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One of the major events that will take place 3½ years before the return of Christ, is the halting of the sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem and the invasion and occupation of Israel by the Antichrist/Beast's alliance of nations and Israel's Islamic neighbors. Anyone who is unfortunate enough to be in Israel when it is invaded and occupied will experience one of the most horrible and terrifying times in human history.
The Warning Signs
There are a number of warning signs that will be given to those living in the nation of Israel before this invasion. The first of these signs is the proclaiming of God the Father's good news message by the elect of God who are scattered throughout the world, the high priest of the temple system in Jerusalem, and another person who is likely to be a high ranking government official of Israel. This good news message will include the proclamation that the Kingdom of God will soon be established on earth:
"This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matt.24:14 KJV).
"And I will give to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two lamp-stands [candlesticks] before the God of the earth [See Zech.3:1-14]. And if anyone desires to harm them, fire comes out of their mouth and devours their enemies: and if any one desires to harm them, so it is right for him to be killed. These have the authority to shut up the heaven, that no rain may rain in the days of their prophecy [3½ years]: and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire" (Rev.11:3-6 Para.).
These preliminary signs that foretell the coming invasion and occupation of Israel will probably occur about 1-2 years before the last two major signs, which occur within a very short time frame and will give those who are watching a very short time to escape Jerusalem and Israel.
Two Obvious Signs to Flee
About 3½ years before the return of Christ, the Jews and the elect of God who are in the nation of Israel will be given two very clear signs that the invasion and occupation of Israel is imminent. Upon recognizing either of these warning signs, a person should immediately stop what they are doing and flee for their lives if they want to survive and escape captivity.
The First Warning Sign
"And when you shall see Jerusalem being encircled by armies, then know that its destruction is near. Let those in Judea flee to the mountains; and those in the midst of it, let them go out. And those who are out of town do not go into Jerusalem. For these are the days of vengeance when all things that have been written are to be fulfilled. But woe to the pregnant women, and those breast-feeding children in those days! for great distress will be on the earth and wrath on his people" (Lk.21:20-23 Para.).
The reason that armies will surround Jerusalem is that an agreement will be made between the Beast alliance of nations and the Israelis to guarantee their protection. After this agreement is made, there will be peace and prosperity in the Middle East for a short time while the Beast alliance negotiates with Israel and her neighbors to calm the volatile political situation that exists among them.
This period of peace will allow the Jews to build a temple in order to worship their God in Jerusalem. When this temple is completed, the Jews will institute the Levitical Priesthood and the sacrificial system at this temple. When this happens, the political scene will take a dramatic turn for the worse. By instituting the Levitical Priesthood and animal sacrifices, the Jews will be unwittingly implying that the god of their Islamic neighbors is a false god and that the Jews are worshiping the only true God; therefore, Israel's neighbors will become very hostile toward her and will again openly seek to destroy her.
Israel's Islamic Neighbors
The prophecy in Daniel 11: 40-45 reveals that the nations to the north and south of Israel will stir up trouble by threatening to break their agreement of peace with Israel. Then, the king of the north who is the Antichrist/Beast and his alliance of nations will move against Egypt in order to honor its agreement to guarantee the peace. Egypt will be crushed along with several other Islamic nations in that geographical area. However, the prophecy specifically says that the ancient nations of Amon and Moab (the Jordanians) escape. As prophecy shows, these people are going to offer protection to the Jews that flee from Jerusalem and Israel. See Isa.16:1-5.
While the army of the Antichrist/Beast is busy crushing the Arabs in Egypt and in North Africa, the Islamic nations to the north and east (Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, etc.) will begin indicating that they are also about to break their peace agreement with Israel. When this happens, the Beast alliance of nations will send its army to Israel and Jerusalem under the pretense of protecting Israel from an invasion. The Israelis will welcome the protection of their allies' powerful army and they will feel secure from their neighbors' threat of invasion. However, the intentions of the Beast are more sinister; they intend to invade and destroy Israel and remove her as an obstacle to their plans of world domination.
