What is the “abomination of desolation”? (2023)

As Jesus taught His disciples how to prepare for HisSecond AdventHe made reference to a prophecy from the book of Daniel:

When you see, then, in the holy place the abomination of desolation that Daniel the prophet spoke of (he who reads, understand),

Mateo 24:15

In Mark's version of the account, He does not say that we are to be in the holy place. He says that the abomination itself is standing in the wrong place. And in Luke's version the reference to Daniel is omitted, replaced by the imagery of Jerusalem besieged, leading to desolation:

Marcos 13:14Lucas 21:20
But when you see the abomination of desolation, of which the prophet Daniel spoke, placed where it should not (he who reads, understand)...And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is near.

Joseph Smith's revision of the Matthew passage combines these accounts by equating the abomination of desolation with the destruction of Jerusalem:

Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation that the prophet Daniel spoke about the destruction of Jerusalem, then you will be in the holy place; the one who reads, who understands.

José Smith—Mateo 1:12

So, from these accounts of the Savior's words, we learn the following:

  • Before the second coming of the Savior, the abomination of desolation prophesied by Daniel will occur.
  • This event is related to the destruction of Jerusalem.
  • When it happens, we must respond by standing in holy places.

The first half of the book of Daniel contains stories of the miracles Daniel and his friends experienced while serving the kings of Babylon and Persia. The second half of the book (chapters 7-12) describes a series of apocalyptic visions that Daniel saw while in captivity.

In the first year of King Darius' reign, Daniel prayed for his people. Remembering his prophesied promises, he pleaded with God to remember scattered Israel and gather his people back to Jerusalem. The city, he observed, was empty, the temple "desolate" because of the transgressions of the people. But Daniel pleaded: “My God, incline your ear, and listen; he opens your eyes, andbehold our desolations, and the city over which your name is called; for we do not pray before you for our righteousness, but for your great mercies" (Daniel 9:18, italics added).

In answer to his prayer, the angel Gabriel appeared and promised that Jerusalem would soon be rebuilt. But he also told Daniel that this prosperity would not continue. The people would again fall into iniquity, and "by the multiplication of abominations he will make them desolate" (Daniel 9:27).

Daniel also prophesied of a future nation that would conquer Jerusalem and "defile the sanctuary of the stronghold, and remove the daily sacrifice, and place itthe abomination of desolation.” But Daniel continued: "The people who know their God will be strong" (Daniel 11:31-32, italics added; See alsoDaniel 12:11).

So desolation comes in response to abominable practices, but God does not abandon us even when we are desolate. Deliverance from him is available when we turn to him.

The Hebrew word translated “abomination” in these passages isshiqquts(שִׁקּוּץ), which means something detested, something God hates. Throughout the Old Testament, this word is associated with idolatry.

The word translated "desolation" ispity(שָׁמֵם). It represents a void or destruction that causes astonishment. The English word "desolate" comes from two Latin roots meaning "all alone." (See "soledad,”Online dictionary of etymology.)

Stephen E. Robinson offered the following interpretation of the combination of these terms: “In the book of Daniel, the abomination of desolation is that which is so abhorrent to God that its presence in the temple causes the divine presence to depart, leaving the sanctuary. desolate” (“Early Christianity and 1 Nephi 13–14,"inFirst Nephi, The Doctrinal Foundation, 1988, 177-91).

After the destruction that coincided with the death of Jesus Christ on the American continent, the survivors heard the voice of the Savior lamenting the destruction. One city at a time, he reported the natural disaster that had destroyed the city—earthquakes, floods, and fires—and then explained why the city had been destroyed: “to hide its wickedness andabominationsbefore my face, that the blood of the prophets and of the saints come up against them no more" (3 Nephi 9:5, 7, 8, 11, italics added).

Several hours later, He pleaded with the survivors to return to Him, using the same language He had used to lament the wickedness of Jerusalem during His earthly ministry:

O house of Israel, whom I have forgiven, how many times will I gather you up like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, if you repent and turn to me with the whole purpose of your heart!

But if not, O house of Israel, the places of your dwellings will becomelonelyuntil the time of fulfillment of the pact with your fathers.

3 Nephi 10:6-7, italics added; See alsoMateo 23:37-38,Lucas 23:34-35

But ministering to the people in person, he assured them that the devastated can be restored and prosper again. Quoting the prophet Isaiah, he said:

Sing, Obarren, you who did not give birth; burst into songs and shout for joy, you who have not been in labor; for the children of the desolate are more than the children of the married woman, says the Lord….

For you will spread out to the right and to the left, and your descendants will inherit the Gentiles, and you will make the devastated cities inhabit.

3 Nephi 22:1, 3; See alsoIsaiah 54:1, 3

In September 1832, as many missionaries were returning to their homes in Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith received a revelation on the subject of the priesthood. At the end of the revelation, the Lord emphasized to his missionaries the urgency of sharing the gospel:

Truly I say to you, the rest of my servants, go out as your circumstances permit, in your various callings, to the great and notable cities and villages, reproving the world in justice of all its unjust and impious deeds, clearly and comprehensively exposing thedesolation of abominationin the last days.

For with you, says the Lord Almighty, I will break their kingdoms; Not only will I shake the earth, but the starry skies will tremble.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:117-118, italics added

Three months later, the Lord again emphasized this warning in another revelation, telling church members to prepare for the difficult times ahead: “That their souls may escape the wrath of God, the Lord.”desolation of abominationwho awaits the wicked, both in this world and in the next" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:84-85, italics added)

The use of this terminology in these revelations, including the inversion of the words, highlights this principle: wickedness leads to emptiness. It promises but cannot give satisfaction.

As the Savior instructed His disciples, when we see the abomination of desolation, we must make sure we are in holy places. In April 2021, President Russell M. Nelson provided the following guidance as we continue to experience the COVID-19 pandemic:

Often when the Lord warns us about the dangers of the last days, he advises the following: "Stand in holy places, and be not moved." These “holy places” certainly include the Lord's temples and meetinghouses. But as our ability to gather in these places has been restricted to varying degrees, we have learned that one of the most sacred places on earth is home, yes evenarehome….

Have you ever wondered why the Lord wants us to make our home the center of learning and living the Gospel? It's not just to prepare and help us get through a pandemic. The current restrictions on gathering will eventually end. However, your commitment to making your home yourprimarysanctuary of faith mustNeverend. As faith and holiness diminish in this fallen world, its need for holy places will increase. I urge you to continue to make your home a truly holy place “anddo not move”of that essential objective.

What we are learning and will never forget”, General Conference, April 2021

Today I will follow the Savior's admonition to remain in holy places. I will remember that God always remembers his children. Abominations lead to desolation, but God can restore desolate places and desolate people who turn to Him and seek to be close to Him again.

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