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Foundation Truth, Number 25 (Summer 2010) | Timeless Truths Publications
Holy Spirit

The Abomination of Desolation

or, When Is It Time to Flee?

“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?”* (Psalm 8:4)

One of the most amazing themes of truth in the Bible is the deep interest and love of the Creator toward mankind. One who loved God and walked with Him during his earthly existence said, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”* (Psalm 139:17-18) Again, we are told, “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”* (Luke 12:7) This is mind-boggling. It is past comprehension to consider that God is so interested in His creation and so closely observes as to number all the hairs on the heads of everyone. He even sees each sparrow that falls.

All of this would be wonderful indeed if God just observed such detail from afar off, but so great is the love and interest of God in us that He craves to be nigh unto us. We are told that if we will draw nigh unto Him, then He will draw nigh unto us (James 4:8). There is something about the nature of our existence here in the flesh and the nature of free will that requires that God hide Himself from us (Isaiah 45:15), but His great love for us causes Him to desire to reveal Himself. Daniel realized that God reveals things and wants to reveal things to us (Daniel 2:22,28).

“God loves to be longed for, He loves to be sought,
For He sought us Himself with such longing and love:
He died for desire of us, marvellous thought!
And He yearns for us now to be with Him above.”1


Frederick W. Faber; “Desire of God”

We want to consider a certain aspect of God’s desire to be as near as possible to man—and what happens to cause Him to withdraw.

In the Old Testament, it was not possible for the heart of man to be regenerated, but the desire of God to be close to His people was manifested in His willingness to move His presence into a structure made of skins, gold, and wood: the earthly tabernacle. This was made to His specifications, (according to God’s pattern, Hebrews 8:5). He accepted their careful obedience and actually moved His majestic presence into the thick darkness of the Holy of Holies, the innermost chamber of the tabernacle. “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD. Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever.”* (1 Kings 8:10-13) What a glorious day that was in Israel after the flesh! The same manifestation of the presence of God filled the tabernacle built by Moses. “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”* (Exodus 40:34-35) The tabernacle is called the tabernacle of the witness, the tabernacle of the testimony. As said the Psalmist, “There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.”* (Psalm 46:4-5)

It is and was the most amazing condescension of Almighty God to thus humble Himself to dwell among men in this way. “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.”* (Isaiah 66:1-2) And Solomon said at the dedication of the temple, “But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!”* (2 Chronicles 6:18) Again we read in Revelations, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”* (Revelation 21:3) This is spoken of the final and permanent togetherness of God and His people after the End of Time and the Final Judgment, but it is paralleled by His presence among them now before those events. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”* (Matthew 18:20)

The presence of God among His people has a definite practical effect. As long as He is there among them, there is no way that the enemies of the people of God can triumph over them. No weapon that is formed against them can prosper. “And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.”* (Isaiah 4:5-6) As long as God is present, we need not be afraid; we can face with great confidence whatever He allows to come upon us. His presence in His tabernacle is indeed “a shadow in the daytime from the heat… a place of refuge, and… a covert from storm and from rain.” As Brother David said, “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”* (Psalm 16:8)

All of this is true conditionally. If we do things as God wants us to do things, He will abide with us forever; He will be our God, and we will be His people. This precious promise will be our portion: “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.”* (Isaiah 65:24) For “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”* (Psalm 16:11) Yea, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”* (Psalm 33:12)

As long as God was in His temple, God’s people abode with the devouring fire. Unless the high priest came once a year in a certain, prescribed manner to the Holy of Holies, he died—struck down by that august, divine Presence. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.”* (Leviticus 16:2) There follows the careful regulation of how Aaron, the high priest, was to appear before the presence of God in that awesome and dreadful place. At that time, man was allowed to visit God in this intimate way only once a year (Hebrews 9:7). We can only imagine the feelings of Aaron as he reverently and very carefully entered behind the veil, sprinkling fresh blood before him. How humbling! How befitting! But note that it only worked as God designed it to work if His majestic presence was actually present in the sanctuary.

In 1 Samuel 4, we read of a thing so at odds with the above that it scarce seems credible, yet it is true. “And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.”* (1 Samuel 4:3-4) Now it is obvious that the presence of God was not dwelling in that sacred place when Hophni and Phinehas, those sons of Belial, entered into the Holy of Holies and laid hands on the ark of the covenant. God had moved out on Israel—He wasn’t there. The calamity wasn’t that the ark was taken; the calamity was that God wasn’t there. What had happened? “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face.”* (Hosea 5:15) “And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies.”* (2 Kings 21:14)

God just leaves. Quietly. While the people go on assuming that He is still there. Like Samson, “And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.”* (Judges 16:20) This is largely what has happened to the professed Christian world. A great deal of assuming is in the minds and hearts of the people. We see in Matthew 7:22-23 that a great number are forecast to continue in this baseless assuming right up to the judgment day. Then the dreadful words will be heard, “I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” When the power of God is denied and frustrated from working in the hearts and lives of those professing the gospel, God gives them over to the form of godliness. He leaves them to their devices; leaves them to their empty profession; leaves them to do as seems best to them. They are plagued and afflicted. Bad things happen to them that do not work together for good. Skeptics look at them and are confirmed in their skepticism. They are a stumblingblock to those who hunger to do what is right.

