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God’s Word for You

Mark 13:14-16 The abomination

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, August 18, 2023

14 When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea should flee to the mountains. 15 No one who is on the roof of his house should go down or go back into this house to retrieve anything, 16 and no one who is in the field should go back to get his coat.

It had happened before. In about 539 BC, the prophet Daniel was meditating on a passage of Jeremiah that said the exile in Babylon would last seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11-12). While the prophet was thinking about this and praying and confessing his sins and the sins of the Jews, he saw a vision of terrible things. One of them was that a ruler would set up “an abomination that causes desolation” on a wing of the temple (Daniel 11:31). A descendant of one of Alexander the Great’s generals took advantage of a squabble in Jerusalem between Jewish factions to seize control of the city and to exert his authority by setting up a statue of Zeus in the temple of the Lord. Copies of the Scriptures were destroyed, and public and private worship of God was punished, causing a revolution.

Now, Jesus prophesies, it was going to happen again. This time, everything Daniel foresaw would take place. This would include (1) the death of the Anointed One (Christ) to atone for sin (Daniel 9:25-26, 11:35), (2) the new covenant—the new testament—that would put an end to sacrifices for sin forever (Daniel 9:24,27), and (3) Jerusalem would be destroyed (Daniel 9:24). When the Roman armies came forty years after Jesus’ ascension and began to attack Jerusalem, many Christians recognized the fulfillment of this prophecy and escaped with their lives to Pella in the high hills beyond the Jordan. But to this day, many Jews refuse to believe that their beloved city, temple, church and kingdom were destroyed, despite two thousand years of physical evidence to the contrary. We hear news about those who would like to rebuild the temple and begin to make sacrifices once again. But the sacrifices are at an end. Even if a temple were rebuilt (as if the pagans who occupy that place would ever allow it), and even if priests got gowned up and began to slaughter and burn sacrifices once again, it would do nothing to move God’s heart. “Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties, again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest—Christ—had offered for all time one single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12).

Jesus’ warning is urgent: “Don’t go back to your house to grab anything. Don’t even go back for your coat. Just run away!” His words still speak to us today, because the “abomination that causes desolation” is also the perverse work of the Antichrist, who will grow stronger in the church before the end of the world. Paul said about him: “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Christians do not always have a physical place to run to, but we always have a Mighty Fortress in our God, a “Pella in the spirit,” the one who is exalted in the earth. At all times and in all circumstances, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Therefore we do not need to fear; for God is with us. His rod and staff comfort us. His right arm embraces us. May his word always be written upon the tablets of our hearts (Proverbs 7:3).

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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