Matthew 13:14-27 Fleeing the Apocalypse

14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’[a] standing where it[b] does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

24 “But in those days, following that distress,

“‘the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[c]

26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

Fleeing the Apocalypse

Having just alleviated the disciples’ concern he now gives them every reason to act with alarm.  Even though I do believe the temple will be reestablished and the Jewish people will resume their sacrifices, I do not think the first level of interpretation is talking about a future temple.  I believe that this literally took place in A.D. 70.  The disciples did not need to fall back and defend the temple like the rest of the Jewish nation did.  many gave their lives to try and keep the Roman legions from desecrating God’s sanctuary.  Jesus says that such actions are in vain. It would be a good time to flee.  Historical accounts of the Roman suppression are horrific.  The brutality of Roman legions is matched by the brutality of Jew upon Jew.  Also, it is possible that the Jewish zealots desecrated their own temple in attempts to defend it, thus only adding weight to Jesus’ prophesies.

Through the ages, though.  False Messiahs and false faiths have risen through the ages and Christians could think that they need to stand and face everything for the cause of Christ.  Sometimes it is an option to flee persecution or temptations.  We do not have to show how tough we think we are or our God is.

Prayer

More and more I realise that I do not have to dictate which battles I fight or to tough things out.  I can start to distinguish which ones I am called to and which ones to flee.  In America, for the time being, we are somewhat safe.  I am concerned that with the dissolution of truth and the opposition of authority we will find our future darkened.  But I am thankful that the apocalypse to come is, as of now, in the future.

Questions

  1. What things are to happen that will cause the disciples to know it is time to run?
  2. Is Jesus’ warning one to Jerusalem or for the whole world?
  3. Did any of this occur in 70 A.D. or is all of this future?
  4. How should Christians respond to waves of secularization, atheism, and opposition?
  5. Is America in decline as far as the faith of its people goes, or is the faith in America becoming stronger?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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5 Responses to Matthew 13:14-27 Fleeing the Apocalypse

  1. Eric Wildermuth says:

    Jesus tell His disciples that they will know it is time to flee when the “abomination that causes desolation” stands where it does not belong. It would seem that Jesus is warning anyone near Jerusalem because of it’s utter imminent destruction.
    I do believe that some of the events describe took place in 70 A.D. in Jerusalem, but that ultimately, this prophesy will find its fulfillment during the tribulation.
    It is also interesting to me how evident Christ’s return will be and how easily we can be fooled. Jesus has to tell them to ignore those people who would say that they are the Messiah, or that Christ has returned. His return will be marked with great power and people will see it, but then, it will be too late for those who do not know Christ as their savior to realize that they have been duped.
    Finally, it seems as though, America is losing faith in some regards, but perhaps it is only losing its morals that came with a true faith in Christ that was abandoned long ago. In other respects, those who place their faith in Christ, from my limited perspective, seem to–and should–be growing stronger in their faith.

  2. Jesus is telling them it is time to run when “the abomination that causes desolation’’ is standing where it does not belong. I think this is referring to the anti-Christ when he declares that he is god. If that is true, wouldn’t that put it at the middle of the tribulation? Because I believe Jesus is talking about some happening soon, but also talking about the future, is Jesus warning believers or just people in general or only His disciples. Is this possibly a text for mid-trib rapture?? Not sure. I really think that Jesus is talking to everyone, but it’s confusing because he is talking directly to the disciples. I believe what happened in 70 A.D was a taste of what will happen in the future.
    I really think that we need respond wisely and wisely in whom we respond to. We need to not throw our pearls before the swine as proverbs says. I believe people are not always looking for a truth but something to throw in your face and re-word to make you seem racist or a bigot to other people. But I do think that we need to respond to secularization, atheism, and opposition, first in our own family’s and our own lives, and then throughout the church. We need to be able to talk with those that oppose Christianity, but we must be studied or we will discredit ourselves and fall into the all too common category as a stupid Christian. In some ways I believe America is in a decline in some areas, but I think when the reality of things like abortion or people involved in homosexuality activity produce fruit and people see the fruit, they will start to understand that this is not right and there must be another way. America is not as far gone as Canada or other countries, but America is almost at a breaking point, but which way America will fall, is still something that is not known.

  3. kevin w. says:

    I think it is interesting that Jesus uses the phrase “the abomination of desolation” in His reply to the disciples. This is the same phrase used in Daniel 9:27 and following. In 167 B.C. Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple, it being referred to in one of the Maccabees as the abomination of desolation. Then we have what Jesus says here, some of which seems to be clearly fulfilled in 70 A.D. But there are aspects of what Jesus says that do seem to totally fit in line with just the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. As terrible as that time was it does seem a stretch that it was the worst time in all human history past or future. Furthermore, Jesus says that it is for the sake of the elect that the days were shortened. Most of the Jews who holed up in Jerusalem were following false messiah figures, not the true Messiah. It is possible, perhaps, that Jesus is referring to Israel as nationally elect. The most telling, however, is that Jesus says that the son of man will come on in great power and glory–it will be something unmistakable, unlike the false prophets and messiahs. In light of these observations and what some of the other end times passages say, I am inclined to say that some of it was literally fulfilled in 70 A.D., but not all of it.
    I like how Jesus does not give a date or explain when each part might take place (Mr. Worrall’s comments on the previous devotional). I definitely agree that while it is good to discuss and think about when and how, it is more important to see the meat of Jesus’ response–hold to the truth and persevere in His strength.
    I think America is becoming more secular. it is ironic because so many identify with Christianity. But it is a false Christianity made in their image, which is just the rage especially among college agers.

