The Abomination of Desolation
After God saved Israel from Egypt and took them into the wilderness to meet with Him at Mount Sinai, they agreed to follow all that YAHWEH had spoken. This was the Mosaic Covenant between God and Israel and is central to much of prophecy as it is intriquately tied to Israel and later Jerusalem. This was a covenant like a ketubah, or marriage covenant, where both parties make promises to each other. Indeed throughout scripture God refers to Israel’s going after other gods as adultery and breaking of this covenant to love God with all their heart and soul and have no other gods before Him. As part of this, God laid out a series of blessings and curses tied to this conditional covenant in Leviticus 26:1-46, Deuteronomy 7:12-24, and Deuteronomy 28:1-68. One in particular that is tied to the abomination of desolation comes from a curse regarding Israel’s sanctuaries being made desolate.
As becomes evident from the study of the visions of Daniel and John and the six historical heads of the symbolic beast, historically Israel’s adultery in going after other gods led to a series of judgements that included much more of these curses, which Daniel explicitly recognized in his prayer of repentance in Daniel 9, but specifically included the desolation of the temple.
We saw this in the Babylonian destruction of the temple and Jerusalem on the 9th of Av in 587 BC and in the Roman destruction of the temple and Jerusalem on the 9th of Av in 70 AD. There have been other desecrations through history as well that didn’t lead to the destruction, but looting of the temple instruments around the times that Israel was turned from God.
Regarding the land, it was lying desolate when Israel was no longer in it. While Israel was gone in captivity it enjoyed the Sabbath rest Israel did not give it. We see this same idea of desolation related to absence from ones habitation and empty tents in the Psalm of David in his distress from his enemies, which much of the Psalm turned out to be prophetic speaking of Yeshua.
This is more of a general notion of desolation being uninhabited, but the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple built in Jerusalem were meant to be the habitation of God. In terms of the events this page is about, this is the critical thing to understand.
And so if the dwelling in the temple by God is the sanctification of it, the desolation of the temple must come not by the offerings God dictated, but by that which God says is an abomination to Him.
Here we see after the plague of flies that Moses wanted to go into the wilderness to make a sacrifice to God. Moses was concerned that Israel sacrificing livestock, which the Egyptians held sacred, would lead to their deaths. Their worshiping of the creature rather than the creator was the abomination of the Egyptians. This may have been part of the reasoning with the next plague where all the livestock of the Egyptians was wiped out, but none of Israel’s were. None of Israel’s livestock were to remain either because of their use of some for sacrifice to God on thier journey. Exodus 10:25-26 Of note is that the Egyptians also viewed offering their sacred beasts to another God as a form of worship an abomination.
While God is telling Israel how He will give them the land, He makes an important point that the idols of the people whose land they will be given are an abomination to Him and that they should destroy them and remove all temptation. They should also not make offerings in the ways that they did or even try to learn their ways. Just as going after other gods is adultery to God, likewise is the keeping of the idols of other gods an abomination to Him.
1 Kings 11:4-8
Even Solomon, who built the first temple, later in life turned away from God and went after other gods, abominations to God. There are many other places that God speaks of abominations to Him, but the focus of this page is on a specific term that is used by Yeshua regarding the time of the end.
I think it’s important to recognize several more things that are an abomination to God. These are related to the spiritual nature of man and will play a key role in the spiritual nature of those who will bring about the abomination of desolation.
So God finds the worship of other gods an abomination as well as a pride, a lying tongue, shedding innocent blood, wicked imaginations, swift to mischief, and a lying false witness bringing discord. What or who, in the context of the abomination of desolation Yeshua spoke of, would be the cause of an abomination in the tabernacle of God with which He cannot by nature coexist with and thereby causing that tabernacle to be desolate?
Daily Sacrifice An Abomination to the Lord?
It is clearly stated that God’s tabernacle is the sanctuary to be built in which He will dwell and sanctify. This is critically tied to the sacrifice offered twice daily on the altar at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD. This daily sacrifice is tied to the sanctuary, God dwelling there, and communion with Israel. There were other continual, or daily, parts to service at God’s temple that God said were to be a statute forever to the generations of Israel. These were all part of ministry to ensure continual operation as God had commanded. Several places in scripture “the daily” is referred to and is likely tying all of these together as continual minstry to God.
