I want to offer some thoughts on the Revelation timescale.
Revelation presents itself as a kind of history, but the events aren't always in sequence.
Different time-periods are mentioned in different places.
As a life-long student of history, I don't feel comfortable until the chronology has been sorted out.
So I'm going to be asking the question; what are the "times" of Revelation?
I'm going to begin, like everybody else, with the "seventy weeks of years" of Daniel ch9, culminating in "the prince who is to come". Daniel says that
the prince will be dominant for "one week", or seven years.
In the middle of the period he sets up "the Abomination that makes desolate".
We know it's the middle, because he then "causes the sacrifice to cease" for the remaining half-week- Daniel ch9 v27.
So the "week" is divided half-way.
The second half is occupied by the prince's war against God's worship, so the implication is that the first half of the week is comparaively
There's another significant time-reference in the last chapter of Daniel. An angel announces that "the end of these wonders" will come after the
passage of "a time, two times, and half a time". This adds up to "three and a half times", so that it can be equated with"half a week". At the end of
this period the "shattering of the power of the holy people" will come to an end, so it obviously relates to the second half-week, when theyre under
the prince's power.
When we come to Revelation, we find that most of the time-periods mentioned are different versions of that same "half-week".
Thus the Beast is "allowed to exercise authority" for a period of forty-two months, or three and a half years- ch13 v5.
The nations are " trampling over the holy city" for the same period- ch11 v2.
The two witnesses in the next verse are giving their testimony for a period of one thousand, two hundred and sixty days- which is forty-two months,
taken at thirty days per month.
Their dead bodies are left in the open for three and a half days. I make that half a week.
Finally, the "woman" who represents God's people will be "nourished in the wilderness" for a period which is described both as "one thousand, two
hundred and sixty days" (ch12 v6) and also as "a time, two times, and half a time" (ch12 v14).
The natural assumption is that these are all different ways of describing the same period, which means that all these events can be correlated.
This period when the Beast "makes war on the saints" is the Revelation equivalent of that period when Daniel's "prince" stops the worship of God.
There's another set of time-references which needs to be brought into the picture.
The ten kings are in power "together with the Beast" for a period of "one hour"- ch17 v12.
And there is a period of "silence in heaven" at the beginning of ch8 which lasts for "half an hour".
We only have to bring these two statements together to realise that they must be related.
The implication is that the "silence in heaven" occupies half the extent of the "one hour".
The first half, presumably, since the second half will be occupied by the trumpets and the vials and all the other expressions of God's wrath against
The expression of God's wrath is a very noisy business ("thunder and voices and flashes of lightning and an earthquake")
So I came to the conclusion, when I was discussing the "silence in heaven", that the phrase indicates a period when God is not
wrath upon the earth.
So the "hour" is divided half-way.
The second half is occupied by God's war against the Beast, while the first half of the hour is comparatively peaceful.
We've now been given two descriptions of the reign of the hostile ruler.
On the one hand, the prince rules for "one week", divided into a peaceful first half and a war-troubled second half.
On the other hand, the Beast rules for "one hour", divided into a peaceful first half and a war-troubled second half.
The obvious conclusion is that the "one week" and the "one hour" are two different labels for the same thing.
Then the peaceful portion of the "week" can be correlated with the peaceful portion of the "hour".
And the war-troubled portion of the "week" can be correlated with the war-troubled portion of the "hour".
On that basis, the timeline of Revelation begins to fall into place.
The first six chapters of Revelation cover the period immediately before
the "hour" starts.
The first event in this period of history is a persecution of God's people.
It's part of the background of ch1 ("who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance").
And the martyred victims of this persecution are the souls who are seen "under the altar" when the fifth seal is opened.
I interpreted the events of ch6 as God's response to this persecution.
Then, at the beginning of ch7, God restrains his agents of judgement, "the four winds of the earth".
In other words, God calls a truce.
