Are the 1,260 days mentioned in Revelation a reference to the first half or to the second half of the 70th Week?

Email Received:

I think I've heard that the 42 months and 1,260 days mentioned in Rev. 11:2,3 are describing the first half of the final 7 years (the 70th Week of Daniel). But I saw in one of your commentaries that you believe they represent the last half of the 7 years. How so?

Ted’s Response:

There are two ways to show that the 1,260-day period is representative of the second half of the 70th Week:

1) Jesus said,

So when you see standing in the holy place "the abomination that causes desolation," spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15,16)
Let's compare what Jesus said with passages written by Daniel and by John. Firstly, Jesus was referring directly to the following prophecy in the book of Daniel:
He will confirm a covenant with many for one "seven." In the middle of the "seven" he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:27)
From this prophetically significant verse, we can see that the "abomination that causes desolation" will be set up at or after the middle of the final seven-year period (the 70th Week).

Secondly, John wrote about the latter-day fleeing of the Israelites, of which Jesus had spoken:

The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:6)
So Jesus spoke of a time when some type of "abomination that causes desolation" will be set up in the "holy place" in Jerusalem. This will be at or after the middle of the 70th Week, which will be the final seven years of this age prior to Jesus' return to earth to rule and reign.

Jesus then warned those in Judea (the region in which Jerusalem is located), at that time, to flee. Those who will heed the warning to escape (very possibly to the mountain-desert location of Petra, in western Jordan) will be protected for 1,260 days, which also is 42 months or 3½ years—the second half of the 70th Week.

Why would the people, in Jerusalem at that time, need to flee? It is at the midpoint that there will be a great battle in heaven, with Michael and his angels booting out Satan and his angels (Revelation 12:7-9). Presently, although Satan's throne is not in heaven, he continues to have free access to it, as shown in Job 1:6,7, 2:1,2. That will end at or near the middle of the 70th Week, causing him to be filled with fury on the earth, knowing that his time is short (Revelation 12:12). He will have "a time, times, and half a time" (1 year + 2 years + ½ year = 3½ years) remaining (Daniel 12:7; Revelation 12:14), which is equivalent to 42 (Hebrew) months of 30 days each, or 1,260 days.

Satan will pursue the remnant of Israelis, who fled when they saw the setting up of the abomination of desolation. However, they will be protected by God for the next 1,260 days or 3½ years (Revelation 12:6,14). It also is around that time that the "beast" or Antichrist will attain global power, setting himself up in the "holy place" and proclaiming himself to be "God" (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He will "utter proud words and blasphemies" and will "exercise his authority for forty-two months" (Revelation 13:5): the second half of the 70th Week.

Incidentally, there has been a great deal of speculation as to what might constitute the "abomination that causes desolation." I think it may have a very simple explanation, gleaned from Scripture. Daniel 9:27 indicates that this "abomination" will be "set up" on a wing (of the temple). 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 shows that the "man of lawlessness" (Antichrist) will "set himself up in God's temple" and proclaim Himself to be God.

Therefore, the acts of this rebellious man (who will not be a priest), entering the "holy place" and setting up his headquarters there, and deceiving many into believing that he is "God," easily could be an outrageous abomination before the true God. "Desolation"—as in unhappiness, misery, despair, and anguish—very well could follow for those who mistakenly accept this false christ as the true Christ, or at least as someone whom they believe can deliver them from their enemies.

2) Revelation 6:1–10:7 is a chronologically ordered account (see The Chronology of Revelation), with no interruptions, from the beginning to the end of the 70th Week. Note that this account ends "when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet" (10:7). Then John writes,

Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings." (Revelation 10:11)
At this point, John begins a repeat explanation (that is, he prophesies again) of a period of time he already has described, lasting 42 months or 1,260 days (Revelation 11:2b,3). But is this the first half or the second half of the 70th Week? It is the second half, because it ends with the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet. We know that this is the end of the 70th Week because, as John describes, it is at this time that Christ will begin His reign on the earth:
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever. ... We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign." (Revelation 11:15,17)

There is another way we know that this is the end of the 70th Week. We can tell by a little study of chronology, concerning the "three Woes":

  1. the First Woe will occur after the blowing of the Fifth Trumpet (Revelation 9:1a, 9:12a),
  2. the Second Woe will occur after the blowing of the Sixth Trumpet (9:12b,13, 11:14a) and
  3. the Third Woe will occur after the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet (11:14b,15).

Thus, Revelation 11:1-19 is a restatement, by John, of the second half of the 70th Week, ending with the return of Jesus Christ back to earth. This will be in association with the blowing of the Seventh Trumpet. (Incidentally, after describing this, John wrote yet another restatement of the second half of the 70th Week from yet another perspective: Revelation 12:1—14:20.)

Those who believe that the 42 months and 1,260 days cited in Revelation 11:2,3 refer to the first half of the 70th Week point to the "two witnesses" prophesying in 11:3. It is true that these two witnesses, who will prophesy for 1,260 days, will usher in the appearance of Jesus at the Rapture (see the two witnesses). It is an erroneous assumption, however, that the two witnesses will begin prophesying, then the "Pre-tribulation" Rapture will take place at the beginning of the 70th Week, and then the prophesying of the two witnesses will continue onward to the middle of the 70th Week.

The error here is that the main Rapture event will not occur at the beginning of the 70th Week. Rather, it will take place well into the final seven years, imminently following the cosmic disturbances of the Sixth Seal, and probably just prior to the beginning of the seventh year. For more information about this, read Is the Pre-tribulation view of the Rapture the correct view? and The Rapture.

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