Explaining Matt. 24:16-22

Q. I sincerely thank you, Jack, and your ongoing work for the Lord’s Kingdom.

The following passage has always made me think and wonder :

“Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless that time of calamity is shortened, not a single person will survive. But it will be shortened for the sake of God’s chosen ones.” Matthew 24:16-22 (NLT).

I am particularly intrigued by this part of the passage: “And pray that your flight will not be in winter or on the Sabbath.” Would you please explain this particular passage, especially the sentence quoted?

A. Jesus was warning those alive in Israel at the End of the Age of the sign that would mark the begnning of the Great Tribulation. He had identified this sign as the abomination of desolation in Matt. 24:15 and said that when they saw it they should immediately flee, not stopping for anything. Pregnant women would naturally be uncomfortable during this kind of flight, and nursing mothers could be affected by the stress of seeing to the needs of their babies while fleeing for their lives. In the winter time it’s often cold and sometimes even snowy in the mountains of Judea, and a covenant keeping Jew can only legally walk 1000 steps on the Sabbath, which would prevent flight on that day.

Where the NLT uses the phrase greater anguish in verse 21, the Greek says Great Tribulation. It’s the place where the event got its name. If Jesus didn’t come back at the end of its 3 1/2 year duration, no humans would survive, but for the sake of His own, He will come back at the appointed time.

Just a suggestion. While the NLT reads very well and is easy to understand, it’s a paraphrase, and not a literal translation of the original language. It helps to compare it with literal translations like the NASB to help you comprehend the Word as it was originally written.

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