“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains:” (Matthew 24:15, 16)
After having read this passage many times over the years, I found myself doing the same a few years ago, only this time, something “jumped out” at me while reading the verse. What caught my attention was the one word “stand.” As I began to think about this verse and what I was taught how the Anti-Christ will one day make a proclamation to the world that he, in fact, is God in human form demanding worship from all. This all being done from Jerusalem, in a rebuilt temple where Israel will be worshiping their God through the prescribed protocol outlined in the Old Testament or the Hebrew Tenach, specifically, the Torah.
All seems to be in order as these events described by our Lord are prophetic and will be fulfilled during the Tribulation period also known as The Time of Jacob’s Trouble or Daniel’s 70th Week – all familiar terms to a student of the word. Of course at this point, the deceived worshiper or unbelieving Jew is stunned at the outrageous request to worship this “god’s” image which he has set up in the temple in honor of himself. To those not familiar, the same thing took place approximately 1,500 years ago, in the book of Daniel, when Nebuchadnezzar orders his image made of gold set up in the plain of Dura, in Babylon. It was to this image that the three Hebrew young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down and worship and were, subsequently, thrown into the furnace of fire only to be delivered by the true God, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. (See Daniel 3:25)
For the Jewish person to bow down and worship an image is too much to ask knowing his background and understanding of the commandments “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, … thou shalt not bow down thyself to them… ” The Ten Commandments were given to them by Moses after they had been delivered from Egypt. Even the seemingly non-religious Jew knows not to do that!
All of the above is standard exposition that has been taught by many Bible teachers over the years, specifically Clarence Larkin or C.I. Scofield to name a couple. That is the foundation on which I will build this teaching. Now back to the original text to continue.
In Matthew 24, the Lord is describing events to take place in the future and also a warning of what to look for in those days. Verse 16 tells those who witness this abomination to flee to Judea. They are to run and hide and not even go back for a change of clothes – just take off with what’s on their back; it’s that dangerous! What, specifically, will trigger this reaction is more than just the setting up of the image but rather something it will do! It will “stand!” There it is, the “image,” which will be given “life” by the false prophet of Revelation 13, will “stand” from a seated position and begin to “speak,” signaling this very moment spoken about by Jesus in his famous Olivet discourse.
It is amazing to me that anytime I believe God’s Spirit shows me something through the reading of the scriptures, other scriptures will corroborate the same thought. That is what happened as I read Isaiah 44:10-20. (I suggest all do the same at this point to see this for yourself). The verses seem to teach that a carpenter and blacksmith will make a god, an image of a man, out of wood, and put it in a house and cause people to worship it and fall down and pray to it. It is called a “graven image,” and it is also called an “abomination!” Well low and behold, an “abomination?” Isn’t that what Daniel spoke about and Jesus quoted in our text? Why, it certainly is!
Notice, also, in verse 20, “… a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” The answer to this question is yes, there is a lie in your right hand, but since you have been deceived into worshiping the graven image and have taken the mark of the Beast (Rev. 13:18), you cannot say so!” Wow…talk about prophetic! This was written in 712 BC, according to James Ussher’s chronology. Did you get that? This deceived person doesn’t know that he or she has been had by this False Messiah/Anti-Christ into taking a mark in their right hand or forehead. You might be asking how does verse 20 show the image standing? It doesn’t; it just shows that the image is a man made of wood, it’s called an abomination, and it’s set up in a house (temple). But be patient, the verses to show that it will “stand” are numerous. Let’s look at them starting with Habakkuk (2:18 &19): “ What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.”
Notice, the “graven image” that’s made is also called a “molten image” (overlaid with gold) and it’s “dumb” (doesn’t speak … at least not at the first!), but look what happens. Someone (False Prophet of Revelation 13) tells it to “Awake” (gives it “life” according to Revelation 13:15) and tells it to, “Arise, it shall teach!” So, according to Revelation 13:15, the image will come to life and speak! The last time I checked, teachers speak when they teach. Remember the original text of Matthew 24:15? When this image stands and begins to speak, that’s the signal to flee! By the way, what will it say? Well, how about the obvious – take the mark and pledge allegiance to the image (just what Nebuchadnezzar wanted the three Hebrews to do) or else you will be killed! Look at what the scripture says in Revelation 13:15b, “… and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.”
