If the “abomination of desolation” had already taken place long before Christ was born, why did Jesus prophesy of it again in Matthew chapter 24? Actually, what the Lord is saying is that history is going to repeat itself at the end of the age. Remember, Paul predicts that the Antichrist would present himself as God in the temple before the end comes. Instead of setting up an idol to worship as Antiochus did, the Antichrist is going to proclaim himself as a god to be worshipped!
At the very time when the Antichrist is at the pinnacle of his power—when the entire world is following his one-world government of “peace and safety” and no one seems able to stand in his way—he will make the monumental mistake of daring to enter a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and proclaim himself to be God and savior of the world.
In another place, Daniel said in his prophecy of the Seventy Weeks that the Antichrist would “in the midst of the week (or in the middle of the final seven years)…cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease” (Dan. 9:27). It is important to note that this very act of stopping the sacrifices and offerings implies that there will have to be a rebuilt temple that will exist in the last days during the Antichrist’s reign. Only in the city of Jerusalem, and then only at the temple mount itself, can the Old-Testament ceremony of worship take place. Although this temple does not yet exist in our time, Jewish religious organizations already are planning for its construction and even preparing the building materials and the prescribed trappings of worship necessary to erect it quickly when the opportunity arises.
So powerful and popular will the Antichrist become during his rule that he will even think to take the place of the God of the universe in the Holy of Holies. When this event happens, Daniel says that…
“…for the overspreading of abominations he (e.g., the Lord) shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolator”
This is why Jesus strongly warned that when the abomination occurs, everyone in and around Jerusalem should run for the hills and take cover. The abomination of desolation will become a major transition point to the destruction of the last days. It is a flag post that will mark the beginning of the end for the Antichrist. At the very moment it happens, a decisive change in the course of world history will have taken place that will cause the entire earth to become a desolate wilderness. This is also why Jesus named it “the abomination of desolation”. It is an abomination of hideous idolatry that will turn the entire world into a war-torn wasteland of unimaginable and unprecedented scope.
The abomination of desolation therefore marks the beginning of the wars of the end. After that turning point, the kingdom of the Beast will be transformed into a fragmented power that will be consumed and destroyed by war unto the end (cp. Dan. 7:26). And when will this abomination occur? Daniel says that it will definitely happen sometime in the middle of the last seven years (Dan 9:27). In addition, since the book of Revelation puts a time limit on the reign of the Antichrist by stating that he will be allowed to continue for only three and a half years, the abomination must surely take place before the Beast’s kingdom begins to dissolve. Incredibly, Daniel is so accurate in his visions that he actually predicts the very day that the Antichrist will commit this act! In the last chapter of his book, Daniel asks an angel about the timing of the events of the end. This is part of what the angel tells him:
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.”
Since the last prophetic time period of this age will be seven years in length (each year consisting of the Jewish year of 360 days), 1,290 days is just 30 days longer than half of this total period. Daniel’s prophecy says that the abomination will occur precisely 1,290 days before the end. Therefore, the Antichrist’s presentation of himself as God must happen 30 days prior to the exact midpoint of Daniel’s 70th Week.
Suddenly, these prophecies are starting to fall into place—at least well enough to understand some of the chronology of the last seven years. According to the Bible, God gives the Antichrist only three and a half years to work his evil. Therefore, when he declares himself to be God it is almost at the end of his allotted reign. In fact, only 30 days after the abomination occurs, his undisputed rule will be terminated and his kingdom will begin to fall.
The closeness of these events is not just coincidental. When the Antichrist exalts himself to the point of deity, the righteousness of God will simply not permit his empire to continue. The Lord himself will initiate a series of devastating events which will collapse the very foundations of the Antichrist’s kingdom. This means that while the first 3-1/2 years of Daniel’s 70th Week may be characterized by the iron rule of a ruthless but popular empire, the last 3 1/2 years will be transformed into a battleground of world-wide destruction.
When Jesus told his followers to flee to the mountains as soon as they saw the abomination, he did so because he foresaw the resulting desolation of the end. The Lord said that there would suddenly come a time of unparalleled trouble which would leave the entire world in a state of impending doom. So great would be the aftereffects of this “great tribulation”, as he called it, that all life on Earth would be threatened and held in the balance. This is not an overstatement. The wars that are going to engulf mankind at the end of this age will be so destructive that the very death of the Earth is not beyond the realm of possibility. The Lord indicates this very fact in Matthew. Jesus says that if God does not intervene to save his people just in the nick of time…”there should no flesh be saved” (Matt. 24:22). This time period will be much worse than the World Wars of the Twentieth Century. The Bible describes such a horrific time period that only World War III could be in view. From the point of the Abomination of Desolation forward, the Bible gives us a blow-by-blow account of what will occur. The prophesied events take us all the way up to the battle of Armageddon and ultimately to the very moment of the return of Christ. And it all begins just 30 days after the Antichrist makes his appearance in the temple of God.