The fall of the First Temple had far-reaching consequences. It was the end of the glory of Jerusalem. Granted, the Temple had long been stripped of its gold, yet the Temple was still central to Jerusalem
With the burning of the Temple, the cultural center was gone. The religious center was gone. Even though they were unfaithful the Temple was still the religious center; it was just used to honor other gods.
While the King’s palace was administratively important, and the homes were individually important, the loss of the temple was a loss of identity, even if they did not faithfully follow God. This is a conqueror mentality. Break down their identity, and build them a new one (military basic or boot camp has the same principle).
As the Jews came back, they established a God-honoring life. No, it didn’t last long. It did, for a time, re-form them around God in a good way. However, over time human power and authority threw their earthly weight around, and there were a lot of overthrowing and wars.
Eventually, the drama surrounding the Maccabean “revolt” and recovery of “right” worship in the Temple occurred. However, all the interplay amongst various Jewish actors and other parties (i.e., Romans, Syrians, etc.) eventually led to Roman rule.
Finally, Jesus predicts another fall, with the implication of it being more permanent (though that could easily be being read into it). When Jesus talks about the abomination of the desolation, there was one before the Maccabean “revolt”, and there was one after the death of Jesus.
Some Christians and Jews believe that the “true” desolation was when the Dome of the Rock (as Muslim mosque) was built on the site. It could be a third or fourth desolation or none at all.
Regardless, after each desolation a significant change occurred. Historians and theologians may argue whether these changes were good or bad or just were.
The “hidden” reality is that the desolations were merely signs of a preexisting problem…an ineffective or nonexistent relationship with God. This might seem overreach, especially to modern ears and hearts. Yet, both the Old Testament and Jesus (at least for the two desolations of which they speak) tie that in.
If any subsequent “desolations” were that, we don’t have a revelation about that, but it seems to fit.
Perhaps we should also draw parallels between this temple history and the church. The church—especially in the US, yet also in early 20th Century Europe—has been comfortable for too long.
Familiarity, as the saying goes, breeds contempt. Contempt toward and in the church is running rampant. It’s not new. The tipping point is coming, it seems.
Yet familiarity can also breed safety, security, and love. These are not something the church and Christians are stereotyped as. Right or wrong, this is the reality of the church.
The abomination of the desolation is not (yet) the buildings. It is that the world does not know the church by its love.
Lord, you have called us to be known by our love. Lord, help us love as you love. Amen.
1) Besides the snow one, what do you think of regarding “abominable”? How about “desolation”?
2) How else might an “abomination of the desolation” look today? Would it be country, state, church?
3) How do familiarity and comfort play out in our lives: family, professionally, community, church? What are the positive and negative results of familiarity?