Christians tend to look Israel’s animal sacrifice as an abomination because of Christ’s sacrifice, but something should be clarified.
It was never possible for the sacrifices Israel made to take away sins, before or after Christ’s sacrifice that was sufficient. As Christians we have no need of sacrifice, as our remembrance is of Christ in communion of His works He did to save us from our sin that they be remembered no more.
We are sanctified and consecrated as kings and priests to our God by the blood of Christ while Israel, both in history and now in blindness, is still living in the Old Covenant. Israel is unable to see what was done by their Messiah for them until they are unblinded with the fulness of the Gentiles.
And so many of the things Israel was told to do was to consecrate and sanctify them to minister to God. Exodus 29 Would God, having blinded them in unbelief, remain turned from them when they begin coming back to Him the only way they know how? According to God’s promise to them, I don’t think so.
What commands did God give Israel in the wilderness that they are supposed to do? The Jewish religion is based on the Law of Moses in the Torah that defines their lives. If God keeps His promises, then when Israel turns from the secular society they are now back to the God of their fathers, obeying what He told them to do in the Torah - sacrifices and all - then God will bring them back to the land and bless them.
In addition God specifically says to Israel, not everyone, that it shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations. What was once a foreshadow can become a memorial and I believe that’s why we see sacrifices in the Messianic Kingdom as well. Isaiah 56:6-8 | Zechariah 14:16 | Jeremiah 33:15-18 | Ezekiel 43:18-46:24 | Ezekiel 46:13-15
Here we can see, just before the describing of the altar of sacrifice and offerings depicted in the remainder of the chapter, that the period depicted is after the wrath of God when Israel will no longer defile and God will dwell in their midst forever, the Messianic Kingdom.
So the question is if Israel becomes orthodox as a nation, rebuilds the temple according to the Torah, consecrates it and the priests according to the Torah, performs the daily according to the Torah, and truly has their hearts turned back to Him, will He reject them? The fact that Yeshua Himself points to the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet in terms of our future indicates that He would consider it to be the dwelling place of God in order for it to have an abomination that makes it desolate where God leaves the tabernacle.
The only other option is that this term is really just meant to show an event that at one time had meaning, but in the future has no real meaning to it, it’s just similar to what happened before. The central nature of this event in Bible prophecy leads me to lean toward the former option.
Abomination of Desolation
The reason behind the interest in this term is because of the words of Yeshua regarding His answer to the disciples’ question about “the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world.” The Olivet discourse is the central narrative from the Messiah Himself about the end of the age and so is a fit starting point to understand what is coming. The end is tied to the abomination of desolation.
These are the only two places where the exact phrase “abomination of desolation” are used in scripture, but the concept is elswhere stated differently. As covered from the beginning of this page, an abomination is something that is detestable to God and desolation, in context of tabernacling in His sanctuary, is Him departing the temple as a result of an abomination desecrating it. As we can see from this passage, to understand the abomination of desolation, we must jump into the Old Testament. Where did Daniel speak of the abomination of desolation?
Looking to the Past
Daniel wrote of the abomination of desolation in several places. In fact, a similar event to what will come in the future has happened before in history, although not to the specifications in Matthew 24:15-25, Mark 13:14-23, and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, and almost two centuries before Yeshua walked the earth as a man.
Note the language difference from “abomination of desolation” in the passage. The words are different, but the meaning is the same. “The place of His sanctuary(H4720) was cast down,” which is the same word used in Leviticus 26:31 regarding the curse of the desolation of God’s temple if Israel turned away from Him. It’s also used in Exodus 15:17 and Exodus 25:8 as the santuary in which God dwells. That the house of God is cast down is symbolic of the desecration which took it from a sanctified and consecrated place to that of desolation where God no longer resided.
