首页 > 在线讲章 > 那使地荒凉的可憎之事

那使地荒凉的可憎之事

作者:加里·吉布斯日期:2019-05-18 7:4:46浏览数:631
中文字体:【

中文:

引言

“你们看见先知但以理所说的‘那使地荒凉的可憎者’站在圣地(读这经的人须要会意)。那时,在犹太的,应当逃到山上……因为那时必有大灾难,从世界的起头直到如今,没有这样的灾难,后来也必没有。”(太24:15, 16,21 据KJV圣经直译)[注:中文译为“毁坏”一词原文是“荒凉”,圣经新译本对此句的翻译是“那造成荒凉的可憎者”。]

这个预言说的是什么,它真的会影响到今日世界的基督徒吗?圣经中最引人注目的预言之一,与“使地荒凉的可憎之事”密切相关,这个预言之所以格外引人注目,是因为耶稣说,它是末日临近的特别预兆。

耶稣是在回答门徒的问题时,讲到了“那使地荒凉的可憎之事”。门徒问:“请告诉我们,什么时候有这些事?你降临和世界的末了有什么预兆呢?”耶稣说:“你们看见先知但以理所说的‘那使地荒凉的可憎者’站在圣地(读这经的人须要会意)。那时,在犹太的,应当逃到山上……因为那时必有大灾难,从世界的起头直到如今,没有这样的灾难,后来也必没有。”(太24:3,15-21)

各教派中的基督徒大都都承认,这是关于世界末日的一个明确而特别预兆。尽管人们大都赞同“那使地荒凉的事”是一个重要的预兆,但在这个预兆的具体所指上,人们却似乎无法达成一致。即便是牧师们,对此也陷入了困惑的泥潭。

当然,有些人认为自己知道“那使地荒凉的可憎之事”指的是什么。一些人宣称,这个预言在公元前168至165年,当叙利亚王安条克四世中止了圣殿崇祀时就已经应验了。他们认为,所谓的“可憎之事”是指安条克四世将猪献在圣殿的祭坛上。另有人认为,那使地荒凉的可憎之事,是指在将来的某个时辰——那些相信无神论的敌基督者会倾覆耶路撒冷的圣殿,并将其作为自己的宝座。还有人认为,“那使地荒凉的可憎之事”是指公元70年提多大将烧毁耶路撒冷并吩咐人们敬拜罗马军旗的事。

那么,“那使地荒凉的可憎之事”究竟是指什么呢?是上述解释中的一种,还是这些解释都对?抑或都是错误的?这一问题的答案极其重要,因耶稣曾清楚地说,这件事攸关生死。

耶稣教导我们,要想研究“使地荒凉的可憎之事”,必须聚焦于但以理书。(太24:15)当人仔细研究这卷书时,就会为那使地荒凉的可憎之事找到答案。

事实上,使地荒凉的可憎之事可分为三个部分,它们分别是:一、但以理时代使地荒凉的可憎之事(涉及到第一座圣殿);二、耶稣时代使地荒凉的可憎之事(涉及到第二座圣殿);三、世界末时使地荒凉的可憎之事(涉及到整个基督教会)。仔细研究但以理书,我们会发现,在那使地荒凉的可憎之事的三个阶段之间,有着内在的一致性,并且它们互为预表或例证。

第一件使地荒凉的可憎之事

解开这个预言事件之奥秘的钥匙,藏于但以理书的前两节中。“犹大王约雅敬在位第三年,巴比伦王尼布甲尼撒来到耶路撒冷,将城围困。主将犹大王约雅敬,并上帝殿中器皿的几分交付他手,他就把这器皿带到示拿地,收入他神的庙里,放在他神的库中。”(但1:1,2)但以理在这两节简短的经文中,向我们简明扼要地交代了书中后面余下部分的历史背景。

进一步学习但以理书的序言,我们发现,那使地荒凉的可憎之事,在但以理的时代就已经存在了,并且向前可追溯到耶路撒冷的沦陷。历代志的作者将犹大王被掳往巴比伦的原因告诉了我们。“约雅敬登基的时候年二十五岁……行耶和华——他上帝眼中看为恶的事。”正是因为约雅敬邪恶的生活,上帝才容许他成为俘虏。

这件事有一个重要特征,就是圣经对约雅敬的邪恶行为作了如下描述:“约雅敬其余的事和他所行可憎的事,并他一切的行为,都写在以色列和犹大列王记上。他儿子约雅斤接续他作王。”(代下36:5-8)正是由于约雅敬所行特别的可憎的事,导致了他和圣城失去了上帝的保护,以至落于尼布甲尼撒王之手。

