The Abomination of Desolation

Matthew 24:15-28

Jerry A. Collins

October 21, 2001


Ø What is the abomination of desolation?

What are the perils to come?

What does Jesus say about the Jews during this time?

The Olivet Discourse is one of four major discourses of Christ.

(1) The Sermon on the Mount deals with the moral and ethical principles of the kingdom (MT 5-7).

(2) The Discourse on the Present Age dealing with the kingdom in its mystery form while the King is absent (MT 13).

(3) The Upper Room discourse dealing with the church as the body of Christ in the present age (Jn 13-17). And then there is the (4) The Olivet Discourse dealing with the signs of the end of the age.

Here we have a portion of this discourse that is crucial to understanding what Christ reveals about the end of the age.


When this event happens Jesus says then there will be a great tribulation (24:21). From several other passages we know that this time of trouble refers to the people of Israel being massacred by an enemy thot to be a friend with only a remnant surviving (Isa 10:20-22; Jer 30:5-9, Zech 13:8-14:2). Like childbirth without anesthetic, mankind will experience excruciating pain even holding themselves as the writhe in agony. Yet out of this comes deliverance, repentance and salvation for Israel. This holocaust for Israel will exceed all others. The ‘you’ referred to here in vs 15 and throuout the discourse speaks to those living in this period just before Jesus returns. It is this abomination of desolation which triggers these events. Abomination means an object of disgust and repulsion. In the Bible primarily denotes things associated with idols and gross ungodliness. It is this abomination that will cause desolation. Three times Daniel refers to this (9:27; 11:31; 12:11). The presence of this sign is so specific that it will be a signal to the Jews living in Judea to flee to the mountains vs 16. In Daniel 11:31 we know that this abomination was fulfilled in history by Antiochus Epiphanes who reigned in Syria 175-164BC 400 yrs after Daniel. 1 & 2 Maccabees describe his attempt to stamp out the Jewish faith, murder Jews, desecrate its temple stopping sacrifices, offering an unclean animal on the altar killing priests and replacing them with Greek gentile priests and setting up an idol in the temple an abomination to the Jews. Jews still celebrate Hanukkah today as a reminder of The Maacabean revolt and war that overthrew the Syrians and reclaimed and cleansed the temple several years later. But in Daniel 9:27ff & 12:11 the prediction is that of a future prince who will do what Antiochus did for approximately 3 1/2 yrs. 2 Thess 2:4 describes the same period with the ruler setting himself up as God in the temple. Rev 13:14-15 records that an image of the ruler will be set up in the temple. It means that another temple will be built and if suddenly desecrated like this will be a sign then of the coming trouble that Daniel and others have predicted. Let the reader understand refers to those believers then so that they can understand the reason for the trials of the time.


At this moment the ones in Judea in close proximity to the temple are in immediate danger hated by this one and Satan. Zech 13:8-9 says 2/3 of the Jews will be killed in a relatively short period of time. The only way any escape is to take immediate flight to the hills, caves and cliffs (16) just as Israel hid from their enemies during the OT and God supernaturally protects them there (Rev 12:14). So urgent is that moment that they should not waste even a few minutes to retrieve a few precious things to take with him to the mountains (17). Leave your cloak on the fencepost and run. There will be not time (18). It will be especially burdensome and tragic for pregnant women not being able to move so fast risking capture (19). Pray that it will not be winter when it is most uncomfortable or the Sabbath when flight more noticeable to enemies and devout Jews impeding or stoning those they believe are profaning the Sabbath.


(1) Severe Calamity 21-22 This horrifying period is detailed in Rev 6-16 with a series of seal, trumpet and bowl judgements in escalating intensity upon sinful rebellious mankind. In Rev 11:2 & 13:5 this great tribulation is a specific 3 1/2 yr period leading up to the second coming. It will be a period that will mark the death of hundreds of millions of people in a short span of time. The 4th seal judgment (Rev 6:7-8) predicts a fourth part of the earth perishing. The 6th trumpet judgment (Rev 9:13-21) a third of world’s population is killed. Wars, natural disasters and the like kill many more. An unprecedented time consists largely of the judgments of God upon the world at that time. If the church were to endure this the chances of survival for most of us is remote and the possibility of rapture for a few is not the blessed hope of a snatching away we are anticipating from scripture. Our hope is not the horrors of a tribulation like this. In order to preserve some believers alive to enter the Mill Kingdom the tribulation will be limited to 7 yrs and the great trib to 3 1/2. If the tribulation conditioned continued all life would be killed. As it is many coming to Christ in this period will perish as martyrs described as a great multitude which no man can number of all nations, kindred’s, people and tongues (Rev 7:9).

(2) Confusion 23-26 Having left belongings, family, friends, careers only the clothes on their backs hiding in caves with strangers these fugitives will be especially vulnerable to false hope. The refugees will hear claims & see wonders as false teachers mimic antichrist trying to mislead and persuade them to follow. Christ will not come secretly in the wilderness or a secret room somewhere where you can meet him (vs 26). Jesus tells them this in advance (vs 25).

(3) Public Appearance of Christ 27-28 How can they distinguish His genuine coming from many counterfeits then? A. His coming will be a public event visible to the whole world. B. It will be a quick, sudden, event. C. It will be unmistakable the heavens ablaze with the glory of God (Rev 1:7). This is the event that will bring an end to the abomination that brings desolation to the nation of Israel.

1. God has revealed details of His future plan. We can appreciate the sovereignty of our God in a greater way because of the details fulfilled in His plan.

2. God provides words of support and comfort for His people in every generation including the tribulations saints (let the reader understand, behold I have told you in advance).

3. Satan will never give up. The abomination of the Antichrist and the false prophets & christ’s reveal counterfeit, deception and lies again. Evil exists because good exists.

4. Those on Christ’s side are on the winning side. Share the good news!