A time of trouble and distress unequalled in history
Centuries before the Lord Jesus was born the prophet Jeremiah foretold a period of time in history unlike any other time called “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble” that would be focused on the land of Israel in the last days just before the Second Coming of Christ. This time period, lasting three and a half years, will be a time of distress and trouble unequalled in history. The prophet Jeremiah prophesied this would happen in the Last Days after Israel was back in their own land as a nation again. Jeremiah writes, “The days are coming, ’declares the Lord,’ when I will bring my people Israel back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their forefathers to possess,’ says the Lord. These are the words the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah: “This is what the Lord says: ‘’Cries of fear are heard-terror, not peace. Ask and see: Can a man bear children? Then why do I see every strong man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labour, every face turned deathly pale? How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30:3-7) After almost 2000 years of exile the nation of Israel was reborn in 1948 and in 1967 the Old City of Jerusalem was recaptured once again including the Temple Mount. However, due to political expediency the Temple Mount was given back to the Muslims at the time.
Daniel agreed with Jeremiah
The Prophet Daniel also spoke about the same time period that Jeremiah spoke about. Daniel said, “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people will arise. There will be a time of distress such as not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people-everyone whose name is found written in the book-will be delivered.” (Daniel 12:1-2)
The Lord Jesus agreed with them.
Here in Matthew chapter twenty-four from verse fifteen onwards the Lord Jesus clearly predicted this period of time mentioned by Jeremiah and Daniel that will begin with the Antichrist attacking Jerusalem, ransacking the city, exiling half the population, desecrating the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and demanding to be worshipped as God. The Lord Jesus Himself specifically mentioned this time of devastation and trouble at the end of this present age unequalled in history when He said, “For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equalled again.”(Vs.21) In Matthew chapter twenty-four verses one to fourteen the Lord Jesus had predicted the conditions that would exist historically that would ultimately lead up to His Second Coming. However, from verse fifteen onwards, He specifically focused on the last brief period of this present age that would begin with the Antichrist desecrating the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Now let’s look at the text…
(Vs. 15) “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the reader understand.”
The Coming of Antiochus Epiphanies
Centuries before the first coming of Jesus the prophet Daniel prophesied the coming of a ruler who would invade the Holy Land and desecrate the temple. This man was Antiochus Epiphanes a Seleucid Greek General. The nature of this man reflected the character of the Antichrist who was to come in the future. Daniel wrote concerning this ruler, “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. 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. 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. 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. 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?” He said to me, “It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.” (Daniel 8:9-14)
Historically Antiochus was eventually defeated by the Jewish patriots called the Maccabees who restored and re-consecrated the Temple Mount. Daniel also wrote concerning Antiochus, “In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” (Daniel 8:23-25) Again Daniel writes concerning this man, “At the appointed time he will invade the South again, but this time the outcome will be different from what it was before. Ships of the western coastlands will oppose him, and he will lose heart. Then he will turn back and vent his fury against the holy covenant. He will return and show favour to those who forsake the holy covenant. “His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.” (Daniel 11:29-35)
A master of intrigue and deception
Antiochus Epiphanes was a Seleucid Greek. He was a despot and a man of “fierce countenance and intrigue” a “stern-faced king”. Antiochus was a master of intrigue and deception who gained the support and favour of the Jewish nation. The religious leaders who were not faithful to God and His Word supported Antiochus. Israel as a nation compromised their loyalty to the Lord and received this man not realising his agenda to change their laws and set times for their feasts and enforce Greek law and customs on them as a nation.
A blood-thirsty ‘Megalomaniac!’
