Let the Reader Understand

“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. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.”—Mark 13:14–19 (NIV)

I have a friend who reads the last page of a novel first. She also looks up the ending of a movie before it starts. Knowing the resolution of the conflict in the story calms her anxiety and reassures her that it will all be okay in the end. I think she might like this passage of Scripture because essentially, Jesus is giving His audience a spoiler alert. He’s letting us know what will happen in the end.

Jesus starts off this passage with a quote from the prophet Daniel, so this news of the end times isn’t new to His Jewish audience. He’s confirming what Daniel prophesied many years prior is true and will happen. This abomination is a filthy, worthless, unholy idol that is set up in the holy place in the temple. That holy place is only meant for the Lord to dwell. Anything that takes the place of God and that demands worship is an idol and will trigger the judgement of God. This is not because He is mean or angry. He is holy. He is just. He is the Lord. And He is the only One worthy of worship. 

So when that desolation comes, Jesus is warning them to flee and not take anything with them. There is no time to pack or prepare. Security and safety—those things that mothers create for their children—will not be existent. This all will be exacerbated by winter, and those days of distress will be unrivaled by any previous days of distress. 

Let the reader understand.

These are hard words to understand! But remember that every word that God says is true. Isaiah 55:11 (NIV) says it this way, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” We can be assured these prophetic words Jesus spoke in Mark 13 will come to pass. 

This is not a reason to live in fear, to watch the sky waiting for Jesus to return, or to hoard supplies and stay locked inside our homes. It’s a reason to understand the realities of the fragility of our lives, to develop an awareness of Jesus’ return, and to live with a sense of urgency to tell others the good news.

We have the ending of the story. The Book of Revelation describes those days in even more detail. I encourage you to read the final two chapters of Revelation for the ultimate spoiler alert. Be encouraged that when Jesus returns, everything will be okay in the end! 

Pause: Do you like to know the end of the story before you begin? Does this passage bring comfort or fear to your mind? 

Practice: Evaluate what you spend most of your time thinking about, where you spend most of your money, and what you prioritize doing. These things could be idols because they take up more of your time, thoughts, or resources. Reprioritize them so they set up Jesus as first in your life!

Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for this warning. Thank You for these words. I trust that Your words are true. Forgive me for any idol I have intentionally or unintentionally set up in my heart. I want You to have the right place—the first place, the only place—in my life. You are my Lord. Thank You for your forgiveness! Help me to live with awareness and the urgency to tell others about Your good news. Amen.

About the Author

Denise Trio

Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.