Chapter 3: The Two Abominations
Abomination of desolation—those are, I believe, the strongest, most condemning words in the Bible! If God inspires these to be the strongest words in the Bible, He does so for good reason. So please read and study carefully to make certain that you understand.
The physical abomination of desolation will appear in Jerusalem at the beginning of the Tribulation, just as the Church has always taught. But let’s remember, there is also a spiritual abomination of desolation that has already been set up within God’s Church in this end time.
We see the desolation of this spiritual abomination all around us: 95 percent of God’s people are greatly wounded spiritually, if not already dead, because of it. God gives clear instruction about how we ought to react: “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 Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16). God says when you see this abomination surrounding Jerusalem, run from it just as fast as you can!
The Antiochus spoken of by Daniel has a physical and a spiritual end-time fulfillment. “And out of one of them came forth a little horn [Antiochus], which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them” (Daniel 8:9-10).
The Revised Standard Version reads, “of the host of the stars”; in other words, it’s talking about those people the angels of God are to protect, if they remain obedient to God. The spiritual Antiochus has cast some of God’s saints into very dangerous spiritual territory.
You can see from verses 23-24 that even the physical abomination in the Tribulation will have as its primary goal the destruction of God’s people. God’s people are always the target of Satan’s malicious power.
That is also the goal of the spiritual Antiochus—the false leader within God’s end-time Church. Both the physical and the spiritual abominations are led by a man—a man controlled by Satan the devil. And by spiritual, I mean this abomination destroys God’s people spiritually. Verse 12 says that the spiritual Antiochus casts the truth to the ground. This abomination is destroying the faith and love of God’s people, as well as the doctrines within the Church!
Verse 25 is also talking about the physical abomination, but notice that in verse 26 the focus is back on events within the Church. God primarily wants His people to focus on this spiritual abomination, the spiritual Antiochus. He comes on the scene before the physical abomination of desolation, before the final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire.
Truth to the Ground
Let’s go back to a few of the initial verses to make certain that we understand. “Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?” (Daniel 8:13). What brings the desolation? Transgression! Transgression of God’s law. It causes cataclysmic destruction to God’s Church.
We must understand that there is an all-out spiritual war raging right now! And most of God’s people are losing that war. They’re being defeated by the spiritual abomination of desolation, cast to the ground and stamped upon! (verse 10). They’ve lost their faith because they’re transgressing the law and rejecting the government of God, which teaches that law. It’s all happening because of transgression. Can we grasp how dangerous this is?
This is one battle we cannot afford to lose. Yet 95 percent of God’s people are losing it. And half of them will never recover. We are probably witnessing the most spiritual casualties ever in the history of God’s Church! That must serve as a warning to God’s very elect. The abomination is surely going to work hard to destroy you. But we do have an angelic army fighting for us. Nobody can stamp upon us if we’re loyal to God, because God’s angels will protect us.
This spiritual Antiochus is extremely arrogant. “Yea, he magnified himself even [against] the prince of the host [Jesus Christ Himself!], and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down” (verse 11). Through transgression this man actually got an army of God’s own people to fight against God! This does not happen in the Tribulation; they’ll be repenting of sin in the Tribulation. This has already happened.
“And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered” (verse 12). Have we seen someone in God’s Church raise himself up to God’s level and cast truth to the ground in this end time? Oh yes! Would you say the abomination is prospering today at casting down truth? Just look at all the Laodicean groups! Daniel 11:31 and 12:11 call it “the abomination that maketh desolate.” That’s a very accurate description of what has happened to God’s Church.
We’ve seen that Satan was able to take away the daily. He destroyed God’s Work. It takes time, once that happens, to move the lamp and raise up another work. It took 1,150 days for God to get something to start with—to cleanse the sanctuary and begin again (Daniel 8:14).
There is a little group resisting the spiritual Antiochus, fighting that abomination. Satan is absolutely wrathful toward us because we’re proclaiming to the world a warning about the physical abomination that’s coming, and about the spiritual abomination in God’s Church today.
Are we absolutely determined that we will never, ever be a part of casting God’s truth to the ground? Has Satan been successful at casting any truth to the ground in your life?
Realize, we don’t even know what that truth is unless we know what Mr. Armstrong taught. He restored all things. I only know what he taught me, and what God has revealed since. So many of God’s people weren’t close to God and didn’t even remember what Mr. Armstrong taught. That’s why the spiritual Antiochus was so successful with his deceit, fraud and lies.
What was our court battle about? It was about fighting to keep God’s truth from being cast to the ground! That physical struggle was just a reflection of the spiritual war going on. Who else on this Earth would fight for Mystery of the Ages? We are it! We’re in a war over truth. Who is teaching the truth as Mr. Armstrong restored it? It’s your responsibility to get detailed in your Bible study and prove who is.
