A Short Study of Luke 21:20-21
The phrase “abomination of desolation” is indeed a biblical phrase. Christ spoke of it in the Gospels.
“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:”
“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.”
“And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof 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.”
Matthew and Mark’s accounts are nearly identical. Luke uses somewhat different language, but all are speaking of the same event, and all are contributing information. The Bible declares that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God,” therefore we realize that each slightly different account only adds to our information, and nothing in scripture contradicts scripture. The only difference between Matthew and Mark’s accounts is that Matthew says that the abomination of desolation will stand in the “holy place,” while Mark says that it will stand where it “ought not.” Mark is actually saying the exact same thing. These books of scripture were written for the New Testament Church.
With that in mind, where would the “holy place” be in reference to?
It could only be the New Testament spiritual Temple of God; His Church.
Scripture tells us that Christ is our true Temple, and every born-again believer is a part of that Temple (John 2:21; I Corinthians 3:16, I Corinthians 6:19).
“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
(I Corinthians 3:17)
Matthew and Mark’s statements tell us that the abomination of desolation will stand in the “holy place” or “where it ought not.” We then know immediately that the holy place is the New Testament Temple. The congregations of the earth are where the Temple of God is to be found during the Church-Age. Of course we must realize that there will be false believers or non-believers among the true Christians, but nonetheless this is where the Temple of God is found on earth.
In Luke’s account we find more information concerning the abomination of desolation. Luke 21:20 differentiates the language somewhat, which only helps to confirm Matthew and Mark’s account. Instead of saying “when ye shall see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place” (or standing where it ought not), Luke says the same thing this way: “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, know that the desolation in nigh.”
The word “Jerusalem” in Luke is substituted for “holy place” in Matthew and Mark. Likewise, the phrase “compassed (encircled) by armies” in Luke is substituted for “standing in the holy place, or where it ought not” in Matthew and Mark.
So then God is telling us that Jerusalem is another term for the Temple (holy place) of God. The name Jerusalem means “habitation of peace,” and this is where our real peace is to be found. Not in the literal city of Jerusalem, nor in any of the congregations of the world, but in Christ Jesus, who is also the Jerusalem of scripture and the chief cornerstone of the New Testament spiritual Temple. Jerusalem is used many times throughout scripture in reference to God’s Church; His earthly representation. Jerusalem is also used as the name of the believers’ eternal home, the new and heavenly Jerusalem.
When Luke states that Jerusalem will be compassed about with armies, we must realize that these armies are the spiritual forces of Satan, such as the false congregations overtaking the church (the spiritual Jerusalem). It is this spiritual warfare that is in view, and not literal and physical armies of the world. We understand this to clearly be saying that Jerusalem (symbolizing the New Testament Temple) is about to be overran.
The Temple is about to be defiled!
What does this mean?
It is an abomination to God to defile His Temple. It is an abomination that will make desolate the Temple of God. It is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet and referenced by Christ Himself (with warnings!) in three of the gospels.
Jesus says: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad,” Matthew 12:30.
There is no middle ground with which to flee and remain neutral. The abomination of desolation is simply when the enemies of Christ (unsaved, but common everyday people) gradually overtake and contaminate, pollute, and defile the congregations of the world with their own versions of what salvation should be. It is their worldly false gospels. This will occur at the time appointed, at the “latter time” when the “transgressors are come to full,” Daniel 8:23.
Why did Christ refer us back to Daniel?
The abomination of desolation is spoken of in many places throughout the book of Daniel. In chapter nine we read that “…the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy [defile] the city [spiritual Jerusalem] and the sanctuary [the holy place]…,” Daniel 9:26.
Speaking of this sanctuary, the New Testament Temple of God, Daniel declares in verse 27: “…and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
This event is also spoken of in II Thessalonians 2:3-4:
“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 opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”
(II Thessalonians 2:3-4)
Throughout much of scripture one can read of the desolation of the literal city of Jerusalem during Old Testament days. Ultimately these occurrences pointed to the final and spiritual desecration of the spiritual Jerusalem shortly before Judgment Day. God has given us much insight into this time of great tribulation, in which Satan and his ministers of righteousness (common everyday people) will cunningly cut off the true gospel of salvation and discretely replace it with false gospels that appear much like the real Gospel of Christ.
We are even warned by Jesus Himself that this final deception in the church would, if it were possible, deceive even the very elect!
That is how awesome and thoroughly deceptive this time will be. Few people will become saved because of this massive onslaught by Satan, in his final attempt to destroy the true Gospel of Christ.
It is the belief and conviction of this study that such an event of this magnitude would not escape an analysis or commentary in the book of Revelation. Secondly, it is suspected that the abomination of desolation is indeed examined in great detail in the seventeenth and especially the eighteenth chapter of the book of Revelation. The customary teachings of the eighteenth chapter have always laid down the same conclusions; the physical destruction of a physical city, or a physical country, or even the literal world itself. By comparing scripture’s symbolism (of which much of this chapter embraces) with Old Testament scripture, the light begins to dawn on just precisely what this destruction is. This study affirms in all probability that Revelation chapter eighteen is not teaching a literal destruction of any city, country, or even the world, but is particularly emphasizing the defilement and the spiritual destruction of the corporate church worldwide, shortly before the second coming of Christ the Lord.