SECOND TREE

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THE OLIVET DISCOURSE

(THE IMPORTANT PROPHECY THAT JESUS GAVE SHORTLY BEFORE HIS DEATH)
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FOREWORD

This 'Foreword' is a brief summary of my message on the 70-Weeks prophecy of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27). In that prophecy God gave the world two timetables; a 69-week timetable leading up to the first coming of Jesus Christ, and a remaining 70th week leading up to His second coming. The 69-week timetable consisted of 69 'weeks' of years, each week lasting for 7 years (for a total of 483 years). Jesus fulfilled that timetable when He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, four days before His crucifixion.

The 70th week, however, is not like the first 69 weeks; it is not a week of 7 regular calendar years. Rather, it is the great week of the Abrahamic Covenant; beginning roughly 4000 years ago with God's promises to Abraham, divided in the middle by the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (by the Romans), and soon to be completed at the second coming of Jesus Christ.


THE GREAT WEEK OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT

The first three pages in the prophecy section of this web site (Introduction to Prophecy, The Olivet Discourse, and The Timetable for Jesus' Return) explain these things in detail. To put it simply, Jesus has told us (in His 'Olivet Discourse') that the midpoint of the 70th Week is the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. Then God gave the world four visions of the entire 70th Week in John's Little Book. John received the Little Book in Revelation chapter 10, and has set its contents before us in Revelation chapters 11-13. When we combine the Olivet Discourse with John's four visions, the nature of the 70th Week becomes obvious.

The first vision, of 'The Temple and the Courtyard' (Revelation 11:1-2), describes the second half of the week as a time during which the Temple Mount in Jerusalem would be given to the Gentiles:


THE TEMPLE AND THE COURTYARD

The second vision, of 'The Two Witnesses' (Revelation 11:3-12), describes God's giving of the entire Bible ('the Law and the Prophets') to the world during the first half of the week, and then portrays the dead bodies of God's servants lying in the city of Jerusalem throughout the second half of the week. This is a picture of the guilt of the Jewish nation for their persecution of God's prophets during Old Testament times, their crucifixion of Christ, their continuing persecution of Christ's disciples, and their opposition to the proclamation of the gospel to a human race desperately in need of it.


THE TWO WITNESSES

The third vision, of 'The Woman, the Child and the Dragon' (Revelation 12), describes Israel's bringing of the promised Messiah and 'seed' of Abraham into the world, followed by the dispersion of the Jewish people throughout the world for the following 1900+ years. While the second vision of 'The Two Witnesses' portrays the guilt of the Jewish nation, this third vision reveals God's preservation of that nation through many years of wandering and difficulty throughout the world. In addition, this vision explains the ultimate source of the world's persecution of the Jewish people over the past 1900+ years; a defeated and bitter archangel. The 'casting out of Satan' is one of the great themes of the New Testament, and sheds much light upon the history of the world over the past 1900+ years.


THE WOMAN, THE CHILD AND THE DRAGON

The fourth and final vision, of 'The Beast From the Sea' (Revelation 13), describes God's authorization of the Beast of Revelation to continue in existence throughout the second half of the 70th Week.


THE BEAST FROM THE SEA

This perspective on the 70th Week of Daniel is based upon the simple and obvious meaning of God's word. With it we can see that God has explained world history to us in a very accurate and useful way. And He has shown us that we are now living very late in the second half of the 70th Week. It is this perspective on the 70th Week that is the foundation for everything else that I have to say about prophecy in this web site. Without a willingness to at least consider the possibility that I am correct, any further time that my visitor might spend in the prophecy section of this web site will be of little use.

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THE OLIVET DISCOURSE

(THE IMPORTANT PROPHECY THAT JESUS GAVE SHORTLY BEFORE HIS DEATH)

INTRODUCTION: TWO TIMETABLES

In Daniel chapter 9 (verses 24-27), God gave the '70-Weeks Prophecy' to the world. In that prophecy God gave two timetables; a 69-week timetable for the first coming of the Messiah, and a remaining 70th week that would end with His second coming. After the first 69 weeks, the Messiah would die as the Lamb of God to fulfill the Blessing/Atonement promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. In His second coming, the Messiah would fulfill the remaining Land/Kingdom promises made to Abraham.

Although each of these timetables was reliable, each one required an 'informational key' to unlock its understanding, and those keys would not be given during Daniel's lifetime. The key to the first timetable was based upon a specific starting point; permission being given to the Jews to rebuild their capital city of Jerusalem. We find that permission being given by the Persian King Artaxerxes in Nehemiah chapter 2. The first timetable was to last 69 weeks of years (each 'week' being 7 years long). And so, once Artaxerxes' permission was given, the first timetable was 'unlocked' and it became possible to predict when the Messiah would come. I suspect that the 'wise men' of the Christmas story (Matthew chapter 2) paid attention to this timetable, and this is why they were watching for a sign of the Messiah's coming.

Jesus fulfilled the '69-week' timetable when He entered Jerusalem on 'Palm Sunday', four days before His crucifixion. Two days later, as He sat with His disciples on the Mount of Olives overlooking the Temple, He gave a prophetic message that has become known as 'The Olivet Discourse'. In that message Jesus gave His disciples the 'informational key' to the second timetable of Daniel chapter 9; the 70th Week.

On the Mount of Olives
ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES

That 'key' was Jesus' identification of the 'Abomination of Desolation'; an event that marks the middle of the 70th Week, dividing it into two equal halves. It is clear, when all three versions of the Olivet Discourse (from the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke) are compared side-by-side, that the Abomination of Desolation is the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD. The key to understanding the first timetable was tied to Jerusalem's reconstruction. The key to understanding the second timetable would be Jerusalem's second destruction.

This web page looks at Daniel chapter 9, Jesus' fulfillment of the first '69-week' timetable, and His giving of the Olivet Discourse. In the process I also address one of the great errors in the history of the Christian church; the mishandling of the Olivet Discourse by Christians who refer to themselves as 'Dispensationalists'. It is necessary to expose the errors of Dispensationalism in order for people to properly understand God's second timetable.

This page is followed by a second web page; the The Timetable for Jesus' Return. In that page I take my reader beyond the Olivet Discourse to examine the apostle John's 'Little Book' of Revelation 10-13. In that 'Little Book' we are given five visions of the 70th Week; some visions describing one half of the Week, and some describing both halves. Through this 'Little Book' God not only enables us to understand when Jesus will come again, but also to survey the entire sweep of history from Abraham to the present, and to see it as God sees it.

