In our last two studies, we read Jesus’ answers to their questions (v.1).
His answers go far beyond the destruction of Jerusalem, which would happen in 70 A.D, and graphically encompasses events that would transpire at and during the tribulation period. He warned them of deception, wars, rumors of wars, natural disasters increasing in frequency and amount, and the persecution that would happen because of His name.
He told them what to expect regarding the councils they would stand before. He instructed them not to be anxious at that time but to look to the Holy Spirit, who would give them the words to say. He also revealed how terrible it would be in the homes of those who followed Him in those days. Parents were turning in their children, and children their parents. Siblings report one another and hand them over to be put to death (v 12).
And then Jesus makes this profound statement: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Those words from Jesus indicate that the truly regenerated WILL persevere through these terrible times showing that they are truly His children!
14 “Now when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be—[a]let the [b]reader understand—then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.”
FOCUS ONE: THE TRIGGER (14)
If the words of Jesus to His disciples so far haven’t been that concerning, these next ones certainly would be. Some striking observations in this verse alone need to be pointed out. Statements that make clear to us what this abomination of desolation is and when it will take place.
We take notice of the term “seeing,” the abomination of desolation standing where (he) ought not to be. The definite greek article used for “it” or “he” is ho. Your translation may have it either way. But I think we can accurately summarize from these words that there will be a person that stands where he shouldn’t be (the temple) proclaiming himself to be god, as we read about in Daniel 9.
This will take place in a period identified in verse 19 as “a time of tribulation.” That tribulation period is seven years, according to the prophet Daniel in Daniel chapter 9 – the seventeenth week of Daniel. “It is a time of deadly destruction. Satan is let loose, demons are let loose, Satan and demons do terrible damage to people, terrible destructive damage and death is brought upon people. The Antichrist shows up, the false prophet shows up, the Antichrist takes over and dominates the world with his power; he is aided and abetted by demons and by men who form his armies.”
When you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand).” Those words, let the reader understand, are essential as well. Remember that Jesus is speaking to His disciples, telling them these things. The NT was not written down for many more years!
So, that event is a significant event that will let everyone know that they are in a time of tribulation. “Please notice: this was not for the disciples. This was for readers – see it? ‘Let the reader understand.’ That is not added by some editor; that is what Mark wrote.”
So what I believe our “take-away” is from this statement is that this isn’t going to happen until this is written down in Scripture and read; therefore, this is for a future generation of readers – not for those who are listening on the Mount of Olives, but for future readers of the New Testament – and what would they look for? The ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION. You say, “What is that?” As I mentioned above, referencing Daniel, he spoke about it three times!”
Let’s go a step deeper and define precisely what abomination means. It means something blasphemous, detestable, abhorrent to God, sacrilegious, and irreverent. It’s used to refer to immorality, idolatry, and pagan religion; it’s used in the Old Testament and even in the book of Revelation at least three times.
“So, when the Antichrist comes, he’s going to establish his rule in Jerusalem, in the temple, and he’s going to place himself where he ought not to stand, in the temple devoted to God. Chapter 12 of Daniel repeats this in detail; that he will come, two thirds of the Jews will be judged by God for unbelief, one third will believe; that at midpoint – time, times, and half a time – the Antichrist will come; he will desecrate the temple for a period of three-and-a-half years – or as Revelation 11:2 says, 42 months. So, those are two times Daniel refers to it.”
Again I am going to quote John MacArthur because he does a great job of laying out this terminology’s history. “He refers to it one other time, and that’s in chapter 11, verse 31 – it’s imperative – because, in chapter 11, verse 31, Daniel has a fascinating mention of the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION. In 11:31, he mentions the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION, about what Antiochus Epiphanes did. Antiochus Epiphanes was a Seleucid king who came into Israel on December 15, 167, and brought an army of a quarter of a million men – Seleucid army.
Slaughtered Jews, massacred Jews – 167 B.C. – sacrificed pigs on the altar, splattered pig broth everywhere, set up an idol to Zeus, banned sacrifice, stopped all temple worship – that according to 1 Maccabees. He wanted to establish the worship of Zeus in the temple – that is also an ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION. Daniel gives that in the middle of the other two, to give us a historic model of what this abomination will be.
It’ll be a ruler who goes into the temple, wanting to blaspheme and desecrate that which is associated with the true and living God and establish the worship of himself there; you have a model of it in Antiochus. That, too, is an abomination when he put an idol standing where it shouldn’t stand; that’s exactly what’s going to happen in the middle of the week. This guy will appear to be a peacemaker, he will break the peace, he will start to slaughter the Jews, He will establish a throne from which he will rule – that’s Antichrist – you read more about him in the thirteenth chapter of Revelation and elsewhere.”
“DISCERNMENT” IS CRITICAL TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING AND WHAT DAYS WE ARE IN.
15 [c]Whoever is on the [d]housetop must not go down, nor go in to get anything out of his house. 16 And [e]whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 17 But woe to those women who are pregnant, and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 Moreover, pray that it will not happen in winter.”
FOCUS TWO: THE WARNINGS (14-18)
Flee, don’t go down, don’t turn back, and pray it will not happen in winter, are all very concerning warnings. They make it clear that the coming crisis and its distress leave no time for packing, planning, or anything else. Those people will have minimal time to flee what is coming, if that’s even possible.
When we (the reader) think about the approach of the Roman army before the fall of Jerusalem in A.D.70, these admonitions make much more sense. These days of tribulation will be far worse than when the Romans conquered Jerusalem. The situation will be urgent and need a hasty response from people from all walks of life to escape this unprecedented distress falling upon them.
So, all the scenarios (rooftop, in the fields, pregnant women, and timing-winter) are mentioned to get the readers’ attention so that they would better understand the gravity of the situation they find themselves in and are mentally and psychologically prepared to flee without hesitation.
19 For those days will be such a time of tribulation as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will again. 20 And if the Lord had not shortened those days, no [a]life would have been saved; but for the sake of the [b]elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.
FOCUS THREE: THE HORROR (19-23)
As I mentioned earlier, some of these answers do appear to fit the time of the fall of Jerusalem, but parts like we are reading now do not; they are speaking of another event, far worse than the fall of Jerusalem-the seventieth week of Daniel!
Why do I think that? Read verse nineteen. “19 For those days will be such a time of tribulation as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will again.” Do you see it? Clearly, He is speaking of some other time, not Jerusalem’s fall. That event was terrible but was nothing compared to what will happen during these seven years of tribulation.
God shortens those days in His mercy and complete sovereignty over all things. No one would survive if God, in His mercy, did not limit the duration of these horrible times.
21 “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the [a]Christ’; or, ‘Look, there He is‘; do not believe it; 22 for false christs and false prophets will arise, and will provide signs and wonders, in order to mislead, if possible, the elect. 23 But beware; I have told you everything in advance.”
After these people flee and go into hiding, Satan’s activity shows itself operating in various ways. One of those ways is through deception. Satan will cause many false christs to appear on the scene with one goal- deception. “Seeking to lead astray, if possible the elect” (the elect could refer to the nation of Israel (Isaiah 45:4), or those who become Christian’s during the tribulation (Revelation 17:14). These false teachers or false prophets will claim that Christ is with them, even in their midst, in an attempt to deceive the elect and have them leave their places of refuge.
The signs and wonders from these false prophets and teachers are satanically induced. They are pseudo-signs and wonders meant to support their false claims. But believers in these days ought not to be deceived. Jesus told us/them everything in advance (v. 23)! Because He told us all that we need to know to discern the times so as not to be deceived by all that is going on, we should be on guard.
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