PRINCIPLES OF BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION

Jeff Wehr - Understanding the Bible Part One

Jeff Wehr - Understanding the Bible Part Two

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We serve a God of order, not of confusion. He has given us the Ten Commandments, health laws, and has established the laws of nature. Would He who has set each star in its perfect course, who has established the heavenly hosts in their perfect order, then inspire His Word in a haphazard sort of way? Absolutely not! There are principles or laws that He has set forth to understand His Word. The Bible says: 


“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:20–21. 


The Bible is its own interpreter. It is a perfect chain inspired and created with certain principles to unlock its meaning. Any misinterpretation or private interpretation is a matter of breaking the perfect chain or using the wrong principles. 


We are living in the end of time, we cannot afford to be misled and deceived. Every wind of doctrine is blowing throughout Christianity. The only way to detect that which is false is to know the truth. Therefore, let’s look at the principles of Biblical interpretation and then at the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. 


Principle One: The Scriptures are Christ-centered 

Jesus said, “Search the scriptures. . . . they are they that testify of Me.” John 5:39. Christ is the center of the Scriptures. The main theme throughout the Bible is the salvation of man; the key to man’s salvation is Jesus. 


Principle Two: Compare Scripture with Scripture 

We are not to superimpose principles from other disciplines upon the Bible, nor are we to interpret scripture based upon our own whim. Scripture is explained by scripture; the Word of God is a perfect whole with one portion explaining another. 


For example, God describes His true church as a pure woman, or virgin. Paul speaking to the Corinthian church, said: 


“For I am jealous over you [the church] with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you [the church] to one husband, that I may present you [the church] as a chaste virgin to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2. See also Jeremiah 6:2; Isaiah 51:16; Ephesians 5:22–35. 


God’s church in the end of time is also likened to a woman. 


“And the dragon [Satan] was wroth with the woman [God’s true church], and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [the church in the end of time], which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. 24


God’s true church in the end of time will be keeping all of God’s ten commandments, and they will possess the “testimony of Jesus.” What is the testimony of Jesus? By comparing scripture with scripture, we discover its meaning. Revelation 19:10 reads:

 

“. . . for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” 


God’s true church in these last days will keep all the commandments of God and will possess the prophetic gift. 


Principle Three: The Church is the Israel of Today

All the prophecies concerning Israel in these last days are in reference to the church, not the state of Israel or the Jews. Paul said:


“They which are the children of the flesh [the biological descendants of Abraham], these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise [those who have accepted Jesus as the Messiah] are counted for the seed.” Romans 9:8.


“If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed [spiritual descendants], and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:29 


“They which are of faith [in Christ as the Messiah], the same are the children of Abraham.” Galatians 3:7.


“For there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye [the true Israel] are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.


“And as many as walk according to this rule [the rule of following Jesus as the Messiah], peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” Galatians 6:16.


“For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the [biological] seed of Abraham, are they all children.” Romans 9:6–7. 


The Jewish nation was the church of the Old Testament. However, with their rejection of Christ, who is the head of the church, they ceased to be God’s true church any longer. Therefore, Jesus said to the Jewish leaders: 


“The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation [of believers in Jesus as the Messiah] bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Matthew 21:43. 


As it was prophesied, 

“The stone [Jesus Christ] which the builders [the Jewish nation] refused is become the head stone of the corner.” Psalm 118:22.


Paul said:

“Now therefore ye [the Gentile world] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” Ephesians 2:19–20.25


If we err in believing that the Israel of God still refers to the Jewish nation, then our interpretation of the prophecies will be almost singularly focused in the Middle East. However, the prophecies clearly have a worldwide application. And the greatest battle is not between warring nations, but between self and sin. 


As we will see in our next two principles, the church inherits the privileges and promises of ancient Israel. This happens because all the privileges and promises are for those who accept Jesus as the Messiah. 


