In our last post we examined heaven’s perspective of what will occur at the midpiont of the Tribulation. Satan will attempt to usurp God’s throne in Heaven. Michael the Archangel will stand up from his post restraining the Beast from the abyss to do war with Satan and his demons. Michael and the Heavenly Host will overcome Satan and throw him to the Earth. During this heavenly war, the Beast from the abyss will escape to the Earth and possess the Antichrist.
In this post we will discuss what three main events will happen on Earth. The Beast empowered Antichrist will invade Israel and capture Jerusalem, he will kill the Two Witnesses and then will sit in the Temple of God and proclaim himself to be God.
The Antichrist Captures Jerusalem
Many prophecy teachers wrongly assume this passage from Luke applies to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD. It does not. Those events were a foreshadow of what is to come.
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21: 20-24 NASB)
How can we be sure these are future events? First notice the verse “for these are the days of vengeance that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Obviously all prophecy wasn’t fulfilled in 70 AD.
Second notice the exact paralellism of these 3 verses from Luke, Matthew and Mark.
But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Luke 21: 20 -21 NASB)
So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Mark 13: 14 NASB)
Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation’, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matt. 24: 15-16 NASB)
All three verses speak of the desolation of Jerusalem and fleeing to the mountains. Luke simply gives an earlier look at what will be a singular event, the capture of Jerusalem and the Abomination.
Third, if the events in Luke truly were in regard to 70 AD, Jesus was giving his followers terrible advice. The Roman armies slowly approached Jerusalem starting in 66 AD. By the time they encircled the city it was too late to escape. Many were slaughtered at this time trying to slip through the Roman lines.
Samuel Clough does a fantastic job clearly defining that Luke 21: 20-24 is future. Now that we are sure, let’s carefully look at what it prophesies. It clearly states that many will die in the seige of Jerusalem and that many will be taken as captives into “all the nations.” This imprisionment of the Jews (and Jesus’ subsequent setting the captives free) is found in numerous scriptures. (Psalm 14:7; 102:13,19, 20; Isaiah 11:11-12,15-16; 27:12-13; 35:5-6; 42:6-7,16; 52:11-12; 61:1-3; Jeremiah 31:8-10; Ezekiel 39:25-28; Joel 2:32-3:1; Hosea 11:11; Micah 2:12-13; 4:6-7; 5:6; 7:12; Zechariah 10:6-11).
In my new book Are We Ready for Jesus? How to prepare for his return I discuss how Jesus wants his church to prepare for this horrific event and how he wants us to care for our brother Jacob (Israel.)
The Times of the Gentiles
The passage then concludes saying that Jerusalem will be trampled until the Times of the Gentiles are complete. What does “the Times of the Gentiles” mean? Is it the entire time from 70 AD until the present or is it the three and a half years that the Antichrist and his empire control Jerusalem?
The Greek word translated times is kairos which means appointed time. This is the same word used in the Septuagint translation of Daniel 7: 25 for “time, times and half a time” which is the known to mean the final 42 month reign of the Antichrist. Revelation makes it clear that the “trampling” of the city will be this three and a half year period.
But leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Gentiles. And they will tread the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:2 NKJV)
Isaiah poetically describes this period:
So now let Me tell you what I am going to do to My vineyard: I will remove its hedge and it will be consumed; I will break down its wall and it will become trampled ground. I will lay it waste; It will not be pruned or hoed, But briers and thorns will come up. I will also charge the clouds to rain no rain on it. (Isa. 5: 5-6 NASB, emphasis mine)
Notice this also refers to the trampling, and biers and thorns (the gentile nations) growing up within Israel. Jerusalem falls because God removes his hedge of protection. Of greatest interest to me is the final line that says no rain will fall. Is this part of the mission of the two witnesses?
These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire. (Rev. 11: 6 NASB)
After the capture of Jerusalem, the Antichrist is ready for his defining moment.
After the Antichrist captures Jerusalem, kills the Witnesses and sends all remaining Jews into captivity, he is ready to take his seat in the Temple of God and proclaim himself as God. This is the event known as the Abomination of Desolation. The desolation here refers to the Jews being removed from the Temple and Jerusalem. The actual Abomination may be the “image of the Beast” referred to in Revelation 13 or may be a combination of that and the Antichrist proclaiming he is God. More information is found in HANUKKAH AND THE FUTURE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION and THE SIXTH SIGNPOST: THE ABOMINATION.
The Desolation of the Abomination
Jesus refers to the Abomination of the Desolation. The Greek word translated Desolation is erémósis which means devastation and of course, desolation, barren, and isolated. This refers to the Temple of God and to the city, I believe. The Temple is made barren as it is desecrated by the Abomination and the city is made barren after the Jews are taken into captivity.
After this horrifying event, the Antichrist and the False Prophet will begin requiring the world’s inhabitants to worship the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation will begin.