I am reluctant to add to an area of study that is full of errors, false prophets and wild flights of fancy, but the theme of this post has been on my mind for some time and I feel burdened to share what I have come to understand and consider to be correct.
Times and seasons – Days, months and years in Biblical prophecy
Christians consider that Jesus is the Messiah and that in due course he is going to return. Jews don’t accept that Jesus is their Messiah – and this means that some Jews are still waiting for their Messiah to be revealed. Although this article is written from a Christian perspective it may also be of interest to Jews since it concerns the coming of the Messiah. For Christians, the coming of the Messiah is actually a bitter-sweet event. On the one hand the Messiah will come in power to reward his people, yet on the other hand, his return will involve judgment and suffering such as humanity has never seen before.
It is natural therefore for Christians (and Jews) to speculate about the exact time that the Messiah will come, but the Christian New Testament informs us that no one knows the time of his appearing – not even Jesus himself. It is something that only the Father knows. In the past, those who have sought to establish the date – the year – of the coming of the Messiah have found themselves to be woefully mistaken as their predicted year came and went without such an event occurring. Yet at the same time, both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures give us prophecies that portray the events that will lead up to the coming of the Messiah, together with some timescales. However, as with many prophecies, these are described in figurative, symbolic and metaphoric styles and so they require sensitive and careful consideration. It is certain that many of the aspects of these prophecies are not to be understood literally – although the events that they point to will be very real indeed.
Scripture encourages us to ‘know and understand the times and seasons’ in which we are living, so that we behave appropriately. We may look at the world and find ourselves concerned because the world continues to be a very unsettling place – especially with the rise of terrorism, mass migrations of people away from war, poisonings on our streets and the occasional rise in the level of international tensions. It is not surprising that the attention of some people turns to the coming of the Messiah.
In the New Testament Scripture it is the Book of Revelation that most deals with these themes. When I first became a Christian in late 1960’s, the Book of Revelation seemed to be almost a ‘closed book’. The first three or four chapters were O.K., then suddenly, the ‘bedrock simply dropped away’ as it were and most Christians seemed to find themselves out of their depth. It is not insignificant to me that these days, this portion of Scripture seems to be considerably more open and understandable.
But before we get there, let’s consider our context. Christianity is properly the Judeo-Christian faith – Christianity emerges from Judaism and is inexorably tied to it, so we need to consider a few basic facts. Sometime after humanity fell into sin, God made promises to the joint patriarch of both Jews and Christians – Abraham. With regard to the Jews, God made a Covenant with Abraham declaring that from his descendants – Isaac, Jacob and so on – God would establish his chosen nation on earth, from whom the Messiah would arise and also bless the rest of the nations. This Covenant was further elaborated under Moses, when Covenant Law was given to the Jews as their guardian until the time that the Messiah would be revealed. God met with leaders of the Jews in the Tabernacle – that was carefully designed to represent God’s temple in the spiritual realm of heaven. Later under David, the Covenant was elaborated still further and God revealed that the Messiah would be Israel’s king forever, and that he would reign from Mount Zion, and be a descendant of David’s line. Solomon, David’s son, built a temple in Jerusalem to replace the Tabernacle or ‘place of meeting’. Aspects of God’s Covenant with the Jews had terms and conditions attached to it and Covenant Law demanded that certain ceremonies could only be carried out in the Tabernacle, later the Jerusalem temple, by the priests. But the Jews continually disobeyed, rebelled or fell short of what was required, and it reached the point where God’s anger spilled over. Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied concerning the fate of Israel and the judgment that was coming. Shortly afterwards, the unified kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms, both of which were overthrown. The Scriptural narrative focuses mainly on the fate of the Southern Kingdom and the events in Jerusalem. The Babylonian Empire overthrew the Southern Kingdom – the Jerusalem temple was destroyed and Jews were taken into exile. This took place in 587 B. C. E. Although a second temple was built later on, following the return of some of the Jewish exiles from Babylon/Persia, the original system was never reinstated. For example, these Jews were not allowed to replace their king, and over time it was the priestly caste that took over some of these responsibilities. So there is a sense in which there has been no fully functional Temple since the Babylonian captivity.
2,300 Mornings and evenings
This brings us to our first Scriptural time span. Towards the end of the seventy-year exile in Babylon/Persia, Daniel had a vision. I am going to quote it in full, so stay with me, since initially it may seem very enigmatic. ‘I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as it charged towards the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against it, and none could rescue from its power. It did as it pleased and became great.
As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between its eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground. It came towards the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at it in great rage. I saw it attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering its two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against it; the goat knocked it to the ground and trampled on it, and none could rescue the ram from its power. The goat became very great, but at the height of its power the large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up towards the four winds of heaven. Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and towards the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, ‘How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled – the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?’ He said to me, ‘It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be cleansed’ (Daniel 8 v 9 – 14).
