Abomination of Desolation: Explained! Part 1
Copyright 1994 - 2017 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
August 5, 2016

Last Updated :
August 5, 2016


Jesus' Warning Regarding The Abomination Of Desolation, My Previous Misguided Beliefs, Revelation's Image Of The Beast, King Nebuchadnezzar's Vanity And Idol Of Gold, My Previous Ideas Regarding Abomination Of Desolation, Implausibility Of Great Idol In Modern Jerusalem, Jews And Muslims Hate Idols, Abomination Of Desolation Pertains To Distant Past In Israel, Jerusalem Compassed By Roman Armies, First Jewish-Roman War, Jerusalem And Temple Compound Destroyed In 70 AD, Jesus Warns His Followers, Daniel's "Seventy Weeks" Prophecy, A 490-Year Prophetic Age Ends 70-73 AD, Jesus' Crucifixion Prophesied By Daniel, Daniel Prophesies Jerusalem's Destruction By Titus, Artaxerxes I And Cyrus The Great, With A Flood = With An Army, Romans Possessed The Abomination Of Desolation, Abomination In Greek: Something Foul Abhorred Detestable And Idolatrous, Flee From Jerusalem When You Witness The Abomination Of Desolation




For many years -- centuries in fact -- Christian theologians, Bible teachers, church preachers and layman have contemplated and debated the precise meaning of a mysterious and esoteric phrase that finds its origin in the Old Testament Scriptures, and which is translated in two of the New Testament Gospels -- Matthew and Mark -- as "abomination of desolation", as we see here:

"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)"
Matthew 24:15, KJV


"But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:"
Mark 13:14, KJV


Exactly what is meant by the Abomination of Desolation? For many years -- decades in fact -- I was convinced that I had a basic understanding of what it was. Due to the fact that since a rather young age I had embraced what is referred to as the Futurist point-of-view insofar as my personal beliefs were concerned, similar to so many other modern Christians, I erroneously assumed that a future world leader -- who is referred to as the Beast or the Antichrist by the majority of Christians -- was going to place some kind of idol in a rebuilt Temple -- that is, in a third and final Temple -- on the summit of Mount Moriah in East Jerusalem. At that point, the entire world would be required to worship the idol. This event is described in the following verses which are found in the Book of Revelation:

"And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."
Revelation 13:11-15, KJV


In my thinking at the time, this would be similar to King Nebuchadnezzar constructing a huge image of gold, which he set up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon, in Daniel chapter three. All the king's subjects were likewise required to worship the idol, or else face death, as we see here:

"Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of musick, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up."
Daniel 3:1-7, KJV


The vanity of mere humans is really something else. As they say, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. At any rate, while I wasn't exactly sure what the idol in the Book of Revelation might actually be, I entertained the possibility that it might be a large computer monitor which would display a live feed of the Beast, and that would allow him to dictate his commands to the world, with death being the price of disobedience. I also considered that it might be some kind of huge cybernetic replication of the Beast himself. After all, human-looking robots are becoming more and more popular with each passing year. The Japanese in particular are making great strides in this area. In short, due to my own confusion, I was equating Daniel's Abomination of Desolation with Revelation's description of the Image of the Beast.

However, as it now turns out, I was really off the mark in my personal understanding. In fact, in retrospect, I now see how ridiculous and nonsensical my previous ideas really were. I mean, seriously, folks. Think about it. We are living in the 21st Century. This is not Israel two thousand years ago, or ancient Babylon twenty-six hundred years ago. As such, no one is going to dare set up some kind of huge idol in a new Temple in Jerusalem, and demand that the whole world worship it. The idea is ludicrous, and such a person would be laughed at and scorned. Furthermore, in recent years, I've also been leaning towards the belief that there will never be a third Temple in Jerusalem, despite what so many modern Christians have been led to believe. This latter issue is addressed in a separate article.

To add to all of this, we need to consider in what area of the world these prophetic events are said to take place. As we already know, it is in Israel and the Middle East. This point alone exposes the foolishness of embracing some kind of future scenario where a great idol is set up in the city of East Jerusalem. It is a historical fact that the Jews and the Muslims are strongly opposed to idol worship. If we also consider the military might of the Israelis, I believe that it is safe to say that no idol will ever stand in any part of the city of Jerusalem; particularly not in a new Temple, even if it was to ever be built, which I doubt.

Now, because of their futuristic leanings, some of my fellow Christian brethren may argue that this supposed future leader -- i.e., the Beast or Antichrist -- will invade, conquer and subdue Israel. As a result, because Israel is weakened, he will be able to do as he pleases; including setting up the Abomination of Desolation, or Image of the Beast, if you wish to call it that. However, even if that were true -- which I obviously don't believe it is -- no religious or secular Jew will ever bow down and worship it. The Jews are a hard-nosed and very stubborn people. Neither would any Muslim.