As if to make a point of tying things together, the daily is taken away in conjunction with this. It is a theme throughout all the times that Daniel speaks of the sancutary being cast down, or the abomination that makes desolate. The daily is always a part of the event. It makes sense that a purposeful desecration of God’s sanctuary, or temple where He resides, would necessitate the stopping of the daily rituals and sacrifices that were part of ministering to God, who would no longer be present making the temple desolate.
Daniel has a vision of the ram with two horns and the he goat with a notable horn. These horns represent kings and this is the story of Alexander the Great conquering the Medo-Persian Empire. When the he goat’s notable horn is broken, death of Alexander the Great in Babylon, four notable horns replace it. His four generals divided his kingdom upon his death and the one magnifying himself in verses 11-14 is a future ruler from one of those generals, Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
1 Maccabees 1:10, 41-46, 54-56
As detailed in the Daniel 8 study, his abomination of desolation led to the rededication of the temple 2,300 days later celebrated today as Chanukkah. The story can be found in 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees and the events were foretold in the Book of Daniel with great clarity to the point that many declare it was written after the fact because it’s too on-point.
1 Maccabees 4:52-56
So from the record of the Maccabees, we see this historical account of both the abomination of desolation set up on the altar and when it was rededicated and the daily was restored. Daniel, over 350 years before it occurred, also described the political climate between the Ptolomaic and Seleucid Empires in Daniel 11, ending with another depiction of that same time.
Here again we see different wording regarding the same thing. They pollute the sanctuary of strength. This sanctuary is said to be to Israel, “the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes” in Ezekiel 24:21. And once again we see what Yeshua didn’t mention when pointing us to Daniel, but is always there, the taking away or stopping of the daily. Finally an abomination that makes desolate is placed. Given what we’ve seen from scripture, something God finds abominable is placed and God is no longer present in His sanctuary.
Daniel 11:1-35 can be seen represented historically as well, and I recommend going through that study. However, Daniel 11:36-45 doesn’t have the historic fulfillment and describes the attributes of the future man of sin after ending with Antiochus IV Epiphanes. In this way I believe scripture highlights the relationship of these two figures as a type for the future fulfillment and to show the similarities to help us understand the future.
So Daniel 8 and Daniel 11-12 provide a connection, foreshadow, and mirror giving us an historical example of what the abomination of desolation is. It is even to the point of connecting Daniel and John’s visions showing four kingdoms an out of which one little horn arises. In both cases historically, an idol to another god was placed in His sanctuary. If the temple of God is to represent his abode on earth, the placing of an idol to be worshiped in it would necessitate His presence not being there since the idolotry in place does not represent Him and is an abomination to Him.
Looking To The Future
But Matthew 24:15-22 is regarding a yet future abomination of desolation found mentioned in two other places in Daniel the prophet’s writings:
Daniel 12:1, 11
The beginning of chapter 12 follows the events at the end of chapter 11 and speaks of the unparalleled time of Jacob’s trouble from which they will be saved. This is the same time Yeshua pointed to Daniel from in Matthew 24:15-22 and Mark 13:14-20 and the same time Jeremiah 30:4-7 speaks of that is tied to the time of the end. So we know verse 11 is speaking of a time yet future.
Once again we see the daily is taken away and an abomination is set up that makes desolate. Given the historical examples describing this event, some kind of an idol will be in God’s temple that will cause Him to no longer be present there. This would necessitate the existence of some sort of sanctuary for God to tabernacle in and for that to be built and sanctified according to God’s Word in the Torah and for Israel to be doing so in a desire to turn back to God the only way they know how, being blinded to the Truth of the Messiah and His eternal sacrifice.
