‘Time, Times and Half a Time’
1. What scriptures aid us to determine the meaning of a “time”, and why could it not refer to a period of 360 years?
ONE “time” is accepted as referring to one year. Therefore this means ‘one year, two years and a half a year’, totaling three and a half years. Corroboration of this “time” reckoning is provided by the inspired use of the expression at Revelation 12:6, NW: “a thousand two hundred and sixty days,” and according to Bible reckoning this is three and a half years. Also reference is made at Revelation 11:2 to the “holy city” as being trampled underfoot for forty-two months. Bible scholars of past generations have worked out the period on a scale of a day as one year, making 1,260 years. However, there is no reasonable support for this conclusion and these wonders cannot take place until after 1914, but must happen inside the length of time of our generation. It is Scriptural and proper to understand by ‘time, times and half a time’ the period of 1,260 literal days, or three and a half years.
2. Why should the nations rage during the 1,260-day period?
2 The visible part of the organization reflects the spirit and actions of the invisible part. Jesus said: “You are from your father the Devil and you wish to do the desires of your father.” (John 8:44, NW; compare James 3:17.) The demons inspire rulers to do their bidding. (Rev. 16:13, 14, NW) When war broke out in heaven in 1914 and the term of Gentile domination over God’s people ran out, then the nations commenced to rage in war which affected all peoples directly and indirectly. At the conclusion of the 1,260 days the war was stopped for the specific purpose of permitting the Kingdom work to get under way.
TRIALS DURING THE 1,260 DAYS
3, 4. How do the experiences of the Lord’s people during and at the end of the ‘time, times and half a time’ fulfill the prophetic words at Daniel 12:7?
3 Prior to 1914 the faithful servants had been proclaiming the “end of the Gentile times” in that year. Now let us see what happened during these 1,260 days. These days of Daniel are not to be confused with Revelation 12:6, 14, which reads: “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and sixty days. But the two wings of the great eagle were given the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place; there is where she is fed for a period and periods and a half a period of time away from the face of the serpent.” (NW) Here these verses merely serve to show that ‘a time, times and half a time’ equals 1,260 literal days. Whereas those days of Revelation 12:6, 14 began after Satan was cast out of heaven, the 1,260 days of Daniel 12:7 began at the end of the Gentile times, about October 1, 1914.
4 The facts pertaining to Jehovah’s people fit so miraculously that there cannot be any doubt about the fulfillment of this prophecy. Jehovah’s “holy people” were to be scattered and shattered by the enemy for three and a half “times”, or 1,260 days, following which time period the enemy’s power over them would end or be over. (Matt. 24:9-12, NW) Right on time prophecy was fulfilled. The 1,260 days would commence when the Gentile times ended, about October 1, 1914, and would therefore terminate about April 1, 1918, after which the enemy’s power would be broken. This indicates that by then Satan the Devil had been cast down from heaven and Christ Jesus came to the temple of God for judgment work. This was not altered by the fierce persecution which broke out at that time, for early in February, 1918, many of Jehovah’s people in Canada were seized and thrown into prison. That same month the enemies of the truth took away books and private papers from the head office of the Society at Brooklyn. On the 7th of May warrants were served for the arrest of officers of the Society, and on the 15th of May they appeared in court. They were indicted, convicted and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment, and on June 20, 1918, were confined to prison. At this same time many others of the Lord’s anointed were arrested and imprisoned, the main office of the Society at Brooklyn was completely dismantled, all communications between the main office and the branches were cut off, and the ministry of preaching the gospel throughout the earth by Jehovah’s people was virtually stopped.
5. What was the condition of the faithful during the 1,260 days? What other attitudes became manifest among those associating with them?
5 It was a distressing and anxious time, for the work of witnessing was interfered with, not only by the active forces of evil, but also by reason of fearfulness on the part of some. Others were disappointed that 1914 had not worked out in the way they had anticipated, for they still found themselves on earth instead of in heaven. Many were selfish, thinking more of themselves than of the work of God, and some of the Lord’s people were submitting to the enemy without a fight for their right to worship Jehovah God. However, the few faithful, loyal ones continued to the best of their ability to comfort and feed the sheep. There was a very careful checking to see if the chronology of the Scriptures pertaining to 1914 was correct; also that the “signs of the times” were the ones that should be looked for; and during this time very little witnessing was done, and that which was done was in a “sackcloth” condition. The witnesses were not filled with the great joy and gladness of the Kingdom rule, but “in sackcloth” they deplored their condition as they saw no certain relief in sight. Certainly during the 1,260 days they were in an uncertain, anxious condition, and then at the end of those days great hatred and persecution came upon them.
