In the Old Testament, there are many references to periods of seven years, and seven times, but in the New Testament, that time period seems less significant, and there is a far greater emphasis upon one half of it, which is three years and six months, expressed in various ways, as 42 months, 1,260 days, and as a time, times and a half.
The expression “seven times” occurs in the New Testament, not as designating any particular time span, but as the number of times that one should forgive a brother.
Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus contrasted forgiving seven times with the number “seventy times seven,” possibly alluding to the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel 9.
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
There is only one reference to seven years in the New Testament. It was the number of years that the 84 year old prophetess Anna had lived with a husband. [Luke 2:36]
The New Testament emphasizes three and a half years, rather than a period of seven years, or seven times, especially after Jesus’ crucifixion. I suggest that a reason for this may be that the first half of the seven times of the Old Testament prophecies in Lev. 26 and Dan. 9 was fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus, leaving one half of the prophetic “week” yet to be fulfilled. The remaining part of the seven times which was yet to be fulfilled is represented by various expressions for three and a half years, all of which represent either the whole age of the church, or the remaining part of it.
The three and a half years of Revelation 11, 12 and 13 is one half of a prophetic week, or “seven times.” The first half-week was the ministry of Jesus.
The seven times that began with the ministry of Jesus is represented by various Old Testament types and figures, such as:
The three and a half years emphasized in the New Testament corresponds to the last half of the 70th week of Daniel 9. The units of the first 69 ½ weeks are natural years, but the final half-week is represented in non-natural ways, perhaps because earth-days, earth-years, and earth time do not apply to the heavenly city, or to spiritual things.
While the units of the first 69 ½ weeks of the 70 weeks prophecy are natural, they are not all of the same kind. I suggest, the first seven weeks are weeks of leap years, that is, years having 13 months. Seven such weeks span 133 years, as there are seven extra months in 19 years, in the Hebrew and Babylonian calendars. Using this scheme, the 70 weeks can be calculated beginning with the decree of Cyrus, 538 BC, and the end of the first two sections of the prophecy, the 7 weeks, and 62 weeks, occurs in 28 AD, the year that Jesus began his ministry. That began the 70th week.
The final half of the 70th week, called a time, times and a half, is the period when the saints are dominated by a little horn, in Daniel 7:25. This sinister figure is characterized by “eyes like the eyes of a man,” and so represents a human viewpoint, which contrasts with a divine one.
Daniel 12:7 indicates that this period extends to the end of the age. And so, it represents “the last time.” In the New Testament, John said that we are in the “last time,” and that many antichrists had appeared.
1 John 2:18
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
In Daniel 12:11-12, two numbers are presented, each of which expresses three and a half year periods in an unnatural, and unreal manner.
And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.
These numbers both fit the pattern contained in the expression “a time, times and a half,” where months are 30 days, and two kinds of years are included, the first differing from the others in each case. The two kinds of years are regular years of 12 months, and leap years of 13 months.
days = 12 × 30 + 2 × 13 × 30 + ½ × 13 × 30
1,290 days = 13 × 30 + 2 × 12 × 30 + ½ × 12 × 30
In the book of Revelation, John introduced another, smaller, but similar number: 1,260 days. This also fits the pattern of a time, times and a half, where the years are all 12 months, and months are 30 days. The 42 months is similar. Thus, these numbers represent a symbolic three and a half years, not a natural three and a half years. No natural three and a half years has 1,335 days, or 1,290 days, or 1,260 days, in any calendar.
These numbers also seem to represent a diminishing period of time, as they progress from the larger to smaller periods. This is the nature of time; it tends to run out. The remaining time in the church age is constantly running out, and decreasing. At the very end of the age, it is represented by three and a half days.
The dimensions and units of space connected with the heavenly Jerusalem are also given in a non-natural manner. The dimension of the wall of the holy city seems to be given in terms of a special kind of angelic cubit.
And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
The number is 12 x 12, and so has an obvious symbolic significance, as 12 is connected with the number of tribes of Israel, and the number of the apostles of Christ. The prophetic times related to the church are clearly given from God’s perspective, rather than man’s.
Copyright © 2011, 2013 by Douglas E. Cox
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