The plain reading of this this passage would seem to combine the stopping of the daily and the abomination of desolation at the beginning of a 1,290 day period whose end is not defined. It would seem the natural end to this period of time to be the end of the 70th week of Daniel. This is somewhat of an assumption on my part as it’s not clearly stated. We know that the man of sin is given power for 42 months, or 3½ years, starting with the abomination of desolation. Revelation 13:5 | Daniel 7:25 | Daniel 12:5-11 So it would seem this 1,290 days would add another 30 days at the end of his reign. Since the last half of the week is 1,260 days, the abomination of desolation would then be 30 days before the exact middle of the 70th week. This would also mean that Yeshua would return to Armageddon 30 days before the end of this 1,290 day period as that’s when the man of sin is defeated, ending his reign. Revelation 19:20
What I believe this represents is two phases of the great tribulation such that phase 1 is the time of Jacob’s trouble, Revelation 12:7-13, and phase 2 is the time after Jacob is saved out of this unparalleled trouble in Judea, as is also common to all the mentions of unparalleled tribulation for Israel. Revelation 12:14-17 Note also that it is Michael and his angels that cast the dragon from heaven at this time. Revelation 12:7 It is at the beginning of this chapter that Michael stands up and the unparalleled time of great tribulation begins. Daniel 12:1 I believe this hints to the identity of the restrainer we see talked about in conjunction with the time of the abomination of desolation as well.
Another perspective on the time frame of Daniel 12:11 is that a preposition has been omitted from all versions of the Bible except Young’s Literal Translation and instead the passage should read, “And from the time the daily/continual service has been caused to be taken away and/even to the placing of an abomination of desolation: 1290 days.” In this way, the stopping of the daily is separated from the abomination of desolation by 1,290 days. This historical record from the books of the Maccabees shows a separation of the stopping of the daily from the setting up of the idol in the temple, so it may be that there is a separation in the future as well.
Either way, it is at the event of the abomination of desolation that Yeshua points to that all those in Judea should flee to the mountains. Just keep in mind that while the stopping of the daily is always tied to the abomination of desolation, there may or may not be a separation of time.
This verse depicts the 70th week of Daniel and there is some controversy over whether this was fulfilled historically or is yet future. I am in the 70th week being all future camp.
I find it interesting that the abomination of desolation is always mentioned with the stopping of the daily and I think that’s a key point when framing what Christ pointed to. It seems that the taking away of the daily sacrifice always comes before an abomination of desolation when mentioned in scripture. As evidenced in history, the daily sacrifices won’t be carried out by the Jews if an idol is set up in the Holy of Holies until it is cleansed. So I believe, regardless of time, anytime the abomination of desolation is set up, the daily sacrifice stops even if it isn’t forcibly stopped.
Overspreading of Abominations
Another interesting possibility comes from the translation, “...for the overspreading(H3671 - kânâph) of abominations he shall make desolate...” This makes it sound as if abominations are being spread all over, which may be the case given Proverbs 6:16-19 and the man of sin likely fitting all of those abominations to the Lord, but the same word overspreading is used 111 times in 85 verses of the Old Testament. 74 times it means wing, 14 times skirt, the following words it’s used two times each: borders, corners, ends, feathered, sort, winged. In the historical case of the abomination of desolation, it was tied to the altar.
1 Maccabees 1:54-56
Origins of the Altar
God spoke to Noah in Genesis 8:15-21 and Noah built an altar upon which he offered burnt offerings.
In Canaan the Lord appeared and spoke to Abram and he built an altar. Genesis 12:7 Then he moved from Sichem to Bethel and built an altar to call on the Lord. Genesis 12:8; 13:4 It was also on Mount Moriah, where the temple later stood, that Abraham built an altar to sacrifice his only son and instead sacrificed a ram that God provided and burned it on the altar. Genesis 22 This was a foreshadow of God sacrificing His only Son at that same mountain some 2,000 years later.
The Lord appeared to Isaac after he dug wells and repeated the promise given to Abraham that his seed would be multiplied, so Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. Genesis 26:24-25
Later Jacob purchased land in Canaan and built an altar there in Shalem, Genesis 33:18-20, and later in Bethel where God appeared to him as he fled his brother Esau. Genesis 35:1-7
Moses, after defeating Amalek, built an altar he named Jehovahnissi after the Lord spoke to Moses and declared He would utterly remove Amalek from memory. Exodus 17:13-16 And at Mount Sinai a corporate altar was introduced to the children of Israel for their sacrifices where God would come to them. Exodus 20:18-26
These individual altars changed after God brought Abraham’s seed out of captivity in Egypt. Now God wanted to live amongst His chosen people corporately and to that end made a covenant with them. This covenant was sealed with the blood of the sacrifices made on the altar.
