Mark 13:14-23: Emergency Exit.
“‘When you see “the abomination that causes desolation”[a] standing where it[b]does not belong – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequalled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now – and never to be equalled again. 20 ‘If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Messiah!” or, “Look, there he is!” do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance.” NIV UK
Jesus spoke in advance about what was to happen in AD 70 (23). In a way He was pointing out the emergency exits.
Sometimes God calls us to stand and face danger. But at other times He tells us to flee. In each circumstance Christians must seek God’s will. It is all right to flee from danger, but not from duty.’ Tom Hale. ‘Applied New Testament Commentary’, p.268.
Most of the Christians in Jerusalem did make for the emergency doors. They fled in AD68, two years before the Roman invasion. But others ran just before the Romans arrived. Some of these almost starved in the countryside, because the Roman soldiers destroyed crops and fields and took all available food for themselves.
The slaughter which took place in the city was fully described by the historian, Josephus. The Romans committed the most terrible atrocities. Those Jews who escaped the sword died from famine and pestilence, or were made slaves (Luke 21:24). Over a million Jews were killed. Not a single Jew remained alive in the city. This was God’s judgment on an unbelieving Jewish nation that had rejected the Messiah.
But, remember: God ‘’…is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’’ (2 Peter 3:9b). He doesn’t want to judge; He wants to save. So, in the gospel, He keeps clearly pointing to the Emergency Exit that is the Lord Jesus Christ, who bore our punishment on the Cross, that we might be saved through faith in Him. But it’s not enough to know where the Emergency Exit is located. You have to take it!