Principle Four: The Worldwide Symbolized by the Local

God uses the literal and local names and places of the past to help us understand more fully the kinds of events that will take place on a worldwide scale. The following will show how the church is referred to in the Bible by the same names as the Jewish nation of old:


The church is referred to as:

A holy nation (1 Peter 2:9) 

A holy or royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9) 

A peculiar treasure (1 Peter 2:9)

God’s people (1 Peter 2:9)

A holy people (1 Peter 1:15, 16)

A people of inheritance (Ephesians 1:18)

The bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23–33; 2 Corinthians 11:2; James 4:4)

Zion (Romans 10:13; 11:26; 1 Peter 2:6–8)


It is not the church alone that is called by all the same names found in the Old Testament. Babylon, the enemy of Israel, figures prominently in the book of Revelation, chapters 14–18. Many believe that Babylon in these chapters refers to Iran or Iraq. They believe this because they still hold that the Jewish nation is still the Israel of Bible prophecy. However, there is not a literal Babylonian empire any more. In fact, God said that it was not to rise again. The Bible says, “Because of the wrath of the Lord it [Babylon] shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: everyone who goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.” Jeremiah 50:13.


Babylon means confusion. Even though there is not a literal Babylonian empire today, there is a spiritual or symbolic Babylon that is causing much confusion within the church and in the world. The book of Revelation refers to her as a harlot, Revelation 17:5. The harlot represents the false church, while the virtuous woman of Revelation 12 represents God’s true church. This harlot church is called the “MOTHER OF HARLOTS,” Revelation 17:5. This means that she is the main apostate church, and that she has daughters who have joined in her apostasy. 


It should be noted that the apostle John was inspired to use over three hundred names, places, and phrases from the Old Testament to write the book of Revelation. Therefore, this principle becomes very important to us. For us to have a correct understanding of these worldwide events in the end of time, we must first study the literal and local applications found in the Old Testament. 


Principle Five: The Bible Interprets its own Symbols

The books of Daniel and Revelation use a lot of signs and symbols. We must allow the Bible to interpret them for us. Let us consider some of these symbols below:


Babylon. . . . . . . . .Religious apostasy (Genesis 10:8–10; Revelation 17:1–5; 18:2, 3)

Balaam. . . . . . . . . Compromise (Numbers 22:5–25; Revelation 2:14)

Beast. . . . . . . . . . .Political power or kingdom (Daniel 7:23; Revelation 13–19)

Black. . . . . . . . . . .Apostasy or sin (Exodus 10:21–23; Jeremiah 4:20–28; Revelation 6:5)

Blood. . . . . . . . . . Life (Leviticus 17:11; Deuteronomy 12:23; Revelation 17:6)

Crowns. . . . . . . . .Kingship or victory (Ezekiel 21:26; James 1:12; Revelation 13:1)

Day. . . . . . . . . . . .Literal year (Ezekiel 4:5–6; Numbers 14:33–34)

Dragon. . . . . . . . .Satan or his agencies (Revelation 12:7–9)

Egypt. . . . . . . . . . Atheism (Exodus 5:2; Daniel 11:42; Revelation 11:8)

Harlot. . . . . . . . . .Apostate church (Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 3:1–9; Revelation 17:5)

Heads. . . . . . . . . .Governments (Daniel 7:6; Revelation 17:3, 10)

Horns. . . . . . . . . .Kings or kingdoms (Daniel 8:5, 21, 22; Revelation 17:12)

Image. . . . . . . . . .Likeness (Exodus 20:4; Romans 8:29; Revelation 13:14)

Israel. . . . . . . . . . Followers of Christ (Romans 9:6–8; Galatians 3:9)

Jezebel. . . . . . . . .Apostasy, union of church and state (1 Kings 21:25; Revelation 2:20)

Oil. . . . . . . . . . . . Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:2–6; Revelation 4:5)

Sickle. . . . . . . . . .End of the world (Matthew 13:39; Revelation 14:14)

Time. . . . . . . . . . Literal year (Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32; 7:25; Revelation 12:6, 14)

Two witnesses. . Old and New Testament (Zechariah 4:1–14; Revelation 11:3)

Waters. . . . . . . . Populous area (Revelation 17:15)

White. . . . . . . . . Purity (Isaiah 1:18; Revelation 6:2; 19:11)


There are many other symbols which we will interpret as they are presented in the prophecies. But remember, we need not guess what these symbols mean. The symbols are interpreted for us by the Bible.


