|A common belief is
that a future Antichrist will set up an altar to himself in the
Jerusalem temple. This event is often called the Abomination of
Desolation. The expression "abomination that causes
desolation" comes from Daniel
9:27. Some Bible teachers teach incorrectly that Danielís
prophecy refers to the end of the world. This is not correct. The
passage describes the effects of the cross and the destruction of
Jerusalem (see the Seventy Weeks below).
Jesus confirmed this interpretation when
warning his disciples of the destruction of Jerusalem. When asked
for a sign, he warned of a number of false signs that would occur.
He then gave the key sign. Its fulfilment would mean that the
destruction of Jerusalem is at hand.
So when you see standing in the holy
place "the abomination that causes desolation,"
spoken of through the prophet Daniel - let the reader
understand - then let those who are in Judea flee to the
mountains (Matt 24 15,16).
The meaning of the expression is made
clear by Luke in his account of Jesus' words. He records Jesus'
explanation of his words:
When you see Jerusalem surrounded by
armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let
those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the
city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city
The "abomination that causes
desolation" is not some future antichrist, but quite simply
the Roman army surrounding Jerusalem. It would make the city
desolate. The Roman army is called an abomination because it
carried ensigns consisting of eagles and images of the emperor.
These were often worshipped by the soldiers. In the Bible an
abomination is an idolatrous practice.
The sign that the desolation of Jerusalem
is at hand was the Roman army surrounding Jerusalem. When they saw
this sign the Christians were to flee to the mountains. There was
a tremendous urgency attached to this warning.
Let no one on the roof of his house go
down to take anything out of his house. Let no one in the
field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in
those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Pray that
your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath
There would be no time to wait around or
to gather possessions together. The flight would have to be
instantaneous to avoid being caught by the siege.
Jesus' warning saved the lives of many of
his followers. Although a million Jews lost their lives in the
siege of Jerusalem, none of them were Christians. The Christians
heeded Jesus' warning and fled at the first signs of the siege.
Jesus' words were also a warning not to
confuse the siege of Jerusalem with the events described in
Zechariah 14. That passage describes a siege in which the Lord
would miraculously rescue his people. Many Jews expected this to
happen in AD 70, but were disappointed. Jesus' warning makes it
clear that Zechariah 14 describes a later stage in Jewish history.
His disciples did not expect this dramatic rescue in AD 70. They
knew in advance that Jerusalem would be destroyed.
The abomination of desolation has already
occurred. Christians should not be looking forward to it happening
in the future.