Antiochus constantly made demands on the Jews and most of them compromised with him. Eventually most of the backslidden Jews began to participate in pagan festivals and in cult prostitution introduced by Antiochus. This Seleucid Greek despot enticed the Jewish nation to accept him as a legitimate friend and protector. (1 Maccabees 15:1-9) However, after his deception he turned on the Jews with a terrible hate and violence. (2 Maccabees 7) He stopped the temple sacrifices and forbade the reading of the Torah and killed anyone who was caught with a copy of it. Antiochus desecrated the temple by shedding the blood of a pig on the altar of sacrifice and by setting up an emblem of worship to the Greek god Zeus in the temple. (Daniel 11:31 12:11) (2 Maccabees 5:15-16)
Several ‘Abominations of Desolation’
The Lord Jesus was speaking about this event that occurred a 160 years before His time and said that it was going to happen again in the future. In the context of His discourse He had in mind 70AD but was saying that the abomination would be fully manifest at the end of this age through a man called the Antichrist or the man of sin or lawlessness. The Lord Jesus was implying that the Antichrist would come in the character of Antiochus and in the character of Titus the Roman General who destroyed the Temple and ransacked Jerusalem in 70AD. Furthermore, in the Second Century (135 AD) the Emperor Hadrian invaded Israel to put down the .Bar Kochba rebellion and built a temple to Jupitar on the Temple Mount along with two statues of Roman Emperors, and re-named the city of Jerusalem “Aelia Capitolina.” Then in 638 AD the Muslims took the City of Jerusalem from the Byzantine Christians. In 691-692 AD “The Dome of the Rock” was built on the ruins of the Temple Mount and still stands today. Around the outside octagonal structure is a long classical Arabic inscription that says that “God has no begotten son”, thus denying that Jesus is the Son of God. Another long inscription is found on the inside walls of the octagonal structure. It also denies Jesus as the Son of God, His resurrection as well as the Trinity. Historically this is the clearest “abomination of desolation” we see relating to the Temple Mount itself.
The Pope of Rome or the Caliph of Islam?
Scripture says, ”Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist-he denies the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22) The Church of Rome does not deny the Tri-Unity of the Godhead or the Deity of Christ, or the Father and the Son relationship within the Eternal Godhead; however, Islam denies them all! And in the light of this situation today it would seem that the final Antichrist will not be a Pope at all but a Caliph of Islam, possibly the 12th Mahdi, and Islam’s awaited Messiah! The desecrations related to the Temple Mount in 70AD, 135 AD and in 691 AD were all “abominations of desolation.” They were partial fulfilments and “a pattern” of the ultimate desecration to come at the hands of the Antichrist. A first century Jewish believer always understood prophecy as “a pattern” and the lord Jesus was using the same method. Even today, right now, an “abomination of desolation” is still standing on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Paul the apostle told us about the final “abomination of desolation” that would be perpetuated by the Antichrist to come. “He (the Man of Sin) opposes and exults himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped and even sets himself up in God’s temple proclaiming himself to be God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4) See also (Daniel 11:36)
A Covenant of death!
According to God’s Word Israel will have entered into a false peace treaty with many nations even with its Muslim neighbours and will be living relatively secure in this covenant with all nations although God calls this covenant, “A Covenant of Death.” It is “a covenant of death” because Israel will be trusting in men instead of God. However, this treaty will not protect them from the scourge of the Antichrist when he invades the Land of Israel. Listen to what the prophet Isaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers who rule this people in Jerusalem. You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave (Sheol) we have made an agreement. When an overwhelming scourge sweeps by, it cannot touch us, for we have made a lie our refuge and falsehood (false gods) our hiding place.” (Isaiah 28: 14-15)
Where is the real Temple Mount located?
It’s interesting that some recent archaeological research suggests that the original sight of the Holy of Holies of the first and second temple was not located where the Dome of the rock now stands but was actually located about 300 feet north of the dome itself on the sight of the Dome of the Tablets. If this is so then in some way the temple sacrifices could be re-instated without demolishing the Dome of the Rock Mosque. The evidence strongly suggests that the Dome of the rock is actually standing where the Court of the Gentiles was located. However, when you see the Dome of the Rock standing on the Temple Mount you see another “abomination of desolation.” In fact there are at least 5 differing views as to the actual location of the Temple Mount, however, the main evidence points to the Temple being linked to the Fortress Antonia by two colonnades. Josephus the Jewish Historian who was around in 70 AD writes about this. One very strong argument in favour of a different location is that the Lord Jesus did say concerning the destruction of Herod’s Temple that not one stone would be left upon another but that all would be thrown down. Today you have the western wall or the wailing wall which is held by most in Israel to be a wall of the original Herodian Temple, however, it may well be that it is a retaining wall of the fortress Antonia. In 70AD the temple was totally demolished. According to the prophet Daniel and the Lord Jesus the Temple Mount is to be defiled again at the end of this age which means that the third temple will have to be built for this to happen. If the site of the Temple Mount is discovered to not be where the Dome of the Rock Mosque now sits then it would be highly possible to rebuild the third temple This is not the subject of this study.
