Charles D. Alexander on the 3 ½ years of prophecy
Charles D. Alexander, in Revelation Spiritually Understood, discussed the significance of the 42 months and 1,260 days mentioned in Revelation 11, 12, and 13, and said those numbers represent “the whole period of time from Patmos to the Second Advent of our Lord.”
FORTY AND TWO MONTHS
All the numbers in Revelation are symbolic. They cannot be fitted into the framework of world history, though there are many startling coincidences which embolden the unwary and create an enthusiasm for chronological interpretation. The spiritual interpretation of this great book must be maintained at all costs, for the past history of chronological investigation is strewn with the carcasses of confident predictions which now have no relevance to contemporary events. Historicism has run out of time and has almost disappeared in the vagaries of post-millennialism presently revived by the contemporary situation in Palestine while ignoring the contemporary state of the church and the revival of heathenism. Some day soon, perhaps, many of our friends may awake to the realities of the Latter Day apostasy, and the realisation that the Millennium is past!
If not a measurable period of time in the realm of historical chronology, what then does the figure of 42 months signify? We have already said in a previous chapter that the numbers in Daniel and Revelation of 1260 days, 42 months, 3 ½ years and ‘time, times, and half a time’ all correspond with each other and are to be interpreted in terms of the most indefinite of them – ‘time, times, and half a time’. Thus we are dealing with an indefinite period of time, known only to God and not intended to be measured by man. If it could be measured in advance what consolation would it be for those who were able to calculate that no deliverance was to be expected in their day or perhaps for centuries to come? Or what office would be left to faith, if it could be ascertained that in the period of one’s own lifetime all would be consummated and the Lord would return? What becomes of the Saviour’s warning that of the day and hour of His return no man knows, nor yet is it a part of the Son’s commission from the Father to make it known?
THE BROKEN SEVEN
In place of these speculations we find it much more comforting to see all these strange figures in the Apocalypse as being signs of THE BROKEN SEVEN (the 3 ½ years). Seven being the number of divine completeness, and being so used throughout the Apocalypse, the broken seven must relate to judgment and is a warning to the world and an assurance to the people of God of the steadfastness of the divine purposes in commanding a limited period only for the power of this world. The enemy will not endure one day beyond the divine decree.
The 42 months we regard therefore as the whole period of time from Patmos to the Second Advent of our Lord. It began with John’s imprisonment, and the Book of Revelation is concerned with that event and the interpretation of it in terms of the prolonged sufferings and probation of the church typified in the afflictions of “John our brother”.
During that immense period of time, the church is comforted in the knowledge that the onset and the termination of the 1260 days (and its other numerical equivalents) are fixed by the Lord’s sovereign determination. The arbiter of time is the Mighty Angel of chapter 10: the true Michael, the Angel of the Covenant, Christ, the Son of God, the Conqueror of sin, death and hell, the Woman’s Seed, the Bruiser of the Serpent’s head. It is not for us to know the times and the seasons which forever remain in the Father’s own power (Acts 1:7); our part is to preach the Word of God and hold forth the testimony of Christ in a hostile world in which all power appears to be given to the enemies of the kingdom of God.
- Interpreting the 3 ½ years of prophecy
- Interpreting the 3 ½ years of prophecy (2)
- Patrick Fairbairn on the 3 ½ years of prophecy
- On the seven times and 1,260 days