The rebellion of man against God which began in the Garden Of Eden will have its final hurrah at the rebuilt third Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. It will be the final attempt by man to enthrone man in the place of God. The catalyst for this ultimate sin is the abomination of desolation, when the antiMessiah shall erect an image of himself in the rebuilt Jewish Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. ” When ye, therefore, shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the Holy place (whosoever readeth, let him understand)”( Matt:24:15). The parenthetical phrase,”(whosoever readeth, let him understand) “, marks out, underlines and undetscores the importance of what the Lord spoke. There is going to be a terrible abomination: it will make the temple in Jerusalem, and the whole land of Israel a desolation. This abomination, the image of the antiMessiah will be standing in the Holy Place. It was predicted by Daniel the prophet. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week,, he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the over spreading of the abomination he shall make it desolate “(Dan. 9:27).
Daniel predicted an earlier abomination about Antiochus Epiphanes, the fourth ruler in the Seluecid dynasty of the Greek Empire. ” He magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down”(Dan. 8:14). The prophet Daniel gave a historical precedent of an abomination which occurred in the temple in chapter 8 to help men comprehend the future abomination in chapter 9 which Jesus spoke about in Matt. 24:15.
Alexander the Great came to power in 332 BC, following the death of his father, Philip of Macedon, at the tender age of 22 years. Within a short space of ten years, he had conquered a substantial part of the known World. Wherever his armies marched, he spread Greek religion, language and culture. The Greek way of life was encapsulated in Greek philosophy known as Hellenism. Following the death of Alexander the Great, his kingdom was divided among four of his generals. Ptolemi reigned over Egypt, Seluecus in Syria, Lysimarchus in Greece and western Asia Minor, and Cassander in Macedonia proper. The territory of the Seluecid dynasty, Syria was in the north of Israel, whilst Egypt, the territory of the Ptolemaic dynasty was to the south of Israel. For the first 100 years Israel was controlled by Egypt. Through power struggle and political intrigue, Israel came under the sway of Syria. For several decades, a state of war existed between Egypt and Syria. When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. Because of the struggle between the two giants, little Israel was trapped between the hammer and the anvil, in a state of uncertainty as it were. At times, Israel did not know which of the two nations it owed allegiance to and therefore to which to pay tribute.
Within this cultural milleu, two Jewish parties emerged. One party which was religiously conservative favoured Egyptian rule. Egypt was a unified Kingdom with an ancient indigenous culture and therefore less Hellenistic. It gave the Jews a greater measure of liberty and wide latitude for religious freedom. The other Jewish party which was more liberal and less conservative and observant favoured Syrian rule. The Greek Syrians foisted their Hellenistic culture on all conquered peoples in order to unify their Kingdom. The latter Jewish party was less concerned about the negative influence of the Hellenistic culture on their religious life and the worship of Jehovah. The latter Jewish party consisted mainly of the aristocrats. They changed their names to Greek names, dressed according to Greek fashion and instituted Greek athletic games. They built gymnasiums and exercised in the nude. It was in this electrified geopolitical and religious atmosphere that Antiochus IV Epiphanes emerged as the fourth ruler in the Seluecid dynasty. Antiochus was zealously Hellenistic. He ruled Syria between 175-164 BC.
Earlier on Antiochus launched a successful military campaign against Egypt. In 168 BC, he returned again in order to consolidate his earlier successes, and bring Egypt under Syrian domination. On this occasion, he was meet by a courier empowered by the Senate in Rome who drew a circle around him and demanded that he either withdrew or face war with Rome. Frustrated and humiliated by Rome at the time of his apparent success, he headed back to Syria. On the way, he marched his armies into the land of Israel, stopped in Jerusalem, and had his soldiers kill a pig at the Jewish altar of Holocaust. Pig was a ceremonially unclean animal. Besides, the pig was offered to his patron deity, Zeus Olympus. To the Jews, this was the extreme point of abomination, the offer of a ceremonially unclean animal to a heathen deity on the Jewish altar of Holocaust in the temple built for the worship of Jehovah. He went further to desecrate the Holy Of Holies of the Temple by bringing the image of his heathen deity, Zeus Olympus into it. The image of Zeus Olympus was fashioned after a man with the face of Antiochus himself. He then demanded that the Jews bow down to worship1 his god. Many Jews refused to bow down to his god. As many as eight thousand Jews were slain, whole the rest fled.
In ancient times, three major basic, brilliant and simple steps were involved in the conquest of a people. The first step was to engage the enemy on the battlefield and defeat him. Secondly, the enemy was humiliated once defeated. Thirdly, the enemy was assimilated into the culture, custom, religion and government of the triumphant nation. Ancient armies marched under the ensign, banner and supposed protection of their gods. To them, there was no generally accepted concept of awe one true, universal and omnipotent God. They viewed gods as localized finite deities. Each nation had its own plurality of gods. Some had as many as 360 to 1 million gods in their pantheon. The army that was victorious was thought to be the army with superior deities. In order to carry out the second step of humiliating the vanquished foe, their icons were insolently taken away, and with great pomp, degradably placed at the feet of the deities of the conquerors. This was the zenith of humiliation for the vanquished nation. The logic of the act was our army defeated yours because our gods were great than your gods. Where are your gods? Are they not at the feet of our gods. Is it not reasonable and beneficial for you to worship our gods?
