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I want to ask about abomination of desolation. The first mention about it is from the verse “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’In the middle of the ‘seven’he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” (Daniel 9:27)

And the second time it is from Daniel 11:31 ”Forces from him shall appear and profane the temple and fortress, and shall take away the regular burnt offering. And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate.”

Is the verse, Daniel 11:31, talking about the same event from the verse, Daniel 9:27? Many Christians hold this view but I always understood that these two verses talk about separate events. The verse 9:27 talks about Jesus’ death that stopped sacrifices and destruction of the Temple by Roman empire, which is abomination of desolation; and verse 11:31 talks about Greece and Antiochus IV, events before Christ. What is the correct view? Thank you.

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  • No one here will provide the "correct view" only the best as we understand it.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 7:35

3 Answers 3

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In the Greek NT, the phrase βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως (= “abomination of desolation”) has a pivotal occurrence in both first century events and apocalyptic events that overlap. The word ἐρημώσεως (eremoseos) is from the root word ἐρήμωσις (erémósis) which BDAG defines as, the “state of being made uninhabitable, devastation, destruction, depopulation”. This word only occurs in the following places in the NT:

  • Matt 24:15, “abomination of desolation which was spoken by Daniel the prophet …”
  • Mark 13:14, “abomination of desolation standing where it ought not to be …”
  • Luke 21:20, “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.”

The “abomination of desolation” (or similar phrase) occurs elsewhere only in Daniel 8:13, 9:27, 11:31, 12:11. The phrase might be more helpfully translated, “depopulating sacrilege”. It is also alluded to in several other places as we shall see. Let us list the characteristics of the abomination of desolation from these references.

  • It causes the cessation of the “daily” (Heb: Tamid) usually understood to be the daily (or continual) sacrifice (Dan 8:13). More correctly, (See Annex), it points to the ministry of Jesus our High Priest and His continual ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.
  • It occurs because of rebellion (presumably of those supposed to be God’s people. Non-Christians and non-Jews cannot rebel because they have not declared loyalty to God.) (Dan 8:13)
  • It ushers in a period (“times of Gentiles” according to Luke 21:20-24) where the sanctuary and God’s people will be trampled underfoot (Dan 8:13, Rev 11:2)
  • It is associated with a coming ruler (not Messiah), presumably, the antichrist (Dan 9:27); in 2 Thess 2:1-12 he is called the “man of lawlessness”, and, “son of destruction”.
  • Dan 11:31 appears to equate the King of the North with the one who would abolish the “continual” (Heb: “Tamid”) and desecrate the temple fortress and thus depopulate the temple of worshipers.
  • As a direct result of the above, the abomination of desolation is closely associated with the “great tribulation” in Matt 24:9, 21, 29, Mark 13:19, 24, Rev 7:14.
  • There are several time periods associated with the abomination of desolation: 2300 days until its end (Dan 8:13); 1290 days from its beginning (Dan 12:11); 70 weeks (Dan 9:24-27). [There may also be a “42 months” association as well by comparing Luke 21:20-24, and Rev 11:2, but this may be a stretch.]
  • The abomination of desolation is to stand in the holy place (Hebrew idiom for either the temple or Jerusalem, Matt 4:5, 27:53, 24:15, Acts 6:13, 21:28) and is where this ruler does not belong (Mark 13:14). This is the signal for those in Jerusalem to immediately flee and thus precipitate immanent depopulation of Jerusalem of Christians.
  • The abomination of desolation was in Jesus’ time still future (Matt 24:15). (Therefore, this could not have been Antiochus Epiphanes.)

It is immediately obvious that Jesus applied this prophecy (at least in part) to the destruction of the temple (which occurred in 70 AD) that temporarily despoiled and depopulated Jerusalem, in his famous “Synoptic Apocalypse”. But it is also obvious that Jesus intended far more than this from the numerous references in this sermon to the end of the world. The question that prompted this sermon is a two-fold question (Matt 24:3) about both (a) the destruction of Jerusalem, and, (b) Jesus’ Second Advent. Jesus’ response was to answer both questions simultaneously by giving a dual prophecy. The advantage we have is to learn lessons from the destruction of Jerusalem and apply these to the remainder of Christian history since. Thus, while some parts of Jesus’ final sermon are clearly apocalyptic, much has a dual application as we shall soon see.

