Chapter 13—The Transgression and Abomination of Desolation
Such is the sacrifice, the priesthood, and the ministry, of Christ in His ministry in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. Such is the statement in the book of Hebrews of the truth, the merit, and the efficacy of the sacrifice, the priesthood, the sanctuary, and the ministry of Christ.
But it is not alone in the book of Hebrews that this great truth is found. For though it is not so directly stated nor so fully discussed in any other place as it is in the book of Hebrews, it is recognized throughout the whole of the New Testament as truly as the sanctuary and ministry of the Levitical priesthood is recognized throughout the Old Testament, though it be not so directly stated nor so fully discussed in any other place as in Exodus and Leviticus.
In the last book of the New Testament, in the very first chapter, there is seen “one like unto the Son of Man,” clothed in the raiment of the high priest. (Revelation 1:13) Also in the midst of the throne and of the cherubim and of the elders there was seen “a Lamb as it had been slain.” (Revelation 5:6) There also was seen a golden altar, and one with a golden censer offering incense, which, with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God. (Revelation 8:3, 4) There was seen the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne. (Revelation 4:5) There was seen “the temple of God… opened in heaven” (Revelation 11:19)—“the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony.” (Revelation 15:5) There it is promised and declared that they who have part in the first resurrection and upon whom the second death hath no power “shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” in that priesthood. (Revelation 20:4) And when the first heaven and the first earth shall have passed away and there shall be found no place for them, and the new heaven and the new earth shall have been brought in, with the holy city descending out of heaven from God, the tabernacle of God being with men, He dwelling with them, they His people and God Himself with them and their God; when He shall have wiped away all tears from their eyes and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither any more pain, and the former things shall have passed away; then, and not until then, is it declared of the city of God: “I saw no temple therein.” (Revelation 21:22)
Thus it is just as certain that there is a priesthood, a priestly ministry, and a sanctuary, in this dispensation as that there was in the old; yes, even more truly, for though there was a sanctuary, a priesthood, and a ministry in the old dispensation, it was all only a figure for the time then present—a figure of this which now is the true and which is in heaven.
This true priesthood, ministry, and sanctuary of Christ in heaven is too plain in the New Testament to be by any possibility denied. Yet, in the face of all this, it is a thing that is hardly ever thought of; it is a thing almost unknown and even hardly believed in the Christian world today.
Why is this and how could it ever be? There is a cause. The Scripture tells it and facts demonstrate it.
In the book of Daniel, seventh chapter, there was seen by the prophet in vision the four winds of heaven striving upon the great sea, “and four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings;” which symbolized the world-kingdom of Babylon. The second was like a bear, which raised itself up on one side, and had three ribs in the mouth of it; which symbolized the united world-kingdom of Media and Persia. The third was like a leopard, which had four heads and four wings of a fowl which symbolized the world-dominion of Alexander the Great and Grecia. The fourth beast was “dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.” This great beast symbolized the world-empire of Rome, diverse from all that were before it; because it was not originally a kingdom or monarchy, but a republic. The ten horns symbolized the ten kingdoms that were planted in the territory of Western Rome when that empire was annihilated.
Then says the prophet: “I considered the horns [he ten horns], and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” (Daniel 7:8) The prophet beheld and considered this little horn clear through until “the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” (v. 9) And when this judgment was set and the books were opened, he says: “I beheld then [at that time] because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.” (v. 11)
Note the remarkable change in expression in this latter statement. The prophet beheld the little horn from the time of its rise clear through to the time when “the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” At that time he beheld the little horn; and just now, particularly “because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake.” And he continued to behold that same thing—that same little horn—until the end and till its destruction. But when its destruction comes, the word that describes it is not that the little horn was broken or destroyed but that the “beast was slain and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame.”
This shows that the little horn is but another phase of the original fourth, or dreadful and terrible, beast that the little horn is but the continuation of the dreadful and terrible beast, in its very disposition, spirit and aims, only under a variant form. And as the fourth world power, the dreadful and terrible beast in its original form was Rome; so the little horn in its workings is but the continuation of Rome—of the spirit and working of Rome, under this form.
The explanation of this, given in the same chapter, confirms that which has been stated. For of this little horn it is said that it is to be “diverse from the first;” that he “shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws” of the Most High. (v. 25) It is also said that the “same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” (vs. 21, 22) All these things are true, and this is the description of latter Rome throughout.