Believe me; I fully understand why so many modern Christians embrace the aforementioned futuristic scenario. Please don't forget that for many years I did too; so I know exactly which Bible verses are used to supposedly support such beliefs. As I have already said, I am now convinced that interpretation of the Scriptures is completely wrong. All of those verses which are used by some Christians to support what I have just explained to you, very clearly describe a much different time when Israel was in fact dominated by her enemies, when such events truly could have taken place. Do you understand what I am talking about yet? If not, please keep reading, and I am sure that everything will become perfectly clear to you.

So exactly what is this Abomination of Desolation which the Prophet Daniel tells us will "stand in the holy place", and which Jesus considered so vitally important that He warned His followers about it in three of the Gospels? In light of new Scriptural evidence which I have uncovered in more recent years, as I said earlier, I am convinced that it has nothing to do with our current time, and that it refers to something which occurred in the distant past. We find a clue regarding the actual nature of the Abomination of Desolation in Luke chapter twenty-one, which is a companion chapter to both Matthew twenty-four and Mark thirteen, which I quoted from earlier. In Luke, Jesus states the following:

"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled."
Luke 21:20-22, KJV


As I explain in articles such as "Jesus Christ's Return: Have We Been Deceived?", we know from the actual historical record that the Lord is referring to the armies of Rome, which were under the command of General Titus, who was the son of then emperor, Vespasian. Together with their local allies -- which included the armies of King Herod Agrippa II, who had fled from Jerusalem when the unrest intensified -- they utterly destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple Compound in 70 AD. This destruction occurred right in the middle of the seven-year First Jewish-Roman War, which began in 66 AD, and concluded seven years later in 73 AD. These dates and this time frame are extremely important to our proper understanding of some Bible prophecies -- such as those written by Daniel, quoted by the Lord, and repeated by the Apostle John in the Book of Revelation -- so please keep them in mind.

You will recall that at the very beginning of this series, I quoted Jesus' words from the Gospel of Mark where He states "But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not." It should be evident to you then that all of these verses from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are talking about the very same historic events surrounding the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Compound in 70 AD. This act of great destruction followed a Roman siege which endured for several years before the outer walls of the city were totally breached. So Jesus is basically telling His followers, "Look; when you see the Abomination of Desolation standing in the Holy Place -- that is, the Temple Mount -- you better get out quickly, because the city's destruction is imminent." I have mentioned the Prophet Daniel several times now, but what exactly did he write regarding these tragic events? Consider the following verses:

"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
Daniel 9:24-27, KJV


As I point out in the aforementioned series entitled "Jesus Christ's Return: Have We Been Deceived?" and elsewhere as well, these verses are commonly referred to as the Prophet Daniel's "Seventy Weeks" prophecy. In these verses, the word "week" is actually derived from the Hebrew word "shabuwa", or "shabua", which actually means "seven". In other words, in Hebrew, the previous verse really means "seventy sevens", or a total of four hundred and ninety. But four hundred and ninety what? As it turns out, these "seventy weeks" are not referring to seventy seven-day periods; rather, they really mean seventy seven-year periods, or a total of four hundred and ninety years.

So as not to be too repetitive in my articles, if you would like a more detailed explanation regarding how I arrived at this conclusion regarding years as opposed to literal days, please refer to the series I just mentioned. Suffice it to say that I am convinced that this 490-year Prophetic Age ended in 70-73 AD when the First Jewish-Roman War came to its conclusion. As you can see, Daniel's prophecy is neatly divided into three distinct periods of weeks, or seven-year periods. The first period consists of seven weeks, for a total of forty-nine years; the second period consists of sixty-two weeks, or four-hundred and thirty-four years -- and the last period consists of one week -- or seven years.

What this prophecy is clearly telling us is that at the end of the first sixty-nine weeks -- or four-hundred and eighty three years -- the Messiah -- that is, Jesus Christ -- will be "cut off"; that is, crucified. The Angel Gabriel informs Daniel that this won't happen "for himself"; that is to say, Jesus will die for the sins of the world. Gabriel then tells Daniel that following the Crucifixion of the Messiah, "the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary". From our previous discussion, it should be clear to you that this is describing how Titus and his Roman legions caused the daily sacrifice and the morning and evening oblations to cease -- from the Hebrew word "shabath" -- and then proceeded to destroy Jerusalem and the sanctuary; that is, Herod's Temple.

