THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION AND THE TEMPLE OF GOD
It is quite clear from Scripture that the evil impact of the Abomination of Desolation will be directed against the “Temple of God.” As we have seen, this event plainly divides the first half of the Seventieth week from the second half – the latter half then being characterized by an appalling and horrifying persecution of the saints of God, “those who keep the commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).
There can be no doubt that the Abomination of Desolation will be so outrageous and. monstrous that it will constitute the greatest insult ever suffered by God against His glory and majesty. Specifically, 2 Thessalonians 2 indicates that the act of desecration will be the entering of satan into the “Temple of God,” where he will sit down, or inhabit the Temple, declaring himself to be God. Such an event will clearly take place, and it will be directed specifically against the Temple of God. However, a number of things mitigate against the thought that this insult will be directed merely against a rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
Required Sacrifices Redux?
First, it is difficult to imagine a rebuilt Jewish Temple with all of the old, bloody animal sacrifices in the context of a modern and relatively agnostic Jewish state, at least prior to the beginning of the Seventieth week and the Gog/Magog war. Yet, many Pre-Tribulationalists insist that a proper interpretation of Daniel 9:26-27 makes such an interpretation mandatory, “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”
Consider just for a moment the picture with which one would be confronted. The scene would not be one that would lend itself to an atmosphere of reverence or serenity. On the contrary, it would be one of chaos and confusion. It would be terribly noisy and the stench of animal feces and blood would be pervasive, and overwhelming. It would not be a lofty or majestic sight. To the majority of modern Israelis, this would be repugnant, making them the laughing stock of the world.
Moreover, to equate the “Great Synagogue” now being built in Jerusalem with a rebuilt Jewish Temple, is stretching the truth well beyond any reasonable or fundamental interpretation of Scripture. As any Jew or Rabbi knows, there is no way a Synagogue, no matter how grand or imposing, could ever be equated with Temple.
Secondly, from a Scriptural standpoint, the whole tenor surrounding the biblical term “Abomination of Desolation” suggests something much more than the mere desecration of a temple made of stones and mud. If this is all that is meant, then Antiochus Epiphanes, who desecrated the old Jewish Temple in 173 BC, did as much, if not more than anything the Antichrist could do.
This act was done at a time when the Scriptures indicate that the glory of God still dwelt in the Temple. One would think that this act, which parallels in every way the act which the Pre-Tribulationalists look for, would demand the same retribution called for by the act of desecration referred to as the Abomination of Desolation. Yet, Antiochus Epiphanes died quietly in his sleep at Tabae in 165 B.C.
It is quite possible that the Abomination of Desolation means something more than the desecration of a rebuilt Jewish Temple. So then, what is the real meaning of the term, “Abomination of Desolation?” The word abomination means something extremely disgusting or hateful, something worthy of, or causing loathing or hatred. The adjective ‘desolate’ means abandoned, devoid of habitation, deserted, forsaken, lonely, showing the effects of abandonment. The verb ‘to desolate’ means to make desolate, to lay waste, to forsake.
The word ‘desolation’ means the action of desolating, the condition of being desolate, a barren wasteland implying grief, sadness; and loneliness. Thus, it could be fairly well stated that from a grammatical standpoint, the term Abomination. of Desolation, taken in conjunction with the Temple of God, means the “loathsome and hateful action which causes the abandonment by God of the Temple of God, making it void of His Habitation and in connection with 2 Thessalonians 2, possessed by satan.
In its Scriptural context, what then is the meaning of the term ‘Abomination of Desolation?’ The scriptural link that biblical scholars make between a rebuilt Jewish Temple and the “Abomination of Desolation” is highly tenuous, and largely the result of Pre-Tribulational teachings. These teachings contend that the Old Testament, and even as astonishing as it might seem, many books of the New Testament, were written specifically to the Jews and have little, if any, direct impact on Christians.