  4. Christina Zezulak says:

    Fleeing the Apocalypse
    Having just alleviated the disciples’ concern he now gives them every reason to act with alarm.  Even though I do believe the temple will be reestablished and the Jewish people will resume their sacrifices, I do not think the first level of interpretation is talking about a future temple.  I believe that this literally took place in A.D. 70.  The disciples did not need to fall back and defend the temple like the rest of the Jewish nation did.  many gave their lives to try and keep the Roman legions from desecrating God’s sanctuary.  Jesus says that such actions are in vain. It would be a good time to flee.  Historical accounts of the Roman suppression are horrific.  The brutality of Roman legions is matched by the brutality of Jew upon Jew.  Also, it is possible that the Jewish zealots desecrated their own temple in attempts to defend it, thus only adding weight to Jesus’ prophesies.
    Through the ages, though.  False Messiahs and false faiths have risen through the ages and Christians could think that they need to stand and face everything for the cause of Christ.  Sometimes it is an option to flee persecution or temptations.  We do not have to show how tough we think we are or our God is.
    Prayer
    More and more I realise that I do not have to dictate which battles I fight or to tough things out.  I can start to distinguish which ones I am called to and which ones to flee.  In America, for the time being, we are somewhat safe.  I am concerned that with the dissolution of truth and the opposition of authority we will find our future darkened.  But I am thankful that the apocalypse to come is, as of now, in the future.
    Questions

    The disciples will know that the time has come to run when the abomination that causes desolation. Like the pig sacrifice in the second century B.C. on the temple altar, “the Antichrist’s ultimate desecration [is] when he sets up an image of himself in the temple during the Tribulation” (MacArthur 1245).
    The phrase “let the reader understand” (Mark 13:14) indicates that this prophecy goes beyond the present generation. From a pre-tribulation viewpoint, I believe that this warning is for the Jews, the elect (Mark 13:20). The Church’s rapture would have already taken place. It is well argued that this could have partially been fulfilled in 70 A.D., but I believe that this is mainly serves as a future prophecy. I find it hard to believe that the days of distress, which have been unlike anything the world has ever experienced, has already occurred.
    Christians need to respond to the waves of secularization, atheism, and opposition by wearing the full armor of God (Ephesians 6). These are obviously schemes of the devil (Eph 6:11). We need the belt of truth in times during the spreading of great lies such as these. We need the breastplate of righteousness in a world filled with godlessness. We need to declare the glorious gospel under any form of opposition, and do so in a loving, gracious, and peaceful way. The shield of faith and the helmet of salvation will give us protection. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, will enable us to fight the battles we need to fight. Mainly, we need to be “praying all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18). The armor of God is truly Jesus, and Jesus is who we ultimately need in these times.
    It is unfair to put America in one category in terms of the Christian faith. We know that there is the majority of proclaimed Christians that are actually nominal, and their lives reflect no fruit of the Spirit. In this regard, the faith is weakening because we have lost the meaning, as a culture, of the implications of following Christ. However, there is a faithful remnant in America of Biblical Christians. They are proclaiming the gospel on school campuses, reaching the homeless, going into full-time ministry and/or full-time missions. For the remnant, the faith in America is becoming stronger. More and more people are following Christ the way it is supposed to be done – but in comparison to the majority, it appears that nominal Christianity has taken over. By God’s grace, it will not be this way much longer. As unbelieving America continues to oppose Christians in the U.S. as it has already happened (abortion, homosexuality, etc), the nominals will no longer find it convenient to be proclaimed Christians. Time will ultimately reveal the sheep from the goats.

  5. Christina Zezulak says:

    The disciples will know that the time has come to run when the abomination that causes desolation. Like the pig sacrifice in the second century B.C. on the temple altar, “the Antichrist’s ultimate desecration [is] when he sets up an image of himself in the temple during the Tribulation” (MacArthur 1245).
    The phrase “let the reader understand” (Mark 13:14) indicates that this prophecy goes beyond the present generation. From a pre-tribulation viewpoint, I believe that this warning is for the Jews, the elect (Mark 13:20). The Church’s rapture would have already taken place. It is well argued that this could have partially been fulfilled in 70 A.D., but I believe that this is mainly serves as a future prophecy. I find it hard to believe that the days of distress, which have been unlike anything the world has ever experienced, has already occurred.
    Christians need to respond to the waves of secularization, atheism, and opposition by wearing the full armor of God (Ephesians 6). These are obviously schemes of the devil (Eph 6:11). We need the belt of truth in times during the spreading of great lies such as these. We need the breastplate of righteousness in a world filled with godlessness. We need to declare the glorious gospel under any form of opposition, and do so in a loving, gracious, and peaceful way. The shield of faith and the helmet of salvation will give us protection. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, will enable us to fight the battles we need to fight. Mainly, we need to be “praying all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18). The armor of God is truly Jesus, and Jesus is who we ultimately need in these times.
    It is unfair to put America in one category in terms of the Christian faith. We know that there is the majority of proclaimed Christians that are actually nominal, and their lives reflect no fruit of the Spirit. In this regard, the faith is weakening because we have lost the meaning, as a culture, of the implications of following Christ. However, there is a faithful remnant in America of Biblical Christians. They are proclaiming the gospel on school campuses, reaching the homeless, going into full-time ministry and/or full-time missions. For the remnant, the faith in America is becoming stronger. More and more people are following Christ the way it is supposed to be done – but in comparison to the majority, it appears that nominal Christianity has taken over. By God’s grace, it will not be this way much longer. As unbelieving America continues to oppose Christians in the U.S. as it has already happened (abortion, homosexuality, etc), the nominals will no longer find it convenient to be proclaimed Christians. Time will ultimately reveal the sheep from the goats.

    J. MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 1783.

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