As I explain in a few other articles, this "Seventy Weeks" prophecy did not begin to be fulfilled until years later during the reign of Persian king Artaxerxes I, who was the son of Xerxes. It was he who first gave the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, and to rebuild the street and the wall. However, due to troubles in Jerusalem, as well as political bureaucracy, it really wasn't until the reign of Cyrus the Great -- or Koresh -- that the Jews were really allowed to return to the city of Jerusalem and rebuild the wall. This too was in fulfillment of prophecy, with Cyrus even being mentioned by name, as we can easily determine by the following verses:

"Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish; That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof: That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers: That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me."
Isaiah 44:24-45:4, KJV


"Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up."
2 Chronicles 36:22-23, KJV


"Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem. Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered. Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods; Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah. And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives, Thirty basons of gold, silver basons of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand. All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem."
Ezra 1:1-11, KJV


"But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon the same king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God. And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto one, whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place. Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundation of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and yet it is not finished. Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king’s treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter. Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein was a record thus written: In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; With three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house: And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which is at Jerusalem, every one to his place, and place them in the house of God."
Ezra 5:13-6:5, KJV


"And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king."
Ezra 6:14-15, KJV


"And Daniel continued even unto the first year of king Cyrus."
Daniel 1:21, KJV


"So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius, and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian."
Daniel 6:28, KJV


When the Prophet Daniel writes "the end thereof shall be with a flood", please understand that he is not referring to an actual flood of physical water, even though this is what the Hebrew word "sheteph" means. Rather, Daniel is speaking in a metaphorical sense regarding the great flood of Roman armies which in fact surrounded and sieged Jerusalem. We find the word "flood" being used in similar fashion in other verses that are found throughout the Bible as well. Consider the following examples:

"So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him."
Isaiah 59:19, KJV


"Who is this that cometh up as a flood, whose waters are moved as the rivers? Egypt riseth up like a flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof."
Jeremiah 46:7-8, KJV


"The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza. Thus saith the LORD; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl. At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands; Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor."
Jeremiah 47:1-4, KJV


"And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant."
Daniel 11:21-22, KJV


Thus far, we have seen the connection between what is stated by Jesus in three of the Gospels, and the amazing prophecies which were given to Daniel hundreds of years prior to that time. However, we still need to decipher exactly what this Abomination of Desolation is, or was, to be more precise. One fact which should already be clear to you is that whatever it was, the Abomination of Desolation was directly related to the armies which surrounded, sieged and ultimately destroyed Jerusalem and burned down the Jews' beloved Temple Compound. It was something which the Romans possessed, and which could in some way stand in the Holy Place; that is, on the Temple Mount, and perhaps even in the Temple itself, despite the strong objections of the Jews.

Before we begin to unravel this mystery, let's review the various words and phrases which are used to describe this mysterious object in both the Old and the New Testaments. They include the following:
• abomination of desolation
• overspreading of abominations
• he shall make it desolate
• poured upon the desolate
• the desolation thereof is nigh
To reiterate, I am convinced that all of the previous words and phrases are referring to the very same tragic events in ancient Jewish history; that is, to the invasion of Israel by Vespasian and Titus and their Roman armies and allies during the latter half of the First Century, and the utter destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Compound in the year 70 AD. As we have seen, these events occurred during the seven-year First Jewish-Roman War from 66 AD to 73 AD, according to the historical record. Now we have to figure out what Jesus was telling His followers to look out for, so that they would know that it was time to flee to the hills of Judaea before it was too late to do so.

To begin, in the New Testament verses we have examined thus far, the word "abomination" is derived from the Greek word "bdelugma". This word signifies a foul thing, or something that is detestable, particularly to God. It can be used to refer to idols and other things pertaining to idolatry, as well as to things and people which are considered unclean, including certain animals and foods. Aside from the verses which we have already covered, following are two more where this same Greek word is used. This same meaning regarding something or someone which is foul, detestable and unapproved by God is clear in both of them:

"And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God."
Luke 16:15, KJV


"And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life."
Revelation 21:27, KJV


There are three other verses found in the New Testament where the word "abominable" is used. While in each case a different Greek word is used -- that is "bdeluktos", "athemitos" and "bdelusso" -- the general meaning of the words is still the same for the most part; that is, something or someone that is viewed as being foul, detestable and worthy to be abhorred. In the case of "athemitos", it is used to mean abominable when something is prohibited by law. Following are the verses where these words are used:

"They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate."
Titus 1:16, KJV


"For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:"
1 Peter 4:3, KJV


"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
Revelation 21:8, KJV


So taking into consideration all of the New Testament verses where the words "abomination" and "abominable" are used, we can conclude that Jesus appears to be saying that when the Apostles witness something foul, detestable, unclean, worthy to be abhorred and idolatrous standing "in the holy place" -- that is, somewhere on the Temple Mount -- they should take it as a sign that it is time for them to flee from Jerusalem.

Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.

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