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Verse 15

Matthew 24:15. When ye shall see, &c. The preceding verses foretold the signs of the destruction of Jerusalem, that is, the circumstances which were to be the forerunners and attendants of that great event: we now proceed to those verses which respect what happened during the siege, and after it. Never was a prophecy more punctually fulfilled: and it will tend to confirm our faith in the gospel to trace the particulars. The abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel Daniel’s expression is, The abomination that maketh desolate. By which term is intended the desolating Roman armies with their standards. To every legion was a golden eagle with expanded wings, grasping a thunderbolt. These eagles, with the standards of the cohorts, ten in each legion, were objects of worship among the Romans, and therefore were an abomination to the Jews. We learn from Josephus, that after the city was taken, the Romans brought their ensigns into the temple, and placed them over against the eastern gate, and there sacrificed to them. See the note on Daniel 9:27. Stand in the holy place Or, as it is in Mark, standing where it ought not That is, when ye shall see these armies encamped in the territory near Jerusalem: for, as the city was called the holy city, several furlongs of land round about it were accounted holy, particularly the mount on which our Lord now sat, and on which afterward the Romans placed their ensigns: whoso readeth, let him understand As if he had said, Let him who reads that remarkable prophecy of Daniel’s, pause seriously upon it, and weigh well its meaning, for it contains one of the most eminent predictions which can anywhere be found of the time, purposes, and consequences of any appearing; or, the sense may be, Let him understand that the end of the city and sanctuary, with the ceasing of the sacrifice and oblation there predicted, is come, and of consequence, the end of the age mentioned in the preceding verse. This interpretration of the clause supposes it to be uttered by our Lord as a part of his discourse, in which light it is considered by most commentators. But, “after the strictest examination,” says Dr. Campbell, (following Bengelius,) “I cannot help concluding, that they are not the words of our Lord, and consequently make no part of this memorable discourse, but the words of the evangelist, calling the attention of his readers to a very important warning and precept of his Master, which he was then writing, (namely, that immediately following,) and of which many of them would live to see the utility, when the completion of these predictions should begin to take place.” The doctor, therefore, renders the words, Reader, attend! Let them which be in Judea flee to the mountains Let them flee as fast as they can from the fortified cities and populous towns into the wilderness, where they will be secure. This important advice the Christians remembered and wisely followed, and were preserved. It is remarkable, that after the Romans, under Cestius Gallus, made their first advance toward Jerusalem, they suddenly withdrew again, in a most unexpected and impolitic manner. “This conduct of the Roman general,” says Macknight, “so contrary to all the rules of prudence, was doubtless brought to pass by the providence of God, who interposed in this manner for the deliverance of the disciples of his Son.” For, at this juncture, the Christians, considering it as a signal to retire, left Jerusalem, and removed to Pella and other places beyond the river Jordan, so that they all marvellously escaped the general ruin of their country, and we do not read anywhere that so much as one of them perished. Of such signal service was this caution of our Lord to his followers!

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