Acting Prophecy – Part IV
The Abomination of Desolation and the Temple of the Prince
Teddy Lishan Desta
This is the fourth and the last part in the series called, “Acting Prophecy.” As it can be recalled, the first part dealt with the general idea of acting prophecy in the Bible. Its focus was how at times God called upon His prophets to do certain things so that those things could serve the people as warning or comforting signs (for example, see Hos. 1:2-3; Jer. 13:1-11; 19; 27; 28; Is. 20; Ezek. 4; 12:1-16).
Part II dealt with the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul, showing how the apostle’s life had an acting prophecy mission besides his missionary and theological activities. The focus was on Paul’s bodily ailment (Gal. 4: 13-14), arguing that it was not an ordinary aliment but an affliction with a far deeper theological and eschatological meaning. Paul’s physical suffering was part of God’s plan to make Paul to partake in the predicted sufferings of Messiah Jesus (Gal. 6:17, 3:1; 2 Cor. 4:10; Col.1:24). Paul’s “fellowship in Christ’s suffering” is taken as a foreshadowing of what would take place in the saints at the end of days (2 Tim 2:10-11; Rom. 8: 28-30; 1 Pet. 4:12-14; Rev. 3:21).
Part III focused on the nature and person of the Anti-Christ (i.e., the little horn of Daniel chapters seven and eight), and the tribulation he (or It) unleashes against God’s chosen people. Based on Daniel chapters seven through eleven, the character and career of the Anti-Christ was outlined and interpreted. The forces (horns) that would battle God’s elect at the close of the ages will be the lineage of Grecian forces of humanism and secular ideologies and political structures that hate and reject God. Two best candidates of all secular forces with rabid hatred of God and of His people were singled out and discussed. The 20th century atheistic ideologies of Nazism and Communism (particularly the latter) which best fit the slot. By departing somewhat from the commonly understood meanings of end-time temple that will be defiled by the Anti-Christ, the article argued that the intended ultimate temple of God is none other than God’s people themselves. In this way, the “abomination of desolation” was interpreted to mean these ideologies and the humiliation (i.e., the trampling under foot) and persecution they cause God’s people.
Part IV takes a much narrower interpretation of the predicted “abomination of desolation.” There is a good reason to do that. When the prophet Daniel (chapter 8, vv. 9 – 13) first mentions the “abomination of desolation”, he associates it with the temple of the Prince. The prince is understood as the Messiah and the “abomination of desolation” as the much prophesied humiliation and suffering of the Messiah. In order to make sense of the association between the descriptions of the “abomination of desolation” and the Messiah, the word temple/ sanctuary is primarily interpreted in terms of the human body, which according to the New Testament is the true and ultimate temple of God (Jn. 2:21-23, 14:17, 23; Acts 7:48-50; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 2:20-22). Based on this understanding and looking forward to the end of ages, the article asks the implications of the “abomination of desolation” to the individual believer. The article discusses the possible ways the “abomination of desolation” manifests itself in the end-times.
The Temple of the Prince
As discussed in Part II, Daniel chapter 8 foreshadows the titanic clash that would be between spiritual and secular forces. The secular-humanistic ideologies of the last-days would ultimately give rise to a very godless form of secularism, a force that will pulls-off all stops to destroy faith from the face of the earth. In that day, man’s rebellion against God will reach its pinnacle by completely rejecting the idea of God and attempting to destroy anything associated with the worship of God. In those days, the saints pay a very dear price in trying to remain faithful to God.
The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up toward the four winds of heaven. 9 Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. 10 It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. 11 It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. 12 Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. 13 Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled--the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?" 14 He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be re-consecrated." (Dan. 8-14, NIV)
In this passage there is a noticeable focus on the temple which becomes a special target of Satan. Starting at v.11, we see how Satan targets the leader of God’s people for “overthrowing his sanctuary” and “taking away the daily sacrifices from the temple.” No wonder that Satan’s attack against the Prince’s temple is so horrific that Daniel fell sick for so many days just seeing the desolation in a vision (Dan 8: 27).
