Looking at the parenthetical statements of Mark 13:14 and Matthew 24:15, let’s discuss what it may mean to “understand” in this context.
“(let him that readeth understand,)” [Mark 13:14].
“(whoso readeth, let him understand:)” [Matthew 24:15].
I do not think this is to imply that anyone who reads about the abomination of desolation described by Daniel the prophet will somehow come to an automatic understanding of that difficult subject.
Just as Habakkuk’s vision (Habakkuk 1:2-3), may have been written for the time of the end, written for someone to read and run (with knowledge), I believe these things about the abomination of desolation and the great tribulation were meant for people—men and women—of the end to read and then run with knowledge and understanding.
To run in such a manner might suggest that certain actions be taken. While it could simply encourage higher levels of academic analysis, I believe it is calling for much more in this case. A simple reading of Daniel’s prophecies followed by a conclusion in one’s mind may satisfy some folks, but it does not satisfy me. I have found arguments on the subject hugely unproductive, not helping a single soul prepare or equip for the trouble that is to come.
That is the main reason I believe this call to understanding would take us beyond academic debate and cerebral development and towards a place where we can actually make a difference in people’s lives, people who will be in desperate need of help. People who must flee into the wilderness with nothing but the clothes on their backs will need some way to procure cover or shelter, some way to procure a means of survival. In essence they need a house, maybe not a literal house like we think of with a white picket fence and all that, but somewhere that they can feel somewhat at home and find some basic provisions.
“Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:”…[Proverbs 24:3].
UNDERSTANDING ESTABLISHES A HOUSE!
Now, some would look back on Israel’s exodus from Egypt and see that it was God’s miracles that sustained her those 40 years. They could also expect God to do all the work of sustaining people who flee the abomination of desolation, but I think that would require us to take God’s miracles for granted—no thanks! A much better scenario exists wherein we learn God’s will, how He would sustain those fleeing the abomination of desolation, and then we serve as his hands to see that the work gets done.
“Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it:”…[Psalm 127:1].
Through a joint venture with the Lord, we can see that the means to a place of security will exist for those who must flee the abomination of desolation, not only in Israel but closer to home as well. For the present though, we are looking at Israel’s need, since Jerusalem is the epicenter or ground-zero for the abomination of desolation.
“That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it.” [Isaiah 41:20]
Looking more directly at the context of this particular passage, we might discover an excellent means where Israel’s survival in the wilderness is assured in time of great tribulation: Phase One—the storage of water (Isaiah 41:17-18), and Phase Two—the planting of trees (Isaiah 41:19). The latter, the second phase will coincide with the forty-two month storm, so will deserve attention in another post(s) under that category. For the present, let us be content to look at Phase One and the collection of water through times of peace.
Metaphorically speaking, we could say that when it is raining peace it would be wise to harvest all of it we possibly can; in other words, rejoice in the peace and get everything from it you can while you can. Literally speaking, in terms of Israel’s survival, times of peace are extremely dear and must not be squandered: for with the end of the War on Terror and the introduction of peace for Israel and the world, and concurrently the opportunity for the construction of the next Jewish temple, millions of heartfelt prayers will naturally be directed toward the Holy Land for many days; and this spiritual revival of sorts can hardly come without literal blessings of rain from the skies above Israel (read Solomon’s prayer—2 Chronicles 6:26-27).
“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” [Isaiah 41:17-18]
Now, as I am merely ‘Joe-Blow from Idaho’ and I can have no direct influence what Israel does with her land during the first few years of a new peace, I might yet pray and believe that she will have enough common sense to figure this out on her own and seize the opportunity. I could even go so far as to believe that the idea will somehow get to her through the grapevine and she will see the wisdom of it—God’s plan for her survival.