The Coming Abomination

by Britt Gillette


In the near future, an event of enormous significance will transpire in Jerusalem, the effects of which will resound throughout the world and throughout eternity.  A man will ascend the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, go into the Holy of Holies within the rebuilt Jewish Temple, and proclaim himself to be God Almighty.  In His Olivet Discourse, a response to His disciple’s questions concerning the end of the age, Jesus Christ warned His followers that this event, known as “the abomination of desolation,” will be the key event which will trigger the Great Tribulation:

“The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about – the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” Matthew 24:15 (NLT)

When this event occurs, it will dominate contemporary news headlines.  Christ tells us it will also be a sign to the world that His Glorious Appearing is close at hand. 

The abomination of desolation will mark the beginning of a time of unspeakable satanic violence and human anguish.  In fact, Jesus told His disciples it will be a time of great tribulation such as the world has never seen, nor ever will see again.  A cursory glance at Jewish historical events of the past century, which include the Holocaust, Stalin’s pogroms, and Muslim attempts to wipe out the Jewish state of Israel, vividly illustrate the depths of human depravity.  Yet, our Lord informs us that these horrors will pale in comparison to those which are to come. 

What is the Abomination of Desolation?

In order for people to recognize the abomination of desolation when it takes place, they must first know what it is.  Some translations of the bible render this phrase the “abomination which causes desolation,” a more accurate depiction of the event.  For this act of abomination, once committed, will literally cause the desolation of Israel.

Let’s examine the definitions of the key components in this satanic act of arrogance.

“Abomination” Defined

Webster’s dictionary defines the word “abomination” as a “loathsome or disgusting act.”  This serves as an adequate biblical definition as well, for when the bible mentions something as an “abomination” it means “an act which is loathsome or disgusting in the eyes of God.”  In most instances in which the word “abomination” is used in the bible, it is used to describe the sin of idolatry.  Therefore, it’s reasonable to conclude that the abomination which is the abomination of desolation will be an idolatrous act which will defile the Holy Place.

If this is true, then what is “the Holy Place”?

“The Holy Place” Defined

The “Holy Place” of which Jesus spoke is the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.  Although some people have interpreted the “holy place” as any number of things – Israel, Jerusalem, the Jews, or the church – the full context of the scriptures makes it fully clear that Jesus is referring to the Jewish Temple.

In the Book of Acts, the Jewish Temple is referred to as the “Holy Place” (emphasis added):

“The seven days were almost ended when some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the Temple and roused a mob against him. They grabbed him, yelling, ‘Men of Israel, help us!  This is the man who preaches against our people everywhere and tells everybody to disobey the Jewish laws.  He speaks against the Temple – and even defiles this holy place by bringing in Gentiles.’  (For earlier that day they had seen him in the city with Trophimus, a Gentile from Ephesus, and they assumed Paul had taken him into the Temple.)”  Acts 21:27-29 (NLT)

In addition, the prophet Daniel refers to the abomination of desolation in reference to the Jewish Temple:

“He will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. Then as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the end that has been decreed is poured out on this defiler.” Daniel 9:27 (NLT)

The fact that the abomination of desolation occurs along with putting “an end to the sacrifices and offerings” is further evidence that the Jewish Temple plays a pivotal role in this infamous event.

So why is the abomination one of “desolation”?

“Desolation” Defined

Webster’s dictionary defines “desolation” as “a barren, neglected state or area.”  This is the perfect definition for understanding the meaning of our topic.  For Jesus tells us that this act will cause the desolation of Israel:

“Then those in Judea must flee to the hills.  A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack.  A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat.  How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days.  And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath.  For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again.  In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.”  Matthew 24:16-22 (NLT)

Once the abomination of desolation takes place, it will soon be followed by unprecedented persecution of the Jewish people.  This is difficult to believe, given our knowledge of the Holocaust.  But according to Jesus, these will be the darkest days in Jewish history.

The Jews will face persecution at the hands of the Antichrist, an arrogant world dictator who will commit the abomination of desolation by proclaiming himself to be God.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Believe it or not, a similar abomination took place in history once before. 

In 167 B.C., the Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes erected a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies and desecrated the sanctuary and its holy vessels. Several centuries prior to this, the prophet Daniel (in Daniel 11:21-35) prophesied the life and times of this sinister figure.  Yet those same verses, in many ways, also apply to the Antichrist, whose life is detailed in Daniel 11:36-45. 

Some people claim that Antiochus IV Epiphanes committed the abomination of desolation, thus fulfilling the prophecies of Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15.  But this is simply not true.  Although the Book of Daniel was written prior to 167 B.C., the Olivet Discourse took place almost two centuries later.  Jesus was well aware of the abominable acts committed by Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  After all, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is a celebration of the Temple’s liberation from the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  Clearly, Jesus spoke of a future abomination:

“The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about – the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” Matthew 24:15 (NLT)

Although Antiochus IV Epiphanes came in the spirit and power of the Antichrist, the Antichrist himself will be the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecies in Daniel 11, Daniel 9:27, and Matthew 24:15.  This is why Jesus referred to the desecration of the Temple as a still future event.

If we examine the signs of the times, we’ll find God is warning us that this future event will take place soon – in our generation.