And all this is confirmed by latter Rome herself. For Leo the Great was pope A.D. 440 to A.D. 461, in the very time when the former Rome was in its very last days, when it was falling rapidly to ruin. And Leo the Great declared in a sermon that the former Rome was but the promise of the latter Rome; that the glories of the former were to be reproduced in Catholic Rome; that Romulus and Remus were but the forerunners of Peter and Paul; that the successors of Romulus therefore were the precursors of the successors of Peter; and that, as the former Rome had ruled the world, so the latter Rome, by the see of the holy blessed Peter as head of the world, would dominate the earth. This conception of Leo’s was never lost from the Papacy. And when, only fifteen years afterward, the Roman Empire had, as such, perished, and only the Papacy survived the ruin and firmly held place and power in Rome, this conception of Leo’s was only the more strongly and with the more certitude held and asserted.
That conception was also intentionally and systematically developed. The Scriptures were industriously studied and ingeniously perverted to maintain it. By a perverse application of the Levitical system of the Old Testament, the authority and eternity of the Roman priesthood had already been established.
[“The bishops now [the latter part of the second century] wished to be thought to correspond with the high priest of the Jews; the presbyters were said to come in place of the priests; and the deacons were made parallel with the Levites.
“In like manner the comparison of the Christian oblations with the Jewish victims and sacrifices produced many unnecessary rites, and by decrees corrupted the very doctrine of the holy Supper; which was converted, sooner, in fact, than one would think, into a sacrifice.” —Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, Cent. II, part II, chap. II, par. 4; and chap. IV, par. 4.]
And now, by perverse deductions “from the New Testament, the authority and eternity of Rome herself was established.”
Taking the ground that she is the only true continuation of original Rome, upon that the Papacy took the ground that wherever the New Testament cites or refers to the authority of original Rome, she is now meant, because she is the only true continuation of original Rome. Accordingly, where the New Testament enjoins submission to “the powers that be,” or obedience to “governors,” it means the Papacy, because the only power and the only governors that then were, were Roman, and the papal power was the true continuation of the Roman.
“Every passage was seized on where submission to the powers that be is enjoined, every instance cited where obedience had actually been rendered to the imperial officials; special emphasis being laid on the sanction which Christ Himself had given to Roman dominion by pacifying the world through Augustus, by being born at the time of the taxing, by paying tribute to Caesar, by saying to Pilate, ‘Thou couldest have no power at all against Me except it were given thee from above’”—Bryce. And since Christ had recognized the authority of Pilate, who was but the representative of Rome, who should dare to disregard the authority of the Papacy, the true continuation of that authority, to which even the Lord from heaven had submitted.
And it was only the logical culmination of this assumption when Pope Boniface VIII presented himself in the sight of the multitude, clothed in a cuirass, with a helmet on his head and a sword in his hand held aloft, and proclaimed: “There is no other Caesar, nor king, nor emperor than I, the Sovereign Pontiff and Successor of the Apostles;” and, when further he declared, ex cathedra: “We therefore assert, define, and pronounce that it is necessary to salvation to believe that every human being is subject to the Pontiff of Rome.”
This is proof enough that the little horn of the seventh chapter of Daniel is Papal Rome and that it is in spirit and purpose intentionally the continuation of original Rome.
Now, in the eighth chapter of Daniel, this subject is taken up again. First, there is seen by the prophet in vision a ram with two horns which were high, but one higher than the other, corresponding to the bear lifting itself up on one side higher than the other. This is declared plainly by the angel to mean “the kings of Media and Persia.” (Daniel 8:20) Next the prophet saw “an he goat” coming from the west on the face of the whole earth, touching not the ground, and he had a notable horn between his eyes. He overthrew the ram, brake his two horns, cast him down to the ground, and stamped upon him, and there was none that could deliver the ram out of his hand. This is declared by the angel to mean “the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.” (v. 21) The he-goat waxed very great, and when he was strong, the notable horn was broken and in place of it there came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven. This is declared by the angel to mean that “four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his [Alexander’s] power.” (v. 22)
Out of one of these divisions of the empire of Alexander, the prophet next saw that there “came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land.” (v. 9) The directions named show that this power rose and waxed exceeding great from the west. This is explained by the angel to mean, “in the latter time of their kingdom [the four divisions of Grecia], when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.” (v. 23) “And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them.” (v. 10) “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes [“He magnified himself even to the prince of the host.”—v. 11]; but he shall be broken without hand.” (vs. 24, 25)
These specifications show that the little horn of the eighth chapter of Daniel represents Rome from the time of its rise, at the destruction of the Grecian Empire, to the end of the world, when it is “broken without hand” by that stone “cut out of the mountain without hands,” which then breaks in pieces and consumes all earthly kingdoms. (Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45)
We have seen that in the seventh chapter of Daniel the little horn, though as such representing only the latter phase of Rome, yet does really represent Rome in both its phases—Rome from beginning to end, because when the time comes that the “little horn” is to be broken and destroyed, it is indeed “the beast” that is “slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame.” Thus the thought with which the story of the little horn closes in Daniel 7 is continued in Daniel 8 with reference to the same power. In Daniel 8 the expression “little horn” covers the whole of Rome in both its phases, just as is shown in the closing expressions concerning the “little horn” in Daniel 7; as is shown also by the expressions “the abomination of desolation” and “the transgression of desolation,” being applied to Rome in both its phases (Daniel 9:26, 27; Matthew 24:15; Daniel 11:31; 12:11; 8:11, 13); and as is confirmed by the teaching and history of latter Rome itself. It is all one, except only that all that is stated of the former Rome is true and intensified in the latter Rome.