Who is the victim of such a horrifying attack by Satan? In Part III, we have seen the collective aspect of this and similar visions. Part IV will focus on the individual dimension of the vision particularly as it relates to the Prince. The individual aspect of this vision, the existence of an individual indentified as the Prince is supported by scriptures such as Jer. 31:21, 23:1, Ezek. 37: 24-26, and others. Therefore, one of the victims of the onslaught Satan in the last days will be the Prince, a Davidic figure. As a result of the attack of Satan, as Daniel intimates, the Prince’s temple will be overthrown; it will be trampled underfoot for a period of time before God restores the temple. That speaks of the personal tragedy the Prince will experience, where humiliation and rejection will be part of his trials.
What Daniel indicates about the fate of the leader of God’s people is supported by the words of other prophets and the Lord Jesus. For example, the prophet Amos speaks about the last days and how God will bring about the restoration of the fallen (humiliated) tent (temple) of David.
In that day I will restore David's fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its
ruins, and build it as it used to be. (Amos 9:11, NIV)
The prophet Zechariah speaks how in the end-times the feeblest (lit. deeply despised) person will be raised by God to be like David, even Jesus-like.
On that day the LORD will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest
among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel
of the LORD going before them. (Zech. 12:8, NIV)
The prophet Isaiah also underlines the pain of humiliation, servitude and universal rejection the Prince first has to pass through before coming to the throne.
This is what the LORD says-- the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel-- to him
who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers:
"Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the
LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you." (Is. 49:8, NIV)
It is exactly similar ideas the Lord Jesus Christ Himself speaks about in the following Scripture. Jesus while commenting on the closing of the ages and the beginning of the Kingdom of God, notes how the Son of Man will first have to see suffering and rejection before he enters into His glory.
For as the lightening that flashes out of one part under heaven shines
to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.
But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by his generation. (Lk. 17: 24-25, NIV)
So what all these Scriptures and others1 show to us is that as Daniel said the Prince would first see much suffering, accompanied by humiliation and rejection, and then see His sanctuary restored to its former glory.
What is unique about Daniel’s visions when he writes about these things is that he casts everything in the context of the titanic struggle between the cosmic forces of godliness and secularism. So to say, the Prince is caught in the pincer movement of the enemy as Satan makes one final attempt to remove the worship of God from the face of the earth. Secondly, it is from Daniel we first get the impression of the cause of the suffering and humiliation of the Prince. Daniel gives the source, Satan’s agency, the cryptic name, the “abomination of desolation” or the “transgression of desolation.” It is this cause of suffering that we look at in some detail.
Abomination of Desolation
According to Daniel, it is the setting up of the rebellion/ transgression in the temple (body) of the prince that causes the abomination that leads to desolation. In current teachings on eschatology, the abomination of desolation is an idol to be set up in the Third Jewish Temple by Anti-Christ, or is the anti-Christ himself sitting in the temple of God, showing himself as God (2 Thess. 2: 2-4). But here we take the human body as the ultimate temple of God, and hence interpret the abomination of desolation as something related to the human body. First, we have to find for Scriptural evidence which associates abomination or desolation with the physical person, and study what kind of association the Bible shows. Here the argument is that in Daniel’s vision the setting up of the abomination of desolation in the Prince’s temple leads to two things – the trampling of the temple under foot (a type of oppression and humiliation) and the suspension of the daily sacrifice.
One good place to start the search for abomination and desolation will be the Psalms, because in many places the Psalms present in graphic detail the sufferings of the Messiah. The psalmist gives us a very graphic depiction of the condition of abomination related to human suffering.
For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted
among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set
apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more,
who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
Selah. You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive (abomination)
to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. (Ps 88:3-9, NIV).
