Matt 24:16 Those in Judaea Flee into the Mountains 2/24/2019 ßà
#1. Who Are Those in Judaea? (Matt 24:15-16, Luke 21:21-22, Gen 19:15-17)
#2. Flee into the Mountains (Matt 24:16, Rev 18:4, Psalm 121:1-2, 48:1-2, Ex 15:13,16-17)
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Luke, Luke 21:20 (2X). We are actually going to focus on Matt 24:16, but for the sake of keeping things within their context, we have to remember what the Lord is saying in Luke 21. The title of the sermon for today is taken from Matt 24:16, where we read, “Those in Judaea Flee into the Mountains” (2X). Last week we have seen how the prophecy of Luke 21:20-24 applied to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD, as well as it applies to the threat of Satan to destroy the last vestiges of the saints near the end of time. And this end-time event must be harmonized with all other end time events that we can find in the Bible, for they all refer to the same last battle between Christ and Satan. There is only one last battle. We read in Luke 21:20-24,
The Lord Jesus gave His disciples a prophecy of the impending destruction of Jerusalem. But at the same time it is a picture of the threat by Satan to overrun the last saints in the world with false gospels. Therefore, if God would not interfere, even the last saints would die without leaving a saved posterity. We can see this threat vividly displayed in Rev 20:7-9, which reads as follows,
Re 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
Re 20:8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
Re 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
And so, the encircling of Jerusalem is now completely harmonized with the abomination of desolation that we read in Matt 24:15. Luke 21:20 is completely harmonized with Matt 24:15, and both passages apply to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD as well as the assault on the church and on the saints near the end of time. The context wherein we find these passages tells us that this is the interpretation the Lord wants us to understand. This NT information also gives us a new perspective on the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC, and then we find that the OT comes alive when we see it through NT eyes. Please turn now to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 24:15 (2X). Let us now focus on the next verse, which takes the center of our attention today: “Those in Judaea must flee into the mountains”.
#1. Who Are Those in Judaea? (Matt 24:15-16, Luke 21:21-22, Gen 19:15-17)
Whom is the Lord addressing in this passage? those who shall see the abomination of desolation.
Mt 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:)
Mt 24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
We have already seen how these words apply to the Christians who fled from Jerusalem in 70 AD. They fled literally to the mountains across the Jordan. They saw the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place when the Zealots took over Jerusalem. They also saw Jerusalem being surrounded by the Roman armies, like we have read in Luke 21, and they remembered the words of the Lord Jesus in:
Lu 21:21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
Lu 21:22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
The warning of the Lord in Luke 21 carries with it a sense of urgency, as if the destruction the Lord spoke about was about to come that same day. But then when we consider that the Lord says, “For these be the days (plural) of vengeance” we understand that this passage cannot refer to the last day, for the last day is one day, singular. But this also tells us that the encircling of Jerusalem in 70 AD were days of vengeance from the Lord upon apostate Jerusalem, which has continued to believe the works gospels of the scribes and Pharisees, rather than the true Gospel of salvation through Christ crucified. And, just as well, God’s dealings with mankind and with the apostate church of the last days are also plural days of vengeance from the Lord. In a certain sense the words that the Lord uses remind us of the hasty flight of Lot and his two daughters out of Sodom. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Genesis, Gen 19:15 (2X). When we consider the rescue of Lot and his two daughters out of Sodom, we can see that this is a picture of the Rapture of the saints, and the judgment following that Rapture all on the same day. And this is indeed the lesson we should learn from it. We read in Gen 19:15-17,
The Lord urged him, in verse 17, “escape to the mountain”. And why was Lot and his family allowed to escape? Verse 16 says, “the LORD being merciful unto him”. The Lord was merciful to Lot, because Lot has found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Lot was one of God’s elect. Now, if we apply these truths to the passage of Matt 24:15-20, we learn that those in Judaea are those to whom the Lord has been merciful. The reason why we are often hung up on historical circumstances is because we fail to understand the Lord’s terminology. We need to understand that God’s terminology before the cross has changed after the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross. In other words, we should not get our information from Jewish fables, but from the Bible. What is meant by those in Judaea? Who are living in Judaea? The Jews are living in Judaea. And who are the Jews? The name “Jew” is derived from “Judah”. And who are Jews in God’s terminology after the cross? The NT uses two definitions for the words “Jew” or its synonym “Israel”. One definition is a blood descendant of Jacob, or a blood descendant of Judah, the last surviving tribe out of Jacob, who are often identified as “those who are the circumcised”. But God uses another definition, which is “a true child of God”, one of “God’s elect”. God defines His own terms. Allow me to read to you several verses in rapid succession, and you can look up later if I am right.
