A contributor to the Moody Bible Institute Monthly has undertaken recently to darken counsel by words without knowledge "touching the time-honored method of reckoning certain prophetic periods which are given in the books of Daniel and the Revelation."
The writer referred to seeks by appeal to the Jewish calendar to show that the "thousand two hundred and threescore days" of Revelation 12: 6; the "time, and times, and half a time," of verse 14 of the same chapter, as also the "forty and two months" of Revelation 13: 5 cannot all refer to the same period of time for the reason "that forty and two months is never 1260 days."
We said that to show this the writer in the Moody Monthly had resort to the Jewish calendar, remarking that "in this study, of course only the Jewish calendar has to be considered, the prophecies relating as they do to that people."
Now, as a matter of fact, though Daniel 7: 25, which is also referred to, was given through a Jewish prophet, neither that prophecy nor yet the three and a half years, the "forty and two months," or the twelve hundred and sixty days of the 12th and 13th chapters of Revelation, had anything whatever to do with the Jews as such. In both Daniel and the Revelation these time periods had reference to the Papacy and the oppression of Christians by that apostate system.
It matters not that "the Hebrew year of twelve months falls short of our calendar year by some ten or more days." The thing aimed at in every prophecy wherein a year is symbolically represented by a day, is to signify not calendar but solar years. This method of representing real years by days was well understood by the Jews. We find it used first in Numbers 14:34, where we read: "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."
The rendering in the A. R. V. is practically the same, except that instead of "breach of promise," as in the Authorized, the Revised has, "the revoking of My promise," a rendering which seems less harsh, as it implies no failure on God's part.
The next occurrence of the use of a day to represent a year is found in Ezekiel 4:6: "Thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year." The margin says, "A day for a year, a day for a year."
It may help us to understand this whole subject better, especially Revelation 12:14, to remember that among the Jews a year was sometimes called a "time." This is true of Daniel 4:23, when, in interpreting the king's dream recorded in that chapter, the prophet described the period during which Nebuchadnezzar was to be insane as "seven times." Writing of this in his "Antiquities of the Jews," Book X, chapter 10, par. 6, Josephus testifies that the king was in that condition seven years.
So there can be no question as to the meaning of the Biblical expressions, "time and times and the dividing of time" of Daniel 7:25, and the "time, and times, and half a time" of Revelation 12:14, which are clearly the same; namely, three and one-half years; "a thousand two hundred and threescore days," as given in verse 6 of the same chapter, and as "forty and two months," according to verse 5 of chapter 13. Clearly, then, these three forms of expression are variants, each of the others.
Now in such matters there is no attempt at mathematical exactness. Thirty days are counted as a month the world around. Commenting upon the words in Revelation 13:5, "Power was given unto him to continue forty and two months," Dr. Adam Clarke says:
"As these forty-two months are prophetic, they must mean so many years as there are days contained in them; namely, 1260, each month containing thirty days."
Similarly, in his comment on Revelation 12:14, Dr. Clarke remarks that "the period for which the woman should be nourished in the wilderness would be a time, times, and a half; consequently this period is the same with the twelve hundred and sixty days of verse 6. . . . And as each prophetic year contains three hundred and sixty days, so three years and a half will contain precisely twelve hundred and sixty days."
In writing as he has, the contributor to the Moody Monthly runs counter not only to the opinions of the most conservative commentators of the nineteenth century, but, in effect, he charges with folly the divine Spirit who inspired the writings of the prophecies of Daniel and John, as He did also the other Scriptures.
Washington, D. C.