(This article based on Matthew 24:15-25 which is included at the foot of the page)
“So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation”
Some time ago I was teaching a teenage group on what the Bible said about the end of the world and one girl was in hyper mode and virtually unstoppable, because she had read a Christian fiction book, which was giving names, and places, and other specific details on Bible prophecies.
It had so grabbed her imagination, that she saw all these details as being fact.
I then had a hard time in trying to persuade the group, to stick to what the Bible told us, and anything beyond that was merely speculation.
We have got to stick with what is written in the Bible, because that is the Truth.
We may not understand it, but that doesn’t mean we have got to twist circumstances to fit a certain set of verses, so that we can tie up the loose ends: ‘Done and dusted!’
Our minds often need to see things neatly packaged.
But God′s Word is not like that, there are some things in it that we won′t know the meaning of, until we get to heaven.
Also, one portion in the Bible, is not the complete picture on a subject.
The Bible is like the ocean. A novice swimmer can splash around on the shore line. A more experienced swimmer can go out further, and a deep sea diver can explore its depths. For all of them, there is still more for them to see.
And that is true for all Christians whether, new or mature, at whatever stage we are at, we can feed from its richness, we can learn and grow.
But we all need to be humble.
Just because we know a verse or two on a particular subject does not mean we know the complete picture.
And I believe the Lord organized the Bible in such a way, so that it is the diligent and the humble who find the hidden treasures.
So, going back to our portion of Scripture; These verses were of tremendous importance to the believers, because, some time after Christ′s death, and after all the Apostles had been martyred – except for John – Antiochus set up the image of Jupiter Olympus upon the altar of God in the Temple which Daniel prophesied about.
The prophecy suddenly became a real event before their very eyes.
Luke also records Jesus′ teaching on this:
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you will know that the desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” (Luke 21:20)
The believers recognized the warnings, they had faith in them that they were trustworthy, and so they fled to safety, as if they were leaving a sinking ship.
A Proverbs tells us:
“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3)
I believe we run into problems with these prophetical type of verses, when we remove it from having a practical application.
For example, the way a lot of Christians view Revelation is that it is talking about way out there in the future, and so it becomes hypothetical.
But many Christians through history have received comfort from Revelation, by relating it to themselves in their afflictions, and their sufferings.
In fact the book of Revelation is not just a book of future events:
“It is the revelation of Jesus Christ” verse 1
The next few verses say:
“Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”
They won′t be blessed if it is talking about events which are all in the future.
All Scripture is practical and relevant to our lives now, and it is not to puff up our minds.
It is not to satisfy our curiosity.
When the disciples asked “when will these things be?” Jesus gave them no answer, because it is not for us to know.
When Jesus had risen from the dead and He appeared to them, the disciples still asked the ‘when’ question.
In Acts 1:7 Jesus answers them:
“It is not for you to know the times, or dates the Father has set by His authority.”
Then Jesus makes an interesting point about prayer:
“Pray that your flight will not take place in the winter (etc)..” (Matthew 24:20)
It is not wrong for us to pray for ourselves and others, that the circumstances could be changed to something more favourable.
We are not to give the comfort of our bodies a high priority, but it can be duly considered.
“See I have told you ahead of time.” (verse 25)
If we are diligent in reading His Word, we shall be more prepared for the things that come at us, and we are more likely to give a good answer to those who ask us a question.
I guess this hasn’t satisfied your curiosity about when the end will be, but hopefully it was food for thought.
Here’s the Bible verses I started from:
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now and never to be equaled again.
If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christ′s and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.” Matthew 24:15-25 (NIV)
Destruction of Jerusalem image: thanks to David Alexander, The Lion Handbook to the Bible.