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TIME, TIMES AND HALF A TIME
Time, Times and Half a Time
(Daniel 7:25, Daniel 12:7, Revelation 12:14)
Though I knew the biblical phrase “time, times and half a time”, I had only looked into it long enough to leave thoroughly confused. However, in response to my lesson on Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy, one fellow student of the Word wrote in the following:
This is a very educative video. Your take on the understanding of 70 sevens is enlightening.
I have some questions which if answered will help settle my doubts.
How do you explain the utilization of time, times and half a time (three and half years) by Daniel, James and John the revelator?
Revelation was written after the literal 70 weeks yet the author makes mention of that period (3½ yrs) as either happening or will happen. Is it allegorical or literal?
Is it the latter part of the 70 weeks or a separate prophecy?
By Sani’s questions, I realized folks might have been taught there was a connection to Daniel's 70 Weeks and the "midst of the week" in verse 27. If you want to skip the rest of this lesson, I’ll simply tell you right now: I’ve now studied it out and I can safely say—while there’s no direct connection between Daniel’s 70 weeks and the three “time, times and half a times” we find in the Word—there is overlap! If you want to learn more about what “time, times and half a time” actually means, stay tuned.
TAKE-AWAYS FROM THIS LESSON
- What does “time, times and half a time” mean? Explained.
Now, though I found no “time, times and half a time” references in James, I found two in Daniel and one in Revelation. Before we get into those, let me say this will not be a complete teaching. I just want to take some quick glances at these three “time, times and half a time” passages to explain the expression and the moments in biblical history these references highlight.
In our first example, Daniel 7:25 speaks to a king that rises up out of the fourth beast (“beasts” equaling violent, base kingdoms in the prophetic), which we know, in this case, as the Roman Empire, preceded by the earlier beasts of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. Of this king, it's said:
24And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
25And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
This passage recapitulates verses 20-21:
20And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
21I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
Most scholars recognize this figure to be the Roman Caesar, Nero. Three Caesars—Tiberius, Caligula and Claudius—were assassinated to clear the way and allow Nero to take the throne. Though there is no timestamp in this particular prophecy, we know Nero's persecution of the saints (Christianity) lasted over three years—from 64 AD until the time of his death in 68 AD—which aligns with this heavenly “time, times and half a time.”
The next entry we see for “time, times and half a time” comes to us from Daniel 12:7:
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, “It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed.”
Certainly, the shattering of the power of the holy people (Israel) happened under Vespasian in 70 AD, but in order to get there, we have to wade through some troublesome resurrection language in 12:1-4 (that will be a different lesson.) Well, Daniel is in the same position we find ourselves in when, in verse 8, he says, "I heard but I did not understand." (Totally, brother.) Thankfully, the angel dials in a timeframe for us in verse 11:
"And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days."
Well, the 1,290 days is exactly 3½ years plus one 30-day month. Then there is the “blessed are those who make it 45 days beyond that” encouragement. This is one of the passages that gives us some idea that a “time, times and half a time” equates to about 3½ years. I say “about”, and I’ll show you in a moment why I think this phrase seems to be a heavenly approximation. (Still, heaven seems to have the exact time, so why they don't just lead with that, I don't know. We find heaven conducting many of their prophetic downloads through poetry, which our literal, earth-bound minds often struggle to grasp.)
As for the “abomination that makes desolate” being set up, after an odd false start by the Roman general Cestius Gallus, Rome’s war against the Jews began in the spring of 67 AD when Titus Vespasian (the eldest son of then Caesar Vespasian) invaded northern Judea. The approaching war sparked the Pharisaical religious group known as the Zealots—who had already been plaguing Jerusalem through a rash of political assassinations, kidnappings and blackmail—to barricade themselves in the Temple, thereby ceasing the “regular burnt offering”. In what became known as the Zealot Temple Siege, the city turned on them. With the help of the Idumeans, the siege ended to the Zealots’ favor and by the winter of 67 AD, the Zealots were in full control of Jerusalem. By 70 AD, the Roman army (the abomination, as explained by Luke 21:20) reached Jerusalem and began (set up) their siege.