The martyrs of the first persecution must be joined (as they've already been told) by the martyrs of a further persecution, and preparations must be
made on both sides.
The 4 Horsemen- Why?
The 4 Horsemen-How?
Souls under the altar
First half-week- "The truce"
What the Beast does during the truce
This will be the time when the Beast is establishing its power.
The beginning of this time coincides with the end of the "Four Horsemen" episode. In fact I've suggested that the Beast becomes dominant on the
strength of being able to lead the world out of that catastrophe.
I've also speculated that the same catastrophe might be the "mortal wound",from which the first Beast of ch13, the political state, makes a dramatic
We're told in Daniel that the prince "shall make a strong covenant with many" for the whole period of one week.
We're told in Revelation ch17 that the ten kings "give over their power and authority to the Beast", so that they rule together for the one hour.
Once again, bringing the two statements together makes it evident that these are two different ways of describing the same thing.
This is about the arrangements between the Beast and subordinate authorities which give it the ability to dominate the world, either directly or
"And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation".
The Beast from the sea- a world-state.
What God does during the truce
God's purpose in calling the truce (as announced in ch7) is to make time for the "sealing" of his servants.
The whole of the period is available for this operation.
Apart from that, it is the period of the "silence in heaven", as already mentioned, the period when God is not
expressing his full wrath upon
Silence in heaven
Halfway point-"The transition"
What the Beast does at the transition
In Daniel, the beginning of the prince's "war with God" is clearly marked.
"They shall set up the Abomination which makes desolate", and the second half-week is the period when "he shall cause sacrifice and offering to
In Revelation, the Beast's "war" on God and the saints is assigned to the half-week, as in Daniel, but no event is named as the starting-point.
I've suggested that the Beast who was claiming to be the returned Christ would set up his own version of the Abomination by compelling the organised
churches to recognise his claim.
Great leader and antichrist
The Beast and the Temple
What God does at the transition
But the reaction from the other side is very clearly marked, in the first few verses of ch8.
An angel comes forward with incense which represents the renewed "prayers of the saints", which are presumably an appeal against what the Beast is now
God's response to these prayers is the very noisy demonstration of wrath that I've already mentioned, showing his determination to deal with the
So that is the end of the "Silence".
Second half week- "the war"
What the Beast does during the war
This period is defined by the Beast's active hostility towards God and his people.
This is the period when the Beast is dominating the world, and "trampling over the holy city".
God's people are reduced to a kind of underground existence, "nourished in the wilderness".
While the "two witnesses", another aspect of God's people, will be giving their testimony and getting themselves killed.
War on the saints
The two witnesses
The sins of the church?
What God does during the war
This is the period of the "seven trumpets" and "seven vials", which culminate in the final destruction of the Beast.
So that's my understanding of Daniel's "week" and "half-week" as filled out in the text of Revelation.
I want to consider, finally, the meaning of these two labels.
In the first place, there's the symbolic meaning of the number seven.
"Seven" is the number which belongs to God.
So a period of "seven years" is a time which has been allocated by God.
The prince can only reign as long as God allows him to reign.
Perhaps the symbolism of "half of seven" is that the ruler takes part of the time which God has given and directs it against him.So it is used
particularly about that half of the week, when he shows his hostility, rather than the more "peaceful" half.
The application of this "three and a half years" label to different events in Revelation is a way of showing the relationship between them. It ties
them together, and it ties them all together with the "half-week" of Daniel's prince. It makes it clear that they all belong to the same time-period,
the same set of circumstances.
But the symbolic meaning of these numbers makes me reluctant to find a literal meaning in them as well. In other words. I question whether it was
really part of God's intention that people should use them as a basis for making date-calculations and marking days off on a calendar.
Revelation announces itself to be "a call for the endurance and faith of the saints"- ch13 v10
How much endurance and faith would they need, if they were able to work out in advance exactly when their troubles would be coming to an end?
I'm not convinced that the figures were provided for that purpose.
edit on 3-10-2010 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)