Here we find a time span of 2,300 days (76.666 months) [328.57 weeks] (Approx. 6 years). This period begins with the abolition of the daily sacrifice. At the moment, there is no daily sacrifice – since the Jerusalem temple was destroyed with the Babylonian overthrow and the temple that replaced was not fully functional according to Covenant Law.
If this was all the information that we have then we would have to regard these 2,300 days as being a figurative time period beginning with the Babylonian overthrow. However, there is more than a suggestion in the Hebrew Scripture that a third temple will be built in Jerusalem. ‘It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble’ (Daniel 9 v 25). This leads us to the possibility that this period of 2,300 days between the abolition of the daily sacrifice and the cleansing of the sanctuary may actually be a literal time span.
To help us decide, the events that take place in this vision are interpreted for us by no less than Gabriel, and his interpretation will help us a little to understand the references to rams, goats and horns, as well as help us to determine when this 2,300 day period will occur. ‘While I, Daniel, was watching the vision and trying to understand it, there stood before me one who looked like a man. And I heard a man’s voice … calling, ‘Gabriel, tell this man the meaning of the vision.’ As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. ‘Son of man,’ he said to me, ‘understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.’ … ‘I am going to tell you what will happen later, in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end.
The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.
(Kingdoms expanding in every direction)
The shaggy goat is the king of Greece
(Coming from the West, without touching the ground, charging at these
kingdoms in a great rage, shattering their rule).
The large horn between its eyes is the first king. (Alexander the Great)
The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four
kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.
‘In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a fierce-looking king, a master of intrigue, will arise. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy those who are mighty, the holy people. He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. ‘The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future’ (Daniel 8 v 15 – 26, My parenthesis and italics).
Daniel’s vision is concerned with four kingdoms – four dynasties or empires – that can be traced back to Greece at the time of Alexander, but in this vision, these lines of power or rule are in the latter part of their line, and we are taken to the appointed time of the end in the time of wrath. But the end of what? I suggest that this is the end of the gospel age immediately prior to the coming of the Messiah. Most of these events will take place within the space of one generation – that of the fierce-looking king, a deceitful master of intrigue, who will be strong – though not by his own power, (but through that of Satan), who will cause astounding devastation and effectively destroy some ‘mighty’ Jews (conquering Jerusalem), and he will stand in opposition to the Prince of princes – the Messiah. This is no less than the ‘man of lawlessness’ as he is called in the New Testament, who, in the middle of his reign will abolish the daily sacrifice in the third temple that will be constructed in Jerusalem. Despite all of this however, he will be defeated – not by human power – but by the Messiah.
Time, times and half a time
This phrase occurs a couple of times in Scripture and perhaps the correct view is a division into three periods – a period of time, a longer period, and a short period. Here is the first example, again from Daniel: “The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time. But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed for ever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.” (Daniel 7 v 23 – 27)
The word used for ‘time’ here is ‘iddan’ – meaning ‘a set time; a fixed, appointed, or definite, time; involving specific or characteristic conditions’. Once again we seem to be looking at the time of the end, the rise of the ‘man of lawlessness’ and the kingdom or empire that he will lead. He will be opposed to God, oppress his people – the Jews and possibly Christians – and try to change set times – the word ‘iddan’ again – and laws. He will succeed in conquering the Jews for a fixed, appointed, definite period of time – divided into three phases – a time, times and half a time, or a divided time. The verses that follow help to confirm that we are looking at the time of the end. The heavenly court will sit and the power of the ‘man of lawlessness’ will be taken away and destroyed once and for all, after which we then move to the Millennium Reign as the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. Israel will become the foremost nation on earth; an everlasting kingdom, and all the rulers of other nations will worship and obey the Most High.
So we can locate the period in which these events will take place, and say that this period of the ‘man of lawlessness’ will not be a random event that will continue for an indeterminate length of time, out of God’s control as it were. Just the opposite – it will be a period of time that is fixed and determined by God as part of his purposes.
There is another use of the same phrase later on in Daniel, in Chapter 12: ‘“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” Then I, Daniel, looked, and there before me stood two others, one on this bank of the river and one on the opposite bank. One of them said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “When will these astonishing wonders end?” The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.” (Daniel 12 v 1 – 7)
The word used for ‘time’ here is slightly different from the earlier example but it means pretty well the same. The word is ‘moed’ – meaning ‘appointed time; a fixed time or season’. Daniel is told that ‘at that time Michael will arise’. What time is this? I suggest again that it is the time of the end. At the time of the end, Michael, the protector of God’s people, will arise. We are told that this period will be a time of distress, the likes of which humanity has not seen before. But it will be at this time that the first resurrection will take place – a totally unexpected event that will occur shortly after the ‘man of lawlessness’ captures Jerusalem. The new testament Scriptures tell us that just before the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the dead lying unburied for three days in the street of Jerusalem will come to life and be caught up to God (Revelation 11 v 7 – 14). They will come with the Messiah when he comes in power during the blast of the seventh trumpet and the rest of the elect will be called up to join them. (The rest of the dead will be raised later).
