Jesus and the Mount of Olives

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The Creation Concept

Mount of Olives

Sign of his coming

Armies around Jerusalem

Zechariah's astonished horses

W. L. Alexander on Zech. 12

The valley of the mountains

What is the abomination of desolation?

Prophecy and literalism

Daniel vindicates Jesus!

A unique generation

Lowe's Commentary on Zechariah 14

Zechariah 14 Cross References

Zechariah 14 and 70 AD

Jesus and the Mount of Olives [33 page pdf file]

What is the abomination of desolation?

Many students of prophecy recognize the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel 9 as one of the key prophecies of the Bible, on which other prophecies depend. This seems to be confirmed by Jesus, who referred to Daniel as a prophet, and to the "abomination of desolation," which is mentioned in the 70 weeks prophecy, in the Olivet discourse. The 70 weeks prophecy provides a framework that relates prophecy to historic events, the coming of Christ as the promised Messiah, and his subsequent role as the mediator of the new covenant, which he confirms with many for one week.

The precise significance of the "abomination of desolation" that Jesus mentioned has long been a mystery. Some claim that a temple must be built in Jerusalem by the Jews where the abomination of desolation, whatever it is, can be set up. It is thought by some that perhaps an individual human antichrist figure declaring himself to be God in such a temple would fulfill the prophecy. Others have claimed it refers to the papacy. In an article on the "abomination of desolation," the Imperial Bible Dictionary says:

When reference is made to the prophecy in Daniel it is coupled with a word, "Whoso readeth let him understand," which seems evidently to point to a profound spiritual meaning in the prophecy, such as thoughtful and serious minds alone could apprehend. But this could only be the case if abominations in the moral sense were meant; for the defiling and desolating effect of heathen armies planting themselves in the holy place was what a child might perceive. Such dreadful and unseemly intruders were but the outward signs of the real abominations, which cried for vengeance in the ear of heaven. ... The abominations which were the cause of the desolations are ever spoken of as springing up from within, among the covenant people them selves, not as invasions from without.

In the New Testament, the Church is called the temple of God. This shows that the Jewish temple was a figure and type of the Church. And so the abomination of desolation need not be something in a literal temple, but may be something that can be identified in the Church, the spiritual temple.

Four periods of four seven times of judgment are outlined in Leviticus 26. This chapter describes four periods of "seven times" of a curse that would come upon Israel if they failed to keep the covenant. The phrase "seven times" also appears in the book of Daniel, which also introduces a related period, "a time, times, and a half," which is one half of "seven times."

In the prelude to the 70 weeks prophecy, Daniel says the curse of the law of Moses was poured upon Israel during their captivity in Babylon. He wrote:

Daniel 9:11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.

This indicates that the first of the four periods of "seven times" was already fulfilled by the Babylonian exile. The other three periods of "seven times" correspond to the three sections of the 70 weeks, as "weeks" are actually "seven times," where "times" has varying units, the 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week that together add up to 70 weeks.

Daniel 9:24
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Some translations, such as the NASB, insert "place" at the end of the verse, making it "and to anoint the most holy place." But even so, in the NASB the word "place" is italicized, which I understand to mean that it has been inserted here by a translator or editor who had a preference for "most holy place" over the more ambiguous "most holy."

The question is, what is to be anointed? Many commentators suggest it could refer to Christ, and others suggest that it is the Church, but there are some Dispensationalist teachers who try to use this prophecy to support their theory that another temple is to be built in Jerusalem in the future, where the antichrist sits, declaring himself to be God and deceiving those "left behind" after the "rapture." But their view of a single human individual antichrist who sits in a literal temple is contrary to what the apostle wrote on the antichrist. He said there would be not one but many:

1 John 2:18
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

John also spoke of antichrist as a spirit.

1 John 4:3
And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Assuming that Daniel's prophecy does imply that a "place" is anointed, a more sane explanation of the "most holy place" was provided by B. H. Carroll, former President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. He takes it as a reference to the Church. In "An Interpretation of the English Bible, Daniel and the Inter-Biblical Period," Carroll wrote:

