The Abomination of Desolation, Part 1 (Matthew Sermon 122 of 151)
May 02, 2010 | Andrew Davis
Idolatry, Second Coming of Christ, Omniscience of God, Prophecy, Return of Christ
Well, I mentioned a few weeks ago, this would be a most unusual Sunday, and so it is. I'm preaching this morning on a sentence fragment. We don't even get the full thought today, we just get dot, dot, dot at the end of the verse. And it occurred to me that next week's sermon, which is the completion of the thought, the sermon's entitled “Run For Your Lives” will be our Mother's Day sermon here at First Baptist Church. That just occurred to me, only here at this church would that happen. Mothers, can I say a word in advance? It wasn't personal, it's just the next passage. We will seek to honor you and we love you, we will pray for you and bless you in many ways. But I thought about that this morning and I just had to laugh and said, “Well, I'm gonna stay the course, and we're gonna keep learning from the Word of God.” But this morning, we're gonna focus on verse 15.
Every single day, Jews from around the world gather at a place called The Wailing Wall, and they stand there and pray and weep concerning the destruction of the temple that happened almost two millennia ago. They weep over the fact that the temple is destroyed, that they are because of that, unable to fulfill the laws of Moses, they're unable to render animal sacrifice. They don't believe that Jesus finished the animal sacrificial system, they don't believe that at all, and they yearn for the temple to be rebuilt so that they can continue their religious lives in accordance with the law that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob gave them.
And so they stand there and pray, and many of them pray the words of Psalm 79:1, “O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.” They pray that lament Psalm. “The Gentiles have come and done this.”
And many of them I'm sure, I don't know their minds and hearts, but pray that that temple will someday be rebuilt. They pray this way, despite the fact that one of Islam's holiest shrines, the Dome of the Rock, is built supposedly right where the Holy of Holies was for Solomon's temple, and that the Muslims are not going to give that holy site up easily. But still, the Jews continue to pray that the temple would be rebuilt.
Now, our passage today looks back to the prediction that Jesus made during his lifetime, about 40 years before the destruction of the temple, that the temple would be destroyed. It looks back to that prediction that was fulfilled in AD 70, when the Romans destroyed the temple. It looks back, but I believe it also looks ahead to a stunning climax to human history, the rebuilding of a temple of desolation, the re-establishment of animal sacrifice, in defiance to the completed work of Christ on the cross, defiance of the stipulations of the new covenant, the ending of the animal sacrifices by antichrist and the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe this passage looks ahead to all of that.
I've been praying this morning, according to Colossians 4:4, that I would be clear, this is a difficult passage to preach on. It's not controversial or disagreements, but it's not one of those ones that people feel, well most people, feel emotional about and get all upset or heated about. It's just hard to understand. And I'm going to be taking you through the Book of Daniel, through some of the visions in Daniel, I'm gonna try to fulfill what Jesus said, what he exhorted, I think, at this phase in redemptive history, “Let the reader understand.” It's my desire to be an instrument in God's hands toward that end, that you would understand the book of Daniel and understand what this abomination of desolation is.
Key Principle: “As it was… so it will be”
The Days of Noah Repeated
I think there are actually two key principles that I have in my mind, there's just one in your outline. But there are two in my mind from Matthew 24 and one of them is in verse 37, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Stripped down, the concept is this: As it was, so it will be. History repeats itself. We've seen some things before in redemptive history, we're gonna see it one more time.
Getting Ready for the End of the World
That's a key principle for me. A second key principle is in verse 25, “Behold, or see, I have told you ahead of time.” There's something here in these two sermons, this week and next week, that the Lord wants us to know ahead of time before it comes and that your right understanding of these things will help you survive those trials. Now, I don't know if we're the final generation. I believe from Scripture, we are to live as though we were. And to prepare our hearts as though these things were going to be fulfilled in our lifetime; we need to get ready for the coming of the antichrist. I believe that. But if we're not the final generation, maybe our children will be the final generation. We need to get them ready. So we have to attend to these things carefully, we have to take this seriously.
I do not believe that these things are the most important issues of theology. If you wanna know what the most important issues of theology are, you can just read 1 Corinthians 15:3, “For I passed on to you as of first importance: That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried and that he was raised from the dead on the third day according to the scriptures.” Well, there's the center of it all. That's the most important thing, “I passed that on as of first importance.” But it is a fallacy to say that we should only teach those things that are of first importance from the pulpit. That's what expositional preaching does, it brings you through things that are of lesser importance, but they're still important. And so this is important and we need to learn it. So I'm praying for God's grace, I'm praying for the Holy Spirit to just be moving through this sanctuary, and that you'll just say in effect, “Aha, there's something I hadn't seen before,” that insight will come to you and that it'll get you ready for the end of the world. That's my desire.