The above Scripture is the picture of human desolation – someone abandoned and rejected. The reason of rejection is made clear, because the person is made an abomination, a repulsive being, to others. For example, David describes the same experience as follows:
I am a reproach among my all my enemies, but especially among my neighbors,
And am repulsive (abomination) to my acquaintances; those who see me outside
flee from me. I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken (rejected)
vessel. For I hear the slander of many (Ps. 31: 11-13).
Psalms 22, 69 and 102 also contain the most graphic picture of the humiliation, rejection and oppression of the Messiah. In particular, Psalm 102 speaks how the suffer has to give up his daily food because of his afflictions.
The other prophets also speak about the rejection and humiliated state of the Messiah, sometimes speaking in direct prophecies and at other times through typologies. The Prophet Zechariah predicts the humiliated state of the Messiah, who is also the ultimate high priest, in these words:
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord,
and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him…Now Joshua was clothed
with filthy (lit. repulsive) garments, and was standing before the Angel. (Zech. 3:1, 3).
It is the same idea of being repulsive to others which is magnified and repeated in the memorable verses of Isaiah 53.
He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were our faces from Him. He was despised, and we did not esteem him. (Is. 53:3).
As one translation has it, the abomination of desolation can be translated as an appalling horror (TEV). People become stunned or appalled by the depth of the humiliation of the Prince, as it will be unique, unparalleled.
…There were many who were appalled at him-- his appearance was so disfigured
beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness. (Is. 52: 14, NIV).
This is the crux of the messianic suffering – being an abomination to acquaintances; being a despised and rejected person; and as the result being a man of sorrows. We see some parallel’s to the Messiah’s suffering among some Biblical personalities. We see humiliation, rejection in the case of Job (Job 1:8) and Jeremiah (Jer. 20:14-18; Lam. 3), and St. Paul (Gal. 4:12-14). For example, the Apostle Paul describes his infirmity as one which could have caused scorn and rejection from people around him.
You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the
first. And my trial which was in my flesh you did not scorn or reject, but
you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus (Gal. 4: 13-14, NIV).
Paul implies that had the Galatian believers had been carnal in their outlook; then they would have easily despised and deserted him for his humiliated condition. According to Paul, to see him in his humiliation was to see and to receive the Messiah in His humiliation and rejection.
Paul saw a clear parallel between his afflictions and that of Christ. That is why he could boldly declare to the Galatians, saying, “Before your eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified” (Gal. 3:1). Further, he noted, “Let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks (stigmata) of the Lord Jesus” (Gal. 6:17), “Always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus…” (2 Cor. 4:10), and, “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (Col. 1:24).
In short, the understanding of the “abomination of desolation” in terms of the human experience, as shown from all these various Scriptures, is a state of humiliation, isolation, rejection and sorrow caused by Satan, but meant by God for glorious purposes.
The Abomination of Desolation: What could it be?
Next we ask if the nature the “abomination of desolation” is knowable. Does the prophet Daniel and others provide us with any clue to identify its nature? One clue Daniel provides us with is the following. Daniel tells us that the focus of Satan’s attack is the daily sacrifice offered in the temple (Dan. 8:11, 13). Daniel tells us that the daily sacrifice is suspended because of the rebellion or transgression that is set up in the sanctuary of the Prince. At this point let us stop and note. There are two dimensions to the rebellion or transgression. First, it has the power to suspend the daily sacrifice. Secondly, it leads to the humiliation (trampling under the feet) of the Prince. As we can see soon, the two dimensions are quite interlinked.
