In the outline of the future of God's holy city Jerusalem, that is contained in the prophecy about the 70 Weeks, Daniel mentioned a "flood". Daniel 9:26 says, in part:
And the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
This prophecy of the 70 Weeks is focused upon the holy city Jerusalem, and refers to the street being repaired, and wall being rebuilt, as happened when some of the Jews returned from Babylon after the captivity. But the city of Jerusalem is a type or figure of the holy city, the Church, which Paul calls the "Jerusalem which is above" in Galatians 4:26.
There is a question about what kind of flood is referred to in Daniel 9:26. Some have suggested that it refers to an army, or military operation of some sort, in the vicinity of Jerusalem. If it is taken to be a literal flood of water, where would all that water come from? Jerusalem is located high above any river. Could it refer to some other kind of flood? If the nature of the flood is not correctly understood, much of point of Daniel's prophecy will be missed. Is it the same one as in Revelation 12:15, the flood from the serpent's mouth? If so, then it would be a metaphoric flood, picturing false teachings. The dragon, who is called "that old serpent", Satan, spews forth a flood from his mouth, intended to carry away the woman, who represents the Church (Revelation 12:15-17):
And the serpent
cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might
cause her to be carried away of the flood.
And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
This could not refer to an army, but it has been interpreted as a "river of lies." This flood from the serpent's mouth is easily interpreted as a flood of false information, that tends to discredit and weaken our faith in God, and the message of the Bible. This kind of misinformation is very prevalent today.
The flood mentioned in Daniel 9:26 may well be the same flood that is depicted in Revelation 12:15, where "the flood from the mouth of the serpent" threatens to carry away the woman. Interestingly, the flood from the serpent's mouth is swallowed up when the earth opens its mouth. This could picture discoveries from archaeology and from geology that confirm the scriptures.
The desecration of the city of Jerusalem, by the erection of abominations, idols of pagan deities, such as occurred during the 2nd century BC under Antiochus IV, is a type or figure of the abominations that desecrate the holy city of the saints, which is the Church.
In the Olivet prophecy, Jesus relates the events that lead up to his coming and the resurrection. The events listed in Matthew 24:7-31 include wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution, false teachers, the gospel is preached in the whole world, Daniel's abomination of desolation is recognized, great tribulation, heavenly signs, Jesus returns, the resurrection.
Jesus said (Mark 13:14):
But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains.
Apparently the abomination of desolation is something that people all over the world will see. Although Daniel's prophecies foretold events during the reign of Antiochus IV in the second century BC, Jesus clearly refers to a future event. The events described by Daniel were a type of what was to happen in the Church at the end time. Antiochus IV was a type of the Antichrist to come, mentioned in several passages in the NT. There is no indication that Jesus' prophecy about the abomination of desolation was fulfilled in the first century.
In Luke's account of the Olivet prophecy the sign of the abomination of desolation is not mentioned. Instead, Luke says Jesus referred to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army, which occurred in 70 AD. Luke 21:20:
And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
This answers the question that the disciples asked Jesus, about when the destruction of the temple should occur.
If we carefully analyze the words of Jesus in Matthew's account, one does not need to be in Jerusalem to "see" the abomination of desolation that desolates the holy place. It does not refer to Jerusalem or a temple; it does not concern the earthly Jerusalem at all, or any future temple there. The abomination of desolation that Daniel wrote of concerns the heavenly Jerusalem, the Church! The holy place is no longer upon the earth. Daniel's prophecy about the abomination of desolation applies to the Church rather than a temple in Jerusalem. The Church is called a "holy temple" in Ephesians 2:19-22:
Now therefore ye
are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the
saints, and of the household of God;
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
It is a realization of the desolate spiritual condition of the Church, and the abominations that occur in it today, that Jesus refers to, when he speaks of Daniel's prophecy of the abomination of desolation.
Jesus says Daniel's prophecy can be understood by someone who reads it. One does not need to be in Jerusalem; in fact he can be on the roof of a building, or in a field out in the country, and see the abomination of desolation. One can be anywhere in the world, and understand what Daniel is talking about.
Jesus referred to people in the fields who see the abomination of desolation. One does not find fields in a city, but in the country. People working in the fields do not "see" what is happening in Jerusalem. So, who was Jesus referring to? What if it is the sabbath day? If it is the sabbath, that will be unfortunate, but why? Is it important to be keeping the sabbath?
Then, if someone does understand Daniel's prophecy, what should they do? It depends. If you are in Judaea, flee to the mountains! If on the housetop, don't come down to take anything out of your house. If you are in the field, Jesus said don't go back to your house for your clothes. Why flee to the mountains? Those who followed Judas in the days of Antiochus IV fled from Jerusalem, because it was occupied by Gentiles. They took up arms, and waged a guerrilla war against the Seleucid army. Does Jesus mean to flee from some military force, or is there some other danger?
