The abomination of desolation marks the midpoint of the tribulation. There are many passages of scripture that describe this event so that we can get a very detailed picture of what will happen. I will use the description given in Matthew 24:9-20 of this event as our starting point and then bring in other scripture passages which give us greater detail and context to these verses of scripture.
The abomination of desolation begins a time of great persecution for the Jewish people. It seems that during the first half of the tribulation, Israel is prosperous. The book of Esther, which is a type of the Jews at this time indicates this. The gentile queen, Vashti, who is a type of the Laodicean church is replaced by the Jewish queen Esther. A change happens at the midpoint of the tribulation. Matthew 24:9 says the Jews will be delivered up, will be killed, and will be hated of all nations. The book of Revelation gives us information about the persecution of the Jews during the tribulation from different perspectives. The fifth seal of Revelation 6:9-11 matches this passage in Matthew 24 and it gives the perspective of the Jews who were martyred. Revelation 20:4 gives us a little more information about how these people were killed. They were beheaded because they would not worship the beast or AntiChrist. The fifth seal of Revelation is the seal of the martyrs. In the Bible, five is the number of death (please see my teaching on the number 5). The beast of Revelation 13, the AntiChrist is given power to make war with the saints, and to overcome them (Revelation 13:7).
Revelation 12 gives the spiritual background to this physical reality. The woman in Revelation 12:1 is the nation of Israel (see Genesis 37:9). Revelation 12:4,5 describe the devil’s anger toward Israel for being the nation from which the Messiah would come. The devil is cast to the earth after losing a battle in heaven with Michael and his angels. Revelation 12:13 says the dragon persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
There is a definite sign that the Jews should be looking for during the tribulation and that is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place. Daniel mentioned this sign in three places, Daniel 9:27 Daniel 11:31, and Daniel 12:11. Daniel 9:27 says that the AntiChrist will make the sacrifice and the oblation to cease. Daniel 11:31-37 gives us a very good description of what the abomination of desolation is. Verse 36 says he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god and speak marvellous things against the God of gods. Verse 37 says he shall magnify himself above all. 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 is the New Testament description of the same event. It tells us that the abomination of desolation is when the AntiChrist, the son of perdition, sits down in the temple of God and declares himself to be God. Daniel 12:11 again places this event at the midpoint of the tribulation. One final piece of information about what the abomination of desolation is is given in Revelation 13:14,15. In addition to the AntiChrist declaring himself to be God, the False Prophet will make an image of the AntiChrist, place it in the temple and cause all to worship the image of the beast.
In Matthew 24:16-20, Jesus has a message for the Jews who see this sign and that message is simply RUN!!! If you are in Judaea, flee into the mountains. Do not take time to go into your house to pack your things. Do not come back from your field to even pack your clothes. RUN!!! This is a very specific time in history which is the exception to the rule. The rule is pregnancy is a blessing and so is the priviledge to nurse a baby. Here, Jesus says woe unto you because you can’t run fast enough if this is your condition.
In Matthew 24:20 Jesus has a very interesting prayer for these Jews. He says to pray that their flight be not in the winter, or on the sabbath day. The winter would add an extra degree of difficulty in trying to get away and on the sabbath day there are no “flights” for the Jews to escape on. I think Jesus really does have flight as in airplane in mind because Revelation 12:14 describing the same event says, “And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. The Jews that do heed Jesus words escape and are nourished by God with manna from heaven again.
When you compare Revelation 12:15,16 and Daniel 9:26 you can even see how the devil (dragon or serpent) tries to kill the Jews who are escaping. He tries to kill them with a flood of water. God actually opens up the earth and swallows the water to protect the Jews. The book of Job which is actually a prophetic type of the Jew during the great tribulation has a description of behemoth and leviathan in chapters 40 and 41 which apply directly to this time of persecution. Job 40:23 says of behemoth, “he drinketh up a river,and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.” Behemoth is the beast made up of several animals described in Daniel 7:7,8 and Revelation 13:2. Behemoth is the AntiChrist. Leviathan is the dragon and the serpent of Revelation 12. If you read Job 41:33 and then sing the verse, you will see that Martin Luther had Leviathan correctly identified over 400 years ago.
The abomination of desolation begins the second half of the tribulation period and is called in the Bible, the great tribulation.