While this is true to a minor extent, this teaching, if carried too far leads to absurdity. Therefore, according to the Pre-Tribulationalists, since the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus in 70 AD, the Temple spoken of in Matthew and in 2 Thessalonians 2 must be a REBUILT Jewish Temple. However, there is nothing in the Scripture that directly states that the Temple will be rebuilt prior to the Millennium, although reasonable speculation could establish the distinct possibility that such a Temple could be rebuilt after the Gog/Magog War. That there will be a Temple of one sort or another, there can, however, be no doubt. But to necessarily equate that Temple with a REBUILT Jewish Temple can only be done on the basis of speculation.
New Testament Temple
Paul reminds us that God does not dwell within the cold, dead stones of “temples made with hands,” but “you (believers) are the Temple of the Living God (II Corinthians 6:16). Isaiah prophesied that the true house of the Lord would be a house of prayer for all nations, Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations… Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves (Isaiah 56:7; Mark 11:17).
In fulfillment of that prophecy, believers of every nation today, as living stones, are being built up into a scriptural house, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5), an habitation of God through the Spirit, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). Despite the perfect clarity of this teaching, there are those who insist that the Temple of God must be understood strictly in terms of the Old Jewish Temple and that it is part of God’s eternal purpose to restore not only the “Temple of Solomon” but also the ritual burnt offerings and sacrifices.
But such a teaching borders on heresy, implying as it does that God would again have regard for animal sacrifice. This seems to make of small the consequence of the sacrifice of Jesus – whose precious sacrifice was made once and for all, and to which the animal offerings of the Old Testament merely pointed toward. This does not mean that the old Jewish Temple will not be rebuilt nor does it mean that there will not be a physical temple in the Millennial Kingdom. Indeed, the Old Testament prophets foresaw just such a temple. But this temple will merely be an outward physical manifestation of the inward reality in the believer’s heart.
Daniel 9:26-27 does not make mention of the Temple in connection with the Abomination of Desolation. This seems to make of small the consequence the sacrifice of Jesus. All that is said in this passage is that the old Jewish Temple would be destroyed by the Prince that would come, possibly the Roman General Titus.
It is not until the New Testament that such a connection is made, and that by Jesus Himself just prior to His crucifixion, and by the Apostle Paul, And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down… Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (Matthew 24:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
It is important also to note that the LORD Himself made this connection between the Abomination of Desolation and the Temple, just after telling the Pharisees that He would tear down the Temple and in three days raise it up again (John 2:19). The Pharisees thought that Jesus was referring to the Jewish Temple, which He was not. He was making reference to His own Body.
Thus, when the connection between the Abomination of Desolation and the Temple of God is first made, it is made essentially at the same time when Jesus described the Temple as man, not a Temple made of stone and mud. The old Jewish Temple was put away after the crucifixion of Christ; the glory of God departed from it, which was signified by the rending of the veil in the old Jewish Temple, and instead was deposited forever into man at Pentecost signified by the tongues of flame over the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. Thus, man, not a picture or type, but man, is now the true and ultimate Temple of God, the fulfillment of God’s plan.
It should be noted in this respect that when Paul referred to believers as the temple, he used the Greek word “naos” for temple, Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are…. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people… having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone… 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:20-22),.
When Paul referred to the physical temple in Jerusalem, he used the Greek word “heiron” for temple, Now it happened, when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I was in a trance... And they neither found me in the temple disputing with anyone nor inciting the crowd, either in the synagogues or in the city… in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a mob nor with tumult… while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all… For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me… Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? (Acts 22:17; 24:12, 18; 25:8, 26:21; 1 Corinthians 9:13)
“Naos” is the word for temple used in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 with regard to the temple in connection with the Abomination of Desolation: “so that he (satan) as God sits in the temple (naos) of God, showing himself that he is God.” Therefore, it could be interpreted that Paul did not mean that Antichrist was simply going to sit down in a physical temple (heiron).
THE OLD JEWISH TEMPLE AND MAN
Like the old Jewish Temple, man is described as a three part entity – body, soul, and spirit, each corresponding to the three parts of the Jewish Temple – the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holiest of All. It was in the Holiest of All that the glory of God dwelt. No one was ever permitted access to this part of the Temple except the High Priest. It was reserved exclusively for God.
