Reading the Word
Matthew 24:15–22 (ESV)
15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 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. 22 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.
Parallel Texts: Mark 13:14-20; Luke 21:20-24
Understanding and Applying the Word
In this passage, Jesus speaks of the future time preceding his return (cf. vv. 29-31). He refers to the Book of Daniel and mentions an “abomination of desolation”. In 167 B.C., Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the Jewish temple by setting up an altar to Zeus and sacrificing pigs on the altar. Daniel 8 speaks of that event, but Jesus speaks of another, future event. He describes it as a time of “great tribulation such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now.” It will be a time foreshadowed by Antiochus, but it will be much worse. During that time, believers will suffer greatly.
As bad as it will be, Jesus assures his followers that evil will not win the day. Christ will return and end the suffering of his people. He will defeat the tyrant, who is known as the Antichrist, and he will establish his own kingdom.
As those who belong to Christ, believers may sometimes become concerned with the way the world seems to be heading. We may wonder if the end is near and if persecution will increase for Christians. We know that our brothers and sisters around the globe often find themselves in great difficulty because of their faith. What should we do?
Christ’s words here should encourage us. Evil may continue for a time. It may even become extremely great. But God has a plan. The days will be cut short. Christ will return and defeat his enemies and the enemies of his people. We must find strength and confidence in these promises as we pray for our fellow believers in the line of fire and as we pray for our Lord’s coming.
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