Recent events have once again revived concern that the world is coming to its apocalyptic end. Yet despite renewed tensions between the United States and Russia, and Iran’s constant threat to vaporize Israel, that concern remains premature. Yeshua, after all, said, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” (Matt 24:6). So when does the end come?
Yeshua answers this question in Matthew 24: 15: “When you see the abomination of desolation … standing in the holy place.” In this verse, Yeshua alludes to שִׁקּוּצִים מְשֹׁמֵם (shikutzim meshomem) translated as “abomination of desolation”, described in Daniel 9:27. Matthew 24: 15-28 describes the appearance of the abomination of desolation and the period of intense tribulation that it unleashes upon the nation of Israel. Matthew’s readers are to understand that this time period begins when they see “the abomination that causes desolation” is standing in the holy place (v. 15).
Jesus’ prediction has both a near and far fulfillment. The destruction of the Temple in 70 CE serves as a pattern for events that will take place during the “Days of Jacob’s Trouble” as they are described in Matthew 24:21. The desecration of the holy place by the Roman army will be horrific, but events surrounding the Antichrist’s desecration of the holy place during the Great Tribulation will occur on an even greater scale. In Jewish thinking, the events of 70 CE in Jerusalem do not have to exhaust the force of Daniel’s prophecy of the end days. It is a recurring pattern. The end-times references in Matthew 24 confirm that Yeshua used the term שִׁקּוּצִים מְשֹׁמֵם (shikutzim meshomem) “abomination of desolation” to point to the final conflict with his enemies at the time of his coming. Matthew blends the tribulation of the upcoming Jewish War of 66-70 CE with the final one that will take place at the end of the age. The events of the final tribulation mirror the events of the first, but on a greater scale.