Demystifying the mysterious ‘abomination of desolation’

JeffOne of the ways we can look at the mysterious apocalyptic phrase “abomination of desolation” is to see it as a “Tale of Three Cities” — Babylon, Tyre and Ninevah — and how all three cities are really symbolic of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) herself. The carnage of the “abomination of desolation” will not come on Babylon, Tyre, Ninevah or any of our great cities of modern times like London, New York or Tokyo. From God’s prophets, we understand that it was and will be the people of Yerushalayim who will have a front row seat, and it will be for the same reasons for the previous desolations.

George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We are blessed to read these repeated warning of the spiritual condition of people God calls before an “abomination of desolation” — and internalize the lessons. 

Today’s talk focuses on the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by the prophet Daniel and quoted by Yeshua (Luke 21:20; Matt. 24:15, Mk. 13:14). The prophet mentions three abominable desolations (Dan. 9:24-27, 11:29-35, 12:5-13).

In Daniel 9, the prophet tells of a destruction of Yerushalayim and the Temple 69 “sevens” after the decree to restore and rebuild the city.

We hear preachers throw around the phrase “abomination” frequently in Leviticus and Daniel but many people don’t know what it really means. 

The Hebrew word for abominations in Daniel 9 is שִׁקּוּצִים shiqqutzim. Its derivation is from שׁקּוּץ shiqqutz (H8251), which means to detest. The root verb is קִיץ qits (H6972), which means to clip off. It also means disgusted, anxious, abhor, be distressed, be grieved, loathe, vex, be weary. Shiqqutz is identical with qits through the idea of severing oneself from something. 

The derivation of abomination as something that is detestable, it is to be harvested, not in a good way, but to get rid of it, like one gets rid of weeds. 

The word desolation is a bit easier to understand in the Hebrew: שׁמָמָה shemamah or shimamah (H8077). It is derived from H8074, which means devastation, waste. It means to leave barren and empty

There are multiple examples of “abomination of desolation” of the Tabernacle or Temple, starting with the Tabernacle in Shiloh, when the Ark of the Covenant was taken away to Philistia. We are told about the story in 1 Sam. 4:12-22. The Ark was moved but the Tabernacle was still there. Why? They had taken the Ark out for war to give them some luck. That was the root of the problem. They were treating God’s throne like a lucky charm. When you look for a pattern in these “abomination of desolations,” we examples of where the people were disconnected from God and He disconnects Himself from His tabernacle/temple. The abomination of desolation is not a one-time thing and it’s not new. It’s good to look at why these things happened.

There were other “abomination of desolations” that came to Israel including: 

  • Yerushalayim by Babylon, when the Temple was torn down
  • Yerushalayim by Seleucia, where the Temple was not torn down but desecrated with pigs and pagan idols
  • Yerushalayim by Rome, when the Temple was torn down again and absolutely flattened.
  • Yerushalayim just before the Day of the Lord.

You can have the problem of “desolation” whenever you get rid of the “bad stuff” but leave it empty and not letting God in. Be careful of clearing your mind and not filling it with something useful because something will fill the vacuum. 

Remember all these “desolations” whether they came at the hands Babylon, Rome, etc. were really from God’s hands. When He left the Temple, evil came in.

Woman of Revelation 18

 In Rev. 18:1-20, We read about this arrogant woman who says, “I sit as a queen, and I am not a widow.” This arrogance that we read in Rev. 18:7 alludes back to Isaiah 47 and Zephaniah 2.

This Queen represents different superpowers in history including: 

Babylon: Isa. 47:5-11

Babylon was an instrument of God’s punishment of Israel because He was angry with them. He used Babylon to correct them. This desolation happened because of idolatry & syncretism. You can find this evident in many archaeological digs in Israel from the time period covering pre-Babylonian exile Israel. There was a lot of confusion in Israel because of this. He is talking about Babylon but he is also talking about  Yerushalayim.