Principle Six: The Significance of Bible Names

A great deal of emphasis is placed upon Biblical names. “Adam called his wife’s name Eve [meaning “living”]; because she was the mother of all living.” Genesis 3:20.


Daniel means God is my judge. As we study through the book of Daniel we will find God judging Babylon (5:26–28), God beginning His judgment of the whole human race (7:9–10), and the final judgment when God renders unto every man according to his deeds (12:1).


This principle will become more important when we come to the sixth plague in Revelation 16. Here is described the battle of Armageddon. Armageddon means mountain of slaughter. There is no literal place in the Middle East called Armageddon. However, all the wicked will be slain in the worldwide battle between a rebellious planet and the armies of heaven.


Principle Seven: The Spiritual Application

The Bible says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and comfort of the Scripture might have hope.” Romans 15:4. The Bible is not only a true record of the past, but it was “written for our learning,” that we might understand the things which have happened and will happen to us. 


Paul wrote:

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11. 


The experiences of ancient Israel were written “for our admonition,” especially for those “whom the ends of the world are come.”


Ancient Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the plagues that fell upon the Egyptians, Israel’s captivity to the Babylonians, the building of the Temple and its services, were written as types or examples, illustrating the experiences of God’s church in the end of time. 


Spiritual applications are based on literal things. As the Bible says: 

“That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.” 1 Corinthians 15:46. 


Consequently, the book of Revelation refers to the events of the past to teach the reader the future spiritual and symbolic meaning. 


One of the best examples of this principle is the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. The destruction of literal Jerusalem in AD 70 by the Romans is a foreshadowing of the destruction of the world. As Jerusalem of old was warned of her impending doom, so shall the world be warned. As the early Christians were given a sign to flee the city, so will God’s last-day people be warned to leave the cities. See Matthew 24:15; Luke 21:20; Revelation 18:1–4. Even within Jesus’ sermon in Matthew 24, He speaks of the destruction of literal Jerusalem (verses 15–20), and also the destruction of the world (verses 21–31).


Principle Eight: Repeat and Enlarge

The principle of repeat and enlarge is often used in the prophecies of both Daniel and Revelation. As you will see, the prophetic vision found in Daniel 2 was repeated and enlarged upon in Daniel 7. The image found in Daniel 2 made up of four different metals correspond exactly to the four different beasts in Daniel 7. The four metals represent the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The four beasts in chapter seven represent the same empires. By using different symbols in the repetition of these prophetic visions, we are able to acquire additional information. 


As these prophetic visions are repeated, more attention is given to the latter part of the vision. This is to help us gather more information about last day events. Therefore, by the time we get to the fourth prophetic vision found in Daniel 11 we have considerably more information about last day events than we had in the first vision found in chapter two. 

daniel

 The principle of repeat and enlarge applies to our own personal lives. We are creatures of habit created in the image of God. As we repeat thoughts, words, and actions that are kind and pure we become not only more likely to repeat them again, but we open up new possibilities of doing good. As we keep studying our Bibles, especially the life and teachings of Christ, we not only learn the deeper things of God but we also learn to love Him more. 


Principle Nine: A Day Represents a Year

This principle is essential for us to understand the time prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. Is the time prophesy of Daniel 8:14, the 2300 day prophecy, 2300 literal days or 2300 years? Is the time prophecy of 1260 days found in Revelation (12:6, 14), 1260 literal days or 1260 years? You can imagine how important it is for us to know whether we are dealing with 1260 days or 1260 years. 


The Bible makes clear that a day represents a year in Bible prophecy. The Bible says:

“And our children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.” Numbers 14:33, 34. See also Ezekiel 4:5, 6. 


Priniciple Ten: The Importance of Numbers

Three represents the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. However, there is a counterfeit: dragon, beast, and false prophet. See Revelation 12; 13; 16:13, 19; 19:19–20. 