In other words, “The body is not in focus; it is the condition of the heart that matters”. God says in Rom 9:6-8, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel, … Neither are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham, … But the children of the promise are counted for the seed”. And who are the children of the promise? God follows up this definition in Rom 9 with 6 examples of who are the children of the promise. Moreover, God says in John 8:39, “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham”. In God’s eyes they are not the children of the promise; they are illegitimate children, like Ishmael. God says in Gal 3:29, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise”. Therefore, WE, who are believers of Christ crucified for our sins, are the children of the promise, and heirs like Isaac. God says in Gal 4:28, “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise”. In other words, WE, believers of salvation by grace alone, are the true heirs of the covenant, for the new covenant is the last will and testament of God. God says in Gal 6:15, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature”. In other words, whether you are a blood descendant of Jacob or not means nothing in the eyes of God. The body does not matter. You must have been born from above in your soul; that is important. God says in Gal 6:16, “Peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God”. In other words, not the Israel in the flesh, but another Israel who has been born from above, and named after Christ who is called Israel, is the one who is at peace with God, for they have received mercy for all their sins. God says in John 1:13, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”. In other words, we cannot be born from above by our own will, or by the will of our parents, or by our descendance from the right bloodline, but only by the will of God. God says in Phil 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”. In other words, WE believers are called by God the true circumcision, in the spirit, but not in the flesh. God says in Rev 2:9, “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan”. These were not Greeks pretending to be Jews. These were Jews in the flesh, members of the local synagogue, who were persecuting the church at Smyrna. God says that they are not Jews in His eyes. Therefore God calls them the synagogue of Satan. God says in Rev 3:9, “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie”. God repeats the same accusation He stated in Rev 2:9. And is it not remarkable that in both instances it was a church that was persecuted? God says in Col 2:11, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ”. Again circumcision of the heart is in view as the most important event of our life. It is the same event as being born from above and that is a miracle done by God. But that circumcision of the heart was more important than physical circumcision was already stated in the OT, for example in Deut 10:16 and in Deut 30:6. And so, what we conclude from these passages is that the promises to Abraham concerning his seed do not refer to the physical descendants of Abraham, but to the spiritual children. That is why Abraham was called “the father of believers”. This does not take away the fact that in many other verses the title “Jews” is used for the blood descendants of Jacob, but who always remain in unbelief, and are in opposition to the Gospel. Now that we have learned who the Jews are in the NT, the question is, “Who are the Gentiles?”
In our 21st century language Biblical words and Biblical concepts have been very much influenced by Jewish fables. But let us read the Bible, and let us ask God how He defines the terms. Allow me to read to you several verses from the NT in rapid succession, and you can look up later if I am correct. We will concentrate on the Greek word “ethnos”, which has been translated “Gentiles”. God says in 1Cor 5:1, “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife”. In other words, even the unsaved Gentiles do not live in such sexual perversion. Therefore you Corinthians should not tolerate such sins. God says in 1Cor 10:20, “But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils”. In other words, the unsaved Gentiles sacrifice to devils, but don’t let me catch you Corinthians do that. You are not Gentiles anymore God says in 1Cor 12:2, “Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led”. In other words, God says, that was in the past; now you are not Gentiles anymore. God says in Eph 2:11, “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands”. In other words, you were called “Uncircumcision” by the Jews. But that was in the past. You are called differently now. God says through the pen of the apostle Paul in Eph 3:8, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ”. In other words, To me the grace is given that I should preach among the Gentiles, that they also might become saved. God says in Eph 4:17, “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind”. In other words, Do not imitate the Gentiles. God says in 1Thess 2:16, “Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved”. The Jews are forbidding us to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles, for they do not want the Gentiles to be saved; rather they want the Gentiles to go to Hell. This is one characteristic of the unbelieving Jews in the NT, who are the blood descendants of Jacob, but who always remain in unbelief, and are in opposition to the Gospel. God says in 1Thess 4:5, “Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God”. In other words, if you are still called Gentiles, you are in the category of those which know not God. God says in 1Pet 2:12, “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation”. In other words, we must have our conversation honest among the unsaved Gentiles, for we are Christ’s witnesses among them. God says in 1Pet 4:3, “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries”. In other words, in the past, before we were saved, we did the will of the Gentiles. But now we do not do the will of the Gentiles any more. God says in 3John 7, “Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles”. In other words, the brethren in the faith, travelers, are taken care of by you, because for Christ’s sake they went forth, taking nothing from the unsaved Gentiles. God says in Rev 11:2, “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months”. The period of 42 months, or 3½ years, is symbolic for the entire NT period of time. In other words, the court outside the temple proper, as well as the entire city outside the temple area, are symbolic of those parts of the church which are not saved, and those church people are called Gentiles. And so, we conclude that God is using the word Gentiles, or “ethnos”, in the following sense: We were in the past Gentiles, but now that we have been born from above we should no longer live like the Gentiles do, for we are not called Gentiles anymore. We have been translated into a new nation, the nation of the kingdom of Christ. In all those places where the word “ethnos” has been used, it refers to the unsaved heathen, or unsaved Gentiles, out there. In fact, if you check your computer you find that there are no “Christian Gentiles”, or “Gentile Christians” in the Bible, and neither are there “believing Gentiles”, or “Gentile believers” in the Bible. After the cross God distinguishes the people in the world as those who are “in Christ”, or as those who are still unsaved Gentiles, or unsaved heathen out there, or the heathen nations that have infiltrated the church. We may not interpret the Bible as if there was one plan of salvation for the “Jews” and another plan of salvation for the “Gentiles”. God says in Gal 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus”. In other words, when we have become saved all our former heritages have been erased, and we have become one great family in Christ Jesus. Now we understand that those in Judaea are those whom God calls “Jews”. If we interpret Matt 24:16 in the spiritual sense, they are the elect of God who live near the end of time anywhere in the world, but they are to flee into the mountains. They are to flee there because they can see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place.
