Flee While There Is Yet Time!
WHEN Jesus foretold the end of that Jewish religious system in the first century, he also had in mind something far greater. He knew that it would be a pattern of what to expect on a much larger scale during the “last days” of this present system of things.—2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24:3.
How can we be sure that there is this further application? An example is that in his prophecy Jesus spoke about his coming in the future “with power and great glory.” One result of this would be that “all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation” due to the catastrophe overtaking them. (Matthew 24:30) These things did not happen with the overthrow of Jerusalem and Judea in the first century. Indeed, Luke’s version of this same prophecy quotes Jesus as saying: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.”—Luke 21:24.
What is the “Jerusalem” referred to here? When do these “times of the nations” come to their end?
The “Holy Place” and a “Disgusting Thing”
A typical kingdom of God ruled in Jerusalem from 1070 to 607 BCE. It represented God’s sovereignty in the earth. But then this Davidic dynasty was overthrown by the Babylonians. No kingdom has ruled again in the earthly Jerusalem, right down to this present day. However, Jerusalem has ceased to be trampled on in this regard: God’s sovereignty has now come to be exercised through a “heavenly Jerusalem”—the promised kingdom of the Messiah, Christ Jesus. The Bible timetable, fulfillment of prophecy and the testimony of historians all combine to pinpoint the year 1914 as marking the end of “the appointed times of the nations” and the start of a period of “anguish of nations.”—Hebrews 12:22; Luke 21:24-26; Revelation 11:15.
The “heavenly Jerusalem,” represented by faithful anointed Christians on earth, now occupies “a holy place.” But have the nations of earth acknowledged this? Far from it! In the year 1919 they proposed the League of Nations, which leading clergymen proclaimed to be “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.” Likewise, religious leaders have described the League’s successor, the United Nations, brought forth in 1945, as ‘the sole hope for lasting peace.’ So the clergy would have this man-made makeshift stand in the “holy place” where only God’s kingdom by his Christ may now rightfully operate. A “disgusting thing,” indeed, in the sight of God and all lovers of righteousness!
However, as we move down toward God’s time to destroy the present wicked world system, the “disgusting thing,” the UN combine of nations, becomes a threat to world religion itself. How so? In that powerful member nations of the UN, notably those of the Communist bloc, have invaded the realm of religion. Especially have these atheistic forces become a threat to the continued operation of Christendom’s religions, as, for example, in China, in the Soviet Union and in other Eastern European countries. Thus power-hungry UN members stand now as a threat to Christendom’s claimed “holy place.” This represents everything that her religions hold sacred—her field of operation, her organizations, her church buildings and other assets, and her claimed right to rule the lives of her people. What will be the end of this confrontation?
The modern desolater, the UN ‘wild beast with seven heads and ten horns,’ is prophesied to make false religion “devastated and naked” and to “completely burn her with fire.” (Revelation 17:3, 16) In doing so, it will not be their acting out of any love of God, no more so than did ancient Rome. The modern “disgusting thing” now includes many nations that hate God, his kingdom rule and the people who bear God’s name, Jehovah. And, certainly, this desolater is part of the present system of things controlled by Satan the Devil.—Luke 4:5-8; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Matthew 6:9, 10.
‘Flee to the Mountains’
When the UN made its appearance in 1945, as successor to the League of Nations, it even then included anti-God nations in its midst. Thus the signal was renewed, and even more forcefully, for righteous-hearted persons to heed the warning of Jesus to begin “fleeing to the mountains.”—Matthew 24:16; Revelation 7:9, 10; 18:4.
What are these symbolic mountains today? They are the divinely provided place of refuge, Jehovah’s provision for protecting his people on earth through the “great tribulation” described at Revelation 7:1, 14. They are identified with Jehovah’s theocratic organization, which is represented on earth today in the true Christian congregation. (1 Timothy 3:15) In “the final part of the days” this congregation leads in true worship at “the mountain of the house of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 2:2, 3) Similarly, Proverbs 18:10 states: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.”
Fleeing to God’s organization and its exalted pure worship also means fleeing from the false religious systems of this world, severing all connections with them. It means identifying oneself as a true servant of Jehovah and a disciple of Jesus Christ.
No one should delay fleeing, thinking that there will be an exact parallel to the Roman armies’ withdrawing in 66 CE, allowing time for flight. No such historical development is to be expected, since there is no necessity for a person to flee to another geographical location. Instead, the appearance of the League of Nations following World War I and the reappearance of the “wild beast” in 1945 in the form of the UN should be warning enough.
Fleeing now is extremely urgent. Why? Because the evidence shows that soon the “disgusting thing” will desolate also the “holy place,” the claimed realm of Christendom’s churches, marking the start of the “great tribulation.”
Since those who will survive the “great tribulation” are to be searched out before it starts, Jehovah does not need to allow for a long, drawn-out “siege.” True, as Jesus foretold, it will be the most intense time of trouble in all human history. But it will be comparatively short, having been “cut short,” as was the siege of Jerusalem, since God’s “chosen ones” will have fled already.
“The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever,” states 1 John 2:17. Hence, those who do “the will of God” by worshiping him properly are the “flesh” who will survive this coming “great tribulation.” As Revelation 7:9-17 shows, such persons include a “great crowd” from all nations.
What of those who do not heed the warning and do not grasp the opportunity to flee to Jehovah’s “mountains” now? The prophecy at 2 Thessalonians chapter 1, verses 7 to 9, clearly answers, speaking of “the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction.”
Yes, it is very urgent to pay attention to the work that God is having done in the earth today in fulfillment of Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:14: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” Those who do pay heed and flee will be living testimony forever to the certainty of the Bible’s promise, which says: “Jehovah will not forsake his people.” (Psalm 94:14) And Jesus said: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.”—Matthew 24:13.
The time for God to execute judgment against Christendom and her “holy place” is near. The desolater is soon to strike, ending any further opportunity to flee to Jehovah’s protection. Have you already fled to the symbolic “mountains”? If not, then do not delay. It means your very life.—Zephaniah 1:14-18; 2:3.
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Christendom’s clergy claimed that the League of Nations and the UN could accomplish what only God’s mountainlike kingdom can do, thus placing those human makeshifts in a “holy place”
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Militarized “horns” of the UN “beast” now threaten another “holy place”—all that Christendom holds dear as her claimed field of influence and operation