Four represents things that are worldwide like the “four corners of the earth.” Revelation 20:8.


Six is the number for Babylon. The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, built a golden image that is 60 cubits high and 6 cubits wide. See Daniel 3:1. Six instruments are played to deceive the people to worship the golden image. See Daniel 3:5. The Babylonian king, Belteshazzar, worshipped six gods. See Daniel 5:23. When we get to the book of Revelation, spiritual Babylon is also associated with the number six. Spiritual Babylon is mentioned as a harlot woman six times. See Revelation 17:3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 18. There are six things associated with her dress. See Revelation 17:4. The number for spiritual Babylon is 666. See Revelation 13:18.


Seven is the number representing completeness. There are seven churches representing the complete Christian era. See Revelation 2–3. There are also seven seals and seven trumpets, which also refers to the complete Christian era. The seven last plagues represent all the plagues which will completely destroy this old world. There are seven days in a complete week. For more “sevens” within the book of Revelation, turn to page 32.


Eight represents a resurrection from death or going from old to new. There were eight people on Noah’s ark going from an old world to a new world. Jesus was resurrected on the first day of the week or the eighth—the day after the seventh. This world will exist for six millennia before the second coming of Christ. After this, our world will lie in waste for the seventh millennium. See Revelation 20:1–4. When the eighth millennium begins, Christ will create a new heaven and a new earth. See Revelation 20–22. 

Twelve is the number of God’s kingdom. There were the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve disciples. The New Jerusalem has twelve foundations and twelve pearly gates. See Revelation 21:12, 14.


Thirteen is the number representing rebellion. The term dragon, representing Satan and his agencies, occurs thirteen times in the book of Revelation. See Revelation 12:3, 4, 7 (twice), 9, 13, 16, 17, 13:2, 4, 11; 16:13; 20:2.


Megiddo, which is the root word for Armageddon, is mentioned thirteen times. Joshua 12:21; 17:11; Judges 1:27; 5:19; 1 Kings 4:12; 9:15; 2 Kings 9:27; 23:29, 30; 1 Chronicles 7:29; 2 Chronicles 35:22; Zechariah 12:11; Revelation 16:16. The thirteenth time is the battle of Armageddon, the last great battle or rebellion of our world against her Creator and Redeemer.


Principle Eleven: The Triple Application

As we have seen, the Old Testament was a literal account of literal Israel, using literal names and places. During the church era, these same names and places are used symbolically in prophecy describing the church and her experiences. However, when Christ creates a new heaven and a new earth at the beginning of the eighth millennium, things become literal again. For example, there was a literal Jerusalem in the Old Testament, and there is a spiritual Jerusalem in the New Testament: the church. See Revelation 11:1, 2; 14:20; Joel 2:32. However, at the commencement of the eighth millennium there will be a literal New Jerusalem. See Revelation 21:22.


In the Old Testament there was a literal nation called Israel. Today, spiritual Israel is made up of believers throughout the world. However, not so long from now, Jesus will gather His people from the four corners of the earth. Then once again, there will be one literal nation. My prayer is that we will all be found among them.

Additional Notes on the Day-Year Principle


In Revelation 12:6, we read, “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Here we have a time prophecy concerning the true church [the woman] fleeing from persecution [into the wilderness] where God takes care of her for 1,260 days or “a thousand two hundred and threescore [60] days.”


Now the question arises, is this time prophecy referring to 1260 literal days or 1260 years? To answer that question let us turn to the book of Numbers 14:33, 34, where we read, “And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.” 


In the previous passage of Numbers 14:33, 34, we have the words “day” and “year” closely linked together in a prophetic setting. God had promised to Israel the land of Canaan. But in their faithlessness, they sent out spies to make sure it was safe to enter in. All but two of the twelve spies came back with an evil report. The ten faithless spies said, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we… The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” Numbers 13:31–33.


Therefore, the Lord punished Israel for her faithlessness, and declared that for each faithless day that they searched out the land, they would remain in the wilderness for a year. “After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.”


Another clear example of this principle is found in the book of Ezekiel 4:4–6, which reads, “Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of days, three hundred and ninety days; so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.” 


