154 - God’s Grace Provision: Flee! [b]
God’s Grace Provision: Flee!
Matthew Lesson #154
February 12, 2017
“Father, we’re thankful that we have this time to gather together to fellowship around Your Word, to be an encouragement to one another by our very presence together, by our desire to know Your Word, and to apply it in our lives that we might be transformed from the inside out.
“That You might change us, transforming the way we think from thinking as the world thinks to thinking as You would have us to think.
“Help us to understand Your plans and purposes as we continue our study in Matthew 24 and our Lord’s greatest teaching on end times and on prophecy. And we pray that you would help us to understand these things.
“In Christ’s name, amen.”
We’re going to cover Matthew 24:15–22 this morning. We are going to see how God is going to provide for those in the last half of the Tribulation: God’s grace provision for those in the worst, most intensified stage of the Tribulation.
I’ve outlined about six questions that we need to address. Some will be addressed quickly, some will take a little more time.
1. Review: What is the connection of Matthew 24:15–22 with the previous context?
2. What is the abomination of desolation in Daniel?
That’s what the first verse says, “Therefore, when you see the abomination of desolation spoken by Daniel the prophet…” Well, what in the world is that talking about? Has that occurred before or is that something that is yet future?
In conjunction with that answering the question: How does that connect with other prophecies, especially in 2 Thessalonians and Revelation 12?
3. What should be their response and who is responsible for this response?
As He gives this warning to that general generation, what are they supposed to do with this warning and who is responsible for responding that way?
4. How will God protect and provide for them in the wilderness?
As we understand this passage, He’s telling all of the Jewish believers in Israel to flee into the mountains of Judea. Well, how is He going to provide for them if they are told to flee immediately without going to the grocery store, packing their go-bag to get out of the house in a hurry? They’re not even to go get it. They’re just supposed to leave. So how will He provide and protect for them?
5. What does it mean that the days will be cut short?
That’s what we see when we get down to Matthew 24:21—something a lot of people have made an issue out of—and that is that unless these days were shortened, no flesh would be saved. What does it mean in that passage?
6. What should be our response?
There are some implications of what is being said here that impacts how we think and how we respond to issues in life.
So first of all: What’s the connection between Matthew 24:15–22 in the previous context?
This is important. As we’ve looked at this, the events in Matthew 24 and 25 all represent one discourse, one teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, in response to two basic questions that His disciples asked once He had crossed out of the temple and taken His seat on the Mount of Olives.
Matthew 24:3, they came asking Him privately, “Tell us …”—first question—“… when will these things be?” That is specifically related to His statement that the temple would be destroyed: no stone would be left on top of another; that all of the temple buildings would be torn down. That was the focal point of his saying. Not the retaining wall, which is there today, the Western Wall, but the temple buildings.
Second: “What will be the sign of Your coming?” As I pointed out, the sign of His coming is really not mentioned again until we get down into Matthew 24:30 when we’re told “then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven.” That’s at the end of this period that we described as the Tribulation period.
I pointed out that we have to understand this in context:
1. Jesus is talking to His Jewish disciples who were believers, but they’re still Old Testament believers. He’s talking to them as Jewish believers about Jewish prophecy specifically related to this concept of the Kingdom.
We talked about that, the Kingdom’s a major theme throughout Matthew. It is talking about the promise from the Old Testament of this literal geophysical Kingdom ruled by the Messiah on the earth from His throne in Jerusalem.
He’s talking to them because they want to know “what’s going to be the sign of Your coming?” That is: Your coming to establish His kingdom—not coming in the Rapture of the church.
The Rapture of the church is 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 where we’re told that “… the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, and thus we shall ever be with the Lord.”
That is talking about everyone in this age who trusts in Christ, is in Christ, and when Christ returns in the clouds, we will be taken to Heaven with Him. If we’re alive, it follows the transfer of the dead, the Rapture of the dead in Christ. They receive their resurrection body and then within a nanosecond of that, we are taken to be with the Lord in the clouds in the air.
That is based on believing in Christ. That’s one reason it’s so important for us to give the gospel to people. We never know when the Rapture will occur. It could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could be next week.
It is imminent, but it is not necessarily soon coming. Just because we see things that we think are indicators doesn’t mean they are. There are no signs for the Rapture.
2. The Olivet Discourse is the last thing Jesus said to the Jews about Israel.
He’s talking about Israel in these two chapters, not the church.
