Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The "Abomination that Causes Desolation" Spoken of Through the Prophet Daniel - Part 1: Who is Daniel?

Photo I took of a model  of first-century Jerusalem
with the Temple at The Holy Land Experience
Orlando, Florida, USA
Let's look at the next section of Matthew 24:

So when you see standing in the holy place "the abomination that causes desolation," spoken of through the prophet Daniel -- let the reader understand -- then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now -- and never to be equaled again. 
If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:15-22, NIV)

Remember that Jesus is speaking. He is responding to the question his disciples asked in Matthew 24:3:

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"

After Jesus lists the events we've been discussing since June 24 (The Prophecy Buff's Favorite Chapter: Matthew 24), he now begins to talk about " 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel." 

What is the "abomination that causes desolation?" There so much information there, let's take several posts to talk about it. (Tweet that!)

First, please notice that Jesus himself validates the prophecy of Daniel. (Tweet that!)

Who was Daniel? Daniel was a young man living in Jerusalem when the Babylonians, under King Nebuchadnezzar, invaded and took the people of Israel into exile in Babylonia (modern-day Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and parts of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait, and Iran). 

There were actually three deportations of people from Israel to Babylonia: 

  • Daniel was taken with the first group in 605 B.C. 
  • The second deportation came eight years later in 597 B.C. The prophet Ezekiel was taken with this group. 
  • The third and final deportation took place in 586 B.C., which is when the invading Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.

If, as a child back in Sunday school or somewhere along the way, you heard the story of "Daniel in the lion's den," that's not a fairy tale. That's a true story and this is the same Daniel.

From what I can gather, I think Daniel was probably a teenager when he was deported to Babylonia and I don't believe he ever saw the land of Israel again. But much later he did discover, according to the prophet Jeremiah, this exile in Babylonia was prophesied to last 70 years.
This is what the Lord says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:10-11).
Because Jeremiah was writing from Jerusalem to those in exile in Babylonia, "bring you back to this place" refers to bringing the exiles back to Jerusalem. 

Many people are familiar with that beautiful promise of Jeremiah 29:11. But not many are aware of its context -- that it was written to the Israelites when they were in exile in Babylonia! I included verse 11 so you can see the context of that promise. (Tweet that!)

Even as a young man Daniel showed extraordinary bravery and leadership. You can read how his time in exile began here. (I'm not posting it all because of its length, although it will only take you a few minutes to read it):

Read Daniel 1:3-21 here.

That passages ends with a mention of the first year of King Cyrus, king of the Medes, which was 539 B.C. That means by this time Daniel had spent 66 years in Babylonia.

Note that in verse 17 we are told "Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds." Daniel not only interpreted dreams of Nebuchadnezzar (see Daniel 2), Daniel was given visions of the End Times by God. It was in these visions that he "saw" the "abomination that causes desolation." (Tweet that!)

We will look at the actual verses where Daniel told about this "abomination that causes desolation" in the next post.

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