不幸的是,他的儿子约雅斤做得比他好不到哪儿去。经上告诉我们,他也行“耶和华眼中看为恶的事。”结果他也同样被掳往巴比伦,“约雅斤的叔叔(原文作兄弟]希底家”被立为犹大和耶路撒冷的王(9-11节)。

圣经接下来不仅记载了希底家像前两任王一样邪恶,而且“众祭司长和百姓也大大犯罪,效法外邦人一切可憎的事。”(12-14节)上帝的祭司和宗教领袖同百姓一起,接纳异教的风俗,并视为己有。他们以违背上帝明确启示之真理为代价,去效学这些异教风俗。

请注意,圣经说他们是在什么地方犯下了这些可憎之事的?百姓“大大犯罪,效法外邦人一切可憎的事,污秽耶和华在耶路撒冷分别为圣的殿。”(第14节)这些可憎之事发生在上帝分别为圣的地方,即“耶和华的殿”中。

当时的宗教领袖们故意引诱百姓采取异教的崇拜习俗,并将此种习俗融入百姓对上帝的敬拜之中。上帝选民的领袖们用人虚妄的观念,替代了上帝的诫命,以致激起了上帝的愤怒。百姓既拒绝上帝的呼召,不肯悔罪,也不肯改革,就只能收获自己种下的苦果。“所以,耶和华使迦勒底人的王来攻击他们,在他们圣殿里用刀杀了他们的壮丁。”(17节)

这个判决不仅是指血流成河,还有城邑和圣所的彻底被毁。(19节)所有的这些事“就应验了耶和华藉耶利米口所说的话:地享受安息;因为地土荒凉便守安息,直满了七十年。”(第21节)上帝的百姓实行外邦宗教可憎之事的结果,便是他们的土地、城邑和圣所都变为荒场。

干犯安息日招致的毁灭

到底是什么样的可憎之事,招致了如此之毁灭呢?既然这些事的发生“应验了耶和华藉先知耶利米口所说的话”,那么耶利米应当能够告诉我们,在敬拜中被替换的究竟是什么。在耶利米书第17章,先知奉命站在百姓的门口说预言。耶利米奉旨向百姓宣告,若他们尊敬上帝第七日的安息日,他们的城就必存到永远,并且这忠心的顺从将使他们与上帝建立一种关系,就是祂要以他们为器皿,使周围的外邦人得以悔改。(耶17:19-26)

相反,他们若不遵安息日为圣,上帝就任凭他们的城被毁坏。“你们若不听从我,不以安息日为圣日,仍在安息日担担子,进入耶路撒冷的各门,我必在各门中点火;这火也必烧毁耶路撒冷的宫殿,不能熄灭。”(第27节)

可悲的是,犹太人执意继续干犯上帝的安息日,由此走上了毁灭和被掳的道路。导致他们被毁的可憎之事——就是干犯安息日。这就使我们明白了历代志下36:21节的话:“这就应验耶和华藉耶利米口所说的话:地享受安息;因为地土荒凉便守安息。”

生活在同一时代的以西结,也向我们讲述了上帝百姓在圣地所行的可憎之事。以西结书第8章,先知在异像中被带到内院的门口。上帝开始向祂的仆人显示祂百姓所犯的越来越大的恶行。在第5-6节中,上帝说到那激起他忌邪之心的偶像。但更激起上帝烈怒的——就是污秽的走兽被带进上帝的殿中(10节),妇女们为外邦人的神搭模斯哭泣,其中最可憎的,乃是二十五个人站在上帝的圣地“背向耶和华的殿,面向东方拜日头。”(结8:16)

上帝所指示犹太人建造的圣殿,就是为了阻遏他们效法外邦人敬拜太阳。犹太人礼拜的重心——约柜安放在会幕的西头,因此,当以色列人敬拜真神上帝时,他们应该背对升起的太阳,而面向西方。然而当异教风俗渗入上帝的子民中间,并迅速蔓延时,犹大的领袖们竟公然背对着上帝的圣殿,拜日头。这是一种多么严重的背道啊!