The Second Warning Sign
"When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (let the reader understand:) Then let them which be in Judea 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" (Matt.24:15-18 KJV).
"But when you see the abomination of desolation, the one spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let the reader understand) then let those in Judea flee to the mountains: And he that is on the housetop, do not go down into his house and take anything out of it. And one in the field, do not return to get anything, not even a piece of clothing. But woe to the pregnant woman, and those with babies! Pray that this flight is not in the winter. For there will be affliction in these days such as has not been since the beginning of creation, and never again will be" (Mk.13:14-21 Para.). See also Dan.11:31; 12:11.
What is the Abomination of Desolation?
Because of the things that took place during past desecrations of the Jerusalem temple, many people are looking for the abomination of desolation to be something such as the sacrifice of an unclean animal on the holy altar, which was done by Antiochus Epiphanes, or the placing of the statue of the Olympian Zeus in the temple. It is important to understand that all of these past desecrations of the temple happened after Jerusalem was invaded and conquered. However, the prophecies concerning the future desecration of the temple clearly show that the abomination of desolation that will pollute the holy place will happen before an invasion and occupation of Jerusalem.
Once the temple is dedicated, there is no way that the Levitical Priesthood will allow anyone or anything to enter it that is not specifically authorized by the book of the law. Anyone attempting to do this will bring about a major confrontation between themselves, the guards of the temple, the worshipers, and the priesthood.
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul answers the question concerning what the future abomination of desolation will be.
2.Thessalonians 2:3-4 Paraphrased
"Do not let anyone deceive you in any way, because that day will not come, unless there first comes a falling away [departure from the faith], and the man of sin is revealed, who is the son of perdition. This is the one who opposes and exalts himself over everything being called God, or object of worship, and he is to sit in the temple of God, as God; in order to show that he is a god" (vs.3-4).
The son of perdition is the Antichrist/Beast and leader of the alliance of nations called the Beast, and he will desecrate the temple; he is the abomination that makes desolate. This powerful spirit-being masquerading as a human will, in his arrogance, desecrate the temple of the true God in Jerusalem by entering into it and sitting there in defiance of the true God. He will do this in order to prove to the world that he is indeed a god, and that the true God is no god.
This leader of the Beast alliance of nations will be the guarantor of the peace between Israel and her neighbors. When he surrounds Jerusalem with his armies, he may agree to put his life on the line for this agreement by entering into the temple area as a sign of his commitment. Ultimately, this will lead to his desecration of the holy place by entering into it as foretold by Jesus Christ, Daniel, and the apostle Paul.
It is easy to understand why the Israelis will view the armies of their allies that surround Jerusalem as a protective force. There will likely be mass media coverage as the Beast's armies encircle Jerusalem, along with televised interviews with the dynamic, powerful, and charismatic leader of the Beast alliance of nations as he comes to Jerusalem under the pretense of protecting Israel. It is also likely that his entrance into the temple in Jerusalem will be televised, because this event will cause a major confrontation between those who worship at the temple and the priesthood and the Antichrist/Beast leader.
Both of the warnings concerning the armies that surround Jerusalem and the desecration of the temple are extremely serious, because these two events are the prelude to the attack and brutal captivity that will come upon the Jews for the last 3½ years before Jesus Christ's return.
The instant one hears the news of either one of these events and understands what it means, they should immediately stop what they are doing and flee Jerusalem and Israel as quickly as possible, because there will be very little time in which to escape. There will be no time to collect one's belongings or warn others. Every second of delay will place one's life in extreme jeopardy. From what is said in the scriptural warnings, it is very clear that the window of opportunity for escape may be measured in minutes, perhaps less than an hour.
Those whom God has called to salvation along with any of the Jews who understand the ancient prophecies concerning these two warnings should make sure that their attitudes and behaviors are correct before God and they should be well prepared to leave Jerusalem and Israel on a moments notice when the prophetic armies surround Jerusalem and the abomination that makes desolate sits where it ought not to sit.