If we say, the sanctuary of the Prince refers to his physical body, then what is the daily sacrifice that is suspended? (Dan. 8:11, 13). Should we spiritualize and say it is daily prayer, worship and praise that keeps our communion with God alive? If so, it follows that the rebellion/ transgression that makes the daily to cease is some form of satanic attack to make the Prince stop offering prayer and worship service to God? But that is exactly what we have said and discussed at length in Part III which dealt with the collective suffering of the people of God. There we understood the transgression of desolation as the various forms of secular anti-God end-time political or ideological forces that persecute the people of God. But here we are dealing with the personal, physical suffering of the Prince, in a kind of humiliation and rejection we read about the Messiah, David, Job, Jeremiah, and St. Paul. We know that these people did not suspend the show of allegiance to God because of their intense suffering. We know that their prayer, service and worship life was intact throughout their trying life. So in their case we are not dealing with the same idea of suspension of the daily sacrifice as we did in Part III. Hence, in their case, we have to understand the rebellion/ transgression that cause humiliation and the suspension of the daily sacrifice in totally different terms.
Here is one choice of interpretation open to us. If the daily sacrifice does not refer to spiritual devotion, then can we understand it in material/ physical terms? That makes sense as we have decided to understand the temple in terms of the physical human body and the abomination in terms of physical humiliation and social rejection. One possible option is to take the daily sacrifice to mean the daily food we intake. Our daily food is then that material burning sacrifice that keeps and sustains the temple of God. We kill animal or plant life in order to make sacrifices to our body which is the temple of God. Without the daily food intake, the human body will weaken and ultimately fall apart.
So if we assert that food intake is the daily sacrifice, and then could it possible that Satan chooses to attack in this area? If this true then it appears that Satan is able to suspend the daily sacrifice, so that the physical temple of God becomes weakened and undermined. But there is more to the satanic attack beyond weakening the body. In what he does relate to food sacrifice, Satan also succeeds to produce a condition that makes the temple an abomination to others. Now let us try to connect the two dimensions, meaning the cessation of the daily and the humiliation (i.e., abomination). Here it is: through the transgression that Satan sets up in the temple, he forces the cessation of the daily sacrifice on the deterrence of the abomination that causes desolation (cf. Ps. 102: 1-11). Next I examine deeper this intrinsic connection between the two.
The Transgression that makes Desolate:
Daniel calls what is to be set up in the sanctuary of the Prince, the “abomination of desolation”, and sometimes he calls it the “transgression of desolation.” Daniel freely uses the two words abomination and transgression interchangeably. But are not these two seemingly unrelated words? Why then use them interchangeably? That could be justified only if there is an intrinsic connection between the two terms at the mystical level. This time I will focus on the word transgression (Heb. pesah). I strongly believe this a very key word that can unlock a whole plethora of theological and eschatological mysteries.
Firstly, the word transgression (Heb. pesah) indicates willful rebellion, one form of sin. And this the most common usage of the word in the Bible. In this sense, the thing set up in the temple is a sign of sinfulness. When others look at the Prince they will see and understand his condition to be the due reward of overt or covert sin. Hence, the exclamation, ‘He is smitten of God.’
Secondly, the pedigree of human transgression (Heb. pesah) goes back to the original sin of Adam which was a willful transgression of God’s commandment. In this sense, the setting up of a thing known as the transgression of desolation in the body of the prince shows how God made the Messiah the sin bearer (Rom. 8:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:21).
Thirdly, the transgression (Heb. pesah) causes the abomination and the subsequent desolation. It becomes the cause of the utter humiliation and rejection of the Messiah. The Messiah becomes a curse, a butt of the passer-bys (Deut. 21:23; Ps. 69:12). As Isaiah said, the Messiah was counted as the off-score of the earth (Is 53:9). In this sense, the Messiah becomes a curse (anathema) in order to deliver us from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13).
Fourthly, the transgression (Heb. pesah) carries the idea of the Pass-over (Heb. pesach) theme. Actually, the Hebrew words used in both cases are one and the same. It is the similarity of imbued in the translations as - trans-gress and pass-over. In this sense, the Messiah is our Passover. He is the Passover lamb, the means of deliverance from the power of sin and death leading us to God’s righteousness and eternal life (2 Cor. 1 Cor. 5: 6-7).