以西结和耶利米都列出了在敬拜上帝中所搀杂的异教习俗。不论是干犯第二诫的偶像崇拜,诸如敬拜不洁的走兽,膜拜搭模斯和异教虚构的神明,还是干犯上帝的圣安息日、在分别为圣的日子里敬拜太阳,这些行径都被上帝归为“可憎之事”。正是因为犹太人坚持认为自己的行为有理,并延续这些异教的习俗,上帝才容许毁灭临到他们的城。

但以理自己也认同,正是上帝百姓所犯的罪孽,招致了他们的毁灭。“主啊,求你按你的大仁大义,使你的怒气和忿怒转离你的城耶路撒冷,就是你的圣山……因我们的罪恶和我们列祖的罪孽……为自己使脸光照你荒凉的圣所……睁眼而看,眷顾我们荒凉之地。”(但9:16-18)

需要注意的重要一点是,行这些可憎之事的,正是上帝悖逆的百姓。反过来,正是这种可憎的行为,致使上帝撤回了对他子民的保护,并施行了审判和刑罚,其结果就是毁灭。但以理时代的可憎之事所招致的,是第一座圣殿的荒凉。同时,它也预表着但以理书中所预言的其它两件可憎之事。接下来我们要讨论的,就是与第二座圣殿时期有关的可憎之事。

第二座圣殿的荒凉

在以色列人从巴比伦的手中得释放并重建耶路撒冷城和圣殿后,犹太领袖们自己创立了一堆规条,为要保守他们免于重犯先前导致他们被奴役的罪。第四诫,第七日的安息日成为需要改正的重点。犹太人以为,既然是干犯安息日导致了他们的被囚,那他们就需要制订出详细具体的规则,来确保守好安息日。

他们最终制订出五百多条有关遵守安息日的规条。其中有一些关于安息日的人为规条实在可笑,例如,在安息日,人不能把鸡蛋放在太阳底下,因为太阳光有可能会把鸡蛋烤熟,而在安息日烤煮食物是违背第四诫的。当然,这样导致的唯一结果,就是一系列纯粹的律法主义。最后,人们开始相信,能否得蒙上帝的悦纳,就在于他们遵守这些人为规条和遗传的程度如何。

最终的结果是,百姓再度被完全引到了悖逆的老路上。耶稣说,他们虽有外表的虔诚,但内心仍旧在违背上帝的律法,正如以赛亚和但以理时代他们的祖先一样。“以赛亚指着你们假冒为善之人所说的预言是不错的。如经上说:这百姓用嘴唇尊敬我,心却远离我。他们将人的吩咐当作道理教导人,所以拜我也是枉然。你们是离弃上帝的诫命,拘守人的遗传……你们诚然是废弃上帝的诫命,要守自己的遗传……这就是你们承接遗传,废了上帝的道。”(可7:6-13)百姓发现自己再次陷入徒然敬拜的背叛之中。

尽管他们背叛上帝的表现形式发生了变化——由过去的放纵转变为现在的律法主义,但无论如何仍与所有异教信仰一样,都是遵循相同的原理——人能立功得救。耶稣和古时的耶利米一样谴责这种宗教体系,并称其为可憎之事。“你们是在人面前自称为义的,你们的心,上帝却知道;因为人所尊贵的,是上帝看为可憎恶的。”(路16:15)

耶稣在许多场合表达了他对这些可憎之事的不悦,其中最值得关注的是祂的两次洁净圣殿。当耶稣目睹人们亵渎圣地时,祂表现出极其的愤怒。耶稣和犹太人之间关于信仰的争端在摩擦升级中,终于汹涌的爆发了。宗教领袖之所以恨耶稣是,因为祂看起来不像弥赛亚,祂不尊重他们的遗传,最严重的是,祂不按照他们认为正确的方式遵守安息日。这件事激怒了犹太人,以致他们要寻索祂的性命。(见约5:10-16;太12:1-4;可3:1-6)

无论宗教领袖怎样反对,耶稣总是不断地寻找机会,以促使他们悔罪并进行改革。祂经常责备他们错误的行为,并向他们指明那在上帝眼中极为宝贵的、真实而纯正的信仰。然而,他们硬着心肠一次次地拒绝了上帝的慈悲心怀。

当耶稣最后一次进耶路撒冷时,祂预知的慧眼看到了以色列民持续背叛的后果。耶稣的心灵极其伤痛,祂含泪预言了耶路撒冷城将临的厄运:“因为日子将到,你的仇敌必筑起土垒,周围环绕你,四面困住你,并要扫灭你和你里头的儿女,连一块石头也不留在石头上,因你不知道眷顾你的时候。”(路19:41-44)

在殿中教训百姓数日之后,耶稣最后一次离开那个地方。当看到自己的百姓悖逆的终局时,祂再次痛心疾首的说:“耶路撒冷啊,耶路撒冷啊,你常杀害先知,又用石头打死那奉差遣到你这里来的人。我多次愿意聚集你的儿女,好像母鸡把小鸡聚集在翅膀底下,只是你们不愿意。看哪,你们的家成为荒场留给你们。”(太23:37,38)

