But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Mark 13:14
Churches refrain from teaching what the Bible says about end times because it’s controversial and confusing, at least on the surface. Better to steer clear and focus on something practical. But in doing so you carve out big chunks of scripture that were put there for a reason. This is one of those passages (Mark 13, otherwise known as the Olivet Discourse).
I was fortunate to spend most of my church life in settings where eschatology was addressed in a clear and non-hysterical fashion, which is how the Bible addresses future events. We do not fixate on prophecy, but we do not ignore it.
Actually, we are to look forward to Lord’s returning, but not at the expense of being no earthly good. But as John Piper observed, these people are rare or nonexistent. On the contrary, if they do exist, they’re likely the most effective in God’s eyes.
Not to take on verses like these is to refuse to teach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). The main principle to keep in mind is that some predictions can have an initial fulfillment, and then a more dramatic and ultimate manifestation. Here is one of those cases. If you just read what is said there is nothing unclear or controversial. There will be a very bad man standing in the Jerusalem temple someday, worse than his predecessors. There will need to be a temple in the first case. Presently, there is not one, but there will be, by this reference.
But hasn’t this happened already in 70 A.D. when the temple was flattened by the Romans? Yes and no. The clue is in the verse below where the nature and extent of this time is discussed.
For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. Mark 13:19
This tribulation will be unique in history. We have not yet seen the likes. The Bible describes how ominous the situation will be, not affording the luxury of time to pack a lunch.
And the time has to be shortened for the sake of the God’s elect.
Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. Mark 13:20
We’ll believe and dread almost anything the press reports these days, pandemics, stock market crashes and rising seas, and the list goes on. The question is what do we do with these dire warnings?
Do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully. I Thessalonians 5:20-21