Without Chronology, the Interpretation Goes Astray
Many of those who attempt to interpret Revelation don't see that the time periods of 1260 days, 42 months, and 3 ½ years are NOT to be interpreted as LITERAL time periods. For that reason, they think that many of the events fall into a future 3 ½ year period, a future time frame.
Time in Revelation is interpreted symbolically, and it should, as a general rule, be computed at a day for a year (Num 14:34, Ezek 4:6, Dan 9:24-26). Those who argue against the historical method of interpretation, claim that God only used the day for a year method in the first two text sited, but as we see in Daniel’s account, regarding the seventy weeks prophecy, we are to interpret it at a day for a year, and almost everyone agrees with that interpretation (that is with the exception of our futurist friends, who for the most part are literalist and as such fail to grasp the fact that the book of Revelation is NOT to be read as a statement of facts, but rather as a statement of symbols, a symbolic prophecy).
Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks is a fulfilled prophecy since the 490 years derived from the 70 weeks, reached exactly to the Messiah and the cross, where He was cut off in the midst of the last week, exactly where the prophecy said that he would be.
Because of our understanding of day for a year chronology, we are able see that these time periods, point to the great falling away of the Papal system that existed from 539 A.D. to 1799 A.D. In other words, we see a 1260-year prophetic time period, rather than 1260 literal days.
This is where others get the 3 ½ years from that they think is a literal or future time period, and why they are still waiting for the Anti-Christ and the man of sin rise to power. The evidence of history confirms it has already taken place, from 539 A.D. to 1799 A.D. The only question remaining, has to do with whether or not church and state will rise to power again for a short time.
The 3 1/2 years that they are looking for, is according to them, the last half of the 70th week, which for some mysterious reason (according to their interpretation) has to wait 2000 years for its fulfillment. While we will not consider that prophecy here as we believe we have thoroughly examined it elsewhere, we nevertheless wish to state that the one who came in that prophecy (the “prince” Dan 9:26), was in the first instance the Roman general [Vespasian and then his son Titus], and then later in a fuller sense, the Papal system, who took control of the original Roman beast, and used its power to oppress the true church. In other words, we are not waiting for this to still happen yet, but we see that IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED, in a small sense in 70 A.D. and then more completely fulfilled during the time of from 539-1799 A.D.
At present Bible students are one of the few groups that still support the day for a year view. This was not always true. The view of a day for a year goes all the ways back to the early church, and was supported by various others at different times throughout the age. The early church understood that method of counting time because of the 70-week prophecy. Even as short a time ago as 1850, this was still being debated and discussed, with large numbers of support for the day for a year principle. (See Barnes notes on Revelation, Editors Preface--Year day principle).
The principle of a day for a year is regrettably not believed by most, any more. As mentioned above, they are waiting for a literal 3.5-year period in which most of Revelation is supposed to be fulfilled at some future time. This shows the decline of knowledge and truth in the churches in our day.
The Day for a Day Theory Came from Papacy
The churches today, do not realize that the theory that they accept, at a day for a day, was put forth by the church that had the most to hide.
At about the time that the evidence of the day for a year principle was beginning to gain wide acceptance, at least two officials in the Papal system put forth the idea that the time prophecy in Revelation and Daniel, should only be interpreted as a literal 3.5 years. In the footnote, in the forward to Revelation in Barnes notes, we find that the Jesuit Aleassar wrote the Preterist view in 1614 A.D. We find the Jesuit Ribera advocating the Futurists view in 1585 A.D.
Aleassar tried to fulfill Revelation entirely by 70 A.D. and Ribera puts it off into the distant future. Both methods are designed to take the heat off of Papacy as being the main fulfillment of the persecuting power (the Antichrist) described in Revelation, one to the future and the other to the past. They want you to take your pick, future or past, and forget about the fact that Roman Church is the one which fulfills this prophecy both according to the scriptures and according to history.
Since that time, the false church system (Papacy) has either claimed that Revelation was still going to happen sometime in the future, or that it had already happened in the beginning of the age, and that it didn’t have anything to do with them (See Barnes notes in the above forward). Unfortunately, at the present time, the futurist theory has gained acceptance by most modern day churches, taking most of the heat off of the Papal system.
Since most (due to a lack of study, both of Revelation and history) don’t see anything as having happened as yet, they don’t see who their enemy is anymore. In other words they have forgotten what the Protestant movement was all about, and that is a dangerous condition to be in. That lack of spiritual vision has prompted many to talk of re-unification with the same Catholic System that their forefathers escaped with such great difficulty.” (Revelation Notes Southern Wisconsin)
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