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