3. Nothing in the Olivet Discourse is about Church Age believers or has direct application to Church Age believes.
There may be implications, but no direct application. We’re not the ones who are being told that when you see the sign, run and flee to the mountains. Those who are in Judea at that time are the only ones who can apply that. The application is to run and flee to the mountains. That’s how you apply that text; you don’t apply it by any other means.
4. All living Church Age believers will be raptured and taken to Heaven before the beginning of the Tribulation.
The timeframe for this and we will get into this a little more this morning, is in Daniel 9:24–27, a period that is described as Daniel’s Seventy Weeks, due to a prophecy there that God has decreed 70 periods of seven for Daniel and for his people.
70×7 = 490. It’s too short to make it days or weeks. It’s a period of 70, seven years, so it’s a period of 490 years. That last year is described as the 70th year, and it’s usually broken down into two periods, each 3½ years in length.
The first half is what I have said is described in Matthew 24:4–8. That is called by Jesus in verse 8 at the end of His description of those trends. He says “These are the beginning of sorrows.” That’s what happens at the beginning. It’s a beginning literally of labor pain. Something is being given birth to. That’s just the start of the labor pains. What’s being given birth to is the Kingdom.
The intensification of those labor pains occurs in the second half. You have increased labor pains and at the end of that section in Matthew 24:14, Jesus says, “And after those things, then …”—subsequently—“… then the end will come.”
1. The first 3½ years are the beginning of sorrows, Matthew 24:4–8
2. The second 3½ years then there will be increased persecution of Jews after the Antichrist breaks the covenant.
The first half of that 70th week begins with the Antichrist making a covenant with Israel for peace. So Israel is kept secure under that covenant that first 3½ years. They will hear of wars and rumors of wars around them, but they are kept secure.
The Antichrist is going to break that covenant in a horrific way in the middle of the week, in the middle of that week after 3½ years, and this is what we’re going to be looking at today as the abomination of desolation.
This first half is called the beginning of birth pangs:
- There will be false Messiahs that come up.
- Many will be deceived. This occurs and increases during the second half.
- There’s going to be a rise in anti-Semitism in the first half, and it really intensifies in the second half.
- Wars and rumors of wars will be heard.
- There will also be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes.
All of these are global in impact. They are worldwide. They are not minor things. So when we think of an earthquake in Mexico City or San Francisco or California or somewhere else in the world, those are but foreshadowings. These will be on a massive scale.
Right now we think it’s terrible if there’s an earthquake that registers 7 or 8 on the Richter ‘scale. I imagine the earthquakes that are described in Revelation during the first seal judgments, during the first half, since it’s a geometric scale, it will be on the measure of 17, 18, or 19 on the Richter scale—massive worldwide destruction. So these are the beginning of sorrows.
As I pointed out the last time, the way to understand this is to follow the “thens” in your English Bible. That represents a Greek word TOTE, which means “then the next thing.” That’s how Matthew uses it most of the time. Every now and then he uses it in the sense of “then at that time.” But as we’ve seen throughout this section, he uses it as “then” that is following this event, the next event.
Jesus says in Matthew 24:8, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Matthew 24:9, “Then they will deliver you up…”—that is, “after this period;” “then” in the next stage—“… they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you.”
There will be hostility towards the Jews, there will be increased anti-Semitism, and what passed as the Holocaust, Shoah, that took place during World War II when the Nazis attempted to eradicate all of the Jews in the world. That was their goal, not just in Europe, but in the whole world.
You may not know it—I didn’t know it until recently—but there were massive roundups of Jews in North Africa, Libya, Tunisia, and other areas of North Africa, where you had many Sephardic Jews who had lived for centuries. They were rounded up by the Nazis when they had control of those areas, and they were shipped to Italy, and then to concentration camps.
The Holocaust was not limited to Western Europe. Their goal was worldwide, but that was only a type or a foreshadowing of the level of anti-Semitism that will break out during the Tribulation.
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations…”—literally, all Gentiles—“… for My namesake.” This is talking about, especially Jewish believers.
Matthew 24:14, “This gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” There’s that word “then” again; and “then” the next thing that happens is—“… the end will come.” That is the end of this period of Daniel’s 70th week.
I pointed out last time a thought that may be new for some of you, and that is that the gospel of the Kingdom is not the same as the gospel of Jesus Christ. It includes the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it’s more than that.
