Matthew says, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains.” Matthew 24:15, 16. Luke says it this way: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Luke 21:20–22.
Jesus was here answering two questions asked by His disciples. The questions were, “When shall these things [the destruction of the Jewish temple] be? And what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Matthew 24:3. The disciples mistakenly thought they were asking only one question. Thus “the prophecy which He uttered was twofold in its meaning; while foreshadowing the destruction of Jerusalem, it prefigured also the terrors of the last great day.” The Great Controversy, 25.
What will be the sign today that the Roman armies have besieged Jerusalem? The prophet of God has not left us to guess, but has clearly told us what the sign for flight will be. “As the siege of Jerusalem by the Roman armies was the signal for flight to the Judean Christians, so the assumption of power on the part of our nation in the decree enforcing the papal sabbath will be a warning to us. It will then be time to leave the large cities, preparatory to leaving the smaller ones for retired homes in secluded places among the mountains. And now, instead of seeking expensive dwellings here, we should be preparing to move to a better country, even a heavenly.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 464, 465.
“When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.
“As the approach of the Roman armies was a sign to the disciples of the impending destruction of Jerusalem, so may this apostasy be a sign to us that the limit of God’s forbearance is reached, that the measure of our nation’s iniquity is full, and that the angel of mercy is about to take her flight, never to return.” Ibid., 451.
In that fearful day, men in responsible positions in God’s professed church will work contrary to God. Speaking of these men the prophet says: “In churches and in large gatherings in the open air, ministers will urge upon the people the necessity of keeping the first day of the week.” Review and Herald, March 18, 1884.
God has warned us of this fearful time. “The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 81.
Are we among those who are enjoying the comforts of the world and waiting for some future time to make a thorough preparation for eternity? “I also saw that many do not realize what they must be in order to live in the sight of the Lord without a high priest in the sanctuary through the time of trouble. Those who receive the seal of the living God and are protected in the time of trouble must reflect the image of Jesus fully.
“I saw that many were neglecting the preparation so needful and were looking to the time of ‘refreshing’ and the ‘latter rain’ to fit them to stand in the day of the Lord and to live in His sight. Oh, how many I saw in the time of trouble without a shelter! They had neglected the needful preparation.” Early Writings, 71.
Dear reader, may this not be your experience. In the name of Jesus, who died for us, I plead with you to make your calling and election sure. Agonize with God in prayer to help you make that necessary preparation, before it is too late. He will never turn one weeping contrite one away. In the fearful days ahead, you can be among that number who have found a place of safety and shelter in the Rock of Ages.