Matthew 24:16-20

Mat 24:16 (KJB)
Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Then once the Roman armies are spotted outside of Jerusalem and in other parts of Judea, then the Lord gave specific instructions that they were to flee out of Judea to the surrounding mountains. The mountains of Edom has been a place where they had fled along with the city of Pella which was in the mountains on the eats side of Jordan. (Luke 21:21 KJV) Then let them which are in Judaea 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. Luke also records the Lord’s warning that those in the midst of Judea which could be a reference to Jerusalem and He also makes a warning that those who are in the surrounding countries, should not even entertain the idea of going into Judea. Now the unbelieving Jews did not believe the Lord’s teachings or His words while He was here and as a consequence, they would not heed the warnings in this discourse. Since the Christians in Judea had believed the Lord’s words, they all fled at the appropriate time and historians state that because of their obedience not one Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem. This is why it is so important for Christians to believe and follow the word of the Lord, even today.

Gaius Cestius Gallis was a legate for Rome stationed in Syria. In 66 A.D. he brought down his army to try and quash the Jewish revolt which was just beginning. He was unsuccessful and had to withdraw and in that withdrawal he lost a good part of his army. This was the abomination of desolation which the Christians saw and as a result they had begun to leave Jerusalem and four years later it was totally destroyed when Titus marched through with a bigger army to raze Jerusalem. In fact the army sent was approximately 19 legions which would have been 114,000 soldiers. There was not one Christian in Jerusalem at the time Titus came through.

Mat 24:17 (KJB)
Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:

Here Jesus is also telling His disciples that when they see the abomination of desolation that the urgency to escape will be so great that they will not even have time enough to go into their houses and pack, instead they will have to go down the outside staircase and just keep going. This verse teaches how serious the time was and that there would be no time for packing just time enough to escape with what they had on their back and their lives.

Mat 24:18 (KJB)
Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

Then Jesus states that even those who are working in the field or anywhere must not go back to their house to get their garments. Basically, what is being taught is that wherever the people are or whatever they are doing, they must cease immediately and flee for their lives. (Mark 13:16 KJV) And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. The words “let him…return” is one word in the Greek and it is in the imperative mood making it a command of the Lord.

Mat 24:19 (KJB)
And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

Then remember that the term “woe” is only spoken of to unsaved people. Here Jesus is stating that the unsaved Jewish women who will have children and those carrying children in their womb will be killed along with all the others. This is because they would have stayed behind instead of leaving Jerusalem and heading for safety. Of course, they would have been subject to their husbands and if their husbands stayed to fight the Roman army, then they would face the same mortal danger the fighters would.

Mat 24:20 (KJB)
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:

Since speed would be necessary to leave, Jesus is telling them to pray that this does not happen in winter because weather conditions could actually be bad in Jerusalem complete with ice and snow. Then since the Pharisees were strict keepers of the sabbath, if they had to flee on the sabbath, they would only be allowed to go about one half mile because that would be a sabbath day’s journey. Their own observance of their traditions and ceremonies would be the death of many. Since Christ had gone to the cross about 37 years prior, the Mosaic law of keeping the sabbath day has been negated and no longer would there be any penalty. Their own stubbornness went right to the end of their lives and Jerusalem.