15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 18 Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
Here we enter a new phase of the discourse. Verse 14 wrapped up the broad overview; answering, “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” His broad overview is as follows:
- Many false Christ’s
- Wars and rumors of wars (saber rattling)
- Ethnic groups rising up against ethnic groups (nation vs nation)
- Struggles to be the “ruling class” (kingdom vs kingdom)
- Famines and earthquakes (natural disasters)
The above bullet points are described as the “beginning of birth pains” or things that will increase in intensity and frequency as the time gets near. These are probably not supposed to be in chronological order, but they will all increase together. The next group of things follow the word “then” indicating a distinction after birth pains.
- They will deliver “YOU” to tribulation and will kill you.
- You will be hated by all nations because of MY name
- Many will fall away, hate and betray one another
- False prophets will arise and will mislead many
- Lawlessness increases and as a result people will grow cold
- The gospel will be preached to the whole world
- The end will come
Then, verse 15 begins with a very specific and precise event which serves as a warning to Christians and Jews.
15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 18 Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.
“The Abomination of Desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place;” seems to be the event that thrusts the world into the time known as the great persecution, so let’s focus on this. First, you get an idea of what is being talked about by breaking down the words that are used in the description:
Abomination – a thing that causes disgust or hatred. Desolation – a state of complete emptiness. Holy place – the Holy place referred to an area of the Temple outside the Holy of Holies where only the High Priest could go. When there was no temple it was an area of the sanctuary (tent of meeting) for the Jews, outside the holy of holies.
Though this leaves room for the imagination, we have a general view of what will take place. Something detestable in the Temple, that causes it to become desolate. Jesus said it was “spoken of through Daniel the prophet,” so let’s take a look at what Daniel actually said in the verses referring to this abomination. But before we do so, 2 Thessalonians 2 also gives us an idea of precisely what is going to take place:
1Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
The antichrist will enter the Temple and seat himself in a position of authority. At this time he presents himself as Deity and insists on being worshipped. When he does this, perhaps he places something in the Temple to be worshipped… an image, statue or something like that? When this occurs, it will trigger the great persecution… perhaps this is a part of his message – hate toward the God of Israel and His followers? Now, let’s look at what was spoken of through Daniel the prophet:
27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”
This gets a little difficult because typically, the books of the Bible dealing with eschatology (end times prophecy) are written in a style called “apocalyptic literature.” A lot of symbolism is used and often times the author is describing visions he received. This particular verse is speaking of the end times and the antichrist. The word “week” used in Daniel 9:27 literally means a period of seven, which could be days or years. So it appears that the antichrist will make a covenant with Israel (Daniel was a Jewish prophet) for a period of seven (years). Then, in the middle of the seven years (3 ½ years in) he puts a stop to sacrifice and offerings and commits the abomination that causes desolation. This triggers great persecution of God’s people as the world has never seen before. More of the antichrist’s reign is revealed in Daniel 7:
25 He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.
The antichrist who comes in the name of peace and deceives the majority of mankind will (at some point) begin speaking out against God; will gain power over much of the world (make alterations in time and in law), and will be able to persecute Christians and Jews for “a time” meaning one year; “times” meaning two years; “and half a time” meaning one half of a year….. three and a half years. 3 ½ years adds up to 1260 days or forty-two months. With this in mind, let’s take a look at another apocalyptic prophetic book; written about six-hundred years later:
Revelation 12 – 6 and the woman did flee to the wilderness, where she hath a place made ready from God, that there they may nourish her — days a thousand, two hundred, sixty.
Here, again we must fight through the apocalyptic language, but it is talking about the time of the antichrist. “The woman” is used to describe Israel. Notice that this seems to be a description of what takes place after the abomination of desolation! The woman (Israel) flees to the wilderness (like Jesus instructed them to) and it seems there is some refuge and provision there. But take notice of how long their flight will last, I will copy and paste it from the easy to read New Living Translation, “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days.”
Let’s look at a couple more verses and I think we can agree how miraculous the unity of message is over thousands of years and about 40 authors (because their inspiration was the same):
Revelation 13 – 5 Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. 6 And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his dwelling—that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. 8 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 that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made.
There is a lot there that we will get to later. But again, we see that the antichrist (beast) when he begins to speak against God, is given 3 ½ years, “And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months.”
In conclusion, if I am reading the Scriptures correctly, the sign that the end is getting near is birth pains increasing in frequency an intensity (see list above). We are obviously somewhere in the midst of the birth pains. The birth pains will thrust the world more and more into chaos and love will grow cold / violence and lawlessness will increase. People will become desperate while Christians nod in recognition. A charismatic leader will rise and gain great power. This leader will sign a peace treaty with Israel that will calm all of the chaos down for a bit (3 ½ years). I see a possibility that this leader is seen as a “Muslim reformer.” The world will love him, Christians will not. I also believe the temple must be rebuilt…. But how? How in the world will Israel be able to knock down the Islamic shrine that exists on the Temple grounds right now and erect the Temple without causing World War III? Here’s one more verse for today wich brings up a fascinating possibility:
Revelation 11 – 1Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, “Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. 2Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.
In this passage, John (author of Revelation) was told to measure the Temple of God (further evidence that it will be rebuilt). But this is an interesting little tid-bit, “2Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.” So… measure the Temple and the people worshipping in it, but don’t include the outer courts because they have been given to the nations. In other words, it has been given to the Gentiles (non-Jews). Could it be that part of this 7 year peace treaty is to allow Israel to build their Temple, but there would be a “Temple sharing arrangement?” Jews get the inner courts and gentiles (Islam) gets the outer courts? Moreover this is where the Abomination takes place.
So, to incite discussion, Jesus has answered the question of regarding clues that His return is near as follows:
- Birth pains
- 7 year peace treaty ß—à Building of the Temple
- Abomination of desolation after 3 ½ years of treaty
- 3 ½ years of great persecution
- His return
And you say??