The prophet Ezekiel was ordered of God to lay on his left side for three hundred and ninety days to represent the three hundred and ninety years of Israel’s iniquity. Then the prophet Ezekiel was asked to symbolically represent the iniquity of Judah as well by laying on his right side for forty days, representing Judah’s forty years of iniquity. As the Lord told Ezekiel, “I have appointed thee each day for a year.” 


Therefore, when we come to Revelation 12:6, we have a time prophecy of 1260 days. By applying the day for a year principle, we understand that this time prophecy represents 1260 years.


What does the history have to say about this specific verse? 

“In the sixth century the papacy had become firmly established. Its seat of power was fixed in the imperial city, and the bishop of Rome was declared to be the head over the entire church. Paganism had given place to the papacy. The dragon had given to the beast ‘his power, and his seat, and great authority.’ Revelation 13:2. And now began the 1260 years of papal oppression foretold in the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5-7. “Christians were forced to choose either to yield their integrity and accept the papal ceremonies and worship, or to wear away their lives in dungeons, or to suffer death by the rack, the fagot, or the headman’s ax. Now were fulfilled the words of Jesus: ‘Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolk, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.’ Luke 21:16, 17. “Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than ever before, and the world became a vast battlefield. For hundreds of years the church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity. Thus says the prophet: ‘The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.’ Revelation 12:6.


“The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened. Faith was transferred from Christ, the true foundation, to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their earthly mediator and that none could approach God except through him; and, further, that he stood in the place of God to them and was therefore to be implicitly obeyed. A deviation from his requirements was sufficient cause for the severest of punishment to be visited upon the bodies and souls of the offenders. Thus the minds of the people were turned away from God to fallible, erring, and cruel men, nay, more, to the prince of darkness himself, who exercised his power through them.” The Great Controversy, 54, 55


“The forty and two months are the same as the ‘time and times and the dividing of time,’ three years and a half, or 1260 days, of Daniel 7—the time during which the papal power was to oppress God’s people. This period, as stated in preceding chapters, began with the supremacy of the Papacy, a.d. 538, and terminated in 1798.” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 439.


“The periods here mentioned—‘forty and two months,’ and ‘a thousand two hundred and threescore days’—are the same, alike representing the time in which the church of Christ was to suffer oppression from Rome. The 1260 years of papal supremacy began in a.d. 538, and would therefore terminate in 1798.” Ibid., 266.


It is clear that the 1260 day prophecy found in Revelation 12:6 refers to 1260 years, representing the oppression of papal rule from 538 to 1798. This 1260 years of persecution is referred in Revelation 13:5–7 as “forty-two months” and in Daniel 7:25 and Revelation 12:14 as a “time, times, and the dividing of time.” I would like us to take time to understand why 1260 days is the same as 42 months and the “time, times, and the dividing of time.”


If I were to ask you how many days are in an average month, you would say “thirty.” You would not say “twenty-eight days” because that would only represent 336 days in one year (28 days x 12 months). You would not say “twenty-nine days” because that would only represent 348 days in one year (29 days x 12 months). You would not say “thirty-one days” because that would represent 372 days in one year (31 days x 12 months). The only logical answer is “thirty days” in one month, which equals 360 days in a prophetic year. As we know, there are exactly 365 days in a literal year, but we will see that God Himself has defined a prophetic year as 360 days. 


But let us carry on with our math. If we multiply thirty days in an average month with forty-two months, do we get 1260 days? The answer is “Yes.” Forty-two months is the same as 1260 days. But then how would we logically understand “a time, times, and the dividing of time”? 


As we will see “a time” equals one year. “times” equals two years, and “the dividing of time” equals six months. But what is one year, plus two years, plus six months? Isn’t that forty-two months? Yes, it is. And what did we conclude concerning forty-two months? It is the same as 1260 days. Therefore, “a time, times, and the dividing of time” must also equal 1260 days. That seems simply enough, but we still have to prove it. Now, one way to prove that 1260 days equals “a time, and times, and the dividing of time (or half of a time),” is to turn our attention back to Revelation chapter twelve. In this chapter we have these two time prophecies recorded.