#2. Flee into the Mountains (Matt 24:16, Rev 18:4, Psalm 121:1-2, 48:1-2, Ex 15:13,16-17)
God says in Matt 24:16, “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains”. What does this mean? Keep in mind that the previous verse says, “Whoso readeth, let him understand”. God warns us that it is not a simple historical event that He is speaking about. It requires some research to find the spiritual meaning of the abomination of desolation, as well as the command to flee to the mountains. Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 18:4 (2X). We have already seen how this command to flee into the mountains applies to the Christians in 70 AD to flee out of Judaea and out of Jerusalem. But how does this command apply to the Christians near the end of time? First of all it is no longer a command to flee out of the country there East of the Mediterranean, for those in Judaea refers to the saints, the elect of God, who live anywhere in the world, and who can see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place. What are they to flee out of? We read in Rev 18:4,
Re 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
In Rev 17 and 18 God speaks about the apostate church whom He calls Babylon the Harlot. Here in Rev 18:4 the Lord gives us the command to flee out of her. But this is not a blanket command to all the saints who are in the churches, but only to those saints who can see the abomination of desolation stand in the pulpit of their church. In fact, this is a command we should follow all the time, even when we are not living in the end time. If our church has gone apostate, if the pastor preaches another gospel than the Gospel of the Bible, if the pastor violates Rev 22:18-19, then we should leave that church and establish another church where the Gospel is faithfully preached. This is what the saints did about 500 years ago during the Reformation. Let us remember their example, for this also explains where we should flee to. Please turn in your Bibles to Psalm 121, Psalm 121:1 (2X). When we consider the spiritual meaning of the word “mountains” in the Bible, the Bible always points us to the place where God is found. The mountains are “up there”, and God also is “up there”. Let us look at a few examples that prove this point. The Hebrew word “Har” is often translated mountain, or hill. On the side, it is a word that occurs 546 times in the OT, and in all the 546 times the Septuagint translated this word as “Armageddon”, which is also found in Rev 16:16. We read in Psalm 121:1-2,
“The hills” have been translated from the Hebrew word “Har”. And so, God tells us here in this Psalm that this is the direction where God is found. Please turn a few pages to your left, to Psalm 48:1 (2X). This is a song and a psalm for the sons of Korah. Remember Korah, Dathan and Abiram were swallowed up alive in the earth for their rebellion against the Lord. But God had mercy on the sons of Korah, and here their names are immortalized in the Psalms. This is a vivid demonstration that the God whom we are serving is a merciful God who delights in mercy. The heights of His mercy are so great, they are incomprehensible, for out of His mercy flows His love for us, which He showed in sacrificing His only begotten Son for us on the cross. We read in Psalm 48:1-2,
Let us be clear on this point: The mountain is not God. The mountain is not a synonym for God. But there, in the mountain of His holiness, in that direction, is the city of the great King, and it is there where God is found. And thus, when the saints all over the world receive the command to flee to the mountains it is a command to flee to a place where the only true God can be found. Let us now apply this in a very practical manner. Where can we find the only true God? In the Bible! When the saints shall see (2X) the abomination of desolation standing in the pulpit of their local church, like during the Reformation, where shall they flee to? To the Bible! The saints are commanded to go back to the basic doctrines of the Bible where they shall find the principles of the Gospel of grace alone. There they find who God really is, and who the Lord Jesus Christ really is, and therein they find salvation for their soul. Therein we find that the saints shall congregate together in faithful churches. And thus, to flee to the mountains is equivalent to fleeing to a faithful church where the true Gospel of the Bible is preached. This is what the saints did during the Reformation. If we can find such a church we shall be blessed. If we do not find such a church then the Bible is the only place where we can find our strength, for God will not let His saints be deceived. God gave us tremendous pictures of where He can be found in the Prophecy of Exodus. Please turn to the Prophecy of Exodus, Ex 15:13 (2X). Do we remember where Moses found God? He found Him in the mountain. He found Christ in the bush that was burning, and it was not consumed. When we read the Prophecy of Exodus we need to remember that God wrote this to give us awesome pictures of true salvation. We learn from Hebrews 3 and 4 that the children of Israel remained mostly unsaved, but God uses terminology that tells us what true salvation is. God says in Ex 15:13,
Ex 15:13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.