A period of astonishing wonders is described here, beginning with Michael standing up in heaven, through to the first resurrection. So the question is asked – How long will these wonders last? How long will this extraordinary period continue? It will continue for the ‘appointed time, for a fixed time or season’ – divided into three phases – a time, times and half a time – or a divided time. The Hebrew in the last verse of this passage is unusual – it seems to suggest the shattering of the power of God’s people. But some translators, render it more accurately I think, by transposing two words and changing the punctuation. They read it as: ‘and as the power of the shatterer of the holy people comes to an end; or ‘as the hand of the shatterer of the holy people fails, all these things shall be finished’. The end of these extraordinary wonders isn’t the scattering of the holy people, but rather, the shattering of the power of the one who opposes them. Once again it will be a period of time fixed and determined by God as part of his purposes.
Some commentators apply this passage to Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Greek: ‘God Manifest’) (c. 215 B.C. – 164 B.C.) who was a Greek king of the Seleucid Empire from 175 B.C. until his death in 164 B.C. Antiochus was the first Seleucid king to make use of divine ‘titles’ such as ‘manifest god’ on coins. He was in control of Jewish territory (Judea) and imposed his own man as Jewish High Priest. He desecrated the second temple in Jerusalem and set up a statue/idol of Zeus within its walls during a period of oppression of Jews, changing Jewish laws and forbidding many Jewish practices. It may well be that this vision does have references to Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but many Biblical prophecies have multiple fulfilments, so that even if it is the case that Antiochus IV Epiphanes is referred to her, this does not exclude the idea that it also has references to the time of the end as I have been suggesting – these interpretations do not mutually exclude each other.
The last example of the phrase ‘time, times and half a time’ is found in the last book of the New Testament – the Book of Revelation. Here is the section of Scripture that we are concerned with: ‘A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who ‘will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.’ And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days, and war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down – that ancient snake called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.’ When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the snake’s reach. (Revelation 12 v 5 – 14)
This passage uses figurative or symbolic terms – metaphors – that point to the themes that it is seeking to portray. This is clearly about Israel, described as a ‘pregnant woman giving birth’ to the Messiah – a male child, who ‘will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre’. I am not too concerned about all the details here, but it seems obvious to me that this is one of the main themes of this portion of Scripture. Another main character portrayed here is the red dragon – Satan (Revelation 20 v 2). The ten horns and seven crowns on its heads refer to empires and leaders that Satan stirs up out of restless humanity (Revelation 13 v 1). Satan tried to devour the Messiah, (understood here as Jesus), as soon as he was born (see: the Massacre of the Innocents under Herod). But Satan failed and the Messiah was snatched up to God – what Christians understand as the Ascension.
Then the woman is described as fleeing into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. Here we have another definite time span – 1260 days – but when does this period occur? We have this:
The child (Jesus) is snatched up to heaven (the Ascension)
The woman flees into the wilderness
War breaks out in heaven.
Biblical prophecy is often very convoluted. Long periods of time are condensed into brief statements. In the light of other references to this 1260-day period that I will look at in a moment, I suggest that this sort of convolution happens in this section. I suggest that there is a long time period between the Ascension, and the woman fleeing into the wilderness. The word ‘and’ introduces us to something new or to something slightly removed from what has been said immediately before. I consider that we have this: There is the Ascension and then, much later, the woman (Israel/Jews) will flee to the wilderness. And, in the completely different location of the spiritual realm of heaven, as Israel flees to the wilderness, war will break out in heaven.
From a Christian perspective, for quite some time I considered the ‘1260 days’ to be a figurative reference to the time from the Ascension up until about the time when the Messiah returns – as essentially a reference the present ‘gospel age’, ‘age of grace’ or ‘age of gentiles’. But in the light of other references to the 1260 days, this interpretation doesn’t seem tenable. Neither does it seem probable that both interpretations can be used according to context, because it adds confusion. I have come to the conclusion that the 1260 days reflect a literal period that will occur at the time of the end.
At the commencement of these 1260 days, war will break out in heaven and Michael and his angels will fight the dragon and his angels. We saw this earlier in Daniel 12 v 1, where Michael is described as ‘standing up’ or ‘arising’. At this time – at the time of the end – Satan and his cohorts will lose their place in heaven and be thrown down to earth. At this point the Messiah will effectively take up the role of king of the whole earth – king of king and lord of lords. This will be the moment of salvation, the time of the first resurrection, the period when the victory of the Messiah will effectively come into place. But woe to the earth and it’s restless peoples, because the devil will have gone down to you, filled with fury because he will know that his time is short. The first thing Satan will do will be to go after Israel, but Jews will have a place ‘prepared in the wilderness’ to which they will fly on eagle’s wings so that they might be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the snake’s reach. This phrase ‘time, times and half a time’ has a similar meaning as before. The word for ‘time’ here is ‘kairos’- meaning ‘fitting season; to things ‘coming to a head’; taking full-advantage of the suitable time, the right moment; a larger or smaller portion of time; hence, a fixed and definite time’. As before, it will be a period of time fixed and determined by God as part of his purposes.