I would like to acknowledge my indebtedness to Sir Robert Anderson for much of my understanding and confidence regarding the first 69 weeks of this prophecy, obtained through his book The Coming Prince. Although I do not agree with Anderson's views on the 70th Week, I must acknowledge that his book has been a source of blessing and inspiration to me. The entire book is available for reading online (free of charge). And now, please join me in looking at Daniel chapter 9 and the Olivet Discourse.

DANIEL 9:24 - EVERYTHING FULFILLED IN 70 WEEKS

Daniel was an elderly man when he received the '70 Weeks' prophecy. He had been taken captive to Babylon as a young man, had witnessed the destruction of his nation (Israel) by the Babylonians, and had then lived to see the downfall of the Babylonian Empire itself, and its replacement by the Persian Empire. As he studied the book of Jeremiah, he discovered (in Jeremiah 25:11 and 29:10) that the land of Israel would lie desolate, and that the Jewish people would not be allowed to return there, until 70 years had passed.

Since the 70 years were almost completed, Daniel began to pray to God, confessing his sins and the sins of his nation, and asking God to graciously allow them to return to their homeland. God sent an angel to him to reveal His schedule for the complete fulfillment of all of the promises that He had made concerning Israel. As Daniel prayed about Jeremiah's '70-Years Prophecy', God gave him the '70-Weeks Prophecy', recorded for us in Daniel 9:24-27.

In the first verse, God told Daniel that all of the 'visions and prophecies' concerning the nation of Israel would be completely fulfilled in 70 weeks of time:

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy and to anoint the most Holy.

Daniel 9:24

God measures time in groups of 7 units, called weeks. It can be a week of 7 seconds, 7 minutes, 7 days, 7 years, or whatever. This is because God created the earth in 6 creation-days, and rested on the 7th day. He measures time in 'sevens', and this reminds us that He is the Creator.

The 'sealing-up' of vision and prophecy means the 'fulfillment' of God's prophecies; closing the book on unfinished business so to speak. The anointing of the 'most holy' has been interpreted differently by various Bible scholars. Some think that it refers to the anointing of Christ at His second coming. Just as the Israelites anointed their priests and kings under the Mosaic system, Jesus would be anointed as Israel's King.

Other scholars think that this anointing points to the fact that the Israelites used to anoint their Tabernacle (their most Holy place) with a special oil, making it fit for God Himself to dwell there. Whatever this 'anointing of the most holy' means, it points to the day when God Himself will once-again dwell within the nation of Israel, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

DANIEL 9:25 - THE 69-WEEK TIMETABLE

In verse 25 God gave Daniel a 69-week timetable for the first-coming of Israel's Messiah:

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two (62) weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

Daniel 9:25

In this verse the Lord Jesus is called "the Messiah, the Prince". The Hebrew word 'messiah' means 'anointed one', which is equal to the Greek word 'Christ'. In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1-2 in proclaiming that He had been 'anointed' as the Savior of the world. Jesus is also called 'the prince', because He is the promised 'Son of King David'.

When Daniel received this prophecy, the people of Israel had been removed from their land, and were waiting for permission to return there. The Jewish people were given two separate permissions. First, they were permitted by King Cyrus (536 B.C.) to return and rebuild the Temple. When they began to rebuild the Temple, their enemies accused them of seeking to rebuild the city. God providentially clarified, both for the Jews and the world at large (Ezra chapters 4 through 7) that the permission to rebuild Jerusalem had not yet been given. The permission allowing the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem was given later by the Persian King Artaxerxes in 445 BC. That permission is recorded in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah.

O HAPPY DAY!

The 69 weeks of this verse are weeks of years, each week being a period of 7 years; for a total of 483 years. If we stretch these 483 years forward in time from the day that the permission was given to rebuild Jerusalem, it brings us to the day in 32 AD when the Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, in fulfillment of Zechariah, which reads...

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

Zechariah 9:9
Palm Sunday
Behold, your King!

That day has since come to be known throughout the Christian world as 'Palm Sunday', and is observed every year exactly one week before Easter Sunday. Up until that day, Jesus had always suppressed the open proclamation of Himself as Israel's promised Messiah and Prince. But on Palm Sunday He not only allowed it, He encouraged it. It is interesting to note His response to the Jewish leaders who told Him to suppress the praise of His followers:

And as Jesus went, they spread their clothes in the way. And when He was come near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying "Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest." And some of the Pharisees from among the mutitude said to Jesus, "Master, rebuke your disciples." And He answered and said unto them "I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."

Luke 19:36-40

IF ISRAEL HAD WATCHED

Not only can we know that Jesus fulfilled the 69-week timetable by measuring the days; we can also know it by listening to His words on that day. They are recorded for us:

And when He had come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it, saying "If you had known, even you, at least in this your day, the things which belong to your peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, that your enemies shall build a trench about you, and surround you, and keep you in on every side, And shall lay you even with the ground, and your children within you; and they shall not leave in you one stone upon another; because you knew not the time of your visitation.

Luke 19:41-44

In this passage, the Lord Jesus was telling Israel that if they had paid attention to the timetable that began with the permission to rebuild their destroyed capitol city, they would not now be confronting the re-destruction of that city.

I believe that the wise men of the Christmas story did pay attention to this timetable. They came from a part of the world that was familiar with Daniel and his prophecies. I suspect that they were looking toward the west for a sign of the Messiah's coming when they saw His star.

You may have noticed that God divided the 69 weeks into two periods; of 7 weeks and 62 weeks. This is because it took the Jewish people approximately 7 weeks of years to complete the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The book of Nehemiah tells us that they were able to get the walls and gates of the city up fairly quickly. But it was one thing to get the walls up, it was another thing to complete the fortifications around the walls, to reconstruct the streets and buildings within the walls, and to then repopulate the city and get it up and functioning as a national capital. History tells us that it took the Jews approximately 49 years to accomplish that task.

DANIEL 9:26 - THREE HISTORICAL EVENTS

In this verse God told Daniel 3 things that would happen after the Messiah came. These 3 things would be events or changes that the whole world would be able to observe:

And after threescore and two (62) weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself: 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.