The gospel of the Kingdom is a gospel that includes the gospel for salvation, for individual salvation, but also includes the added information that the Kingdom is about to come. This was the message of John the Baptist, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Jesus took that message up, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He sent out His disciples only to the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not to Gentiles. He prohibited them to go to the Gentiles because the Kingdom was a Jewish Kingdom.
He said go to the house of Israel and the house of Judah and announce, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That is the gospel of the Kingdom.
Dwight Pentecost went to be with the Lord a couple of years ago in his late 90s. He was 99 and was considered one of the great prophecy scholars of the 20th century, was on faculty at Dallas Seminary for many, many years, wrote an excellent book on the life of Christ on the basis of about 45 or 50 years of teaching the life of Christ, wrote:
“This message—that is the gospel of the Kingdom—had both a soteriological—that’s salvation—and an eschatological—that’s prophecy—emphasis.—So the message of the gospel of the Kingdom has both a salvation message and eschatological prophecy message—When John and Jesus called on the nation to repent, they were asking them to acknowledge their sinful state and their need of salvation. They were inviting the people to turn in faith to God, who had promised to send a Savior. The gospel of the Kingdom, as preached in the Tribulation will have two emphases. On the one hand, it will announce the good news that Messiah’s advent is near, at which time he will introduce the messianic age of blessing. On the other hand, it will also offer men salvation by grace through faith based on the blood of Christ. This gospel will be preached by 144,000 set apart from the tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:1–8).”
Last time I concluded by looking at Revelation 14:6–7 where angels will go throughout the world announcing to every human being the gospel, and that occurs in the second half of the Tribulation. But in the first half the 144,000 Jews that are saved—those aren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses, they’re not Mormons, they’re not some sort of elite group within the church. The text is very clear, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. That’s described in Revelation 7:1–8.
They’re also mentioned in Revelation 14:1–5 because they will have been martyred then by the midpoint of the second half of the Tribulation. There are also the two witnesses during the first half of the Tribulation, mentioned in Revelation 11:3. These will all be responsible for getting the gospel to every nation, tribe, and tongue.
That’s a worthy goal for the Church Age, but it is not based on this passage. We will not reach everyone in the Church Age. A lot of missionary organizations have that as their motivation, but that is not what the prophetic text indicates.
Second question we’re looking at is: What is this “abomination of desolation “mentioned in verse 15 and how does that connect to other prophecies?
In Matthew 24:15 Jesus says, “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place…”—and then in parenthesis Matthew says—“(whoever reads it, let them understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
There is this event called the abomination of desolation; an event that would be known to his listeners, known by his disciples, because it is written in the Old Testament. It’s an Old Testament doctrine, it’s not a Church Age doctrine. This is a Jewish prophecy from a Jewish prophet in the Old Testament. He is speaking in that context about something that will happen to Israel in the future.
This is written to Jewish believers during the future time, Jesus is talking about that we refer to as the Tribulation, and it is a warning that when they see this, they are to flee. Those who are in Judea.
It doesn’t say those who are in Judea and Samaria; it doesn’t say those who are in Washington, D.C. or Houston, Texas or Paris or London. It says those who are in Judea. That would include Jerusalem. So those who are there are to flee.
Now another thing I want to point out here is that word “therefore.” As we’ve looked at this text, I’ve pointed out that the progression, the timeline, is indicated by that word “then.”
Jesus uses this after Matthew 24:8 when He says, “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” He says, “Then—that’s the next thing—“… then they will deliver you up to tribulation.”
Matthew 24:10, “and then …”—following that—“… many will be offended.”
Following that, Matthew 24:11, “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”
There’s progression all the way through that. Then there’s a break in that timeline because what you see in Matthew 24:15 is the word “therefore.” “Therefore” always indicates drawing some sort of inference or conclusion from something that’s been said.
The first four verses of this, Matthew 24:4–8, talk about the first half of the Tribulation. There have been some prophecy teachers who have said that that just represents trends in the Church Age, and then starting in Matthew 24:9, you get into the Tribulation period, and then Matthew 24:15, with the mention of abomination of desolation, that that is the midpoint. That’s not quite correct.
The first half is Matthew 24:4–8. The second half is Matthew 24:9–14. But if you notice verses 9 to 14 is mostly really bad news. These are bad things that are going to happen, and the first half going to be bad, the second half is going to be worse.
In the second half, you’re going to see the rise of hostility towards Israel; you’re going to see many who are further deceived, not offended, but they are entrapped by deception. They will betray one another, they’ll hate one another.