There is a question about Jesus' reference to "those who are in Judea." Does Jesus mean the Jews? Judea represents the promises of God to Abraham, and so it is possible Jesus means those who are figuratively Jews, those who are "in Christ", and Abraham's seed, and who are heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29). Jesus warns them to find some high ground. Is it because of a flood? Or is there another reason to flee to the mountains?
Jesus' warning can be interpreted as an exhortation to the Church to escape from the information flood that engulfs the whole world, threatening to carry God's people away with it. This is the "flood from the mouth of the serpent" foretold in Revelation 12:15. Jesus refers to believers, who need to escape the metaphorical flood of deception, that Satan has generated. He warns: get yourself onto high ground, so you can avoid being swept away in the murky flood of lies and deception!
Another way of interpreting this is that it is a warning to avoid becoming involved with all the evil behaviour that becomes prevalent in the world. A mountain contrasts with the abode of the beast from the bottomless pit that makes war with God's two witnesses in Revelation 11:7. The metaphor of a bottomless pit means there is no limit to the evil that characterizes this beast. When Christ warns us to "flee to the mountains" it is to escape the evils of this world.
The prophecy of Daniel about the abomination of desolation apparently has to do with clothing. Is it referring to the clothes that we wear, or some other kind of clothes? Perhaps it means a figurative type of clothing. Paul writes, in Ephesians 6:14:
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.
The "clothing" that the Christian needs to have is truth. When Jesus said don't go back to your house for your clothes, he exhorts us not to go back to our old worn-out beliefs and dogmas, represented by old clothes, when he provides new insight or understanding of the truth. Revelation 16:15 says:
Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.
Where Jesus spoke of those who are out in the field when they see the abomination of desolation, we may also note that Jesus referred to white fields, that were ready to harvest. John 4:35:
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
The fields Jesus refers to are places where the word of God had been preached. Jesus also said his disciples should pray that God would send laborers into the harvest. Luke 10:1-2:
these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two
and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.
So if Jesus means the laborers who preach the gospel in the world, when he says those who are in the field should not return back for their clothes, their seeing the abomination of desolation must involve receiving some kind of a new understanding from God, pictured by new clothing! Perhaps Jesus is saying they need to accept this new information, and forget about their old "clothes", or previous beliefs. It is a reference to a time of harvest, or else, why would people be out in the fields? This association with a time of harvest also explains his words "pray that your flight be not in the winter" which suggests those who flee in winter are people who realize too late, that they have been mistaken, and are like the grain that is left unharvested in the fields. Such people may miss out on the benefits of the gospel promises. Similarly, the sabbath day was a day of rest, when no one was around to work, so no harvesting was done that day.
Perhaps it is not the individual's clothes, but the Church's clothes that Jesus refers to. In Revelation 12:1 the Church is pictured as "clothed with the sun"; the prophecy of Joel about the sun becoming black indicates the gospel is hidden, and the Church is not being the "light of the world". Its light is dim, and about to go out! The light of the truth of the Gospel does not shine as it should! The sun becoming black may refer to the blackness of the Church's clothes. Combining the prophecy of Revelation 12:1 and the prophecy of Joel 2:31 suggests the Church's clothes have become black!
Joel's riddle about the moon turning to blood is also solved by referring to Revelation 12:1. Rachel is identified with the moon in Genesis, and in Matthew, she is identified with the Jews of the region around Bethlehem in Judea. So if the moon in Revelation 12 represents the Jews who are at the feet of the heavenly woman, the moon turning to blood appears to be a prophecy about bloodshed among Jews! Perhaps it refers to the holocaust in WW2. There were also previous events of a similar nature, dating from the 1st century destruction of Jerusalem. These all point to the arrival of the day of the Lord.
The saints are said to be the ones who are victorious in Revelation 12:9 and Satan gets cast out to the earth. Then he persecutes the woman, and the woman receives the wings of the eagle, that allow it to fly to the wilderness again. These wings represent prophecy, and the capacity for viewing things from God's point of view, rather than man's. That is what prophecy is for; it is God's perspective on things. The understanding of prophecy allows us to see an overview; the past, as well as the present, and future.
Prophecy shows the outcome of the events occurring today. It is this gift that is to be given to the Church, and understanding Daniel's prophecy about the meaning of the abomination of desolation is probably a crucial part of this. Unless we understand what the gospel is, we won't figure out what the Church is. And we won't figure out what the prophecies are about, if we remain in the dark, and we are ignorant of the message that Christ has for us, which is the message contained in prophecy.
Copyright © 2005 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.