在这两个事件中,耶稣都明确指明了上帝子民的罪。他说,“你不知道眷顾你的时候”,“只是你们不愿意。”因为他们不愿响应上帝的呼召,不肯从他们所行的可憎之事上转离。因着他们的可憎之罪,圣殿将要再次遭遇荒凉。这个预言最终在公元70年应验了。那时,罗马大将提多将军的军队将圣殿烧毁。圣殿的二次被毁和头一次被毁完全一样,都是因为上帝悖逆的百姓行了可憎之事,两次被毁都是由异教军队执行了上帝的判决。

但以理曾预言,耶路撒冷遭遇毁灭是因为百姓拒绝受膏君弥赛亚。仔细研究但以理书9:25-27节,我们会发现事实确实如此。第25节有应许,要将弥赛亚赐给以色列,并预言了圣城重建。但不幸的是,接下来的经文又预言了厄运的再次临到。第26节说到弥赛亚将要被自己的百姓杀死,以及这一行为将如何导致圣城和圣所的再次被毁。

当但以理听到加百列传达的这个预言时,在他脑海中所呈现的,乃是那在他的时代发生于耶路撒冷的事将要重演。预言表明,历史将会重演,而后来所发生的事也完全与此相符。在公元前586年和公元70年,因上帝百姓犯下的可憎之罪,导致了圣城和圣所两交被毁。头一次毁于尼布甲尼撒王之手,之后是毁于提多将军之手。

以色列民既刚硬的拒绝了弥赛亚,他们便丧失了作为上帝宠爱之民的地位。耶稣清楚的预言了这事的发生,他说:“上帝的国必从你们夺去,赐给那能结果子的百姓。”(太21:43)以色列因他们顽梗悖逆的罪而丧失了在福音工作上所拥有的特权。

那么,谁将是承受上帝之国、并结出与之相称之果子的新子民呢?圣经在使徒彼得写给外邦新信徒的信中给出了明确的答案:“你们从前算不得子民,现在却作了上帝的子民。”论到信从基督的人——上帝新的百姓——彼得进一步说到:“惟有你们是被拣选的族类,是有君尊的祭司,是圣洁的国度,是属上帝的子民,要叫你们宣扬那召你们出黑暗入奇妙光明者的美德。”(彼前2:9,10)

在新的时代中,上帝将一切曾赐给亚伯拉罕属肉体后裔的特权和应许,都赐给了悔改的基督徒。(见加3:26-29)现在,重生的基督徒承担了古以色列人的使命,基督的教会担负了上帝之圣殿或圣所的地位。圣经在很多经文中十分清楚地说明了这一点,诸如罗2:28-29,弗2:11-13,19-22;彼前2:5等。

最后的毁灭

根据新约中属灵以色列的原则,但以理书还预言了第三次、也是最后一次使地荒凉的可憎之事。我们可以阅读但以理书的8:13,11:31和12:11。眼光敏锐的预言学者认识到,这些章节预言了教皇权势的形成及壮大。教皇已将那导致古耶路撒冷城荒凉的相同的异教习俗掺进了基督教,这是不争的史实。人们稍加留意便可发现,诸如偶像崇拜,搭模斯崇拜,以及太阳崇拜在中古黑暗时期是怎样被教皇引入教会的。此类可憎之事如今仍以诸多形式出现在我们身边。诸如各种雕像,圣徒烛光,玫瑰念珠,复活节朝阳礼拜以及星期日崇拜。(关于这一主题更多的信息,见本站另一本小册子“受了洗的异教”)

罗马天主教的背道,决不能证明新教的完全清白。大多数的新教教会继承了这种背道,他们继续采用深深根植于古代异教的可憎习俗,而这些习俗的融入正是撒但为要破坏上帝的真理。天主教和新教都在上帝的圣地——他的教会中培植了这些可憎之事。基督教会正在效法历史上的以色列。我们在很多罪恶上正在重蹈前人的覆辙,其结果就是要遭受相同的毁灭与刑罚,除非我们愿意读那在宫廷墙上出现的字(但5:27),并逃离巴比伦。

很显然,但以理书中三次提到的导致荒凉的可憎之事,都是源于上帝百姓的背道。那么,有什么兆头告诉我们毁灭在即呢?