Here is another description of this war over the truth: “Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame” (Micah 2:6). We are living this verse today! This is the warfare we’re engaged in: a war over God’s message.
“They shall not take shame” is rendered in the Revised Standard Version, “disgrace will not overtake us.” That’s what the Laodiceans are saying, as they try to suppress the truth. But God thunders back, Disgrace will overtake you! Those people trying to stop our message will soon be very disgraced!
By their deeds, the Laodiceans are saying, Don’t prophesy what God says. Here is God’s rebuttal: “Even of late my people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war” (verse 8). All of the Laodiceans are fighting against God! They are casting truth to the ground! They are transgressing the law, because they are rejecting the government of God! And so God calls them His enemy.
If you are a Laodicean, or lukewarm, you are part of the abomination of desolation!
These people had God’s prophecy in the past, but now they want to stop it. Instead of going out and proclaiming to the world a message about the physical abomination of desolation, they’ve become the spiritual abomination of desolation! They’re destroying the message they’re supposed to be proclaiming!
We can’t be naive about what we are fighting against. Satan is behind these two abominations—the physical and the spiritual. We’re not simply fighting a man! We’re fighting Satan, who empowers a man. And we’re fighting all those who support him—even those who may not be fully supportive but are still casting truth to the ground. Those people have been greatly wounded by the spiritual army that’s attacking them.
Even if they consider themselves neutral, they are still aiding Satan.
Remember, Daniel 8:19 talks about the “last end of the indignation.” This is not the end that Daniel talks about most of the time, but the last end. This is after Elijah restored all things, and after all that truth was cast to the ground. It’s the time when a new work is raised up to fight against that abomination. It’s also a time when the physical abomination is fast rising on the scene. It’s a time when the nations of Israel are collapsing morally and spiritually.
You know that the spiritual desolation we see today never would have occurred while Mr. Armstrong was the head of God’s Church. But God took him out of the way. And then along came a man who sat in the temple acting like God, but casting the truth of God to the ground! What an abomination. (When Mr. Armstrong was alive, we thought that 2 Thessalonians 2 was about the abomination of desolation. We were only half right: It’s about the spiritual abomination! And at the same time, it gives us an insight into how the physical abomination will operate.)
God took Mr. Armstrong out of the way to see how much we love the truth. He wants each of His people to take responsibility for fighting against that truth being cast to the ground! He wants to know if we really want to be part of His army, the army that will defeat Satan.
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1). This is talking about the Great Tribulation. But if you look at it spiritually, we’re already in the worst time of suffering ever on this Earth! God’s Church has never suffered such a defeat by Satan!
“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (verse 3). This is all in the context of the battle we’re fighting today. “Run to and fro” in verse 4 means apostatize, or turn people away from God. That’s the spiritual abomination. Now, we could say, God, how can you expect me to turn people to righteousness when 95 percent of your people are turning away from the truth? Yet God says there is a very elect turning people to righteousness in the midst of these terrible times. Just as God’s repentant people will have to battle the physical abomination in the Tribulation, we have to battle the spiritual abomination today.
A Place of Safety
Here’s what happens in the Tribulation: “… it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to [shatter] the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished” (Daniel 12:7).
Who is doing battle for God? “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried …” (verse 10). Are we being purified and tried? More than we ever have been in our lives! The Laodiceans are not accepting the trial and test and correction of God through God’s government: “… but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand” (verse 10). Accepting that correction shows that we are wise and that the Laodiceans are wicked.
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice [God’s Work] shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days” (verse 11). Look at the contrast in this verse. One group is doing the daily, and they are taken away; another is left behind to deal with the physical abomination of desolation. There is a tremendous message here: You either do the Work of God, or you go into the Tribulation! God will take those who do His Work to a place of safety on the wings of an eagle. They will just fly away, because they have been soaring spiritually! Because they were tried and purified and made white, and because they conquered the abomination that made desolate inside God’s Church, they escape the worst physical suffering ever.
Contrast this daily with the daily in Daniel 8:11-12. One group of God’s people was conquered inside God’s Church because they transgressed. The other kept the law and government, and God used them to raise up His Work again and do it until the very end! The first daily is done several years before the Tribulation, while the second daily is taken away only days before the Tribulation, when God’s people are taken to a place of safety.
Matthew 24 provides a parallel account. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (verse 3). That’s the time setting. Notice: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many [or the majority in some translations] shall wax cold” (verse 12). This is agape love, which only God’s people have. This verse is about the truth being cast to the ground in this end time.
Then comes this prophecy: “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 Judaea flee into the mountains” (verses 15-16).
