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August 5, 2016
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August 5, 2016
Antiochus IV Epiphanes And The Maccabean Revolts, Temple Was Defiled In 2nd Century BC, Jews Were Forced To Worship Pagan Grecian Gods, Problems With Antiochus Interpretation Of The Abomination Of Desolation, Jesus Clearly Said That It Was A Future Event, Historical Figures And Historical Events Place Jesus Squarely In The First Century AD, Similarities Between Antiochus's Temple Defilement And Romans' Temple Defilement, 70 AD Was The Real Abomination Of Desolation, Reading List
Before concluding this series, I would like to address one more topic which is directly related to our discussion about the Abomination of Desolation. It concerns a misguided belief which has likewise circulated in Bible prophecy circles for many years now, and involves King Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the Maccabean revolts.
If you are a student of Biblical history, you may possibly know that insofar as Jewish history is concerned, the first and second centuries BC coincided with the various Maccabean revolts against the Seleucid kings of Syria. These revolts were instigated in large part when Jewish religious worship in the Temple -- and throughout Israel -- came to an abrupt end, and was replaced by forced Hellenistic idol worship, by Antiochus IV Epiphanes during the mid-2nd Century BC. In the First Book of the Maccabees, after explaining how Antiochus came to power, conquered and destroyed much of Jerusalem, defiled the Temple and stole many sacred things from it, the writer describes how this heathen king then forced the Jews to forsake the God of Israel, and to worship the pagan gods of Greece, as we see here:
"Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, and that each should give up his customs. All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. And the king sent letters by messengers to Jerusalem and the cities of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the land, to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths and feasts, to defile the sanctuary and the priests, to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines for idols, to sacrifice swine and unclean animals, and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, so that they should forget the law and change all the ordinances. 'And whoever does not obey the command of the king shall die.' In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. And he appointed inspectors over all the people and commanded the cities of Judah to offer sacrifice, city by city."
1 Maccabees 1:41-51
Only a few verses later, this same writer informs us of an event which occurred in the Temple at Jerusalem, which some Bible scholars believe may have been a direct fulfillment of the Abomination of Desolation. Consider the following verses:
"Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-fifth year, they erected a desolating sacrilege upon the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding cities of Judah, and burned incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. The books of the law which they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Where the book of the covenant was found in the possession of any one, or if any one adhered to the law, the decree of the king condemned him to death. They kept using violence against Israel, against those found month after month in the cities. And on the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar which was upon the altar of burnt offering."
1 Maccabees 1:54-59
Personally, the problems I have with embracing this Antiochus IV Epiphanes interpretation is fully explained in the series you have just read. It should be very obvious to many of you that if we believe that Jesus Christ lived during the early part of the First Century AD, and was crucified around the year 30 AD, then we cannot accept the Antiochus IV Epiphanes interpretation concerning the Abomination of Desolation. As this article has made perfectly clear, Jesus was prophesying a future event, and not a past event which occurred almost two hundred years before His time.
If, on the other hand, you accept that the Prophet Daniel was prophesying about the defilement of the holy Temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, when his people offered swine and other unclean animals on the altar in the Temple, amongst all of the other evil things that they did, then how do you resolve the obvious conflict with what Jesus stated in the Gospels about the Abomination of Desolation being a future event?
Another very big problem with accepting the Maccabean period interpretation, is that we clearly know who all of the Roman and Jewish political leadership were, and the Jews' religious leadership as well, from the time of Christ up to the time that Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 70 AD. Those people, and all of the events which occurred during that same period, serve as historical markers. None of those people had even been born yet at the time of the Maccabean revolts. So because we know who these people were, as well as what events transpired, we can place Jesus Christ at a specific point in history, and that is squarely in the first half of the First Century AD. Thus, when Jesus talks about the Abomination of Desolation being a future event, we know without a doubt that it could not possibly have occurred two hundred years before that time. It is totally out of the question as far as I can tell.
When I first considered this doctrine a few years ago, the only way I could think of in which we could try to bring harmony between what both Daniel and Jesus prophesied, and what the First Book of the Maccabees reports, was by making Jesus' lifetime considerably earlier than what Christians have supposed during the past two millennia. In other words, we would have to move Jesus' life to the very early part of the Second Century BC, so that His future prophecy regarding the Abomination of Desolation could have been given before the events that were perpetrated by Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his followers, in the mid-2nd Century BC. But you see, we run into the very same problem, and we just can't do it, because we know who was alive and ruling during the time of Christ, and they certainly weren't alive during the time of Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
The most that I personally am willing to say is that there are some similarities between Antiochus' defilement of the Temple Compound, and what occurred with the Romans hundreds of years later. However, they are two very separate events, and Jesus was clearly talking about the one in 70 AD. That was the true Abomination of Desolation, I believe. At any rate, if you are interested in learning more about these events which occurred before the time of Christ, please consider reading my article entitled "Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas?".
With these thoughts I will bring this series to a close. I trust that you have enjoyed it, learned something from it, and I pray that it has been a blessing in your life. If you have an account with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, etc, I would really appreciate if you would take the time to click on the corresponding link that is found on this page. Thank you so very much! May God bless you abundantly!
For additional information, you may want to refer to the list of reading resources below which were also mentioned in this series, or which contain topics which are related to this series. All of these articles are likewise located on the Bill's Bible Basics website:
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas?
Jesus Christ's Return: Have We Been Deceived?
Revelation's Babylon the Great
The Great Tribulation and the Rapture
Tradition or Truth? Old Wine or New Wine?
Jesus Christ's Return: Have We Been Deceived?