Daniel 9:26

These things have all been fulfilled in the crucifixion of Christ in 32 AD, the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple by the armies of Rome in 70 AD, and the subsequent dispersion and persecution of the Jewish people throughout the world, while the Temple mount has remained desolate since that time.

DANIEL 9:27 - THE SAME THREE EVENTS FROM GOD'S PERSPECTIVE

In verse 27 Daniel was given a behind-the-scenes, heavenly view and explanation of the events of verse 26. In this verse he was told what the Messiah would do after His death:

And He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations He shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Daniel 9:27
    1) Because of what He had achieved through His death upon the cross, the Messiah would be able to confirm (ratify, fulfill or establish) the Abrahamic covenant.

    2) In the middle of this 70th Week the Messiah would bring an end to the Mosaic sacrifices and offerings.

    3) The Messiah would use 'one who makes desolate' as the appointed means to bring desolation upon the Temple until a divinely determined end or 'consummation' is reached.

DANIEL'S EXPECTATION OF THE RESURRECTION

'Now wait a minute' you might say, 'do you mean that after being told in verse 26 that the Messiah would be put do death, Daniel would have expected this same Messiah to confirm a covenant in verse 27?' Yes, that is exactly what Daniel expected, and no other thought would have crossed his mind!

Daniel knew that King David had foretold, in Psalm 16:10, that the Messiah would die someday, but that His soul would not be left in the place of the dead and His body would not experience corruption (decay). In addition, Daniel would have been aware of the famous 53rd chapter of Isaiah. Isaiah not only foretold the death of the Messiah, but also foretold the glory, honor and blessing that would be bestowed upon Him for having sacrificed Himself for sinners (53:12), thus also foretelling His resurrection from the dead.

Not only that, but Daniel himself had already received two prophecies, Daniel chapters 2 & 7, describing the coming of Israel's Messiah to crush Babylon and establish the Kingdom of David forever. Daniel knew that if the Messiah was put to death at the end of the 69 weeks, He would have to be raised from the dead in order to fulfill or 'seal up' the prophecies that Daniel himself had already received. Given the fact that this entire prophecy (Daniel 9) is focused upon the Messiah and His fulfillment of God's promises within 70 weeks, Daniel would have had no reason to think that verse 27 would be referring to anyone else.

There is no reason for anyone to think that this verse is focused on anyone other than the Messiah. To think otherwise is to downplay the most essential and glorious truth of the entire Bible; the resurrection of the Messiah from the dead. It is at this point, however, that Dispensationalists make one of their several errors. Dispensationalists teach that the 'he' who confirms a covenant and brings sacrifices to an end in verse 27, is the 'prince that shall come' of verse 26. I will address Dispensationalism and its errors after I finish discussing the Olivet Discourse.

EXAMINING THE LAMB

When Jesus entered into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in 32 AD, He was fulfilling more than the 69-week timetable of Daniel 9. He was fulfilling a much older prophecy; the Passover prophecy. When God first gave Israel the Passover sacrifice, He instructed the Jews to choose a spotless Lamb on the 10th day of the first month of the year, and to keep it in their homes until the 14th day of that month, when they would kill it so that the angel of death would 'pass-over' them (Exodus 12:3). They were to keep it in their homes for 4 days in order to make sure that it didn't have any flaws, and so that they could become attached to it, thus appreciating the fact that something precious and lovable was being sacrificed on their behalf.

In fulfillment of these instructions, Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on the 10th day of the first month of the year, and lived in the very heart of the nation of Israel for four days, allowing Himself to be cross-examined and tested by her greatest religious and political leaders. While Jesus was being examined, He also announced that God was examining Israel, and that judgment would be falling on that nation. He clearly and forcefully warned the Jews of coming judgment during those four days.

COMING DESOLATION

I would encourage my reader to examine the various Gospel accounts of Jesus' last days in Jerusalem, beginning on Palm Sunday. We have already seen, in Luke 19:41-44, that Jesus began His warnings about the destruction of the city before He entered it. Those warnings continued in the following passages:

    1) The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers (Matt. 21:33-44).
    2) The Parable of the Wedding Feast (Matt. 22:1-14).
    3) The denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23).

The culmination of Jesus' public warnings is found in His statement that He would be sending godly men (the apostles and others) to proclaim the gospel to the Jews, and that through their persecution of these men the Jews would bring the wrath of God upon themselves:

You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city; that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation.

Matthew 23:33-36

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets, and stone them which are sent unto you, how often would I have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, you shall not see me henceforth, till you shall say "Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord".

Matthew 23:37-39

When Jesus said that Israel's 'house' would be left desolate, He was referring to the Temple. The Jews called their Temple 'the House of God'. That had been King David's purpose in planning a Temple; to build a 'house' for God (2 Samuel 7:1-13). In Matthew 23:36, Jesus warned that the judgment of God would fall upon the very generation that He was speaking to. For the Jews a generation was 40 years. That was how long God waited for the first generation of those coming out of Egypt to die off in the wilderness, before allowing the next generation to enter the promised land. Speaking in 32 AD, Jesus was saying that the destruction of the Temple would occur before 72 AD, which is what happened.

ON THE MOUNT OF OLIVES

On Tuesday of this important week, Jesus was walking near the Temple with His disciples, when they pointed out the awesome splendor of that structure. In response He said....

"See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

Matthew 24:2
The Temple
NOT ONE STONE OF THE TEMPLE WOULD BE LEFT UPON ANOTHER

As Jesus and His disciples sat on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Temple, they pressed Him for more information, asking Him two questions:

    1) When would the destruction of the Temple occur?

    2) What would be the sign of Jesus' second coming, when God's judgment on Israel would be fulfilled or completed, and thus Jesus would be able to restore the Kingdom of David?

On the Mount of Olives

Jesus' answer has come to be known as "The Olivet Discourse". There are three versions of this event recorded in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke (Matthew 24:1-44, Mark chapter 13, and Luke 21:5-36). In Matthew chapter 25 we find additional warnings and instructions from the Lord Jesus concerning the need for people to watch and be ready for His second coming.

I would encourage my reader to take a look at these passages. I have provided a link at the end of this sentence for reading, downloading and printing PDF versions of these three passages so that it is easy to compare them side by side (OLIVET PDF).