And now let us consider further the scripture expressions in Daniel 8 concerning this little horn power. In verses 11 and 25, of this little horn power it is said: “He shall magnify himself in his heart.” “He magnified himself even to [or against] the prince of the host;” and “he shall also stand up against [or reign in opposition to] the Prince of princes.” This is explained in 2 Thessalonians, second chapter, where the apostle, in correcting wrong impressions which the Thessalonians had received concerning the immediate coming of the Lord, says: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-5)
Plainly this scripture describes the same power that is represented by the little horn in Daniel 8. But there are other considerations which more fully show it. He says that when he was at Thessalonica with the brethren he had told them these very things which now he writes. In Acts 17:1-3, is the record concerning Paul when he was yet with the Thessalonians, as follows: “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures.” And in this reasoning with them out of the Scriptures, he told them about this falling away which should come, in which would be the revealing of the man of sin, the mystery of iniquity, the son of perdition, who would oppose himself to God and would exalt himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, even putting himself in the place of God and passing himself off for God.
In reasoning with the people out of the Scriptures, where in the Scriptures did Paul find the revelation from which he could tell to the Thessalonians all this? It was in this eighth chapter of Daniel where the apostle found it, and from this it was that he told it to them while he was there. For in the eighth chapter of Daniel are the very expressions which he uses in 2 Thessalonians, of which he says, “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” This fixes the time to be after the apostles’ days, when Rome magnified itself “even to the Prince of the host” and “against the Prince of princes;” and connects it directly with the falling away, or apostasy, which developed the Papacy, or Rome, in its latter and ultimate phase.
Now let us read verses 11 and 12 of Daniel 8 and it will be plainly seen that here is exactly the place where Paul found the scripture from which he taught the Thessalonians concerning the “man of sin” and the “mystery of iniquity:” “Yea, he magnified himself even to the Prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced and prospered.”
This plainly points out that which took away the priesthood, the ministry, and the sanctuary of God and of Christianity.
Let us read it again. “Yea, he [the little horn—the man of sin] magnified himself even to the Prince of the host [“against the Prince of princes”—Christ], and by him [the man of sin] the daily sacrifice [the continual service, the ministry, and the priesthood of Christ] was taken away, and the place of His sanctuary [the sanctuary of the prince of the host, of the Prince of princes—Christ] was cast down. And an host was given him [the man of sin] against the daily sacrifice [against the continual service, of the ministry of Christ, the Prince of the host] by reason of transgression cast down the truth to the ground; and it practiced, and prospered.”
It was “by reason of transgression,” that is, by reason of sin, that this power gained “the host” that was used to cast down the truth to the ground, to shut away from the church and the world Christ’s priesthood, His ministry, and His sanctuary; and to cast it all down to the ground and tread it underfoot. It was by reason of transgression that this was accomplished. Transgression is sin, and this is the consideration and the revelation upon which the apostle in 2 Thessalonians defines this power as the “man of sin” and the “mystery of iniquity.”
In Daniel 8:11-13; 11:31; and 12:11, it will be noticed that the word “sacrifice” is in every case supplied. And it is wholly supplied, for in its place in the original there is no word at all. In the original the only word that stands in this place is the word tamid, that is here translated “daily.” And in these places the expression “daily” does not refer to the daily sacrifice any more than it refers to the whole daily ministry or continual service of the sanctuary, of which the sacrifice was only a part. The word tamid in itself signifies “continuous or continual,” “constant,” “stable,” “sure,” “constantly,” “evermore.” Only such words as these express the thought of the original word, which, in the text under consideration, is translated “daily.” In Numbers 28 and 29 alone, the word is used seventeen times, referring to the continual service in the sanctuary.
