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is the antithesis of the mark of the beast.
It is through the terrible impact of the "Abomination of Desolation" that all the events of the second half of the Seventieth Week [the Seven Trumpets] are made possible and through which Satan and his hosts gain direct and unhindered power for the first time over man, and through man, the earth.
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