In Jesus’ time, the abomination of desolation was fulfilled when the pagan Roman government (by its army) stood in Jerusalem and soon destroyed it by desecrating the temple and temporarily depopulating the city . Apocalyptically and eschatologically, Paul tells us what would happen in 2 Thess 2:3 & 4 - Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. This uses the same language as Jesus’ sermon. The “man of lawlessness” would precipitate the abomination of desolation by blasphemously trying to usurp the rights and prerogatives of God Himself by removing Christ from the heavenly sanctuary and the continual (Heb: “Tamid”) intercession He offers for us (1 Tim 2:5, Heb 4:14-16, 7:23-28, 8:1, 2, 9:1-28, 10:1-18) as our High Priest.

Thus, we find that the little horn of Daniel 7, the (latter part) of the little horn of Daniel 8, the (latter part) of the king of the north that causes the abomination of desolation, the “man of lawlessness” in 2 Thess 2, and the sea beast of Rev 13, are all prophecies about the same medieval power that is blasphemous and sets itself against Jesus and His faithful people and persecutes Christ’s followers.

This medieval political power is different from all other political powers in that it blasphemously claims to usurp Christ and His salvation and thus is a legalistic, works based pseudo-Christian power, different from any other political or civil power. Thus, the abomination of desolation is an alternate means of salvation that takes away Christ as our mediator and high priest and replaces Him with a man-made system.

Annex: תָּמִיד (tamid)

In the book of Daniel, the word תָּמִיד (tamid), meaning continual or regular, occurs just five times, Dan 8:11, 12, 13, 11:31, 12:11 as an adverb. It is always associated with the apostate power that removed this “continual” from the sanctuary. The same word occurs almost 100 times in the rest of the OT. It is often associated with various things in the sanctuary such as:

  • The shew bread which was to be on the table continually, Ex 25:30, Lev 24:8, Num 4:7, 16, 2 Chron 2:4
  • The menorah which was to burn continually, Ex 27:20, Lev 24:2-4
  • The High Priests’ breast plate as a continual memorial, Ex 28:29, 30
  • The High Priests’ blue ribbon attached to his turban as a continual reminder of the presence of God, Ex 28:37, 38
  • The morning and evening sacrifice of a burnt offering (a lamb) on the sanctuary altar, Ex 29:41, 42, Num 28:3-6, 10, 15, 23, 24, 31, 29:6, 11, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 1 Chron 16:37, 40, 2 Chron 24:14, Ezra 3:5, Neh 10:33, Ps 50:8, Eze 46:15
  • The burning wood in the altar of offering, continually, Ex 30:8, Lev 6:13
  • Offering of fine flour was to be continual, Lev 6:20, Neh 10:33, Eze 46:14
  • The continual presence of the cloud over the sanctuary, Num 9:16
  • The blowing continually of trumpets, 1 Chron 16:6
  • The ceremonies of the sanctuary, generally, that operated continually, 1 Chron 16:37, 23:31.

Note two important things about this survey:

  1. There is MUCH more than just the continual/regular (morning and evening) burnt offering of a lamb associated with the word תָּמִיד (tamid); however, that is the most common. תָּמִיד (tamid) is also associated with shew bread, the light (menorah), the High Priests’ breast plate, the blue ribbon, fire on the altar, grain offering, trumpeting, sanctuary services generally.
  2. All the features associated with the תָּמִיד (tamid), “continual” are taken up in the NT as symbols of the ministry of Jesus as our High Priest both here and in heaven, Heb 4:14-16, 7:23-28, 8:1, 2, 9:1-28, 10:1-18. Note the following:
  • Jesus was the fulfilment of what the sanctuary/temple typified, John 2:19-21, Heb 9:1-28, 10:1-18
  • Jesus represented the foundation of the temple as well, 1 Peter 2:4-8 (Compare Isa 28:16, Ps 118:22)
  • Jesus was the bread of life, John 6:35, 41, 48 (compare Ex 25:23-30, Lev 24:8).
  • Jesus was the light of life, John 8:12, 9:5 (compare the lampstand Ex 25:31-39, Lev 24:3, 4, Isa 53:11, Ps 56:13, etc)
  • Jesus was the Passover Lamb and thus the promised Messiah, John 1:29, 1 Cor 5:7, 1 Peter 1:19 (compare Ex 12:1-14).
  • Jesus is the High Priest of the New Covenant in fulfilment of the Levitical covenant, Heb 4:14-16, 7:23-28, because He was “pure, blameless, set apart” exactly as the Levites were. See also Heb 9:15, 12:24.
  • Even the blue cord signifying the presence of God was fulfilled in and of Jesus, John 14:10, 11, etc.
  • Jesus provided the blood of the new covenant of which the communion ceremony was to be a memorial, Matt 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25, Heb 13:20, 1 Peter 1:19 (compare Ex 24:5, 8).