History Repeats Itself… Again and Again
So as we look at this, “As it was, so it will be,” this is the principle that's governing me today. History repeats itself; redemptive history repeats itself. God in his sovereignty has orchestrated history to be a teaching tool, to teach us important things that we need to know. Past is prologue in redemptive history, definitely, that God has stuck some certain things in history and then recorded them in the Bible that help us get ready for the future.
That definitely was the case concerning the salvation that we have in Christ. Every animal sacrifice ever offered was a picture of the final sacrifice of Christ. Those things are called types, things acted out in history that then instruct us concerning future events. The near sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah, was such a type. As God told Abraham to take his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loved and offer him up as a sacrifice, it was a clear picture of what God the Father would do in sending his own son, the only begotten Son of God, Jesus and pouring him out to death for our sins.
It was acted out in history again and again. The Passover lamb, a clear picture of Christ. And I preached that on Maundy Thursday, how the blood was painted on the doorposts, and all that and there was a picture of the death of Christ for us. So also the Exodus itself, all of the Jews, this mighty nation coming out of bondage, out of slavery, and coming into the Promised Land. Definitely a picture of our personal salvation. So history repeats itself, “As it was, so it will be.”
Similarity Concerning the Temple and its Desolation
Now, what I believe is happening here is Jesus is predicting the destruction of the temple, its desolation, he's talking about the destruction of what we would call Herod's Temple. Alright? I believe it was a continuation of Haggai's Temple, but it was just enlarged and beautified by lots of money that King Herod poured in around the time of Jesus 's birth. And so it's generally called Herod's Temple. He's talking about the destruction of Herod's Temple. And he's saying, in effect, I believe, what Daniel foretold and has already been acted out will be again, will be again. Verse 15, “So when you see standing in the holy place, ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel - let the reader understand.” Jesus is saying, “As it was, so it will be.”
Daniel's prophecy was in part fulfilled in the second century BC. But it's not done being fulfilled yet, there's more yet to come from Daniel. And I'm saying today, there's more still yet to come from Daniel even now, even now that the temple has been destroyed back in that first century AD. There's still more coming from the Book of Daniel, that's what I'm saying. As it was, so it will be.
And in verse 25, Jesus says, “I have told you ahead of time. I'm telling you this ahead of time because you'll need to know this,” and every generation has needed to know this to prepare themselves to get ready. It affects the way you live, it affects your outlook on life, it affects your godliness in this present age.
What is “The Abomination of Desolation”?
Alright, well let's zero in on this phrase: Abomination of desolation. What is this phrase? Friends, there's nobody on earth that's born into the world knowing what abomination of desolation means. Everybody's gotta sit at Jesus ' feet and learn this. And I praise God to be in this church, people that are eager for the meat of the Word of God and not just sipping at the milk. This isn't milk. We all have to learn. What does this mean? I don't know what that means. I don't use the word abomination very often in everyday life, and I - Other than these kinds of things - I would never put it together with desolation. Abomination of desolation? I don't know what it means. Teach me what it means. We're all on the boat, same boat of learners. What does it mean?
Christ’s Use of the Phrase Here
Well, let's begin with the concept of desolation. Let's keep close to Matthew and then I'll branch out. We've already seen the desolation haven't we? Go back to the end of Matthew 23. At the end of Matthew 23, Jesus is there having argued and disputed with the scribes and Pharisees, you have the seven-fold woe on the scribes and Pharisees. “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” Seven times, he speaks this, and then he just weeps. In Luke, he literally weeps over the city. But here, you just hear the weeping and the words, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling. Behold, your house is left to you desolate.” There's that interesting word, desolation. And then as I highlighted when I preached on that passage, “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” The desolation is the absence of Jesus. When Jesus walks away, Israel's house is left desolate.
Now, what does the word desolate mean? Empty like a desert, nothing there. It's a howling wasteland spiritually because Jesus has left, he's walking away. The word “for” shows the nature of the desolation, this is the desolation. Because they rejected Christ, because they did not recognize the time of him coming, because they did not love him, Jesus is going away. Israel has forsaken her God, and now God will forsake Israel. That's the nature of the desolation, a desolate relationship.