The Antichrist and the Abomination of Desolation

The Book of Revelation provides us with further knowledge regarding the Antichrist and his monumental act of desecration:

“He ordered the people to make a great statue of the first beast, who was fatally wounded and then came back to life.  He was then permitted to give life to this statue so that it could speak.  Then the statue of the beast commanded that anyone refusing to worship it must die.”  Revelation 13:14-15 (NLT)

The Antichrist will fulfill this prophesy by standing in the Jewish Temple and proclaiming himself to be God. He will set up an image in the Holy Place and demand the world worship it.

Such a scenario is in full agreement with the apostle Paul’s description of the Antichrist and his character:

“He will exalt himself and defy every god there is and tear down every object of adoration and worship. He will position himself in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4 (NLT)

The Antichrist will not just be an enemy of God Almighty, but of anything which distracts the human race from the worship of himself as the one true God.  Needless to say, the Antichrist will be quite arrogant.

Unfortunately, much of the world will answer the call to worship him:

“And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast.  They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life before the world was made – the Book that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered.”  Revelation 13:8 (NLT)

The Arrogance of the Antichrist:

The abomination of desolation is not only an act of rebellion against God Almighty, but a proclamation of inflated self-worth.  Another being proclaiming himself to be God is the ultimate act of arrogance, and the bible reveals, the Antichrist will be the most arrogant individual in history:

“This little horn had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly.” Daniel 7:8 (NLT)

“The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god there is, even blaspheming the God of gods.” Daniel 11:36 (NLT)

“He will have no regard for the god of his ancestors, or for the god beloved of women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all. Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses – a god his ancestors never knew – and lavish on him gold, silver, precious stones, and costly gifts.” Daniel 11:37-38 (NLT)

The Antichrist will be so filled with self-love and hubris that he will launch a spiritual and physical rebellion against God Almighty. He will place himself above all others, attempting to overthrow the Lord of the universe and set his own throne high above God’s stars.

He Will Attack the Saints

As part of his campaign to create universal worship of himself, the Antichrist will set out to destroy those who are faithful to God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

“And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and overcome them.” Revelation 13:7 (NLT)

“He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people. He will be a master of deception, defeating many by catching them off guard. Without warning he will destroy them. He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle, but he will be broken, though not by human power.” Daniel 8:24-25 (NLT)

The Antichrist will wield enormous power, and he will “devastate” the holy people of God.  But he will meet his demise when he challenges the Prince of princes in battle – the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Will the Abomination of Desolation Occur?

The bible is clear that the abomination of desolation will occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation, a seven year period in Israel’s history set into motion by a covenant between Israel and the Antichrist:

“The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.”  Daniel 9:27 (NLT)

The Antichrist will sign a treaty with the state of Israel for a period of seven years. The details and nature of this treaty are yet unknown, but many have speculated that in a bid to secure peace with its neighbors, Israel will agree to rely on the Antichrist for its national security.  God refers to this agreement as a “covenant with Sheol” (or hell), and God’s assessment will prove true when the Antichrist breaks this covenant after three and a half years.  The abomination of desolation will serve as a public acknowledgment that he is breaking his treaty with Israel, and it will signal the beginning of the Great Tribulation, a time of unprecedented persecution of God’s people:

“And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days.”  Revelation 12:6 (NLT)

The woman referenced in this passage is the nation of Israel, which gave birth to the Messiah.  Because of the Antichrist’s persecution, the nation of Israel will be forced to flee into the wilderness, where God will supernaturally protect her.  The Antichrist’s campaign of persecution against the Jews will last 1,260 days, which is 3.5 biblical years.

Conclusion

The implications of the abomination of desolation can not be overstated.  Our generation has already witnessed the fulfillment and initial fulfillment of most of the bible’s end times prophecies.  The Jews have been gathered from distant lands to resurrect the nation of Israel.  The Jews are in possession of Jerusalem.  The Gog and Magog alliance is forming.  The European Union (the revived Roman Empire) is quickly becoming the world’s most powerful super state.  All of these are signs of the times.  Yet, in order for the abomination of desolation to occur, still another event must take place – the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple. 

As of this writing, the secular world views the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple as a highly improbable event.  Yet, God Himself has told us the Jewish Temple will exist in the last days.  Therefore, when the Temple is rebuilt, it will serve as a sign to the entire world that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is God Almighty, the Alpha and the Omega.

Nearly the entire world – a billion Muslims, countless Anti-Semites, world leaders and diplomats, and even Israeli politicians frightened of war – speak with one voice when it comes to the idea of rebuilding the Jewish Temple.  “It will never happen!” they say.  But God has other plans.  The Temple will be rebuilt, and soon thereafter, the world will tremble when a man of unprecedented power and frightening arrogance visits its inner sanctuary.

Knowing that everything the Lord has revealed to His prophets is destined for fulfillment, we should pray for the people of this world, while living our lives for the next and remaining alert to the soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

“Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”  Luke 21:36 (NLT)

Britt Gillette is the author of Signs of the Second Coming: 11 Reasons Jesus Will Return in Our Lifetime and Coming to Jesus: One Man’s Search for Truth and Life Purpose. He’s also the founder of End Times Bible Prophecy.