1335 days and 1290 days
Returning to Daniel, we find another two time periods mentioned – 1335 days and 1290 days. I propose once again that these are literal time spans. The reference is found right at the end of Daniel in Chapter 12 where Daniel has been told about Michael ‘standing up’ and about the astonishing wonders that will take place at this time. The question has been asked as to how long these astonishing wonders will take place and the answer has been given that it will be for a time, times and half a time. The passage goes on to say that Daniel doesn’t understand these things and he wonders what the outcome will be. He is told to go on his way and that these words – the meaning of them – are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end. Then, a postscript is added: ‘From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days’ (Daniel 12 v 11, 12).
Earlier we saw a time span of 2,300 days (Approximately 6 years) that will begin with the abolition of the daily sacrifice, and end with the cleansing of the sanctuary. I suggested that this will be a literal period of time. I suggest that the 1290 and 1335 days are also literal periods at the time of the end. The ‘man of lawlessness’ will ascend to power and ‘his armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice’ This is something that will occur with the sounding of the 6th of the seven trumpets that will be sounded at the time of the end. It is an event that will happen in the middle of his reign of power (Daniel 9 v 26; See later). Then, at the end of this period the regime of the ‘man of lawlessness’ will set up the abomination that causes desolation (Daniel 11 v 31).
I think that it will work out in this way:
The 2,300 days (approximately 6½ years) will begin with the desecration of the temple and the abolition of the daily sacrifice by the ‘man of lawlessness’, and will end with the cleansing of the sanctuary.
The 1335 days (44.5 months or just over 3½ years) will be the period from the desecration of the temple to when the Messiah comes and the completion of the first resurrection. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of this period. This will happen after Jerusalem has been captured and overthrown by the ‘man of lawlessness’.
The 1290 days (43 months) will be the period from the desecration of the temple to the Messiah being cut off. (See later)
The difference between these last two periods calculates as 45 days (1½ months) [6.42 weeks]. This will be the period between the Messiah being cut off, (See later), and the setting up of the abomination that causes desolation, to the defeat of the ‘man of lawlessness’.
1260 days or 42 months
We have already come across the 1260-day period [42 months, 180 weeks], the period that will begin when Jews flee to the wilderness and end with the coming of the Messiah and the completion of the first resurrection.
Sometimes this period is referred to as 42 months rather than 1,260 days, a distinction that does not appear to be random. Although 1,260 days equals 42 months, these two designations are applied to different aspects of this period. This is what we find:
Nations trample over Jerusalem for 42 months
The beast (regime of ‘man of lawlessness’) exercises authority for 42 months
The prophet/witnesses testify for 1260 days
Israel is nourished in wilderness for 1260 days
In other words, when references are made to God’s people, the designation is 1,260 days, but when references are made to ‘outsiders’ – to other nations and to the regime of the ‘man of lawlessness’, the designation is 42 months. Whether this has any deeper meaning or significance I cannot say.
Thus we have this example: ‘Come and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days, wearing sackcloth.’ These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth’ (Revelation 11 v 1 – 4).
When these events unfold at the time of the end, Jerusalem will be fought over and be ‘handed over to the nations’ who will trample over the city for 42 months (3½ years). There will be two witnesses who will be given authority to prophesy at this time. They are described as ‘two olive trees’ and ‘two lampstands’. These seem to represent two Prophets, one Christian, one Hebrew, the Hebrew one being after the style of Elijah. They will prophesy wearing sackcloth – indicating an attitude of sorrowful repentance and humility before God – though they will be bold in resisting the ‘man of lawlessness’ and his oppressive regime.
The context of this passage is hard to determine. In Revelation chapter 9, John talks about the second woe and the sounding of the sixth of seven trumpets. This passage seems to be about the rise of what will become the cruel, aggressive and expansionist regime of the ‘man of lawlessness’ to the north of Israel. The early verses of chapter 10 talk about a mighty angel and seven thunders, the descriptions of which are sealed up. Then there is talk of the seventh trumpet being ready to be sounded. John is told to eat a scroll held by the mighty angel and it proves to be bitter-sweet. This is perhaps indicative of the Messiah’s coming – with the sweetness of victory and salvation, but the bitterness of judgment and wrath. The last verse indicates a potential break – ‘Then they said to me, ‘You must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings’ (Revelation 10 v 11). But this break may reflect a shift away from angels and the spiritual realm to more earthly matters of nations and their leaders. It is then that we have the passage about measuring the temple of God. But the focus is on the ‘outer courtyard’ – Jerusalem/Israel – at the time of the end together with the events that will unfold as the seventh and last trumpet is about to sound.
