We’ve covered a lot of ground, but there is a lot more information that needs to be conveyed about the seventy weeks, as it is an important prophecy. Actually, all of Daniel’s prophecies are important because they all have eschatological overtones and outright bombshell eschatological implications. Whether studying Revelation, Jesus’ prophecies, or the other O.T. prophets, Daniel cannot be overlooked, which is why I consider him and Jesus inextricably linked.
In full disclosure, while not claiming to be an “expert” in Greek, I did take two years of New Testament Greek at Knox Theological Seminary. And while some “grammarians” may disagree (and I welcome their comments and input), here is my take on the subject at hand:
Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14 both have the Greek words that translate to “abomination” and “desolation,” which the NASB (the Bible version I use) translates “the abomination of desolation.” Luke 21:20 does not have the word for “abomination” but does for “desolation,” in the same sentence in which he is telling of Jerusalem being surrounded by armies. That verse connects that statement with what is said before and after, so Luke is not talking about something different from what Matthew and Mark are, as some say.
Could the heathen Roman armies that surrounded the sacred city and God’s Holy Temple, and then who destroyed them both, actually be the abomination which caused the desolation, i.e., the “abomination of desolation?” This is fairly simple to determine and need not be about a spooky fantastical figure. Using your favorite Bible software or online program, or Google, or even the old fashioned way of using a concordance – look up the words “abomination” and “desolation.” And, to make it easier, you can narrow the search, if you’d like, to the passages which I have used in my previous posts, for they were written with this premise in mind. Also, don’t overlook the all-important definition of “desolation” as given by Isaiah (1:7).
Then, use your Bible software or a parallel Bible and look at Matthew 24:15, and notice how the NASB, KJV, NKJV, and ESV all say “the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place.” That is the translation which gives the greatest incentive to those who wish to create that which isn’t there. The NIV says “the abomination that causes desolation standing in…;” the NLT says “the sacrilegious object that causes ‘desecration’ standing in…;” the NCV says “the ‘destroying terror’ standing in…;” the CEV says “that ‘horrible thing’ in…;” and finally, the Message says “the ‘monster of desecration’ set up….”
In all honesty and objectivity, it is difficult to determine, from the above renderings of Jesus’ words from Greek into English, whether the abomination of desolation is a person or a thing. The Message’s translation is particularly interesting in that it says “the monster of desecration,” which would lead one to believe it is a person, but then it says, “set up.” Is it saying a person is set up? Not to pick on the Message, this is only to show how difficult these passages are. The writers of these versions supposedly worked from particular manuscripts. My favorite version, the NASB, is one that implies a person.
Now, going back and looking once again at Daniel 9:27 we see: “And ‘on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate,’ until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” What in the world does “and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate” mean? Relying on the translators, breaking down the English, we see, “On the wing of abominations will come one….” In other words, someone will come “on the wing of abominations,” and he is the one who makes desolate. We know what was made desolate – Judea, Jerusalem and the Temple. The beginning of the sentence, “and on the wing of,” is what makes the whole passage seem eerie and what causes people to put odd meaning to what the angel is telling Daniel, but remember, it is about Jerusalem.
I guess one could say that a person who epitomizes all that is an abomination to God, an abominating-desolator, a heathenistic idolatrous pagan Greek general (Antiochus) who enters the Holy of Holies and proceeds to sacrifice swine on the altar; or a paganistic idolatrous heathen Roman general (Titus) who “plants” the Roman “standard” in the Holy of Holies – in other words, a person, one who creates or commits an abhorrent abomination before the Lord in His Holy Temple, and then makes His holy place desolate, could fit the bill for 9:27. Isn’t that the context?
As for the last part of 9:27 which says, “until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator” – well, who issued a decree, and what was that decree? Remember, Daniel was in Babylonian captivity during this time – and during this time, that kingdom was losing its control, being taken over by the Medes and Persians, aka Medo-Persia. A decree had been issued by the Persian King Cyrus (Ezra 6:1-15). Here is verse 6:3 – “In the first year of King Cyrus, Cyrus the king issued a decree: ‘Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the temple, the place where sacrifices are offered, be rebuilt…’” And, ending it (6:14b-15): “And they finished building according to the command of the God of Israel and the decree of Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. This temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar; it was the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.” Amen. So, that was the decree.