Are there Two Half Weeks in the Apocalypse?

J. N. Darby.

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Dear Mr. Editor,

It has long been assumed that two half-weeks are spoken of in the Apocalypse. In this I have for years myself acquiesced, and I think rested on the contrast of the beast's overcoming the saints, and the witnesses destroying their enemies, as confirming this assumption. I hardly know how I was led some time back to call it in question; but I have been: and I should be glad to present the point as a question, in case you or your readers were given of God to throw any light upon it. Though strongly calling in question that two half-weeks are spoken of, my mind is still quite open to conviction; and I have nothing whatever to sustain in it, and desire only to know what the Spirit of God has really meant to teach us in the word as to it. I hardly know whether such a question enters into the object of the "Bible Treasury"; but it may elicit some light from others as to the matter. I shall give a kind of exposition of the subject from Scripture, considered from the point of view I have spoken of.

Seventy weeks are determined on Daniel's people and his holy city, to complete the blessing and close their eventful history - the display of divine government in the earth. After seven and sixty-two weeks Messiah is cut off and has nothing. There are seven and sixty-two till Messiah the Prince. His cutting off is indefinite; only it is after the sixty-two weeks Then the prince that comes establishes a covenant with the many (that is, the mass of the people). Messiah's relationship, on the contrary, had been with the residue, though presented to all the people. Then, in the dividing of the week, he causes the sacrifice and oblation to cease; and then, because of the protection of abominations (idols), there is a desolator. I give you Daniel as I understand it.

No persecutions are here spoken of in the first half-week, nor indeed is any first half-week spoken of. The prince confirms the covenant one week, and the half-weeks are marked by his change of conduct in the middle of the week. In Daniel 7 we have, without any note of period, the general characteristic of the beast - that he wears out the heavenly saints, and in general makes war with the saints till the Ancient of days comes. But the times and laws (not the saints) are delivered into his hand for half a week, i.e., for a time, times, and half a time. In Matthew 24 there is general testimony, such as there was in Christ's time - only it reaches the Gentiles - till the last half-week, which begins the abomination of desolations. This exclusive allusion to the last half-week in Matthew 24 had often struck me. In Revelation 13 the beast is given power to act forty and two months. He blasphemes God and them that dwell in heaven; and he makes war with the saints (not "those that dwell in heaven, compare chapter 12:12), and overcomes them. One would surely, at first sight, suppose that power to act forty-two months hardly meant that he does so eighty-four.

169 Thus far, certainly, the last half-week seems to be noted. The second beast acts in presence of the first, who is the beast with the deadly wound healed. Compare Revelation 17:8. In this last chapter no date or period is given; it is the description of the beast; but his existence is stated, and it is as ascending out of the bottomless pit (he who kills the witnesses in chapter 11) when all worship him save the elect. The Gentiles (Rev. 11:2) tread the city under foot forty and two months - one would suppose therefore no longer. It is true the temple and the altar are spared; but I surely think that this applies to the destruction of true condition of worship and true worshippers, not locality, though in Jewish connection. But if this be true of verse 2, verse 3 applies to the period spoken of in verse 2. This would put the third woe (Rev. 10:7, when he sounds, as he is just about to do, I apprehend is the sense), at the close. The casting down of Satan, the flight of the woman, and the changing of times and laws, would coincide as to epoch with the ascent of the beast out of the bottomless pit. I have thus given a kind of statement of the whole matter, sufficient to present the question, "Are there two half-weeks spoken of in the Apocalypse?" I do not reason on it, nor reply to objections which might suggest themselves. If my question draws out any remarks, that will be the time to enquire into their justice.

A collateral subject suggests itself, on which I would say a few words. There are heavenly saints spoken of in Daniel 7. Does this bring the church into the scene? It implies, I think, nothing as to the church; rather, I think, the contrary - makes its distinctive place more clear, though the church be heavenly. We have, in Daniel, the saints of heavenlies, as belonging to, and connected with, these earthly questions, where there is not the smallest allusion to the church, where all is connected with the beasts and the true kingdom over the earth. Abraham was a heavenly saint, though he saw Christ's day and was glad He looked forward with joy to this, but was himself obliged to take it in another way. Such is the case supposed in the sermon on the mount. "The meek shall inherit the earth"; but the reward of the persecuted will be great in heaven. So in the Psalms, especially book 1 (Ps. 1-41), where even Christ is shown the path of life (Ps. 16), so as to be in God's presence, and the saint (as Christ Himself) is satisfied (Ps. 17), waking up after Jehovah's likeness. Yet the remnant are promised earthly blessings very plainly and clearly. See Psalms 1, 37, whence the expression in Matthew 5 is drawn; so Psalm 34, and others, as Psalms 9, 10, and indeed also Psalm 8, show.