Finally, we have our last reference to “time, times, and half a time” in Revelation 12:14:
The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach.
This verse portrays the local Judeo-Christian church (faithful Israel) who fled from Jerusalem to Pella, east of the Jordan river, where many hid until the end of the Jewish-Roman War.
But what timeframe? After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, there was another three years in which the Roman armies hunted the Jewish people—especially any heirs to the Davidic bloodline—in an effort to crush any remaining hopes for a future Messianic rebellion. The Jewish cities of Herodium, Machaerus and the table-plateau fortress of Masada all fell during these next three years. Maybe this was the time then? Nope. Verse 15 corrected me:
And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
This brings us back to the flood imagery we see in Daniel’s 70 Weeks, so we understand this is not a literal flood but the invading Roman army. This invasion in verse 15 comes after the flight into the wilderness in verse 14, however, so this probably isn’t the three-plus years following 70 AD, but rather the time leading up to 70 AD, just like we saw in Daniel 12:7.
Here again in Revelation 12, recapitulation brings additional light. The “time, times, and half a time” reference—coupled with its image of the woman fleeing into the wilderness—leads us back to the beginning of Revelation 12 where we see this in verse 6:
and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
Suffice it to say 1,260 days is exactly 3½ years. Notice this comes right after "her child was caught up to God and to his throne." Well, who was caught up to God and to his throne? Yeshua Hamashiach, the Jewish Messiah known to us as Jesus of Nazareth. It is also interesting to note that archangel Michael (Israel’s heavenly protector) is also referenced here in verse 7, which provides us a double connection back to Daniel 12 from whence we just came, further solidifying these two passages are talking about the same time period.
1,290 vs 1,260: The Numbers Don’t Match
If you were paying attention, you noticed the first timestamp in Daniel 12 was 1,290 days but the time given in Revelation 12 is 1,260. How do we make sense of this difference?
First, it is this difference in exact times that makes me believe “time, times, and half a time” is a heavenly approximation. It’s like saying a package should arrive in “about a week”; we don’t mean an exact seven-day time period, but loosely around a week’s time, plus or minus. The fact that the two stated timeframes are within a month of each other helps assure us we’re relatively safe to treat this expression as an approximate 3½-year time period. (I would still recommend, however, that the next time you’re visited by angels and they tell you something is going to happen in “time, times and half a time”, you may want to ask for the exact number of days.)
Second, this variance is the reason why I believe we’re not talking about the same time period; at least not for the same location. In Daniel 12, we’re talking about the time between the ceasing of the burnt offering and the approach of the abomination (the Roman army), between 67 and 70 AD. This prophecy has Jerusalem in view. In Revelation 12, we’re talking about the amount of time the early Judeo-Christian Church is warned to keep their heads down and out of sight as they hide in the mountain wilderness of Pella. A similar (and overlapping) time period, but for different locations.
Out of Time
Does “time, times and half a time” apply to any of Daniel’s 70 Weeks? Though the reference does seem to indicate a period of 3½ years—and therefore could absolutely be used by heaven to describe one of the halves of Daniel’s final week—it was not and the three examples I’ve shown here do not. They do however speak to the time of great persecution leading up to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD and, in that way, they do overlap the 70 Week prediction.
As for whether the phrase is literal or allegorical, I would say “time, times and half a time” is a literal, though approximate, time reference.
As for when these references were made in relation to the time Revelation was written? That is a completely different lesson. Many stand on a late date writing for Revelation (about 95 AD) but an earlier, mid-60’s timeframe has been gaining popularity in recent years. If that earlier date is correct, it helps explain the tension, tribulation and imminent judgment we see weighing on the New Testament authors.
I hope you enjoyed this lesson! Remember: It’s the Truth that sets you free!
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