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Dispensationalism and the time, times and a half

November 21, 2013

A great amount of misinformation has been generated about the prophetic “time, times and a half” of Daniel 7:25, and 12:7.

Dispensationalism says that the time, times and a half is three years and a half, and claims these are natural years. The supporters of that doctrine apply the time, times and a half to a future tribulation that is primarily a time of punishment that applies to ethnic Jews. They assume the Church will be raptured to heaven before it begins.

Dispensationalists assume that a “time” refers to a literal year. But “times” in prophecy are not identical to “years.” The law said, “Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.” [Lev. 19:26] The same law said that the month of Nisan is to be the first month of the year for Israel. “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” [Ex. 12:2] A “time,” then, is distinct from a year. The claim that “time” in the expression “a time, times, and a half” must always mean a “year” is contrary to the law.

Isaiah said: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” [Isa. 8:20]

The expression “a time, times, and a half” signifies half of “seven times.”

A “time” in Scripture may represent an indeterminate span of time, a period whose actual duration is hidden. In the Bible, units of time include hours, days, weeks, months, years, seasons, generations, periods of 7 years, and jubilees.

In Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy, the units of the three sections are not specified. Each section is a “seven,” but whether the units are years, or some other unit, is not stated.

Comparing Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy with Leviticus 26, and with Jeremiah’s prophecies of the 70 years of captivity, puts it in its proper context, and reveals the significance of the three sections of the 70 weeks.

Many commentators insist that the 70 weeks are 490 years, but that theory assumes the units of each of the three sections are the same, which the terms of the prophecy do not require, or support.

Leviticus 26 outlines four periods of “seven times,” as the duration of Israel’s punishment, if they failed to keep the covenant. In the last of these, God would remember his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and become reconciled with Israel. In the New Testament, the promises to Abraham are identified with the gospel. [Gal. 3:8]

The four periods of seven times in Leviticus 26 correspond to the Jews’ exile in Babylon, plus the three sections of the 70 weeks, each of which is “seven times.” In his prayer of confession Daniel said that the curse written in the law of Moses was poured out upon Israel. [Dan. 9:11] This alludes to the four periods of seven times in Lev. 26. The statement implies that the 70 years of exile in Babylon was the first of four periods of seven times. In the first of the four periods of seven times, the unit for a “time” is ten years.

The three sections of the 70 weeks, 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and one week, correspond to the last three periods of “seven times” in Lev. 26. Each section of the 70 weeks is seven times, where the units of a “time” vary in each section. The 70 years of exile ended at the decree of Cyrus, B.C. 538.

The second period of 7 times, which is the first section of the 70 weeks, began with the decree of Cyrus, who Isaiah said would give the word to build both Jerusalem, and the temple. Isaiah wrote:

“Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish; That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof: That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers: That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” [Isa. 44:24-28]

The first two sections of the 70 weeks combined span the time from Cyrus’ decree (B.C. 538) to the ministry of Jesus, 28 A.D., which is 567 years. This is easily divided into a period of 62 weeks, or sevens, which is 434 years, plus a period of 133 years, which is 7 x 19. The units of the first section of the 70 weeks correspond to 7 weeks of leap years of 13 months, which span 19 years. Seven weeks of leap years is 133 years.

In the second section, a “time” is 62 years, which was the age of Darius (or Cyrus) when he became king of Babylon. [Dan. 5:31]

The last section of the 70 weeks is one week, or seven times, and it consists of two parts, one being before the crucifixion, and the other after it. Throughout this week, Jesus confirms his covenant with many. Daniel 9:27 says, “And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” The first portion is three and a half natural years, the ministry of Jesus. The final section is three and a half symbolic years, or “a time, times and a half,” which spans all the time of the church during the present age. In this period, the little horn of Daniel 7 makes war with the saints, and overcomes them.

Daniel wrote:

“Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.  I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.” [Dan. 7:19-26]

The fourth kingdom in the prophecy represents the Roman empire. The prophecy shows that the little horn arises in the days of the Roman empire, and continue to the end of the age. This cannot be a human individual, but its “eyes like the eyes of man,” and its “mouth speaking great things against the most High” indicate that it represents a human point of view, which opposes the divine one.

John wrote that the spirit of antichrist was already in the world, in the first century. [1 John 4:3] The little horn of Dan. 7 depicts the antichrist spirit.

The numbers provided in Daniel 12:11-12, 1,335 days, and 1,290 days, and the time periods of Revelation 11:2-3, 11 and 12:6, 42 months, 1,260 days, and three days and a half all correspond to “a time, times and a half.”

These periods of time are not literal days, or a natural three and a half years, but considered together as a series, they depict a diminishing period of time, which corresponds to the remaining time of the church, when the Gospel is being preached in the world.

In the series 1,335 days, 1,290 days, 1,260 days, 42 months, 3.5 days, each symbolic period extends to the end of the age. The 1,335 days, being greater than three and a half natural years, represents all the time from Jesus’ resurrection to the end of the age. In the present age, Jesus is in heaven. Hebrews says of Jesus:

“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. [Heb. 10:12-14]

Daniel wrote: “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.” [Dan. 12:12]

The 1,260 days correspond to the time of the ministry of the two witnesses, (symbols of the Spirit of God and the Scriptures,) and the period when the woman of Revelation 12 is nourished in the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God. [Rev. 12:6]

The 1,290 days of Dan. 12:11 is intermediate between the 1,335 days and the 1,260 days, and is connected with the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. when sacrifices ceased, and signifies the remaining time after the abomination of desolation was set up. In the first century, about the time of the destruction of the earthly temple, the abomination causing desolation was introduced into the heavenly temple. The Church was made desolate by false teachers, which have not gone away. They are represented by Gentiles who tread the holy city under foot. [Luke 21:24; Rev. 11:2]

The symbolic three years and a half is represented by 42 months in Rev. 11:2, but they are not natural months; the number of natural months in three and a half years is 43 or more, not 42. At least one year of 13 months is included in a natural three and a half years. But these periods are symbolic, and spiritual, not natural. They represent portions of the age of the Church remaining after specific events in her history.