Matthew 24:15-22 (ESV)

15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 19 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 20 Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.

The disciples asked Jesus when the temple would be destroyed and what would be the sign of his coming and the end of the age. Jesus explained to them what must happen before the end. He focused on what many have called the most marked sign within the tribulation: the “abomination of desolation.” The disciples were familiar with this term because the prophet Daniel spoke of it over 500 years before Jesus did. Jesus taught about the time when an ultimate leader or world dictator will gain power and set himself up to be worshipped as God in the future temple, thus defiling it. When the abomination of desolation occurs, the end is near. Jesus warned the reader that when this event begins, people should run! The danger will be so great that to stay alive, men and women will need to flee, even leaving their belongings and possessions behind. Jesus said the distress coming upon earth will be unlike anything that has ever gone before or will occur again in the future (v. 21). It will be like pressure to the point of bursting.

It is interesting that Jesus added, “If those days had not been cut short.” Even in the Great Tribulation, we still see God’s incredible mercy. If this time of great suffering were to go on indefinitely, no one would survive. But because God has elected some to salvation during this horrible period, the tribulation will come to an end. Reading about the Great Tribulation should make us shudder. Jesus alerted the disciples of the massive tribulation that will come upon the earth so that women might listen and repent now. The New Testament teaches that God has not destined believers for wrath. That means if you are a follower of Jesus today, you will not be present on earth during this future time. What a relief! If you are a Christian, pray that the spiritual eyes of those you love will be opened so that they may flee from the wrath to come by turning to Christ now before this terrible time comes upon our world. In addition, if you are a Christian, thank God for delivering you from his coming wrath against sin by pouring it out on Jesus. The Great Tribulation will be horrible, but hell will be even worse. And hell won’t be cut short, because none of the elect will be there.