We are those people whom Christ has redeemed, and He has guided us to the place where God resides. This verse does not apply to the children of Israel who were taken out of Egypt, for then Heb 3 and 4 would be full of lies. But God is our Defender in this picture. Drop down to verse 16, Ex 15:16,
thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.
The mountain of His inheritance is the place where the Bride of Christ shall rejoice forever in the NH&NE, and it is also the place on earth now where the Bride of Christ will be congregating, the faithful church where the Bible is faithfully expounded. There is where we should flee to, but only when we shall see the abomination of desolation standing in the pulpit of our local church. That is the condition.
Please turn again to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 24:21 (2X). We shall now skip a few verses, which I want to reserve for next week. We must first get a good grip on the Lord’s description of the great tribulation. What is this great tribulation? Does it refer to all the trouble and pain caused during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD? Is that a possibility? We read in Matt 24:21-24,
When the Lord says that this tribulation shall be so great that it has no parallel from the beginning of the world, even unto the end of the world, we immediately know that it cannot refer to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. In fact the carnage during the first destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC was far greater. The cruelty inflicted on Christians by the Inquisition of Rome during the Reformation was also much greater than the slaughter of Jews in 70 AD. And the slaughter of Christians in Rome during the first 250 years of the church’s existence was so great that even today they have not discovered all the bodies buried in the catacombs in Rome. But you have to realize the context of verse 21. For when we read in verse 22, “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened”, we know that it is impossible to apply these words to the inhabitants of Jerusalem when it fell to the Romans in 70 AD. First, there were no elect in Jerusalem at that time, for all the Christians had left, and all those who remained in unbelief against Christ were not saved, and thus they were not elect. Secondly, the shortening of the siege of Jerusalem did not mean that fewer people died of starvation. No matter how long the siege would last, there would always be a remnant who survived the onslaught. Therefore, when the Lord said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be”, He was referring to the nature of the tribulation and that it is not a time of bloodletting, and slaughter, but it is of a different nature altogether than all the other slaughters in human history. How different will it be? Look at verse 22 again. This does not speak of people saved in the flesh, but of people saved in their soul. This verse says, “if God would not shorten the period of the tribulation of those days, there would be no elect on the earth left to further the cause of Christ”. And that would be an impossibility, for the Bible clearly teaches that there will always be a remnant alive, even until Christ comes again to rapture His saints. Why would there not be one elect person left on the earth if the Lord tarries? Because the spread of false gospels will be so vigorous and so powerful that even the children of the saints will be led astray. This would be the reason why “no flesh” would be saved, which is a synonym for “no person” would be saved in his soul. Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 13:7 (2X). For this reason we should label this great tribulation as the Final Tribulation Period (FTP). During the FTP the saints are assaulted spiritually, rather than physically. The pressure of the false gospels that are so close to the true Gospel, and the power that Satan has received to accomplish his goals, are so great that no other time of tribulation can be compared to that. For when people are snared in a false gospel it is to them a far greater evil than being slaughtered by a physical enemy, for Hell is a pain that lasts forever. We read
Re 13:7-8 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
This tells us clearly that the majority of mankind shall be persuaded to worship someone else than the only true God. Except for a very small remnant, it will seem as if Satan has won. Moreover, if we drop down to verse 13 we can see that Satan has received additional powers from God to deceive the whole world with his craft. We read in Rev 13:13-14,
Here is the nature of the FTP. It is a period of time when Satan, the master deceiver, is deceiving the whole world with gospels that are so close to the true Gospel that even churches who would be on our side would object when we accuse those gospels to be false. It is a period of time when we will stand alone, for we will see the danger of the abomination of desolation, but the rest of the world will not see it. Please turn now to the Prophecy of the Psalms, Psalm 96:11 (2X). What will be our prayer when we will recognize the danger of the great deception by Antichrist, who is Satan in the flesh? We will ask God for protection for us and for our children that we shall remain faithful. We read in Psalm 96:11-13,
Ps 96:11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.
Ps 96:12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice
Ps 96:13 Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.
In other words, let us thank Him for the joy that the Lord is coming to take us home. Let us thank Him that He has given us the wisdom to see the abomination for not everyone is able to see it, and let us thank Him for giving us the wisdom to flee into the mountains. AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.