Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (XLI)

May 11, 2010

It’s about time I got to a post dealing with the time factors laid out in the Book of Revelation.  To this point, all we have seen is wording for comparatively shorter periods of time like “10 days” (2:10) and “five months” (9:5) or vague phraseology like “a little while longer” (6:11).

This is perplexing, especially to those who believe Daniel and Revelation bear a close “intertextual”  relationship, of which I am one.  After all, in Daniel, for those who take the prophecy of the 70 7’s in 9:24-27 in the most natural manner, the 70th “week” of years is still future, as is the “time, times, and half a time” of 7:25 and 12:7 and the “1,290” and “1,335 days” of 12:11, 12.

Why, though, you may ask, should the meaning of those numbers and that wording be taken at face value?  To me, the question is answered most directly by another example in the book, one that has already been fulfilled, thus allowing us to see how numbers related to time are handled in Daniel.

What is that example?  It is found in Daniel 8, in the description of the beast from the third kingdom, which is specifically said to be “Greece” in 8:21.  In 8:14, the removal of the sacrifice (i.e., in the Temple in Jerusalem) and the “giving over of the sanctuary” (i.e., to what the Greek king Antiochus IV wanted) would continue for “2,300 evenings and mornings” until the sanctuary would be restored.

What does the wording “2,300 evenings and mornings” mean?  To understand, you must realize that in Jewish reckoning of time, evening and morning is the way a day proceeds, going all the way back to the creation account in Genesis 1.  Also, Jews required to give sacrifices twice per day: in the morning and the evening, or, as they would say it, evening and morning.  Bottom line: “2,300 evenings and mornings” is speaking of 2,300 times of sacrifice that did not occur because of Antiochus Epiphanes.  That equals out to 1,150 days (or slightly over three years).

What is the significance of 1,150 days in the context of Daniel 8?  That turned out to be the length 0f time from the date of Antiochus’ desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem until the sacrifice is restored by the Maccabean rebellion.  Thus, Daniel provides an example that at least some of the longer numbers for time in biblical apocalyptic literature, like Daniel and Revelation, can be–should be!–taken at face value.

In Revelation 11:2, 3, we encounter the first two of five passages in the book which contain wording apparently equivalent to three and a half years.  In 11:2 and 13:5, the wording is “42 months.”  In 11:3 and 12:6, it is “1,260 days.”

However, it is the terminology encountered in 12:14 which seemingly ties things back to Daniel (see 7:25 and 12:9): “a time, times and half a time.”  A comparison of the Greek in Revelation 12:14 with that of the LXX for Daniel 7:25 and 12:9 shows the wording to be essentially identical.

What can be learned immediately from these five uses?  Since four of them use straightforward figures equivalent to three and half years, and the fifth uses wording echoing Daniel that amounts to three and a half years (i.e., a “time” is a year, two “times” are two years and “half a time” is six months), then is fair to conclude that they should taken as they read on the page.  That is the case unless very substantial–much more substantial than because Augustinian hermeneutics dogmatically say so–evidence to the contrary is presented.

The next obvious question is “Since all five of these passages seem to speak of a three and a half year period, are they all speaking of the same three and a half years, or could they be referring to more than one three and a half year period… or as many as five?”  Well, it seems fairly obvious that the last three uses are speaking of the same period.  The “woman” is being protected by God in 12:6, 14 while the Beast is allowed to persecute other “saints” (13:5, 7).

But, what about the first two uses?  I’m glad you finally asked, given that is the focus of this post, which I’m finally getting back to!

But, before I nail that down, please notice that the first two and the last three uses of the various ways of expressing three and half years should be separated anyway.  Think about it: the first are located in chapter 11, the second scene of the second “interlude” of the book.  The last three are located in the “prelude” to the bowls of wrath (chs. 12-14).

Back to 11:2, 3.  It is my contention that the general chronological movement of the Book of Revelation during the period of the Great Tribulation (see 7:14)–which I take to be a seven year period–can be determined from these two verses.  Not only that, but it makes sense of why these figures occur at this point.