在路加福音21:20节,耶稣告诉门徒什么是耶路撒冷临近毁灭的最终兆头。他说:“你们看见耶路撒冷被兵围困,就可知道它成荒场的日子近了。”这节经文并非表明围城的军队是可憎的,而是说军队是那施行刑罚的工具。因为以色列行了可憎之事,上帝要通过罗马军队让“报应的日子”临到他们身上。

当罗马军队围困耶路撒冷时,这个兆头表明,城中大多数的领袖和百姓已经越过了恩典的界限,他们已经恶贯满盈。对于生活在城内的基督徒来说,这就是耶路撒冷即将遭受上帝审判的兆头。一旦找到机会,这些基督徒就要“逃到山上。”(第21节)公元66年,当罗马的提多将军围困城邑时,基督徒就意识到应许的兆头已经来到,现在是逃跑的时候了。当罗马军队中途突然撤军时,他们便抓住这一逃跑的绝佳机会逃出圣城。在接下来的公元70年,罗马军队攻城焚殿的可怕毁灭中,没有一个属上帝的真实儿女死去。

正如上帝给早期基督徒一个预兆,告诉他们何时逃离耶路撒冷,同样他也给今日的我们一个兆头。要叫每个真实的基督徒都能知道这个世界的宽容时期在何时结束。

约翰在启示录13-14章中,记载了一系列兆头。通过研究这些预言,我们便可知道,末日离我们是何等的迫近。何时美国通过政教联的方式为教皇权做一个像,就标志着该国已经罪恶满盈了。因为,再没有什么比通过一个国家性的法案来强制所有人尊崇一个异教崇拜的日子(即星期日--太阳神的日子)来取代上帝的圣日更为可憎了?这件事将直接应验启示录13:15-17的预言,从此我们可以确信,世界的末日已经逼近。

一位宗教作家曾这样描述那要来之事:“罗马军队围困耶路撒冷是怎样作为预兆,告诉门徒们耶路撒冷城行将遭受毁灭,照样,这样背教的行为也要作为预兆,告诉我们上帝宽容的限度业已到达,我国(美国)的罪恶业已满盈,那位慈怜的天使行将飞离而去,永远不再返回。”当众教会背叛上帝、行可憎之事达到一定程度——即颁布一个宗教性的律法,用一个异教的日子来代替上帝的圣安息日时,那时,我们就要逃离城市,因为毁灭的时刻马上就会临到。

在末期,“使地荒凉的可憎之事”是一个非常重要的主题。我们若细心查考这个预言,就会明白,这三个预言的一一应验,都是在指上帝百姓因普遍的背叛而招致了悲惨的毁灭。今日我们生活的世代,正是基督教会最后背道的阶段——他们要废除上帝的诫命。我们需要知道,我们正处在预言应验的过程中,要睁大眼睛警惕这一切事态发展的顶点——即通过法律强制人在异教的日子敬拜。

若要脱离那使地荒凉的可憎之事,我们唯一确定的保障在于,将自己的生命毫无保留地交给耶稣,像他一样爱人如己,并按照祂话语所教导的方式去敬拜祂。最大的诫命就是尽心、尽性、尽力爱上帝。我们若有这样的爱,便会很自然地去做一切讨上帝喜悦并使祂得尊荣的事。反过来,上帝也会在祂即将再临前,在我们经历那结束世界历史的毁灭之灾时保护我们。


英文字体:【

英文:

The Abomination of Desolation

By Gary Gibbs

Introduction

"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains. . . For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24: 15, 16, 21).

What is this prophecy all about, and does it really affect Christians in today s world?

One of the most interesting prophecies in the Bible concerns the abomination of desolation. The element that makes this prophecy especially intriguing is that Jesus identifies it as a specific sign that the end is near.

It was in answer to the disciples question, "When shall these things be and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" that Jesus spoke of the abomination of desolation. He said, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (Whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains... for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:3,15-21).

Christians of many persuasions recognize this text as a definite and peculiar sign concerning the last days. Yet even though the majority of them can agree that the abomination of desolation is an important sign, they can t seem to agree on its specific nature. Even preachers are thrown into a quagmire of confusion - looking for something that no one is very sure about. It is a perfect example of the blind leading the blind.

Of course, some believe they know the identity of the abomination of desolation. Some teach that this prophecy was fulfilled when Antiochus Epiphanes interrupted the temple sacrifices between 168 and 165 B.C. The abomination they point to is the pig Antiochus had offered on the altar in the temple complex. Others believe the abomination of desolation refers to a future time when an atheistic anti-christ will overthrow the temple in Jerusalem and use it as his throne. Then there are those who believe the abomination of desolation is the Roman standards which were worshiped in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. at the time of its destruction by Titus.

Just what exactly is the abomination of desolation? Is it any one of these alternatives? Is it all of them at the same time? Or could it be possible that not any of these interpretations are correct? The answer to these questions is vitally important. Jesus clearly implies that our very lives could be at stake over this matter.

