April 7, 2011
Friday after the Fourth Sunday in Lent, Day Twenty-seven
Morning - Psalms 95 & 102, Exodus 1:8-14, 1 Corinthians 14:26
Evening - Psalm 107, Jeremiah 16:5-13, Mark 13:14-23
The abomination of desolation in verse 14 refers to the Roman army sacking Jerusalem in 70 A.D. as Antiochus did in 163 B.C. (Daniel 9:26). Christ is telling the disciples that when they see the Romans approaching they are to leave Jerusalem immediately. Several verses describe the urgency of their escape. Flee to the mountains (14). Don't stop to gather belongings (15). Don't even stop to gather your coat (16). The escape will be difficult for those with child, and they are to pray that it will not be in winter (17 & 18). The devastation of the city and its ensuing suffering is shown in verses 19 & 20.
It would be natural for the Jews to look for the Messiah to appear at this time. Taught to expect a military leader to deliver them from the Romans, they would expect Him to arise when the Roman army surrounded the city. It would also be natural for false christs to come, claiming to be the Messiah (13:6), and for others to claim that the Christ is in the desert or in some other place (21-22) preparing to attack the Romans. Even Christians might be tempted to believe Jesus had returned and was preparing to lead the attack on Rome. But verse 23 shows the vanity of such claims. Jesus is saying He has foretold all of this, and the Christians are to "take heed."
We must never allow ourselves to forget that the people who resisted and rejected Christ were religious people who considered themselves good and right with God. Yet Christ said these very people would be judged and destroyed in the destruction of Jerusalem. The Corinthians were also convinced of their own righteousness, yet Paul's word to them was "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5). Do people today live under the same delusion?