Please allow me to explain. When John is called to prophecy in 10:11, the amount of detail in the text sharpens like the difference between conventional color television and high def.  Thus, along with the introduction of so many of the crucial characters of the book from the beginning of chapter 11 forward, as he reveals what he has ingested from the scroll (10:8-10), it is not a shock that the time factor also is brought into focus.

There is an inverted parallel structuring of the second interlude (chs. 10-11), which I will lay out in my next post.  As will be seen then, it apparently sets the wording in 11:2 and 11:3 over against one another, as opposed to equating them.

Does that make sense?  Look carefully at what is happening in those verses: in 11:2, the Gentiles (Greek tois ethnesin; i.e., non-Jews) are in complete control of “the holy city” (i.e., Jerusalem) for “42 months” (i.e., three and a half years).  By contrast, in 11:3 the two witnesses are untouchable for “1,260 days,” ministering in the very city “where their Lord was also crucified” (11:8; i.e., Jerusalem).  Bottom line: both are said to be happening in Jerusalem and both cover a duration of three and a half years.

Logically, however, it is nonsensical to think that the Gentiles could be completely “trampling under” (11:2) the city of Jerusalem at the same time (i.e., the same three and a half years) that the two witnesses are able to repulse all attacks (11:3-6), until, of course, God allows the Beast to kill them (11:7).  Thus, it appears that the solution to this first-glance-quandary is to conclude that the ministry of the two witnesses is for an initial three and a half year period (11:3-6), which is followed by the three and a half year reign–of terror!–of the Beast, which begins with the killing of the two witnesses and includes the control of the Gentiles over Jerusalem (11:2, 7).

So, how does this affect the way we view the overall chronology of the Great Tribulation period?  It appears that 11:3, which falls in the interlude of the Trumpet judgments,  looks back at the sequence of the Trumpets as being encompassed by the first three and a half years.  Relatedly, 11:2 previews the last three and a half years, which 12:6, 14 and 13:5 further develop, given that they are found in the prelude section to the Bowls of Wrath judgments, which are found within the last three and a half years leading up to the Second Coming of Christ.

Because I need to lay out the chiastic structuring of Revelation 10-11 to buttress my discussion in this post, I will do that in my next installment.  I will then discuss what I take to be the fulfillment of Romans 11:25-26 in Revelation 11:13 in my final post (or posts, depending on the depth I choose to take) on the second scene in the second interlude of the Apocalypse.


2 Responses to “Mud on the Wall: Brainstorming the Apocalypse (XLI)”

  1. Linden said

    [spotted the following item on the net – interesting!]


    by Dave MacPherson

    (The statements in my “Famous Rapture Watchers” web article appeared in my 1983 book “The Great Rapture Hoax” and quoted only past leaders. The following names include other leaders who were quoted in that original printing.)

    Oswald J. Smith: “…I am absolutely convinced that there will be no rapture before the Tribulation, but that the Church will undoubtedly be called upon to face the Antichrist…” (Tribulation or Rapture – Which?, p. 2).

    Paul B. Smith: “You are perfectly free to quote me as believing rather emphatically in the post-tribulation teaching of the Bible” (letter dated June 9, 1976).

    S. I. McMillen: “…Christians will suffer in the Great Tribulation” (Discern These Times, p. 55).

    Norman F. Douty: “…all of the evidence of history runs one way – in favor of Post-tribulationism” (Has Christ’s Return Two Stages?, p. 113).

    Leonard Ravenhill: “There is a cowardly Christianity which…still comforts its fainting heart with the hope that there will be a rapture – perhaps today – to catch us away from coming tribulation” (Sodom Had No Bible, p. 94).

    William Hendriksen: “…the one and only second coming of Christ to judgment” (Israel in Prophecy, p. 29).

    Loraine Boettner: “Hence we conclude that nowhere in Scripture does it teach a secret or pre-tribulation Rapture” (The Millennium, p. 168).