Jeremiah the prophet says something of special import concerning this topic of false gods when he warns backslid Israel in chapter 2:27 & 28, “Saying to a stock, Thou art my father; and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: for they have turned their back unto me, and not their face: but in the time of their trouble they will say, Arise and save us. But where are thy gods that thou hast made thee? Let them arise, if they can save thee in the time of thy trouble: for according to the number of thy cities are thy gods, o Judah.” Wow! Did you see the same concept of a false god/image standing (Arise) up to deliver Israel during the time of their trouble (tribulation period)? Isn’t it just like Satan to try to use God’s word against him? He does it many times in the Bible but most notably when he tempted Jesus at the beginning of his ministry by using Scripture, misquoted and misapplied, to cause Jesus to sin. Thank God our Lord Jesus defeated Satan by quoting Scripture right back at him, but Satan tried nonetheless! The same holds true here. Jeremiah is right by saying these false gods can’t save you, but since you’re putting your trust in them, wouldn’t it be good if they could! Isaiah the prophet utters similar words regarding an image that can “stand” in 46:6 & 7a, which says: “They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver in the balance, and hire a goldsmith; and he maketh it a god: they fall down, yea, they worship. They bear him upon the shoulder, they carry him, and set him in his place, and he standeth;”
It is not a coincidence that these two major prophets mention an image that will “arise” or “stand.” God has, through the Holy Scriptures, given us all the information we need to see prophetic events. The problem many times is with our inability to properly align the Scriptures, one with another, to see the whole picture. It is starting to really come together. The false prophet makes an image, made after the image of a man (the Anti-Christ), overlaid with gold, set in the temple and awaiting the time when it will “come to life” and “stand” up out of his seat (Ex-cathedra!) and begin to “teach.” All those who don’t worship him and take the mark will be killed!
Remember back in Isaiah 44: 10-20 (did you read it yet? Please don’t proceed until you do, it is essential to this treatise) in verse 17 it says, “ And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.” The passage goes on to say that there is a lie in someone’s right hand … the lie is the mark! Revelation 13:16 again corroborates by saying, “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand…” Can you imagine the shock on the faces of the remnant in Israel who will know that whatever other miracles the Anti-Christ and/or False Prophet will perform, this worshiping of a golden image will cause them to flee to Petra to await deliverance from the true God! But unfortunately, many will have already been deceived and will have succumbed to the mark. That’s exactly why the text in Isaiah is so powerful because the individual who has been deceived doesn’t realize what he or she has just done in taking the mark … they have just damned their souls!
Recently in the news (late 2005 or early 2006) there was a report about a select group of individuals in the Soho section in Manhattan who volunteered to have a computer chip placed in their hand. This chip would contain all their information necessary to conduct their banking as well as other personal business. They could program whatever they want (i.e. entrance codes, personal pin numbers, etc.) into the chip to be inserted. They claim it’s been great allowing them to purchase goods at a store and just swipe their hand to complete the transaction … what a convenience! This comes as no surprise to well-informed Christians who understand this to be a prelude for Satan’s last stand! (The purpose of this article is not to give all the latest developments in the scientific/electronic world indicating how close we may be to departing but, rather, to highlight what’s happening as we approach the end of the Church-age.) Keep aware as these experiments will be on the increase and will become more sophisticated.
The other Gospel mention of this image “standing” is found in Mark 13:14, it says, “ … standing where it ought not, …” which, of course at first, just looks like something is where it’s not supposed to be, which is true, but it also reiterates the fact that the image will “stand!” Did you ever notice in Daniel 12:11 where it talks about the length of this period of time and gives some specifics? Well, one of those specifics just happens to say, “and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, …” What gets set up one day will eventually stand up! That is the signal for Israel to flee!
In conclusion, the verse back in Matthew, which has been looked at by Bible students and teachers alike for years, gives us a clue as to the signal God will give Israel during their “time of trouble.” In my personal Bible study (going on 25+ years), I had never seen this aspect of the image standing as a signal until recently. Again, my purpose in this writing is simple: to pass on what the Lord has shown me. Gaining knowledge is important, but edifying other Christians is paramount. Every word has significance, and when we are diligent to study (2 Timothy 2:15), we too may get extra insights into God’s plan.
Keep on reading, praying, and studying, until we meet Jesus!
Written by Dr. Joseph Costa, Pastor