Flee to which mountains?
The antichrist spirit, and apostasy becoming dominant in the church, are described in Daniel’s prophecies. The reign of Antiochus IV, the Seleucid king of Syria in the 2nd century BC, was typical of events of a spiritual nature, not a repetition of events of the same kind. Because of his policies, the temple at Jerusalem was made desolate, and dedicated to Zeus, which was typical of the desolation of the true temple, which is the church. Daniel referred to this desolation as the abomination of desolation. In Daniel 7 it is represented by the little horn that emerged among the ten horns of the fourth beast. In chapter 8, a king of fierce countenance who “understands dark sentences” destroys many of the holy people.
The apostle John, writing in the first century, said that many antichrists were already present. [1 John 2:18] He said that the spirit of antichrist was already present. [1 John 4:3] This implies there are several kinds of antichrist spirits.
In Zechariah 12:4, all the horses of the people involved in the siege of Jerusalem are smitten with astonishment. Their riders are smitten with madness. The horses are also smitten with blindness. In Psalm 32:9, the psalmist compares people who lack understanding to horses, so the horses in Zechariah’s prophecy likely represent people who lack understanding. The people who assault the church are blind in a spiritual sense.
Typically, they are blind to the presence of the antichrist spirit, that dominates Christians during the present age. It is the primary reason for sects, and divisions. Many look for a one man Antichrist to appear in the future. This interpretation was popular for many centuries in Europe. It was promoted in Hugo Ripelin‘s Compendium Theologicae Veritatis, one of the most popular theological manuals of the Middle Ages. The idea of a one man Antichrist was promoted by Jesuit priest Francisco Ribera (1537-1591), and by Robert Belamine (1542-1621), who became Cardinal, and later by S. R. Maitland (1792–1866), and it was adopted by John N. Darby (1800-1882). In contrast, most of the Reformers identified the antichrist and the abomination of desolation with the papacy. In truth, the little horn’s eyes like the eyes of a man identify it with a human point of view, as opposed to the divine.
In Matthew 24:15, Jesus says when the abomination of desolation is seen, flee to the mountains. He addressed this saying to “them that be in Judea.” This is a cryptic reference to the saints, those who are Jews in the spiritual sense Paul alludes to in Romans 2:28-29. Jesus refers to the land of Judea symbolically, and figuratively, as mount Zion and Jerusalem were located there. Mount Zion was raised up, as foretold in Isaiah 2:2, when Jesus ascended to heaven, and to the throne of his Father. Hebrews 12:22 says: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” Since mount Zion was in Judea, those who come to mount Zion, and to the heavenly Jerusalem, are “them that be in Judea” in a spiritual sense.
When Jesus said “flee to the mountains,” in Matthew 24:15, he did not mean for self-preservation, as he also said that every one who seeks to save his life will lose it. [Matthew 16:25] Also, Zechariah said all the country surrounding Jerusalem will become a plain: “All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place.” [Zechariah 14:10]
In Zechariah’s prophecy, Jerusalem was to be raised up, while the surrounding area became a plain, which complements the events described in Isaiah 2:1-3, where Jerusalem and the mountain of the Lord’s house are exalted to the top of the mountains, above the hills. Both prophecies refer to spiritual events, rather than literal changes in the topography of Palestine.
According to Zechariah’s prophecy, the only elevated area remaining in Judea is Jerusalem, and mount Zion, which is raised up in a spiritual sense, to heaven; clearly then, when Jesus said that “them that be in Judea” must “flee to the mountains,” he meant that we should seek the kingdom of God, and his promises. Mountains are symbolic of God’s righteousness, such as the teachings in the sermon on the mount. These teachings of Jesus are among the things we should flee to.
Jesus encourages people to seek entry to Jerusalem, the holy city, and to the kingdom of God. The mountains represent God’s promises, which Peter called “exceeding great and precious.” [2 Peter 1:4]
Jerusalem and mount Zion represent the mountain of the Lord’s house, that is raised up to heaven; entry to it is only through Jesus, who is “the door of the sheep.” [John 10:7]
Mountains of prophecy also represent promises; the blessings of Jacob were compared to mountains. He said, “The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.” [Genesis 49:26] They were high, like high mountains, because they were spiritual in nature. They were also eternal.
Jesus compared gaining entry to the kingdom of God to finding a pearl of great price; this may be what is meant by the “white stone” in Revelation 2:17.
Ascending the mountains means climbing out of valleys, which represent judgments; the valley of Gehenna; the valley of Jehoshaphat; etc.
When Jesus said, “Woe to them that are with child, and them that give suck” he probably did not mean women, but teachers and pastors. Woe is especially on the ones who preach a powerless, inferior version of the gospel.
He also warned, don’t go back for your clothes, meaning, do not bring up arguments against the message of the gospel, and objections to the message of Christ. Discovering the truth is like putting on new clothing.
Jesus said, “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” [Matthew 24:20-22] To have to flee in winter means one has missed out on the harvest; fleeing in winter involves much more trouble and painful unlearning of wrong beliefs; that is, great tribulation. To flee on the sabbath means one has missed out on the “rest” promised to the saints, and has been “left behind.” Jesus described the present age as the “summer,” and the preferred time for spiritual growth and for bringing forth fruit for the kingdom of God. [Matthew 24:32]