Anointing the most holy, or the consecration of the new antitypical temple (Acts 2): Upon this point commentators have been hard pressed. They seem to think it necessary for them to prove that this anointing is the anointing of a person, and therefore labor to show that it was fulfilled at Christ's baptism when he was anointed by the Holy Spirit. It is possible to make a plausible showing in this direction) and the Hebrew would admit, by strained argument, this application. For many reasons, however, I am myself convinced that we should follow the clearer meaning of the Hebrew that it was the anointing of a holy place - not a person. When the tabernacle was built, Moses was required to anoint it. Now, as both tabernacle and Temple are superseded, the question arises, has God no temple on earth, no sanctuary? The New Testament is clear that the antitype on earth of the Jewish tabernacle and Temple is the church of Jesus Christ. Paul says to the Corinthians: "Ye are God's building; ye are the temple of the living God." And in the letter to the Ephesians he says, with reference to every church: "In Christ each several building fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord." And concerning the church at Ephesus, he says: "In whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God in the spirit." Jesus himself instituted his church. He took the material that John had prepared for him and added to it other material prepared by himself in confirming the covenant with many Jews during his ministry, established its ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper, ordained ita apostles, set them in the church, gave to the church its laws, but said to them, "Tarry ye in Jerusalem until ye are endued with power from on high." Just as the tabernacle, when it was completed by Solomon became also an habitation of God through the infilling cloud, so now, having condemned and emptied and made desolate the old Temple, it becomes necessary to anoint a new most holy to take its place. This was fulfilled, as recorded in Acts 2, when the church was anointed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Carroll supports the idea that it is the Church is to be anointed by the Spirit of God. Many scriptures confirm this; for example Zechariah speaks of "living water" flowing from Jerusalem (Zech. 14:10), and "living water" is a phrase used by Jesus, when he spoke of the Spirit of God. How could "living water" flow from the Church, unless it was first "anointed" by the Spirit of God?

John 7:38
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

John makes it abundantly clear what this "living water" meant in the following verse. "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

In Zechariah's prophecy, the "Jerusalem" from which the "living water" flows means the Church, which is identified as the "holy city" and the "New Jerusalem" and the bride of the Lamb in Revelation.

Daniel 9:25
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

The prophecy of the 70 weeks has three sections, 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week. The first two sections end at the appearance of Christ, at the beginning of his ministry.

The question of what are the appropriate units to be used for each section of the 70 weeks is crucial for discovering a correct interpretation. Most commentators assume the 70 weeks are 70x7=490 years. However, if the decree of Cyrus in 538 BC is taken as the start date, the 70 weeks are clearly not equal to 490 years.

Other scriptures can help us to properly interpret Daniel's numbers. John uses the expression "time, times and a half" in Revelation; he also uses 1,260 days and 42 months, which all allude to Daniel's time periods. The numbers 1,290 days and 1,335 days mentioned in Daniel 12 also represent a symbolic three and a half years where there are various combinations of leap years and regular years, and months of 30 days. They numbers all fit the pattern of "a time, times, and a half."

It is impossible for a literal period of time to have such widely different numbers of days, but a symbol can be expressed in various ways, and the "time, times and a half," the final half-week of the 70 weeks, is symbolic, so can have different numeric values. I take the following to be equivalent:

1,290 days = 13*30 + 2*12*30 + 12*30/2 (Daniel 12:11)
1,335 days = 12*30 + 2*13*30 + 13*30/2 (Daniel 12:12)
1,260 days = 12*30 + 2*12*30 + 12*30/2 (Revelation 12:6)

The 1,290 days and the 1,335 days of Daniel 12 cannot be literal periods of three years and a half, as lunar months are not exactly 30 days. These numbers show leap years, with an extra month, are employed in the prophecies of Daniel. I suggest the first section of the 70 weeks prophecy may also be leap years.

John in Revelation also used the pattern of "a time, times, and a half" in his 1,260 days, and months of 30 days, but his symbolic three and a half years all had 12 months, as in the Roman calendar, all years had 12 months.

The late James Burton Coffman of Abilene Christian University also recognized that the "time, times, and a half" of Daniel is symbolic, and said it represents the entire period between the First and Second Advents of Jesus Christ, the "whole Christian dispensation." [1]

Coffman identified the "time, times, and a half" with the 1,290 days and the 1,335 days of Daniel 12, and with the 1,260 days of Revelation 11 & 12. Commenting on the 1,260 days of Revelation 12:6, Coffman wrote:

A thousand two hundred and threescore days ... What can this mean? Is there a certain time-period only when Christ will be with his church? No indeed! This time-period represents every minute of the whole Christian dispensation. This is given in exactly the same form as in Rev. 11:3; and there it was understood as all of the time between the two Advents of Christ, and so it must be understood here. "It describes the period of this world's existence during the whole of which the devil persecutes the church." It is also called forty-two months; and someone has suggested that this was the number of the forty-two stations of the Israelites in the wilderness. Hendriksen called this time-period "the millennium of Rev. 20"; and we believe this understanding of it to be correct, despite the description of it there by use of a different figure. The saints of Christ are reigning with him now in his kingdom; and Christ already has the authority in heaven and upon earth (Matthew 28:18-20). His rule is not accepted by many, due to the freedom of the will of man; but that does not contradict the higher truth that Christ is truly reigning today in the hearts of those who love and serve him.