Remember, there are two abominations—spiritual and physical. Christ was speaking directly to His disciples. The world has never understood Christ’s message to His disciples. But He was also speaking to the whole world in these prophecies. That means we must understand this on two levels.
The abomination is standing in the “holy place.” Spiritually, that means God’s Church—spiritual Jerusalem (“Jerusalem, which is above … is the mother of us all”—Galatians 4:26). It has been conquered by the spiritual abomination, with its army of evil spirit beings.
There is also a physical army about to surround the city of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20-23). This city is called the “holy place” because of its history and because it is about to be ruled by Jesus Christ. The plan is already in place. God “calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17). Whoever believes Christ, for example, “has everlasting life” (John 6:47), even though that condition is not yet a reality.
Hosea 5:5 says that Ephraim (Britain), Manasseh (America) and Judah (Israel) will all fall together. God’s people in all of those nations will need to flee, not just those “in Judaea.”
In Revelation 3:9, God condemns some people for lying by saying they are spiritual Jews. Those who flee before the Tribulation will be true spiritual Jews. Spiritually speaking, they are in Judaea. That means they have the number one spiritual Jew, Christ, living in them! They’ve been promised protection from the Tribulation (verse 10).
Just by looking at some of the statements the Laodicean leaders and members are making, you can see that they’re in complete doctrinal confusion. They don’t believe in God’s government. That is because they’ve been battered about by the abomination of desolation! They’ve all been conquered!
But when God’s spiritual Jews see the abomination, they get out of that church and “flee into the mountains”—to God’s spiritual mountains, or Philadelphian churches around the world, where God dwells. If they don’t flee, Satan destroys them! The same is true of both abominations. We must flee when we see these terrible things happening, or when they are about to happen.
A mountain is a symbol of government (Daniel 2:44-45; Ezekiel 28:14). Spiritually, God’s people are told to flee to the mountains, or churches of God around the world. This has been occurring since God’s Philadelphia Church was raised up.
Those who fail to flee become Laodicean.
Most prophecies are dual. There appears to be a physical and spiritual duality in this prophecy.
America and Britain are going to have deadly internal problems before the great tribulation even begins (Ezekiel 5). It is conceivable that God’s very elect from those two nations could be taken to Judea or Judah (called Israel today), shortly before the tribulation begins.
There is a prophecy where God’s leaders and supporters are in great conflict with their government and are commanded to flee to Judah (Amos 7:10-17). God could allow this to happen to protect some of His people before they get to a place of protection.
A certain number of God’s very elect could live and do God’s work in Judah (Isaiah 40:9) and then flee to a place of safety from there. That would serve as a signal for all of God’s people around the world to flee.
Regardless, when we see the city of Jerusalem surrounded by European armies, it is a signal for God’s people to flee, wherever they may be living.
The Place of His Sanctuary
Let’s look more deeply into what the spiritual Antiochus did. “Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down” (Daniel 8:11). This man took the daily, the Work of God, away: the 400 television stations, the 8 million Plain Truth circulation, the $200 million annual income.
It also says he cast down “the place of his sanctuary.” Not the sanctuary itself. Notice, in verse 14 it says the sanctuary itself is cleansed. That refers to God’s people, the Church. The word “place” in verse 11, however, refers to a physical place. Strong’s Concordance calls it “an abode, a foundation.” Gesenius’ Lexicon says it is “the dwelling of God’s temple.” The International Critical Commentary says, “The word for place, not the usual Hebrew word, is rare, implying a construction, a base (Ezra 3:3), the base of the altar. A construction that was built, or a dwelling, and so used especially of God’s abode.”
What happened to this “place?” The words cast down imply it was both thrown down and thrown away. Commentaries describe it as having been laid waste like a wilderness.
This is exactly what is happening to the Ambassador Auditorium, the building Mr. Armstrong and the Church called “God’s house.” That would have to be Satan’s first physical target, after God’s people: the place of God’s sanctuary.
Looking through the verses in Daniel 8, we can see that when “the transgressors are come to the full,” that Antiochus, “a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences,” will “stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power,” but Satan’s power. He will “cause craft to prosper in his hand … and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes ….” He stands up against Jesus Christ. This is in the context of the physical abomination.
But verse 26 calls this “the vision of the evening and the morning”—or the temple, and the sacrifices there. The International Critical Commentary says that is like a summary title of the whole vision. In other words, the vision is primarily about the temple and the “place” of God’s sanctuary.
Love Waxes Cold
Again, we are to flee from the abomination. “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck [those suckling—spiritual infants] in those days!” (Matthew 24:16-19). Let’s quickly review what this verse is talking about.
