To underline the seriousness of the situation in the days preceding His coming, the Lord points to what was spoken of by the prophet Daniel. By this he means parts in the book of Daniel that bring us to the last days (Dan 9:2727And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations [will come] one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”; 11:3131Forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.; 12:1111From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, [there will be] 1,290 days.), or the time of the end (Dan 11:4040“At the end time the king of the South will collide with him, and the king of the North will storm against him with chariots, with horsemen and with many ships; and he will enter countries, overflow [them] and pass through.). The place that the Lord speaks of where these things will play out is Judaea, that is Jerusalem and its surroundings. “The holy place” is the temple in Jerusalem. The “abomination of desolation” will be there.
An abomination is an idolatrous image. The abomination of desolation means that the idol will cause desolation. Because of that idolatrous image God will bring great misfortune upon the land through the antichrist, the one who set the image up, to which he also commits himself by showing himself as God (2Thess 2:4). The statue is the image of the beast from the sea and represents the dictator of the restored Roman empire (Rev 13:12-1512He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.13He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.14And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life.15And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.).
It is a word to the remnant of Israel and not to the church. The Lord tells them that those who are near to that area must flee to the mountains. The mountains will be the only suitable location to hide from the antichrist and his followers. There will be no time to lose. The persecution comes like a storm in the desert. Any delay can be fatal. If you are on the roof, you shouldn’t go back into your house to pick up essential items. If you are on the field, you must not attempt to pick up another garment that you have placed somewhere else on the field. The watchword is: flee for your life. To give in to any other thought will result in death.
The Lord speaks with compassion about the pregnant women, those who are about to bring new life into the world, and those nursing babies, those who have just brought new life into the world. They are the vulnerable. He even thinks of the weather conditions and religious duties. They must pray that they will play no part. Any obstruction to their flight can be fatal.
He says these things because He knows how terrible that time will be. It will be a time of unparalleled tribulation. There has never been such a thing and never will be. It is a time that, as far as the abominations are concerned, is unparalleled. The Lord emphasizes the horror of that time by saying as a consolation that those days will be shortened. If He did cut those days short, no one would survive that time. This cutting short is made for the sake of the elect. He knows all those who belong to Him and, in view of them, ensures that the maximum suffering is not exceeded (cf. 1Cor 10:1313No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.).
He points out once again that this time will be particularly hard because of the false Christs. If, in the midst of the greatest ordeal, people present themselves as those who want to give help, there is a huge temptation to respond to it. Those false Christs and false prophets will present themselves by doing great signs and miracles. It will all seem so real that even the elect are in danger of falling into this deception. They should not do so, especially now that the Lord has told them so in advance. Forewarned is forearmed.
They should not let themselves be lured out of their hiding place by fine words to go to a wilderness or an inner room because the Messiah would be found there. The wilderness, where John preached (Mark 1:4), is not the setting of the Messiah. He is also not in the inner room. They are all traps. When He, the true Messiah, appears, it will be like the lightning that comes from the east and flashes to the west. With this the Lord also answers the question the disciples have asked in verse 22And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”. His coming will be seen everywhere. They only have to pay attention to the ‘flash of lightning’ to know it is He Who comes and not another.
He will come as “the Son of Man”, that is to say to rule over all the earth and not only over Israel. The first acts of His government will be judgmental acts. Where the objects of judgment are, there He will appear, as vultures gather where dead bodies are.