Jesus tells us that our study of the abomination of desolation should focus on the book of Daniel (Matthew 24:15). When one makes a careful study of this book, he discovers that the abomination of desolation can be divided into three parts. These parts are: the abomination of desolation in Daniel s day (involving the first temple); the abomination of desolation in Jesus day (involving the second temple); and finally the abomination of desolation in the time of the end (involving the whole Christian church). The issues that come into play in the abomination of desolation as treated in the book of Daniel remain consistent in each of its three phases. Therefore they are types, or examples, of each other.

The First Abomination

The key that unlocks the mystery of this prophetic event is found in the first two verses of Daniel. "In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and beseiged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god" (Daniel 1:1,2). In these two short sentences Daniel provides a concise historical background to the remainder of the book which follows.

Further study of Daniel s prologue reveals the abomination of desolation was existent in his time and led to Jerusalem s captivity. The Chronicler reveals the reason the Jewish kings fell to Babylon. "Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old when he began to reign... and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God." It was because of Jehoiakim s iniquitous life that God allowed him to be taken captive.

The significant feature of this is that Jehoiakim s evil deeds are described this way: "Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, and his abominations which he did, and that which was found in him, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah: and Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead" (2 Chronicles 36:5-8). It was specifically the abominations of Jehoiakim that led him and his city to forfeit God s protection and thus fall to Nebuchadnezzar.

Unfortunately Jehoiachin, his son, didn t do much better. Scripture tells us he also did "that which was evil in the sight of the Lord." Consequently he too was taken captive to Babylon, and "Zedekiah his brother" was placed as king over Judah and Jerusalem (v. 9-11).

The Bible goes on to record that not only did Zedekiah turn out to be just as evil as his two predecessors, but "moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen" (v. 12-14). God s political and religious leaders, as well as the people, adopted heathen ways as their own. They did this at the expense of God s revealed truth. Notice where these abominations were committed: the people "transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which he had hallowed in Jerusalem" (v. 14). These abominations were standing in God s consecrated holy place, the "house of the Lord." The religious leaders of the day had purposefully led the people to adopt heathen worship practices and incorporated them into their worship of God. In substituting for God s commandments the vain notions of men, the leaders of God s heritage provoked his wrath. The people rejected God s calls to repentance and reformation and were left to reap the consequences. "Therefore, he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary" (v. 17).

This judgment was felt not only in the spilling of the blood, but in the complete destruction of the city and sanctuary (v. 19). This all was done "To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath to fulfill threescore and ten years" (v. 21). The result of God s people practicing the religious abominations of the heathen was the desolation of their land, city and sanctuary.

Breaking The Sabbath Brought Desolation

Just what were these abominations that resulted in such desolation? Since this was all done "To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah," then Jeremiah should be able to tell us what substitutions in worship had been made. In Jeremiah 17 the prophet is told to stand in the gate of the people and prophesy. Under a divine mandate, Jeremiah told the people that if they would honor God s seventh-day Sabbath their city would remain forever, and that this faithful obedience would lead them into such a relationship with Himself that they would be used to convert the surrounding heathen nations (ch. 17:19-26).

On the other hand, if they would not keep the Sabbath day holy God would allow their city to be desolated. "But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then I will kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched" (v. 27).

Sadly, the Jews chose to continue breaking God s Sabbath and thus inaugurated their own destruction and captivity. The abomination that led to their desolation was breaking the Sabbath. Thus, we see the significance of 2 Chronicles 36:21: "To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath."

Ezekiel, who lived during the same time, also tells us about the abominations God s people were practicing in the holy place. In Ezekiel 8, the prophet was brought by vision to the door of the inner gate. God proceeded to show his servant the progressively greater outrages His people were committing. In verses 5 and 6 He speaks of an image that provoked Him to jealousy. In an escalation of outrage, unclean beasts had been brought into the house of God, women were weeping for Tammuz and the greatest abomination of all was twenty-five men standing in God s holy place "with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east" (Ezekiel 8:16).

God had instructed the Jews to erect the temple in a manner that would discourage the imitation of their heathen neighbors in sun worship. The ark of the covenant, the very focal point of the Jews worship, was placed at the western end of the tabernacle. Thus the children of Israel would face the west, their backs to the rising sun, when they worshipped the true God. Yet the entrance of paganism among God s people had grown to such proportions that Judah s leading men were actually turning their backs on the temple of God. This was a significant act of apostasy.

