Jesus says that when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand). What is the abomination of desolation? Certain prophecies should be neither interpreted nor understood in their literal meaning. It should be interpreted in a spiritual manner.
Daniel says in the 8th and 11th chapter of his book that in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors have reached their fullness, a mighty king shall arise with sinister schemes. He will destroy the holy people and will rise against the Prince of princes. He will be a vile person who will come in peaceably and seize the kingdom by intrigue. He will be against the holy covenant and his forces will defile the sanctuary fortress and will take the daily sacrifice and place there the abomination of desolation (Dan.11: 21-31).
The prophecies of Daniel point to an individual king who will take over a kingdom political and religious. A powerful kingdom will arise in the latter time (Dan.8: 23). This kingdom will be ruled by the Devil in a surreptitious manner through his two representatives i.e. Antichrist and False Prophet (Dan.8: 24).
The characteristics and the actions of this king are apparent from Dan.7: 23-27, 8:23-25 &11:36-39 as below:
(i) He (the fourth beast) will speak great words against the most High
(ii) He will wear out the saints of the most High
(iii) He will think to change times and laws
(iv) He will be mighty but not by his own power,
(v) He will destroy wonderfully, and will prosper, and will destroy the mighty and the holy people.
(vi) He will cause craft to prosper in his hand
(vii) He will magnify himself in his heart
(viii) He will destroy many by peace
(ix) He will come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries
(x) He will become strong with a small people
(xi) He will do according to his will
(xii) He will exalt himself, and magnify himself above very god
(xiii) He will speak marvelous things against the God of gods
(xiv) He will prosper till the indignation is accomplished
(xv) He will not regard the God of his fathers, but will glorify and honor a god with gold, and silver and with precious stones, and pleasant things.
(xvi) He will cause the strange god to rule over many, and will divide the land for gain
(xvii) He will set his heart against the holy covenant
(xviii) He will cause the daily sacrifice in the temple of God to cease.
Let us now read I Thes.2: 1-9. The coming of the Lord will be preceded by THE FALLING AWAY, FIRSTLY, and the REVELATION OF THE MAN OF SIN, THE SIN OF PERDITION, SECONDLY. He will sit as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. He is not yet revealed because the Holy Spirit is restraining him. The moment he is revealed, the Lord will consume him with the breath of His Mouth and will destroy with the brightness of His coming.
It is now very clear that the revelation of the son of perdition will be preceded by the coming of the Lord. The works of the Antichrist and the False Prophet as revealed in the book of Daniel and in the book of Revelation do take place in the spiritual realm, not visible to our eyes. We will come to know about him only at the time of his revelation when he will sit as God in the Temple of God. Here also, he will not sit bodily in the physical temple of God in Jerusalem. Sitting as God in the temple of God means the worlds acceptance of a god other than the true God. To the Muslims, he will reveal himself as Prophet Jesus Whom they are awaiting. To the Christians who are deceived, he will reveal himself as the Lord Jesus. To the Jews, he will reveal himself as the Messiah. To the Hindus, he will reveal himself as Lord Krishna (of the international Hare Krishna movement).
Paul in his epistle to Thessalonians wrote, "The mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way". This means that the power of the Devil as a mystery is already at work. This is not something new, which will happen at the close of the age. The work begun by the spirit of Antichrist will reach its peak in the last of last days. The Devil and his representatives are already at work.
John wrote in I John 4:3, "Ye have heard that it (the spirit of Antichrist) should come; and even now already is it in the world." When John wrote this epistle in the first century, it is seen that the spirit of Antichrist was already at work in the world. This means that the spirit of Antichrist is already at work in the world but is not yet revealed. The Antichrist is a spiritual being, and not a king in flesh and blood. However, there are antichrists in the world that are human beings in flesh and blood.
John wrote in his epistle I John 2:18-19, "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us" Even when John wrote this epistle, antichrists were there and that period was known as the last time. As such, we can call this time as the last of last days. It is apparent that those people who are with us today would go away and would become antichrists as had happened during the New Testament period. This is a very dangerous thing, which should serve as a revelation to us.
The Antichrist is the king of an invisible kingdom, which will become powerful in the last of last days, both politically and spiritually. This invisible kingdom will be visible to us through its world rulers. He influences some political leaders or the rulers of some powerful Christian nations to do his own will. If he influences non-Christian nations, we can easily identify him and his hidden agenda against the Church. In some Christian nations, certain laws are being passed which will directly affect the Church. These rulers, in order to win the great multitudes of non-Christian population in their countries and other nations, will compromise the Word of God and the Christian faith.
The visible political leaders will be puppets in the hands of the invisible king who is not yet revealed. A hidden king will control these visible political leaders with a remote control in his hand. It is an invisible and invincible kingdom, which will become powerful politically and spiritually. It will prosper through flatteries and deception. The puppet national leaders will dance to the tune of this invisible king. THEY WILL NOT LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF THE BODY OF CHRIST, THE CHURCH. This kingdom will prosper through violence and war. These leaders will declare war against other nations at will. They will take sword to annihilate their enemies, which is quite contrary to the doctrines of Christ. The people of those nations under the rule of these visible rulers will be greatly influenced by the flatteries of these rulers.
If the Antichrist reveals himself through an earthly king today, we can easily identify him. However, he is a spiritual being, functioning directly under the power of the Devil. It is saddening to note from the prophecies that he has cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them (Dan.8: 9-10). Some of the host and of the stars could be anointed servants of God or some Christian rulers, who were shining in the kingdom of God.
The theory that the Pope of Rome could be the Antichrist is wrong because the Antichrist has not yet been revealed. He will be manifested only on the second advent of Christ Jesus.
We should thank God for the book of Daniel and for the New Testament books of Johns and Pauls Epistles and the book of Revelation.
The holy covenant means the covenant of God with His people through the blood of Jesus and not the Old Covenant. The Antichrist will wage war against the Church, the body of Christ. With the power of the Devil, He and his forces including the False Prophet will defile the sanctuary. The sanctuary does not mean the physical sanctuary in the Jerusalem Temple. The Antichrist will have nothing against the physical Israel who have not accepted Christ. They are not the holy people under the New Covenant.
Today we find that the defilement of the sanctuary has already begun with the sin entering the holy place in the body of Christ. The daily sacrifice means the sacrifice of the people of God in the body of Christ. This does not mean the daily sacrifice of the physical Jews in the synagogue. The Devil is not afraid of the traditional sacrifice of the physical Jews in the synagogue who have not yet accepted Christ.
The Devil with the help of the Antichrist and the False Prophet will influence the Church to such an extent that the people of God may not daily sacrifice to God through prayers and ministry in His vineyard. They will set the abomination of desolation in the holy place of the spiritual Jerusalem. When we will such a sign of falling away of many saints and of spiritual wickedness in high places of the Church, we should be careful and await the second advent of our Lord.
The Antichrist will wear out and even destroy the mighty and the holy people. He will also rise against the Prince of princes. This will be the height of their battle against the Church. Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery. This means the Antichrist (Beast) and the False Prophet will influence through flatteries those who are already against Christ and His body. But the people of God who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits (Dan.11: 32).
The horn (Antichrist) 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 (Dan.7: 21-22).
"And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him Who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured and with him the False Prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Both of them were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Rev.19: 19-20).