From the decree of Cyrus to the start of the ministry of Christ in 28 AD is 567 years. The 7 weeks and the 62 weeks fit this time span if we use leap years for the first 7 weeks, as 7x7 = 49 leap years spans 133 years. In the ancient Hebrew calendar, months were lunar, and some years had an extra month. These can be called leap years. Regular years had 12 months, and leap years had 13 months. There were 7 leap years in 19 years. So in a three year period there would be at least one leap year, and possibly two. Leap years can be considered a unit of time, much like Olympiads were for the Greeks.

Daniel 9:26
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

The 70th week began when Christ began his ministry in 28 AD, and continues to the end of the age. Christ was "cut off" at the end of the first half-week of years. The notion of a gap between the 69th and 70th week is disproved by Daniel 9:27, "in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." That happened in 70 AD, which must be "in the midst of" the 70th week and shows that the last three and a half years are not literal years but a symbol of a much longer period of time, the entire age of the Church, in which Christ "confirms the covenant" with believers and the gospel goes to the world. Daniel 9:4 describes God as "keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him". What covenant is it that Christ confirms for one week in Daniel 9:27? The same one, of course! It is the gospel of our salvation, that Christ confirms by sending his holy spirit to those who believe.

The final half week is the "time, times and a half" mentioned in Daniel 7:25 and other prophecies; it is the Bible's label for the age of the Church when the gospel goes to the world. With this interpretation, there is no basis for claiming that the 70 weeks prophecy predicts a future 7 year or three and a half year period of "tribulation".

The 70 weeks of Daniel 9:24-27 relate to the period of 70 years captivity in Babylon, mentioned by Jeremiah, and to the last three of the "seven times" mentioned in Leviticus 26, as follows:

1st seven times = period of captivity in Babylon
2nd seven times = 7 weeks, 49 leap years or 133 years
3rd seven times = 62 weeks or 434 years
4th seven times = 1 week, the ministry of Jesus, plus the "time, times, and a half"

All 4 periods of "seven times" may be encompassed by the 70 years of Jeremiah's prophecy of the desolations of Jerusalem

27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

Jesus confirms the covenant with his Church. The week in which he does that spans the period since the ministry of Jesus in the first century, to the end of the age. There is no gap after the 69th week as the Dispensationalists say. It is the Church that is made desolate by abominations. The Church is the "camp of the saints" and "beloved city" of Revelation 20:9. It is made desolate by false teachings and interpretations, and it is these false teachings that receive the fiery judgment of Christ.

Relating the periods of "seven times" of Leviticus 26 to the three sections of the 70 weeks prophecy precludes the idea of a gap between the 69th and 70th week as any gap would imply a pause in the curse, and the reconciliation of the Jews to God, which of course has not happened.

Far from the "times" of scripture saying nothing about the Church as J.N. Darby claimed, in fact, the Church age in which we are today is the culmination of the prophecies about the "seven times," and these prophecies focus on the present age, not an period in the first century, fulfilled long ago, as Preterists claim, or one that is all in the future, as the Dispensationalists say.

Some translations of Daniel 9:27 speak of the presence of an abomination causing desolation upon a "wing," presumably of the temple.

The NASB has for this verse:

"And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."

What does a "wing" of abominations, or a wing the temple refer to? It is common today to refer to a "wing" of a building, as "a part of a building projecting on one side of, or subordinate to, a central or main part" to quote an on-line dictionary. However, that is not an interpretation based on scripture. The Church in the NT is identified with the temple of God. (Ephesians 2:20) In Revelation 12:1 the Church is represented by a woman in heaven. She is given two wings of a great eagle, in verse 14.

Revelation 12:14
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

The abomination that makes desolate is upon a "wing" in Daniel 9:27. In Revelation 12:14, the woman is given two "wings" of a great eagle. I suggest these "wings" of the eagle represent the gift of prophecy; an eagle soars high, so views the earth from above, picturing a Divine viewpoint. But the presence of desolating abominations upon the "wing" in Daniel's prophecy very likely pictures false prophets, or flawed interpretations of prophecy! A significant part of the Church has been deceived about prophecy. That must be what the abomination of desolation is all about!

Note that in the same verse where wings of an eagle are mentioned, we also see the phrase "time, times and a half," which directly links to Daniel's prophecies. And in the preceding verse, Revelation 12:13, the "flood" from the serpent's mouth explains the flood mentioned in Daniel 9:26. It is an information flood, that threatens to carry away the woman, who represents the Church. The "wings" where the desolator sits suggests that the flood from the mouth of the serpent consists of flawed interpretations of Bible prophecy.


  1. Coffman, J.B., 1989. Commentary on Daniel, ACU Press,  p. 189]

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