The pattern of the “time, times, and a half” and the writing on the wall
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.
The expression “a time, times and a half” is the subject of the oath sworn by the person who is described as standing on the waters of the river in Daniel 12:7, who says that in this period of time, everything in Daniel’s prophecies will be completed. Daniel wrote:
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.
The assumption that this expression represents three and a half literal years is simplistic; there is more to it than that. The two numbers mentioned in Daniel 12:11-12 are both related to the “time, times and a half.” And the mysterious expression written on the wall during the feast of Belshazzar, the night Babylon fell, is also connected with it. The king of Babylon saw a detached hand writing the words “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” on the wall, as he was drinking from the golden vessels from the Jerusalem temple.
These words signify three units of Babylonian currency; the Mene is the mina; Tekel is the Assyrian shekel; Upharsin is the pares, or half mina. In Dan. 5:26-28 Daniel interprets these words as meaning “numbered, numbered, weighed, divided.” He said:
Mene; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
Tekel; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
Peres; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.
Although usually left untranslated in English translations of Daniel, these words are known Aramaic names of measures of currency: MENE, a mina (from the root meaning “to count”), TEKEL, a spelling of shekel (from the root meaning “to weigh”), PERES, half a mina (from the root meaning “to divide”, but additionally resembling the word for “Persia”).
In Ezekiel 45:12, there are 25 + 25 + 15 = 60 shekels in a mina.
In the two expressions of Dan. 5:25 and 7:25, there is an obvious parallel. In each expression, there are three sections. There are two of one quantity, plus half of the same quantity, in each case. A third section consists of another kind of unit.
|Time||2 x Times||½ Time|
|Shekel||2 minas||½ mina|
The three monetary quantities in the writing on the wall are illustrated in the 3D graph below.
The expression written on the wall, and the “time, times and a half” are similar because they share the same pattern or structure. And both are about units, in one case, units of currency, and in the other, units of time. Furthermore, there is a parallel in the interpretation of both expressions. None of the wise men of Babylon could figure out the meaning of the writing on the wall, and there has been a similar failure in attempts by the wise men of the world, and the preterists, and the dispensationalists, etc., to figure out the meaning of the “time, times and a half.”