And so as he's walking out, you remember, he's walking right on out of the temple, and you just continue right on into Matthew 24 from 23. As he's walking out, the disciples come up and they call attention to the vast stones of the temple complex, and “Master, what magnificent stones? What incredible buildings?” “Do you see all these things?” Jesus said. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another. Every one will be thrown down.”
Jesus, as a prophet, predicting a future event, the total destruction of Jerusalem and specifically of the temple. Shocking to the disciples, they come to him privately, they don't know what to make of Jesus ' statements. And so they asked him privately, “‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen? And what would be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’”
All conservative commentators believe that Matthew 24:15 and following is at least this, the answer to their first question: “When will this happen?” “When will what happen?” “The destruction of the temple. When will the temple be destroyed?” And Jesus here is at least answering that question. So conservative commentators who believe in inerrancy, who believe in the Word of God, they say at least this: Jesus in Matthew 24:15 is predicting the circumstances concerning the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, which was fulfilled in the year AD 70. At least that, I think more than that, but at least that is true. He's in part answering their first question, “What will it be like When Jerusalem is destroyed?”
Luke 21:20-24 gives us a parallel account that helps give us more information. “When you see,” Jesus said there, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, let those in the country not enter the city for this is the time of punishment and fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people, they will fall by the sword and they will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled.”
So Jesus, there, you put the two passages together, Jesus is talking about the circumstances of the besieging and then the destroying of Jerusalem. He calls it interestingly, the times of the Gentiles. Very interesting phrase that we don't have time to get into, but we're in it now. These are the times of the Gentiles in which the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has turned his attention to the nations, as we saw in 24:14, and is bringing them into Christ. They're bringing people in from Asia and Africa and Latin America, bringing them in through faith in Christ into the household of God, drawing them in. This is the times of the Gentiles. And also the time when the Gentiles, at least in part, have some control over Jerusalem, some authority over Jerusalem, and able to dominate there. It comes as a result of military conquest.
So this is how I understand the desolation, the spiritual desolation comes first. Then comes military conquest producing a physical desolation; lots of dead people, nobody living there. That's how it works. And so there's the spiritual desolation first resulting physical desolation, and it comes as a result of military conquest.
“Let the reader understand”: The Phrase in Daniel
Now, Jesus in the middle of this teaching, just pauses as I've already noted and says, “Let the reader understand.” I believe these were Jesus ' original words to his disciples as they were sitting there at his feet, learning about the end of the world. I think he interrupted himself and said, “Let the reader understand.” The other alternative is that it's Matthew interrupting his writing of the gospel, and just inserts that. Either way is a reputable interpretation. But I really think it was Jesus, it doesn't make a difference who because Jesus would be speaking through Matthew by the spirit anyway. But in the middle of this, after he says, “So when you see ‘the abomination of desolation,’ standing in the holy place, spoken of by the prophet Daniel - let the reader understand.”
Well, that is your springboard from Matthew into Daniel. Basically, Jesus is saying, “We need to study Daniel better and understand it better. It's a difficult book, and so we're going to go over to Daniel and try to understand it.” He's basically saying to his disciples, “You need to read Daniel more carefully, Daniel is complex.” Daniel, himself, the prophet, didn't fully understand what was told him. Five different times in the book of Daniel, he stops an angel and says, “I don't get it. I don't understand what you're telling me.”
The book of Daniel has 12 chapters. The first six chapters talk about Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, their court life in the lives of Gentile courts, the king of Babylon and the king of the Medo-Persian Empire. So it has to do with the circumstances of those Jewish people in a Gentile court, kingly court, 1 through 6.
Daniel 7-12 is a bunch of visions that God gave to Daniel concerning the future. And so those visions are the source of information about the future and the source of complexity. And Daniel himself would stop when an angel would come and give him a vision in the night, and he'd say, “I don't understand.” And generally, four of those five times, the angel would stop and give more plain explanation.
The last time, he didn't, interestingly. Daniel was told the last time, “But as for you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end.” In effect, it was told, and what 1 Peter says, it was revealed to him that it wasn't for him to know. He didn't need to know his own vision. “Just write it down, seal it up and send it on to the future. You don't need to know.”
But there is a clear implication in Daniel 12, that some people will need to know. Some people will need to understand these complex visions, their very lives will depend on it, and so understanding is actually pretty important. I believe that every generation of Christian is challenged by Jesus's words, “Let the reader understand,” to study Daniel more carefully. I think the final generation of Christians will need to do it so that they may survive what's going on at the time, just a higher level, so we need to hold the torch of learning and understanding, and if we're not the final generation, pass it on to those who may be the final generation, get them ready.
