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[Mat 24:20 NASB] 20 "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

With the holidays around the corner many of us are travelling to be with family and friends, and many travel by air. Travel is often difficult, especially in the winter because of cancellations and what not. And the Sabbath is especially busy. Oh, and having a nursing baby - everything is overwhelming. (Personally, from Thanksgiving to New Years I stay home because a lot of "turkeys" get killed during the holidays)!

So it is easy to appreciate that during the great tribulation one would pray that they don't have to go through Detroit airport in winter!

But Jesus suggests that flight from the great tribulation in winter will not just be inconvenient but problematic such as the Jews had ever experienced or ever would:

[Mat 24:19-21 NASB] 19 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 "But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

Now we know that Haman's attept to annihilate the Jews was a dark day and the Shoah/Holocaust was a day of deep darkness for the Jews however, the "flight" of the elect Jews from Judea into the mountains to hide in caves is said to be even more catastrophic than these events.

So when is this horrific flight to take place? Or has it already?

Related:

[Jer 30:3, 5, 7, 11, 18 KJV] 3 For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. ... 5 For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. ... 7 Alas! for that day [is] great, so that none [is] like it: it [is] even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. ... 11 For I [am] with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished. ... 18 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.

[Exo 10:14 NIV] 14 they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again.

See also: https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/88491/is-the-fall-of-babylon-considered-to-be-israels-darkest-day

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    @Ruminator-See new Answer to old, but important Question.
    – ray grant
    Jul 11, 2023 at 0:42

3 Answers 3

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Run for Your Lives! Jesus is giving warning to the Christian congregations in JUDEA to flee. (24:16) Notice He didn't say, "Just those in Jerusalem, flee." History recorded the incident of general Cestius surrounding Jerusalem in 66 A.D. Then he retreated for some mysterious reason. According to Daniel 12, and Luke 21:20, the Roman armies were to be the cause of Desolation.

By this action of Cestius, the signal was given. All were to Flee, not just Jerusalem, but all Judea. This was because when the next General came (Vespasian), he would be "trampling down the whole region of Palestine (Israel) from north to south, east to west : Galilee, Perea, Samaria, Judea, etc.

The reason for the restrictions Jesus enumerated had to do with not just weather, storms, flooded streams, etc., but because the Zealot gangs roamed the country. They were very zealous for the letter of the Law. If they saw anyone giving food to the Romans, they would torch the village! If anyone broke the Sabbath laws by traveling too far, they would kill them! Thus, the fleeing Christians best pray that they don't have to travel on the Sabbath!

End of the Age The Olivet Discourse deals with TH END OF JUDAISM. Not the End of the World. The disciples thought anything as horrible as the Destruction of the Temple must be the End of the Word. In their question they used the Greek, synteleias which was the word Jesus used in Matthew 13 for the End-time Harvest. (End of World) But when Jesus spoke of the "end" here in chapter 24, He used the word, telos which just meant the End of the Age. In this case it was the End of the Mosaic Age, (With the beginning of the Messianic Age; Hebrews 8:13)

The flight spoken of here in the Olivet Discourse has nothing to do with the end of life as we know it. Also those additional verses you listed at the end of your question are irrelevant here. They deal in the main with the return of the Jews after the first Destruction B.C.

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  • Bingo, @ray grant
    – Ruminator
    Jul 11, 2023 at 0:49
  • Not necessarily to disagree, but can we really say that Judaism "ended" in 70 AD? Looks to me like the Jews and Judaism are still around and as outspoken about their beliefs as ever, despite there not being a temple. If the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem was the end of the whole shebang, why didn't the Jews just go back to eating pork?
    – moron
    Nov 4, 2023 at 3:50
  • @ Moron - It wasn't just the physical Temple that was destroyed in 70 A.D. but the genealogy records as well. So there is no more legitimate priesthood, no sacrifice for sins of Israel, no legitimate Day of Atonement! So without these, what we see today is just an empty cultural shell of religiosity. As the Bible noted: "a form of godliness without the power." Yes, a new form of Judaism exists worldwide today, but it is not the Mosaic Judaism of historic Jewry. It exists without the Urim and Thumim, without the high priest, without the blood sacrifices...without their God's sanction.
    – ray grant
    Nov 15, 2023 at 20:38
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Love your work and wit Ruminator!

Matt 24:20 is part of a short section which begins in Matt 24:15 about the "abomination of desolation" alluding to Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11 which appear to (among other things) discuss the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome in 70 AD.

V16 instructs the disciples/Christians in Judea to flee or get out of Jerusalem when they see it surrounded. V17 & 18 is an instruction for urgency (do not go to get anything); v20 then says they should pray for this flight not to be in winter or on Sabbath.

When General (later Emperor) Vespasian placed Jerusalem under siege in 66 AD, everyone in Jerusalem despaired but the siege was called off about 18 months later. later when Vespasian became emperor he asked his son Titus to finish the job and the city was again placed under siege. However, in the meantime, Christians all left and many Jews, thinking they were safe and victorious entered the city and most were killed by various means.

Some see this whole affair as a type of what may happen at the end of the earth but we know very little of this.

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  • Thanks @answered. Can you please add some kind of primary source for the final paragraph? Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Dec 21, 2018 at 19:12
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    The material about Vespasian and Titus is a condensation from Josephus. The "type of what may happen in the future" is extremely varied depending on the futurist, historicist, or apotelesmatic interpretation. There is variation even within each of these schools. I included the comment for completeness only as much of it (in my judgement) is speculation.
    – user25930
    Dec 22, 2018 at 6:32
  • @user25930- the General who surrounded the city of Jerusalem was Cestius in 66A.D. After he left, it was Vespasian who came back in 67 A.D. to Judea and after rampaging through the whole countryside from "Dan to Beersheba" (with his son Titus taking over), Jerusalem was besieged. The Destruction of Jerusalem (trampling down) ended in the Fall of 70 A.D.
    – ray grant
    Jul 11, 2023 at 0:10
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Jesus is clearly putting a prayer request that we as believers as church pray that the rapture should not be in winter time or on sabbath day because people who are left behind will have to face the wrath of God or great tribulation. Because Jesus Christ is so loving He doesn’t want to give up even if they are left behind and the wrath will be so intense from all the sides natural calamities mark of the beast day of darkness day of vengeance it’s almost impossible to live in those days thanks .

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