It says in Isaiah 28:9 that God will teach His knowledge and doctrine to those who are “weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.” This reveals the Laodiceans’ weakness. They were absolutely dependent upon a strong leader, Mr. Armstrong, to stick with God. Their spiritual immaturity was exposed when he died. They had never been weaned from the milk. They failed to really grasp what Mr. Armstrong taught, and now they reject him as God’s end-time Elijah.
The Laodiceans didn’t truly grasp what Mr. Armstrong taught about the abomination of desolation, and now they’ll have to experience it—spiritually and physically!
It isn’t accidental for Satan to be able to strike and conquer an entire Church. He had to get them ready, he had to prepare for it, just like he’s preparing the physical abomination of desolation right now. Matthew 24:12 shows that iniquity was abounding in the Church. That happened in the ’70s. And once God’s people lost the law, they no longer knew what love was. Their love just waxed cold! What a warning to us! Do you realize your love can wax cold even as you’re sitting in God’s true Church? Then it’s just a matter of time before Satan conquers us. 2 Thessalonians 2 says the Laodiceans are perishing for not loving the truth.
“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). This refers to the end of this age. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (verse 14). Thayer’s says, “What end is intended the reader must determine by the context.” That verse is discussing the end of the Philadelphia era. Of course, it’s referring to Mr. Armstrong’s work. After he died, we entered the last end. That gives us a very good idea of where we are in prophecy. The commission is no longer to preach the gospel to the world. Now the commission centers around warning about what comes on the scene immediately after his death: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation …” (verse 15). After Mr. Armstrong died, we entered into two periods. The spiritual abomination began immediately, and that leads into the physical abomination. (Then follows verse 16, where we’re told to flee from both.) This last end is a lot rougher time in many ways.
Hitler once said, “What you tell people in the mass in a receptive state of fanatic devotion will remain; words received under a hypnotic influence are radical and impervious to every reasonable explanation.” You can’t reasonably explain this hypnotic influence. He said, “A new age of magic interpretation of the world is coming, of interpretation in terms of the will and not of the intelligence.”
In Colossians, Paul talks about what happened to the Colossians and Laodiceans anciently and today. “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of [demons], intruding into those things which he [has] seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head …” (Colossians 2:18-19). They lost the government and law of God. More explanation of these verses can be found in our booklet Colossians: First-Century Parallels.
But notice verse 23: “Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship ….” That’s what the Laodiceans have gotten into. And that’s what Hitler was talking about!—“magic interpretation … in terms of the will.”
If Satan had conquered God, that is the kind of world we would have. That is what is coming out of Pasadena. When I was fired, it wasn’t a matter of the wcg leaders’ looking into the Bible for answers; they just had a magic interpretation of things and said, by implication, You follow our will, which happened to be Satan’s will. And many of God’s people have followed that will. “Will worship” essentially comes down to worshiping demons. That’s the new age Hitler wanted to usher in. That’s the world Satan wants.
Wicked Compass the Righteous
Habakkuk also describes the spiritual abomination of desolation. He saw a great deal of violence, and he cried to God, “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!” (Habakkuk 1:2). These are the same questions we were asking after Mr. Armstrong died. But God wouldn’t save the Church. Why?
“Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass [or surround] about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth” (verse 4). The wicked are surrounding the righteous—the same picture that Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 give: wicked demons and people, the abomination of desolation, surrounding spiritual Jerusalem, God’s Church. A hostile takeover. Habakkuk saw it happen to the physical temple anciently. You could tie it in with Daniel 8 and the place of His sanctuary today.
What did this demon army first attack? God’s law! And those who enforced that law! That’s always where the abomination strikes first! Now wickedness surrounds spiritual Jerusalem, just like it will physical Jerusalem shortly.
Now, what happened after the law was slacked? God came up with a masterful solution. “Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you” (Habakkuk 1:5). God raised up a new work through people with the faith to follow God. They kept the law—which is God’s love (1 John 5:3). The Laodiceans don’t believe that this is actually the Work of the living God. But we need to be aware of who we are!
“For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation …” (Habakkuk 1:6). That’s the physical abomination.
Did you notice how our work is sandwiched between these two abominations? Where would the world be without this Work?
We must be prepared now, because as we do our work, the physical abomination is getting ready to do its work.
Understanding this subject helps us to clearly see what Satan is doing, both in the Church and in the world. It also helps us to see what we’re doing. What a great honor to be able to serve God in this way: to tell everyone what is happening inside God’s Church and to prepare them for what Europe is going to do.
We must tell the world about the two abominations. God has raised up this Work. People, by and large, don’t believe it. But through us God will turn many to righteousness! That will be the greatest glory we’ll have ever been a part of!