It must be emphasized that man is not merely a type of the Temple of God: he is the Temple in which the Triune God longs to dwell. This is not a new concept. Many Christians, including Andrew Murray, Clarence Larkin, the Brethren, and others have long recognized this fact. Moreover, this fact is not a spiritualizing of the Word of God: it is the clear testimony of Scripture.
John 14:23 states: if a man love me (Christ), he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our dwelling (temple or tabernacle) with him. In Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul speaks of regenerated man as the building or temple of God: in whom all the building, fitly framed together, grows into an holy Temple in the Lord, in whom you are also built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Indeed the entire Old Temple symbolizes the place of God’s presence and serves as a general picture of God’s habitation, it is, nevertheless, in the Holy of Holies where God actually dwells, with the Holy Place and the Outer Court standing for those spheres of divine activity which are in accordance with God’s presence. Answering to this typology, God’s Spirit now dwells in our spirit, the reality of our heart is that it is the Holy of Holies.
We see then that the “Abomination of Desolation” is much more than the desecration of a rebuilt Jewish Temple. While Satan has corrupted man’s body, and through it man’s soul, or his mind he has never had access to man’s spirit. The spirit of man, like the Holiest of All, is reserved for God and Him alone; it is the Seat of God, His throne, His ultimate place of habitation and dwelling.
Satan has never occupied this part of man, not even those of un-regenerated men, at least while they were living. Man’s spirit has been wholly protected by the restraining power of God (II Thessalonians 2:7, RV or LB).
Only once in a very special and limited instance has this restraining power been lifted. The instance involved Judas, the Son of Perdition. During the time of the Last Supper, Scripture says that satan “entered into Judas.” What could this possibly mean? We are aware today that Satan has great influence over man’s fallen nature – the works of the flesh and the fiery darts of the wicked one which assault man’s mind (soul) attest to man’s current vulnerability.
Condition of Perdition
There could be no reason for satan to seek further expression of his personality through man’s fallen nature (man’s body and soul). With regard to Judas, satan evidently took full possession of him. He entered into a part of Judas that he apparently had never before had access to – his human spirit. This probably accounts for the name that the Scripture has given to Judas – “the Son of Perdition.”
The term perdition is an archaic word meaning “utter destruction, absolute loss, eternal damnation.” It is interesting to note that when God enters a man’s spirit through the “new birth,” man receives eternal life. No doubt, when satan enters a man’s spirit, he receives eternal damnation or perdition. In the first act, man becomes eternally a son of God; in the second act, man becomes eternally a son of satan.
It is probably this one sin, this final act of desecration, that Paul refers to as the unforgivable sin. Since that which is eternal remains eternal eternally, whether it be for good or whether it be for evil, there certainly could be no turning back from this particular sin.
In the light of all this, we must conclude that the “Abomination of Desolation” is nothing less than the final and complete desecration of man’s being, the true Temple of God (II Thessalonians 2:7). As he did with Judas, satan will enter the Antichrist’s spirit and. as with Judas, this accounts for the new title the Antichrist receives: “the Son of Perdition (II Thessalonians 2:3-8).”
G.H. Pember writing in 1876, fully grasped the work of satan as the “Son of Perdition” in Earth’s Earliest Ages: “Now while evil angels and demons are doubtless appointed for the ordinary work of influencing mankind, yet we can easily imagine that, whenever there is any transcendently mighty issue at stake, their great leader, who excels them all in wisdom and power, would himself undertake the more arduous labor. And, accordingly, at out Lord’s first advent, when the hour of the Prince of Darkness had come, satan himself entered into Judas; and directed him to his fearful crime (John 13:27).
“So when the last great masterpiece of the Adversary shall appear, the Antichrist, whose coming, as Paul tells us, is after the working of satan (II Thessalonians 2:9), and to whom the Dragon shall give his power, and his throne, and great authority (Revelation13:2), it is but reasonable to suppose that he will be possessed and energized by the Devil in person. And thus, he will be a COMPOUND BEING, PARTLY HUMAN, PARTLY SUPERHUMAN.”
