Matthew 24:15 – The Hour of Holocaust
So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)Matthew 24:15
In His discourse concerning the last days, the Lord Jesus quotes the prophet Daniel's reference to the "desolating sacrilege," and urges that the reader pay particular attention to the dramatic appearance of this horror. Since it is obvious that the words of the Lord Jesus stretch beyond the events immediately flowing out of His death and resurrection to the days immediately prior to His return, we can apply them to our own day as well. But what is the desolating sacrilege Christ speaks of here?
We find the expression three times in the book of Daniel, in Daniel 9:27, Daniel 11:31 and Daniel 12:11, but the form of the expression as used by the Lord Jesus make it clear that He thinks primarily of the latter two of these references. In these places Daniel also speaks generally, just as the Lord Jesus does. This is apocalyptic, and one of the characteristics of this kind of writing is that it paints general lines, stretching far into the future, and having more than one fulfillment. Daniel's immediate reference in the stated passages is to Antioch Epiphanies, the evil Syrian ruler who, around 168 B.C., ransacked the city of Jerusalem, destroyed the temple and pillaged the nation, inflicting harsh cruelties upon the Jews. The Lord Jesus, however, applies the passages to His own day, and in adding a marginal note, points out that these passages have lasting significance, and also plays an important role in the final days of the world.
In this way the Lord Jesus teaches us to view our time as an eschatological time, that is, a time with the realities of the end-time struggle between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, the Church of the Lord Jesus. This does not mean that we can predict the imminent end of the world. The focus here is on the character of the final age, not its duration. And Scripture repeatedly points to this dispensation as the "last days," "the end of the ages," the last hour. We, too, must have an open eye for the desolating sacrilege.
What may we look for and expect? Clearly, we only receive a rough sketch here. But the Lord Jesus opens the eyes of His Church for the arrival of unrelenting sacrilege, that is, open and public contempt for true worship and true religion, a public mockery of religious forms and customs, and an unrelenting effort to bring down all things to one level, the level of the wicked and profane. Having written off the true God, true worship and religion, modern man is none the less haunted by the true message of salvation and its abiding effects. Bible and cross, word and sign – they simply cannot be erased from his mind. In the birth of public sacrilege, we can witness the rise of open hostility and public hatred against the God of heaven and earth who placed cross and Bible, word and sign in this world. And this force of hatred will continue unabated until no stone is left unturned, until all religious symbols and customs have become the object of the profane. Word and sacrament, office and proclamation – all are part of the devil's continuing onslaught against the truth.
However, the Lord Jesus indicates that the acute pivot point in the arrival of public sacrilege, the point of crisis, comes when the sacrilege has reached "the holy place." This is the beginning of desolation and destruction. In first instance, He speaks of Jerusalem and the earthly temple; but beyond this we may also see a reference here to the birth of sacrilege in the places and forms of true worship. Satan's aim is to drive forward with public sacrilege and bring it into the Church. For is not the Church the real object of all his attacks? In his effort to universalize profanity, he concentrates on the people of God so that he might overturn all things spiritual and leave not one semblance of holiness left in the world.
And – as the Scriptures indicate – he will nearly succeed. The great upheaval will come; the antichrist will appear and will form coalitions with the perpetrators of false religion, and will set up the universal sacrilege, the devilishly erotic form of worship which will simultaneously demand the unconditional allegiance of all men. At the same time, he will devastate true worship and right religion, leaving the witnesses slain in the street, Revelation 11.
Yet there is great comfort in this expression. For it can and should also be read another way, nl. the sacrilege which causes desolation, (cf. NIV). And what does this say? It reminds us that behind the desolator is one who allows and in fact brings the desolation over Church and world. Judgment begins with the house of God! God Himself stands behind the desolator, and acts in Him. When the world's sacrilege has universalized and come to its peak, He reaches in. He must reach in, out of honour for His holy name, and out of jealousy for His own who cling to Him in truth, even in a dark and evil world.
Then He will come to carry up all those who flee to Him in truth. He will take them into the "rapture" which is Himself, and will keep them from the trial coming over the world. Saved from destruction, they will worship Him in holiness forever. For the dogs, fornicators, sorcerers and idolaters will be thrown outside, but those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb will enter into His courts and rejoice with Him forever.