Two Witnesses: Discerning Time Frames
In the first part of our series on The Two Witnesses, we included a set of descriptive numbers for defining time frames during the 70th Week of Daniel in the hopes that it would help make things more clear by the time we arrived here at part three; discerning the time frames given in Revelation 11. These numbers are imperative to understanding what John wrote in Revelation which gives us the basic layout of events in the last week of human history before the Millennial Reign of Christ. Here we will post again these numbers for you to familiarize yourself with before moving on:
42 months is = to 3.5 prophetic years is = to 1260 literal days is = to 3.5 figurative days is = to half of the 70th Week
3.5 prophetic years is = to 1260 literal days is = to 3.5 figurative days is = to half of the 70th Week is = to 42 months
1260 literal days is = to 3.5 figurative days is = to half of the 70th Week is = to 42 months is = to 3.5 prophetic years
3.55 figurative days is = to half of the 70th Week is = to 42 months is = to 3.5 prophetic years is = to 1260 literal days
Half of the 70th Week is = to 42 months is = to 5 prophetic years is = to 1260 literal days is = to 3.5 figurative days
As you can see, all of these time frames are the exact same length of time (half of the 70th Week) but written differently for different purposes. If we put any two sets of these time frames together, we get the whole length of the 70th Week of Daniel and a complete two witnesses timeline. Now moving on to how to apply these time frames to the two witnesses timeline, we have to look at the Scripture. I have placed bracketed numbers alongside the actual word number used in the passage so you can quickly scan the passage and see their occurrence.
And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two  months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore  days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half [3.5 days], and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And AFTER three days and an half [3.5 days] the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven. Revelation 11:1-13
Some prophecy students believe that the book of Revelation only shows the great tribulation portion of Daniel’s 70th week in the verses above i.e. the last 3.5 years, but what we will show you here refutes that assertion in that it does not just show the 42 months of the latter half of the 70th Week, but the 1260 days of the first half as well. To get a visual of what the 70th Week (with emphasis on the word “week”) looks like on the most basic of levels, please see Figure 1. below.
In Figure 1., we can see what looks like any normal week. The 70th Week has seven days in which we added seven typical day names to help you better visualize it. When divided in half, the 70th Week has two sets of 3.5 days. This is the figurativeness of the 70th Week as we know that these days are not literal days but representative of prophetic years wherein each figurative day is equal to 360 literal days. Multiplied together, we get 2520 total days in that 7 figurative days x’s 360 literal days = 2520 (7 x 360 = 2520). In the next section(s), we will take a look at the Biblical relevance of each of these numbers and how we know where they are to be applied to the timeline.
The Number 42 In Revelation
The number 42 in the Bible is linked to apostasy and in particular the antichrist’s reign in the 70th Week. These things can be seen in many instances in the Old Testament and specifically where we have the 42 young men mocking Elisha (and God in the process) by challenging Elisha to “go up old man” (see 2 Kings 2). This is a direct type of what the Church will face in the final years of sinful human history; mockery towards God and our belief that He will return and gather us together and lift us up prior to carrying out His wrath on the wicked of the earth. After Elisha cursed them, the forty-two young men were then ripped to pieces by two bears; a type of the testimony of the two witnesses of Jesus during the 70th Week and the destruction that the wicked will face when they reject God.
The number 42 is also linked to famine both symbolically as well as literally. An example of this is seen in Luke 4 where Jesus’ words were to be rejected resulting in a famine of the Word of God; a symbolic famine. Jesus relates this to the prophet Elijah by first stating that no prophet is accepted in his own country. In other words they reject what the LORD is saying and thus live in spiritual famine which he then connects to a literal famine of three and a half years or forty-two months.
But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; Luke 4:25
In short, the number 42 in Revelation 11 refers to the short, 3.5 year reign of the anti-Christ (see Revelation 12:12). During this time frame, there will be 42 months of full blown apostasy and famine (whether figurative or literal) like no other time during the history of the world.
The 3.5 Days Precedent
As seen above, we know that the 70th Week of Daniel is comprised of 7 prophetic years of 360 days in a year. To reiterate, multiplying that out (7 x 360), we can see that the total amount of days contained in the 70th Week equals 2520 total days (yes, the repetition is necessary) which is split into two halves of 1260 literal days. This period of 1260 days of the testimony of the two witnesses is pretty clear. It is not during the 42 month reign of the beast nor is it connected to the 42 months of trampling of the holy city by the gentiles (Revelation 11:2). We know this because the number 42 in Revelation refers solely to the time period of the anti-Christ’s reign which follows the 1260 day testimony of the two witnesses.