What is even more terrible, there is reason to believe that the desecration of man’s spirit will not simply be limited to the Antichrist, but that it will spread to all un-regenerated men, at least to all those who are marked by the beast (Revelation 19:20). As it was not God’s intention to limit His habitation to Christ, but through the Holy Spirit to regenerate and indwell the human spirit, so also it is not Satan’s intention to limit his habitation to the spirit of Antichrist, but to inhabit all un-regenerated men.
It must be carefully noted here that “relationship” and “identity” have been maintained throughout our exposition of these passages (i.e. Holy Spirit regenerates and ‘indwells’ (Romans 8) man’s spirit; thus allowing man to enter into “fellowship” with the Lord, enabling the sanctifying work of Holy Spirit to be manifested in the life of the believer. Also, it is God’s desire throughout the Scriptures to be brought into fellowship with man. This relationship is made effectual via the new birth – “that which is born of the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is spirit (the human spirit) (John 3:6).”
To reinforce this argument of relationship, we point to I Corinthians 6:16-17: “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute (note – two different entities mentioned here: the fornicator .and the prostitute) is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two wi11 become one flesh. But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit, he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit (KJV).” Thus, although the human spirit and the Holy Spirit are united or joined in union, they retain their identities and distinctions, but the believer is considered one with Him in spirit (no doubt a regenerated human spirit).
The antithesis of this “regenerating” work of Holy Spirit is the “desolating” work of satan. Whereas one becomes the dwelling place of Holy Spirit within the Holy of Holies, the other becomes through the Abomination of Desolation the “son of perdition” and in all likelihood the “sons of perdition.”
As the believer is “sealed” by the Holy Spirit or “marked out” by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30), the antithesis of this is the “mark of the beast,” which effectually “seals” or “marks out” those who are ultimately destined for eternal perdition (Revelation 16:2; 19:20-21; 14:9-11). The institution or implementation of the “mark of the beast” occurs directly after the Antichrist receives a “fatal wound” from which he recovers (Revelation 13:3). It is at this juncture, the middle of the Seventieth Week, that Antichrist is now referred to as the “beast” (Revelation 13). The antithesis of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the “recovery from the fatal wound” by the Antichrist, who now takes on the nature of a “beast.”
The thesis of man being created in the image of God is to be indwe1t by the Spirit of God (Romans 8), being brought into fellowship and/or relationship with God. This brings about the fulfilling of God’s original design for the spirit of man. It is the opposite of the satanic union through the Abomination of Desolation and the “mark of the beast” through which man’s spirit is “desecrated” and left void of any possibility of fellowship with God. Thus, the “sons of perdition” who have received this marking by the beast, are contrasted to the “sons or children of God,” who have been “marked out” by Holy Spirit. The “sealing of the Holy Spirit” is the antithesis of the “mark of the beast.”
Finally, the Scripture says that the Antichrist, in connection with the Abomination of Desolation, will put away the “morning and evening sacrifice.” What does this mean? The “morning and evening sacrifice” was the burnt offering made twice a day for the WHOLE CONGREGATION OF ISRAEL. The meaning of the burnt offering typifies consecration and service to Christ (Romans 12:1). Thus, in addition to the obvious reference to Israel, the “morning and evening sacrifice” of the WHOLE BURNT OFFERING also typifies the CORPORATE consecration and service of Christians to the Lord. This probably indicates that the Church, as a corporate whole of all true believers, will be ravaged, seemingly destroyed, and that its ability to re-assemble will be curtailed. Thus, the “Abomination of Desolation” ultimately means the loathsome and hateful action, which causes the abandonment or giving up by God of man’s spirit, making it void of God’s Spirit and possessed by satan’s spirit.
One final comment is in order here. As has already been pointed out, man is a tripartite being – body, soul and spirit. It is his possession of a spirit which sets man apart from the beasts, not his mind. Through his spirit, man was meant to commune with God; the beasts were never meant to do so thus, do not possess a spirit, only, a body and soul. It is of some interest to note that after the Abomination of Desolation, Antichrist is referred to as “the Beast” – quiet possibly no longer a human being, but a beast loosing possession of any possibility of ever again touching God, his spirit forever deadened and given over to Satan.
