In light of the fact that the abomination that causes desolation is said to have been present in the holy place which as stated above signifies the Temple everywhere else in the Bible, it is also possible that the abomination that causes desolation are the Zealots whose vile murders in the Temple grounds desecrated the Temple. In 2 Kings 23:13, Ezekiel 5:11; 8-10; 22:1-16 idolatry and unjust bloodshed are said to be abominations. One problem with this view is that it conflicts with Daniel 9:26-27 which links the abomination that causes desolation with Caesar Titus, the prince who “destroy[s] the city and the sanctuary” in v. 26. And it is this “prince” who causes the abomination that causes desolation: “And at the temple he [the prince] will set up an abomination that causes desolation[.]” (Daniel 9:27) (See How the Greek (2nd Century B.C.) and Roman Armies (1st Century A.D.) with Their Idols of Zeus Literally fulfill All Bible Prophecies Concerning the Abomination that Causes Desolation.)
Furthermore, a previous abomination that causes desolation is mentioned in Daniel 11:31-32. In these verses the abomination of desolation denotes the Greek armies who placed an idol of Zeus in the Temple and offered pagan sacrifices on the Temple altar in the second century B.C. (1 Macc 1:59). 1 Macc 6:1-2 refers to these acts as “a desolating sacrilege.” The abomination that causes desolation at the end of the age is given the same name since essentially the exact same thing occurred in A.D. 70. After capturing the Temple, the Romans worshiped the ensigns, the main one being Aquila who was Zeus’ messenger, while offering sacrifices to these idols in the Temple. One animal sacrificed by Titus was believed to be a pig which is exactly what Antiochus Epiphanies had done in the Temple 200 years earlier (1 Macc 1:59; Wars 1.1.2). In other words, both the Greeks and the Romans set up some type of idol of Zeus or his messenger in the Temple and both offered pagan sacrifices inside the Temple. Here we can see why the same name is given to both events.
If the first instance of the abomination that causes desolation was setting up an idol and offering a pig and other pagan sacrifices in the Temple, the second is likely to be something similar. If the murderous acts of the Zealots are the abomination that causes desolation in Matthew 24:15 then this interpretation conflicts with the precedent set in Daniel 11:31-32 and unjustifiably and irrationally ignores the similarities in what the Romans and Greeks both did in the Temple.
Another argument against this view is the fact that the Zealots continuously defiled the Temple from the beginning of the Jewish War in A.D. 66 until the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Given the fact that the Zealots desecrated the Temple with murder and various diverse lawless acts over the course of roughly four years, at which point amidst all these abominable acts were the people supposed to drop everything and flee as Jesus warned in vs. 17 and 18? Similarly, if the zealot’s lawless deeds are the abomination that causes desolation, this interpretation of the abomination of desolation in Matthew 24:15 conflicts with its synoptic equivalent in Luke 21:20. In Luke 21:20-21 Jesus says to drop everything and flee when they “see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies” If someone is told to drop everything and flee it does not make sense to have two temporally disparate signs–zealots in the Temple vs. armies outside.
Some might argue, “But is it not true that murder is much worse than worshiping foreign gods and sacrificing a pig in the Temple?” Perhaps, but the murder in the Temple was not the abomination or sin that caused the desolation of Jerusalem. The sin that caused the Jews’ desolation is defined in Matt 23:29-38, Revelation 6:9-11 and 17:4-6. These verses define this sin as the murder of the prophets and Christian saints (not the death of wicked men in the Temple). The Jews had been killing the prophets and saints for centuries prior to the birth of Christ? At which point amidst these continuous abominable acts that spanned hundreds of years were the saints supposed to drop everything and flee (Mt 24:15-18)? Furthermore, remember that Christians fled Jerusalem to Pella prior to the revolt so those people murdered in the Temple by the Zealots could not have been the saints and thus their murder could not have been the sin that caused the vengeance of God according to Revelation 6:9-11; 17:4-6; and Matthew 23:29-38. The fact that impious Jewish rebels were killed in the Temple is God’s vengeance for the murder of the saints and prophets. God did not kill the Jews in the Jerusalem because they murdered other wicked men in the Temple. Like the slaughter of the Jews in Jerusalem by the Romans, the murder of impious Jews by equally wicked Jews in the Temple was all part of God’s vengeance on His people at the end of the age.
Having addressed the fact that the abomination that causes desolation was not the Zealot murders in the Temple, it is actually true that the abomination that causes desolation is (in a way) the sin that caused the desolation of Jerusalem. When the Romans worshiped the ensigns in the Temple these soldiers unwittingly enacted the sin for which the Jews had been punished at the end of the age in a theatrical manner. One of the main ensigns was the numina legionum which was the image of the emperor in the shape of a large circular medallion which looked just like a large Roman coin held aloft on a pole. It was the wealthy Jews of Jerusalem who killed the saints and the prophets in order to avoid a financially disastrous war of independence from Rome that would invariably leave them penniless (1 Ti 6:10; Jn 11:47-50; 19:12; Mt 2:1-3, Lk 19:27; Jm 2:1-7; 5:1-6; Lk 11:39, 16:13-15). (See Revelation 13: A Preterist Commentary.) The fact that the wealthy Jewish elite killed Jesus and the saints in order to remain rich means that money (the mark of the beast) is their true God. The Romans unwittingly enacted this sin when they worshiped large money-shaped idols in the Jewish Temple. Thus when the Romans worshiped the ensigns, this abomination was a theatrical symbol of the ultimate ABOMINATION THAT CAUSED THE DESOLATION of Jerusalem.