In Mark chapter 13 and Matthew chapter 24 the Lord Jesus gave His disciples SIGNS that would precede His Second Coming to the earth to establish His kingdom. He did this in response to questions that were asked regarding His return. Let’s read Matthew 24:1-4, “Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’ Now as He sat on the Mounty of Olives the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And WHAT WILL BE THE SIGN OF YOUR COMING, and of the end of the age” (NKJV). In short, the disciples asked TWO questions, the FIRST involving the destruction of the temple and the SECOND regarding signs preceding His Second Coming. The passage we are dealing with today speaks specifically about the SECOND question.

Now we will read Mark 13:14-20, “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter. For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.”

One of the greatest SIGNS preceding the Coming of Jesus Christ to earth as the “KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (see Revelation 19:11-16), is the GREAT TRIBULATION that was prophesied by Daniel the prophet (see Daniel 12:1). Daniel also foretold (in Daniel 9:27 and 12:11) the exact event that would signal this time of tribulation; the “abomination of desolation” standing in the temple in Jerusalem (where sacrifices would be offered as in Old Testament times). We believe this refers to the “Man of Sin” standing in the Temple declaring that He is “God” and then setting up an image of another man and demanding people to worship the image (see 2nd Thessalonians 2:3-4 and Revelation 13:14-15).

In our passage the Lord is telling the Jews who are living in Israel in that coming day to “flee to the mountains” the moment they get news of the abomination of desolation standing in the holy Temple. They are told to do so immediately. If they happen to be on the roof of their house or in their field they must not take time to pack up clothes or any other provisions. The Lord went on to say how difficult this would be for pregnant women and nursing mothers. And finally He encourages His people to pray their flight would not be in winter (the rainy season in Palestine), for that would make the escape extremely hard for everyone. In Matthew’s account He adds that they should “pray that your flight may not be…on the Sabbath” (24:20). Jews will still be under the Law of Moses in those days and the Law prohibited traveling a long distance on the Sabbath which would make it nearly impossible to “flee to the mountains.” Of course, I’m sure some would still try, but it would be under the threat of being punished for breaking the Law.

The Lord ends with very solemn words, informing them that this period of time, the “Great Tribulation,” will be the most devastating time of trouble that the world has seen or will see. It will be so bad that unless those days are shortened no one would survive…ALL WOULD DIE! But for “the elect’s sake” (those who God chose for salvation and who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ) God will indeed limit those days to 3 ½ years. (334.3) (DO)