In continuing to prophecy end times, Jesus says “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (v14 NIV). This end-time prophecy can be understood as describing at least two events. But note first; “let the reader understand”. This means that prophecy is not understood by the casual reader, but by the one who searches the scriptures. First, to compare prophecies with one another for context and, secondly, to accurately connect this study to unfolding events.
One of the abominations can refer to Jerusalem as a whole, rejecting Jesus and His saving Grace. This abomination before God causes Israel to distance themselves, both in relationship and in favor, with the Lord. The decision to serve their King or to serve tradition divides Jewish people (Matthew 12:25 NIV). Therefore, the (heathen) army of Rome will come to stand – where it does not belong – in the (holy) presence of the temple. This abomination causes the desolation of the temple and Jerusalem will not be the same for thousands of years. Consider this as a short-term fulfillment of this prophecy.
For us today, the long-term fulfillment will be actualized when Jesus comes the second time. In end-times, the Jewish nation will be granted permission by the beast to return to the performance of sacrifices in the Temple. The agreement, made for seven years, is cut in half by the beast who reneges on his promise (go figure) and forces the Jews out, this time, for good (Daniel 9:27 NLT). These excruciating pains are described as birth pains. They will last only for a time before the arrival of Jesus, for Whom we are watching. Note that the word “watch” isn’t used in the context of a spectator, “watching” a sporting event and giving attention to an assortment of distractions. Rather, we are to watch as an umpire watches, vision fixed at all times, ready and able to make a sound call at each and every moment.