Nineveh: Zeph. 2:15-3:4

At first, this appears to be a judgment against Assyria and Ethiopia, as the Lord said He would “destroy” it, “make Nineveh a desolation [שְׁמָמָה]” (Zeph. 2:13). This looks like a prophesy against Nineveh but then it seems to segue into a prophesy against the leaders of Yerushalayim, seen in v. 4. There is no law, no sanctuary in Nineveh, and the prophesy against Nineveh is also a prophesy against Yerushalayim. 

It was a sign to Yisra’el that the “oppressive,” “rebellious” city ― “heeded no voice,” “accepted no instruction,” “did not trust in the Lord,” “did not draw near to her God” ― could repent when God prescribed desolation for it. Nineveh’s repentance postponed her destruction. 

Perhaps, this is why God forced Yonah/Jonah toward Nineveh. He was sent there to Nineveh as a sign against Yerushalayim. Nineveh repented and their repentance was a message to Israel as it was to Nineveh. Both Yonah and Zephaniah could see another abomination of desolation against Yerushalayim was in the works. 

By trusting the Messiah’s death and resurrection as the cleaning agent, a remnant of Yisra’el would turn back from the rebellion against the Lord, as foretold in Zeph. 3:8–13. There will be a remnant who will cry out to the Lord for mercy. This is a hint of the new covenant. They will all call on the name of the Lord, take refuge in Him.

Early believers in Yeshua as the Messiah seem to have understood the “sign of Yonah” was about rebirth from death. Pictures of Yonah being vomited out of the sea creature have been found carved on a number of tombs of early believers in Yeshua, representing the promise of a rebirth, a resurrection — first from the old life, second to eternal life.

Tyre: Eze. 28:1-19

Tyre was a big trading center on an island off the coast. Phoenicians sent ships and set up colonies throughout the Mediterranean, setting up colonies in eastern Spain and north Africa. Tyre was also persistent in rebelling against occupation, a number of times successfully, most of the the major empires Daniel was shown — Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Ptolomy, Seluecia, Rome and Parthia. Their geography worked to their advantage in resisting most of these occupations, at least until Alexander the Great came along. Tyre was a power to be reckoned with, they were “tireless.” Their arrogance was their downfall. 

The king of Tyre was compared to various persons including Adam, the high priest, and the cherub Lucifer.

Considering that Tyre had holy places dedicated to Ba’al and later Hercules, the proclamation “you profaned your sanctuaries” sounds odd coming from the Lord via Ezekiel. Why would the prophet or God Himself care about Tyre profaning her pagan sanctuaries. The “holiness” of these pagan temples were not at issue. The prophesy against Tyre is also a prophesy against Yerushalayim. 

Who is the husband of the “queen” in Revelation? She was married to the Ba’al, her daughters are those who follow in her masquerade. This syncretism, represented by this Queen, were a constant source of temptation to and judgement against Israel throughout history.

Why did the desolations happen?

None of these abominations would have happened if the people hadn’t mixed the worship of God with the worship of those things that are not really God. That mixing is called syncretism. If they had held true to what God actually said, these abominations of desolations would not have come upon Yerushalayim.

There is a pattern for us to learn from. When we see the “man of sin” Paul warned us about, we will be able to see him when God moves out. That’s a terrible thing to see a time when God’s glory is departed. We are in danger when we don’t look at what God actually says. When we lose hold of what God actually said and follow what we think God said, we are in danger. The abomination of desolation is a culmination of lawlessness. Each one of these “abominations of desolation” have been bad but this final one will be the worst ever witnessed by mankind. 

Daniel prayed three times a day, facing Yerushalayim, which in his day, was a flattened hill of rubble, but he held his faith that Yerushalayim would be rebuilt and God’s people would return there to rebuild it. What do you do when God’s physical house is gone? Daniel didn’t lose his faith. We don’t loose our faith because Yeshua is still the High Priest. The Yerushalayim above is still there. 

Speaker: Jeff. Summary: Tammy. 

Recent posts in Apostolic Writings

Recent posts in Discussions

Recent posts in Prophets and Writings

What do you think about this?