¹⁴But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. ¹⁵The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; ¹⁶and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat.
¹⁷But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!
¹⁸But pray that it may not happen in the winter. ¹⁹For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will.
²⁰Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days.
²¹And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; ²²for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. ²³But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.
Mark 13:14 begins with an allusion to the divine worship of the Roman Emperor, which began under Emperor Caligula. (Compare Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11. Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the temple in 168 BC. by having a pagan altar (an abomination) placed there. ‘Devastation’ or ‘horror’ is a corruption of ‘lord of heaven’, a designation of the pagan god Zeus. In Mark the expression refers to the Roman emperors indeed also called ‘savior’. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4)
This veneration was required of every Roman subject, including Jews and Christians, under penalty of death.
To avoid this, people quickly fled from cities and villages to the mountain caves. There was no time to pick up any belongings. Those who were expecting or nursing a child were easily overtaken by the swift soldiers (Mark 13:14-17; Compare Luke 23:28,29).
Who does not think back to the chases by the Nazis?
Winter is also a bad time to run away (Mark 13:18). Such periods are unimaginable. Even today, faithful Christians are in danger of being wasted.
At first, Jesus thinks of the turbulent years before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, in 70 AD. That was the end of the Jewish state until the founding of the current state of Israel in 1948.
We must be on guard.
Something like that can happen again. Just think of the political, social and religious conflicts that bode well. In Mark 13:19 it is about the great climax just before the world end (Compare Joel 2:1,2).
But also remember that all of this is not ignored by God.
He also reigns in times of greatest disaster. He does not let His congregation fall and intervenes in His time and way. We can rely on that (Mark 13:20).
Today’s portion closes with a renewed warning from Jesus to all kinds of saviors and prophets who want to tempt us with great, wonderful things (Mark 13:21-23; Compare Mark 13:5,6).
This warning is also very appropriate in our time.
We can’t apologize and say we didn’t know. The Bible gives clear warnings.
a. What is/are your idol(s)?
b. What do you do with that? (Compare Acts 19:19, 20.)
Pray that God will teach you to interpret the events of today.
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