There will be an increase over the first half and the rise of many more false prophets and deception. There will be lawlessness, and the love of many will grow cold. They will just dry up. They will be so concerned with self-preservation that they won’t care about anybody else. That’s the second half. That’s all bad news. There is no good news there.
“What in the world are we going to do?” That would be the natural question that would occur to us, if we read that and someone said in the next 3½ years, you are going to lose everything. You’d say, “How in the world am I going to survive?” Well, Jesus gives that answer. That’s the “therefore” starting in verse 15.
This fits the typical way in which Jews wrote things. They would give a summary overview and then come back and deal with the specific. For example, Genesis 1:1–2:4, you had the seven days of creation. Then in Genesis 2:5 you have the start of this story about how man was created. Well, that all happened on the sixth day.
So the first part gives you the overview of the seven-day framework, the seven consecutive 24-hour days of the creation week and then Genesis 2:5 starts. It goes back to the sixth day and gives a lot more specifics on what happened on the sixth day.
That’s the pattern here. You have the overview of the seven years in Matthew 24:4–14, and then starting in Matthew 24:15–28 you come back and just focus on the specifics in the middle. Basically what the Lord is saying in the way He’s teaching this is that you can have all these bad things happen, and the question that that raises is: How do we escape? This is how you escape is what He is saying.
When you see the abomination of desolation—that’s going to be the key event that’s going to trigger this last half that’s going to be so bad. When you see it, drop everything instantly, don’t try to get your go-bag, don’t try to get your money out of your bank account, don’t try to get food out of the pantry because this is going to last a long time. You can’t take enough money or anything, just immediately drop everything that you’re doing and flee.
What is this event that happens? Well, it’s called the abomination of desolation as Daniel the prophet spoke, and so we need to look at a very important passage. Daniel 9:24–27 is one of the most significant prophetic passages in the Bible. There’s so much here. I’ve covered this before.
You can find other messages where I detail all the chronology, but this is a specific forecast, a specific timeline that the Lord revealed to Daniel for his people, and for his holy city—that is Jerusalem.
It’s a timeline that if you understand it—and we’re supposed to understand it—that if you can count the days, then you can figure out when the Messiah is going to be cut off, and you can figure out when the end is going to come, when the Messiah establishes His Kingdom.
The framework is given at the very beginning, the “what” is given here: “Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city ...” He’s talking to Daniel, so “your people” is definitely going to be Jews, not Gentiles. “Your holy city” is not Babylon, it’s not Rome—it’s Jerusalem.
Six purposes are described there. That answers the question “why.” Why is this timeline being given? Why is God waiting this long? What’s He going to do? He is going:
“… To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.”
This is all related to Israel. God is going to bring to a conclusion all of the promises that He has made to Israel within time to bring in their Kingdom. This is His outline here for finishing His plan to reconcile Israel to Himself for their sin and to bring in the promised Kingdom.
Daniel 9:25, the angel says to Daniel, “Know therefore and understand ...” Now what that means is that a) you can understand this, and b) you’re supposed to know it. Every one of us is supposed to understand it and know it so you can communicate to others, so that it will give you confidence.
Especially at that time when Israel was out of the land and they were captives in Babylon, it is a confirmation of God’s promise that they’re going to go back to the land and God will fulfill all of His promises to Israel.
So the angel says, “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command …” That we can identify in history. It happened on March 5, 444 BC, in the ancient world when Artaxerxes issued a decree to Nehemiah to take the Jews back to the land and to rebuild the fortifications.
They had already rebuilt part of the city, but as you’ll see at the end, not only will the street be rebuilt again, but the wall wasn’t rebuilt. Nehemiah rebuilt the wall, so that’s why we can date it to the Artaxerxes decree.
“… from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there will be seven weeks and 62 weeks.”
This is 7+62 = 69. 69 periods of seven, the phrase translated weeks is really a poor translation; it’s 70 periods of seven. So it could be 490 days, 490 weeks, 490 years. The only thing that works is 490 years. So you have 7+62 = 69 × 7 periods, so that would be—7 years = 483 years.
If you multiply that by 360 days—because in Scripture Israel used a 360-day lunar calendar, that comes out to 173,880 days. But it’s seven years short of that 490-year period.
The WHAT is described in Daniel 9:26, “And after the 62 weeks Messiah will be cut off …” That indicates that the timeline stops. You go to 483 years and God hits the pause button. After that the Messiah is cut off, “… but not for Himself …” He dies for others. “… and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and sanctuary.”
