Jesus said: "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:)" Matthew 24:15
What is the Abomination of Desolation?
Before we answer this question it is important to realise an important transition in Bible prophecy which occurs in Daniel chapter 2 as well in chapters 7,8 and 11. This is the change of Pagan Rome, the fourth kingdom, from the literal and local kingdom of the Caesars (the legs of iron) to the spiritual and global empire of Papal Rome (feet of iron & clay).
Same symbol of iron in the legs and feet but the feet contain an addition, the clay, which symbolises religion. The feet are still Roman but the clay represents religion not just any religion but professed Bible religion mixed with the iron monarchy of Rome, hence Papal Rome, a union of church and state. See the study on Daniel 2. This principle of the literal and local giving way to the spiritual and global is important when interpreting certain symbols in prophecy as we transition from the Old to the New Testament.
Literal and Local to Spiritual and Global Symbolism
1. LITERAL LOCAL Babylon => Spiritual Babylon in Revelation 14, 17 etc.
2. LITERAL LOCAL Israel => Spiritual Israel- the professed Christian church
3. LITERAL LOCAL Sanctuary => Heavenly Sanctuary - for all mankind.
4. LITERAL LOCAL Jezebel => Spiritual Jezebel of Revelation 2:20.
5. LITERAL LOCAL Euphrates => Spiritual Euphrates of Revelation 9 & 16.
6. LITERAL LOCAL 7 Churches => Spiritual 7 churches of Revelation 2 & 3.
Jesus taught that the abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet and was yet future from Christ's day, "When ye therefore SHALL see the abomination of desolation..."
Some claim that the “abomination of desolation” was either Antiochus Epiphanes, a Syrian king, who lived about 160 years before Christ, or an idol he set up in the temple. Jesus' explicit words to his disciples, “when ye therefore SHALL see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet” show that the real abomination was to arise AFTER Christ’s time (Matt 24:15; Luke 21:20). Christ words prove conclusively that the abomination of desolation cannot be Antiochus Epiphanes.
What were the followers of Christ to do?
They were to flee.
"Then let them which be in Judaea 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 give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:" Matthew 24:16-19
Matthew 24:15 has its counterpart in Mark 13 and Luke 21.
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 Judaea flee to the mountains:"
Luke 21:20, 21 "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea 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 thereinto."
In the first application of Matthew 24 we see that the Abomination of desolation was the Armies of Rome intent on destroying Jerusalem.
Luke elaborates on this: "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things [which belong] unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation." Luke 19:41-44
The abomination of Desolation was, therefore, the armies of Rome armed with a death decree so to speak (Rev 13).
History tells us that literal Rome destroyed literal Jerusalem and its temple or Sanctuary and slaughtered 1 million Jews in the process.
By breaking Godʼs law (Daniel 9:5, 9, 11-13) the Jews had brought about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the armies of Babylon Daniel 1:1.
By rejecting Christ - the Messiah the Prince, the law Giver, the Jews, “the people of the Prince,” brought about the destruction of “the city and the sanctuary” by the armies of Rome in AD70. (cf. Hos 13:9).
In Matthew 24, the Lord referred to Daniel 9, applying it first to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 but in a secondary sense it has another application to the coming crisis and the destruction of the world. Desolations will continue until the end of the war between good and evil.
In the first application of Matthew 24, the literal armies of Pagan Rome, the Abomination of Desolation destroyed the city and the sanctuary.
Pagan Rome as we saw transitioned to Papal Rome in Daniel 2, 7, 8 and 11 with the latter happening in verses 30,31 as Papal Rome, "...the Abomination that maketh Desolate", is finally set up. See Daniel 11 study on the King of the North.
Hence in the end-time scenario, the Abomination of Desolation is "Roman Armies" of Papal supporters armed with a death decree as found in Revelation 13:15, intent on destroying Jerusalem, the latter here symbolic of God's true people.
So at the end of time the “people of the Prince,” the professed Christian church, will reject the law of God and observe in its place the law of the beast, and as a result bring upon themselves desolation. See the Mark of the Beast study.
The abomination of desolation is not the Sunday Law as some erroneously contend. It is not Antiochus Epiphanes who died long before Christ was born.
According to the Bible, the Abomination of Desolation is a destructive power, firstly literal Pagan Rome's army and in the end-time following the transition from Rome, Papal Rome and its army of supporters.
The persecution of the dark ages will be rekindled when the dogmas of the church are again reinforced by the state.