Summary: Gives my understanding of the three-and-one half year period.
TIME FACTORS IN THE DRAMA OF
THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION
I. FACTORS WHlCH MAKE UNDERSTANDlNG DIFFICULT
1. First, we are dealing with visions which are often highly symbolical Let me illustrate.
Suppose l have a dream which lasts a total of seven minutes. In the dream I see one week of my life pictured. When I ask someone what the dream means, he tells me that each day of the picture represents seven years of my life.
Sunday in my dream represents the first seven years of my life. Monday represents the next seven years; and so on. We shall call the seven minutes in which I had the dream sleeping time. The one week of my life we shall call picture time. The forty-nine years of my life we shall call interpreted time. It is my belief that most of the time factors in the Book of Revelation refer to Picture time. These time factors need to be interpreted.
2. A second factor which makes understanding very difficult if one does not detect this factor is the presence in the vision of interludes which give previews and flashbacks. This is a very common dramatic technique. Its importance in the interpretation of the Book of Revelation has not been sufficiently realized. See my printed material on Scenes, Judgment Sequences, and Interludes in the Book of Revelation. Notice that the interludes always occur between the sixth and seventh section of one series, or between the seventh section of one series and the first of the next.
3. Thirdly, we are dealing with the divine and with the human; with time and with eternity; with periods of normal human history and with periods in which time will be relatively unimportant; when time is, when time is suspended, and when time will be no more.
II. MY UNDERSTANDING OF THE THREE-AND-ONE-HALF YEAR PERIOD
I had read the Book of Revelation fifty or more times, had carefully studied it, and had taught it to many Seminary classes. Just a few years ago I came to what I believe was a new understanding of the Book. I was reading the introduction to the very difficult eleventh chapter.
Rev. 11:1-2 Compare Phil. 3:1-3; Rom. 2; Rev. 11:8 and Luke 21:24
I did what most of John’s readers could have done. I compared these verses with what Jesus said about the destruction of Jerusalem which took place in John’s generation,
I then made a hypothesis. I suggested to myself that the forty-two months are picture time and represent in interpreted time the remaining times of the Gentiles. I then tested this hypothesis with all the other occurrences of the phrase or its equivalent in the Book of the Revelation.
As I read verse two I had to ask myself why there were two witnesses. My mind suggested these seven possible answers.
1. These two witnesses represent the spiritual (olive trees Zechariah) and human (candlesticks Zechariah) forces through which the battle for the Gospel is fought.
2. Often champions for a cause are chosen in pairs.
3. The beast and the false prophet are the opposing pair.