And so, Daniel repeatedly makes statements about the desolation of Israel. For example, if you wanna turn there, it probably would help you. If not, you can just listen. But in Daniel chapter 8, Daniel is shown the vision of the first king of Greece, who comes from the west across into the east and destroys the King of Persia, just destroys him, and conquers his empire completely, the king of Greece does. And then at the height of his power, he dies. And his kingdom is divided up into quadrants, into four, four of his generals get it.
There is no doubt. Nobody even wonders who this is, even liberals who read this, who don't believe in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, know that this is talking about Alexander the Great. What they say is, it was written afterwards, prophecy after the fact. “I predict that World War II will strike in 1939,” that's not a prophetic statement. But they said “It comes after, it was just too specific. It was too specific.”
Alexander the Great, height of his power, cut off, kingdom divided into four. And in one of those quadrants, this little horn comes along and creates some problems, and that's an interesting feature, but in the middle of it, Daniel doesn't understand. He is told that one of Alexander's successors will viciously persecute the Jewish nation, becoming extremely arrogant, making claims that reach even up to the heavens as though he could bring the stars down from the heavens, an arrogant boaster. Daniel's told that a huge number of his own people will be given over to this man because of their transgressions. And at one point the angel speaks up, saying in verse 13, Daniel 8:13, “For how long is the vision concerning the regular burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate and the giving over the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?”
So here you have the first time that the word “desolation” or “desolate” is mentioned in Daniel, and the word desolation has to do with powerful Gentile rulers or a ruler with their armies trampling the sanctuary of the Jews, trampling it. In Daniel 9, in the next chapter, the phrase is mentioned many times again.
Daniel there at that point is praying to God, concerning the desolation, the present desolation of Israel, in his own day. What do we mean by that? Well, Israel had been destroyed by the Babylonians already, that's why Daniel was in Babylon. He learned from the prophet Jeremiah that the desolation would last 70 years. So look at Daniel chapter 9:2, “I, Daniel perceived in the books the number of the years that according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, 70 years.
So the desolation has to do with Jerusalem being a pile of rubble, the temple a pile of rubble, and nobody's living there really. And it's been going on now for 70 years. And he gets down on his knees three times a day, and prays that Jerusalem will be rebuilt. And that's what Daniel 9, the first part is all about, the rebuilding of the temple and the rebuilding of Jerusalem to the glory of God, because God had said it would last only 70 years.
And so in Daniel 9:17-18, it says, “Now therefore, O our God... “ this is Daniel praying, “listen to the prayer of your servant, and listen to his pleas for mercy and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate.” A desolated sanctuary. “Oh my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations and the city that is called by your name.” Jerusalem is desolate. It's empty. The temple is desolate. It's destroyed. Oh, Lord, please. For Your name's sake, rebuild it, that's what he's saying.
Well, then the Lord dispatches another angel to come and tell Daniel some stuff. I bet you don't have quiet times like this, I know I don't. But wouldn't it be exciting? You're having a prayer time, and suddenly the angel comes with some insights about the future. And so the Lord dispatches this angel to tell him with amazing clarity about a timetable concerning, I believe, both the first and the second comings of the Messiah.
And it's a fascinating passage that I already preached on once, so I won't do it again. But at any rate, the 70 weeks of Daniel, we get seven weeks, 62 weeks, and one week adds up to 70, seven plus 62 is 69 weeks. And at the end of that period, after 69 weeks, seven plus 62, in Daniel 9:26, look what it says there, “an anointed one,” or the Anointed One, the word for anointed one is Messiah or Christ, but there are other anointed ones. But, “An anointed one shall be cut off and have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” So after the death of the Messiah, the city and the sanctuary will be destroyed. “It's end shall come with a flood and there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.” It's the same thing, only this time it's in the future.
Alright, stop, what's going on? Daniel is praying, “Oh God, please give us strength to rebuild the city.” And you know what the angel comes and says, “Daniel, the city will be rebuilt, and guess what? It's gonna be destroyed again.” That's what's happening here, he's saying, “Just so you know, it will be rebuilt and then it's going to be destroyed again.” For the same reason actually, sins of the people. But at any rate, it's going to happen.
