Matthew 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
Jesus gave several keys to help us to know what time He was talking about in this passage. In verse 15 He referenced the words of Daniel the prophet. We can go to Daniel and read the verses that Jesus referred to.
Daniel 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Daniel 12:11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
In Daniel 9 and 12 God gives reference to the time of the end when the antichrist will rule and will break his covenant of “peace” in the midst of the “week” which is a reference to the last 7 years of Daniel’s prophecy.
Jesus helps us to understand what Daniel was speaking of and He warned of the danger of that mid-point and beyond. That reference that Jesus is talking about cannot be a general reference to history from the time of Christ and on. What would be the mid-point? There is no Temple now for the antichrist to defile. We have already noted that Jesus was speaking of a specific time frame and passages like the ones He referred to from Daniel and others from the book of the Revelation help us to understand the time as the 7 year Tribulation time.
Jesus encouraged those who read the prophecy to understand what is being written. God gives understanding to those who are saved. The Holy Spirit is the One Who guides the true child of God into the truth.
In II Thessalonians 2:3-4 the apostle Paul was directed to write and warn of this time as well.
II Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Jesus warned that those (in particular the Jews) who are alive at that time to flee from Judaea into the mountains. Jesus was talking in a literal sense of the land of Israel and in particular of the area of Judaea. At the mid-point of the Tribulation the antichrist will turn his attention against the Jews to a greater extent than Hitler did. He will seek to wipe them out. We know that Iran and others in the region would like to drive the Jews into the Mediterranean. They will not succeed and the antichrist will not succeed in his time either.
In verse 17 Jesus warned that those living in that region should not try to gather up any belongings as they flee. The houses in Jerusalem have flat tops and they are built so that people can sleep and live on the roof top. At the mid-point of the Tribulation, the Jews would be wise to flee in order to hide from the antichrist. There will be no time to gather up belongings nor will they want them to restrict their ability to flee.
In verse 18 the warning is for those who are in the field at that time. They too should not go back to get their outer garments that they took off because of the heat of the day. They should flee with what they have on. The time will be short and they need to get out of the city as quickly as they can. As we have noted, many will be killed by the antichrist, but God will also provide protection for those who flee according to Jesus’ warning here.
The nation of Israel is still asleep today. They are not paying attention to the Word of God. They will be caught off guard at the time of the Rapture. They will embrace the antichrist just as the Gentile nations will. They will be shocked to discover that the antichrist is exactly that — he is anti Christ. He will turn against them at the mid-point and they will suffer greatly at his hands. As Jesus taught further in this passage, if the days of the second half of the Tribulation were not shortened to a 3 1/2 year time frame, no Jews would be saved. The antichrist will be so ruthless, that he will have his goons at work to find every Jew and kill them. God is going to give the antichrist much greater liberty to enact his evil plans than He has any other world leader.
The Jews would be wise to read and believe God’s Word now. Gentiles would be wise to do the same now as well. Rather than try to make God’s Word say what man wants it to say, believe what it says. The time is short. We do not know the day nor the hour when the Lord Jesus Christ will come in the clouds to take the saints out of this world. The wise person believes God’s Word and gets saved now and then joins a good church where they can be taught and encouraged to walk faithfully with the Lord and help others to come to know His truth as well.