James Burton Coffman (1905-2006) was a minister at the Central Church of Christ in Houston and Manhattan Church of Christ in New York City. He wrote a 37-volume commentary on the whole Bible, which was completed in 1992. The commentary is available online at: Burton Coffman Commentary on the Whole Bible.
Coffman interpreted the time, times and a half of Daniel 7:25 and 12:7 as symbolic of the whole age of the church, the period from the first advent of Christ to his second coming. On Daniel 7:23-25 he wrote:
The gospel says that after Jesus was raised up from the grave, he ascended to his Father’s throne, where he was made Lord and Christ, which means he fulfils the prophecies about a descendant of David who reigns on the throne of David forever. The apostle Peter said to the Jews on the day of Pentecost,
The chart below shows the relation between the 70 weeks, and the 2,300 days, and “this generation,” which is the generation Jesus represents. It runs off the chart at the right, because it continues forever.
The prophetic time periods of 1,290 days, and 1,335 days, are mentioned in Dan. 12:11-12. The 1,260 days is found in Rev. 11:3 and 12:6. Each of these three periods is distinct, because each represents either the church age, or a portion of it. This is a diminishing period. The “time, times and a half” is symbolic, and the numbers associated with it are also symbolic. They are “models” having a character similar to other prophetic symbols. For example, the church is represented by a temple, or a candlestick; Christ is represented by the passover lamb, etc. Likewise, the duration of the church age is represented by three and a half symbolic years, that together with the ministry of Jesus, make a prophetic “week,” in which Christ confirms his covenant with his saints. [Dan. 9:27]
The following chart identifies ten time periods from the prophecies of Daniel, and Revelation, and the words of Jesus. These prophetic periods are all connected to one another. Three of them began in the lifetime of Daniel, and two were associated with the king Belshazzar. The duration of another is given in terms of units corresponding to the age of Darius when he was made king of Babylon. One key period, illustrated in bright yellow in the chart, is “this generation,” a period that extends from the birth of Jesus, to the end of time, because Jesus was raised from his grave, and lives and reigns forever, and he represents his generation.
A key to understanding the church’s history, and how it illustrates the fulfilment of prophecy over the centuries, is applying the symbolic expression which occurs in both Daniel and Revelation, “a time, times and a half,” to the whole age of the church. The numbers in Daniel 12:11-12, and Revelation 11:3, and 12:6, fit this patten.
One of the most contentious issues in prophecy has been understanding the prophetic time periods, which are important, but widely misunderstood. Since there are many interpretations that tend to scatter and separate Christian believers from one another, an interpretation is required that will tend to unify, and bring together the saints who are scattered.
The land of Canaan was a type and a shadow of better land, to which Christians have come, as taught in the New Testament. [Heb. 11:16; 12:22] Paul said that the experiences of the Israelites recorded in the Old Testament were written for our examples, and for our admonition. Peter said the prophets ministered, not to themselves, but unto us, that is, the saints, or the New Testament church. The prophets, he said, wrote about the gospel, (they “prophesied of the grace that should come unto you”) and they wrote by the spirit of Christ which was in them. [1 Peter 1:9-12]
John says in Rev. 12:6 the woman fled to the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God. But in many commentaries, it is not clear what is meant by the wilderness.
Many commentators mention that the prophecy alludes to the Exodus. The eagle’s wings given to the woman in Rev. 12:14 allude to the wings of eagles mentioned in Exod. 19:4: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” Eagles’ wings are also mentioned in Deut. 32:9-12.
In the table below two kinds of interpretation of Revelation 11 & 12 are compared. The column at the left identifies many of the symbols in these chapters. The middle column presents commonly held views based on a literal approach, and what is here considered the natural or human point of view, represented by the little horn in Daniel 7, with “eyes like the eyes of a man.” The column at the right contains a more mature, spiritual interpretation. Often, scholars will offer a mix of interpretations from either of the two columns.
William Milligan (1821-1892) was Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism in the University of Aberdeen. The following is his commentary on the prophecy of the two witnesses of Revelation 11. [William Milligan. The Book of Revelation. In: Marcus Dods, Robert Alexander Watson, Frederic William Farrar, eds. An Exposition of the Bible: a series of expositions covering all the books of the Old and New Testament, Volume 6. S. S. Scranton Co. Hartford, Conn. 1904. pp. 873-879]
The word of God in prophecy is like mountains, and the theories, and opinions, and interpretations of men are like clouds in comparison. The prophet Joel spoke of the day of the Lord as “A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness.” [Joel 2:2] Clouds are associated with darkness of a spiritual kind.
