I read your book Daniel: A Prophet to the Nations (editor’s note: available at www.ipibooks.com) and enjoyed it very much. I was going over my notes from it and got to the part where you talked about the prophesies in Daniel about Antiochus IV and how he was going to desecrate the temple and “set up an abomination that causes desolation” (Daniel 9:27) by putting a statue of Zeus in it with his face on it. I see that he ruled from 175-163 B.C. Today I was reading in Matthew 24:15 where it says, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the reader understand – then take anything out of the house…” And it goes on from there. I am confused by this statement, because it seems as though Jesus is talking about an abomination that is going to happen in the future by the way he phrases this statement. According to the prophecy in Daniel and your book, that abomination that causes desolation already happened between 167-164 B.C. when the temple was desecrated and sacrifice was outlawed by Antiochus IV. Maybe I am missing something here. Thanks in advance for the help.
A great question. I can see that you are thinking carefully about the implications of the prophecy. One of the amazing things about the Bible is that so many things in the Old Testament that really happened–that are a matter of history, also serve as historical foreshadows of something that happened in New Testament times. There are dozens of examples of this. There is the sacrifice of a one and only son in Genesis 22 and in the death of Jesus the only son. Both sacrifices were offered on the same mountain. There is the lifting up on a wooden pole in Numbers 21:8 and Jesus also being lifted up on a wooden pole. The result of both was that people were saved from death. There is the escape of Israel from Egypt. “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1). But Jesus was also called out of Egypt, and, figuratively, we are as well. There is the passing of Israel through the Red Sea, bringing about their escape from Egypt and from captivity, and there is our escape from slavery to sin when we, like Israel, are baptized (1 Cor 10:1). I could give so many more examples.
This pattern of an Old Testament (or in this case between the testaments) event which is a foreshadow of a New Testament (or actually just a few years later, in AD 70) event applies to the abomination of desolation. This “abomination” or desecration of the temple happened twice. The first fulfillment of this expectation of a defilement of the temple, as prophesied in Daniel 8:9-14, happened in 167 BC. At this time, Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes sacrificed pigs in the temple and defiled it additionally with a statue of Zeus in the Holy of Holies. This truly was an abomination. Yet we learn from Daniel’s prophecy that God allowed this to happen.
But Daniel actually has two prophecies about the abomination of desolation. The first, as already mentioned, is in Daniel 8. This was fulfilled about four hundred years after the prophecy with he abomination of Antiochus. The second prophecy of a desecration of the temple is found in Daniel 9:26-27. This is a prophecy, not about the Greek Antiochus (IV) but about the events that happened after Jesus came as Messiah to bring in everlasting righteousness (Daniel 9:24). The context of Daniel 9 is clearly very different from that of Daniel 8. The fulfillment of the two prophecies are separated by 230+ years, yet both speak of a desolation and defilement of the temple. The second prophecy was fulfilled when Titus conquered Jerusalem in AD 70 as the culmination of the Jewish Wars. At this time, he burned the Herodian temple to the ground and made pagan sacrifice on the temple mount, as described by Josephus in “The Jewish Wars” and as prophesied by both Daniel (Daniel 9:26-27) and by Jesus in Matthew 24:15-21. Isn’t this all taken together truly amazing? This is wonderfully strong evidence of two things. 1. God is in control of peoples and nations and 2. The Bible is inspired by God.