Fifthly, the word transgression (Heb. pesah) can be understood in terms of the rough wind (Is. 27:6) or the sanctifying wind (Heb. 10:29) that purges away rebellion and instills total obedience to God. In that sense, it signifies the fire by which the Messiah is perfected through humiliation. It is this pneuma that achieves all the above-mentioned four purposes. So the transgression is the fire by which God prepares and perfects the Messiah. It is the cause of deep trails of humiliation, rejection and suffering. It is this in this last sense that the transgression suspends the daily sacrifice, causes the abomination that in turn causes desolation. But it is the same thing that causes humiliation that later becomes a stepping stone to glory. As St. Paul writes, it is the body of humiliation that is swallowed up with immortality as its vindication (Phil. 3:21).
The Sign of the Broken Altar:
In the OT there is one obscure prophecy which has the power to give us some additional insight into the suspension of the daily sacrifice. This prophecy is found in 1 Kgs. 13:1-6. The prophecy can be taken as a shadow of end-time apostasy, a sign that will precede the judgment of God. It also throws some light at God’s chosen means to effect the cleansing of the earth from idolatry.
The historical setting of this prophecy is the great apostasy in Israel orchestrated by King Jeroboam. To the apostate king, God brought a message of judgment. God also at the same time spoke about the coming of a righteous king who will be used of Him to cleanse the land and the temple from idolatry.
O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child Josiah by name, shall be
born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high
places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you (1 Kgs. 13: 2).
The predicted righteous king was Josiah who was born some 150 years later after this prophecy. Josiah in what he accomplished to cleanse the land from idolatry can be seen as a type of Messiah, the true son of David (Ps. 21: 8-13; Luk 17: 22-37; Matt. 24: 36-51). But the most relevant aspect of this prophecy to what we are discussing here is the sign the prophet gave along with his prophecy about King Josiah and his mission.
And he gave a sign the same day, saying, ‘This is the sign which the Lord
has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be
poured out… The altar also split apart, and the ashes poured out from the altar,
according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord (1 Kgs. 13: 3, 5).
The righteous Josiah is the type of Messiah, and what Josiah achieved pre-figured what the Messiah would accomplish in the end-times. But what should we make of the sign of the broken altar? The splitting of the altar and the pouring out of the ashes is a very serious thing that could happen to the temple. In every attempt to offer the daily sacrifice on the altar, the ash will pour through the cracks and create a messy temple. This makes the temple ceremoniously unclean. The temple will virtually shutdown until they fix the altar.
It is this prophetic sign of a cracked altar that God chose to use as a sign for the coming of a righteous king. It is the same kind of sign that Daniel speaks about in chapter 8 when he mentions the “abomination of desolation”. The abomination of desolation has the same import to the sign of the cracked altar that pours out its ashes unceremoniously. As long as the altar remained cracked, they could not offer the daily sacrifices on it. Similarly, the abomination of desolation virtually shuts down the temple of the Prince, because as Daniel tells us the daily sacrifice could no longer be offered in the temple and as the result the temple becomes desecrated and humiliated. The abomination of desolation could be Satan’s work to crack the altar in the temple of the Prince so that no longer the daily sacrifice is offered in its regular fashion. But for how long would the “crack” and the resulting suspension of the daily sacrifice be?
The Duration of the Abomination of Desolation
The Angel informed Daniel that the abomination of desolation will last for ‘2300 evenings and mornings, and after that the temple will be cleansed.’ Many have understood this time span to refer to the last three-and-half (or 42 months) period written about elsewhere in the Scriptures (Dan. 7:25; Rev. 11:3, 9, 11, 12:14, 13:5). But for now let us take a totally different direction to understand the end-time prophetic timeline and understand it in terms of Israel’s seventh month annual feasts. If God used the first three-sets of Israel’s feasts (namely, Passover, First-Fruits, and Pentecost) for the major events in the First Coming of Jesus, then God will also use the second-set of Israel’s feasts, fulfill the events surrounding Christ’s Second Coming.