Both Ezekiel and Jeremiah list the heathen practices that had been incorporated into the worship of God. Whether it was breaking the second commandment by idol worship, adoring unclean beasts, worshipping Tammuz, the mythological god of the pagans, or breaking God s holy Sabbath and worshiping the sun on the day consecrated to it, these practices all were classed by God as abominations. It was because the Jews persisted in justifying their own course and continued in these heathen customs that God permitted the desolation of their city.

Daniel himself agrees that it was the sins committed by God s people that caused their desolation. "O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and the iniquities of our fathers.... cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate.... open thy eyes, and behold our desolations..." (Daniel 9:16-18). It is important to note that the abominations were done by the apostate people of God. This in turn resulted in their forfeiture of God s protection and called down His judgments and chastisement in their desolation. This scenario of the abomination of desolation in Daniel s day, involving the first Jewish temple period, prefigures the two other abominations of desolation prophesied in Daniel. The next one we shall consider is the one that concerns the second Jewish temple period.

The Second Temple Desolated

After their release from Babylonian captivity and rebuilding the city and temple, the Jewish leaders erected a mountain of rules and regulations designed to protect them from repeating the sins that had led to their bondage. The fourth commandment s seventh-day Sabbath became a special object of amendment. The Jews reasoned that since it was transgression of the Sabbath that led to their captivity, they needed to define in minute detail how the Sabbath should be kept.

Over 500 rules concerning Sabbathkeeping eventually resulted. Some of these Sabbath laws were as ridiculous as this: one could not leave an egg in the sun on the Sabbath because the sun might cook it, and cooking on the Sabbath was a violation of the fourth commandment. Of course, this only resulted in a system of pure legalism. At last the people began to believe that favor with God depended on how well they obeyed the traditions of their elders.

Ultimately the people were led full circle to disobedience again. Jesus comments that in spite of their apparent religiosity they were still breaking God s law even as their forefathers had during Isaiah s and Daniel s day. "Well hath Isaiah prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men... full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition... making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered" (Mark 7:6-13). Once again the people found themselves immersed in vain and rebellious worship.

Even though their apostasy expressed itself in legalism instead of laxness, it was still based on the same principle upon which all pagan religions are based - that man can save himself by his own works. Jesus, like Jeremiah of old, rebuked this religious system and called it an abomination. "Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15).

Jesus expressed His displeasure for their abominations on numerous occasions. Most notable were the two times He cleansed the temple. On these times He expressed His anger at the desecration of His holy place. The controversy between Jesus and the Jews steamed, boiled and spewed over religion. The religious leaders hated Him because He didn t look like the Messiah, He didn t respect their traditions and most notably He didn t keep the Sabbath in the manner they thought it should be kept. This latter issue infuriated the Jews and led them to seek Jesus death (See John 5:10-16; Matthew 12:1-4; Mark 3:1-6).

In spite of the religious leaders resistance, Jesus sought time and again to bring them to repentance and reformation. Often He reproved them for their erroneous ways and pointed the way to true and undefiled religion that is of great price in the sight of God. Yet they hardened their hearts and beat back the waves of God s mercy.

As Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, His prophetic eye saw the consequences of their constant rebellion. With a grief-stricken heart and tears coursing down His cheeks, He prophesied the coming doom of the city: "For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation" (Luke 19:41-44).

After teaching in the temple for several days, Jesus left its precincts for the last time. Again He was choked with anguish as He saw the ultimate result of His people s apostasy. He exclaimed, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate" (Matthew 23:37,38).

On both these occasions Jesus placed the guilt upon the people by stating, "they knew not the time of their visitation" and "ye would not." As a result of not responding to God s call to turn from their abominations, their temple was to be desolated. This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the Roman armies of Titus burned the temple to the ground. This second desolation of the temple perfectly paralleled its first destruction. On both occasions the abominations were done by the apostate people of God and the desolation was an act of judgment performed by a heathen army.

This desolation of Jerusalem was prophesied by Daniel to come as a result of the people rejecting Messiah the prince. A careful study of Daniel 9:25-27 will show this to be the case. In verse 25 Messiah is promised to Israel and the city s restoration is also predicted. But then, ominously, all is prophesied for doom again. Verse 26 speaks of Messiah being killed by His own people and of how this act would cause their city and sanctuary to be desolated once again.

As Daniel heard Gabriel relay this prophecy, it was to his mind a replay of what he had seen happen to the Jerusalem of his day. The prophecy indicated that history would repeat itself, and this is exactly what happened. The abominations that God s people committed resulted, in both 586 B.C. and 70 A.D., in the destruction of their sanctuary and city -- first by Nebuchadnezzar, then by Titus.

Because Israel rejected the Messiah they lost their place as God s favored people. Jesus predicted this would take place by saying, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" (Matthew 21:43). Israel forfeited their franchise of the gospel by their own obstinate sin.

