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What is the abomination that leads to desolation?

“His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.”  Daniel 11:31

"So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” Matthew 24:15-21

In Matthew 24, Jesus referenced Daniel’s “abomination.”  Daniel most likely spoke of the desecration of the Temple by the construction of a Zeus statue in its sacred precincts by Antiochus IV Epiphanes around 170 BC.  It stopped sacrifices from happening.  If that’s the case, then Jesus spoke of a future abomination much like Daniel’s.

What will happen during this abomination?  According to Jesus...
  • People in Jerusalem will run for their lives.  Quickly!
  • Slow women will be in jeopardy.  Get out!
  • Great distress.
  • False prophets will rise up.  "Everything will be okay!"
  • Great upheaval, as if the sun, moon and stars were turned upside down.
 What does the phrase mean?  “Abomination” means a foul detestable thing that “desolates” or destroys it completely, making it useless or desolate.  In other words, a terrible, detestable thing that causes something to become useless.

All of those things happened when the temple was destroyed in 70 AD.  The destruction of Jerusalem turned the Jewish world upside down.  The temple was desolated, overrun and defiled by enemies.

Is it what Daniel was speaking about?  Could be.  Daniel prophesied a near future event of Antiochus, but he could have been predicting the future destruction of the temple.  Emperors Caligula and Hadrian tried to erect statues there.  Nero persecuted Christians there.  All of that defiled the temple.

Jesus definitely used Daniel’s term to point to another similar abomination that would desolate the temple.  This event in 70 AD was so powerful, the temple has still not been used for its original purposes of sacrifice to this day.

And why would the temple need to open?  Jesus already died and performed all the sacrifice that was needed for our sins.  The temple did its job of pointing to his sacrifice, now it never needs to operate again.