SPECIAL TOPIC: THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
M. R. Vincent describes well the term abomination: "The cognate verb, ßδελύσσμαι, means to feel a nausea or loathing for food, hence used of disgust generally. In a moral sense it denotes an object of moral or religious repugnance (cf. 2 Chr. 15:8; Jer. 13:27; Ezek. 11:21; Dan. 9:27; 11:31). It is used as equivalent to idolatry in 1 Kings 11:17; Deut. 7:26; 2 Kings 23:13. It denotes anything in which estrangement from God manifests itself; as the eating of unclean beasts, Lev. 11:11; Deut. 14:3; and, generally, all forms of heathenism. This moral sense must be emphasized in the New Testament use of the word (i.e., compare Luke 16:15; Rev. 17:4,5; 21:27). It does not denote mere physical or esthetic disgust. The reference here is probably to the occupation of the temple precincts by the idolatrous Romans under Titus, with their standards and ensigns. Josephus says that after the burning of the temple the Romans brought their ensigns and set them over against the eastern gate, and there they offered sacrifices to them, and declared Titus, with acclamations, to be emperor" (Word Studies in the New Testament, pp. 74-75).
The Hebrew word "desolation" (BDB 1055, KB 1640) meant sacrilege. This phrase is used in Dan. 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11.
1. It originally referred to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who put an altar to Zeus Olympios in the temple in Jerusalem in 167 b.c. and sacrificed a pig on it (cf. Dan. 8:9-14; I Macc. 1:54, 59; II Macc. 6:1-2).
2. In Dan. 7:7-8 it relates to the Antichrist of the end-time (cf. 2 Thess. 2:4).
3. In Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20 it refers to the coming of the Roman General (later Emperor) Titus' army in a.d. 70, who sacrificed to their army standards which were dedicated to pagan gods, placed by the eastern gate close to the temple. It cannot refer to the siege of Jerusalem itself because it would be too late for believers to escape.
This is an example of a phrase being used in several different, but related, senses. This is called "multiple fulfillment prophecy." It is impossible to interpret until after the events occur; looking back, the typology is obvious.
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