Matthew 24:20 (Pray That Your Flight Will Not Be In Winter or on a Sabbath)

Recall that Jesus has warned about the importance of making all haste to escape in that day when His disciples should see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, and the woe to those who cannot make haste; see Mat 24:15-21.  In what way would the winter make it difficult to flee and cause delay?  Cf. Act 27:12, 1Co 16:6, 2Ti 4:21, Tit 3:12.  How might that apply in a spiritual sense to those who are in the winter of their lives and are just waking up to their need to flee from false religion, but no longer have the strength and stamina of their youth to seek out and find true religion?  What does this remind us about the importance of seeking God with all of one’s heart in youth, and not supposing that there will be plenty of time later in life when one is not so busy with the cares of the world?

In what way would fleeing on a Sabbath be more difficult, especially among the Jews?  Cf. Mat 12:1-2,10, Luk 13:14, Joh 5:10, Act 1:12.  What is the significance that the parallel passage in Mark 13:18 does not include Jesus’ statement about fleeing on the Sabbath?  Think: how were those to whom Mark was writing different from those to whom Matthew was writing?  What do both winter and the Sabbath have in common?  Considering that both are times of rest, what do Jesus’ words In Mat 24:20-21 indicate about there being a time that is approaching as certainly as the changing of the seasons or even the end of the week, before which we need to have made our escape and entered into the safety of His rest?  Cf. Heb 4:1-11.  What does this again indicate about the importance of not delaying in the least but making all haste to escape while there is still time?  Cf. 2Co 6:2.  In the winter after the harvest has already been gathered in, will there be any more time for those to enter into the shelter of the Lord’s barn than there was for those to enter into Noah’s ark after its door was shut?  See Mat 3:12, 24:37-39, 25:10.  On the Sabbath when we need already to have entered into the Lord’s rest (cf. Mat 11:28-30) will there be any manna from heaven to sustain those who gave no heed on the day of preparation?  Cf. Amos 8:11-12.  What does this teach us not only about the great danger of ignoring the Lord’s command to flee with all haste, but the importance of always being prepared and “dressed in readiness” lest the day of the Lord overtake us like a thief?  See Mat 24:42-44, 25:13, Luk 12:35-40, 21:34-36.  What does the approaching winter and Sabbath rest of the Lord also remind us of the reality that whatever opportunities God may give us—whether for education in our youth, or a job to save up for the time when we are no longer able to work as hard, or to give heed and respond to the gospel, or to flee when we see the desolating abomination of harlot religion standing in the holy place—those opportunities will not always be there, so that we need to make the most of the opportunities we have while they are still available to us?  See Pro 6:6-11, Joh 12:35-37.  What should we also learn from this about the great danger to our souls of the general nature of the world especially evident in our own day, that is so full of a‑musements and distractions as to drown out those things of real and ultimate importance that we need to muse and focus upon for our eternal salvation?  Cf. Jam 4:4, 1Jo 2:15-17 and note[1].

Consider that upon the nation of Israel rejecting Jesus as her Messiah through its leaders and Jesus and His Holy Spirit forsaking the temple to the spirit of the world they sought instead, judgment was certain so that Jesus could confidently proclaim a time would come when not one stone would be left upon another (Mat 24:1-2).  As in the time of the destruction of Solomon’s temple, even if Moses, Samuel, Noah, Daniel, or Job were to plead otherwise, they could not stay the certain destruction that would overtake it; see Jer 15:1, Eze 14:12-23.  And yet, although God’s judgment is sure and cannot be turned back, still He provides a sign by which those who heed His voice might know to flee and be saved, and even bids them pray that their flight may be at a time amenable to their deliverance; what does this remind us about each man’s free will that he may exercise to be saved even in the midst of God’s sovereign judgment upon the world for its sin?  What does it remind us about God’s earnest desire for all men to be saved, and how all the day long His hands are stretched out to a disobedient and obstinate people (Rom 10:21)?  Cf. 1Ti 2:1-4, 2Pe 3:9.  What does it also remind us about the great power and privilege of earnest prayer that God has granted to those who seek Him in truth?  Cf. Jam 5:16.  What example do we have in Scripture of such a petition for God’s circumstantial providence and grace for deliverance in a time of certain judgment?  See Gen 19:17-22,30.

1. Neil Postman warned in Amusing Ourselves to Death, that “we were becoming a silly culture, addicted to distraction, without the ability to prefer the good, the true, and the beautiful to the trivial, the meaningless, and the titillating. Such a culture, he thought, would be easily taken captive by the inability to discern what’s truly important.” (John Stonestreet; Breakpoint Daily, July 19, 2016.)

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