Tuesday 20 September 2011

The Abomination of Desolation?

The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

The prophecy of the abomination of desolation is one of the most enigmatic recurring themes of the Bible. The abomination of desolation described by Jesus in the Gospels was based on a prophecy found in the Book of Daniel which warned that a sacriligious structure would be erected on the site of the Temple of Jerusalem. The original (preterist) meaning of this prophecy found in the Book of Daniel undoubtedly referred to the defilement of the Temple precinct by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who erected an altar to Zeus in the Temple, and compelled Jews to offer sarcifices of pigs (the most unclean of creatures according to Jewish tradition). But for Jesus, this prophecy would also have other future applications that would be relevant for both the Early Christians, and also for Christians living at the time of the end. 
When asked by his disciples how they would know that the end-time was drawing near, Jesus curiously directed their attention towards the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and Daniel's prophecy of the abomination of desolation.

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”...
“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
(Matt 24:1-3;15-22)

In the Book of Daniel, a precise date was given for when the abomination of desolation would be set up:

...from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days.  (Dan 12:11)

The Book of Revelation gives the duration of the abomination of desolation as also lasting a "time, times, and half a time". But curiously deviates from Daniel's reckoning of 1,290 days and instead gives a figure of 1,260 days (or 42 months).

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” (Rev 11:1-3)

 Most scholars would agree that the main reason for this differential was John's use of a solar calendar, while Daniel was using a luni-solar calendar. But there may also be an alternative explaination.  The Gospel of Luke states that this time period of the abomination of desolation, when the Temple and Jerusalem would be trampled underfoot by gentiles, would be finite in duration. This would imply that after this time period, there would be a restoration when the Holy Land would be restored to its rightful state.

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.   Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.  Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days!  For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people.  They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.  (Luke 21:20-24) 

The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem is intimately linked to a future Jewish restoration in the teachings of Jesus (as I go into more detail in the book).  But this future Jewish restoration could not take place until "the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled", which according to the Book of Revelation would be 1,260 "days".
According to the rules of the interpretation of prophecy first outlaid by Tyconius in the 4th century AD, a day could also be interpreted as a year in prophetic thought. So the time period when the times of the Gentiles would be completed could also be 1,260 years, and then the Holy Land would be restored to its rightful state. But when do we caculate this time period from?
In the book, I argue that as the only permanent structure standing for a sufficent time period on the site of the Temple of Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock (the third holiest shrine in Islam) would be a perfect candidate for the "abomination of desolation".
The Book of Daniel gives the first clue that the Dome of the Rock is indeed the abomination of desolation by stating  that the time period between when the daily sacrifices are taken away until the abomination of desolation would be set up would be 1,290 "days" (see Dan 12:11, cited above). If we calculate this time period as starting from the period of the Babylonian exile (when Babylon first invaded Judah and effectively interupted the daily sacrifices), then caculating 1,290 years on from the date of the first deportation of Jewish exiles to Babylon in 598BC, we arrive at the year 691AD - the year of the completion of the Dome of the Rock! (Remember to subtract 1, since there is no year "0" in the Anno Domini system). Also if we calculate 1,260 years on from when construction first began on the Dome of the Rock in 688 (when the Gentiles first began to trample the Temple underfoot?), we arrive at the year 1948 - the year of the creation of the modern state of Israel! So it seems that the period of the Gentiles was indeed finite in nature, as 1,260 years after construction first began on the Dome of the Rock, the "times of the Gentiles" were fulfilled at the time Israel was restored to the Jews. Therefore the grounds of the Temple complex in Jerusalem appears to symbolises by wider extension the nation of Israel itself. Here, the Book of Revelation seems to foretell that the nation of Israel would be restored 1,260 years after the gentiles would first begin to erect a religious structure on the site of the Holy of Holies.


Jamey said...

Fr Stephen Somerville was a member of the Advisory Board of the International Commission on English Liturgy for translating the new post-Vatican II Latin liturgy into the English language.


