The Prophetic Timeline of Daniel and Revelation: Examining the 1260-day Antichrist Reign
by Steve Sterling 11/16/2011 / Prophecy
The 1260-day timeline in the book of Revelation is often associated with the last-day reign of the beast, aka, the antichrist. According to Revelation 13, it is the period in which he is to exercise the authority bestowed on him by the dragon (Satan). The beginning of this period will be marked by the beast's ascension from the bottomless pit. According to the Revelation account, among the things that will transpire during the 1260-day reign are as follows:
The persecution of the saints
The name of God will be blasphemed
The mark-of-the-beast system will be set up
The image of the beast will be set up and worshipped
The two witnesses will be empowered to prophesy
When you examine the prophecies in the book of Daniel you will see clearly that this timeline is also featured. In the end-time prophecy of Daniel 7 and 11, you will see a parallel to those of Revelation where this period is concerned. At this point let us examine the different descriptions of this 1260-day prophetic period as mentioned in Daniel and Revelation:
Time, times and dividing of time (Dan. 7:25)
Time, times and a half a time (Dan. 12:7; Rev. 12:14)
Forty and two months (Rev. 11:2; 13:7)
A thousand, two hundred and three score days (Rev. 11:3; 12:6)
Many prophecy students are not aware of the dual interpretation of the 1260 days. They tend to see it only as pertaining to the time of the end in the same way that those who advocate an historical application tend to believe that wherever this period is mentioned it applies, in a symbolic sense, to the Dark Ages (6th -18th century). However, the context in which this 1260-day prophecy is mentioned should help us to determine how it should be applied. Let us, therefore, start with Daniel 12.
This last-day period, as referred to in Daniel 12, is in connection to the activities of the king of the north who is "to scatter the powers of the holy people." The context in which this reference is made is "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation", a clear end-time scenario involving the deliverance of the saints when Prince Michael shall stand up (See Dan. 12:1).
The reference to the same time frame in connection to the two witnesses in Revelation 11 has even a clearer context. Firstly, this mention came to us in light of the Seven Trumpets. From Revelation 8, the Seven Trumpets are to be sounded only after the censer is cast down and the offering of incense cease. This is an indication that human probation is closed and no more prayers can be offered up to God.
Furthermore, you will recall that the death of the two witnesses marks the end of this period. This was evident where the Bible says their prophesying was to continue for 1260 days and that after they finished their testimony they were to be slain by the same beast that came from the bottomless pit (Rev. 11:7; 17:8); the same beast that was given power to reign for 42 months (Rev. 13:7). Incidentally, three and a half days after the period ended the witnesses were resurrected, followed by the sounding of the seventh trumpet, and then came the announcement of the setting up of God's kingdom on planet earth.
In Daniel 7, the antichrist was introduced under the symbol of the little horn. In light of the same prophetic timeline it was said that the saints were given into his hand. However, we need to give this particular prophecy special observation. It seems to meet the specification of a prediction that applies to two dispensations (proleptic prophecy). To prove that this prophecy has an historical relevance, I want you to notice the point at which the little horn rises. He actually came up just after the fourth kingdom was divided.
The Roman kingdom was fragmented into ten independent territories in 476AD; it was not very long after that the medieval papacy was given primacy in world affairs. As a religio-political power, the papacy held sway over the earth in the most despotic manner. The pages of history are filled with the accounts of horrible cruelty meted out to many among the faithful Christians who were burnt at the stake for daring to practice their religion contrary to the dictates of the Roman church. Many theologians agree that this period began in 538AD and terminated in 1798, a period of 1260 years.
This time frame is arrived at based on the use of the day-for-a-year principle mentioned in Ezekiel 4:6 and Numbers 14:34. When I consider the manner of the papal rise and fall, I find it difficult to rule this out as a fulfillment of the activities of the little horn of Daniel 7. It will also have an end-time fulfillment according to the same prophetic timeline in Daniel 12 and Revelation 11. The evidence for this is furnished in verse 11 where it says that this same little horn will be slain and his body given to the burning flames as a direct result of a judgment sitting in heaven.
I reserve the mention of this 3 -year time period as it relates to the enmity between the dragon and the woman in Revelation 12 because of its juxtaposition with chapter 13. You will notice that there is an unbroken line of prophecy between Revelation 12 and 13; in the narrative development, both chapters mention this same prophetic timeline, but their contexts are not same.
In chapter 12 of Revelation, the Bible says that right after the man child (Jesus) was caught up to heaven, the woman was persecuted by the dragon for 1260 days. But the same dragon that persecuted this woman is pictured in chapter 13 as continuing his warfare by empowering the beast to make war with the saints for 42 months during the mark-of-the-beast crisis. Thus we have a clear transition from a historical war between the dragon and the woman to an end-time battle between the beast and the saints with each timeline being placed in their proper contexts.