In the first portion of the Discourse, Jesus gave a general description of world history between the approaching destruction of Jerusalem (in 70 AD), and His second coming. This period might well be labeled 'the Gospel age', because it is characterized by the proclamation of the Gospel to the entire world. In the second portion of the Discourse, Jesus described the approaching destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. In the third portion of the Discourse Jesus described His second coming at the end of the 'Gospel age' to restore the Kingdom of David. In the final portion, through His 'parable of the fig tree', Jesus indirectly answered the disciples' first question about when these things would commence; He told them that it would all come upon the current generation of Jews (within 40 years).

COMPARING THE 3 VERSIONS

Below are the 3 portions of the Olivet Discourse containing Jesus' description of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is here that Jesus mentions Daniel's 'Abomination of Desolation'; the thing that divides Daniel's 70th Week into two halves. Matthew and Mark's versions are very similar to each other, but notice the difference in Luke's version.


Matthew 24:15-22 When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso reads, let him understand ) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains. Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house. Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that nurse children in those days! But pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day. For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved. But for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

Mark 13:14-20 But when you shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let him that reads understand ), then let them that be in Judea flee to the mountains. And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house. And let him that is in the field not turn back again to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that nurse children in those days! And pray that your flight be not in the winter. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved. But for the elect's sake, whom He has chosen, He has shortened the days.

Luke 21:20-24 And when you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that its desolation is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter there into. For these are the days of (God's) vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that nurse children in those days! For there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.


Matthew and Mark were writing as Jews, and for a largely Jewish audience. The Jews understood what an 'abomination of desolation' was. To the Jews, anything that entered into the sacred Temple area that didn't belong there was an abomination. If this abomination destroyed the Temple, then it was an abomination which caused desolation.

Luke, however, was writing as a Gentile to a Gentile audience, which would not have had as much exposure to the Jewish concepts of abomination and desolation. Luke was a traveling companion of the Apostle Paul, the 'apostle to the Gentiles', and so was very sensitive to the needs of the Gentile world, and quite possibly had discussed with Paul the challenge of making the Olivet Discourse understandable to them. But whether he had discussed the matter with Paul or not, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Luke presented the Olivet Discourse in words that the Gentiles could easily understand. This is why Matthew and Mark had to warn their readers to carefully understand their words, whereas Luke's very plain and straightforward version required no such warning.

It is clear that Luke was describing the rapidly approaching destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD at the hands of the Romans; an attack which drove the Jewish people "into all nations", and left Jerusalem to be "trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled".

Temple mount before 70 AD

Temple Mount after 70 AD
THE TEMPLE MOUNT BEFORE AND AFTER 70 AD

When we compare the three versions of the Olivet Discourse side-by-side, the only reasonable conclusion to reach is that Matthew and Mark's 'Abomination of Desolation' and Luke's simple 'desolation' are all referring to the same event.

The temple mount today.
THE TEMPLE MOUNT TODAY, STILL TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT BY THE GENTILES

Although the Jewish people have reclaimed the entire city of Jerusalem since the end of the 1967 war, the Temple Mount is still 'trampled underfoot' by the Gentiles (occupied by two Muslim mosques; Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock).

WHAT IS DISPENSATIONALISM?

Dispensationalism is the belief that the 70th Week of Daniel is a period of 7 literal years, but that it is separated from the first 69 weeks by a time gap (or Dispensation) which is called 'The Church Age'. The idea is that Israel's 'prophetic timeclock' stopped with the destruction of Jerusalem, and will not begin again until the 'Church Age' is over and Israel's Temple has been rebuilt. In order to support this theory, Dispensationalists have had to explain how the 'Abomination of Desolation' which divides the 70th Week in half, and which the gospel of Luke clearly places in 70 AD, could also be a far-future event.

In his study-Bible notes on Luke chapter 21, the great Dispensationalist, Dr. C. I. Scofield, taught that Luke was indeed describing the approaching destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but that Matthew and Mark were talking about a completely different event in the distant future. Dispensationalists maintain that in the three versions of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus was describing two different 'Abominations of Desolation' at the same time. This is a concept which they call 'dual fulfillment'. This approach, attributing 'double-talk' to the Son of God, represents the shaky foundation upon which Dispensationalism stands.

In fairness, it should be acknowledged that there are passages in the Bible that represent possible examples of dual fulfillment. I refer to passages in the Old Testament that speak of Babylon's judgment and destruction, and of Israel's glorious restoration. The Bible speaks of Babylon's destruction by the Persian Empire, and also of its destruction at the second coming of Christ. There are two biblical 'Babylons': the historical Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar, and Babylon in its final Roman Catholic form, seen riding upon the back of the Beast in Revelation 17, and destroyed in Revelation 18. The Bible also refers to the restoration of Israel under the Persians in Old Testament times, and Israel's restoration at the second coming of Christ. It often seems, in both cases, that as God describes the historical event He is also alluding to the future event, and that He may intend it to be understood in this way. But this does not justify Dispensationalism's mishandling of the Olivet Discourse.

Dispensationalists have taken the few passages where God may be alluding to the future when He describes historical events, and have made them the fundamental basis of their approach to the most important prophetic passage in the entire Bible. Allowing scripture to interpret scripture is one of the foundational principles of Biblical analysis. This principle is useful when comparing various passages which discuss theological principles. But it goes beyond 'useful' to 'mandatory' when talking about historical facts, where two passages represent parallel accounts of one single event. Yet Dispensationalists make Jesus talk out of both sides of His mouth, instead of acknowledging what any simple 'Galilean Christian' can see; that Luke clarifies Matthew and Mark for the non-Jewish reader. The entire Olivet Discourse was prompted by the disciples' primary question about when the coming destruction of Jerusalem would occur. If Jesus' words in Matthew and Mark about the 'Abomination of Desolation' are not a description of that dreadful event, then there are no other words in Matthew and Mark which could possibly refer to it.

In some cases dual fulfillment has infected Dispensationalist thinking regarding other prophetic passages as well. Both Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39, as well as Revelation 20:7-9 speak of an attack by 'Gog and Magog' upon Israel. Revelation describes it as occurring at the end of the Millennium, while Ezekiel describes it as an attack upon Israel when it is existing in complete peace and safety, without need for walls, bars or gates (Ezekiel 38:11). And yet some Dispensationalists insist that a 'Gog-Magog' war against Israel is close at hand. I asked a Dispensationalist how this battle could occur now, when Revelation places it at the end of the Millennium and Israel is presently surrounded by vicious enemies and dependent upon walls and other security devices to insure its survival. His rather flippant answer was 'Oh, there will be two Gog-Magog wars'. The idea of dual fulfillment had become a 'habit' with him, allowing him to take the same liberties with Ezekiel that he had taken with the Olivet Discourse.

