Answer: 

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To get a good understanding of what is going on with this verse, let’s read Mark 13:14-18, “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.”  Matthew 24 is a parallel portion to these verses in Mark 13.  It’s good to take from both accounts to get a proper understanding.   

With that in mind, let’s read Matthew 24:3, “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”  The Lord’s disciples were asking the Lord about His triumphant return and the end of the world, or age.  Both Matthew and Mark include the Lord’s remarks concerning the abomination of desolation which Daniel the prophet spoke of.  Mark mentions the abomination of desolation ‘standing where it ought not’.  Matthew is a little more exact in his remarks.  Matthew 24:15says, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place…”

Let’s read Daniel 9:27, “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”  This ‘week’ that Daniel speaks of is literally a ‘week of years’ or seven years.  It is what is known as the Tribulation Period, which begins at the rapture of the church and lasts for seven years.  In the midst of the week” shows that in the middle of this seven year tribulation period, the abomination of desolation will stand in the temple, declaring himself to be God as we read in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”   

Going back to Matthew 24and Mark 13, we see the Lord warns His people to run away to the mountains for safety as soon as they see this abomination of desolation.  Let’s read Mark 13:18again, “And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.”  Let’s also consider the words of Matthew 24:20, “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.”  Travel in the winter would have added travel hazards such as severe cold.  Also, under the law, the people were prohibited from travelling on the Sabbath as we read in Exodus 16:29, “See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”  In Acts 1:12we read, “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.”  This Sabbath’s day journey was determined to be seven and one half furlongs; not quite one mile.  This distance was allowed based on the distance from the tents in the wilderness and the tabernacle.  One would have to travel this distance to make their sacrifices in the tabernacle, so a ‘Sabbath’s day journey’ was allowed.  We see that a journey in winter or on a Sabbath would severely limit the distance that could be travelled in a day.

Let me conclude with a couple more remarks.  First, the tribulation period begins after the church has been raptured.  This teaching of the Lord here has primarily to do with the Jewish people during this tribulation period.  Secondly, we who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as our savior will not be here during this terrible time of tribulation.  The Lord promises His redeemed ones in Revelation 3:10, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”  There is so much more that could be said about this prophetic event.  I encourage you to search the scriptures to learn more about this important time period.  (126.1)