THE PRINCE WHO IS TO COME is the Antichrist. HIS PEOPLE—that’s the Roman army of Titus—the army that destroyed the city and the temple in AD 70. Now Titus didn’t want to destroy the temple. He had given orders to his soldiers not to destroy the temple, but they were so angry at the resistance they had met from the Jews, that they went ahead and disobeyed his orders; and they burned down—completely destroyed—the temple.
The gold melted and ran down into the, cracks between the stones. They got pry bars to pry them apart so they could get to the gold and that is why no stone is left on top of another, as Jesus prophesied. We’re still in that pause.
Then what will happen in the future, Daniel 9:27, “then he will confirm a covenant with many for one week…”—that’s a seven-year period.
It’s that confirmation of the covenant, the making of a covenant between the Antichrist and Israel that begins that seven-year period. It’s not the Rapture; the Rapture is before that. We don’t know how much time is going to be in the transition between the Rapture and the signing of this covenant. It could be a few weeks, could be few months; could even be a few years.
“Then he will confirm a covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week …”—so that’s halfway into a seven-year period, so that’s 3½ years—“… in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.” So he allows sacrifice and offering in a Jewish temple on the Temple Mount for the first 3½ years.
What’s on the Temple Mount right now? It’s a Muslim atrocity: it’s the Dome of the Rock. And it’s a blasphemous atrocity because inside there are all these Arabic scriptures that are written that are all taken from the Quran to say that Jesus is not God, that Jesus is only a prophet. The Dome of the Rock is an apologetic against Christianity and for Islam.
It is a blasphemy to show that Islam is better than Christianity. That’s why if you stand on a level with that, you can see that the Dome of the Rock is higher than the domes on top of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is a political, theological statement against Christianity. Islam hates Christianity. They are set on world domination.
This last week I read a CBS survey that was taken that said that 67% of Democrats and 20% of Republicans believe that Islam is no more violent than any other world religion: it is not any more violent than Buddhism or Hinduism or Mormonism or Christianity.
How can anybody say that? It just shows the ignorance that’s out there. And with all that has been said and taught in the last 15 years since 9/11, you would think people would be more aware than they are, but they’re not. They’re suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.
The first half of this period is going to be a time of peace for Israel. They’re going to be allowed to have observance. Of course, it’s an apostate temple: they don’t recognize Jesus as Messiah. Then halfway through, the Antichrist is going to break the covenant, he’s going to violate the sanctuary, he’s going to cease and completely bring to a halt all of the sacrifices and offerings.
Then he is going to do something that is referred to as an abomination that desecrates, literally desecrates, the temple. He’s going to do something there that is going to just be the highest act of blasphemy.
Now there was an event in history that occurred that is a type of this, and that occurred under Antiochus IV who was called Antiochus Epiphanes. He was a Syrian king, and was part of the Antiochene Dynasty that had succeeded Alexander the Great after his death.
The Greek Empire was broken up between four of Alexander’s generals, and Antiochus received the area north of Israel—the area of Syria and Turkey—all of that area was his domain.
One of his descendants, Antiochus IV, called Epiphanes, hated the Jews. He instituted all sorts of laws against the Jews seeking to destroy Judaism, making it illegal to circumcise male infants, making it illegal to have a copy anywhere of the Torah—all sorts of things.
He went into the Holy of Holies and sacrificed a pig—which is an unclean animal—sacrificed the pig in the Holy of Holies, which desecrated the template. That is a picture of the kind of thing the Antichrist will do.
In understanding what this abomination of desolation is, in Daniel 11:31 it’s mentioned again, that “… forces shall be mustered by him…”—in context that’s talking about the Antichrist—“… and they will defile the sanctuary fortress, then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.”
Daniel 11:36 says some more about the king that will do this, “Then the king shall do according to his own will …”—he is a self-willed king over against submitting to God—“… he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, and he shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished …”—that’s the time of Jacob’s wrath, the time of the Tribulation—“… for what has been determined shall be done.”
There is a clear statement there in Daniel 11:31, 36 that this relates to the end-time ruler known as the Antichrist.
Daniel 12:11 states the same thing, “… from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away …”—that goes back to Daniel 9:27, from that time, the midpoint of the Tribulation—“… and the abomination of desolation is set up …”—that’s at the midpoint—“… there shall be a period of 1290 days.”