The description of these prophet/witnesses certainly does not seem to fit the period of the gospel age in general: ‘These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes; anyone who wants to harm them must be killed in this manner. They have authority to shut the sky, so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them’ (Revelation 11 v 4 – 7). The power and authority of these witnesses/prophets is something that we do not see today in the life of devoted Christians or Jews. I used to think that this was a reference to Hebrew and Christian testimony in general, but I have cone to see that the reference to these prophet/witnesses is more specific to the time of the end. This is a combined Hebrew and Christian prophetic witness, regarding the events that will be happening around Jerusalem and Israel at this time. It would seem that there will initially be a powerful resistance movement regarding the empire/regime/kingdom to the north of Israel, and this will be under the leadership of at least one prophet/witness who will draw from both Hebrew and Christian concepts of the Messiah. Despite presenting an outspoken resistance, this leader and his supporters will be protected by God, and will have considerable authority and power. Nevertheless, they will finish their testimony and be defeated by the oppressive, warring regime of the ‘man of lawlessness’, and be killed.
Here is another reference to the same period: ‘And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have received a death-blow, but its mortal wound had been healed. In amazement the whole earth followed the beast. They worshipped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshipped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?’ The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. It was given authority over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered’ (Revelation 13 v 1 – 8).
This is a description of the emergence of the last ungodly ‘empire’. It will emerge from the sea – from the mass of restless humanity. From its roots and various earlier incarnations, this last regime will have a history of ungodliness, blasphemy and violence and it will be given power and authority by Satan. In it’s final emergent form it will take the form of a resurgent empire that at present is thought of as long dead and defunct – yet here it will be, revived again, and people around the world will be amazed. It will seem unstoppable and irresistible and people around the world will praise and admire it. In this last incarnation, it will be proud and blasphemous of God and heaven, and will exercise authority for forty-two months (1260 days) after conquering Jerusalem. Its influence will spread world-wide – and those outside of the kingdom of God will admire and praise it.
The previous passage of Scripture covers the background and rise to full power of the final manifestation of the ‘beast that rises from the sea’ – the kingdom/empire/regime that will capture Jerusalem. So we seem to have this: the emergence and rise of various manifestations of a blasphemous ‘beast’ –a related group of empires given authority and power by Satan. The last manifestation – ruled by the ‘man of lawlessness’ – will take the form of a resurgent empire thought long-dead, and its success will cause amazement around the world. Under the ‘man of lawlessness’ it will conquer Jerusalem, and exercise authority over it for forty-two months.
In another passage in the book of Revelation, we have a five-month period described. Here it is: ‘And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit; he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given authority like the authority of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to damage the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torture them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torture was like the torture of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them. In appearance the locusts were like horses equipped for battle. On their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had scales like iron breastplates, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. They have tails like scorpions, with stings, and in their tails is their power to harm people for five months. They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon. The first woe has passed. There are still two woes to come. Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates’ (Revelation 9 v 1 – 14)
This passage, relating a five-month period (150 days), takes a closer look at the rise of the regime of the ‘man of lawlessness’, recording a five-month period that will occur just before the ‘man of sin’ conquers Jerusalem. It may in part merge with the 1260-day period. Here we see the emergence of the resurgent empire. In the spiritual realm a fallen angel will be given the key to open the bottomless pit. This will lead to the emergence of a political or reactionary movement or organisation that will sweep the area to the north of Israel like locusts. It will be a nasty – they will sting like scorpions and torture people for five months – a cruel, aggressive organisation that will exhibit the sort of behavior seen recently with the likes of ISIS. They will be organised and led by ‘the destroyer’, but they will not harm God’s people – by which we may understand Jews in Jerusalem, who during at least part of this time, will be offering a strong resistance movement. These events constitute the sounding of the fifth of the seven trumpets. After this five-month period, the sixth trumpet will be sounded and the angels at the Euphrates will be released, a period that will lead into the end of the testimony of the prophet/witnesses, and the conquest of Jerusalem.
3 ½ days
The next time period is just three and a half days that will come immediately after the 1260 day/42 month period. Near the end of the 1260 days, the prophet/witnesses will finish their testimony. The ‘abomination that causes desolation’ will have been set up and any Godly resistance movement will have been destroyed and effectively silenced: ‘When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit [the regime/empire] will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is prophetically called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days members of the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb; and the inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth. But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and those who saw them were terrified. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here!’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies watched them’ (Revelation 11 v 7 – 12).
Thus we move to the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the beginning of the first resurrection, and the kingdom of the world becoming the kingdom of the Most High and his Messiah – a Messiah who will take up his authority and power to reign over all the earth, and humanity will begin to hide in caves and holes in the ground, and plead for the rocks of the mountains to fall on them as the wrath of God begins to be revealed.
