—Daniel 11:31 (NASB)
Up through the first 28 verses of Daniel 11 we are provided a series of events which all literally and historically took place according to every detail given. In verses 29-35 however, something different begins to take place. These verses were mostly fulfilled historically but refer to events which will have an additional, ultimate and final fulfillment. What Antiochus Epiphanes IV did leading into what history calls the “Macabbean Revolt” foreshadows what will ultimately be done at the end of history by the Antichrist.
The historical record shows that Antiochus did indeed effect the “abomination of desolation“. He went into the Temple, erected a statue of Zeus bearing his own face, sacrificed a pig on the altar, and desecrated the Temple by sprinkling that blood all about. The resulting revolt led by the Macabbees eventually defeated Antiochus and is celebrated to this day by the holiday we know as Hanukkah. But Jesus, knowing that there was a fulfillment of these verses already (the “Feast of Dedication” is Hanukkah and its celebration by Jesus in the Gospel of John proves it) says in the Olivet Discourse that it will happen again.
There are those who attempt to make the case that Jesus’ prediction was fulfilled when the Romans effected an abomination of desolation in the aftermath of their destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD. But there have been subsequent events duplicating this phenomena such as Constantine’s nephew trying to build on the Temple Mount and many other efforts since. The truth is that each one is an individual instance of an abomination of desolation but each merely foreshadows and teaches something about the ultimate and final abomination of desolation yet to come.
One of the most important lessons we get from Daniel is that while prophecy at times is about fulfilling a specific date, more often it is about pattern and fulfillment. Every time in history God recapitulates the same event He is teaching something about the ultimate one to come. Remember that there is the spirit of Antichrist at work during every age of history and the many Antichrists in both Scripture and history who act in the character of the Antichrist. These both repeat throughout history as a pattern of the final fulfillment of the last person of the Antichrist. But they also fit with Jesus’ teaching of the End Times as birth pangs. Each subsequent event is more powerful and building upon the last as the final one approaches.†††