The Olivet Discourse – The Great Escape


Now that we have turned our attention back to the Olivet Discourse and concluded our discussion as to what the term “abomination of desolation” may mean and what events may be attached to the phrase, it would do us a great service if we reminded ourselves why was Jesus giving these “warning signs” in the first place.

The whole first section that we have covered deals with the “birth pang” signs and the “warning signs.” The birth pang signs dealt with events that were a few years before the tragic events of 70AD. Then the martyrdom of the saints and Apostles which took place between the late 50’s and the mid-60’s AD lead to the sign of an “army surrounding Jerusalem” which would conclude the warning signs and sound the call to flee the city.

Note these events are not warnings of the end of the world, the rapture, the second coming or the rise of an Antichrist. These were meant to be warning signs for those in the city to finally flee and take refuge. This warning is a response to a question regarding the destruction of the Temple. Again, the last sign being the abomination of desolation.

Matt 24:16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let the one who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house, 18and 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.

There are several important points on interest that we must consider. I have emphasized those points in the passage above. But also remember this departure from the city is well within the framework of the time constraints of “this generation” and related to the area near the Temple. Some of the points have been discussed previously, so I will bullet point them for ease of remembrance.

  • Note that the call to flee is limited to those who are in the city or the Judean area. This is not a world wide calamity
  • This departure is seen as being on foot. not in modern vehicles
  • The call was to flee to the mountains as it would be more difficult to be followed and the villages and cities were to be ravaged
  • A modern army would have no trouble tracking people through the wilderness with satellite, night vision, modern vehicles
  • The rooftop escape plan simply would not work in a modern city as that style of architecture is extinct
  • Nursing mothers or pregnant women would have trouble traveling
  • The Sabbath restrictions are still in place, which would preclude modern Jerusalem or another major city

All of the above clearly dictate a first century event in mind. But what of the fulfillment of this warning?


The surrounding of the city and the institution of Marshall Law in Jerusalem began some time in 63 or 64 AD. Nero sent governors to the area to try and calm the zealot revolts and restore order to the area. This increased Roman pressure only increased the zealots actions.

In late 66 AD the Roman general, Cestius, ordered a withdrawal of soldiers from the city and drew his forces back from the city. At this point many fled the city including both Christian and Jews. Christian fled to Pella in the mountain regions as they were instructed. Many Jews fled to the Sea of Galilee and tried to make escape through the maters. This proved fruitless as the Roman army stuck them with spears as they came up for breath. A great multitude of Jews were  slaughtered.

The Christian, though, made escape. It is said that there were no Christians left in the city by the time of the great assault in 70AD. The only Christians said to have remained were the Church leaders including James, the brother of Jesus who was later killed by the zealots be being thrown off the top of the Temple and clubbed to death after surviving the fall.

One very large group of Christian fled the city under the guidance of Symeon, the cousin of Jesus. I believe it is important here to mention both James and Symeon. If you recall the Gospels mentioned that even His own family did not believe He was the Messiah. But the power of the Gospel and the fact of the Resurrection lead even the closest to Jesus that originally did not believe to become leaders in the fledgling Church in Jerusalem.

One thing i have mentioned before and will do again here is that I am always surprised by this great work by modern evangelicals to relocate to Jerusalem all the while believing that 1/3 to 1/2 of those residing in Jerusalem will be killed in the near future coming Great Tribulation. How loving is that?

so again, as in every other aspect of our discussion, the events foretold by Christ would find their fulfillment well within the time constraints of a generation. We will now turn our attention to the symbolic pictures Christ uses to describe the soon to unfold events and discover what those pictures actually represent.


One Response to “The Olivet Discourse – The Great Escape”

  1. Wading through…

    Although not through the maters of Galilee. (You might want to change the spelling there, and then expunge this message as it will self distruct)

    Also change the be to a by.

    Peace Yo!

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