THE “TWO WITNESSES”
6. How does Revelation 11:3 corroborate the 1,260-day time period, and what is the fulfillment of the witnessing in sackcloth performed by the two witnesses?
6 Now note further corroborative proof of this period of time: “I will cause my two witnesses to prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days dressed in sackcloth.” (Rev. 11:3, NW) The “two witnesses” are the antitypical Elijah-John-the-Baptist work, and their being introduced at this time is important, for it helps us to understand Daniel’s prophecy. Nearly seventy years ago The Watchtower for November, 1883, explained to God’s people that Elijah and John the Baptist foreshadowed great works to be accomplished at this end of the system of things, and which were also to be done before 1918. The brothers serving Jehovah throughout that period did so believing they were engaging in such antitypical work. This noble, splendid and faithful service was interrupted in 1918. It is strengthening to faith to remember that Elijah himself fled from before the threatening face of wicked Queen Jezebel of Israel and took refuge at Mount Horeb, and thereby suffered a temporary interruption of his work. (1 Ki. 19:1-14) After this interruption Elijah returned to work and finally concluded his service by being taken away in a fiery chariot. However, John the Baptist ended his ministry by imprisonment and beheading. (Matt. 14:1-12) So it was antitypically with the work done from 1878 to 1918. It came to an end in a time of trouble, with imprisonment and the slaying of the work. The scripture was fulfilled: “The wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them and conquer them and kill them.”—Rev. 11:7, NW.
7. What then must we conclude as to the opening and closing of this period of three and a half times, and what is the outstanding feature of its end?
7 This 1,260-day period (’time, times and half a time’) was fulfilled from October, 1914, to April, 1918, during which time the mighty Prince Michael (the Lord Jesus) became King, enthroned in heaven, and set about Kingdom work and the deliverance of his faithful servants from Babylonish bondage. He took decisive action against the prince of the power of darkness and of this evil world and forcibly removed this wicked one from his exalted position, not merely unseating him but throwing him out of heaven, with all his evil angels. He broke his power, so he no longer can scatter God’s children. The time has truly come for these things to happen. “There will be no delay any longer; . . . the sacred secret of God according to the good news which he declared to his own slaves the prophets is indeed brought to a finish.” (Rev. 10:6, 7, NW) “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.”—Matt. 24:14, NW.
8. How and when was the continual burnt-offering taken away and the abomination of desolation set up?
8 Next, Daniel 12:11 (AS) says: “And from the time that the continual burnt-offering shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” Two great wonders come to pass within this period: (1) “The continual burnt-offering shall be taken away” and (2) “the abomination that maketh desolate [shall be] set up”. We have seen that at the end of the 1,260-day period the antitypical witnesses, Elijah and John the Baptist, were slain, thus taking away the “continual burnt-offering” of public praise to God, but that did not mean the end of the individuals’ later performing such service. Satan and his agents no doubt thought it would end all the witnessing activities and declarations against his wicked organization and exposing the hypocrisy of his false religionists. But he did not count on God’s power. In fact, he never does. Satan is selfish to the extreme, and is full of egotism, hence becomes blinded to the obvious, having in view only his devilish schemes. His position now was that of being confined to the region of earth and he was without further access to heaven. Yes, he had had a place up there, but now it was no more. Hence he determined to try to establish his bullying, rebellious dictatorship on earth among the nations. For this reason the warning is sounded: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Rev. 12:12, NW) So his first move is to unite all the nations in one design, in order that he may bully them into submission to his wicked conspiracy. The time is short for him to prepare for the next offensive by earth’s new King. But mark this, that all his evil designs are in complete defiance to God’s kingdom, for he will not acknowledge it and would, if possible, destroy it. How did he go about it? First he played havoc with God’s people, and then when he finally got the leading visible servants of God’s people into prison he produced the League of Nations. This confederacy was first brought about in the latter part of January, 1919; and there seemed to be a clear field for his satanic operations.
9. Could those of professing “Christendom” at that time plead ignorance of the presence of the King?
9 It was not as if many did not know that the time for Christ’s kingdom had come, because they did. Remember, the witnesses had been preaching for forty years before the end of the Gentile times in 1914. Here is one published statement of religious clergymen when World War I was reaching its climax:
“The following manifesto was recently issued by a number of England’s most noted ministers:
“‘First—That the present crisis points toward the close of the times of the Gentiles.
