We are attempting to unravel the mystery of the abomination of desolation, which Jesus and Daniel both talked about; the great tribulation, tribulation, days of vengeance/great distress, or time of distress which Jesus mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as Daniel, respectively. We made note of the similarities between what Jesus and Daniel both said. We also spent some time talking about the fact that the angel Gabriel had come to Daniel in answer to his prayer about Jerusalem and her people. Furthermore, we made mention of the fact that the city of Jerusalem is the center-point of our entire discourse. And finally, we made a point about context.
Keep in mind that we are exclusively attempting to parse English translations of Hebrew and Aramaic writings which were done by supposed experts (that is not sarcasm), so context is all-the-more important here – for text, without context, is pretext. But make no mistake, the seventy weeks prophecy was about Jerusalem, i.e., what was going to happen to it again because, most importantly, the angel was foretelling the coming of Christ.
There is nothing in all of Scripture that supersedes that message. Using that as your backdrop (your overall idea of what Scripture is trying to say), will make easier the interpretation of prophecy and eschatology in general. The coming of Messiah can be summed up in seven earth-shattering events: 1) His virgin birth, 2) His extraordinary ministry, 3) His crucifixion, 4) most importantly, His resurrection; for if there is no resurrection our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:12-14), 5) the persecution, 6) the destruction and desolation of the city and Temple, and finally, 7) the scattering. Fitting things within those parameters would show that there is little need to look beyond for the fulfillment of most, if not all, of prophecy.
So, in all of that, we have been setting the stage for the gist of the angel’s answer to Daniel’s prayer, and this is the beginning of that ‘gist’: “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy Place” (Daniel 9:24). And then Gabriel ended it with this: “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” (9:27).
Looking at the seventy weeks themselves, the beginning of Gabriel’s explanation (9:24) tells what the entire seventy weeks are about; and what it says is that, first and foremost, it was about Jerusalem and its people; but – all of those things were satisfied at the Cross! There is no greater event in all of history or in all of future history (?) that will supplant what Jesus did at the Cross and His subsequent Resurrection. Yet so many people get caught up in the ensuing seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and seventieth week, coming up with all kinds of elaborate explanations and timelines. But as we said, verse twenty-four gives you the whole story.
Now, while “abomination of desolation” has taken on quite a life of its own (as has “the great tribulation”), let us, for the moment, clear our minds of what we’ve heard and read, and of preconceived ideas, and try to figure out for ourselves what it means. As we’ve already pointed out, Luke 21:20 says, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near.” He says nothing of the abomination of desolation. Some people actually believe Luke was talking about something else, but that is absurd on its face because, if you look at what all three gospels say from the moment of the disciples’ question to Jesus upon leaving the Temple until that statement, and then the subsequent warnings to flee, the story is the same.
At issue is the fact that Luke didn’t say what Matthew or Mark did in exactly the same words, but they all said exactly the same thing in different words. If they all said the same thing in exactly the same words there wouldn’t be any need for all three Synoptic Gospels. Does that mean that there is an error? No, it means that Jesus probably said all of those things and each recorded His words in the manner that best represented what God so chose in each writer’s own perspective. That’s called inspiration. The fact of the matter is the believers understood what Jesus said and took heed, and they escaped the destruction that was to come.
The third-century church historian Eusebius, whose multi-volume Church Histories (a history of the first-century church) recorded that fact in the fifth chapter of his third book (this can also be found on pages 216-217 of my book). It is the story of the Roman general Vespasian, who built his reputation on his military campaign against Judea and Jerusalem during the Jewish war against Rome (66-73AD). When he became Emperor he turned over his military campaign to his son Titus, who finished the job by razing the city and Temple, literally digging it up, leaving only the western wall, which still remains today (and is shown on the front and back covers of my book).