Matthew 24:15-22: Desecration standing in the Holy Place
Posted by adventbiblestudy on July 27, 2012
Matthew 24:15-22 “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about–the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” (16) “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. (17) A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. (18) A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. (19) How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. (20) And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. (21) For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. (22) In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.
The disciples asked Jesus, “What sign will signal your return and the end of the world?” They still clung to the popular interpretations taught by the religious leaders. Jesus addressed their question in a series of answers designed to give them a critical view of the subject. Jesus knew why they asked the question. Their minds were focused on one sentence Jesus said that day. “Therefore, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers of religious law.” The disciples had determined they were the prophets Jesus spoke of. In their minds they formulated a plan. If they could correct the religious leaders, they could unit them under the leadership of the disciples. This seemed to be the best way to continue their ministry. The more they thought of their plans, the more they were convinced it would be a success.
The first phase of their plan was to learn the truth about the return of the Messiah. Using this information the disciples planned on uniting all of the religious factions. Once the country was united, God could initiate His plan to free Israel.
John could see Jesus was not giving them a direct answer. He kept going over text after text to understand Jesus’ answers, but found it difficult to formulate a clear answer. Finally John decided to review what Jesus had taught during the day. One phrase rang in his ears over and over again. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites!” Was Jesus telling them not to become like them?
As the night wore on a cool breeze blew from the west. The disciples knew sleep would come easily. They looked forward to reviewing all the details of the day as they prayed before falling asleep. Jesus was not done yet. He continued with an answer sure to draw their attention. “The day is coming when you will see what Daniel the prophet spoke about–the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.”
This renewed their interest. Now Jesus was getting close to answering their question. John knew the time appointed prophecies well. “After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. The ruler will make a treaty with the people for a period of one set of seven, but after half this time, he will put an end to the sacrifices and offerings. And as a climax to all his terrible deeds, he will set up a sacrilegious object that causes desecration, until the fate decreed for this defiler is finally poured out on him.” (Daniel 9:26-27)
As John tried to calculate sixty-two sets of seven in his head, he missed the portion Jesus was hoping all of them would contemplate, “the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing.” John ignored the obvious in front of him. Instead he allowed his mind to jump to the next passage he remembered. “For warships from western coastlands will scare him off, and he will withdraw and return home. But he will vent his anger against the people of the holy covenant and reward those who forsake the covenant. “His army will take over the Temple fortress, pollute the sanctuary, put a stop to the daily sacrifices, and set up the sacrilegious object that causes desecration. He will flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him. (Daniel 11:30-32)
John’s mind was drifting from calculating dates to trying to understand the military connection between the two passages. This seemed to be the key. He knew this is the portion the religious leaders focued on. If he could unlock the mystery… Suddenly his mind went back to the time prophecy as he remembered a third passage. “From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days.” (Daniel 12:11)
John was convinced the key was somewhere in the numbers and the military force mentioned in the prophecies. But when and who?
His brother James was thinking of the same texts from Daniel. He focused on the point Jesus mentioned, “about–the sacrilegious object that causes desecration standing in the Holy Place.” As he thought about the Sanctuary, he began to recall details from Ezekiel. He had long wondered what message Ezekiel gave to Israel. The description of the figures, wheels, and the Temple seemed most confusing. Looking for an answer to the desecration standing in the Holy Place brought to mind two specific texts
Ezekiel 43:10-12 “Son of man, describe to the people of Israel the Temple I have shown you, so they will be ashamed of all their sins. Let them study its plan, (11) and they will be ashamed of what they have done. Describe to them all the specifications of the Temple–including its entrances and exits–and everything else about it. Tell them about its decrees and laws. Write down all these specifications and decrees as they watch so they will be sure to remember and follow them. (12) And this is the basic law of the Temple: absolute holiness! The entire top of the mountain where the Temple is built is holy. Yes, this is the basic law of the Temple.
Ezekiel 44:6-9 And give these rebels, the people of Israel, this message from the Sovereign LORD: O people of Israel, enough of your detestable sins! (7) You have brought uncircumcised foreigners into my sanctuary–people who have no heart for God. In this way, you defiled my Temple even as you offered me my food, the fat and blood of sacrifices. In addition to all your other detestable sins, you have broken my covenant. (8) Instead of safeguarding my sacred rituals, you have hired foreigners to take charge of my sanctuary. (9) “So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: No foreigners, including those who live among the people of Israel, will enter my sanctuary if they have not been circumcised and have not surrendered themselves to the LORD.
James could see the entire message had to be studied in its entirety to understand. Another item to put on his list to study. He also knew he wanted to study the connection between Daniel and an explanation offered in Ezekiel. Daniel mentioned a commander taking over the temple and installing the desecration. Does Ezekiel offer an explanation? “You have brought uncircumcised foreigners into my sanctuary–people who have no heart for God. In this way, you defiled my Temple.” Were foreigners the answer? As James considered the possible link, he remembered to look past the physical and consider the texts from a spiritual view. He suddenly noticed the text also mentioned the people in the temple have no heart for God. The text also goes on to say, “they did not surrender themselves to the LORD.”
James saw a vision flash before his eyes. He clearly saw the scene when he stood at the temple gate looking at Jesus teaching on one side of court, the religious leaders gathering at the money tables on the other. At the same time another text from Ezekiel came to mind. “Your leaders are like wolves who tear apart their victims. They actually destroy people’s lives for money!” (Ezekiel 22:27) The answer was obvious. The people were not desecrating the temple because of their birth place. We are all equal in God’s eyes. Jesus went out of His way too teach this lesson. What was foreign to God was their attitudes, pride, and lack of respect. He began to question if the temple had not already been defiled.
Jesus had intentionally paused a long time. The disciples though He was enjoying the cool breeze, and maybe thinking about calling it the end of the day. This had been one of the longest and most fulfilling days the disciples could remember. Jesus knew He had covered a lot of subjects. It was His intent to give them time to consider not only the subject taught around the camp fire, but compare it to the lessons of the day. To attract their attention, Jesus adjusted His position and cleared His throat. “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat.”
Jesus knew the disciples would be comparing the warning to flee to the desecration on the Holy Place. In a spiritual sense He was. Jesus knew the moment they understood how people dishonored the temple, they had to make a decision quickly. There was no turning back. Either His disciples would become part of Jesus’ temple, or not.
Jesus wanted them to understand the emphasis on making an instant decision. He quickly told them there would be trails, and in a spiritual sense, explained how difficult they may be. “How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again.”
Once again Jesus hesitated for a minute to give all the disciples an opportunity to compare His warning to other scripture using the illustration of a woman delivery a baby in addition to those explaining the responsibility parents are given. By comparing the end of the year to the last day of the week, Jesus wanted them to know they were playing a major role in the final chapter of earth’s history.
As usual, Jesus mixed the warnings with Hope. He promised then a quick end if everyone was willing to do their job. “In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.”
This entry was posted on July 27, 2012 at 12:19 am and is filed under Gospel Messages Matthew. Tagged: 1, 290 days, absolute holiness, Anointed One will be killed, basic law of the Temple, Daniel 11, Daniel 12, Daniel 9, Daniel the prophet, defiled my Temple, Ezekiel 43, have not surrendered themselves to the LORD, leaders are like wolves, Let them study its plan, Matthew 24:15-22: Desecration standing in the Holy Place, people who have no heart for God, period of sixty-two sets of seven, pollute the sanctuary, pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath, sacrilegious object that causes desecration, specifications of the Temple, stop to the daily sacrifices. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.