In Matthew 24, Jesus gave us some clear connecting points between Daniel 9 and the Book of Revelation. If we are going to be diligent about Bible reading, we are going to have to learn how to read prophetic passages. God is very clear that a prophet speaking for Him must be exactly right or he should be killed! (see Deuteronomy 18:20-21) This means the “prophets” featured in the supermarket papers wouldn’t last long!
Some of the things that happen through church history to make the fulfillment of prophesy apparent to the people of God are what are called “touchdown fulfillments.” Not the ultimate fulfillment, but an intermediate fulfillment. Take, for example, the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” There was a fulfillment of that in Isaiah’s day; and then ultimately in Christ.
The prophesy of Joel 2 mentioned in Acts 2 about young men dreaming dreams and old men seeing visions. That was fulfilled in Joel’s day and again in the birth of the Church, and there will be an ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy in the time ahead.
So it is with the Matthew 24 passage and the “abomination of desolation” that Jesus mentioned. Interesting, in 175 B.C., Antiochus the IV, a Syrian king, took the name Theos Epiphanes which means God Manifested. He marched through the Holy Land, down to Egypt. But because he was turned back (in 170 B.C.), he had such anger that he took it out on the Nation of Israel. He went into the Holy of Holies in the Temple and offered a pig on the altar there. And then he forced Jewish people to eat that meat and to bow down to him.
Now Theos Epiphanes had a bit of an ego problem, right? “Just call me God Manifested.” Eighty thousand Jews refused to bow down to him and they were all murdered in the streets of Jerusalem. Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled and will be fulfilled again in the end.
Biblical prophecy is not a fantasy movie script. These are realities. And God has given us times in history to see a touchdown fulfillment of it. So we’re like, “That could totally happen. I can see that happening. It has happened — It will happen!” Like that. The ultimate fulfillment of the abomination of desolation is yet future, as Matthew points out when he notes, “let the reader understand.” Let’s anticipate God’s promises every day! —James MacDonald