    J. Sidlow Baxter: “…believers of the last days (there is only one small part of the total Church on earth at any given moment) will be on earth during the so-called ‘Great Tribulation’ ” (Explore the Book, Vol. 6, p. 345).

    Merrill C. Tenney: “There is no convincing reason why the seer’s being ‘in the Spirit’ and being called into heaven [Revelation 4:1-2] typifies the rapture of the church…” (Interpreting Revelation, p. 141).

    James R. Graham: “…there is not a line of the N.T. that declares a pre-tribulation rapture, so its advocates are compelled to read it into certain indeterminate texts…” (Watchman, What of the Night?, p. 79).

    Ralph Earle: “The teaching of a pre-tribulation rapture seems first to have been emphasized widely about 100 years ago by John Darby of the Plymouth Brethren” (Behold, I Come, p. 74).

    Clarence B. Bass: “…I most strongly believe dispensationalism to be a departure from the historic faith…” (Backgrounds to Dispensationalism, p. 155).

    William C. Thomas: “The return of Jesus Christ, described by parousia, revelation, and epiphany, is one single, glorious, triumphant event for which we all wait with great eagerness!” (The Blessed Hope in the Thessalonian Epistles of Paul, p. 42).

    Harold J. Ockenga: “No exegetical justification exists for the arbitrary separation of the ‘coming of Christ’ and the ‘day of the Lord.’ It is one ‘day of the Lord Jesus Christ’ ” (Christian Life, February, 1955).

    Duane Edward Spencer: “Paul makes it very clear that the Church will pass through the Great Tribulation” (“Rapture-Tribulation” cassette).

    J. C. Maris: “Nowhere the Bible teaches that the Church of Jesus Christ is heading for world dominion. On the contrary – there will be no place for her, save in ‘the wilderness,’ where God will take care of her (Rev. 12:13-17)” (I.C.C.C. leaflet “The Danger of the Ecumenical Movement,” p. 2).

    F. F. Bruce: “To meet the Lord [I Thessalonians 4:17]…on the final stage of…[Christ’s] journey…to the earth…” (New Bible Commentary: Revised, p. 1159).

    G. Christian Weiss: “Some people say that this [‘gospel of the kingdom’ in Matthew 24:14] is not the gospel of grace but is a special aspect of the gospel to be preached some time in the future. But there is nothing in the context to indicate this” (“Back to the Bible” broadcast, February 9, 1976).

    Pat Brooks: “Soon we, in the Body of Christ, will be confronted by millions of people disillusioned by such false teaching [Pre-Tribism]” (Hear, O Israel, p. 186).

    Herman Hoeksema: “…the time of Antichrist, when days so terrible are still to arrive for the church…” (Behold, He Cometh!, p. 131).

    Ray Summers: “Because they [Philadelphia] have been faithful, he promises his sustaining grace in the tribulation…” (Worthy Is the Lamb, p. 123).

    George E. Ladd: “[Pretribulationism] may be guilty of the positive danger of leaving the Church unprepared for tribulation when Antichrist appears…” (The Blessed Hope, p. 164).

    Peter Beyerhaus: “The Christian Church on earth [will face] the final, almost superhuman test of being confronted with the apocalyptical temptation by Antichrist” (Christianity Today, April 13, 1973).

    Leon Morris: “The early Christians…looked for the Christ to come as Judge” (Apocalyptic, p. 84).

    Dale Moody: “There is not a passage in the New Testament to support Scofield. The call to John to ‘come up hither’ has reference to mystical ecstasy, not to a pretribulation rapture” (Spirit of the Living God, p. 203).

    John R. W. Stott: “He would not spare them from the suffering [Revelation 3:10]; but He would uphold them in it” (What Christ Thinks of the Church, p. 104).

    G. R. Beasley-Murray: “…the woman, i.e., the Church…flees for refuge into the wilderness [Revelation 12:14]…” (The New Bible Commentary, p. 1184).