170 The passages, then, in Daniel, as others, point out clearly a residue, who, connected with earthly things, and passing through them, but purified by trials out of them, and led to look up on high, have finally their portion there where they have been taught to look. But, in general, I apprehend their desire after heavenly things is more connected with weariness of heart in conflict while under the law - for they are under the law - though no doubt they do in spirit thereby dwell in heaven, for the enjoyment of which the new nature renders them capable.

As to the church, remark that in Ephesians 1 it is brought out quite apart from the full blessing of individuals, developed with such inexpressible beauty; first, in their calling; then, in the knowledge given them of the purpose of God to gather together all in one, in Christ, and in the inheritance obtained in Him. After that the apostle prays that they may understand these two points of God's calling and inheritance in the saints. But then he adds another demand, brought in addition, that they might know the exceeding greatness of His power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead; and then first brings in the church as His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all; thus giving the church, which He had not before spoken of, a peculiar place in union with Christ, as raised from the dead (compare Col. 1:18),* and sitting at the right hand of God. God gave Him, the raised Jesus, to be Head - over all things - to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all. It has no existence but united to Him, and has its existence consequent on His exaltation. Hence it is said we are "one body in Christ" (Rom. 12:5), and still stronger, "so also is Christ" (1 Cor. 12:12).

{*The Colossians speaks only of the resurrection. This falls in with another point observable in this epistle: life, or the new nature, is referred to, rather than the Holy Ghost, as in the Ephesians; for the presence of the Holy Ghost depends on Christ's exaltation. This difference of the epistles, which I cannot follow out here, is full of instruction.}

171 And here note that in Ephesians 1 Christ is considered as the exalted Man. The chapter speaks of His (God's) mighty power which He wrought in Christ. Christ is looked at as man, and subjected to death, and raised again by another, even God; that is, it is a Christ really living in time. When the forming of the body on earth by the Holy Ghost is spoken of, the word leads us to the same truth: "By one Spirit are we all baptised into one body," 1 Cor. 12:13. There is (Eph. 4) "one body and one Spirit . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism." I go on to "one baptism," because it shows that the apostle is speaking of those who are brought in by the known death and resurrection of Christ. The testimony of 1 Corinthians is beyond controversy; and while the Ephesians shows individual privilege, in the highest way, as relationship, position, and character, making the individual the proper object of every ministration of the church, the more the Scriptures are searched into, the more the church - the assembly - will be seen to have a distinct and peculiar position, and to be a special and distinctive body. Hebrews 12 shows it very clearly. Thus, in the midst of the general assembly of heaven, "to an innumerable company of angels, the general assembly, and to the church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven." It is really forgotten that, unless the question of authorship be raised on the last mentioned passage, in the apostolic writings none ever speaks of "the church" but Paul.

I resume the points as to the half-weeks. Christ's connection with the first half-week is left entirely vague. Seventy weeks are determined on the city and the sanctuary to bring in blessing. Then there are seven and sixty-two weeks till Messiah the Prince. A week thus remains. But after the sixty-two weeks Messiah is cut off and has nothing - after their fulfilment, but His time passes for nothing; it drops through, as He is rejected. We can say that in His death He laid the foundation of the new covenant, and that, in some sort, during His life, He may be said to have been dealing with the remnant in establishing a covenant associating them on certain principles with Himself. I apprehend what is called "confirming a [not the] covenant" means forming it as on established principles of association. This the prince does with the mass or the many. This prince (not the Messiah) is alone said to do it, and in the dividing of the week, which is referred to in connection with him only, he subverts the whole order of Jewish worship, breaks their apparent link with God, making sacrifice and offering cease. In Daniel 9 we have only the earthly historical view of the matter.