That refers to the extended period after the 1,260 days. There’s another 30 days when there’s a mopping-up operation and there are judgments that take place and things of that nature.
THE PRINCE WHO IS TO COME is the Antichrist. He is described in Daniel 7:7 as a little horn. There is this horrible beast that has ten horns. Those ten horns represent the ten-nation confederacy of the Antichrist.
Slides 21, 22
Daniel 7:8 talks about this little horn as an arrogant horn, as a boastful leader, and Daniel says that while he “… was contemplating the horns, behold another horn, a little one, came up among them, and the three of the first horns were pulled out by their roots ...”
This shows extreme conflict and violence—that the Antichrist is going to completely smash three of the kings in order to bring them under his dominion—this is described in Daniel 7.
When we get into the New Testament, we get some more information about this in 2 Thessalonians 2:3–4. Paul says, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day …”—that is, the Day of the Lord, referring to this time period of the Tribulation—“… for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first…”
Some people take that as apostasy because the noun is APOSTASIA, but the verb form of that word is often used of a departure. Many dispensationalists understand this to not be the falling away or apostasy, but it is the departure, and that’s what I believe.
It refers to the Rapture of the church, that the Rapture the church has to come first—and then the revealing of the man of sin, “… the son of perdition …”—that’s the Antichrist and he will “… oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
That is the abomination of desolation. He will take his seat in the Holy of Holies, he will claim to be God, claim to speak for God, and then he will build an idol, an image of himself that he will place there.
In Revelation 13:4 this is further described. In Revelation 13, the first part describes the Antichrist; the second part describes a false prophet, “So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?’ ”
“And he was given a mouth speaking great things—that’s the Antichrist, the first beast –“… speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for 42 months.”
That’s the last half of the Tribulation. The first half he consolidates his power leading up to the abomination of desolation, and then he is given authority to rule the world during the second half.
In Revelation 13:14, talking about the role of the second beast, the false prophet, “And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived.”
“He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast—the false prophet will create a miracle that will bring the image to life in the Holy of Holies, and so everybody will fall into this deception on the earth. This is the sign.
Jesus said, “When you see the sign, you just get out of Dodge as fast as you can. You don’t go to the bank. You don’t hit the ATM machine. You don’t grab your go-bag. You don’t get your weapons. You don’t do anything, you just get out immediately.”
Now that’s not talking about anybody other than those who are in in Judea.
1. It describes a desecration of the Jewish Temple, Daniel 11:31 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
2. The ruler stops all regular sacrifices in the temple, Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11.
3. An idol of the ruler is placed in the Holy of Holies, Daniel 11:31; 12:11; and Revelation 13:14–15.
4. The image is brought to life again, Revelation 13:14–15.
We’ve decided who the abomination of desolation is, and what that describes, and how it connects with other prophecies.
Now the third question: What should be their response and who’s responsible?
Well, we’ve already answered that mostly. Those who are responsible are Jewish Christians living in Judea. It’s not for anybody else and it’s only going to be Jewish Christians who think that Jesus means something and should be obeyed.
Which tells us that those who flee into the wilderness are already believers in Jesus as Messiah. There may be a few exceptions, but they’re going to be those who listen to Jesus. They are individually saved already.
The reason I make that point is when we get to the end of the Tribulation, and they call upon the name of the Jesus corporately, and He is coming to save them, that’s to rescue them, not to individually justify them.
Matthew 24:17–20 says, “Let him was on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house.” Don’t run by your gun safe on the way. Don’t hit the ATM machine. Leave! Don’t take anything with you.
“Let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.” You’re working in the backyard, go! Leave! Don’t even run into the house. And the reason is this is going to be so severe that the sooner you can get away the better, and the opposition will be terrible.
“Woe to those who are pregnant and those who are nursing babies in those days!” Because as you know, ladies, if you’ve been pregnant, it’s tough to move. And you have somebody else, another life, to be taking care of; so it would be more difficult.
So Jesus says, “Pray that your flight may not be in winter …”—when the weather can be quite cold and there’s snow in the hills—“… or on the Sabbath.”
Revelation 12:6 picks this up and says, “Then the woman fled into the wilderness …”—that’s in the mountains of Judah—“… where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for 1260 days.”
Now who’s going to nourish her? The Lord is. This is like the Exodus. When they left Egypt, even though they had a lot of material possessions that they took with them, God sustained them every day by giving them manna. I think God’s going to do another miracle very similar to that when they are in the wilderness during the second half of this Tribulation.