Here is the argument:
In the Bible we read that Israel has two calendars. The first calendar begins with the first day of Abib (March/ April) and it is used in relation to the religious life of the nation. The second calendar which starts on the first day of the seventh month, Tishri (September/ October) the second one is associated with the administrative. Associated with these two calendars, are two sets of festivals (Lev. 16, 25). The first calendar has a cluster of three related festivals - Passover, First Fruits and Pentecost. All these three fall during spring and are closely identified with the ecclesiastical calendar. The second cluster of feasts - the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles, all fall in the seventh month, Tishri (September/ October). Hence, the latter set of feasts is associated with the kings’ administrative affairs; therefore, are more secular in nature.
The first three set of feasts, Passover, First Fruits and Pentecost, as the NT teaches us has been fulfilled with the First Coming of Jesus. Their fulfillment through the life and work of Christ addressed the spiritual needs of humanity. Jesus died on the cross on the day of Passover (Luke 23: 53; Jn. 19:14), He was resurrected from the dead on the day of First Fruits (Luke 24: 1-10; 1 Cor. 15:20), and on the day of Pentecost He sent His Holy Spirit to birth His Church ( Act 2: 1). But as Jesus repeatedly taught He came to establish a spiritual kingdom in the hearts of men, and not set up an outward political kingdom. The political kingdom has to wait for the end of times.
On the other hand, the feasts of the seventh month outline as in a shadow the milestones in the revealing of the outward kingdom of God. Israel’s seventh month feasts are the figures of God’s end-time move to redeem the political, economic and social life of humanity. As discussed next, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles each in its own way delineate and shadow a milestone in the prophetic unveiling of the outward kingdom of God.
The Feast of Trumpets:
This feast falls on the first day of Tishri, Israel’s seventh month. It marks the beginning of the new secular year. On this day, Israel ushers in her new secular calendar with blasts of trumpets (Lev. 23: 23-25). In its prophetic sense, this feast shadows the beginning of the end-times per se. That is only when this year/ day arrive on God’s calendar that God will activate the events leading to the unveiling of the outward Kingdom of God.
According to God’s word, when the prophetic Rosh Hashanah strikes, a new era will begin. It is then that God will initiate the events that would lead to the ultimate redemption of the secular. What is the basis of this claim? First, the number seven in Biblical symbolism is a figure of completion, finality and perfection. Hence, the seventh month indicates God’s final move to complete the human redemption process He has initiated 2000 years ago. Secondly, the peals of trumpets, of many things, signify, a time of warfare, judgment, and intense troubles coming to the world (Jer. 4:5, Joel 2:1, Zeph. 1:14-18). Hence, the Feast of Trumpets foreshadows the beginning of the birth pangs of the last days (Matt. 24). God will first shake everything in judgment before He establishes on earth His everlasting Kingdom (Hag. 2:23; Joel 3; Heb. 12: 26-29). In relation to what we have discussed so far, the Feast of Trumpets, in its prophetic fulfillment will mark the beginning of the tribulation period, the revealing of the anti-Christ, and particularly the setting up of the abomination of desolation in the temple of God.
The Day of Atonement:
This is the most solemn day in the life of Israel. The day is marked by a 24-hour fast; and on this day Israel’s high priest makes a once-in-a-year entrance into the most holy place in the sanctuary. On this great day, the high priest makes atonement for the sins of Israel before the Presence of God in the Holy of Holies (Lev. 16; 23:26-32). At this point we consider the relationship between Passover and the Day of Atonement. Do they refer to one and the same thing, or to two acts of God? As argued earlier the Passover fulfillment in Jesus’ First Coming made atonement for human sin and established the Kingdom of God in the souls of men. But in the Day of Atonement, at the end of ages, in His Second Coming through His people, Jesus will make reconciliation between man and God in a way that will establish the Kingdom of God in the secular spheres. In its end-times application, the Day of Atonement fulfill the words of Jesus found in Matt. 26: 29; Luke 22:14-18. It is about Jesus suffering in and through His people in the last days. It is about His saints entering into the fellowship of His suffering; it is they being conformed to His image, perfected through suffering (cf. Col. 1:24; 3:3-4; 1 Jn. 3:2; Rev. 2:17, 3:21, etc).
