As Jesus continues his prediction of future events to his group of followers, he anticipates for them an intensely abominable religious event. This is where the scholars pour out tons of ink in grappling with what future event he refers to – 70 A.D. when the Romans invaded the city and ultimately destroyed the temple crushing the Jewish faith in act of conquest or a still future event which no one has seen to date?
Here are a few questions to ponder, at least a few I’m grappling with as I read the text –
1) Who is the ‘you’ in verse 14? Does it not make sense to interpret this as the twelve to whom Christ was speaking?
2) What would they see?
3) How suddenly did the conquest of Jerusalem occur? Christ urges haste, a fleeing, a ‘getting out’ without retrieving any personal possessions from one’s home.
4) How hard would it be for pregnant women and nursing mothers to evacuate quickly?
5) Does verse 19 not indicate that this distress is in the middle of history? Read this a few times. “Never to be equaled again” It sounds like more time will pass after this event rather than the conclusion of history, does it not?
6) How would ‘false Christs’ take advantage of this invasion?
7) According to verse 22, should the disciples be surprised at the volume of false teachers to appear?
8) Who is called to be on their guard? Is it not the disciples?
To read into this text a future prophetic timetable yet to launch seems to totally ignore the natural reading of the text.
It never ceases to amaze me how much speculation there is in prophecy! The second coming of Christ is to be a motivation for godly living (I John 31:1) not the source of confusion, division and argumentation.
I hope some of my ministry colleagues who are involved in a prophecy conferences at Muskoka Bible Centre this week, urge God’s people to read the text, read the text, read the text!