They’re going to leave and they’re going to cross over into what is now Jordan, but God is the one who’s going to nourish them. That’s what the text says. He prepared a place for them, and He’s going to nourish them. He will provide for their food.
Now where do they go? Micah 2:12 says, “I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold.” The Hebrew word for a sheepfold is bozrah. Bozrah means a sheepfold—“Like a flock in the midst of the pasture, they shall make a loud noise because of so many people.”
They’re going to be hidden in a special area, and I believe that this is going to be in an area over near Petra today.
Revelation 12:8–9 says that this is going to be energized by Satan, when Satan is cast from Heaven at the midpoint of the Tribulation period. That is when he is going to come to the earth. He will indwell the Antichrist, and then he’s going to make the Jews his target.
Revelation 12:12–13, “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil is come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time. And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman …”—that’s Israel—“… who gave birth to the male child.”
Israel is going to be rescued.
Revelation 12:14 says, “And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman …”—that’s Israel—“… in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.”
This is going to be a miraculous provision.
The imagery of the two wings of the great eagle—that’s just a figure of speech—is first found in Deuteronomy 32:10, talking about how God rescued the Jews of the Exodus generation.
There we read, “He found him …”—that’s Israel—“… in a desert land …”—that’s Egypt—“… and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirs up its nest, hovers over its young, spreading out its wings, taking them up, carrying them on its wings.”
That is how God is described as protecting Israel at the time of the Exodus. That same imagery is carried over to the way He will protect Israel during the second half of the Tribulation—that is, those Jewish believers who flee from Jerusalem.
It is at this place called Bozrah that there’s going to be a great war, when the Lord Jesus Christ returns and destroys the armies of the Antichrist there, as stated in Isaiah 34:6, “The sword of the Lord is filled with blood, it is sated with fat, with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams. For the Lord has a sacrifice in Bozrah and a great slaughter in the land of Edom.”
Here’s a map showing Bozrah/Petra down in this area [lower right]. Here’s the whole wilderness area of Judah. This is down south and just over into the area of modern Jordan.
Here’s another site.
This is the entryway into Petra. You probably saw pictures of it in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Slides 39, 40
We’ve gone through answering our questions, we’ve looked at how God’s going to protect them; fifth question: What does it mean that the days will be “cut short”?
Basically, and I’ll review this again when I come back: in Matthew 24:22, “And unless those days were shortened …” It doesn’t mean that they’re going to be any shorter than the seven years or the time, times and half a time, or the 1,260 days. What it says is He will reduce the duration.
The 1,260 days is a reduction already. The seven years is a reduction. God is not going to let it go on and on. By ending it at seven years, He will end it, Israel will survive; the human race will not eradicate itself. It does not mean that it’s going to be cut short from what has been described in Scripture.
Matthew 24:22, “… unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved …” isn’t talking about justification salvation. It’s talking about physical deliverance from the wars that will take place at that particular time.
The last question is: What does that do for us? What should be our response?
I have three things that we should be reminded of, as we think about this:
First of all, if God can provide for Israel during that intense horrible time of economic collapse and of political collapse, if God can provide for them then, God can provide for us in whatever situation where’re in.
Second, if God can protect them in that environment where everything breaks down and there’s no nation that is not against them and there’s no nation or army to protect them, if God can protect them in that situation, God can protect us in any situation.
The third application is that we should do everything we can to tell others about Jesus Christ, so that they are not in danger of going through this Tribulation period.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to see the precision with which Your prophecy in the past has been fulfilled in the Daniel 70th week leading up to the coming and the cutting off of Messiah.
“Father, we pray that as we study this we will be reminded constantly that if You can provide for Israel in the wilderness, you can provide for Israel in the future during the Tribulation period, if you can protect them and sustain them in those extreme circumstances, then our petty little problems and difficulties You can easily provide for. And that we need to learn to trust You and walk by faith much more consistently than we do.
“Father, we pray that if there’s anyone listening that doesn’t want to go through this period, that wants to understand how they can go to Heaven, that this answer is simple.
“It’s to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, to believe that Jesus died on the Cross for your sins. He paid the penalty for your sins, so that all you have to do is trust Him and His righteousness is applied to you, and you will have eternal life.
“Father, we pray that you would challenge each of us with the applications we need in our own lives.
“In Christ’s name, amen.”