Having based their entire prophetic viewpoint upon a 'church age' Dispensation between the 69th and 70th weeks, Dispensationalists have gone on to develop an elaborate systematic theology, called Dispensationalism, which divides all of God's dealings with mankind, throughout history, into 'Dispensations'. This has allowed them to mask the centrality of their 'church age' idea, making it appear as only one small part in a larger seamless whole, rather than what it really is; the starting point and foundation of everything else. This 'systematic theology' of Dispensationalism has been greatly promoted and popularized through The Scofield Reference Bible, and has been a central doctrine of the Dallas Theological Seminary that Scofield founded, as well as many other prominent Protestant schools. Hence it is widely known and respected.

Dispensationalism has also been popularized by many books, including Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth, and the Left Behind books and movies by Tim LaHaye. This vast, all encompassing systematic theology is intimidating to many 'lay Christians', who feel confused by its complexity and unqualified to challenge its claims, or to question the many scholars and pastors who support it. Hence many Christians sit silently in their churches, afraid to ask questions because it might reveal their ignorance or expose them to ridicule. Scofield was a great man, and his work has been a blessing to many, myself included. Most of the Dispensational Christians that I have known are sincere, God-loving people. But elders and teachers in God's church must supply more than good intentions; they must also supply good scholarship.

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

REACTING TO THE MAJORITY

The majority of professing Christians over the past 2000 years have understood the Olivet Discourse as I have explained it; that the Abomination of Desolation was the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Dispensationalism is a relatively recent idea, first promoted by a man named John Darby in the mid-1800's. But while the majority has been correct about the Abomination of Desolation, many within this majority have gone on to reach erroneous conclusions about the 70th Week. These conclusions are based upon an assumption that the 70th Week is also a period of seven literal years, and that it followed closely after the first 69 weeks. Thus they believe that the 70 Weeks are over. Knowing that the Millennium is the next item on God's prophetic agenda, they have concluded that we are in the Millennium right now, and that Christ will come at the end of the Millennium. This is a perspective known as 'Post-millennialism'.

Without going into too much detail, let it suffice to say that Postmillennialists believe that Christ already came a second time (invisibly) to destroy Israel and usher in His kingdom. Postmillenialists believe that God now expects his followers to 'Christianize' the world in order to make it ready for Jesus' visible return to earth. Hence there is a worldview known as 'Dominionism' which proposes that Christians are commanded by God to conquer the world and make it better and better in preparation for Christ's return. This 'Dominionism' has often been the underlying rationale for a union between 'church and state' in various parts of the world. Those who embrace Dominionism might well be described as 'Christian Jihadists' ('crusader' being the western term for 'Jihadist').

In addition, many Post-millennialists believe that the nation of Israel came to its ultimate and final end in 70 AD, and that it has now been replaced by a new 'spiritual' Israel; the Christian church. Jews can still be saved, but Jewish Christians are to be swallowed up within the larger 'Israel' of the church. Biological Jewishness, and the nation of Israel no longer hold any significance in the sight of God. This is a viewpoint known as 'Replacement Theology'. Those who embrace this perspective believe that the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland, and the 'resurrection' of the state of Israel in 1948 are illegitimate. They deny that the nation of Israel will be the focal point of God's activity when Christ returns, despite all of the prophecies in God's word that declare otherwise.

Given these errors by 'the majority', it is easy to understand why Darby and others might have sought other explanations of God's word. Dispensationalists may have been partly motivated by a well-meaning and justified desire to counter the errors of Postmillennialism, and its accompanying Dominion and Replacement ideas. Dispensationalists are correct in their belief that the second coming of Christ will be Pre-millennial. And although Postmillennialists deride Dispensationalists as being too pessimistic, the Dispensationalists are also correct in their belief that Christ willl return to conquer an increasingly decadent world; not a Christianized one. And they are correct, as well, about the fact that Jesus will rule the world from His throne in a very Jewish nation; Israel. But as I will demonstrate in my next web page on the 70th Week, the Dispensationalists are hampered by the same error that the Postmillennialists have embraced; the belief that the 70th Week is a period of seven literal years. If it were not for John's Little Book, I myself would feel compelled to reach the same conclusion, and to choose between Postmillenialism and Dispensationalism. But such a choice is not necessary; God has spelled everything out plainly.

DISPENSATIONALISM'S 'PRINCE WHO IS TO COME'

Dispensationalists teach that the 'he' of Daniel 9:27 (who establishes a covenant, brings an end to sacrifices and causes desolation) is not the Messiah, but rather 'the Prince who is to come' mentioned in Daniel 9:26. They say that this 'Prince' is the apostle Paul's 'Man of Sin':

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that Man of Sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

Dispensationalists teach that the 'Man of Sin' will establish a covenant with Israel in the future, for one week of 7 years. He will supposedly allow the Jews to rebuild their Temple and re-establish animal sacrifices. But after 3.5 years (in the middle of their 70th Week) he will enter the Temple and declare himself to be God, and will become the 'Abomination of Desolation' that Daniel described, and that Jesus referred to in the Olivet Discourse. Then aggression against Israel will ensue until Christ comes back to rescue Israel and rule the world.

These Dispensationalist claims need to be examined in the light of scripture. In describing the 'Man of Sin', Paul said nothing about a covenant, about ending sacrifices, or about the desolation of the Temple. None of the Bible's references to the Antichrist (1 John 2:18,22, 4:3, 2 John 1:17) say a word about him claiming to be God, being in the Temple of God, establishing covenants, ending sacrifices or desolating anything. So how have the Dispensationalists managed to turn Paul's 'Man of Sin' into an 'Abomination of Desolation' and the 'Antichrist'? By finding a man in the past who serves as a precedent for their claims; another man who once stood in God's Temple while calling himself God, and whom Dispensationalists claim was an 'abomination of desolation'.

