Daniel’s time, times and a half and the river metaphor
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.
The time to the end of all the events that Daniel described in his prophecies was said to be a time, times, and a half. In the 70 weeks prophecy of chapter 9, the Messiah was to appear after the first two sections, of seven weeks, and sixty two weeks. In the final week, he would confirm the covenant with many. The ministry of Jesus, which was three and a half years, perhaps including John’s ministry, fulfilled the first part of the final week. A half week remained to be fulfilled, which corresponds to the time, times, and a half of Daniel 12:7.
The apostle Peter said that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [2 Peter 3:8] The duration of the last half-week of the 70 weeks is not necessarily equal to the duration of the first half-week, which corresponds to the time of Jesus’ ministry on the earth in the first century. After his crucifixion, and resurrection, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to his disciples, the river of living water which flows from the heavenly Jerusalem, foretold in Zechariah 14:8. The river flowed from the holy city, and the nations began to flow into the city, as the gospel was preached, which fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 2:2. The Spirit which was given to the church is also the river of Ezekiel 47. Ezekiel’s description showed that like most natural rivers, it varies in depth from place to place. There are places where it is ankle deep, and other places where one must swim, and depths in between. The surface of a river may be level, while the bed of the river varies in depth.
The river metaphor suggests that there is the potential for variation in the way the sections of the prophecy of the 70 weeks should be understood. On the surface, it appears that the 70 weeks are all of the same kind, but the reality may be otherwise. The same river may vary in depth, at different places in its course, as Ezekiel showed when he described the changing depth of the river flowing from the temple. Just as rivers vary in depth, and rate of flow, along their course, the units of time in the seventy weeks prophecy may vary, in each of the three sections. In the last half-week, which applies to the duration of the period when Jesus builds his church, there is another reason the units may differ in kind; units that apply to this period are not earth days, or earth months, or earth years, because literal, earthly units could not apply to the heavenly city. In Daniel 12, the final half-week, the time, times, and a half, is associated with a river for a reason.
The time, times, and a half of Daniel’s prophecies completes the week in which Christ confirms the covenant, which is the new covenant that he makes with his church, and which he continues to confirm today. It is what Jesus does, during the whole age of the church; he said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” [John 14:2-4]
The Spirit, represented by the river, guides the saints to understand the truth. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” [John 16:13] This includes an understanding of prophecy.