Who would be the new nation to receive the kingdom of God and bring forth the fruits thereof? The Bible provides a clear and concise answer in the apostle Peter s letter to the Gentile converts who "In time past were not a people, but are now the people of God." Of the converts to Christianity, the new people of God, he further says, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9,10).

In the new dispensation God bestows upon the converted Christians all the privileges and promises that had been made to the literal seed of Abraham (see Galatians 3:26-29). Now converted Christians assume the role of Israel, and the Christian church absorbs the status of the temple or sanctuary of God. The Scriptures make this abundantly clear in such texts as Romans 2;28,29; Ephesians 2:11-13; 19-22; and 1 Peter 2:5.

The Final Desolation

It is in the light of this New Testament principle of spiritual Israel that Daniel speaks of the abomination of desolation the third and final time. These references can be found in Daniel 8:13; 11:31; and 12:11. Discerning students of prophetic history realize that these verses predict the formation and ascension of power by the Papacy. It is an indisputable fact of history that the Papacy brought into the Christian church the very same practices of paganism for which ancient Jerusalem was destroyed. One has to do only a little study to see how image worship, Tammuz worship, and sun worship were introduced to Christianity during the Dark Ages. Many of these abominations are still with us in the form of statues, candles for the saints, rosary beads, Easter sunrise services and Sunday worship. [For more information on this subject, see Amazing Facts booklet Baptized Paganism.]

By no means does the papal apostasy exonerate Protestantism. Most Protestant churches accede to the apostasy by continuing the practice of abominations that have their roots firmly fixed in ancient pagan religions, which were established to destroy God s truth. Both Catholicism and Protestantism have fostered abominations in God s holy place, His church. The Christian church is mirroring literal Israel. We are repeating many of the same sins and will consequently reap the same punishment of desolation, unless we are willing to read the handwriting on the wall and flee from Babylon.

It is clear that the three occasions of abomination of desolation found in Daniel result from apostasy on the part of God s people, but what is the sign that will tell us when the desolation is nigh?

In Luke 21:20 Jesus told His disciples what would be the last sign of the imminent destruction of Jerusalem. He said, "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh." This text does not indicate that the armies are the abomination, but rather that the armies were the instrument to cause desolation. Through the Roman armies God would execute "the days of vengeance" for Israel s abominations.

When the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem, it was a sign that most of the city s leaders and inhabitants had passed the boundaries of grace and had filled their cup of iniquity. To the Christians living in the city, this was to be a sign that Jerusalem would soon suffer God s judgment. As soon as the first opportunity arose, these Christians were to "flee to the mountains" (v. 21). In 66 A.D. when Cestius, the Roman general, surrounded the city the Christians knew the promised sign had arrived and the time had come to flee. At their first opportunity to escape they did so, and not one Christian died in the horrible destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Just as God gave the early Christians a sign of when to flee Jerusalem, so He has given us a sign. He has made it possible for every Christian to know when this world s probationary hour is nearing its close.

In Revelation 13 and 14 John records a list of omens that will tell us just how close we are to the end. The sign that will show this nation has filled its cup of iniquity will be when it makes an image to the Papacy by uniting church and state. How much more neatly could this be effected than by the passage of a national Sunday law commanding everyone to honor a pagan day of worship? Such an event will be a direct fulfillment of Revelation 13:15-17, and provide assurance that the end of this earth s time is quickly approaching.

One author describes coming events this way: "As the approach of Roman armies was a sign to the disciples of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, so may this apostasy be a sign to us that the limit of God s forbearance is reached, that the measure of our nation s iniquity is full, and that the angel of mercy is about to take her flight." When the churches have apostasized in their abominations to such a degree that they enact legislation of a religious law which displaces God s holy Sabbath with a pagan holiday, we may leave our cities, knowing that a time of trouble will be forthcoming.

The abomination of desolation is an important subject in these last days. If we study this prophecy carefully, we will find that in each of its three fulfillments refers to a national apostasy by God s people that ends in their tragic destruction. We are now living in the time of the Christian church s final apostasy, which makes of none effect the commandments of God. We need to see that we are in the midst of fulfilling prophecy and keep our eyes open for the culmination of all things.

Our only sure protection against the abomination of desolation is to give our lives unreservedly to Jesus, loving others as He loves them and worshiping Him in the way that His word teaches. The greatest commandment is simply to love God with all our heart and soul and strength. If we have such love, it will be natural for us to do all things to please and honor Him. In return, He will see us safely through the desolation that will close this earth s history just before He comes again.