ANTIOCHUS IV EPIPHANES: DISPENSATIONAL PROTOTYPE

Who was this man who is the 'prototype' for Dispensationalism's future Man of Sin - Antichrist - Abomination of Desolation? Antiochus IV Epiphanes (A4E). A4E was a leader in the Seleucid Empire from 175 BC until 164 BC. The Seleucid Empire was one of four regions that had previously been united within the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great. A4E's second name, 'Epiphanes', means 'God revealed'. A4E claimed to be God, or at least to be the representative or manifestation of God on earth. Such self-deification is not new; many people have imagined that they are divine throughout history. In fact, it might be said that self-deification is a fault found to some extent in all human beings.

Antiochus IV Epiphanes is famous for attacking the Jewish people, and for converting their Temple to his own pagan worship and sacrifices. Thus for murder, rape and pillage, as well as for proclaiming himself 'God' while he stood in the Temple of God, A4E truly was an abomination in God's sight. But being an abomination in the Temple is not the same as desolating the Temple. The Bible describes many things that are abominations, from homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13) to worshiping idols (Deuteronomy 7:25,26), and from offering one's children as burnt sacrifices to false Gods (Deuteronomy 12:31) to offering blemished sacrifices to the true and living God (Deuteronomy 17:1); all are abominations in His sight. But the Bible nowhere states that being an abominable person in the Temple, or committing abominable acts in the Temple, results in the desolation of the Temple.

DISPENSATIONALISM IS BASED UPON THE CLAIM THAT STANDING IN THE TEMPLE AND CALLING ONE'S SELF 'GOD' AMOUNTS TO DESOLATING THE TEMPLE

Dispensationalists have heard all of these arguments, and are unmoved by them, because they believe that God Himself called Antiochus IV Epiphanes an 'abomination of desolation'. Hence they believe that if God called this man (who proclaimed himself God while he stood in the Temple of God) an 'abomination of desolation', then they are justified in believing that Paul's 'Man of Sin' (who will do the same thing) will be an 'abomination of desolation' also. In order to move Daniel's 70th Week into the future, Dispensationalists must have an 'abomination of desolation' that marks the middle of that future Week, and divides it into two halves. Thus they have latched on to the idea that Paul's future 'Man of Sin' will be a 'desolator', and that God's statements about Antiochus IV Epiphanes justify reaching this conclusion. Dispensationalists have one problem, however; God did not call A4E an 'abomination of desolation'. Dispensationalism's misunderstanding of A4E is based upon two errors:

    1) They have misunderstood Daniel 11:31
    2) They have confused desolation with desecration

MISSING THE TURNING POINT

The primary reason that the Dispensationalists mis-identify A4E as an 'abomination of desolation' is found in the 11th chapter of Daniel, verses 29 through 31:

29 At the time appointed he (Antiochus IV Epiphanes) shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter.

30 For the ships of Chittim (from Rome) shall come against him. Therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant. And so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant.

31 And arms shall stand on his part. And they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that makes desolate.

Daniel 11:29-31

Dispensationalists believe that all three of these verses are describing Antiochus Epiphanes. By contrast, I have divided the passage into brown verses describing Antiochus, and green verses describing the Romans.

Verses 29 and 30 are a description of A4E's last military passage through Israel, when he moved south against the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, attempting to take possession of it. A4E was confronted outside of the Egyptian city of Alexandria by the Romans, and told to go home. When he hesitated to give his answer to their ultimatum, one of their ambassadors (Gaius Popillius Laenas) drew a circle around him in the dirt, and told him to announce his decision before he stepped out of the circle.

A4E knew all about Rome's power because his father, Antiochus III ('the Great'), had been conquered by the Romans. As a result of that Roman victory, Antiochus IV himself had lived in Rome as a hostage. Thus when he was confronted, Antiochus IV Epiphanes submitted to Rome, effectively transferring sovereignty over everything that he possessed to Rome. It was at this very moment that Egypt, Syria and A4E's own Seleucid kingdom became part of the Roman Empire. As he returned home A4E was enraged "against the holy covenant", and vented his wrath upon the Jewish people, desecrating their Temple. When he first passed through Israel on his way toward Egypt, someone may have told A4E that his humiliation at the hands of the Romans had been foretold by Daniel. This may explain some of his rage against the Jews and their God as he returned.

It is possible that all of verse 30 refers to Antiochus' behavior as he returned to Israel. It may indeed describe the cooperation that some Jews, who despised God's 'holy covenant' with Israel', gave to A4E. But these words also accurately describe the approach that Rome took with the Jews as it began to exert influence over them. Rome established its control over Israel by putting rulers over the Jews who came from their part of the world, and were biologically related to them as 'family', and yet had no regard for God's covenants with Israel. I am referring to the Idumeans (from Edom, south and east of Israel). The Idumeans were the descendants of Esau, the brother of Israel (Jacob). The first of these men whom Rome supported as a ruler over the Jews was Antipater I, the father of Herod the Great, and founder of the Herodian dynasty.

Verse 31 is definitely not a description of Antiochus Epiphanes. Arms (military might) were not caused to 'stand' (be established) on his behalf at that point in time. It is a description of Rome's rise to worldwide military supremacy, and its subsequent destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. After his confrontation with the Roman ambassadors, military power departed from Antiochus. Even though he had enough military strength to assault the Jewish people and desecrate their Temple during his return home, Antiochus was a weak and defeated man, and he passed promptly from the stage of history, dying four years later in 164 BC.

In fact, verse 31 is a restatement of something that had already been foretold in Daniel chapter 8:

Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered.

Daniel 8:12

These words about an army being given to the 'horn', and the words in Daniel chapter 11 that "arms shall stand on his part", are referring to the same thing. The transgression mentioned in Daniel 8:12 is the rejection by the Jewish people of their Messiah; a rejection that Jesus warned about just prior to His crucifixion. Dispensationalists insist, however, that the 'little horn' of Daniel 8 is not Rome, but Antiochus IV Epiphanes, even though Daniel 8:9 describes the little horn as becoming "exceedingly great", while in Daniel 11:21-24 God describes Antiochus IV Epiphanes as a vile person who came to power through bribes, rather than through manly courage and strength. This idea of 'exceeding greatness' is consistent with the Bible's description of Rome throughout the book of Daniel.

