Chapter 12

Desecration Of The Rebuilt Temple

In Matthew 24:9-14 we had a general description of the first part of the Tribulation, or the first three and one-half years of the seven years of wrath. During this time many sorrows and distresses will occur to those who take their stand for the Lord Jesus Christ and the things of God. Believers will be opposed by those of their own immediate families. Iniquity will abound, but there is a promise to those who will endure to the end of the Tribulation that they will be saved, for during that time of distress they will have proved the sincerity of their hearts in receiving Christ.

The Connecting Link

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end come. When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let him that readeth understand), then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains (vss. 14-16).

It is to be said to the credit of the Hebrew Christians in the first three decades of the Church that they, to a large extent, gave the Gospel to the world. But after the Church ceased to be made up primarily of those of Jewish descent, she did not give the Gospel to all nations. The missionary zeal began to die down and its activities to slow up until, in the Middle Ages, Christendom had lost its worldwide vision. Only after the Reformation did she begin to look out upon the world and see that the heathen needed the Gospel she enjoyed. The modern Missionary movement is one of the great marvels of the age. But Christendom has been blighted by rationalism under the name of modernism. We are now in the Apostasy, without a doubt.

The nearer we approach the end of the age, the deeper will the falling away be, and the greater will be the spread of wickedness and sin. According to the prophetic Word, we cannot expect any great sweeping revival prior to the Tribulation. But after the Church is gone--which event occurs before the Tribulation bursts forth upon the world--there will arise 144,000 Jewish servants of God, "Pauls," who will conduct the greatest revival of all the ages during the first part of the Tribulation. Doubtless it is this worldwide evangelistic campaign to which our Lord referred in vs. 14.

The adverb when in the next paragraph links the portion concerning "the abomination of desolation" with the last clause of vs. 14, "then shall the end come." This precludes it being a prediction fulfilled in 70 A.D. when Jerusalem fell under the titanic blows of Titus, the Roman general, and proves that this section of Scripture deals with the great Tribulation in the end of the age.

"The Abomination of Desolation"

What is the significance of the expression, "abomination of desolation"? Daniel, in chapters 9:27 and 12:11, speaks of the abomination which "maketh desolate" and of its being set up, but from his writings we cannot understand the significance of that phrase. This information must be gathered from the records of his contemporaries. Daniel, it will be remembered, was taken to Babylon among the first captives in the third year of Jehoiakim. Ezekiel, a contemporary, was carried there with Jehoiachin eight years later. Since they lived at the same time and in a similar environment, evidently they used words with a similar significance.

In the eighth chapter of Ezekiel's prophecy we see his use of the word "abomination." This passage presents a picture of the things which were still being done at that time by the Jews in Jerusalem. The Lord in this vision revealed to Ezekiel the evils committed by his fellow countrymen at the Temple. The record shows that the "abominations" mentioned there were all idols.

In 2 Kings 23:12,13 we read of the reforms of faithful King Josiah. The inspired historian recounts the destruction of the various images that were worshiped by the surrounding nations and in each instance called them the abominations of these peoples.

From these we see that the word "abomination" was, in the days of Daniel and Ezekiel, the technical term used in referring to an idol. Unless there is positive evidence to the contrary, we must understand that this word in the mouth of Daniel had the same significance as it did in the writings of his contemporaries. Since such negative testimony is lacking, we conclude that in mentioning "the abomination which maketh desolate" he was speaking of the blasphemous act of setting up an idol in the Temple, an act which will bring about great desolation.

"Standing in the Holy Place"

What did Jesus mean by the expression, "holy place"? That expression in the days of our Lord and in the preceding centuries was the definite term used to refer to the sacred place in the Temple where the table of showbread and the candlesticks were placed.

Isaiah's Prophecy: In describing the closing scenes of this age Jesus spoke of the setting up of the abomination of desolation in the holy place, so evidently He assumed that the Jewish Temple will be standing in the last days. This supposition is confirmed by the unmistakable oracle given by Isaiah relative to the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in the end time and the reinauguration of the sacrificial system connected with it:

Thus saith Jehovah, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what manner of house will ye build unto me? and what place shall be my rest? For all these things hath my hand made, and so all these things came to be, saith Jehovah: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as he that slayeth a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as he that breaketh a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as he that offereth swine's blood; he that burneth frankincense, as he that blesseth an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations: I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did that which was evil in mine eyes, and chose that wherein I delighted not.