Back in Daniel we have the prophecy of the seventy ‘weeks’ (Just over 16 months). Let’s see what we can make of it in the light of what we have seen so far. Daniel had been reading the words of Jeremiah and been looking at prophecies that seem to indicate that the exile of the Jews in Babylon would last for seventy years (Daniel 9 v 2). He receives a vision that is then explained to him. Here are the passages concerned: ‘Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and towards the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, ‘How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled – the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, the surrender of the sanctuary and the trampling underfoot of the Lord’s people?’ He said to me, ‘It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be cleansed’ (Daniel 8 v 9 – 14); together with: ‘“Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision: ‘Seventy “sevens” [or weeks] are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. Know and understand this: from the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven “sevens”, and sixty-two “sevens”. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two “sevens”, the Anointed One will be cut off [and will have nothing/ Or will have no one]. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: war will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one “seven” [or week]. In the middle of the “seven” [or week] he will put an end to sacrifice and offering, and at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him” (Daniel 9 v 22 – 27).
This prophecy has proved notoriously difficult for readers, despite it having been the subject of ‘intense exegetical activity’ since the Second Temple period. The phrase used here is ‘seventy ‘sevens’’, or ‘seventy periods of seven’. The word is ‘shabua’, meaning ‘period of seven’, usually translated as ‘weeks’. Hence this seems to be a period of seventy weeks.
But some interpreters consider this to be an enigmatic phrase and therefore they propose that this is a figurative or metaphorical phrase and that a week is to be understood to stand for a year – interpreting this as ‘year-weeks’ or seventy periods of seven years or 490 years. But in Leviticus 25 v 1 – 10 for example, where the seventh or ‘sabbatical year’ is described, terms are used in a straightforward way – the word ‘year’ is used in a plain sense and there is no reference to ‘weeks’.
The idea of year/weeks comes from Numbers 14 v 34: ‘“For forty years – one year for each of the forty days you explored the land – you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.”’; Leviticus 26 v 34: ‘Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths’; and Ezekiel 4 v 5, 6: ‘I have assigned you the same number of days as the years of their sin. So for 390 days you will bear the sin of the people of Israel. After you have finished this, lie down again, this time on your right side, and bear the sin of the people of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year’. It is clear from these verses that is correct to say that at times God uses the concept of a ‘year for a day’ – but there does not seem to be any explicit reason to use this principle in the passage here in Daniel.
There are references in this passage in Daniel to the coming of the Messiah, and this means that some teachers consider that this passage must refer to the birth of Jesus and his death at Calvary. Thus these interpreters have a time span into which they then have to fit these ‘seventy ‘sevens’’ or ‘seventy weeks’ or ‘seventy ‘year-weeks’. This leads to interpretations of the rebellious leader being Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Greek king of the Seleucid Empire from 175 B.C. until his death in 164 B.C.. Antiochus plundered the Temple, abolished the offering, erected the idolatrous altar and massacred 40,000 Jews. But this interpretation puts a strain on the text and in any case, Daniel’s visions seem to be pointing to the much later ‘times of the end’.
Some interpreters abandon trying to determine this period of time and suggest that it can only be explained by the hypothesis that the word ‘week’ is used in an indefinite sense, to mean an unspecified period of time.
I am proposing that this passage refers to seventy periods of seven days – seventy literal weeks, and that this period of seventy weeks will occur at the time of the end. The link between Daniel’s prayerful contemplation of seventy years of exile in Babylon and the seventy ‘sevens’ is not seventy years of exile, but the period in which the Lord will come to forgive Israel and end the desecration of the temple (Daniel 9 v 15 – 19). Thus the vision takes Daniel to the desecration of the temple at the time of the end, when the sanctuary will be restored and the king of Israel will reign forever – the Millennium Reign.
Part of the key to understanding this passage is that ‘word will go out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem’. ‘Seventy “sevens” [or weeks] are decreed for your people (Jews) and your holy city (Jerusalem):
to finish transgression – the breach of trust and rebellion
to put an end to sin – to seal it up and make an end of it
to atone for wickedness – to cover it over, make appeasement and cleanse it
to bring in everlasting righteousness – justice and fairness
to seal up vision and prophecy – to make an end of it, and
to anoint the Most Holy Place – to smear with oil that which is pure and set apart
This is quite a list. Taking other Hebrew Scripture prophecies into account it signifies some Jews recognizing the imminent coming of their Messiah and signifies the beginning of the end of the exile of the Jews, an exile that began way back with the Babylonian conquest. These Jews will turn to God in repentance, their disobedience against the Covenant being atoned for through their long exile. God will turn to them in remembrance of his promises, and very shortly, everlasting righteousness will be brought in. This turning around will happen as a result of the powerful testimony of the prophet/witnesses, after which visions and prophesies will be sealed up – (there will be no tolerance of prophets in Israel in the Millennium Reign) – and the Most Holy Place will be set apart. The result will be that at least a core part of Jerusalem and a Most Holy Place will be rebuilt, with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.