172 But, at this epoch, Satan is cast down from heaven, the blasphemous beast comes up out of the bottomless pit - he whose deadly wound was healed. Thus, incontrovertibly, the last half-week is the great subject of testimony: it alone is referred to by the Lord; nor indeed is the first referred to as a half week when its existence is proved; Dan. 9:27. Of course, as the prince changes his conduct in the dividing of the week, there must have been a half-week before; but the "confirming" is referred to the week in general. Satan's (to him, probably, unlooked for) rejection from heaven changes the whole scene. He, as to the mass, sets aside the public outward testimony to God. This would account for the witnesses being raised up, as witnesses before the God of the earth; because (Satan being become the Satan of the earth then) God's witness must be there where Satan's power is and refer to it, just as the church's ought to the heavenly now. The particular protection of the witnesses accounts for their subsisting in spite of it. They were as Moses and Elias in reference to the power of evil.

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In reply to the questions of your correspondent, "J.M., etc.", in the number for February, I remark: First, if the seven vials are the details of what passes under the seventh trumpet, the question is decided. But where is the proof of this? I have always held chapter 15 as a distinct vision ("I saw another great sign in heaven"), chapters 12-14 to be continuous, or rather to belong to one subject, giving the origin and different aspects of the same series of events up to the final judgment executed at the coming of the Son of man, and then chapter 15 to give another special course of judicial events up to the destruction of Babylon, before the coming of the Lord, which is only brought in subsequently in chapter 19. This part of the difficulty, therefore, falls to the ground, for chapters 15-18 precede the last event of chapter 14. The question whether chapters 15-18 are included in the last trumpet remains untouched, but at any rate to be proved, and not, as yet, a proof of anything.

173 Next, it is assumed that chapter 11:7, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit means "who then ascends out of the bottomless pit"; but of this there is no proof It is a characteristic, and not a date. Is it not rather to be believed that he takes this character when Satan is cast down from heaven, and has great rage, and that the dragon then gives him his throne and great authority?

Further, your correspondent assumes too much when he says on chapter 12:10, that heavenly celebration long precedes earthly accomplishment, if he would use it as proving that the announcement that the worldly kingdom is come, may precede by three years and a half its coming. The cause of the celebration in chapter 12:10, which does anticipate, I do not doubt, ulterior results, is given, and is a present thing, and it is not said "the kingdom of the world," etc. as in chapter 11:15 - a very notable difference. The cause is that after open war, Satan or the dragon is cast down, and though there is an application to the state of certain suffering saints, the heavens only and their inhabitants are called on to rejoice. To the earth and its inhabitants woe is announced from the power of Satan. Surely this is a different thing from Christ's kingdom of this world is come; though they might well say, "Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ; for the accuser is cast down." For in truth the whole state of things was changed, and the heavenly saints delivered, and power established in heaven, in contrast with the meeting accusations.

There remains only one difficulty, that three days and a half occur before God interposes in deliverance. The same difficulty presented itself to me long ago, on the other scheme. For if the seventh trumpet be the beginning of the last half-week, as it is alleged to be by the connection of chapter 12:10 with chapter 6:15, then we have at least three days and a half and something more from chapter 11:14 (comes quickly) intercalated between the end of the first half week and the beginning of the second. I hardly think the fact that a short interval elapsed between the last act of the beast and the public execution of judgment upon him can make a substantial difficulty. It may be the time of the gathering of the armies when Christ is coming as a thief, or the reaping of the earth before the vintage, neither of which could be called the practising of the beast. The difficulty seems to me to be less than intercalating something more than three days and a half between the half-weeks If the three days and a half be put into the last half-week; which would not be, in itself, I apprehend, a difficulty, the whole connection of chapter 11 with chapter 12 and the explanation of chapter 12:10 and following verses falls to the ground. Yet that we have, certainly, some definite half-week in chapter 12 seems clear. I think the subject requires a fuller investigation. I can only here answer the difficulties presented by "J.M.", which do not seem to me to result, as yet, in the rejection of the thought that there is only one half-week spoken of in the Apocalypse. The removal of an objection is not a proof necessarily of the thing objected to. For that I still wait with my mind entirely free.

Your affectionate brother in Christ, J.N.D.