In Matthew 24, our Lord speaks of a time when the Jews would have to flee from the midst of Jerusalem. This was predicted to occur when the “abomination of desolation” was revealed (Matt. 24: 15-18). Despite the opinion of many, it seems to me that Christ is not speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but of a future series of events which will occur after the Jews have been gathered back to their own land.
What is this “abomination of desolation?” After diligent study in the Old Testament prophets, I strongly believe that Christ is referring to none other than Antichrist, who was typified by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. Keep in mind that a true exposition of Christ’s Olivet Discourse must take into account the context of the Old Testament prophets. And there are plenty of evidences that confirm the view that Antichrist is the “abomination” from which all Jews who reside in the city of Jerusalem will be forced to flee.
A few Scriptures will be needed to bring this out more clearly. First of all, the perpetuity of the Jewish nation is clearly implied in Jeremiah 31: 35-36. Thus all Old Testament prophecies ultimately look forward to Israel’s redemption (Jer. 33: 25-26). This redemption will not be completed until Babylon and its “king” are destroyed (Jer. 50: 18-20).
Who is this king? Certainly none other than Antichrist. See Isaiah 13, and especially Isaiah 14: 3-7, which unmistakedly references Antichrist as “king of Babylon.” Antichrist is also mentioned in Daniel 9 as “the prince that shall come” (Dan. 9: 26). This prince shall destroy the city and the sanctuary, after making a seven-year compact with the Jews (Dan. 9: 27). In the midst of the week (that is, after the first three-and-a-half years are ended) he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease (Daniel 12: 11) and will probably have an image of himself placed in the temple (cf. Rev. 13: 14-15).
Once again, see Isaiah 14: 13-14, where the prophet predicts Antichrist as seating himself in the temple of God at Jerusalem. Then compare with 2 Thessalonians 2: 4, and you’ll have a perfect picture of what shall transpire during the last half-week before Jesus Christ’s return from heaven.
More confirmation may be found in Jeremiah 30: 6-9, where the prophet speaks of the “time of trouble” (=Great Tribulation) as issuing in the Messianic reign of Jesus Christ. Prior to the Lord’s coming, however, the temple will be overrun with enemies (Jer. 51: 51-53). It is then that the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall have to flee (Jer. 50: 28; 51: 45). For the “threshing” will commence, in which Babylon will be brought to the dust (Jer. 51: 33-35).
I think this identifies Babylon as the final state of Jerusalem under Antichrist. See Zechariah 11: 15-17, which contains a valuable key to the understanding of these prophecies. The “idle shepherd” is that same “king” into whose hands the Jews shall be delivered (Zech. 11: 6). But before the Lord comes to destroy Antichrist with the brightness of His coming (2 Thess. 2: 8), an “assembly of great nations from the north country” will be gathered against Jerusalem to battle (Jer. 50: 9; Zech 14: 2 ff.; Rev. 17: 16).
It is because of these great affliction that Jesus Christ told the Jews to flee when the abomination of desolation is revealed (Jeremiah 50: 8; cf. Rev. 18: 4). All of these Scriptures tie in perfectly with the coming of Jesus Christ to rule and reign over the entire world. See how this last great battle (=Armageddon) falls out. Jesus Christ returns to the Mount of Olives from whence He ascended (Zech. 14: 4; Acts 1: 11), the enemies of God are destroyed (Zech. 12: 8-9), and the kingdom is restored to Israel (Jer. 31: 35-40).
For obvious reasons, few if any, of these Scriptures can be understood as having an A.D. 70 fulfillment. Wherefore we must be very cautious in adopting any “preteristic” interpretations based on allegorical and metaphorical readings of the Sacred texts.
To sum it up, I think it is obvious that, while the events of A.D. 70 may have had some typical significance, they are not the true fulfillment of Christ’s inspired predictions. Just like the Antichrist prophecies which Jeremiah spoke of Nebuchadnezzar, nearer events were used to point to ones more distant. Recognizing this prophetic principle will allow us to understand more clearly the nature and timing of eschatological fulfillment.