This phrase was popularized a few years ago by the television show, Gunsmoke. Marshal Dillon regularly told misfits and troublemakers it was time to get out of Dodge!
Here Jesus warns His students that the time is coming when they will need to get out of town. He gives them a sign:
So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.
Christians would have understood the Roman army coming to take Jerusalem by force would be the beginning. By listening to the Teacher’s advanced warning, Christians avoided the slaughter.
Eusebius, an early Christian writer, says that not one Christian was killed in the destruction of Jerusalem. By A.D. 69, the Jerusalem church was gone entirely, having removed itself because of the Lord’s word.
And what a time of trouble it was! Jesus had warned - For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again…See, I have told you ahead of time.
The Jewish historian, Josephus, recorded the gory details of the long and terrible siege of the Roman army. You have to read his account to fully appreciate the reality of the unmatched horrors Jesus predicted.
Everyone thought the Jerusalem walls could never be breached. Jesus knew better. The unthinkable happened!
I wonder what it is today everyone thinks can never happen, but Jesus knows better…in fact, has already warned us will happen?