Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:16

Why should we go to the mountains? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re in the Olivet Discourse and for our next verse, we’re asking if this fits better with a first-century milieu or with a more modern one. Keep in mind, the modern outlook is that this fits the end of the world. I have already said the text says end of the age, but I’m going to be assuming some people still have this mindset. Let’s look at the verse.

“then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. “

Okay. So let’s start with an obvious question. If the world is coming to an end, who cares if you’re in the mountains? Are mountains somehow immune to the end of the world?

Second, why would only those in Judea flee? Does Jesus just not care for the people in Samaria or for those in His home of Galilee? Does He just not care for the rest of the world? Why is this focused on Judea?

Now, if you look at this as if it is a first-century event, then it makes sense. You flee to the mountains not because the world is coming to an end, but because you need to escape the onslaught on Jerusalem and the temple. It also makes sense about why Samaria and Galilee or anywhere else are not mentioned. That’s not where the battle is.

Yet a question arises. If Rome is already here, how can anyone flee? That’s a good question. The answer is that in the middle of the attack, at one point the Romans did withdraw. It’s still not known why they did, but they did. Christians knew what Jesus said and they followed it. They took to the mountains immediately and ran off. In doing so, they escaped. Had any Jewish person done the same, they would have been safe. Unfortunately, they didn’t.

Keep in mind we are asking about which context fits better. At the start of this section, we are seeing that a local context fits much better. I would hope that even my futurist and dispensationalist readers would be able to look at that and say that here at least to them, they can understand why the local interpretation would be compelling. I can grant when we get to later verses why people think a futurist one is more compelling, such as when we talk about cosmic imagery, but I will argue that that cosmic imagery is not what modern Western people think that it is.

But that is for the future. It will be a little bit before we get there.

In Christ,
Nick Peters