We have done well by not having to resort to multiple parts to any particular lesson but in this event, or lesson, we must break it up into multiple lessons. This is, in my mind, THE most contentious subject concerning end of days teachings in the New Testament among those educated in the Bible. Also, in this lesson. seeing that it is a lesson on end of days prophecy, I will write more than usual. Remember: You can be broad-minded with regard to end of days prophecy as your individual beliefs will not affect your individual salvation. So offering multiple interpretations will only expand the readers mind.
I have approached, what I call, the Abomination of Desolation problem by closely examining the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and of course Daniel. More specifically the Olivet Discourse in the three Synoptic Gospels and Daniel Chapter 11.
15 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:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
Matthew and Luke are the Same!!!, almost
Destruction of Jerusalem
As I mentioned earlier we must place all the scriptures side-by-side, especially the Synoptic Gospels, to determine if there are any minor differences in the writings.
We will compare Luke's Gospel and we must understand where the Book of Luke came from.
Luke was not an Apostle, he was a physician from Syria who was a disciple of Paul. Luke’s account of the Gospel was what Paul was teaching in Asia Minor.
I will also add that I have interacted with certain Christian theologians who simply do not believe Luke mentioned the Abomination of Desolation at all in Chapter 21. We will now list both Matthew’s account of this section of the Olivet discourse and Luke’s account of the same side by side.
Matthew Chapter 24
Luke Chapter 21
|15When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)||20And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then
know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
|16Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes||
21Then 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 thereignto.
|19And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:||
23But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
|21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since
the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22And
except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but
for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. 23Then
if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets,
and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible,
they shall deceive the very elect. 25Behold, I have told you
before. 26Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he
is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe
it not. 27For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and
shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man
be. 28For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles
be gathered together.
||(Not in Chronological order)
22For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written
may be fulfilled. (PART OF VERSE
23:) for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon
this people. 24And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and
shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden
down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
|29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun
be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall
from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
||25And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in
the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea
and the waves roaring; 26Men's hearts failing them for fear,
and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the
powers of heaven shall be shaken.
As you can read above Luke’s account of the Olivet Discourse with regard to the Abomination of Desolation, even though it is shorter than Matthew’s account, matches almost exactly. So for any theologian to suggest that Luke failed to mention the Abomination of Desolation is utter ridiculousness. We can speculate as to why some theologians dismiss, or completely ignore Luke’s account of not only the Abomination of Desolation but his account of the Great Tribulation. The likely reasoning behind this is probably due to the traditional interpretations of both the Abomination of Desolation and the Great Tribulation as compared to Paul's letters.
Now we ask ourselves this; why is Luke’s account seemingly so different, within the wording, of the Matthew and Mark’s account of the Abomination of Desolation? We also ask if there are any clues in Matthew 24 that would suggest that Jesus Christ was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem other than speaking directly of the end of days?
The answer to the first question may not suit the beliefs of most Christian theologians, and all Christians for that matter, as it would appear, at face value, that Luke may have been written after 70 A.D. and the destruction of the Temple. That Luke practically declared the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24, or more specifically the fulfillment of the Jesus’ statement on the Abomination of Desolation as the original prophecy was of course made by Daniel. One thing that would totally blow this theory out of the water would be that Luke never mentions the Temple at all in his account of the Olivet Discourse concerning the Abomination of Desolation. So by this fact alone it would seem that Luke was written before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. BUT we must take into account that the Olivet Discourse begins with Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the Temple itself, so there would be no reason to mention it as it was the core of the prophecy to begin with.
Now the answer to the second question; did Jesus leave us a clue that would suggest the Abomination of Desolation was either connected to the destruction of Jerusalem, or the Temple. Actually he did with this statement.
28For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
From Wikipedia: The Aquila was the eagle standard of a Roman legion, carried by a special grade legionary known as an Aquilifer. One eagle standard was carried by each legion. (Source-1) – Wikipedia for Roman Aquila
As we can see the Eagle clearly represented Rome and the fearsome Roman Legions. Jesus made this statement at the tail end of his statement on both the Abomination of Desolation and the Great Tribulation. The next phase of his prophecy aligns with most end times prophecies that phase being; at the end of the tribulation Jesus comes back.
So it certainly appears that Luke’s account of the Olivet Discourse and Matthew’s account of the same seem to reside in perfect harmony. Jesus, of course, does not tell us how long the tribulation period will last as he probably didn't know himself. He stated that only the Father knows the day and hour in which he will return. Luke also expresses this with his statement of “until the time of the gentiles be fulfilled”.