Now back to Daniel and his תָּמִיד (tamid). Many of the English versions add “sacrifice” after “continual” - is this valid? Yes and no! “Yes” if we understand it refers to the sanctuary ceremonies generally; “no” of we understand it refers to the sacrifices exclusively. I believe that Daniel is alluding to all that pointed to Jesus and His perfect ministry as our intercessor (1 Tim 2:5, Heb 8:6, 12:24, etc).

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  • +1. Thorough and comprehensive.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 9:40
  • Thorough and comprehensive indeed. +1 also. I would not however have limited the "Times of the Gentiles" to the 7 year period surrounding the destruction, desolation and depopulating of Jerusalem and its temple. I having gone on record here (on this site) as being a proponent of the 2520 year, extended duality, period of Gentile domination, a period of time between the last earthly king of Judah, i.e. Zedekiah (deposed in, albeit disputed, 607 BC) and the passing over of the heavenly rule of Jehovah and Jesus Christ, to Jesus Christ alone, 2520 years later, bringing us to 1914 AD. Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 4:12
  • @OldeEnglish - many thanks for your comments. However, I never mentioned a seven year period.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 5:17
  • My apologies. I guess I was reading an "insinuation" into your answer. Also, I wasn't trying to imply that the 7 year period surrounding 70 AD was to be a part of my said duality, as that, I believe, belongs to the literal 7 year period mentioned in Dan, 4:16, which involved the 7 year absence, due to madness, from the Babylonian throne, of king Nebuchadnezzar. Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 13:00
  • Same medieval Power? (1) It is quite a leap of logic to go from prophecies about the ancient Greek and Roman Empires, and their context for the "Abomination," to the distant Medieval era (and the papacy?). (2) The "End Times" Jesus talked about in 'this sermon (Olivet Discourse)' was the End of the Mosaic Era (telos), not the End of the world (synteleias). The Advent He mentioned was His coming in Judgment on Jerusalem, as was describe with fitting verbage common to O.T. usage.
    – ray grant
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 21:03
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Two Different Events The interpretation you had espoused is the correct one: Chapter 9 and chapter 11 of Daniel speak of two different historical times. Daniel 9 does bring us to the life of Christ, which the Angel said would occur 490 years later than Daniel (7X70 heptads = 490 years). In the middle of the last heptad, 3 and1/2 years Christ would "be cut off" (killed).

The chapter 11 is a detailed history of the Jewish nation leading up to the Diochi, Greek generals, one of which was Antiochus who horribly mistreated the Jews. This is totally different from chapter 9.

Basic Hermeneutics The key to correctly interpreting any Scripture is to remain true to the Principles of Hermeneutics. The most basic one of which is "examine the context." Concerning the verses at hand, we notice that chapter 9 is an overview of the Second Temple Era, like skipping stones across a pond. We are launched way into the future to the Roman Era and the first century...where we meet the Anointed One (Jesus). As a result of "cutting off" (crucifying) Him, judgment is passed on the Jewish nation. The N.T. identified the ABOMINATION as the Roman armies which devastated Jerusalem and the Temple. (Luke 21:20)

Chapter 10-12 of Daniel is a much more detailed account of the history of Israel during this same Second Temple Era. It began with the Persian era through to the Greek era, then introduced us to the Romans, and the Maccabees, and on to the Herodian dynasty. It finished with the final chapter in Mosaic legalism with the Destruction of Jerusalem.

