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Entries in Abomination of Desolation (1)

Tuesday
Oct272015

Jesus Reveals The Future- Part IV

Luke 21:20-24.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on October 25, 2015.

We continue this section where Jesus reveals to his disciples what the future held for them and the world.  The disciples wanted to know the timing and the sign that would point to the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the age, and the coming back of Jesus.  The answer Jesus gives them starts by pointing out what things would be like before the end of the age and the coming back of Jesus.  In Luke they are called “the things that must come to pass first.”  In Matthew and Mark they are called “the beginning of sorrows.”  So here is the list of sorrows that would be happening throughout the time leading up to the 2nd coming of Jesus.

The Things That Must Come To Pass First

  1. False Christs will come.
  2. Wars and Turmoil will come.
  3. Great Earthquakes will come.
  4. Famines and Pestilences will come.
  5. Fearful Sights and Great Heavenly Signs will come.
  6. Persecution and Martyrdom of Christians will come.

It is at this point that Jesus has finished this list and now turns to give revelation regarding the destruction of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Will Be Desolated

When we read verses 20-24 the message is clear, Jerusalem will be completely destroyed.  The word that is translated “desolation” literally means to be made into a wilderness, without inhabitant and barren.  If you have looked into the history of Jerusalem then you will know that there were long periods of time that Jerusalem was a wasteland.  In fact many explorers through the centuries have commented in awe that the devastated place they were looking at was a “land flowing with milk and honey” at one time.

Jesus gives them a sign by which they can know the desolation is near and they should leave.  That sign is when they see Jerusalem surrounded by armies.  I will point out that the Gospels of Matthew and Mark record this desolation but do not point out the armies as the sign.  Instead they point to something called the Abomination of Desolation standing in the Holy Place.  We will come back to this later.  However, it is important to note that it is clear there is far more discussion than is recorded here.  The different Gospels are focusing on many of the same parts and yet also on some that are different.  In each case the person who sees either of these things are told to flee or they will be caught up in the destruction.  Much like Lot and his wife we should not want to watch the judgments of God being poured out and neither does God want His people to be caught up in the judgment.  Around the year AD 66 the Roman legions began to encircle Jerusalem and eventually destroyed in AD 70.  It is common knowledge that Christians of that day understood what God was doing and had either been forced from the area because of persecution, or left as they saw the destruction coming.  One historian from the 4th century AD refers to a city called Pella on the eastern side of the Jordan River as a popular place they fled to.

Verse 22 calls this the days of vengeance so that all things which are written may be fulfilled.  Thus the fall of Jerusalem and the dispersal of the people to the nations were prophesied in the Old Testament.  Moses reveals it in Deuteronomy 29:23, the prophet Micah does so in Micah 3, Jeremiah 26:9 and also Zechariah 14.  One thing we see here is the grace and mercy of God.  Though He has already warned of judgment for 1500 years, He first sends His Son, Jesus, to offer him up as a sacrifice for sins and then gives the nation 40 years to repent and be saved.  It is due to the hardness of their own hearts that the people perish under the judgment of God.  In one place it is referred to as “wrath upon this people.”  So AD 70 clearly was a watershed moment as the wrath of God is poured out upon the unbelieving portion of Israel, destroying its capitol, and scattering the people to the nations.  Yet, there is a problem.  If all things that are written are to be fulfilled we need to deal with Zechariah 14.  When you read this chapter about the destruction of Jerusalem it is striking how different it is from what happened in AD 70.  Two major things stick out.  In Zech. 14 the Messiah comes after half the city is destroyed and fights for them.  His feet touch the Mt. of Olives and split it in half.  He strikes the armies of the people with a plague where their flesh dissolves while they are standing.  Now some people try to make this figurative language and explain that anyone who stands against Jesus will see their whole life fall apart (i.e. dissolve) as they go to the grave in destruction.  Yet, this doesn’t pass the smell test.  Even when prophecies have figurative or symbolic meanings, they is still a literal fulfillment of the prophecy.  Is Jesus talking about more than one desolation?  We will come back to this.

In verse 24, Jesus clearly reveals the people being deported out of the land into the nations of the world.  They will cease to be a nation.  They would lose their homeland and be dispersed to the winds.  This is basically what has happened from the end of the first century until 1948.  Yes, some Jews have lived in that area off and on throughout the centuries, but, as a people, they have generally not had a homeland to call their own.