God is not there. This is what the formality, pomp, and show bring about. Empty rituals replace what we read about in 1 Corinthians 14:24-25. False doctrines evolve to explain the mysteries of iniquity. God has returned to His place. As the wife of Phinehas said as the hour of her death came upon her at the birth of their child, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.”* (1 Samuel 4:21) “And she named the child I-chabod.” Ah, dear reader, if thou couldest see as God sees, thou would see ICHABOD above nearly all the assemblies of professed Christendom. “Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.”* (Proverbs 1:28-31) As to how God feels about people carrying on after He has moved out on them, read Jeremiah 23:31-40.

Whatever it is that causes God to withdraw is The Abomination That Maketh Desolate. This is what Ezekiel saw in a vision of how God moved out on apostate Judea. First he saw the glory stand over the threshold of the house (Ezekiel 10:4-6), but then he saw (with a cry of anguish), “And the cherubims were lifted up… then the glory of the Lord departed from off the threshold of the house.”* (Ezekiel 10:15,18) “But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.”* (Ezekiel 11:21)

When it is no longer the presence of God that defends and animates a people, when the assembly is kept by human wisdom, human tradition, human politics, human skill and ingenuity—then it is Ichabod, and Satan knows it. The devil can use anything from which God has departed. He will bend and twist their inheritance; they are as putty in his hands. Here is the true and grievous story of so-called Christian sectism. They were once a gold cup in the hand of God (when His presence was there), but they gave place to an abomination that makes desolate—even the leaning to human understanding and human ways that is at odds with the gentle leading of the Spirit of God. And so we read, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird…. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”* (Revelation 18:2,4)

“When should I come out?” As soon as you perceive that God has moved out. “When do I know that has happened? Shall I wait until no truth is preached anymore and no one is saved anymore?” By the time that things get to that point, God has been gone a long time. The desolation is far advanced. “Well, when?” When men deliberately disobey what they know is right, God is grieved, and He will begin to withdraw. “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) When men refuse to follow the Word of God and the Spirit of God and allow something else (the abomination that makes desolate) to stand in the holy place, get out of there. Trust God to make a way of escape; be waiting and watching for God’s way of escape. Get out of there. Beware that you be not entangled with something not of God—an abomination. Beware that you take not upon you a false yoke. It is dangerous to think of anything else than the bosom of God as a home for your soul. You will find yourself a part of something that is bringing desolation, even if you decry it and groan and sigh. You will find yourself a part of the abomination that makes desolate.

Do not blindly flee. Wait for God. He will have a way of escape. Be consecrating to pay the price of coming clear for God. Tell Him over and over that you love Him and His ways, that you hate every false way. Draw nigh unto God. If you do, you will find that He will draw nigh unto you.

Do not be surprised to see others flee while not led of the Spirit of God, and do not be surprised to see their efforts come to grief. You must go where God goes. You must wait until you see where God goes. You must trust Him completely. You must stay yourself on Him. If you depart on the basis of your reasoning and thinking only, you will just make another mess. You will be another Ichabod. God forbid that you make another sect, another division.

But, beloved, God has a way. He has had it all the time. He withdraws to His place (Hosea 5:15). That is the place to follow. He has a church. He has a people. They are absolutely true to Him. “If we won’t serve God, He will raise up a people who will.” Zion of God is just as true as it has ever been since God built it. You can be part of what God has done and is doing on the earth today.

“Let us sing a sweet song of the home of the soul,
The glorious place of our rest;
It is not far away in the heavens untold,
But deep in the Infinite breast.

“He that dwelleth in love ever dwelleth in God,
Sweet home never clouded by fears;
And this heaven of love is our native abode
Through time and eternity’s years.

“We are only at home in the bosom of God,
On earth or in heaven above;
Everyone who would enter must pass through the blood,
And reign in the kingdom of love.

“We will enter no door that is opened by men
Who promise a home for the soul;
For in Christ we abide in the church that will stand
While ages eternally roll.”*

“They shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries. And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.”* (Daniel 11:31-35)

After describing the many sects of professed Christianity, their similitude to the beast and his image, their mark in the forehead or in the hand, the many different numbers of the groups, that all add up to an abomination, their judgment is described in Revelation 14:10-11. Then we have a description of those who have fled the abomination that makes desolate. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”* (Revelation 14:12)

The conflict between right and wrong is waxing hotter and hotter. More and more threshing of great mountains of chaff and tares is necessary to bring the Lord’s wheat into His barn. Let us take courage. Let us continue to take forth the precious from the vile by clear and faithful obedience to the Word of God. In the end, victory belongs to Him who leads us on the horse of a conqueror.

“Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”* (Revelation 22:7)