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The units of ‘time’ in the time, times and a half

February 15, 2012

The phrase “a time, times and a half” defines a pattern with three components. The phrase occurs twice in Daniel, and once in Revelation. In the final verses of Daniel 12, it is described in terms of days. Two numbers are mentioned; 1,290 days, and 1,335 days. Since two numbers are given for it, the phrase could not mean a natural time period of years, or days, because a natural time period can not be equated with two different numbers of days; that would make no sense.

In contrast to natural time periods, a figurative time may be equated with two or more different numbers of days, where the days are symbolic. This is what the numbers mentioned in Daniel 12:11-12 represent. They fit the pattern of “a time, two times and a half,” where “time” is a variable that takes different units. This period extends to the end of the age, and so John referred to it as “the last time.” [1 John 2:18] Notice what Daniel says.

Daniel 12:7
And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

In Daniel 7:25, the phrase is associated with the duration of the little horn of the fourth beast, which makes war with the saints. The fourth beast in the chapter represents the Roman empire.

Graph of the time, times and a half

Both the numbers mentioned in Daniel 12:11-12 fit the pattern of “a time, two times and a half.” Daniel wrote:

Daniel 12:11-12
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.
Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

The numbers mentioned in these verses are 1,290 days, and 1,335 days. These fit the pattern of “a time, two times and a half” mentioned in verse 7, when the numbers are expressed in terms of 30 day months,  as follows.

1,290 days = 13 × 30 + 2 × 12 × 30 + ½ × 12 × 30

1,335 days = 12 × 30 + 2 × 13 × 30 + ½ × 13 × 30

The expressions depict three years and a half where the years consist of regular years of twelve months and leap years with thirteen months, and in each case one year is different from the rest. Thus in the graphic above, the first “time” is shown apart from the other two and a half times. The word “time” represents a variable that can take different units.

No natural period of three and a half years equals 1,290 days, and no natural three and a half years equals 1,335 days, as natural months are not exactly 30 days, but a little less. And no natural three and a half years has two and a half leap years, showing that the numbers are symbolic rather than literal expressions. Both fit the pattern of the time, times and a half. They obviously represent half of a seven. This seven is clearly the final week of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:24-27. The time, times and a half, a symbolic half-week of years, completes the week in which Jesus confirms the covenant with many, the covenant being the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that through their seed all nations will be blessed, which Paul identified with the Gospel in Galatians 3:8.

The ministry of Jesus is understood to be three and a half years, which possibly includes the ministry of John the Baptist. This implies another half-week was to follow. But the final half-week is not a natural three years and a half, because after Christ ascended to heaven the numbers apply to the heavenly city. The dimensions, and the times that relate to the heavenly Jerusalem, are not natural, but figurative and spiritual. When John reported the dimensions of the wall of the city, he stated them in terms of cubits of an angel. [Revelation 21:17] These must be spiritual, because who knows what an angelic cubit might be? Like angels’ food, there is a spiritual aspect connected with it. [Psalm 78:25]

The larger of the two numbers, the 1,335 days, may be interpreted as representing the whole age the church after Jesus ascended to heaven, following the resurrection. The 1,290 days is the remaining time after the abomination of desolation is set up, which must have happened towards the end of the first century. Sacrifices ceased after the temple was destroyed. When John wrote the Apocalypse, he used 1,260 days to represent the remaining time of the church. The 1,290 days is intermediate between the 1,335 days and the 1,260 days. The 1,260 days is the duration of the ministry of the two witnesses, and the period when the woman remains in the wilderness. [Revelation 12:6] The 1,260 days probably began after John wrote the Apocalypse.

The numbers 1,335 days, 1,290 days, and 1,260 days show a progression towards smaller and smaller numbers, which points to the fact that time is running out, and the remaining time is short. John said the spirit of antichrist was already present, alluding to the abomination of desolation of Daniel’s prophecy. This began the 1,290 days. The abomination of desolation has existed since the first century; John said that there were already many Antichrists. This spirit of Antichrist present in the church since the apostolic era is the abomination of desolation.

Since the various numbers that Daniel provides fit the pattern in the expression “a time, times and a half,” that expression may be interpreted as “the remaining time of the church,” which is unknown, and varies continually.

The time, times and a half corresponds to the last half of the 70th week. In the NASB translation of Daniel 9:27, there is a reference to a “wing of abominations,” which would be symbolic of false interpretations of prophecy, and these contrast with the wings of an eagle given to the woman in Revelation 12:14.

Revelation 12:14-16
And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.