The altar is the place of communion between God and man. Wherever God spoke with the fathers of Israel, they built an altar. When they wanted to call on the Lord, they built an altar. In some cases sacrifices aren’t mentioned, but it was part of the first altar Noah built and part of the majority of other mentions so it’s probably safe to assume that to be the case. And we see in the daily sacrifice that this continual morning and evening sacrifice would be at the door of the tabernacle where the Lord would meet with Israel and speak to them. Exodus 29:38-46 As already discussed, the desolation is the lack of the presence of the inhabitants and God’s presence won’t coexist with abominations to Him. So we see the corruption of purity and sanctification of the place where God communes with His people brings about a break in that communion.
An interesting parallel to the Christian is that we are temples, 1 Corinthans 3:16-17, and the Holy Spirit dwells within us as we remain in obedience to God. 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 When we corrupt that temple, we are left desolate of the Holy Spirit’s presence and comfort in our lives. So unlike Israel who had a veil of separation between the presence of God in the Most Holy on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, Yeshua’s death and resurrection has given us direct communion with the spirit of God and a better sacrifice that has truly covered our sins and brought us into the relationship with God that we were designed for.
The Bronze Altar
This altar was to sit outside the temple of God, 5 x 5 x 3 cubits or about 7.5 sq.ft. and 4.5 ft. tall. It had horns on the four corners and was shittim wood overlaid by brass, as were all the instruments included for the burning of the sacrifices. Exodus 27
The blood of the bullock, which carries the life, was to be smeared on the horns of the altar. Exodus 29:10-12 and the ram’s blood sprinkled around the altar. Exodus 29:15-16 A second ram’s blood would be smeared on the right ears, thumb of the right hand, and right big toes of the priests in addition to being sprinkled around the altar and mixed with anointing oil on the priestly garments as well. Exodus 29:19-21
The Altar of Incense
Similar to the bronze altar, the altar of incense was made of shittim wood only this was overlaid with pure gold. it was 1 x 1 x 2 cubits, or 1.5 sq.ft. and 3 ft. tall. It also had four horns at the corners, but this was in the tabernacle just outside the veil that separated the Most Holy where the Ark of the Covenant sat with the mercy seat atop it. Exodus 30:1-30
Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, was the annual atonement for Israel. Leviticus 16:29-34 The people are to afflict their souls and the high priest “shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.”
Leviticus 16:1-2, 12-19
There’s something familiar about this we see in the presentation of the final seven bowls of God’s wrath.
The Mercy Seat
Similar to the bronze altar and the altar of incense, the Ark of the Covenant was made of shittim wood overlaid with pure gold. it was 2½ x 1½ x 1½ cubits, or 3.75 x 2.25 x 2.25 ft. tall. This was in the Most Holy behind the veil. Exodus 37:1-9 The mercy seat is the earthly copy of the throne of God in heaven. Within it is the testament, or the covenant God made with Israel and it is upon this seat the presence of God sat.
The abomination of desolation is a hostile takeover of God’s dwelling place for the sole purpose of desolating God’s temple and replacing His presence with that of idols or other gods. Then, to set up an idol for worship in the Holy of Holies is defying God and the first commandment. While Christ’s atoning death on the cross for all our sins has removed the foreshadow of the daily sacrifice, in the context of the prophecies of scripture, the Jewish people have been blinded until the fulness of the Gentiles. Romans 11:25-27 They are going to move back to the dictates of God in the Torah, with some tradition mixed in I’m sure, that was setup before the final sacrifice, which was in Christ, that they do not yet accept.
There are also some events that we are told by Paul will transpire in relation to the abomination of desolation. Interestingly, these are tied to the catching away of the bride to be gathered to Yeshua.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-5
From these scriptures, it is pretty clear what the abomination of desolation is. It is tied to a specific time when the man of sin declares himself God in the temple of God, the Holy of Holies. What if the overspreading of abominations has to do with the man of sin sitting on a rediscovered Ark of the Covenant or a newly built one? To sit on the earthly throne of God and declare to the world that you are god would certainly fit with the kind of abomination that would make desolate. If God’s presence was there or perceived to be there, it would certainly not coexist with this proud deceiver speaking great lies in imitation of God in His temple.