Now the preceding analysis of the Abomination of Desolation, within the context of the New Testament, totally defies most, if not all, modern Christian interpretations. It appears that Jesus may have been speaking of the Destruction of Jerusalem.
Luke's Account of the Eagle
Now that we have created a plausible explanation of how Matthew 24 and Luke 21 are describing the same event with regard to the Abomination of Desolation, as the end of ancient Israel, we must continue with Luke's account of the Eagle. Luke's account of the Eagle is not mentioned in Luke Chapter 21 it is mentioned in Luke 17. This section of the Olivet Discourse is out of order as compared to Matthew 24. This simple ordering of the scriptures may not appear, on the surface, as a major event but as we will show it is a major event. As Jesus' mention of the Eagle is clearly described as something that occurs during the Tribulation and that the evacuation of Jerusalem happens before the Tribulation. Jesus describes the Rapture, in verses 40 through 42, an event occurring after the Tribulation, and clearly happening AFTER the event that concerns the Eagle and the evacuation of Jerusalem.
In Luke’s the account of the Eagle is the last event mentioned in his account of the Olivet Discourse (Chapters 17 and 21). We will break down, again, the order in which the Eagle, end of the Tribulation and the Rapture occur in Matthew and Luke.
As we mentioned the Olivet Discourse is split in two in the Gospel of Luke. The last half of Luke 17 and the majority of Luke 21 is the parallel scripture as compared to Matthew 24. We can find one very important clue in Luke's account, and if the early Church fathers were correct it would actually be Paul's account, and that clue is verse 31 in Luke 17. This verse, as compared to Luke 21 and Matthew 24, should fit right after the mention of the Abomination of Desolation in Matthew 24 and the Desolation in Luke 21 but it is mentioned as directly associated with the Rapture, not the desolation of Jerusalem.
We can clearly read in Luke 17 that Paul is preaching that the Rapture event will happen when the people must flee Jerusalem. And we can also see that Paul is associating the end of the world, not just the end of the age of ancient Israel, with the Eagle, which would be associated with Rome. That would seem to contradict the teaching in Luke 21 as Paul is clearly teaching that a certain amount of time must pass before the end of the world (verse 24: ……until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled) and the desolation and evacuation of Jerusalem.
As we mentioned before, we may yet again be accused of nitpicking the scriptures but in my estimation this is main problem with modern Christian eschatology, they do not nitpick the scriptures enough. The simple out of order quote of the eagle, alone, in Luke 17 would not justify the effort we have put into this examination but the fact that we have a seemingly minor contradiction in the order in which the people should expect to evacuate Jerusalem as compared to the Rapture event certainly justifies this close examination.
We must express the strict nature in which we are using the Gospel of Matthew as the measuring stick of the Gospels. And using this model we can see that Paul’s teachings in the Gospel of Luke, as associated with the Olivet Discourse, are very similar in Luke 21 and not so much in Luke 17.
Why the difference? We can offer a couple of conclusions. First; and this answer may open a tremendous can of worms, is that the Gospel of Luke was altered, although slightly, after the destruction of Jerusalem and destruction of the second Temple. Now why would a blue-blood believing Christian like me ever suggest such an egregious act? The answer is rooted in what Paul believed and when he believed the end of the word would come.
As we mentioned before, one can have an array of beliefs of end times scripture as these prophecies have absolutely nothing to do with your individual salvation. So Christians must broaden their minds and consider a multitude of interpretations.
Paul’s Actual Beliefs About The End Times
Before we dive into the multitude of complicated theories surrounding the probable connections between the Abomination of Desolation as mentioned in Daniel compared to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, we will examine Paul’s belief on when the end of the world would occur. Just as the Apostle John, Paul believed he was literally living in the end of days.
So it doesn't take a huge stretch of the imagination to suggest that Paul associated the coming fall of Jerusalem with the end of the world, as well as teaching that Rome (The Eagle) would have a hand in the fulfillment of end of days prophecy. Paul's teaching on the Gospel, which was recorded in Luke, gives us a glimpse into the past and allows us to consider the beliefs of the times. We must add that even if Paul seemed to attempt to interpret Christ's teachings in Matthew 24 in the end he was right on the money, except the world didn't end of course.
Next we will examine a very complicated theory that compares Daniel's prophecy in Chapter 11 to Jesus' time.