(First published 7 September, 2009. Revised September, 2014; January, 2016; January, 2019; April, 2022. Scriptures quoted are from the King James Version of the Bible, unless noted otherwise.)
1 – Introduction and Clue #1
2 – Clue #2: What Kind of Desolation?
3 – Clue #3: Overspreading of Abominations in a Time of War
4 – Clue #4: The “God of Forces”
5 – Clue #5: Better Perspective on Matthew 24
6 – Clue #6: Historical Precedents
7 – Clue #7: Perspective of Ancient Times
8 – Clue #8: What about Daniel 11:31 and 12:11?
9 – Clue #9: Idol Worship in a Secular World?
10 – Clue #10: “Image” and “Abomination” – Separate Inventions
11 – Summary
12 – Appendix: News Articles
1 – Introduction and Clue #1
There are plenty of mysteries in the Bible, one of which is that puzzling reference to an “abomination of desolation” – to come in the closing era of our present Age. Our study here will focus on that ancient mystery, the one spoken of by Daniel the prophet some 2,500 years ago, and later referred to by Jesus Himself. (Daniel 9:27, 11:31; Matthew 24:15, Mark 13:14)
It will advance what may seem a surprising solution to the meaning of this mysterious phrase: that the term “abomination of desolation” can be understood as an ancient way of describing a modern weapon or vehicle of war – perhaps an armored tank, helicopter gunship, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or some such thing.
That may sound far-fetched, of course. For since ancient times the assumption has always been that the “abomination” had to be an idol of some kind, possibly an image of the world’s final anti-God ruler – the “beast”, often referred to as the Antichrist. This customary interpretation carries a lot of weight for it bears the stamp of approval of generations of Biblical interpretation.
But could it be that this is just an inherited mindset, an idea that’s taken on a life of its own, which it was never meant to have, and is hindering us from getting a more accurate understanding of this ancient mystery? If so, then it might be worth our while to probe a little further into this baffling riddle passed down to us from ancient times. And if we can just let the evidence of the Scriptures speak for itself, we may be in for quite a surprise.
But now, why should we bother making the effort to step outside past explanations? Well, there is no harm in setting aside our preconceptions for a moment. (That’s what happens in any brainstorming session, and it’s almost the only way to achieve a fresh perspective on any issue.) And here are some reasons why this particular doctrine could benefit from some re-evaluation:
1) We live in a secular, modern world; idols are not worshiped in a religious or superstitious way anymore.
2) More historical hindsight now gives us a better handle on how to understand this thing. We have that priceless advantage that eluded former generations: that is, we can see and experience the actual culture and technology which the ancient prophecies were referring to. Plus we have a larger pool of knowledge than was available in the past. But because of the heavy weight of scholarly opinion from the past, the task of adjusting our understanding of these intriguing passages can develop into a major overhaul.
3) A thorough investigation of the Scriptures points easily to the “abomination of desolation” phrase as an ancient way of referring to the superior weapons of destruction that are a standard feature in modern warfare. If this is closer to the correct interpretation, then we should, in these Last Days, be aware of it and try to understand the reasoning behind it.
Let us endeavor then to view this mystery from a fresh perspective by checking out the following “clues” based on Scripture, historical example, and even just plain common sense:
CLUE # 1 “Abomination” = idol?
This word “abomination” doesn’t have to refer to idols; it’s anything abhorrent to God, e.g. “a false balance”, “he that soweth discord”, the unclean animals of Leviticus 11, etc. Jesus Himself said, “That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15) A general definition like that would surely include these horrible, death-dealing inventions of modern times, these weapons that are so “highly esteemed among men”.