Then in Daniel 9:27, it speaks of the famous final week, what many interpreters believe depicts the final seven years of human history, what some people call the great tribulation, the last stretch of seven years that many commentators believe refers to the final seven years of human history. Again, you see the concept of desolation. Look at verse 27, Daniel 9:27, “And he,” the prince who is to come, “He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week.” Some people say seven years, “and for half of the week,” after three and a half years, “he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” If you think it's hard to read that in English, it's even harder in the original language. There are like 17 different translations of that one verse.
But basically what's going on is you've got these seven years, I think, and in the middle of it, this leader is going to stop sacrifice, put an end to it, and then set up an abomination of desolation. He's going to set up or build something, or establish something that will be the abomination of desolation. So the concept is a powerful and evil ruler will make a seven-year covenant concerning the sacrifices of the temple, and that in the middle of that period of seven years he'll put an end to sacrifice and offering. Note this is after the events of verse 26, in which the city is destroyed. And he shall in some striking way abominate the temple, but the end decreed by God shall be poured out on this evil person, God's in control of all of this.
Now, Daniel 11, one of the most extraordinary chapters in the Bible. I think 106 times the English word “will” appears in this one chapter. “Will” is our future word, this will happen, that will happen, the other will happen. It's a future chapter. I believe it's God, the sovereign God, showing off. Showing what he can do, he says, “You wanna know how detailed I can get with prophecy, read Daniel 11.” There's so many details here that it's really tough to preach, I've already tried to do it once, I am not doing it again.
Because the details all have to do with these Greek kings who fight each other, they hate each other all the time. Alexander the great unified a fractured Greek-speaking nation. Once he was gone, they just fell apart again and they're fighting each other all the time, Daniel 11 is all about that. And in the middle of all that, this one Greek king pops up, second century BC, a man named Antiochus, he was the fourth of that name Antiochus IV, he takes on himself a special name Epiphanes, it means in Greek, “the manifest one,” “the revealed one.” He thinks he's a god incarnate. So did Alexander, for that matter, Alexander thought he was Zeus incarnate. I think it ran in the family of these Greek leaders, they had delusions of grandeur. They thought high, lofty thoughts of themselves.
So this Antiochus comes along and he's particularly wicked and he's going to do special desecrations of the temple. Again, the language of “abomination of desolation.” Look at Daniel 11:31, “his armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortresses and will abolish the daily sacrifice, then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.” So there's that phrase again, “the abomination of desolation.”
Finally, in Daniel 12, the concept is mentioned again. This time it seems to be in connection with the end of the world and the eternal state of glory that the saints will enjoy. This is what makes it so amazing. The beginning of chapter 12 mentions a great tribulation greater than any that Israel had ever endured up to that time, I believe Jesus was pretty much paraphrasing that in Matthew 24. It also predicts a rising up of Michael, the great prince angel who protects Israel.
The chapter then goes on to unfold the deliverance of Israel miraculously, the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked, some to everlasting glory, and others to everlasting shame and contempt. Jesus covered this in John chapter 5, that's the end of the world friends, that's the resurrection of the righteous and the wicked to their final places of heaven and hell. And at the end of that chapter, the angel says this - Look at verse 8-12, by the way, verse 8, Daniel says, “I heard but I did not understand.” I have no idea what you're telling me. “Then I said, ‘Oh, my Lord, what shall be the outcome of all these things?’” I don't get it. Please explain it to me. “He said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end.’” That is unbelievably significant. Basically what it is is no one's really gonna get it until the time of the end. Now, Matthew 24-15 says you need to try, you need to chew on it, you need to meditate on it, you need to think about it, but you're not gonna really get it until you need to.
Okay, the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. Verse 10, “Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined but the wicked shall act wickedly, and none of the wicked shall understand” - here's this word understanding again - “but those who are wise shall understand.” There's the word understand again. Understanding seems to be huge here, the Wise need to understand. We'll get to that next week. Why? But they need to understand. “And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate” - there's the phrase again - “is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. Blessed is he who waits for and arrives at the 1,335 days.” I have no idea.
All I think is what's happening is there's gonna be some generation of people that will know exactly what those words are about. And they'll be sitting there counting down the days in some cave somewhere, waiting until those shortened days finally come to an end and Jesus returns.
So what is the abomination of desolation? The word abomination refers to some kind of idolatry, some offense to the Almighty God, generally some idolatrous worship focused thing. What is the desolation? It is the spiritual emptiness of the people that are doing it, and the physical emptiness of the city after it is destroyed, that's what the abomination of desolation is.
Summary: What is the “Abomination”?