    Bernard L. Ramm: “…as the Church moves to meet her Lord at the parousia world history is also moving to meet its Judge at the same parousia” (Leo Eddleman’s Last Things, p. 41).

    J. Barton Payne: “…the twentieth century has indeed witnessed a progressively rising revolt against pre-tribulationism” (The Imminent Appearing of Christ, p. 38).

    Robert H. Gundry: “Divine wrath does not blanket the entire seventieth week…but concentrates at the close” (The Church and the Tribulation, p. 63).

    C. S. Lovett: “Frankly I favor a post-trib rapture…I no longer teach Christians that they will NOT have to go through the tribulation” (PC, January, 1974).

    Walter R. Martin: “Walter Martin finally said…’Yes, I’m a post-trib’ ” (Lovett’s PC, December, 1976).

    Jay Adams: “Today’s trend is…from pre- to posttribulationism” (The Time Is at Hand, p. 2).

    Jim McKeever: “Nowhere do the Scriptures say that the Rapture will precede the Tribulation” (Christians Will Go Through the Tribulation, p. 55).

    Arthur Katz: “I think it fair to tell you that I do not subscribe to the happy and convenient theology which says that God’s people are going to be raptured and lifted up when a time of tribulation and trial comes” (Reality, p. 8).

    Billy Graham: “Perhaps the Holy Spirit is getting His Church ready for a trial and tribulation such as the world has never known” (Sam Shoemaker’s Under New Management, p. 72).

    W. J. Grier: “The Scofield Bible makes a rather desperate effort…it tries to get in the ‘rapture’ of the saints before the appearing of Antichrist” (The Momentous Event, p. 58).

    Pat Robertson: “Jesus Christ is going to come back to earth again to deliver Israel and at the same time to rapture His Church; it’s going to be one moment, but it’s going to be a glorious time” (“700 Club” telecast, May 14, 1975).

    Ben Kinchlow: “Any wrath [during the Tribulation] that comes upon us – any difficulty – will not be induced by God, but it’ll be like the people are saying, ‘The cause of our problems are those Christians in our midst; we need to get rid of them’ ” (“700 Club” telecast, August 28, 1979).

    Daniel P. Fuller: “It is thus concluded that Dispensationalism fails to pass the test of an adequate system of Biblical Interpretation” (The Hermeneutics of Dispensationalism, p. 369).

    Corrie ten Boom: “The Bible prophesies that the time will come when we cannot buy or sell, unless we bear the sign of the Antichrist…” (Tramp for the Lord, p. 187).

    Francis Nigel Lee (eleven earned doctorates!): “Dave MacPherson, in his various books, has made a major contribution toward vindicating Historic Christian Eschatology. The 1830 innovations of the disturbed Margaret Macdonald documented by MacPherson – in part or in whole – immediately spread to Edward Irving and his followers, then to J. N. Darby and Plymouth Brethrenism, and were later popularized by the dispensationalistic Scofield Reference Bible, by Classic Pentecostalism, and by latter-day pretribulationists like J. F. Walvoord and Hal Lindsey.”

    (In light of II Tim. 3:14 which says that we can’t know too much about Bible teachers (Dave MacVersion), I invite you to read my article “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” which can be found on the “Powered by Christ Ministries” site. The most accurate and detailed book on the pretrib rapture’s strange 19th century beginnings is “The Rapture Plot,” available from Armageddon Books online.)

    • boydluter said


      I have seen most of these quotes before. But, thanks for the few I had not. I am well aware of the issues and who has stood where on them. That is precisely why I am doing fresh study on this blog, not just rehashing the same ole, same ole. In 2001, I published an article entitled “The ‘Earth-Dwellers’ and the ‘Heaven-Dwellers’ in Revelation: An Overlooked Interpretive Key,” in which I approached the subject exegetically before I drew fresh theological conclusions. So, while you may think I am to be lumped into a preconceived category if you wish, I respectfully submit that I came to my present views from fresh study, not just “handed-down” ideas.

      Blessings, Boyd

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