What we have then is something like this:
A five month/150 day period will see the rise of the regime of the ‘man of lawlessness’ to the north of Israel before they sweep down towards Jerusalem. This will be a time of increasing darkness with regards to the Gospel (Revelation 9 v 2). This constitutes the beginning of the ‘three woes’.
There will be a 2,300 day (approximately 6½ year) period that will begin with the desecration of the temple and the abolition of the daily sacrifice, and will end with the cleansing of the sanctuary in the Millennium Reign.
1335 days (44.5 months or just over 3½ years) will be the period from when the temple will be desecrated to when the Messiah will come and the first resurrection will be completed. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of this period. This will probably happen after Jerusalem is captured and overthrown by the ‘man of lawlessness’.
1290 days (43 months) will be the period from when the temple will be desecrated to when the Messiah will be ‘cut off’.
The 1260 day/42 month period is when war will break out in heaven, Michael will stand up and Satan will be cast out. Jews will flee to the ‘wilderness’ for protection. The prophet/witnesses will testify in Jerusalem, but the nations will trample over Jerusalem, including the regime of the ‘man of lawlessness’. This period will end with the return of the Messiah.
Beginning some time within the 1260 day/42 month period, a seventy ‘weeks’ (490 days) [16.33 months] period will begin when word will go out from the witness/prophet(s) to restore Jerusalem, a period that will last up to the return of the Messiah. This seventy-week period will be divided into:
Sixty two ‘weeks’ (434 days) [14.47 months] From word going out from the witness/prophets to restore Jerusalem to the Messiah being ‘cut off’
For one week (7 days) the ‘man of lawlessness’ will confirm a covenant or agreement (probably with other nations, possibly gaining control of Jerusalem)
Seven ‘weeks’ (49 days) After the Messiah has been cut off to the defeat of the ‘man of lawlessness’. In the middle of the seven weeks the ‘man of lawlessness’ will set up the abomination that causes desolation in the temple and abolish temple sacrifices.
In these three periods we possibly have the ‘time, times and half a time’.
3 ½ days in which the dead prophet/witnesses will lie dead in the streets until they will be resurrected.
What does Scripture mean when it says that the Messiah will be cut off? Some translations have this as the death of the Messiah, but we are not talking here about the period of the ministry of Jesus on earth. Rather we are talking about the time of the end – so this is not the death of the Messiah but rather, as the Hebrew word has it, the Messiah being ‘cut off’. I suggest that this refers to the effectual silencing and eventual killing of the prophet/witnesses.
At this time there will be an increase of supernatural activity:
The ‘man of lawlessness’ will perform wonders through the power of Satan
The prophet/witnesses will testify with authority and power
What we may have here is Jerusalem divided or partitioned, with a Jewish enclave in which the prophet/witnesses will be based, and some rebuilding will take place- including the building of a temple or Most Holy Place. But in due course these prophet/witnesses will end their testimony and when this happens, the Messiah will be ‘cut off’. ‘When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the bottomless pit (the regime of the ‘man of lawlessness’) will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, (Revelation 11 v 7).
It will be with the resurrection of the dead in Jerusalem that the seventh trumpet will sound and the Messiah will take up his authority to reign as king of the earth and he will come in furious anger. The time for judging the dead and for rewarding his servants will have come (Revelation 11 v 18), and the seven bowls containing the plagues of the wrath of God will then be poured out.
Based on the periods I have already outlined, the next period will be the period of time between the beginning of the first resurrection and the cleansing of the sanctuary. There will be 2300 days between the desecration of the temple and the cleansing of the sanctuary. It will take 1335 days after the desecration of the temple to reach the first resurrection. This leaves approximately 965 days or just over 32 months during which the bowls will be poured out. ‘Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labours, for their deeds follow them’ (Revelation 14 v 12, 13).
Bowl 1 – a foul and painful sore will come on those who have the mark of the beast and who worship its image.
Bowl 2 – the sea will become like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing in the sea died.
Bowl 3 – the rivers and the springs of water will become blood. (Problems with pregnancy)
Bowl 4 – the sun will be allowed to scorch people with fire; they will be scorched by the fierce heat
Bowl 5 – the throne of the beast, and its kingdom will be plunged into darkness; people will gnaw their tongues in agony, and curse the God of heaven because of their pains and sores, and they will not repent
Bowl 6 – the great river Euphrates, and its water will be dried up in order to prepare the way for the kings from the east. ‘And I saw three foul spirits like frogs coming from the mouth of the dragon (Satan), from the mouth of the beast (the Regime/Empire), and from the mouth of the false prophet (the ‘man of lawlessness)’. These will be demonic spirits, performing signs, who will go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty. (‘See, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and is clothed, not going about naked and exposed to shame’) And they will assemble them at the place that in Hebrew is called Harmagedon.