Dispensationalists are compelled to equate the 'little horn' of Daniel 8:9 and its desolation of the Temple with Antiochus IV Epiphanes, because if they acknowledge that God is describing Rome in Daniel 8, then they must acknowledge that He is probably also describing Rome in Daniel 11:31. In Daniel chapters 2, 7 and 11 Daniel's prophecies follow through to the end of all four Gentile empires, Rome being the last of them. Yet the Dispensationalists claim that in the vision of Daniel 8 God makes no mention of Rome. This is convenient for them, but inconsistent with the rest of Daniel.

Daniel 11:31 is God's description of the transition from Greek dominance to Roman dominance over Israel. Daniel hints at this transition by saying that it occurred "at the time appointed" (verses 27 & 29), indicating a significant change in affairs predestined by God long ago. Notice also that in verses 29 and 30, God refers repeatedly to what 'he' (Antiochus) will do, while in verse 31 God says that 'they' shall pollute the sanctuary, take away the sacrifices and place the 'abomination of desolation'; clearly indicating a change in subject regarding who will perform the desolation of verse 31.

This transition from Greek power to Roman power had already been foretold three times in Daniel chapters 2, 7 & 8. In Daniel 8:9, God began to describe the rise of the Roman Empire from within one of the four divisions of the Greek world (Macedonian). This little horn (a single city) first became great through its wars against Carthage to the south (the Punic Wars), then eastward in its wars against the Greek world, culminating in its victory over Antiochus III (also known as Antiochus the Great, who was the father of Antiochus IV Epiphanes). Finally Rome established power over 'the Glorious Land' of Israel itself. Daniel 8:11 then goes on to describe Rome's involvement in the crucifixion of Christ, and its subsequent destruction of the Temple, described in Daniel 8:13 as the 'transgression of desolation'.

THE EXTREME PRECISION OF DANIEL 11:4-30

In Daniel 11:4-30 God gave a very precise description of 155 years of Israel's experience under Greek domination, contained in 26 verses. It is my claim that then, in verse 31, God describes 240 years of Israel's experience under Rome; from AE4's submission to Rome in 168 BC until Rome's destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. My perspective requires an interesting transition on God's part, from minute detail to a much broader, generalized view of events.

Why would God be so specific about Greek history, and not about Rome's? I believe that it was to strengthen the Jewish people during one of the most difficult times in their history; a spiritual strength seen in the Maccabees. God also wanted to confirm the reliability of His word not only to the people of Israel, but to a much broader Gentile world that had been increasingly exposed to the scriptures, and had been watching the events of Daniel 11 unfold. This was a period of time in which Israel had no prophets. Daniel was their prophet, guiding them toward the day when their promised Messiah would appear (69 weeks of years after the date when they were authorized to rebuild Jerusalem). This is the reason why, when the Christ-child did come into the world 160 years later, there were wise men from the East (men from Babylon and Persia) who were anticipating His birth (Matthew 2:1).

Whatever God's reason was for this abrupt transition from the 'specific' to the 'general', I believe that it is the Dispensational failure to recognize this transition point, and their belief that the 'abomination of desolation' in Daniel 11:31 refers to A4E rather than to Rome, that represents a fundamental mistake on their part. At his worst, Antiochus Epiphanes did not desolate the Temple; he desecrated it. Yes, he damaged Jerusalem, but that damage did not rise to the level of desolation.

DESOLATION VS. DESECRATION

Dispensationalists teach that ultimately the Temple in Jerusalem will have been 'desolated' 4 times in the course of Israel's history; once in Daniel's time (by Babylon in 586 BC), once by Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 168 B.C., once by the armies of Rome in 70 A.D., and once again in the future by the Antichrist. But the biblical definition of 'desolation' is very clear; it is a judgment sent by God resulting in complete destruction. Noah's flood is a practical example of desolation, as is the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible is also clear that the destructions of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and Romans were desolations sent by God. The Bible also warns of future desolation coming upon the Gentile world (Jeremiah 25:29, Revelation 17:16, 18:19).

A word study, regarding the words 'desolate' and 'desolation' in the Bible, reveals one consistent meaning; punishment of such an overwhelming nature that it makes the hairs stand up on the back of one's neck. By mishandling the concept of desolation, insisting that it will happen to Israel four times rather than twice, Dispensationalists have 'cheapened the currency' of the word and obscured its meaning.

Dispensationalists teach that Antiochus IV desolated the Temple in 168 BC by entering it and converting it to his own use. However, A4E did not destroy the Temple; he merely desecrated it. He made it unclean and unfit for worshiping the true God. Desecration refers to the pollution of the Temple. This is what Antiochus IV did. He promoted obscene behavior in the Temple, offered pigs as sacrifices upon its altar (forbidden by God), and changed its furnishings to honor Greek gods rather than the God of Israel. He rendered the Temple useless for proper worship until the Jewish people cleaned it up, restored its original furnishings, and kicked out the pagans. To this day the Jewish people celebrate the fact that God did not allow the light to go out in their defiled Temple after A4E departed. They commemorate the cleansing and restoration of the Temple every year at Hanukkah; their 'Festival of Lights'. The Jews did not have to rebuild a desolated Temple after Antiochus; they only had to cleanse a desecrated one.

In their eagerness to make Antiochus Epiphanes a prototype for their future Antichrist, turning desecration into desolation, Dispensationalists have rejected the testimony of the Jewish people themselves regarding Antiochus Epiphanes, and have simultaneously blinded themselves to the meaning of Jesus' reference to Daniel's Abomination of Desolation in the Olivet Discourse. I have felt it necessary to go beyond a simple presentation of the Olivet Discourse to criticize Dispensationalism also, because I know how strong a grip Dispensationalism has upon evangelical Christians around the world, and I have felt that it is important to break that grip.

I encourage my reader, now properly informed about the Abomination of Desolation which marks the middle of Daniel's 70th Week, to join me in looking at God's explanation of the entire 70th Week. That explanation is found in my web page titled 'The Timetable for Jesus' Return'.

IDENTIFYING THE PLAYERS


1) THE BEAST (Daniel 7, Revelation 13:1-10, Revelation 16:13, Revelation 17:3-18, Revelation 19:19-20)

The Beast first appears as the fourth beast of Daniel 7, having one head and 10 horns. In the New Testament it becomes a Beast having 7 heads and 10 horns. The Beast is militant, organized, God-opposing humanity. We are told that the Beast of Revelation has been authorized by God to continue throughout the second half of the 70th Week of Daniel; in other words from 70 AD until the present. For a fuller explanation of the Beast, I refer my reader to my web page titled The Beast and the False Prophet.