Falsely declaring oneself to be God in God's own house is an abomination in and of itself, but recall the manifestations of a wicked spirit in man that are also an abomination to the Lord, and from whom this man receives his power and authority. Revelation 13:2
Both the foreshadow and the future man of sin, the antichrist, have and will fulfill these abominations in both spirit and action.
It is also shown to be one of the precursors to the “day of Christ,” His coming to catch up His bride in the harpazo at the start of the day of the Lord. The time around this event is chaotic and deadly for those in Judea.
It can be difficult to see the sequence of events that would take us from now to the rebuilding of the third temple necessary for this event to take place. I think as time gets closer it will become more apparent. Historically it is when Israel is being persecuted that they turn back to God. So I would expect that the move back to Torah observance and the determination to rebuild the temple will be tied to that feeling of being alone in a world that hates them.
However the temple is rebuilt and the abomination of desolation comes about, the Bible is clear that this time begins the unparalleled time of Jacob’s trouble and the time of great tribulation.
How does so much understanding of prophecy hinge on this event?
This is a pivotal event in understanding Bible prophecy because Daniel’s prophecies lay out in great detail, to the day, the time between main events of the 70th week. I created timelines in chart format from those passages that can be viewed here.. Decoding these days all hinges around this event, the abomination of desolation. It is the revealing of the beast to the world and the beginning of his demand of worship from the whole world.
Click passages and definitions on image for
An often confused portion of scripture is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10. This is the passage about the restrainer. Many people believe this restrainer to be the Holy Spirit. However, I believe Daniel 12:1 tells us the restrainer is Michael the archangel, who stands for the children of Israel. The “mystery of iniquity” would seem to be, from the original Greek, speaking to the silent wickedness that is already prevalent, the spirit behind what will bring about what is foretold. And the restrainer is holding (lettingG2722) until taken out of the way. The restrainers act of holding is so that the antichrist is revealed in God’s timing.
The focus of what the restrainer is restraining pertains to the revealing of the beast, or the antichrist. We know this because when the restrainer stops restraining, that’s what happens, that Wicked is revealed. Also...
2 Thessalonians 2:6
So the restrainer is not restraining all evil everywhere. This should be evident by the evil world we see daily on the news. Rather he is restraining the antichrist’s ability to reveal himself. Michael is fully capable of handling this task. Similar tasks have been given him before. Daniel 10:11-13 But that’s not the only reason I believe it’s Michael. My actual foundation is from the Bible.
What is the event in which the removal of the restrainer causes? The abomination of desolation, the revealing of the antichrist. This is the beginning of the great tribulation, “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
The great tribulation starts with the abomination of desolation, the revealing of the man of sin. Now we see that Michael stands up. What’s even more interesting is that Daniel 12 is connected to Revelation 12 around this same subject, Michael, and same time-frame.
It is the dragon which gives the beast his power. It would seem that Michael is currently holding back the revealing of the antichrist, but at some point in the future will be called to heaven to battle Lucifer. He will prevail over Satan and he will be cast to the earth. He then goes after the woman through the beast whom he gives power to.
I don’t think it’s coincidence that Michael is specifically mentioned as standing up right before the antichrist is revealed and we’re told in the New Testament that the restrainer must stop before the antichrist can be revealed. Not only that, but Michael is the defender of Israel and it’s Israel’s darkest time once Michael stands up and is seen fighting Satan in heaven. And the great tribulation of Matthew 24:15-22 is for Israel, in Judea initially.
TThe abomination of desolation is a pivotal event in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, it is explicitly defined by Yeshua as the defining moment heralding the arrival of the end. What this shows is that God is in control of the timing and based on the framework of exact day prophecies in scripture, this allowing the revealing of the man of sin will be the start of a very chaotic and evil 3 1/2 years on the earth that is full of the judgmement of God.
“Be not overcome
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In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work herein is archived under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in reviewing the included information for personal use, non-profit research and educational purposes only. Ref.