The Desolating Abomination
The Berlin Wall had come down and this time my visit to Poland didn’t involve the trauma of having to pass through the Iron Curtain. My Polish friend drove me south to Krakow, Pope Paul’s home city, but our destination was more to the south and east--Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp. Before I ducked and entered one of the gas chambers, I looked to my left. I could throw a stone into the spacious home where Rudolf Hoss, the Commandant who built Auschwitz, lived with his wife and four children. His kids had to rinse the human ash off the strawberries picked in their garden. Inside the gas chamber, I looked up at the cylindrical holes in the ceiling where Zyclon-B was dropped into the area where the prisoners thought they were taking a shower. Minutes later everyone was dead, the chamber was cleared of gas, and then the bodies were carried only a few feet to the attached crematorium. The murder of more than 1.1 million people, 90 % Jews, is one of the most horrendous acts in human history—a abomination that brought the total devastation of Germany as Russian and Allied troops brought Hitler and the Nazis to their knees.
In 168 BC Antiochus Epiphanes, an Old Testament “Hitler,” called for the death of any Jew who wouldn’t bow before his Hellenizing cultural purge. He erected a statue to Zeus in the Temple, offered a pagan sacrifice on the altar of burnt offering, and prohibited the teaching of Book of the Law, igniting the Maccabean revolt. In 168 BC Judas Maccabeus had crushed the Syrian armies, re-entered Jerusalem, and by December 164 BC he cleansed the Temple. Antiochus died a short time later after pillaging the Temple of Aphrodite in Elymais.
In the first century shortly before the crucifixion, Jesus not only predicted the destruction of the Temple by the Romans, but he also warned of another powerful Gentile ruler who would arrogantly seize power, desecrate God’s holy temple, and defy God. This rebel would move the Son of Man, predicted by Daniel the prophet, to come and bring human history to God’s just conclusion.
“Now whenever you see the abomination that causes desolation standing where it should not be standing, let the reader understand—then those In Judea must flee to the mountains. If you’re on the roof of your house, don’t go down to collect your belongings. If you’re out in the field, don’t look back to pick up your cloak. How tough it will be for pregnant mothers in those days and those nursing their babies.
Pray that these things won’t happen in winter. For there will come days of tribulation—days worse than anything that has happened since the beginning when God created the world until now. Days of judgment that will never be equaled again. In fact, if the Lord had not cut the duration of these days of judgment, no one would survive. But for the sake of God’s elect, his chosen ones, he has shortened those days.” Mark 13:14-20
Antiochus’ persecution was bad. So was the destruction of the Temple by Titus in AD 70 and Hitler’s Holocaust in the 1940s, but Jesus is predicting a future idolatrous, materialistic, immoral, and cruel abomination that is still to come and it’s far worse. This crisis is coming, but our job is not to try to read the signs and figure out the date. Our job is to obey our Savior and take the Good News to every people group on earth. The Gospel proclaims that men and women from every tribe, nation, tongue, and race will be singing Jesus’ praises. This is the universal message of hope, humility, and grace—the message that can deliver from even the final Abomination of Desolation.
O Lord, powerfully move us to understand how important it is to proclaim your Good News today and not to allow other seductive philosophies or ideologies to capture our devotion.
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