And it is this continual service of Christ, the true High Priest, “who continueth ever,” (Hebrews 7:24) and “who is consecrated forevermore” (v. 28) in “an unchangeable priesthood” (v. 24)—it is this continual service of our great High Priest, which the man of sin, the Papacy, has taken away. It is the sanctuary and the true tabernacle in which this true High Priest exercises His continual ministry that has been cast down by “the transgression of desolation.” It is this ministry and this sanctuary that the “man of sin” has taken away from the church and shut away from the world and has cast down to the ground and stamped upon and in place of which it has set up itself “the abomination that maketh desolate.” What the former Rome did physically to the visible or earthly sanctuary, which was “the figure of the true” (Daniel 9:26, 27; Matthew 24:15), that the latter Rome has done spiritually to the invisible or heavenly sanctuary that is in itself “the true.” (Daniel 11:31; 12:11; 8:11, 13)
In the footnote quotation on page 91 [page 8] it is shown that in the apostasy, the bishops, presbyters, deacons, and the eucharist were made to succeed the high priest, priests, Levites and sacrifices of the Levitical system. Now by every evidence of the Scriptures, it is certain that, in the order of God it was Christ and His ministry and sanctuary in heaven and this alone, that in truth was the object of the Levitical system and that is truly the Christian succession to that system. Therefore when in and by the apostasy the system of bishops as high priests, presbyters as priests, deacons as Levites, and the Supper as a sacrifice was insinuated as the Christian succession to the Levitical system, this of itself was nothing else than to put this false system of the apostasy in the place of the true, completely to shut out the true, and finally, to cast it down to the ground and stamp upon it.
And this is how it is that this great Christian truth of the true priesthood, ministry, and sanctuary of Christ is not known to the Christian world today. The “man of sin” has taken it away and cast it down to the ground and stamped upon it. The “mystery of iniquity” has hid this great truth from the church and the world during all these ages in which the man of sin has held place in the world and has passed itself off as God and its iniquitous host as the church of God.
And yet, even the “man of sin,” the “mystery of iniquity,” itself bears witness to the necessity of such a service in the church in behalf of sins. For though the “man of sin,” the “mystery of iniquity,” has taken away the true priesthood, ministry, and sanctuary of Christ and has cast these down to the ground to be stamped upon and has completely hid them from the eyes of the Christian world, yet she did not utterly throw away the idea. No, she threw away the true and cast down the true to the ground but, retaining the idea in the place of the true, she built up in her own realm an utterly false structure.
In the place of Christ, the true and divine High Priest of God’s own appointment in heaven, she has substituted a human, sinful, and sinning priesthood on earth. In the place of the continual, heavenly ministry of Christ in His true priesthood upon His true sacrifice, she has substituted only an interval ministry of a human, earthly, sinful, and sinning priesthood in the once-a-day “daily sacrifice of the mass.” And in the place of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man, she has substituted her own meeting-places of wood and stone, to which she applies the term “sanctuary.” Thus, instead of the one continual High Priest, the one continual ministry, and the one continual sanctuary in heaven, which God has ordained and which is the only true, she has devised out of her own heart and substituted for the only true, many high priests, many ministries, many sacrifices, and many sanctuaries, on earth, which in every possible relation are only human and utterly false.
And it can never take away sin. No earthly priesthood, no earthly ministry, no earthly sacrifice or service in any earthly sanctuary can ever take away sin. In the book of Hebrews we have seen that even the priesthood, the ministry, the sacrifice, and the service in the earthly sanctuary—the very service which the Lord Himself ordained on earth—never took away sin. The inspired record is that they never did take away sin, and that they never could take away sin.
It is only the priesthood and the ministry of Christ that can ever take away sin. And this is a priesthood and a ministry in heaven and of a sanctuary that is in heaven. For when Christ was on earth he was not a priest and if He had remained on earth until this hour, He would not yet be a priest, as it stands written, “If he were on earth, He should not be a priest.” (Hebrews 8:4) Thus, by plain word and abundant illustration, God has demonstrated that no earthly priesthood, sacrifice, or ministry can ever take away sin.
If any such could take away sin, then why could not that which God Himself ordained on earth take away sin? If any such could take away sin, then why change the priesthood and the ministry from earth to heaven? Therefore, by the plain word of the Lord, it is plain that the priesthood, the ministry, the sacrifice, and the sanctuary which the Papacy has set up and operates on earth can never take away sin, but, instead, only perpetuates sin, is a fraud, an imposture, and the very “transgression” and “abomination of desolation” in the most holy place.
And that this conclusion and statement as to what the papal system really is is not extravagant nor far-fetched, is confirmed by the words of Cardinal Baronius, the standard annalist of the papacy. Writing of the tenth century, he says: “In this century the abomination of desolation was seen in the temple of the Lord; and in the See of St. Peter, reverenced by angels, were placed the most wicked of men; not pontiffs, but monsters.” And the council of Rheims in 991 declared the papacy to be “the man of sin, the mystery of iniquity.”
(To be continued)
(This article was taken from pages 86-103 of the book, The Consecrated Way to Christian Perfection, by Alonzo T. Jones. Some editing has been done for this publication. Editor)