“The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Revelation 12:6.

“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.” Revelation 12:14. 

The first thing that we want to notice is that these two verses are speaking about the exact same thing. Notice the comparisons:


Verse 6 woman-Verse 14 woman

Verse 6 fled-Verse 14 fly

Verse 6 wilderness-Verse 14 wilderness

Verse 6 place prepared-Verse 14 her place

Verse 6 feed-Verse 14 nourished

1260 days  time, and times, and half a time

Both verses are referring to the time when the true church (the woman) was being persecuted by the false church (the church of Rome). Because the persecution was so severe the woman (God’s true church) had to flee into the wilderness and hide amongst the peaks and valleys of the mountains. God would feed or nourish His persecuted church for those 1260 years under papal rule from 538 to 1798. As we read earlier in The Great Controversy, page 54, 55

 

“Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than ever before, and the world became a vast battlefield. For hundreds of years the church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity. Thus says the prophet: ‘The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.’” Revelation 12:6.

 

It would seem evident that 1260 days and “a time, and times, and half a time” would represent the exact same period of time since they refer to the exact same players and events. But there is another way to prove that they are synonymous. By using the prophet’s code we know that the 1260 days and the “time, times, and dividing of time” are the same. Let us go back and look at chapter twelve of Revelation. 


Verses 1, 2: The Early Church Described 

Verses 3–6: Satan’s Three Attacks

Satan attacks the church through the centuries for 1260 years. Verse 6

Verses 7, 8: War in Heaven 

Verse 9: Satan Cast to the Earth 

Verse 10: Victory of Christ

Verse 11: Victory of His People 

Verses 12, 13a: Satan Cast to the Earth 

Verse 13b: War on the Earth 

Verses 14–17a: Satan’s Three Attacks 

Satan attacks the church through the centuries for 1260 years. Verse 14

Verse 17: God’s Last Day Church Described 


Notice that the 1260 day prophecy in verse six is perfectly mirrored by the “time, and times, and half of time” in verse 14. These two time prophecies are on the exact opposite side of the center, which shows that they are related. How are they related? They refer to the exact same period of time. Therefore, if I can apply the day for a year principle to the 1260 days, then I can apply that same principle to the “time, and times, and half a time.” 


But let us take this a step further. Some are troubled that I say a year in Bible prophecy represents 360 days and not 365 days. Now I do not simply take the liberty to say a Biblical year is 360 days, God does. Let me explain. 


The foundational prophecy for both Daniel and Revelation is Daniel chapter two. In this chapter, God gave king Nebuchadnezzar a dream. In that dream, the king saw a great image. The image was made of different metals. The head was made of gold, the chest and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet of iron and clay. We know that the image represents the succession of world empires beginning with Babylon as the head of gold. But notice what the prophet Daniel says to the king, “But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days.” Daniel 2:28. 


Did you catch that? God had given the king a dream to show him “what shall be in the latter days.” The word for “latter” is the Hebrew word akh-ar-eeth. It means “last,” “end,” in other words “the future.” Does this mean that we are to interpret the details of the dream to all future events? Certainly not. 


This is a very important point. When it comes to the prophecies of Daniel chapters two, seven, eight, eleven, and twelve, we are not to throw these prophecies into the future, even though they point to the future. Prophecy is directional, or progressive. Each one of these prophetic pictures begins in the day of the prophet, and then takes us on a wonderful ride through history until we come to the end of time. After all, did not God interpret the image of Daniel chapter two for us by saying the head of gold represented the kingdom of Babylon? 


While the dream points to the “latter days,” it begins in the day of the prophet. The head of gold represents the Babylonian empire that rule from 605 BC to 539 BC. Then came the Medes and Persians represented by the silver breast and arms. They ruled from 539 BC to 331 BC. Greece became the third world empire by defeating the Medes and Persians in 331 BC. They were represented by the brass belly and thighs, and ruled until 168 BC. The fourth kingdom, Rome, defeated the Greeks in 168 BC, and is represented by the iron legs. But the Roman Empire would not last forever. Eventually it disintegrated into ten smaller kingdoms by AD 476. This is represented by the ten toes of iron and clay. But in the end, at the Second Coming of Christ, all earthly empires will come to an end. Christ’s kingdom alone will rule forever and ever.Therefore, the prophecy of Daniel chapter two takes us from the distant empire of Babylon in 605 BC, and brings us to the glorious event of Christ’s return. 


