The 1,260 days of Revelation 11 and 12
the two witnesses


two witnesses - 2 olive trees

1,260 Days

two witnesses - 2 lampstands



THE 1260 DAYS INTRODUCTION


The 1260 days period is found in Revelation chapter 11. It represents,
along with the allusion to two witnesses, a topic of great interest for
many Christians.


However, surprisingly the vital clue to understanding the 2 witnesses
prophecy is the period of their witness, ie '1260 days'.


Rev 11:3 mentions 1260 days, but many overlook that Rev 12:6 also uses
the same expression!


    Rev  11:3  And I will give power to my two witnesses, and
               they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and
               sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.

    Rev  12:6  Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where
               she has a place prepared by God, that they
               should feed her there one thousand two hundred
               and sixty days.



Many would be surprised to learn the 'Woman, Child and Dragon' account
found in Revelation chapter 12 is the area of Scripture most closely
connected with the two witnesses prophecy.


What could Revelation chapter 11 have to do with chapter 12? At first sight
these two accounts seem to have nothing in common. (The two witnesses story
appears to be placed in the future and the woman/child/dragon narrative
appears to be discussing the birth of Jesus Christ and the persecution of
the church.)


Yet, these two accounts both quote the period,

'one thousand two hundred and sixty days'.


1260 DAYS IN PROPHECY


The period of 1,260 days has commonly been thought to refer to a period
of 3.5 years; during which will occur a prophesied time of tribulation. 


Commentators have commonly considered all the following terms apply to
this future period of anguish.


       a)  one thousand two hundred and sixty days

       b)  forty-two months

       c)  a time and times and half a time


Such a view is incorrect. In reality each phrase refers to a particular
prophetic period of time.


One should note the term 'one thousand two hundred and sixty days' can
only be found in chapters 11 and 12 of the book of Revelation. The phrase
can NOT be found anywhere else in Scripture!


This common reference to the symbolic period of 1,260 days binds the two
witnesses and the woman/child/dragon stories together. However, Revelation
chapters 11 and 12 have more in common than just the period '1260 days'.


REVELATION 11 and 12


Requiring the 1260 days, mentioned in both these two narratives, to represent
the same period of time forces a re-evaluation of the intended meaning of
these accounts.


Matching the structures found in both these accounts we are presented with
the following.

Two Witnesses Woman/Child/Dragon
    1)   Prophesy 1260 days     =       Woman in the wilderness 1260 days.  

    2)   Death of Witnesses     =       Satan descends to the earth.

    3)   Dead 3.5 days          =       Other offspring persecuted over
                                        a period of 'a time, times
                                        and half a time' (ie 3.5 times). 



As can be seen this arrangement highlights an important issue.


It presents the essential relationship between the periods '1260 days'
and '3.5 times'. It shows the 1260 days end when the witnesses die (and
when Satan descends to the earth) and that this is when the period of 3.5
times starts! The terms '1260 days' and '3.5 times' are not describing the
same time period, but two sequential time periods.


It also shows the 3.5 days are a symbolic representation of the period of
3.5 times, during which Satan persecutes the woman's other offspring.


I know at this point the teaching of this web page will start to come into
conflict with previously held beliefs. So many Christians have been taught
the two witnesses are literal people. They have believed this for so long
that it has become central to their belief system. It has become an emotive
issue! (Nevertheless, false beliefs need to be corrected.) 



Once one understands that the period of 3.5 days is a symbolic
representation of the longer period of '3.5 times', and not a literal
3.5 days, then it becomes necessary to seriously consider whether the
two witnesses are themselves symbolic.   


Before trying to identify the two witnesses we should look briefly at the
period of '3.5 times'. The term is also found in Dan 7:25 and Dan 12:7.


    Dan   7:25  He shall speak pompous words against the Most High,
                shall persecute the saints of the Most High,
                and shall intend to change times and law.
                Then the saints shall be given into his hand
                for a time and times and half a time.

    Dan  12:7   Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was
                above the waters of the river, when he held up
                his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and
                swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be
                for a time, times, and half a time; and when the
                power of the holy people has been completely
                shattered, all these things shall be finished.       


It seems the term is associated with the period of greatest trial, the
time when the work of Satan will be at its most destructive.



Having seen the two witnesses prophesy prior to the great tribulation,
we can observe that this arrangement agrees with the teaching of the
seventy weeks prophecy. In Daniel 9:26 the Messiah is cut off before
the city and the sanctuary are destroyed.



Placing the period of 1260 days prior to the period of greatest tribulation
raises another question. What period of time is being represented by the
1260 days?


To assist in answering this question it is necessary to consider the
identity of the witnesses. 


TWO OLIVE TREES - TWO LAMPSTANDS


Refer the following page.


The Two Witnesses

Two Olive Trees and Two Lampstands


It concludes the following.


olive tree lampstand
THE LAW and its
messengers
OLD COVENANT
CHURCH
 NEW TESTAMENT
CHURCH
 THE PROPHETS and
their message(s)


Having considered the identity and form of the witnesses we can now reflect
upon the period of time symbolically referred to as 1,260 days.


THE MEANING OF '1260 DAYS'


The period of 1260 days has been ascribed various meanings;


   - a relatively short end-time period, eg 3.5 years,

   - a period of 1,260 years,

   - the entire period of Christianity,

   - the time of God's work with Israel.



