“…who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God“
Our passage describes the true disposition of the coming world dictator, the antichrist. We saw in verse 3 that he was lawless and headed for hell. This verse shows his purpose to conquer all religions and exalt himself as “God.”
The man of lawlessness has two distinctive functions: he
1) opposes and
2) exalts himself above all religions.
The man of lawlessness opposes God as an adversary. The word “opposes” means to be set over against, lie opposite (not only in attitude but also in behavior). The idea is that this person is hostile and wants to show his hostility. He is the last world dictator, the antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3). In such a role, he takes a position in opposition to God and all religion.
and exalts himself above all that is called God
One definite article (“the”) occurs in the Greek before both “opposes” and “exalts.” He opposes all that is called God because he wants to exalt himself above all religion.
The word “exalts” comes from two words: to raise and over. Here it means to exalt oneself exceedingly over others. The man of lawlessness wants to climb over all religions. He wants to outflank God by manipulating people religiously throughout the world. The fact that men exalt themselves is not new but doing it on this scale is revolutionary. He exalts himself above every religion in the world.
or that is worshiped,
The word “worshiped” denotes an object of worship. This man of lawlessness is out to conquer both the true Christianity and pagan places of worship–any kind of worship. No religion will escape his domination.
so that he sits as God in the temple of God,
The man of lawlessness will assume God’s place in the innermost sanctuary of God’s temple. The antichrist will reign for three and one-half years and sit in the temple in Jerusalem (Daniel 7:25). The Greek word “temple” indicates that he invades the place designed for the very presence of God, in the “Holy of holies.” The Bible calls this “the abomination of desolation.”
“And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11:31).
Jesus spoke of this event.
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand)…” (Matthew 24:15).
”So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (Mark 13:14).
There is no temple in Jerusalem today. The Muslim mosque, the Dome of the Rock, sits on the site of Herod’s temple, the temple of Jesus’ day. Titus destroyed that temple in A.D. 70. Apparently, the man of lawlessness will allow the Jews to build a new temple in the first part of the Tribulation, possibly as part of the covenant the man of lawlessness makes with Israel at the beginning of the Tribulation. Imagine the havoc this will cause with the Muslims.
His objective is to neutralize Israel as God’s chosen people. The purpose of the Tribulation is to bring Israel to acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah.
“And after the sixty-two weeks
Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself;
And the people of the prince who is to come
Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end of it shall be with a flood,
And till the end of the war desolations are determined.
Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate” (Daniel 9:26-27).
The man of lawlessness will assume his place in the temple mid-way through the Tribulation (Daniel 9:24-27).
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days [3 ½ years]” (Daniel 12:11).
showing himself that he is God
The word “showing” literally means to point out, to exhibit, to show forth, put on display. The man of lawlessness will prove by demonstrating supernatural power (Satan’s) that he is “God” and so bring about the approval of his followers (Revelation 13:5-8). This man is a mighty evangelist for his cause. He is in the business of pointing out the worth of worshiping him. He puts on display the credibility of his man-made religion by miracles, argument, and reason.
Satan exalted himself as God before the creation of man (Isaiah 14:13-14). Now his surrogate exalts himself over all religions of the world. Satan has not changed his plans. He is still the same old person. He opposes God to exalt himself.
The Christian must stay on his spiritual toes because he has a supernatural adversary.
Christians today need to keep on their spiritual toes because the Devil is on their case. Since God has an adversary, so does the Christian. Because of the Christian’s relationship with God, he attracts supernatural adversity.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour [gulp down]” (1 Peter 5:8).
If God will not approve of temple worship during the great tribulation then why does Paul refers to it as the “temple of God”?
Some interpret the “temple” here as the church. That interpretation appears to me to be a stretch in this context of future events.
Pre-tribulationists believe that the church is to be raptured before the Tribulation so the church is gone by this time (the Day of the Lord). Also, the purpose of the Tribulation is to bring Israel back to God. It will be a time of great tribulation for them. This is also a time of ultimate apostasy in the world and also for Israel (hē apostasia).
There is no temple at the present time in Jerusalem so it would have to be built by Jews during the first years of the Tribulation. The phrase “temple of God” refers to Israel’s temple, the symbol of God’s presence for them. This does not necessarily imply that this is a temple authorized by God.
Jesus has taken the place of the temple in every way. He is God with us. The original tabernacle was moving as God moved and the people of God experienced his Shekinah glory. Hebrews tells us Jesus put an end to sacrifice once and for all. It tells us he was the ultimate sacrifice. He even said he was the temple. Christians are told their bodies are the temple of the Lord. II believe Daniel was speaking of coming judgement on Israel in the form of Antiochus Epiphanes. Judas Maccabeus came later and fought for the Jewish people. Jesus later quotes Daniel in the Olivet Discourse referring to the coming destruction of the temple of Herod’s time by the Romans under Titus in AD 70. I know from research that I,II Thessalonians were probably penned while that temple still stood. At that time it was a literal temple. I really struggle with a literal new temple if Christ put an end to all of that and why would there possible be a millennial temple when Christ rules if he is the fulfillment of the temple in the first place? If as you say the tribulation is to draw the Jews to Christ then why would they need a temple?
The temple that John is called to measure in the apocalyptic book of Revelation is the temple in heaven. There is no temple in the final state for Jesus and God are the temple.
I do know that scripture says there will be a falling away first and that the man of perdition will be revealed. However, in the Daniel text Jesus is the one putting an end to sacrifice and making final atonement for sin…..often [people read Danial 9 and apply this to the antichrist………………..Jesus was crucified after a 3 1/2 year ministry…………..this too if often misapplied to the antichrist of end times. Now don’t get me wrong, I am very aware of texts in Revelation referring to time, times and half a time……………1260 days etc….. I really can not be dogmatic about the final time………………..I know Christ is coming back…………..believers will go to be with him in the air in a parousia (not rapture pre-trib), and the spiritually dead will be judged. No matter what happens we will forever be with the Lord.