The Mahdi of Islam
Today the whole Muslim world is waiting on the arrival of the Mahdi whom they say is coming to lead the Muslim nations to establish Islam as the ultimate global power. They also say he will bear the name of Mohammad and in a real sense be the re-incarnation, as it were, of the prophet Mohammed himself. Of course we know that the man of sin will be an incarnation of Satan. If the final Antichrist indeed is a Muslim potentate then he will succeed for a time in bringing devastation to this world unequalled in history. Iran’s regime that has publically declared they are awaiting the coming of the Mahdi will get their nuclear weapon and use it on Mecca and most probably kick start the beginning of WWIII thanks to the previous Obama Administration. Time will tell of course as there is a new administration in the White House that has a president who says he is committed to Israel’s welfare and security but as yet has not fulfilled his promise to relocate the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Furthermore, he is no friend of Iran either. Having said this there is no doubt that Iran will get their nuclear capability.
What’s on the Islamic Agenda?
When you see the agenda of Islam today and the way that it is infiltrating the Western democracies as well as most third world countries you may well be seeing the resurrection of the, “beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lives!” During the Middle Ages Islam almost invaded Europe but was stopped by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours. Right now Europe is still being invaded by thousands upon thousands of ‘Syrian’ refugees who are virtually all Muslim. Many are not Syrian at all but from other Islamic countries. It is reported that there are ISIS infiltrators and operatives coming into Europe along with the refugees.
Who is winning the war?
Many are looking to Europe for the manifestation of the Antichrist and looking for the “New Rome,” as it were, but Europe will be only a part of the whole. Already it is being high-jacked by Islam through Muslim immigration and also through its deals for oil. Now you have the ‘Syrian’ refugees pouring into Europe by the thousands! Islam is winning the war against the West socially and economically. Ultimately there is a very real chance that Islam will ultimately invade Europe by the sword of Allah the moon god of war! The “abomination of desolation” already stands today in the Dome of the Rock awaiting the manifestation of the Antichrist. The Antichrist himself will use religion and political leverage and military might to bring himself to power. As far as Europe is concerned we may well see another crusade on European soil. Not all European nations embrace Islam.
Islam is an ideology
Islam is not merely a religion but a political, financial as well as a religious entity. It is a system of government and of law and finance as well as a religion. Islam is a way of life with its own laws! Its aim is to conquer the world and bring in a global Sharia Law system of government. This is the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood today that are destabilizing many governments throughout the Middle-East. Previously they had been invited into the White House by President Obama when he was in office. When you look at the history of Obama himself there is clear evidence that he was most probably “a closet Muslim” and the Muslims knew it! During his administration he had around six of those associated with the Muslim Brotherhood with whom he and his administration dealt with at a very highly classified level. It may well be one day that we will ultimately see the United States of America for the most part become the United States of Islam! With President trump this may be delayed as he is no friend of Islamic Jihad minded Muslims.
The Refining fire
When the Antichrist desecrates the Temple Mount it will be a time of trouble for the nation of Israel that will affect the whole world. At that time the Antichrist will destroy two thirds of the Jews living in Israel but God will not let them be totally destroyed as a nation but will deliver a remnant because of His covenant promises to them as a people. The prophet Zechariah foretold this event when he wrote, “Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, against the man who is close to Me!” declares the LORD Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn My hand against the little ones. In the whole land, “declares the LORD, “two thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on My name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are My people,’ and they will say, “The Lord is our God.’” (Zechariah 13:7-9) Zechariah also wrote concerning these events, “A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by My mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with Him.” (Zechariah 14:1-5)
Down but not out for the count!
When the Antichrist moves to invade Jerusalem and sets himself up on the Temple Mount those living in Jerusalem should flee from the city as fast as they can because the devastation wrought by the Antichrist will be swift and deadly. Half of Jerusalem’s population will be taken into exile but there will be others that are not taken from the city at that time… Even though a partial exile will occur Israel will never cease to be a nation again! This is a Nation that was “Born in a day,” a nation to which God Himself gave birth! Listen to what the prophet Isaiah said, “Can a country be born in a day or a nation brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labour that she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord.” (Isaiah 66:8a-9a). In 1948 this prophecy became a reality for the Jewish people.
A modern miracle!
In 1948 the regathering began after almost 2,000 years of exile. This was a modern miracle of God without a doubt. At the time there were around 600,000 Jewish emigrants that settled in Israel surrounded by at least 40 million Arabs bent on Israel’s destruction. However, they have survived as a Nation and will never cease to be a nation before the Lord. There were another two major attempts to destroy Israel in 1973 and in 1967 but Israel were victorious in those wars. Even though very troubled times are ahead for Israel they will never cease to be a nation before the LORD.