“So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
Understanding And Applying the Text
This ought to be the proof text for Christ’s trustworthiness. He gave a detailed prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem. But many understand this as a prediction of the end of the world. So critics use it as proof of Christ as a false prophet. That is serious.
Jesus declared the complete destruction of Jerusalem. The destruction of Jerusalem meant the end of the Jewish government. This was serious. How could God save anyone without the nation He had promised adoption? Israel was in covenant with God (Romans 9:4)
The temple and the ceremonies of the Law had a fixed time assigned by God. When the Redeemer came sacrifices ceased. That announcement caused the disciples much discomfort. It was the end of the world as they knew it.
The phrase “abomination of desolation” comes from Daniel 9:27 and 11:31. Daniel refers to the desecration of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes. In 168 BC Antiochus made a pagan altar in the temple. According to Josephus, he also sacrificed pigs there.
Some object to understanding this. They fail to realize that prophecies may have more than one fulfillment. The Christological prophecies also had contemporary fulfillment
Not long before 70 AD, zealots took refuge in the temple from the Romans. This in itself was a desecration. But it came in full measure when the Romans entered the temple. They carried their military standards. These insignia bore elements of their religion. They stole the sacred vessels. They burned the temple. They tore the temple down. The Arch of Titus has a carving of the troops carrying away temple vessels. This was the desecration.
Christ gave a command contrary to the common wisdom, of the day. When an invading army approached everyone ran to the walled city. In the city were provisions. Behind the walls was protection. The city had soldiers and weapons. It was fortified for protection. In this case, Jesus said to flee the city. He said to go to the mountains.
The command to flee to the mountains was an Old Testament adage. (Genesis 19:17, Judges (6:2, Isaiah 15:5 Jeremiah 16:16, Zechariah 15:5) It was not a literal go to the mountains. We have a similar saying today. “Head for the hills.” “Get out of Dodge.” According to early church historian Eusebius, Christians fled Jerusalem during the Jewish war. They heeded Christ’s words. They got out of Dodge i.e. Jerusalem.
Jesus told the disciples there would be more suffering than ever before. Nor would there ever be as much suffering again. We think of Hitler’s final solution as horrific. And it was. But if you read Josephus. As bad as Hitler was, he was an amateur compared to the Romans. The suffering inside Jerusalem was unthinkable. Mothers ate their babies. Corpses filled the street. You could not walk anywhere without walking on top of dead bodies. Misery surrounded everyone and everything. There were so many dead bodies, soldiers used them for barricades.
The Romans did not only destroy the Temple. They burned, smashed, and tore down everything in the city. The great city was rubble. If God had not ended it or no human life would remain.
Christ repeats His warning about false prophets. With the temple gone and Jerusalem in rubble, the sense of hopelessness would abound. When that happens men will look anywhere for the least bit of hope. So Satan will oblige. Satan comes holding out hope. But it is a false hope. It takes men even farther from God. Satan will even use the name of God to drive people from God. Many came and continue to come claiming to be prophets. There have been the obvious nuts. For example, there was Jim Jones and David Koresh. But there have also been others who we hold in high esteem. They range from political figures to religious leaders.
False prophets abound today with the advent of the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation). They claim authority over Christ’s church. They perform magic and mentalist tricks. And they don’t even perform them well. the Audience would boo a performer off the stage for using such poor technique.
Nonetheless, they fool multitudes. Jesus tells us these false prophets would even deceive the elect if it were possible. But it is impossible. God keeps the elect secure. (Romans 8:30-39 )