This brings us to the phrase that Jerusalem would be trampled by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles would be fulfilled.  The word until should jump out to you.  This condition of Israel being homeless and scattered would be the case until the times of the Gentiles reached their completion.  Of course we are not told how much time that would be.  The word trample has the sense of doing what you want.  Think about how the temple was a series of restrictions.  There was a wide area that anyone could be in.  But at some point a boundary showed where no Gentiles could pass.  Then there was a boundary where no female Israelite could pass, then an area where only the priests could go, until you reached the Holies of Holies where only one man could go only once a year. Though we may think of this as bad and exclusionary, It would be a misunderstanding to do so. The Gentiles would be trampling all such holy distinctions without thought for the God of Israel.  Thus trample is a sense of control and domination.  Also, note that the word is “times.”  This denotes a history of dominations by more than one nation over the years.  Of course, this has been the history of the area.  It was initially under the control of the Romans (including the Byzantine era), then the Muslims, then times of Europeans in control.  In 1948 the people of Israel were able to reestablish as a nation.  So does this mean the times of the Gentiles are over?  Some have pointed out that Jerusalem wasn’t under Jewish control until 1967 after the Six Day War.  However, upon taking the city, the defense minister, Moshe Dayan, relinquished control of the temple mount to the Jordanian forces.  Thus there is still a part of Jerusalem being trampled by Gentiles.  So the last 2,000 years has been a time where God has given control of the temple mount to Gentiles.

This leads me to my last point.  I believe that when you look at these predictions in Luke, Matthew and Mark, there is more than one destruction talked about.  Thus another destruction is still yet future.  Let me lay out a couple of reasons why I say this.  Israel does have political control of Jerusalem, yet they are still hard of heart and blind towards Jesus.  Yes, some Jews are becoming Christians.  But the majority are still in unbelief.

One reason I believe another destruction is being talked about is because AD 70 did not have an abomination that causes desolation.  Again this is the term found in Matthew 24.  In Matthew it says this, “When you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand)…”  Here Jesus tells us that Daniel spoke about this abomination of desolation and Matthew makes sure that the reader doesn’t miss what he just said.  Now there are three places in Daniel where he refers to this.  Daniel 9:27 says that after the messiah is executed then the city will be destroyed.  After that one will enforce a covenant that he breaks later and on the wing of abominations will be one who makes desolate.  The main point is that Daniel says this abomination will happen after messiah is executed and after the city has been destroyed.  In Daniel 11:31 another abomination is mentioned.  This chapter follows the history of the battles between the Ptolemy’s of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria so closely that some scholars reject that it was written by Daniel.  They say it had to be written after the fact.  Thus the abomination of desolation in this chapter fits perfectly with a Syrian King named Antiochus Epiphanes.  In fact in the book of 1 Maccabees it refers to the abomination of desolation as two things.  An idol of Zeus was erected in the Holy place and the altar had pigs sacrificed to false gods on it.  Thus it appears that this abomination of desolation is not the same as chapter 9.  The last place is in Daniel 12 and is mentioning the timing of the event.  It states that from the stopping of the sacrifices until the setting up of the abomination of desolation will be 1,290 days.  This does not fit with what happened during the days of Antiochus Epiphanes.  So Jesus is pointing us back to Daniel 9, and yet Daniel 11 becomes an event that helps us to know what the whole thing would look like.  It is an event of pagan worship that occurs in the temple compound.  This simply did not happen in AD 70.

On top of this the AD 70 destruction does not fit Zechariah 14 as I mentioned earlier.  In fact it ends with the nations of the world coming to Jerusalem to worship the King and being punished if they don’t.  Yes, you can spiritualize all of these things and even be somewhat correct.  But prophecy of this sort is always literally fulfilled also.  When you study Zechariah 12 and Romans 11 you come to the distinct realization that there is going to be a time when the hard hearts of Israel will be softened and the blind eyes will be opened.  Israel will look upon the one whom they have pierced and mourn for him.  A spirit of repentance will be poured out upon them.  This will be an amazing time for them, but at the same time the wrath of God will be poured out on the nations of this world.

Let me end this passage by reminding us that the God of heaven has an issue with the nations of the world.  He is going to bring us into the valley of Judgment.  Are you ready for such a judgment?  The only way you can be ready is to put your faith in Jesus and follow Him.  Anything else is simply a path that leads to destruction.  Believe in him today.