What is the abomination that causes desolation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Today we’re going to talk about the abomination of desolation. As per our usual approach, let’s start with the verse.
” So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand) “
Obviously, there is some editing here by Matthew as Jesus would not say “Let the reader understand.” Matthew wants you to go to Daniel to understand what’s going on. Before we look at the abomination itself, let’s notice something else in Daniel.
13 “I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.
This is from Daniel 7. Notice that this is about the coming of the Son of Man. The Olivet Discourse is also about the coming of the Son of Man. In both cases, where is the Son of Man coming to? He’s approaching the Ancient of Days. He’s not going down. He’s going up. Keep that in mind as most people read coming and assume coming to Earth, as if the disciples had a concept of Jesus even leaving Earth at the time.
As for the abomination, in Luke 21:20, Jesus connects desolation with another event.
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.”
There are many different interpretations of what the abomination could be, not notice that in each case Jesus says the disciples will see it happen. By referring to the holy place, He means the temple. This doesn’t mean every disciple had to see it, but it does fit well with that generation seeing it.
It is often thought by dispensationalists that this will refer to a third temple, but there is no basis in the text for the temple being destroyed and a third temple being built and then the third temple being destroyed. After all, this passage began with the destruction of the temple. Thus far then, if we are looking at the destruction of the temple and seeing when all these events took place, which will come again later, we are looking at a first-century context.
What could fit the abomination? It could be an act of sacrilege that is done in the temple such as by John of Gischala or others. It could refer to the shedding of blood in the temple from humans. After all, at this point, the Romans didn’t care and would go in and kill anyone even in the holy place and the most holy place. Either one would render the temple as further unfit for the purpose that it was built.
Keep in mind, our question is to ask if a first-century fulfillment makes sense. Since we know that temple was destroyed in the first-century, so far, we are on a pretty good track. Dispensationalists have to postulate a third temple which really makes no sense since Jesus was talking about the temple that His disciples saw and not a future temple that they would not have understood at all.
On another positive note, the prophecy is starting to get more specific and we are getting into verses that people think don’t fit a first-century context. I hope at the end readers will see that they do fit such a context. One reason I am an Orthodox Preterist is the text drives me to that understanding.