THE ANSWER TO “WHEN” – part 5:
Matthew 24:15, “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),
These few words of Jesus in Matthew 24:15 are rich both in their complexity and in their prophetic mystery. They reach back into Israel’s past, (Daniel 11:31 and Daniel 12:11), they are instructive of Israel’s current circumstances between A.D. 1 through A.D. 29, and they are deeply prophetic for Israel’s immediate future, (A.D. 69-70), as well as being prophetic not only for Israel but serve as a warning for the entire world about the horrific Great and Terrible Day of the Lord (1), (2), (3), which is yet to come.
THE PRESENT – IMMEDIATE FUTURE – FUTURE
Jesus, speaking directly to His own disciples in the present tense, says, “So when you see the “abomination of desolation“, which suggests that either those who are present or those who may presently hear these words may have the opportunity to actually see the abomination of desolation with their own eyes. However, other verses surrounding verse 15 demonstrate that Jesus is also speaking of a distant future event.
Considering the historical circumstances of the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 there are a few reasons why Titus and his army may have been especially eager to make this unholy sacrifice. According to Professor Watts, professor of New Testament at Regent College, “No Roman tomb was legally protected without a pig being sacrificed.”2 Obviously, the Temple in Jerusalem was littered with the bodies of dead Roman soldiers in A.D. 70. Also citing K.M.T. Atkinson, Brain Incigneri points out “that the Romans would sacrifice a pig before the standards [ensigns] at the taking of a military oath, sacramentum militare, shown in coins of the first century BCE.”3 The sacramentum militare was the oath taken by soldiers to pledge their loyalty to the emperor.4 Recall that during these sacrifices to the ensigns, Titus was declared imperator by his army:
And now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy house itself, and of all the buildings round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them, and there did they make Titus imperator. [Emphasis mine.] (Wars 6.6.1.)
Suetonius suggests that there were rumors that Titus’ soldiers may have even wanted to make him emperor.5 If Titus’ soldiers wished to crown Titus emperor during these chants, perhaps these soldiers would have taken the sacramentum militare additionally motivating them to sacrifice a pig to the ensigns at that time? (Revelation.org)
NEXT: THE ANSWER TO WHEN – part 6: THE GREAT TRIBULATION.
THE INTRODUCTION: THE END OF THE AGE?