Fr Somerville using scripture presents another angle linking the abomination of desolation to the end times this time in regard to replacement of the Tridentine Mass with the Novus Ordo Missae of Paul VI.


Note to readers be wary of some of the other stuff on TIA, at times they unfairly go after recent popes at other points justifiably IMHO, a bit of a mixed bag.

Emmett O'Regan said...

I'm all for a return to the Old Latin Mass, and the re-establishment of the High Altars. I think it would be a great blessing for the Church. But I think it is a step too far to deny the validity of the sacraments in the NO. Not only does it sow the seeds of schism in a direct disregard for the express request of Jesus that "they may all be one" (John 17:20), but it also ignores Christ's promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church (Matt 16:18).
Christ said "behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”
(Matt 28:20) - a promise to be eternally present in the eucharist until the end of the world.
The use of a different language from Latin doen't invalidate the eucharist. Less beautiful perhaps, but not invalid. Christ almost certainly would have said the first Mass in Aramaic.
The validity of the eucharist depends on whether the priest was ordained in apostolic successsion, and whether he was using the correct words (the personal holiness of the priest doesn't count, as was determined following the Donatist schism). For an ordained priest to invalidate the eucharist, different words would have to be used, such as "this is a symbol of my body".
Fr Gobbi depicts such a scenario for the abomination of desolation in relation to the eucharist. He seems to suggest that the Antichrist will install an anti-pope in Rome, creating a schism, with a large portion of Catholics following the anti-pope. Fr Gobbi appears to predict that the anti-pope will then take away the sacrifice of the Mass by asserting that the eucharist is merely a symbol of Christ's body and blood. I suppose such a scenario would fit in with Melanie's later unapproved portion of message of La Salette, that Rome would "become the seat of the Antichrist", while the true pope would be forced into exile, as is suggested by other prophecies.
But I don't think that the NO is the abomination of desolation, even though it is an inferior version of the Mass.

Jamey said...

Emmett, I dont think the NO is invalid for the reasons you mention. I also dont think Latin is the biggest issue with the changes of the Mass, I think the priest facing the people (back to the tabernacle) hence being man centred, the removal of high altars and the elimination of various prayers, not to mention the stripping off churches the sacred which has led to great irreverance. The loss of the sacred is killing our times.

Although he may gone too hard at times, I thought it interesting Fr Somervilles analysis that a certain abomination occuring in the temple, specifically regarding altars that would herald the end-time. Given the Masonic connections with the NO it is in a way an abomination and I believe has led to desolation, "There we have it: desolation means being desolate, being abandoned by good people, and worse, being abandoned by God and by His grace".

I think many people stay away from the NO because they realise there is something seriously defective with it. When I have been to NO there appear to be few devout people, the main body of people have departed by the time the final hymn is finished. In fact some Masses I have been to I can only describe as abominations with the stuff going on. Lex orandi, lex credendi. I think it takes a special grace to attend the NO and maintain ones faith well, or at the very least a very strong grounding in Catholic beliefs.

It is a sad time when most bishops seem hostile to the TLM. Our new bishop in Perth has pulled the plug on 3 trad vocations. Reading at Rorate people from all over the world commented on their dioceses being generally averse to the old Mass, something which made the Church what she is, the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.


"Pope Pius XII warned about the suicide of altering the faith in the liturgy. Something that is suicidal is neither healthy nor sane. When you consider the Masonic influences on the Novus Ordo Missae you realise the utter madness of continuing with it." Fr Paul Kramer

Emmett O'Regan said...

This is a good discussion...
I'll put up a post using this material, and look at a rather obscure (yet definitely authentic) prophecy of St. Hildegard of Bingen as regards to the state of the Church before the arrival of the Antichrist.

Jamey said...

Thanks Emmett, looking forward to it!

Patrick said...

I feel that the Holy Spirit,has drawn a circle around the NO changes with regard to the consecration.With the recent translations correction the Mass, at least during the consecration,the rubics are restored.At the least moving in the right direction.