Senacherib the king of Assyria applied this principle when he tried to intimidate Hezekiah to surrender. Senacherib the king of Assyria sent messengers to Hezekiah saying, ” Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shall thou be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Golan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar? Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Henah, and Iva?“(Is.37:10-13). Unfortunately for Senacherib king of Assyria, the Yahweh of Israel was not like the idols of the other nations he and his fathers conquered. Then the Angel Of The Lord moved through the camp of the Assyria and slew 185,000 soldiers overnight. Senacherib withdrew to Nineveh. His life and reign ended 20 years later in ignominy when he was assassinated in a patricidal conspiracy by his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer, who fled to the land of Armenia. Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead(Is.37:36-38).
Once a defeated people began to worship the deities of their conquerors they were easily assimilated. That meant they will not rebel. Therefore they could serve in the conquerors army, and pay tribute. Religion was used as instrument of assimilation. When Nebuchadnezzar defeated Israel, in order to humiliate Israel and it’s God, he violated the precincts of the temple by threading on its courts, and arrogantly and insolently intruding into the temple and taking away the vessels used in the worship of Jehovah. The first commandment of the first table forbade Israel from making any images of the God of Israel. So, there were no images of the God of Israel in the temple. The sacred vessels used in the worship of The Yahweh of Israel were the only symbols of the God of Israel he could take away to lay at the feet of his gods. Later on, his grandson Belshazzar used these vessels in a licentious banquet of the gods of Babylon, for which reason, his kingdom was taken away from him that very night(Dan.5:1,2,23-29).
When Antiochus brought the image of his patron deity into the Holy Of Holies of the Jewish Temple, his aim was to assimilate the Jewish people into his kingdom. He could not have Egypt, but he could assimilated Israel into the fabric of his own nation through religion and culture, inasmuch as Israel had no army to be defeated. If assimilated, they would pay tribute to Syria, Jewish men would serve in the Syrian military, and be geographically a buffer zone between Syria and Egypt, incase Egypt latter planned a counterattack.
To humiliate Israel and it’s God, he had a pig sacrificed to his deity, Zeus Olympus on the Jewish altar of Holocaust. Because there were no icons of the God of Israel to be taken to the feet of his own gods, he brought the image of his patron deity, Zeus Olympus, into the Holy Of Holies of the Temple built by the returning exiles.
Because Antiochus had considerable support from the nonobservant Jews, he anticipated the cooperation of the rest of the Jewish people. He seriously miscalculated. Under the leadership of the godly Mattathias and his five sons, a guerrilla-style resistance ensued. The third son of Mattatais was Judah Maccabaeus. It was after him that the Jewish rebellion against Greek-Syria was named the Maccabian revolt. Within the space of three years, Antiochus and his Syrian army were defeated and driven from Israel.
After the departure of the Syrian army, the temple was cleansed and rededicated to Jehovah. The temple was desecrated and desolate for three years due to the sacrifice of an unclean animal, the parading of the image of heathen deity in the Holy Of Holies of the temple, and the violation of the sacred precincts by the threading on it by the Gentiles. The consecration and rededication of the temple gave rise to the Jewish feast of Dedication or Lights, known as Hanukkah.
Any time someone tried to annihilate the Jews, God gave them a holiday. Pharaoh king of Egypt tried it, they got Passover. Haman tried to wipe out the Jews, they got the feast of Purim. For the efforts of Antiochus, they got the feast of Dedication or Channukah(Jon. 10:22). Hitler tried it, they got Yom Haatzmaut, and the Holocaust Rememberance Day.
The prophet Daniel spoke of the conflict between Syria and Egypt in Dan.11:21-32. The prophet Zechariah also alluded to it( Zech.9:11-17).
The introduction of the image of a man in the temple of Jehovah under Antiochus Epiphanes was a historic portrait of the Abomination of Desolation. It gives a frame of reference for understanding the future prophetic abomination of desolation under the antiMessiah who will be the leader of the 8th and final beast empire of Satan.
The term antiChrist is used to denote the attitude, spirit and philosophy of this unregenerate world system towards God(1 Jon.4:3). There have been many antChrists in the past. There are many antChrists now, and there will be many antChrists in the future, more so, in the first half of the 70th seven of Daniel( Matt. 24:5). But that attitude, spirit and philosophy will be personified in one person who will be the ultimate antiChrist( 1Jon.2:18,22). Antiochus theos Epiphanes was a foreshadow, Prefigure, forerunner or precursor of the coming antiChrist.
The Greek word anti means against and in place of. When Satan rebelled against God, he sought to be against and in place of God(Is. 14:13,14). The dominant idea about the antiMessiah is someone who is in opposition to, and in substitution to God(Dan. 11:36; Rev.13:11-17). It is written about the antiMessiah, ” who opposeth( against) and exalteth himself above( in place of God) all that is called God, so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, displaying himself as God( substitution)”( 2Thess.2 4). The attitude of this unregenerate world system is one of opposition towards God and substitution of God with man.
The world is being primed for the coming of the antiChrist. Does it stretch credulity that intelligent, informed, sophisticated, modern, 21st century homo sapiens sapiens would ever bow to the image of man? That after six thousand years of history, man would seek to deity his fellow man? However, that is unerringly where history is headed. When the antiMessiah appears at the world’s stage, he will be the most attractive, charming, easily accessible man. Man of the people, the consumate politician, the ultimate superman. Therefore the whole world shall go after him.