Summary of the Last 31/2 Years of the Tribulation
It is through the awesome impact of the “Abomination of Desolation” that Satan, for 3-1/2 years, gains direct and unhindered power for the first time over man, and through man over the earth. Because satan’s power is now direct and unhindered, it takes on supernatural dimensions. It is at this time that the False Prophet appears and satan worship is instituted and the church is destroyed or greatly diminished to clear the way for this form of “bestial” adoration. As Christ was given 3 1/2 years for His ministry, so the Antichrist, as the Beast, will have 3 1/2 years.
Israelis will be forced to flee into the “wilderness (Revelation 12:14-17).” The City of Jerusalem will be taken from the nation Israel and given back to the Gentiles (Revelation 11:2) for “forty and two months” (3 1/2 years Revelation 11:2b). Some think that this will trigger a time when Christians and diasporic Jews who are unable to escape will be hunted down and killed mercilessly. A slaughter will commence which in sheer size and magnitude will dwarf the Holocaust of Hitler.
“But after three and a half days (the last3 l/2 years of the Seventieth Week), the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they (Israel and the Church) stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them that saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, ‘come up hither.’ And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them, AND THE SEVENTH (and last) Angel SOUNDED (a Shofar) (Revelation 11:11, l5a).”
Compare with Matthew 24:29-31 in conjunction with 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: Immediately after the tribulation of those days (the last half of the seventieth Week) shall the sun be darkened and the moon shall not give her light and the stars shall fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and He shall send His angels with a GREAT SOUND OF A TRUMPET (the trumpet spoken of in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with THE TRUMPET OF GOD, and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds… and they shall gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to “the other (Matthew 24:29-31).
THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION AND THE TEMPLE OF GOD
It is quite clear from Scripture that the evil impact of the Abomination of Desolation will be directed against the “____________________________.” This seems to make of small the consequence the sacrifice of Jesus
Thus, when the connection between the Abomination of Desolation and the Temple of God is first made, it is made essentially at the same time when Jesus described the Temple as ___________, not a Temple made of _____________ and _______________.
It should be noted in this respect that when Paul referred to believers as the temple (I Corinthians 3:16-17; I Corinthians 6:19; II Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:20-22), he used the Greek word “_________________” for temple. When Paul referred to the physical temple in Jerusalem (Acts 22:17; 24:12, 18; 25:8, 26:21; I Corinthians 9:13), he used the Greek word “__________________________” for temple.
Answering to this typology, God’s Spirit now dwells in our _____________, the reality of our heart is that it is the ___________________________.
It is interesting to note that when God enters a man’s spirit through the “new birth,” man receives __________________________________.
No doubt, when satan enters a man’s spirit, he receives __________________________________________________.
G.H. Pember writing in 1876, fully grasped the work of satan as the “Son of Perdition” in Earth’s Earliest Ages: “Now while evil angels and demons are doubtless appointed for the ordinary work of influencing mankind, yet we can easily imagine that, whenever there is any transcendently mighty issue at stake, their great leader, who excels them all in wisdom and power, would himself undertake the more arduous labor. And, accordingly, at out Lord’s first advent, when the hour of the Prince of Darkness had come, satan himself entered into Judas; and directed him to his fearful crime (John 13:27). So when the last great masterpiece of the Adversary shall appear, the Antichrist, whose coming, as Paul tells us, is after the working of satan (II Thessalonians 2:9), and to whom the Dragon shall give his power, and his throne, and great authority (Revelation13:2), it is but reasonable to suppose that he will be possessed and energized by the Devil in person. And thus, he will be a COMPOUND BEING, PARTLY __________________, PARTLY _______________________________________.”
It must be carefully noted here that “___________” and “______________” have been maintained throughout our exposition of these passages (Holy Spirit regenerates and ‘indwells’ (Romans 8) man’s spirit; thus allowing man to enter into “fellowship” with the Lord, enabling the sanctifying work of Holy Spirit to be manifested in the life of the believer.
The antithesis of this “regenerating” work of Holy Spirit is the “__________” work of satan.
Thus, the “Abomination of Desolation” ultimately means the loathsome and hateful action, which causes the ____________ or giving up by God of man’s spirit, making it _________________ of God’s Spirit and ________________ by satan’s _____________.