posted on Aug, 22 2010 @ 02:59 PM
Would the "Beast of Revelation" also be the "king who occupies the Temple", as found in other parts of the Bible?
And if so, in what way?
That's the connection I'm going to be considering.
The "king in the Temple" theme begins in history.
The starting point is the controversial policy of the notorious Antiochus IV, who provoked the Maccabean revolt.
He's responsible for setting the pattern
"The king has a high opinion of himself".
This king announced himself on his coins as THEOS EPIPHANES- "the visible god". Enough said.
"The king takes control of the Temple".
He sent an army for that purpose in 167 B.C.
"The king seeks to suppress the religion of God's people".
Orders were given and enforced that the Jews should cease to observe the Sabbath and other holy days, that they should cease to circumcise their
children , and so on.
"The king places a new worship in the Temple".
An image of Jupiter was set up in the Temple (and it's been suggested that the face resembled that of the king himself). The image became the centre
of sacrifice- which therefore displaced and made impossible what the Jews would regard as true sacrifice.
The same theme is repeated in Daniel.
The events of history now become the model.
Daniel's reflecting on the Jewish experience under Antiochus, but he's also premising a future king of a similar kind.
So Daniel's king has a high opinion of himself;
"And the king shall do according to his will; he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak astonishing things against
the God of gods... he shall not give heed to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all".
He takes power in the Temple and suppresses the religion there;
Forces from him shall appear and profane the Temple and fortress and shall take away the continual burnt offering". (Daniel ch11 v31&vv36-7)
"And they shall set up the abomination that makes desolate".
This famous phrase is used in 1 Maccabees about the image of Jupiter, and later repeated by Jesus.
The word "Abomination" implies something disgusting- I suggest that this is about God's reaction. The word can be used about idolatrous images in
general, which are offensive to God because they go against the basic premise of the first commandment.
The word "Desolation" is about loneliness and bereavement and a sense of having been abandoned.
The English word comes ultimately from the Latin SOLUS- "alone". (A "desolate" land is a land without inhabitants)
The Greek word used to translate it in the gospels ultimately comes from EREMOS- which, again, means "alone".
This meaning becomes relevant because the Temple had become the primary contact point between the Jewish nation and their God, and the continual
sacrifice had become the primary means of contact.
Stopping the sacrifices therefore broke the contact.
It would have left them feeling alone, bereaved. In a word, it would have left them "desolated".
The word is used in Ezra (normally translated as "astonished" or "appalled") to describe Ezra in his dumbfounded state when he's learnt about the
mixed marriages (Ezra ch9 v3). So perhaps "a state of emotional shock" can be added to our sense of the meaning.
Either way, the word "Desolation" seems to be mainly about the reaction of the Jews themselves
Jesus predicts an "Abomination of desolation", but doesn't explain who sets it up (Luke ch21 v24).
While Paul speaks of a man with a high opinion of himself who takes power in the temple;
"who opposes and and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God, proclaiming
himself to be God."- 2 Thessalonians ch2 v4
These two statements, taken together, add up to the New Testament version of the "king in the Temple" pattern.
The Beast in Revelation ch17 is oppressing God's people for forty-two months, which we recognise as another version of the "half-a-week of years"
during which Daniel's king is doing the same thing.
For this and other reasons, the normal understanding is that Daniel and Revelation are describing the same ruler.
This implies that the Beast would be following through the "king in the Temple" theme.
But there's one serious obstacle to this assumption which needs to be overcome.
The "king in the Temple" must, by definition, be able to take control of the Temple.
On the other hand, we're told in Revelation ch11 vv1-2 that the nations would be "trampling over the holy city" and that the outer court of the
Temple, at least, would be given over to them-
BUT the Temple itself is to be measured out, and reserved for God, as the one area which is NOT going to be "given over" to hostile power.
In fact the parallel in Ezekiel suggests that the purpose of measuring the Temple is to prepare it for the Lord's return (Ezekiel ch43 vv1-3).
How is this contradiction to be reconciled?
The way to clear this obstacle is to consider the meaning of "the Temple" for New Testament purposes.
One of the best explanations comes from Paul.
He's developing the metaphor that the Christian community is like a building, and then he draws attention to the fact that this "building" has a
"Do you not know that you are God's Temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?"- 1 Corinthians ch3 v16
(This is "you" in the plural, referring to the local community- the better-known verse about individual bodies comes later in the letter)
In the context, this is part of Paul's campaign against divisiveness. He's about to observe that anyone who breaks up Christian unity is effectively
guilty of demolishing a sacred building.
But the insight has permanent value.
That the indwelling of the Spirit within the Christian community is enough to make it, as a body, the real "Temple of God".
Now the Beast, armed with political power, could undoubtedly find it possible to seize control of the outward forms of the church, such as the
buildings, the structures of organisation, and the official leadership. That would give him enough control to enable him to force through the kind of
policies which would fit the pattern we've already observed.
But the outward forms of the church are not the real temple. They are nothing more than the "outer court" of the Temple. That's as far as he can
While the real centre of the Temple would remain intact and untouchable in the faithfulness of believers, an area "measured out" for God and waiting
for his return.
How might the Beast live up to the "king in the Temple" pattern?
In the first place, the common understanding is that he would be an antichrist, that he would be claiming to be the returned Christ.
That would certainly meet the point that the king would have a high opinion of himself, and would "proclaim himself to be God".
It would also justify taking control of church structures in the way that I've already suggested.
And it would lead, logically, into what strikes me as a very plausible understanding of the "Abomination of Desolation".
Surely, in the first place, he would be insisting that the churches recognise his claim, incorporating it into their doctrinal statements, their
public worship, their teaching, and their public life in general. There would be no need for a statue or any other image (though he might find some
symbol to replace the cross). If the Beast was being recognised as the returned Christ in the churches of God, that would be enough to constitute an
And there is also a regular activity which he could "cause to cease".
Paul tells us that eating the Lord's Supper is a way of proclaiming his death "until he comes"- 1 Corinthians ch11 v26
How could someone claiming to be the returned Christ possibly tolerate a continuing practice based on the assumption that Christ had not yet
It would be a logical necessity that the Beast would want the celebaration of the Supper, in those terms, to come to an end.
But the Supper is a primary point of contact, and primary means of contact, for the church.
Amongst other things, it's a way of expressing the unity of the church;
"We who are many are one body, because we all share in one bread"- 1 Corinthians ch10 v17
And the understanding has been that Christ is at the meal (though I'm not going to get into an interdenominational argument about the exact manner of
If Christians could not meet for the Supper- or for any other purpose- except on terms of recognising the Beast as the returned Christ, then that
means of contact would be broken. The isolation resulting from that could be described as a state of "Desolation".
One final observation; if we follow this interpretation of the "king in the Temple" theme, it becomes possible to explain it without reference to a
In fact it becomes rather difficult to reconcile the apparent contradiction between Revelation ch11 and the other Biblical references (ie that hostile
power is kept out of the Temple which the king is supposed to control) if we have to assume that a physical Temple is involved in both cases.
For that reason, I'm not convinced by the theory that "Biblical prophecy predicts the building of a third physical Temple".
Nor am I convinced that the fulfilment of Biblical prophecy would come any closer if such a Temple were built.