The placement of this "Abomination" in this history of chapter 11 is right in the middle of the Diodochi governments. And it referred to Antiochus Epiphanes who severely oppressed the Jews. This was several centuries before the Abomination that happened in the first century.

Expository Study The debate over this topic highlights a second important principle of Hermeneutics: the supremacy of expository research over Topical study. Topical word study tends to gather scattered verses and try to paste them together in a mosaic, ignoring the time context, geographical frame, or cultural surroundings. The final picture is often not realistic, but a venture into "modern art"!

On the other hand Expository research bridges the linguistic gap between the author and the reader, as well as the historical gap, the cultural gap, the progressive revelation gap, etc. It deals with each individual verse fully in its context.

Deduction When expository research is done on chapter 9 and 11, the existence of TWO DIFFERENT abominations is most apparent! Only by ignoring hermeneutic and imposing a preconceived schema, can a person arrive at just one.

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The ’Abomination of Desolation’ is telescoped through more than one fulfilment. Therefore, when Bible commentators describe Antiochus Epiphenes and the sacrifice of swine on a Jewish altar as the 'abomination' (167 BC, Dan 11:31) they are quite right insofar as a precursor is concerned, but it was not the final one. The latter part of the same prophecy goes beyond Antiochus' description and anticipates future events. (Daniel 12) Actually, the earlier precursive event provides the clue to later abominations; that is to say, they would relate to the temple, and to the altar, and to the sacrifice done upon that altar. ​ When Daniel speaks of another abomination, this time during the 'seventieth week,' we can expect it also to have something to do with the altar, and something to do with what was performed on it. It would happen, the prophecy indicated, at the same time as sacrifice was abolished. Accordingly, the 'seventieth week' came between AD 27 – 34 and sacrifice ceased in the middle year, AD 30

Jesus cried out again with a loud voice (it is finished) and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Matt. 27:50-51, John 19:30)

​ The sun was darkened, the earth shook, and the curtain separating man from God was torn to the ground! In other words, Calvary was (as far as God was concerned) the final offering! It is not known how many days it took to stitch up the massive curtain and re-commission the temple in defiance of his, "it is finished," but we do know the resumption of animal sacrifice contradicted Christ’s atoning blood. ​ So, the question has to be asked, did an abomination occur in the middle of the seventieth week? The answer is yes, but it did not cause the sacrifice to cease as so often taught. Rather, it was God who abolished the sacrifice, and the abomination was the continuation of atoning animal sacrifice after God had declared it complete!

In other words, the sacrifice itself became the abomination of desolation - the blood of bulls and goats like that of unclean flesh. ​ Animal blood continued to contradict Messiah’s finished atonement throughout the New Testament period. Older translations of Daniel 9:27 speak of an ‘overspreading,’ referring to the ongoing nature of this abomination, spreading as it did over a span of forty years. The original word can be translated 'overspreading' or 'wing' or 'extremity', all of which means an outspread wing that spanned a period of time until it reached its limit. Unfortunately, modern English language thinks of a 'wing' as part of a building, and some translators have even worded the prophecy as if a statue will be erected in a ‘wing’ of a future temple. This is not how it was meant to be understood. The source reference says:

"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." (Daniel 9:27 NKJV)

​ We have assumed this abomination would be a short term event like the Antiochus one was. However, it was an 'overspreading abomination.' The same verse with explanatory notes might have read: ​

"He (Messiah) shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; but in the middle of the week (3½ years after his revealing) He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations (ongoing atoning sacrifices) shall be one who makes desolate, (Titus destroys temple) even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate." (judgement on Jerusalem) (Daniel 9:27 - notes bracketed)

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  • Roman Armies! We are not left to our own surmising as to what the Abomination is; Luke revealed it as the Roman Armies which trampled the land of Judea for three and a half years, then attacked and decimated the Temple. ( Luke 21:20 cf. Matthew 24:15, Luke 23:28-31) Both the Abomination of Antiochus and the Roman one took a length of time; the former, 1260 days, and the later one 1335 days.
    – ray grant
    Commented Jul 25, 2023 at 21:12

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