Matthew 24:15-22

15 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand),

16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.

18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.

19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!

20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.

21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

Does he [Daniel] mention anything in his great prophecies about a future abomination and where do we find these passages? He does in three places.

Then 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).

And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation (Daniel 11:31).

And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days (Daniel 12:11).

There can be no doubt that the Lord refers to these three passages in Daniel, and it is of that abomination mentioned in these passages of which He speaks. These three verses in Daniel refer all to the same period of time; this period is three years and a half. The same space of time is mentioned in Daniel 7:25. “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.” (Which makes three and a half.) Then in Daniel 10:7 we have it mentioned again “… it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” Later, in the book of Revelation we shall discover the same period of time there.

 The 24th verse in Daniel 9 is the prophecy stated in a general way. “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.” Seventy sevens, as it is in Hebrew, make 490. This space of time is, so Gabriel declared, apportioned out, for the people of Israel and Jerusalem, and at the close of it the full blessing of Israel will come to pass; the righteousness of ages, undoubtedly refers to the kingdom age, the Millennium. So in a general way the whole prophecy of seventy-year weeks is given and what shall be accomplished in them and at the close of them for the people Israel and for Jerusalem. But now as we read on we find a division of these seventy weeks. First: Seven weeks; secondly: Sixty-two weeks; thirdly; One week. What does this division mean? We are not left to speculation, for the Word makes it plain. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined” (Daniel 9:25-26). The first seven weeks, that is 49 years, is the period of time which elapsed from the giving of the command to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls till this was accomplished. The commission to restore and build Jerusalem was given to Nehemiah by Artaxerxes in his twentieth year. The sixty-two weeks is the period of time from the complete restoration of the city and the walls till Messiah is cut off, that is the death of Christ, and there is nothing for Him.

When this prince, the head of the revived Roman empire, appears, he will make a covenant with the Jews. His covenant will be for one week, that is for seven years. It is interesting to notice that the covenant will be made with “the many,” not with all, for the believing Jewish remnant will know the true personality of the wicked prince and refuse to enter into that covenant. What this covenant will be we do not know … It will undoubtedly be of a political nature and connected with the resettlement of the Jews in Palestine, the rebuilding of the temple, and the institution of their worship by sacrifices.

This covenant will be effected in the beginning of the week (seven years) and all will run smoothly for a while. But in the middle of the week he will unmask himself and in conjunction with that other wicked one, the man of sin, the son of perdition, the personal anti-Christ, he will break the covenant and cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. In its place he will set up the abomination (Daniel 11:31). What then is this abomination? It will be idolatrous worship.

What will then take place is clearly stated in Revelation 13:12-18. There we read of an image. “He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.” This, no doubt, will be the abomination, and image worshiped; as well as the second beast, “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This then is the abomination which falls in the last half of the seventieth week. The result of this abomination, the revelation of Satan’s power upon the earth, will be the great tribulation. This is fully borne out by the thirteenth chapter in Revelation. Of this our Lord speaks, when He said, “For then shall there be great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world, until now, nor ever shall be.” And in Daniel we likewise read of this tribulation, “and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation” (Daniel 12:1). The context shows that it will be at this very time of which the Lord speaks, immediately before His personal, visible and glorious coming. — Gaebelein, pages 496-503

The need for haste will be so great that it will cause undue difficulties for those who are hindered because of pregnancy (v.19) or who for other reasons have problems traveling (v.20). As a result of this final invasion of the land, Christ said, “There will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now — and never to be equaled again” (v.21). As great as has been Israel’s sufferings in days past, unprecedented suffering awaits them in this period. But God has determined to preserve a remnant in Israel even though Satan seeks to exterminate every physical descendant of Abraham so as to prevent the fulfillment of the covenant God gave to him. John described this persecution (Revelation 12:13-17). Only the willingness of Gentiles to harbor the fleeing Jews will prevent the latters’ utter destruction. Christ promised that the Tribulation would be “cut short” and spoke of “those days” (Matthew 24:22). His promise has been misunderstood. Daniel spoke of the Tribulation as a “seven,” that is, a seven-year period (Daniel 9:27). John gave its duration in months (Revelation 11:2), and even in days (v.3) Some have asked, How could those days be shortened? Christ’s words cannot mean that the days will be decreased in number. The phrase “cut short” means “to terminate.” If those days with their awful judgments were allowed to continue indefinitely, the human race would be totally destroyed. Christ meant that God will allow that period to run its course but will terminate it according to His timetable so that a remnant will be spared. — Pentecost, page 403.

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