Bowl 7 – will be poured into the air, and a loud voice will come out of the temple, from the throne, and say, ‘It is done!’ And there will come flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a violent earthquake, such as had not occurred since people were upon the earth, so violent will that earthquake be. The great city will be split into three parts, and the cities of the nations will fall. God will remember great Babylon and give her the wine-cup of the fury of his wrath. And every island will flee away, and no mountains will to be found; and huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, will drop from heaven on people, until they curse God for the plague of the hail, so fearful will that plague be.
Babylon will fall and this seems to be connected to trading, merchants, banks and so on, and so is possibly the collapse of the world banking system.
Sometime during this 965-day period, the earth will be harvested. The rest of the elect will be resurrected and called up to heaven to join those who will have already been resurrected. This will separate away the ‘grain’ or ‘wheat’ from the ‘chaff’ who will continue to face these judgments on earth and form the ‘great supper of God’: ‘Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, ‘Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of the mighty, the flesh of horses and their riders – flesh of all, both free and slave, both small and great.’ Then I saw the beast (the regime of the ‘man of lawlessness’) and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against the rider on the horse (the Messiah) and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet (the ‘man of lawlessness) who had performed in its presence the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur. And the rest were killed by the sword of the rider on the horse, the sword that came from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended’ (Revelation 19 v 17 – 21, 20 v 1 – 3).
Other Scripture references to these events
How does all of this fit in with other Scripture references to these events? Here are some texts for you to judge for yourself: ‘When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfilment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! [Third trumpet Revelation 8 v 10, 11; and especially – Third bowl of plagues Revelation 16 v 4] There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. [Fourth Trumpet and fourth bowl of plagues] At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near’ (Luke 21 v 20 – 28).
And again: ‘So when you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place – let the reader understand –then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! [Third trumpet Revelation 8 v 10, 11, Third bowl of plagues Revelation 16 v 4] Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. Because then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equalled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ – do not believe it, because false messiahs and false prophets will appear, and they will perform great signs and wonders to deceive even the elect, if possible. See! I have told you in advance. So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert’, don’t go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms’, don’t believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken’ [Fourth bowl of plagues] ‘Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other’ (Matthew 24 v 15 – 31)
And once more: ‘When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! [Third trumpet Revelation 8 v 10, 11 Third bowl of plagues Revelation 16 v 4] Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequalled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now – and never to be equalled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive even the elect, if possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything in advance. But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken’ [Fourth Trumpet and bowl of plagues]. At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens (Mark 13 v 14 – 27).
These events will initiate the Millennium Reign.
This study has not been a full description of these ‘end-time’ events by any means – rather its focus has been on the time periods involved. At first glance this period of time seems to be very short but then Jesus declared that these events would occur within one generation and Jesus is also described as coming like a thief in the night and like lightning across the sky. In these gospel passages, there is indeed a real sense of urgency that occurs as soon as the ‘abomination that causes desolation’ is set up.
Just what is the ‘abomination that causes desolation’? This is no mere idol of stone, wood or metal set up in a holy place. It causes desolation. Briefly I suggest that it is connected to the seventh bowl of plagues that will be poured into the air. We have a picture here of a besieged city attracting the attention of world leaders and leading to escalating conflicts that continue to ‘raise the stakes’. I propose that the ‘abomination that causes desolation’ is some sort of bio-chemical weapon – an airborne virus or chemical agent that will cause the flesh of animals and humans to rot even as they stand.
None of the images that I have portrayed here are beyond our imagination. We have seen the horrors of regimes such as ISIS. We have seen totalitarian type states – and I suggest that the regime of the ‘man of lawlessness’ will be an atheistic totalitarian state. We have seen vulnerabilities in the world digital banking system causing disruption and even an inability to trade when a computer virus or system failure occurs. We have seen what real-life viruses such as the Ebola virus can do, and the effect of chemical attacks on our streets. We are seeing the increasing ineffectiveness of antibiotics. We are seeing unrest and mass migrations of Biblical proportions to the north and south of Israel. Surely many of the ‘seeds’ are potentially already there for these events to occur.
Prophetic passages are often enigmatic and obscure, and so balanced interpretations are difficult to attain. As I have indicated in this article, understanding increases and some interpretations change. Even allowing for these changes, I consider that the following books remain substantially correct, such changes only affecting secondary themes. As always, in the event of any contradictions of interpretation, later articles and books are the ones that fully reflect my own orientation.
Laynton R. (2015) ‘Salted With Fire – A 21st Century Exploration of the Book of Revelation’
Laynton, R, (2017) ‘Who is this Who is Coming? – An Introduction to a Scriptural Reconciliation of Christian and Jewish perspectives of the Messiah’
Laynton, R. (2016) ‘The Return of the King – Apocalypse, Armageddon and Millennium Reign Explored’