Politics & Prophecy: A Lawyer’s View of the End Times
Part 3 – The Restoration of Israel
by Gerald R. Thompson
Dan. 8:11-14 (summary) – The regular burnt offering was taken away from the Prince of the heavenly host, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled underfoot?” “For 2,300 evenings and mornings. Then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”
Dan. 9:27 (summary) – The Antichrist will stop Jewish sacrifices and offerings, and then commit the Abomination of Desolation in the temple of God.
Dan. 11:31 – “Forces from him [the Antichrist] 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.
Dan. 12:11 – “And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days.”
Mat. 24:15-28; also Lk. 21:20-28 (summary) – When Jerusalem is surrounded by armies, then its desolation is near. The abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel will come, and then there will be great tribulation unlike any before or after in history. For the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short. False Christs and false prophets will arise. Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled.
2Th. 2:4 (summary) – The Antichrist (man of lawlessness) will take his seat in the temple of God and proclaim himself to be God.
We have mentioned the Abomination of Desolation many times, but have not yet defined it. The Abomination of Desolation is something that is always mentioned in the context of a desecration of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. An abomination is something shameful: something that is immoral and/or disgusting. Desolation means to make something empty, uninhabited and deserted. In the context of the temple, it implies that it will be laid waste in a shameful or immoral way.
For the desolator, it implies that the proper resident of the temple (God) and the caretakers of the temple (priests) have been displaced and overthrown. For the Jews, it means the temple will be made unclean, the laws of God violated, and a false god will occupy it.
The prophecy of the Abomination of Desolation is a classic example of a “double fulfillment” prophecy, being mentioned in both the O.T. and N.T., and having both a past and a future fulfillment. The past fulfillment was still future when the prophecy was written, but it is long past for us today. (No, I don’t think the book of Daniel was a forgery written in the second century B.C.)
The past fulfillment concerns the actions of one Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a regional king who ruled from 175 – 164 B.C. over the Syrian section’ of Alexander’s empire, which included Jerusalem. Antiochus killed 40,000 Jews and sold 40,000 more into slavery. He robbed the temple of all its treasures (gold and silver implements, etc.), and placed an idol of the Greek god Zeus in the sanctuary. He sacrificed a pig (an unclean animal) on the altar and spread its blood around the sanctuary. He even forced the Jews to worship Bacchus, the Greek god of pleasure and wine.
Antiochus further prohibited the reading of the scriptures and forbade the practice of circumcision which God commanded to Abraham. And, he stopped the daily sacrifices in the temple on December 25, 167 B.C. for a period of three years. Sacrifices resumed when Antiochus died in battle in 164 B.C.
I have not read anywhere that Antiochus sat in the temple and proclaimed himself to be God there. But he did have coins of the realm minted with his portrait on them along with the inscription, “God Manifest” (referring to himself).
Antiochus IV certainly did commit a type of Abomination of Desolation in the Jewish temple. However, no period of either 1,290 days or 2,300 days as Daniel prophesied can be correlated with him. Nor any periods of either 1,290 years or 2,300 years. No historian has ever shown how these time periods would apply to Antiochus IV.
Additionally, when Jesus talked about the Abomination of Desolation in Mat. 24:15, He treated it as a future event in the context of the sign of His returning and of the close of the age. He specifically referred to Daniel’s prophecies about the event as something that hadn’t happened yet. And at the time Jesus spoke, Antiochus IV had been dead for 194 years. So the Abomination of Desolation cannot have been completely fulfilled by Antiochus IV.
Also be careful not to associate the Abomination of Desolation with the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. It’s true the temple was laid waste due to its complete destruction, but nothing Emperor Titus did can be reckoned as stopping regular sacrifices mid-way through a peace treaty or cease-fire, nor did he sit in the temple and proclaim himself to be God. Remember, this was the second time the temple had been destroyed (the first was in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians), and that event had nothing to do with the Abomination of Desolation either. Destruction does not equal Abomination. Additionally, the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. fulfilled the prophecy of Jesus (Mat. 24:2), not Daniel’s prophecy.
Which means that when 2Th. 2:4 tells us the Antichrist will take his seat in the temple of God and proclaim himself to be God, this must yet be a future event. And as mentioned earlier, this can hardly happen unless there exists a Jewish temple in the future which he will desecrate.
Do not be like the scoffers who will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2Pe. 3:4. Just because the rebuilding of the Third Temple hasn’t happened yet, and just because it doesn’t look possible now, doesn’t mean it won’t happen exactly as God has predicted.
* Ver. 8.0. Copyright © 2013-2020 Gerald R. Thompson. All rights reserved. Used by permission. All Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version.