Why is this important? It helps us understand that these prophecies in Daniel cover long periods of time. This itself does not prove that the time prophecies have to be of some long duration with a day representing a year. But we will see in the commentary section that the events described in these prophecies do logically cover periods longer than 1260 literal days. 


Now I want to consider another important point, which has to do with God changing the meaning of a “year.” Let us begin by reading Daniel 2:20, 21. “Daniel answered and said,  ‘Blessed be the name of God forever and ever; for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings; he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.’”


Here we learn that wisdom and might belong to the Lord. Our all-wise God “changeth the times and the seasons.” The word “times” in Daniel 2:21 comes from the Aramaic word ‘ddan, which means a “set time,” “specific time,” or technically a “year.” The word “changeth,” from the Hebrew word “sh’ra, means “to alter” or “to change.” The word “alter” means to “replace the meaning of a thing with another meaning.” Therefore, God is going to alter the meaning of a year.


God has not changed the number of days in a year for the rotation of our planet around the sun. We still have 365 days in a calendar year. But the Bible teaches us that God did change or alter the meaning of a year for His prophetic word. God has chosen not to use 365 days in a year to calculate time prophecies. He has chosen to “change” or to “alter” the meaning of a year to 360 days to calculate time prophecies. 


God applied this principle in the time of the flood. The Bible says, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of the heaven were opened. . . . And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” In these verses, we know that there was five months from the seventeenth day of the second month to the seventeenth day of seventh month. Moses tells us that these five months represent 150 days. Hence, in computing time in the Bible there are 30 days in a month, 360 days in a prophetic year, and 1260 days in a span of three and one-half years, or forty months.


Additional Notes for the use of the Number Seven in Revelation

Seven Churches-Revelation 1:20

Seven Seals-Revelation 5:1

Seven Trumpets-Revelation 8:2

Seven Last Plagues-Revelation 15:6

Seven Spirits-Revelation 1:4

Seven Golden Candlesticks-Revelation 1:12

Seven Eyes-Revelation 5:6

Seven Heads-Revelation 13:1

Seven Thunders-Revelation 10:4

 Other Sevens

There is a seven-fold description of Jesus Revelation 1:5, 6, 8

The “Word of God” is mentioned seven times Revelation 1:2, 9; 6:9; 17:17; 19:9, 13; 20:4

God Almighty Revelation 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7; 16:14; 19:15; 21:22

“Patience” is mentioned seven times Revelation 1:9; 2:2, 3, 19; 3:10; 13:10; 14:12

“Earthquake” is mentioned seven times Revelation 6:12; 8:5; 11:13 twice; 11:19; 16:18 twice

“Blessed” There are seven beatitudes Revelation 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14

References to Christ’s sword Revelation 1:16; 2:12, 16; 13:10; 19:15; 19:21 Twice

Christ’s shed blood, and Him being slain Revelation 1:5; 5:6, 9, 12; 7:14; 12:11; 13:8

Jesus lives Revelation 1:18 (twice); 4:9; 4:10; 5:14; 10:6; 15:7

Judgment is mentioned seven times Revelation 14:7; 15:4; 16:7; 17:1; 18:10; 19:2; 20:4

God’s prophets Revelation 10:7; 11:18; 16:6; 18:20; 18:24; 22:6; 22:9

Prophecy Revelation 1:3; 11:6; 19:10; 22:7; 22:10; 22:18; 22:19

The book of life Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 20:15; 21:27; 22:19

The kingdom Revelation 1:9; 11:15 (twice); 12:10; 16:10; 17:12; 17:17

The saints Revelation 8:4; 11:18; 13:7; 13:10; 14:12; 17:6; 20:9