How do we know when we have reached this prophetic milestone called the Day of Atonement? First, it will be a year marked with solemn fasting. Second, as symbolized by the high-priest entering the innermost part of the sanctuary, it will realize unparalleled access to the Presence of God. On that most solemn Day, man will come face to face with God. Third, it will result in the anointing of God’s saints as kings and priests (Dan 7:13-14; Rev. 12; Ps. 2). But the Day of Atonement does not result in the end of the fiery trial that began on the Feast of Trumpets. Rather it will be a midway relief in the dreary and outdrawn tribulation. One can call this prophetic milestone the first or secret rapture, or the first resurrection (Rev. 20: 1-5), if one wills.
The Feast of Tabernacles:
This feast falls on the 15th day of the seventh month. On this day, Israelites make booths out of tree branches and live outside their homes for seven days. For seven days, Israelites rejoice and celebrate the goodness of God recalling their afflictions during the 40-years journey in the wilderness (Lev. 23: 39-44).
In its prophetic end-time sense, this feast will mark the end of the tribulation period which has begun with the Feast of Trumpets, and announces the coming of the fullness of the kingdom of God. It will mark the end of mankind’s journey in the wilderness of this world. It announces the end of human troubles and heartaches. As Israelites entered the rest of God when they finally arrived in Canaan, and as much as they replaced their flimsy tents with more durable houses, so it will be for the saints of God at the Feast of Tabernacles.
When this Day arrives on God’s calendar, it will be not only a day of ending the Great Tribulation, but also be the ending of the saga of humanity that has begun at the Fall in the Garden of Eden. What Jesus had begun in our reconciliation with God at His First Coming, He will finish and perfect at this Feast. Jesus will bestow on us a sinless and immortal body like His. The Day, therefore, will be a day of the putting away of the flimsy flesh-and-blood present day tent (body) and the putting on the body of immortality. With most probability the feast will begin as a sign when the abomination of desolation is removed from the temple of the Prince.
The Day will be a time for the cleansing and re-consecration of his temple. Its desolation since the beginning of the prophetic end-times (i.e. Feast of Trumpets) will end in the year that marks the Feast of Tabernacles. Daniel actually does not tell us how the temple will be cleansed from the abomination of desolation. For that understanding, we have to turn to other scriptures. For example, in the book of Zechariah, chapters 3 and 13:1 we read about the cleansing process. In chapter 3 we read how the Lord’s intervention removes the filthy garments from the high priest, Joshua. The high priest is given glorious new garments and turban instead of the humiliating, repugnant clothing he was wearing for so long. But the prophet Zechariah becomes more precise in chapter 13, telling us how God will do the cleansing from transgression (pesah) and utter rejection (Heb. nidah). Zechariah wrote God will use a fountain to cleanse His people from their pathetic state. In its end-times prophetic sense this is a mystical fountain.
If the Prince’s elevated (glorified) temple is first-fruits in the inauguration of the fullness of the Kingdom of God, then the same glory will spread outwardly to transfigure other saints into the glorified body that Jesus have after His resurrection. It will be a Day of God’s power given to the saints, empowering them to rule the world in righteousness and justice (Ps. 2, 110, 149; Zech. 14).
But how long it will be between the start of the Tribulation (at the Feast of Trumpets) and its end (at the Feast of Tabernacles) cannot be determined before everything concludes. This is because of Jesus’ words when He said no one, except God, knows the day and hour of His Second Coming (Matt. 24:36).