Hear the word of Jehovah, ye that tremble at his word: Your brethren that hate you, that cast you out for my name's sake, have said, Let Jehovah be glorified, that we may see your joy; but it is they that shall be put to shame. A voice of tumult from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of Jehovah that rendereth recompense to his enemies (66:1-6).

There loomed before the prophet's vision the scene of the rebuilding of the Temple. The Lord spoke to those who had charge of the work and asked the following questions: "What manner of house will ye build unto me? and what place shall be my rest?" All Hebrew grammarians know that the time element is not expressed by the verb. Only two kinds of action are indicated--completed and incompleted. These questions can just as properly and grammatically be rendered, "What manner of house are ye building unto me? and what is the place of my rest?"

By the prophetic Spirit, Isaiah was carried forward in vision to the time of the end. He saw the work of reconstruction going forward and directed to those supervising the work these two questions.

The ritual revived: In-vss. 3, 4 he saw the sacred structure completed, the old Jewish ritual revived and the sacrifices being offered. Against this vain worship he entered a protest and showed that those who will be thus worshiping will be distasteful to God and classed with those who slay a man, who break a dog's neck and who offer swine's blood. By these comparisons he indicated that their worship will be wholly unacceptable to God. In vs. 4 he declared that those engaged in this ritualistic service will be laboring under a delusion. They choose their own way; therefore God blinds their eyes so that they cannot see the truth. Although they may be sincere in what they are doing, their worship will be unacceptable because they formerly rejected His will and have chosen their own way.

Following this prediction the prophet addressed those "that tremble at his word," and told them that their brethren who have cast them out and who have sneeringly said, "Let Jehovah be glorified, that we may see your joy," are the ones who shall be put to shame. In this verse he separated the people of Israel into two classes: the majority who are backing the Zionistic program--the reorganization of the nation and the inauguration of the ancient Mosaic ritual--and the minority who tremble at God's Word and who do not fall in line with the nationalistic program.

A revolt: Following this prediction the prophet, in a most realistic and dramatic manner, announced an out-break of revolt in the city: "A voice of tumult from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of Jehovah that rendereth recompense to his enemies." From these words it is clear that the disturbance arises in connection with the rebuilt Temple and the worship that will at that time be reorganized. Taking the whole sweep of the passage into consideration, one sees here that there will be a cleavage of opinion among those who have been supporting the nationalistic program. Great violence will attend the outburst of hostilities. This last verse also gives us the information that God will take a hand in this bold affair, for the prophet in an ejaculatory manner shouted, "A voice from the temple, a voice of Jehovah that rendereth recompense to his enemies."

From this passage we see that Isaiah in the latter half of the eighth century B.C. foretold the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple and the reinstitution of the ancient sacrifices in the end time. Thus in this prediction we find confirmatory evidence which throws great light upon our Lord's prophecy.

The Apostle Paul also assumed that the Temple would be rebuilt. This is seen in 2 Thess. 2, where the man of sin--the Antichrist--is sitting in the Temple, opposing all that is called God or that is worshiped as God and setting himself forth as God (vss. 3, 4).

Last of all John, in Rev. 11, spoke of the Jewish Temple being in existence in the end time. There can be no doubt that the Jews, whenever they have the opportunity, will build the Temple. From these facts, we are to understand that our Lord, in referring to the "holy place," had in mind the rebuilt temple which will be erected just before the Tribulation and will stand during the entire period.

The Image of Antichrist

In the middle of the Tribulation, as we learn from Dan. 9:27, 2 Thess. 2:3,4 and Rev. 13:1-8,14,15, the Antichrist will set up an image of himself in the Jewish Temple which will have been rebuilt and which will be standing during the Tribulation. It is this image, called "the abomination which maketh desolate," that our Lord referred to in Matt. 24:15.

Since the Antichrist sets up his image in the middle of the Tribulation we know that the judgments of Matt. 24:15-28 are descriptive of that time of unparalleled suffering.