Alright, summing it all up, because of their sins, God abandons his people to the power of marauding Gentile armies, resulting in a shocking trampling of his holy place. He does this to show that he is holy, that he dwells in a high and holy place, and not in any man made shrine. God just continually tramples his own shrine to show that what he really wants is to dwell in the midst of a holy people, and until they're really holy, you cannot live with them. And so he goes away and then they come in and trample the place. Because of the desolation, demonic forces flood in in the form of Gentile armies and create a horror show of pagan worship and destruction. Alright, now, I believe that the bible has shown that this has happened again and again.
I don't know what to do. It's 12:10. Hang on, dear friends, I don't wanna hurry through this... Okay, I'm not going to. We're gonna resume this next week, thank God, we're not doing that on Mother's Day, we're not saying “Run for your Lives” on Mother's Day. The Lord is so good. We'll do that the week after Mother's Day.
I wanna go through the dress rehearsals for this, there have been four of them already. One, two, three, four. I wanna talk about each one of them, and I want to talk about why the temple would be rebuilt. We haven't even gotten there yet. There's no way I can finish this sermon today. So we'll talk about why I think the temple would be rebuilt and what's gonna happen at the end of the world, we'll do that next week.
Let me just pause, if I might, and just take a moment to apply this. You may say to yourself, “What in the world does this have to do with my life?” I thought about that for a full week. I did nothing but think about applications on abomination of desolation for one full week, I have nine of them… There are probably more than that. And I'll give them more to you next week.
But let me just tell you one thing, clearly God wants you to know this. Clearly he wants you to know this. You know why? Because in II Thessalonians 2, one of the clearest teachings on the antichrist in the Bible, Paul says, having given them some instruction about the antichrist he says, “Don't you remember that when I was with you, I kept telling you about this?” They lived in the first century AD. Paul thought it was incredibly important that those Thessalonians know about the antichrist. We're far closer to the end of the world than he.
As a good pastor, I have to teach you about the antichrist. You may say, “What does this have to do with me? I'm unemployed and my marriage is struggling, my loved one is sick, etcetera.” Look, all of those things are important, God cares about them, but he clearly cares about this too, this isn't just some made up fable, these are deep, rich things that the Lord has gotten across to us in the Word of God. We need to give attention to it. So let me give you some of the applications that I've already thought of.
Abomination of Desolation
First of all, consider the phrase abomination of desolation. The abomination is idolatry. Are there any idols in your life? The desolation is a sense of emptiness with God, of his remoteness from you. What about you? Are you close to Jesus right now? Or is there a miniature abomination of desolation set up in your heart? You know what causes God to flee from you? Idolatry. You know what, when you do idols, it's when you're not satisfied with God anymore. You're not satisfied with him, and so you run after some material thing to fill the emptiness of your heart, and you set up within your own heart some form of an abomination of desolation. The beauty is that God will not allow that to happen to his children. He's going to come with a whip, Jesus says and clean your temple. He invites you to clean it first, tear down your idols, get rid of them.
The central idol of our lives is ourselves. Don't worship yourself, don't feed yourself, don't live for yourself. The Bible says we should no longer live for ourselves but for God, and for Christ who died for us and was raised again. Live for him, don't leave an abomination of desolation in your own heart, draw close to Jesus, get close to him in your prayer closet. Say, “Lord, I've been distant from you, I don't feel your presence in my life, I don't feel close to you... Yes, I'm unemployed, but that's not the issue. The issue is, I'm distant from you in my unemployment. Yes, I'm struggling with my teens or I'm struggling with my marriage. That's not the issue, the issue is, I'm not close to you through that, I wanna get close to you, Lord.” Draw near to God and he's gonna draw near to you, don't be desolate or empty in your relationship with Christ.
Repent and Believe
And finally just let me say, if there's any that are here that have never trusted in Christ, the time is now for you to repent and believe the gospel. Jesus shed his blood, ending forever the animal sacrificial system, we'll talk about that next week, but he shed his blood, ending it forever. You don't need the blood of bulls and goats, it won't help you anyway, the blood sufficient for your forgiveness has already been poured forth. All you need to do is believe in him, trust in him for the forgiveness of your sins. Repent, give up your idolatry, give up all of the things you've been living for and come to Jesus and allow him to take his place on the throne of your life.
The antichrist sets himself up as God and says, worship me. Jesus is worthy of your worship, allow him to set up his throne in the center of your life, fall down and worship him, and then get up and serve him with every breath you have more next week. Let's close in prayer.