Peter described the false teachers as “clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.” [2 Peter 2:17]
The sceptical Westminster Review for Oct. 1861 included a “secular exposition” of the Apocalypse, based on the work of various critics.
The author or authors of the essay took some pains to promote the notion that the Apocalypse was written before 70 A.D. Attempts at dating the writing of the Apocalypse before 70 A.D. are founded upon the idea that the cities mentioned in Rev. 11, the ‘holy city’ of vs. 2, and the ‘great city,’ called ‘Sodom and Egypt’ in vs. 8, are the same. This they insisted upon, while defending the opposite view of the temple of God mentioned in vs. 1 and vs. 19. These temples of God, they claimed, are different; the temple of God in Rev. 11:1 is located in the earthly Jerusalem, that (in their opinion) was not yet destroyed; John had to descend from heaven to measure it; but the one in vs. 19 is the temple in heaven.
Christopher Wordsworth, (1807-1885) was a nephew of poet William Wordsworth, and the author of several theological works, including a Bible commentary, and 50 hymns. He was headmaster of Harrow Boys School (1836-1850), and Vicar at Stanford-in-the-Vale, Berkshire (1850-1869), and Archdeacon of Westminster, and became Bishop of Lincoln in 1868.
There are several parallels between the ministry of Jesus, and that of the two witnesses.
The two witnesses prophesy for 1,260 days, the time that the woman is nourished in the wilderness in Revelation 12:6, and Jesus also ministered for about three and a half years. In my view the 1,260 days is symbolic of the remaining time of the church in this present age, from the time the last of the New Testament books were written.
David, Isaiah, Daniel, and other prophets asked God, “how long?” They looked for a time when God will no longer hide, [Psalm 13:1; 89:46] when the adversary would no longer reproach the saints, [Psalm 74:10], when God would turn away his anger, [Psalm 79:5] when the wicked would not triumph, [Psalm 94:3-4] when the land would no longer mourn, [Jeremiah 12:4] when the time periods of prophecy would be fulfilled, [Daniel 12:6] when God would save his people, [Habakkuk 1:2] and avenge the blood of the martyrs. [Revelation 6:10]
Isaiah wrote about making a highway in the wilderness, and mountains being made low.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Interpreting the encoded message of prophecy correctly reveals the glory of God. In Isaiah’s prophecy the mountains are symbols of the prophecies and promises of scripture. Those who investigate Bible prophecy are a lot like explorers or mountaineers seeking a way through unexplored, rugged country.
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.
The chain in the hand of the angel in Revelation 20:1 is used to bind Satan for a thousand years. Obviously the chain is a spiritual one, not a literal chain. It is associated with time, and so this chain may be connected to the time prophecies in Daniel 7–12. Time is like a chain, in that it is continuous; each year is linked to the one before, and the one following. Similarly, each day is linked to the one before, and to the one following. Read more…
Daniel 12:5-6 describes two angels, one on each side of a river, and another one, clothed in linen, who stood upon the waters of the river. In the New Testament, Jesus is described walking upon the water of the sea of Galilee. Linen clothing is connected with the righteousness of the saints, given to them by Christ, in Revelation 19:8. Perhaps, Christ is the one who Daniel saw standing on the water, clothed in linen.
The message given in Daniel 12:7 is connected with the river mentioned in the previous two verses. Perhaps there is a connection between this river and other rivers that are mentioned in other prophecies. The river in Ezekiel 47 is spiritual in nature, and represents the message of the gospel, and the Spirit, that flows from the temple of God into the desert towards the sea throughout the present age. Daniel’s prophecy is about the duration of the present age. Read more…
In every generation since the first century, Jesus confirms the covenant, and the promise of God to Abraham, that in his seed all nations will be blessed. Paul called this promise the gospel, in Galatians 3:8. Throughout all the time since he ascended to heaven, after the crucifixion, and his resurrection from the grave, Jesus has been building his church, which is the heavenly Jerusalem. It is the subject of many prophecies, including the prophecy of Daniel 7, where Christians are referred to as the saints of the most high.