“‘Second—That the revelation of the Lord may be expected at any moment, when he will be manifested as evidently as to his disciples on the evening of his resurrection.
“‘Third—That the completed church will be translated, to be “forever with the Lord.”
“‘Fourth—That Israel will be restored to its own land in unbelief, and be afterward converted by the appearance of Christ on its behalf.
“‘Fifth—That all human schemes of reconstruction must be subsidiary to the second coming of our Lord, because all nations will be subject to his rule.
“‘Sixth—That under the reign of Christ there will be a further great effusion of the Holy Spirit on all flesh.
“‘Seventh—That the truths embodied in this statement are of the utmost practical value in determining Christian character and action with reference to the pressing problems of the hour.’
“This remarkable statement was signed by A. C. Dixon and F. B. Meyer, Baptists; George Campbell Morgan and Alfred Byrd, Congregationalists; William Fuller Gouch, Presbyterian; H. Webb Peploe, J. Stuart Holden, Episcopalians; Dinsdale T. Young, Methodist.
“These are well-known names, and are among the world’s greatest preachers. That these eminent men, of different denominations, should feel called upon to issue such a statement is of itself exceedingly significant.”
10. How did certain prominent clergymen blasphemously express themselves in 1919?
10 However, the great enslaver, Satan the Devil, dominated worldly religionists and caused them to give their approval and blessing to his scheme. Even though they knew something of the truth and the fact of God’s kingdom, note the following blasphemous utterance:
“The time has come to organize the world for truth, right, justice and humanity. To this end as Christians we urge the establishment of a League of Free Nations at the coming Peace Conference. Such a league is not merely a peace expedient; it is rather the political expression of the kingdom of God on earth. The League of Nations is rooted in the gospel. Like the gospel, its objective is ‘Peace on earth, good will toward men’. Like the gospel, its appeal is universal.
“The heroic dead will have died in vain unless out of victory shall come a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.—2 Peter 3:13.
“The [nominal] church can give a spirit of good will, without which no League of Nations can endure.”—Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, January, 1919.
11. Explain why the League of Nations is appropriately described as “the abomination of desolation”.
11 This League of Nations was standing before the peoples in a false position. It was a counterfeit, an offensive organization, and hence an abomination in God’s sight. Satan demanded recognition of this scheme and purposed forcing obedience to his plea for world organization and worship of it by all peoples. “And the ten horns that you saw mean ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they do receive authority as kings one hour with the wild beast. These have one purpose, and so they give their power and authority to the wild beast. These will battle with the Lamb, but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also those called and chosen and faithful with him will do so.” (Rev. 17:12-14, NW) “And it puts under compulsion all persons, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, that they should give these a mark in their right hand or upon their forehead, and that nobody might be able to buy or sell except a person having the mark.”—Rev. 13:16, 17, NW.
12. What is the satanic purpose back of the “abomination”, and to what is it now leading all nations?
12 Those who worship the abomination will be clearly and, no doubt, publicly identified, so it will make very obvious those who do not worship this political league which is an image of the beast and not of God’s kingdom by Christ. God condemns its worship. “If anyone worships the wild beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he will also drink of the wine of the anger of God that is poured out undiluted into the cup of his wrath, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb.” (Rev. 14:9, 10, NW) Satan’s purpose since 1919 has been and is to get the nations together in one selfish common bond, and they will be so bound as the distresses, hatreds and terrors increase; moreover, he will get desperate as the time nears for the decisive battle. In arrogance, in fearfulness, the nations will close their ranks, envying and hating each other, and yet in desperation clinging to what little they have. The rulers of the Gentile nations should learn the truth and be wise, for they would then know they are being gathered together, not for peace, but for the Devil’s purpose. “They are, in fact, expressions inspired by demons and perform signs, and they go forth to the kings of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Rev. 16:14, NW) Satan and his demons are not working for the good of humanity, but to maintain their domination over the people, and they would rather involve all nations in dreadful bloodshed than give up. The greatest war of all ages is near and will see all nations of earth under the dictatorship of the invisible Devil fighting against God’s anointed people and against the King, Christ Jesus, and the holy angels of God. The warning goes out to the nations so that they may know the truth, but the warners are despised, ridiculed, jailed, put inside concentration camps, and some of them killed.
(This series of articles will be continued in our next issue.)