Flee to which mountains?

July 3, 2012

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]

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  1. July 21, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Is there ALSO a temporal fulfillment of these prophecies? Didn’t the believing Christian Jews who remembered the words of Jesus, to flee to the mountains, save themselves temporally by recognizing the warnings of Jesus when the Romans were all around the city. The believing Jews then left Judea when an opening was provided to them by God. Historically, wasn’t it during that opening that the Jews who believed in the words of Jesus, (literally) were saved from the siege of the Romans? Here is the text I am referring to and some historical references as well.

    Luk 21:20 “And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you will know that the time of its destruction has arrived.
    Luk 21:21 Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. Those in Jerusalem must get out, and those out in the country should not return to the city.

    After the Romans under Cestius had surrounded the city, they unexpectedly abandoned the siege when everything seemed favorable for an immediate attack. The besieged, despairing of successful resistance, were on the point of surrender, when the Roman general withdrew his forces without the least apparent reason. But God’s merciful providence was directing events for the good of His own people. The promised sign had been given to the waiting Christians, and now an opportunity was offered for all who would, to obey the Saviour’s warning. Events were so overruled that neither Jews nor Romans should hinder the flight of the Christians. Upon the retreat of Cestius, the Jews, sallying from Jerusalem, pursued after his retiring army; and while both forces were thus fully engaged, the Christians had an opportunity to leave the city. At this time the country also

    had been cleared of enemies who might have endeavored to intercept them. At the time of the siege, the Jews were assembled at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, and thus the Christians throughout the land were able to make their escape unmolested. Without delay they fled to a place of safety–the city of Pella, in the land of Perea, beyond Jordan.

    The Jewish forces, pursuing after Cestius and his army, fell upon their rear with such fierceness as to threaten them with total destruction. It was with great difficulty that the Romans succeeded in making their retreat. The Jews escaped almost without loss, and with their spoils returned in triumph to Jerusalem. Yet this apparent success brought them only evil. It inspired them with that spirit of stubborn resistance to the Romans which speedily brought unutterable woe upon the doomed city.

    Terrible were the calamities that fell upon Jerusalem when the siege was resumed by Titus. The city was invested at the time of the Passover, when millions of Jews were assembled within its walls. Their stores of provision, which if carefully preserved would have supplied the inhabitants for years, had previously been destroyed through the jealousy and revenge of the contending factions, and now all the horrors of starvation were experienced. A measure of wheat was sold for a talent. So fierce were the pangs of hunger that men would gnaw the leather of their belts and sandals and the covering of their shields. Great numbers of the people would steal out at night to gather wild plants growing outside the city walls, though many were seized and put to death with cruel torture, and often those who returned in safety were robbed of what they had gleaned at so great peril. The most inhumane tortures were inflicted by those in power, to force from the want-stricken people the last scanty supplies which they might have concealed. And these cruelties were not infrequently practiced by men who were themselves well fed, and who were merely desirous of laying up a store of provision for the future. The Great Controversy – pg 30-31

  2. July 21, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Truth Seeker – JM :

    Is there ALSO a temporal fulfillment of these prophecies? Didn’t the believing Christian Jews who remembered the words of Jesus, to flee to the mountains, save themselves temporally by recognizing the warnings of Jesus when the Romans were all around the city. The believing Jews then left Judea when an opening was provided to them by God. Historically, wasn’t it during that opening that the Jews who believed in the words of Jesus, (literally) were saved from the siege of the Romans? Here is the text I am referring to and some historical references as well.

    [Luke 21:20-21]

    I think Luke’s account may be alluding to the conditions described in the prophecies of Zechariah in chapters 12 and 14. Zechariah 14:2 says “For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.” The armies Jesus refers to, I believe, are spiritual ones. Paul said, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]

    The admonition of Jesus to “flee to the mountains” does not fit the actions of the Christians who fled before the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD according to the account you quoted, which appeals to tradition from Eusebius, claiming that they went to Pela, which is in the valley of the Jordan. If that is true, they did not flee to the mountains. I suggest, to flee to the mountains implies seeking a higher, spiritual interpretation to the words of God, and promises contained in the scriptures. See for example, Psalm 72:3; 121:1; Isaiah 52:7; 55:12; Nahum 1:15. None of these can refer to literal mountains.

    • July 22, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Again, your leaving no room for BOTH. There is a literal interpretation and I think there can also be a temporal or physical interpretation. You become extremely literal when looking at it from a perspective separate from your interpretation.

      The fact is that the Christian Jews knew to flee the city because of what Jesus had said. This implies that they were running to HIM and His words by doing what those words intended, which is to leave the city by trusting in Jesus. Trusting in Jesus is “running to the hills”. Doing what he wants us to do is “running to the hills”, in this you are right. But we must also physically respond to his instruction when we see the fulfillment of His prophecies.

      Normal human reasoning, which is what killed most of the Jews at that time, would have been to stay in the city. They were under the impression that they had just won a great victory because the Roman army had come, laid siege and then left. The Jewish armies had even chased the Roman armies and hampered their “retreat”. They came back to Judea feeling that they were the “winners”. The Jews felt that the walls of the city were the safest place to be and they had had this feeling doubly reinforced by the supposed defeat of the Roman siege. They were trusting in themselves.

      If the Christian Jews had not been watching for the literal fulfillment of Jesus’ words then they too would have trusted in the walls of the city. They too would have stayed were the world told them it was safe. Listening to and reacting physically to the words and warning of Jesus is what saved their lives. And the fact remains that they did flee when Jesus told them to! This cannot be undermined with smooth spiritual talk that seems to connect dots. Rom_16:18

      We can sit around and talk of spiritual applications to the words of the Lord and they are there, but never forget my friend that Jesus wants us to REACT to those words with more then just more words. God wishes to lead us and if we will not follow… If we instead seek to make pretty arguments while keeping our bottoms firmly planted within our “safe walls”, then we too will be lost in the final spiritual battle yet to come.

      God bless you brother!
      May the Lord give you and me His wisdom.

  3. July 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Truth Seeker – JM :

    Again, your leaving no room for BOTH. There is a literal interpretation and I think there can also be a temporal or physical interpretation. You become extremely literal when looking at it from a perspective separate from your interpretation.

    Claiming that Matthew 24:16, where Jesus says “flee to the mountains” refers to literal mountains, and that it applied to those Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., (who did not flee to the mountains but to a city located in the Jordan valley) introduces inconsistency, and goes contrary to the context Jesus established in verses 4-14, where he warns about many deceivers; (vs. 4-5) wars and rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom, famines, pestilences, earthquakes in divers places; (vs. 6) believers would be hated of all nations; (vs. 9) many offended; (vs. 10) false prophets who deceive many; (vs. 11) the gospel will be preached in all the world (vs. 14), and the coming of the end. (vs. 14) Each of these events and signs is worldwide in scope, and none are limited to the vicinity of the earthly Jerusalem. His reference to “earthquakes in diverse places” makes no sense if confined to first century Judea. The same applies to “nation shall rise against nation;” “ye shall be hated of all nations,” and “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.” They are events that by nature, cannot be restricted to Judea or Jerusalem, but apply to Christians around the world ever since the first century. When Jesus said “flee to the mountains” he could not have meant to flee for one’s own safety, because he taught that “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” [Luke 17:33]

  1. July 19, 2012 at 9:32 am
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