A Relatively Short Period


Since the book of Revelation is a book of symbolism and 'times' is often
thought to literally mean 'years', it is unlikely that a prophetic period
of 3.5 years is being implied. There being an absence of any symbolic 
meaning.

However, another relatively short period could be being implied.

If this was the case the 1260 days would refer to a period of special
end-time witness.


A Period of 1,260 Years?


Various start and end dates may be proposed by different proponents.

However, they usually all suffer from the same weakness. They require
the reader to accept that the key to understanding bible prophecy is
the reading of history books. Many interpretations which expound a 1260
year viewpoint typically have both their start and end dates anchored
by dates derived from history books.


Serious bible students should dismiss such views and look for solutions
which are anchored in biblically relevant history or prophetically
anchored in the end-time. 



The Entire Period of Christianity


When we consider the story flow of Revelation chapter 12 it would appear
the child born to rule the nations is Jesus Christ. This view implies the
1260 day period represents a period of approximately 2,000 years.


There is however two obvious problems with this perspective;

        1)  Scripture introduces a further aspect to what the heavenly
            woman endures in order to give birth.    

            "... she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth."

            The Hebrew word for 'pain' encountered in this Scripture
            is commonly translated 'torment' or 'tormented' in other
            verses. The woman not only suffers the pain of labour,
            but also some form of mental and/or physical torture! 

        2)  Assuming the great tribulation is expected to take place
            within the approaching decades, by what means could the
            '1,260 days' symbolize a period of approximately 2,000
            years?



The Time of God's Work with Israel


The congregation of the children of Israel and recorded Scripture
essentially came into existence at the time of the exodus of the
children of Israel from Egypt.





Initiating the 1,260 days with the Exodus allows us to understand the
torture associated with the birth of the child. That is, it reflected
the hardship the children of Israel were suffering in Egypt prior to
their departure.


To initiate the symbolic '1260 days' with Exodus and end the '1260 days'
in the end-time would mean that it would have to represent a period of
approximately 3,500 years (1,500 years of Old Covenant faith followed by
approximately 2,000 years of Christianity).


In practice if one tries to link from Exodus to the end-time, the symbolic
'1260 days' period could only refer to a period of 3,500 years.

The link, while less obvious than the simple '1 day equals 1 year',
is possible.

       - first, equate 1260 days to 3.5 years;

       - second, using the day for a year principle (eg Ezek 4:6),
         3.5 years can be converted to 3.5 days;

       - third, using the day for a thousand years principle (eg Ps 90:4)
         3.5 days can be converted to 3,500 years.


While at first this may appear overly complex, the mere proven existence
of the 'day for a year' and the 'day for a thousand years' principles have
always implied that the third element 'a year for a thousand years' also
existed.  


Whether in practice bible chronology or bible prophecy actually supports
the existence of such a 3,500 year period also has be considered. In this
respect the reader should consider the solution to the 70 weeks prophecy
presented on this site and the bible chronology compilation.  

It is this fourth solution, ie '1260 days' symbolizes 3,500 years, which
is favoured by the author. 


1260 DAYS SUMMARY


With this new perspective we can now review chapters 11 and 12.


CHAPTER 11


    The Exodus marked the time when Scripture, olive oil, first
    came into existence and when God first brought forth a church
    to reflect His presence.

    These witnesses (Scripture and Church), because they were
    representatives of God, were also granted an element of
    divine protection.

    When their testimony is fully complete God will cause their
    symbolic demise (ie, they will no longer witness). Their
    testimony will be brought to an end in Jerusalem (the symbolic
    city, not the literal city).

    Then a period of religious tribulation will begin.

    When the time of trial has served its purpose God will raise
    the two witnesses to honour.  


CHAPTER 12


    The planet earth (symbolising Jerusalem above) is seen as a
    woman in a heavenly spectacle.

    This woman gives birth to a male child which is destined to
    rule. (The child is initially the nation of Israel, but in
    the end-time the child is composed of the elect.)

    The woman after giving birth takes on a literal form as the
    church of God. 

    Forces opposed to the child and the authority of God attempt
    to kill the child and end up bringing God's anger upon a third
    of the stars of heaven. This could be viewed as a reflection 
    upon the fact that when the children of Israel departed from
    Egypt men 20 years and above fell in the wilderness, because
    they did not wholly follow God.  

    The child matures and just prior to the expiry of the 3,500
    years the child challenges and defeats the forces of spiritual
    evil to gain the right to rule.

    The forces of evil angry at their defeat set out to destroy the
    woman and her other offspring. The woman (ie the church) is
    granted special protection (the evil forces are prevented from
    entirely wiping out the church). The woman's other offspring,
    the shepherds and flocks not associated with the child, endure
    the brunt of the wrath of the symbolic satanic forces.    


NB:  When the two witnesses and the woman/child/dragon accounts
     are compared with each other it can be seen the elect ascend
     to 'heaven' (spiritually rather than physically) prior to the
     tribulation, but the two witnesses are not restored until after
     the tribulation. 




The account of the two witnesses and the woman/child/dragon are both
insets into the normal flow of the book of Revelation. These accounts
are placed just prior to the blowing of the seventh trumpet (ie the
last trump) in order to provide an historical view of events leading
up to the establishment of the future Kingdom of God.






----------------------------------------------------------


Email contact

c-heath@bibleinsight.com
              
Bible Study Index page
Other Topics