When combined, the two witnesses testimony of 1260 days plus the 42 month reign of the anti-Christ and or 42 months of the gentiles equals 2520 days; the whole 70th Week. But what of the 3.5 days mentioned in Revelation:
And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. Revelation 11:7-11
It is imperative that the 3.5 days be seen in relation to the 70th Week of Daniel as figurative days, for the majority of Revelation is focused on the final figurative week i.e. 7 figurative days. Revelation is an expansion of the prophecies of Daniel; the origin of the 70 Weeks prophecy and more specifically the 70th and final figurative week of human history. There is no other precedent for the use of 3.5 days as being literal in the Bible. When coupled with the context of Revelation it can be clearly be seen to be half of the 70th Week!
Below in Figure 2., we can see an expansion of the 70th week chart that we posted earlier. In this chart, we have put all the time frames mentioned in Revelation 11 together to further clarify what we are seeing in the chapter with the exception of applying them how the chapter shows us they are to be placed in chronology; we will do that a bit later.
As we can see in Figure 2., all numbers listed in Revelation 11 refer to a particular half of the 70th Week. It is the number that refers to whom is being spoken of and this is how we discern what goes where. With this in mind let’s now take the next step and put this puzzle together.
Coming Into Focus
Knowing that the anti-Christ is absolutely revealed by declaring himself God at midpoint of the week for 42 months, (Daniel 7:25 and 9:27, Revelation 13:5), we can see the 3.5 days clearly delineates the latter half after the 1260 days of virtually unimpeded testimony and witness seen in verses 3-6 of Revelation 11. We also note that the 3.5 days is directly related to the all out persecution of the two witnesses in that the beast makes war with them (see also Revelation 13:5,7), to which they have to flee (Matthew 24:15-25). In other words, the 3.5 days is the last 3.5 figurative days of the 70th Week and focuses not on the beast, but on the persecution of the Saints (who are the two witnesses) by the beast and the gentiles!
The precedent for the 3.5 days being figurative is first set in chapter 9 of the book of Daniel and cemented in the time frames listed in the book of Revelation. What we want to make clear here is that the day for a year swap is not what is in play per se, for we would have to also make the 1260 days, 1260 years. No, the numbers listed in Revelation are fully symbolic of halves of the 70th Week and determine who and or what half is being spoken of. Had the day for a year rule been specified as it has been in former prophecies (see Ezekiel 4) , then that is what we would apply, but this by context, is simply not the case.
Again, Revelation 11 and most of the book of Revelation itself is speaking to Daniel’s 70th and final week from Daniel 9. Thus we must see the two witnesses timeline through those glasses; the 70th Week. Taking what we have above and the verses we have shown earlier, we are going to start putting the pieces together. Let’s take a look at Figure 3. below where we will summarize our findings thus far.
The Two Witnesses Timeline
In the image above we see a layout of the 2520 total days of the 70th Week. Day 1 kicks off with the treaty with death and hell (Isaiah 28:18) or also known as the covenant with the many (Daniel 9:27). This results in full fledged witness and testimony by the two olive trees (Israel) and the two candlesticks (the Church); the Two Witnesses. The covenant which is strong-armed by the anti-Christ seems to be an olive branch of peace until in the midst of the 7 year covenant he (anti-Christ) is indwelt by Satan and starts an all-out war on believers, Jews and any others who will not worship him or his system.
Proclaiming himself to be God, the anti-Christ exalts himself above all things (2 Thessalonians 2:4) and not only that, he does so in the temple of God. The abomination of desolation is set up on a wing of the temple (Daniel 9:27) and the beginning of world-wide persecution begins; The Great Tribulation portion of the 70th Week. The anti-Christ’s reign of terror lasts for 42 months (Revelation 13:5) where he makes war against the Saints and all who oppose him. During these 42 months, lawlessness reigns supreme as the time of the gentiles comes to its peak (Revelation 11:2,10) and an extreme famine for the Word of God happens.
These very 42 months are a direct reflection of the persecution Jesus faced in his earthly ministry which in fact, was also 3.5 figurative days and 3.5 literal years. The end of his ministry (as we know) climaxed in his death and resurrection. Added together, the 1260 days of testimony and 3.5 figurative days of persecution of the two witnesses equals the sum total of 2520 literal days of the 70th Week!
As we close out the third part of our series, we can see something that many people miss; the complete 70th Week is outlined in Revelation 11! This is fantastic in that we can go to other parts of Revelation (especially those with time frames listed) and see which side of the week they reside in and or whether they are before or after the week is over.
The book of Revelation is fully sign-i-fied per the words of Jesus in Revelation 1:1; it is composed of symbols, numbers and numbers that are symbols. As seen here in the two witnesses timeline, the symbols and numbers and their relation to the 70th Week is key. Keeping this in mind, we can go deeper into our understanding of apocalyptic prophecy.
In the final part of this series, we will finish the timeline that we started here as well as expand on other symbolic information from Revelation 11.