Just recently one reader, a friend asked me about the “abomination of desolation” spoken both by the prophet Daniel and Our Lord Himself. I have been thinking about that for the longest time; gathering thoughts and scriptures, commentaries, and ideas. There are various interpretations as to what Daniel and Our Lord are referring to. Obviously Christ’s quoting of the prophet Daniel leaves us with the certainty that they are both thinking of the same thing and yet the “abomination of desolation” Daniel talked about seems to be fulfilled so perfectly two centuries before Christ when the Seleucid Greeks desecrated the Temple. So I think for starts this is something of the past (before Our Lord) and also of the future.
St Paul speaks about the mysterium iniquitatis, and St John in his letters teaches that there is more than one Antichrist.
2 John 2:18-20 – Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge.
Taking those teachings into consideration I must say that I am convinced the “abomination of desolation” is a strength, a force, or a spirit in the sense of the word that we use when we say ‘the spirit of the age.’ Through history that force has been restrained by God for our own good:
Job 38:8-11 –’Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb? — when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped”?
The sea is understood to be the hideout of the enemies of God, of Leviathan the great fish that swallowed the prophet Jonah, the same ‘serpent’ that tempted Eve and intimidated Adam into submission to sin. Talking prophetically the prophet Isaiah says:
Isaiah 27:1 – On that day the Lord with his cruel and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will kill the dragon that is in the sea.
The dragon, Leviathan, the devil and his minions are the original promoters of that spirit of rebellion against the paternity and true sovereignty of God. They shout the rebellious cry “I shall not serve” to which St Michael the Archangel responds “They shall not prevail.” That refusal to serve and the impulse to destroy the work of God (since they obviously cannot destroy God Himself!) is the “abomination of desolation,” for the rebellious attitude is an abomination first, a desire to desecrate what is holy, and then the resulting disorder and disconnection from the will of God results in desolation, misery, and death for creation at large.
One can understand human history as a long battle where the forces loyal to God and the natural order, fight the hordes of demons and their servants trying to ruin everything that God has lovingly created for His creatures.
As we read before in Job, there is a limit, a restraint because that evil force can easily pervert the broken human condition. The very object of the temptation of Adam and Eve was to open the door of the world to bigger, darker, and more awful abominations. God’s restrainer has limited the scope of the “abomination of desolation” through history but one day the restrainer will be removed (it may have been removed to a degree in our generation) to make the evil manifest and clear so Jesus can destroy it.
2 Thessalonians 2 – As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.
Here that evil strength is shown both in method and objective. Its objective is to seat in the throne of God but that is an impossibility. How could a creature of limited power take that by force? It is impossible but there is the second best thing to the throne of God, the Throne of Peter, the Papacy.
Matthew 16:16-19 – Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
The awesome power given to Peter and his successors works thus: God the Son binds the will of Peter and the will of God into one. The will of God is diametrically opposed to the “abomination of desolation.” I am sure you already noticed that this is a subtle ‘trap’ to invite the “abomination of desolation” to once again tempt a human being like Peter into disastrous rebellion
Matthew 16: 21-23 – From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
Imagine Peter telling Our Lord to put the Passion of our salvation on hold to avoid harm … perhaps with the idea of expelling the Romans out of Israel and then go on to conquer the kingdoms of this miserable world! Where was that idea coming from?
Luke 4:5-7 – Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”‘
That is why Jesus sternly calls Peter “a resister” and a “stumbling block” or an “obstacle” because the apostle is trying unwittingly to be a restrainer of the will of God, instead of being a willing leader working for God’s purpose
So, the objective of the “abomination of desolation” is to gain access to the mind of those sitting on the Throne of Peter. The objective is to replace the divine impulse on that mind (in our day, Pope Francis) with the ideas of the world controlled by the devil. The devil will try on the Church the same trick he tried successfully with Eve. St Paul warns us:
2 Corinthians 11:1-3 – I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
The Church is to Christ (the second Adam,) what Eve was to Adam. The serpent will try to scale – so to speak – the walls of the Church to enter into the inner sanctuary and will eventually reach the Throne of Peter in the end of times. Just as Our Lord warned us.
Matthew 24:15 – ‘So when you see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader understand) …
To us Jerusalem and the Temple are presented as a scale model of the end of days. A saint that experienced himself the end of the Roman world, St Augustine wrote of human history – in his book De Civitate Dei – as the building of two cities built by opposing forces. The city of God, erected to fulfill the Divine Will, and the city of man raised by the spirit of this world. One built on the Rock of Ages that is Christ, the other built on the sands of time.
Addendum of October 22, 2016
One city, the one represented by Jerusalem, is of course the work of God but it is also the target of the anti-God forces who wish to destroy it. That city will be assailed through the ages. In the end she will be tempted. The model, Jerusalem went through that temptation – the suicidal temptation to join the forces of evil and collaborate with them in her own demise – In the mystery of the Incarnation, God Himself came to inspect her, only to be rejected by a wicked generation bent on killing him. Think of it carefully because that – in my humble opinion – is a model useful for our time and our generation.
Luke 13:31-35 – At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, ‘Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.’ He said to them, ‘Go and tell that fox for me, “Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”’
The phrase “your house is left to you” sounds terrifying for us who know that only thirty-seven years later, nearly one million people will take refuge in Jerusalem only to be slaughtered by the Roman armies called to suffocate the Jewish rebellion. “ War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” (Daniel 9:26) For those of living closer to the end times, that is as clear as it can be; war and desolation have plagued mankind to this day. These verses of Luke deserve their own commentary but suffice to say that we are living in another age of rebellion against God. Those who heeded the words of Jesus in the first century were spared to fall to the sword and had time to escape. Those who ignored His warnings were punished with death or slavery.
We can only pray that ourselves and our Church leaders are not led into temptation but we also know that “desolations are decreed until the end” and so it is imperative to guard our souls, so we can be counted among those who escape the destruction to receive Christ shouting joyously: “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”