“When you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be” (let the reader understand), “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. A man on the housetop must not come down or go in to get anything out of his house, and a man in the field must not go back to get his coat. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days! “Pray it won’t happen in winter. For those will be days of tribulation, the kind that hasn’t been from the beginning of creation until now and never will be again. If the Lord had not cut those days short, no one would be saved. But he cut those days short for the sake of the elect, whom he chose. (Mark 13:14-20)
This prophecy of Jesus references the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It answers the disciples’ original question about when the temple would be destroyed. If you remember, they were leaving the temple for the evening, and the disciples were marveling at the beautiful buildings. Jesus replied that not one stone would be left upon another and that everything would be torn down. Later, Peter, Andrew, James, and John approached Jesus, asking when this would happen. In reply, Jesus gave them a synopsis of the last days.
The “Abomination of Desolation” references an earlier historical event when the Seleucid King Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed a pig on the altar of God in 167 BC to insult the Hebrew religion. Jesus said there would be a second desecration before the temple’s destruction. When his disciples would see it, Jesus instructed them to leave the country and seek shelter elsewhere. The fulfillment came In 70 AD when the Romans went to war against the Jews and destroyed the city. The Emperor’s son Titus went into the temple and stood in the Holy of Holies, the place where only the high priest could go. This was the second desecration. When the Christians saw this, they did what Jesus commanded and fled the city.
The last verse in this prophecy shows the mindfulness of God regarding his people. Even while great calamities unfold in the world, God cuts those days short for the sake of his elect. God always cares for us and will even shape world events for our safety. Therefore, we should never be afraid. God tells us beforehand what we need to know, is present with us in our time of trouble, and will bring us safely through.
Father, thank you for watching over your people, even as great worldly calamities unfold. Help me not to fear, but give me wisdom and understanding. And teach me to be faithful to all your commands.