Breaking the Sabbath Brought Desolation
Just what were these abominations that resulted in such desolation? Since this was all done “To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah,” then Jeremiah should be able to tell us what substitutions in worship had been made. In Jeremiah 17 the prophet is told to stand in the gate of the people and prophesy. Under a divine mandate, Jeremiah told the people that if they would honour God’s Seventh day Sabbath their city would remain forever, and that this faithful obedience would lead them into such a relationship with Himself that they would be used to convert the surrounding heathen nations (Jeremiah 17:19-26).
On the other hand, if they would not keep the Sabbath day holy, God would allow their city to be desolated. “But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then I will kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” Jeremiah 17:27.
Sadly, the Jews continued breaking God’s Sabbath and thus inaugurated their own destruction and captivity. The abomination that led to their desolation was breaking the Lord's Sabbath. Thus, we see the significance of 2 Chronicles 36:21: “To fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath.”
The there is Ezekiel who lived during the same time who also tells us about the abominations God’s people were practicing in the holy place. In Ezekiel chapter 8, the prophet was brought by vision to the door of the inner gate. God proceeded to show his servant the progressively greater outrages His people were committing. In verses 5 and 6 He speaks of an image that provoked Him to jealousy. In an escalation of outrage, unclean beasts had been brought into the house of God, women were weeping for Tammuz and the greatest abomination of all was twenty five men standing in God’s holy place “with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.” Ezekiel 8:16.
God had instructed the Jews to erect the temple in such a manner that would discourage the imitation of their heathen neighbours in sun worship. The Ark of the Covenant, the very focal point of the Jews’ worship was purposely placed at the western end of the tabernacle. Thus the children of Israel would be facing the west with their backs to the rising sun when they worshipped the true God. Yet the entrance of paganism among God’s people had grown to such proportions that Judah’s leading men were actually turning their backs on the temple of God. This was a very significant act of apostasy that must not be overlooked.
Both Ezekiel and Jeremiah list the heathen practices that had been incorporated into the worship of God. Whether it was breaking the second Commandment by idol worship, adoring unclean beasts, worshipping Tammuz, the mythological god of the pagans, or breaking God’s holy Sabbath and worshiping the sun on the day consecrated to it. These practices all were classed by God as abominations. It was because the Jews persisted in justifying their own course and continued in these heathen customs that God permitted the desolation of their city.
Daniel himself agrees that it was the sins committed by God’s people that caused their desolation. “O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and the iniquities of our fathers.... cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate.... open thy eyes, and behold our desolations...” Daniel 9:16-18. It is important to note that the abominations were done by the apostate people of God. This in turn resulted in their forfeiture of God’s protection and called down His judgments and chastisement in their desolation. This scenario of the abomination of desolation in Daniel’s day, involving the first Jewish temple period, prefigures the two other abominations of desolation prophesied in Daniel. The next one we shall consider is the one that concerns the second Jewish temple period.