14 “When you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be” (let the reader understand), “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.
Today’s passage is another tough one to interpret. It has engendered much debate, and many Bible teachers have come up with many, many theories about its meaning. A majority of evangelical scholars believe that Jesus was preparing his disciples for the coming political and cultural turmoil, and reminding them of one overarching biblical theme: God is found on the move. Jesus says, and I paraphrase, “When you see the Temple lying empty, run to the mountains.” Jesus had full command of Holy Scripture—he knew it inside and out.
Jesus had full command of Holy Scripture—he knew it inside and out.
Take a moment to think about the story of Scripture. Adam and Eve are cursed to wander, leaving God’s Garden of blessing. Cain is cursed to wander, living in a foreign land. Noah is tasked with the call to become a boat captain, wandering through the flooded world. Abram is called out from his father’s home, from the land of the Chaldeans, to wander in the desert. Isaac carries on his father’s calling, choosing Abraham’s life of wandering and shepherding. Jacob flees his father’s house, wandering in fear of his brother Esau. Joseph is cast out by his brothers to wander in foreign lands. Moses wanders far from his lavish home, out into the wilderness, fearing Pharaoh’s response to the murder he had committed. Finally, God chose a tribe of slaves and rescued them out of Egypt, to do what? To wander in the wilderness, waiting for a home God was preparing for them.
Continuing the story of Scripture, God gives his people a vow. Then, what does God instruct them to do immediately thereafter? God tells the tribe of Israel to build him a home among them, a tent, a tabernacle. A dwelling place. They would fold it up and carry it with them wherever they went. You see, God lives in a mobile home.
You see, God lives in a mobile home.
By the time of the prophets, Israel had abandoned God. In Jeremiah 2:2, during a time of apostasy and backsliding on the part of God’s people, God reminds us of his intention for us: “I remember the loyalty of your youth, your love as a bride—how you followed me in the wilderness.” Remember your first love! We are his Bride and we’re each on honeymoon, learning to love this God and following as he lights our paths. In 2 Corinthians 6:6, Paul quotes from the book of Exodus to make Israel’s story our story. “We are the temple of the living God, as God said: I will tabernacle and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
What did Jesus mean when he told the disciples to flee to the mountains? At the very least He meant this: Rethink your religion. God is not found in temples and sanctuaries, but rather, in hearts and in minds! So take him with you wherever you go. God wants to make his home among us, and God wants us to wander until we find our home in him.