The cup of the covenant
Jesus asked his disciples to remember his covenant by sharing a cup of wine. In the image below, the wine cup is a symbol for the period of time when he fulfills that covenant. The various numbers provided in the prophecies of Daniel and in Revelation, that represent the time remaining in the age of the church, are the labels on the four glasses in the image.
The cup of wine represents the time in which Christ fulfills the New Covenant, which is the whole age of the church.
Four views of the cup are provided in the graphic above. The label above each one indicates the remaining symbolic time for confirming the covenant.
From the left, the symbolic times are 1,335 days, 1,290 days, 1,260 days, and three days and a half.
All of these numbers fit the pattern of “a time, times and a half.” We may think of that expression as the name of the cup in the image above. The numbers, illustrated by the amount of wine remaining, represent the relative amounts of time remaining for the church to bring the gospel to the world. The numbers become progressively smaller.
The cup at the left is full; it represents the very beginning of the church age, when Jesus sent the Spirit and great things were accomplished by the apostles. Daniel 12:12 says, about the 1,335 days, “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.” It is Christ who waits for the time when his church is complete and the saints are ready for his return.
Next is the cup associated with the 1,290 days. Daniel says, “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” [Daniel 12:11]
Two events are mentioned here. The daily sacrifices were taken away, and discontinued, when the Jerusalem temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Some time afterwards, the abomination of desolation was established. This is associated with the antichrist spirit, which John said was already present, and he said there were “many antichrists.” This abomination has been present throughout much of the church age, beginning near the end of the first century. After the apostolic period, false teachers began to rise up, and seduce the saints. Many were carried away in heretical movements. In Daniel 7 the little horn of the beast (which represents the Roman empire) makes war with the saints, and prevails against them.
The third cup is associated with 1,260 days. This represents the age in which the two witnesses prophesy and so it must begin after the Apocalypse was completed. It is a smaller number than the 1,290 days, so it begins later than the destruction of Jerusalem, and the appearance of the antichrist spirit. The same time period is assigned to the woman in the wilderness, where she is nourished.
The cup at the right is very nearly empty. It is associated with the period when the the two witnesses lie as corpses in the street, a figure of the widespread unbelief in God’s word, and the lack of evidence of the Spirit. When this condition prevails, the remaining time of the church is short. For more information, see Who are the two Witnesses? (17-page pdf) and Understanding Daniel’s 70 Weeks, (70-page pdf).