2) THE FALSE PROPHET (Revelation 13:11-18, Revelation 16:13, 19:20, 20:10)

This is the second Beast described in Revelation 13. It is described as coming up out of the earth or land. It possesses the traits of a false prophet, appearing like a lamb while speaking like a dragon (Satan). The False Prophet does not experience the long lifespan of the Beast; from 70 AD until the present. The False Prophet is a product of our modern times. It performs three miracles, corresponding to today's technology. It brings down fire from heaven through the technology of airplanes and powered flight. It causes an image to come alive and speak, through the technology of movies, television and smart phones. It will impose the 'Mark of the Beast' upon the world through Block Chain technology; a 'distributed ledger' computer system that will revolutionize the economy and the administration of the world in the immediate future.


3) THE WOMAN, HARLOT, WHORE, BABYLON (Revelation chapters 17 & 18)

This is the city of Rome, confirmed for us in Revelation 17:9,18 where she is described as being seated upon seven hills, and as 'that great city' which was ruling over the kings of the earth when John received the book of Revelation.

I have discussed the city of Rome, and its transition from being the seat of Roman power prior to 69 A.D. to being a religious center after 69 A.D., in my web page titled The Beast and the False Prophet. I explain Bible prophecy regarding the religion of Rome in my web page titled The City of Rome in Prophecy.


4) THE APOSTLE PAUL'S 'MAN OF SIN' (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)

The apostle Paul's 'Man of Sin' is described in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2.

Let no man deceive you by any means. For that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first. And that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped. So that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4

Paul was not describing a single man, but a unique class of men; the Roman Catholic priesthood. How is this true? The Roman Catholic priest claims that, in the Roman Catholic sacrament of the Mass, he is literally reconstituting the very body and blood of Jesus Christ at his altar, and is re-offering it to God on behalf of mankind as an atonement for sins. In addition, the Roman Catholic Church claims to be Christ's 'vicar' or representative upon earth, exercising His authority to interpret the Bible and add to it, and exercising His authority to authorize holy wars.

This is how Rome's priests portray themselves to the world as God, seated in the Temple of God. The only Persons who can rightfully make that claim are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Mary is not one of these divine Persons. The Roman Catholic Church has usurped the Biblical offices of the Lord Jesus Christ; that of Prophet, Priest and King. And so while God tells people to come directly to His Son by faith, hearing Him by reading their Bibles and speaking to Him by prayer, Rome says that we must come to Rome. Rather than represent Jesus Christ before the world, Rome competes directly against Him for the souls of men. For further information about Rome, I refer my reader to my web pages titled 'The City of Rome in Prophecy', 'The Beast and the False Prophet', and 'The United States in Prophecy'.


5) THE ANTICHRIST

The Antichrist is mentioned in only four verses, all written by the apostle John, and found only in his letters. The word 'antichrist' never appears anywhere else in the scriptures. It means what it appears to mean; one who is against or opposed to Christ.

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

1 John 2:18-19

Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.

1 John 2:22

And every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

1 John 4:3

For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

2 John 8

As we examine John's words, the one thing that defines the antichrist is false doctrine. More specifically, John defines antichrists as

    A) Those who once professed faith in Christ, but have departed from biblical Christianity.
    B) Those who deny the Father and the Son.
    C) Those who deny that the Son of God has come into the world in human flesh.

John's description of an antichrist could apply to any one of a number of people, religions or cults that have claimed to be Christian or to respect Christ, but have departed from the true Christian faith.

It should be observed that John never says anything about the Antichrist establishing covenants, ending sacrifices, claiming to be God, having miraculous powers, cooperating with the Beast or being destroyed at the second coming of Christ. Nor does he link 'the Antichrist' with any other passage of scripture. The term 'antichrist' is not even found in that greatest of all prophetic books, Revelation, which John himself wrote.

Rather than take caution from this, Dispensationalists have taken advantage of it. Because of his sinister name, and because so little is known about him, Dispensationalists have felt free to plug the Antichrist into their end-times scenario. For them the Antichrist is 'the Prince who is to come' (of Daniel 9:26), the 'Abomination of Desolation', Paul's 'man of sin', and 'the Beast' that gets thrown into the Lake of Fire (along with the False Prophet). One cannot count all of the books, articles and movies that have flowed out of John's very limited words about 'the Antichrist'.

Although John says that there are many antichrists, in 1 John 2:18 he seems to refer to one specific person, 'the Antichrist', who surpasses all other antichrists in his opposition to God. So who is this Antichrist? I do not know. One candidate to consider would be Mohammed. Islam claims Biblical roots, but fiercely denies that God has a Son, and that Christ was 'Emmanuel'; 'God with us' in a human body. There is no other religion that more directly and forcefully denies the deity of Christ today than Islam.

Muslims have written 'God has no son' inside their mosque, the 'Dome of the Rock', sitting on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This will ultimately prove to be a profound embarrassment to them. It was this One who declared Himself to be the Son of God, and who predicted the desolation of the Temple and its possession by the Gentiles until His second coming, whose words they now fulfill with their mosque on the Temple Mount.


6) THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14) The Roman general Titus and his army, which destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD (see The Olivet Discourse for an explanation of this fact, and see The Timetable for Jesus' Return for a discussion of Titus).


7) THE 'PRINCE WHO IS TO COME' OF DANIEL 9:26 - also the Roman general Titus.


8) THE LITTLE HORN OF DANIEL 7:8 The United States of America (see The United States in Bible Prophecy)


9) THE LITTLE HORN OF DANIEL 8:9 The City of Rome, beginning as a very small power on the edge of the Greek Empire. Rome first expelled Greece from the Italian peninsula in the Pyrrhic War, defeated its southern enemy Carthage in the Punic Wars, and then proceeded to move east, conquering Greece, Asia Minor (defeating Antiochus the Great) and eventually the rest of the Middle East (including Israel).

This Little Horn exalted itself against the Prince of God's host, the Lord Jesus Christ. It then brought an end to the daily sacrifices, destroying Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 AD. Because of Israel's transgressions the Roman Empire was allowed to continue its dominance over the Jews, and to establish a religion (Roman Catholicism) that casts truth to the ground. No better combination of brevity and accuracy regarding Rome's complete history can be found.


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(Bible quotations are from the old King James version, with modifications by the author.)