Daniel 7: A New Perspective
Speaking of Time
God has indicated that the tribulation of the saints lasts for a time, times, and half time, or for 42 months (Dan. 7:25). If we take this time frame literally, then the whole tribulation period lasts only three and half years. But such an undertaking clashes with reality. If we interpret the vision of Daniel in Ethiopian politics terms, then we have to interpret the time frame symbolically as we did with the rest of the vision. Since we already know that the Ethiopian Revolution has lasted more than 3.5 years, we must look for a symbolic meaning of not only the 1,260 prophetic dates, but also equally for the other two prophetic dates, namely 1,290 and 1,335 days associated with the duration of the calamitous period.
One clue for the symbolic understand of times will be to recognize that Scripture singles out certain numbers to use them as length of time, but with profound prophetic and symbolic intent. The following numbers when used as length of time (either used as days or years), mean something prophetic: 3, 7, 12, and 40. The numbers 7 and 12 are used as objective measures of time. Seven (and its multiples) is the standard measure for the week and month cycles. Seven is associated with the lunar cycle. On the other hand, twelve, which is associated with the solar cycle, is used to measure the diurnal and annual cycles. (For example, see Gen. 1:14 where God established the celestial bodies to mark seasons and times).
Moreover, God also uses what we call heaps of time to establish some religious/ spiritual order. For example, based on the idea of seven-days based week cycle, He also establishes the seven-year cycle, as well as the 49-years (jubilee) cycle (Lev. 25).
However, God has used an undefined time measure to inform Daniel about the duration of the tribulation period. God stated that a “time” with its multiples will make the span of the impious tyrannical system.
“The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time.” (Dan 7:25)
So, what does God’s prophetic “time” span mean here? How long is a “time’? To begin with, good candidates for the “time” span include: three, seven, twelve, and forty years.
Given what has happened in Ethiopia since 1974, I decide to take “time” to refer to 12 years, Therefore, a “time” is a prophetic time capsule made up of 12 years. Hence, the calculation of the duration of the calamitous period, becomes.
A time = 12 years
Two times = 24 years
Half-time = 6 years
For a total of 42 years.
Hence, counting 42 years from 1974 gets us to 2016, which by itself is a significant year in Ethiopian politics. The Revolution turned 42 years in 2016. The year 2016 is important in Ethiopian politics as it is in November that year that we’ve started to see serious protests emerging against the EPRDF regime. It is these protests which finally culminated in overthrowing the Marxist/ Stalinist dispensation which has dominated Ethiopian politics since 1974. The protests gave hope that the eclipse that has enveloped the country was finally to lift.
We equally recognize that the atheist dispensation did not end in 2016 and to this Scripture gives additional hint. For example, in Daniel 12, we read how God extends the completion time at least twice.
"From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. Blessed is the one who waits for and reaches the end of the 1,335 days.” (Dan. 12:11-12, NIV)
That is, we are given two new end-points, prophetic landmarks, namely 1,290 days and 1,335 days. If we apply again the same formula where we take each prophetic day to mean 12-years, then 1,290-days equals 43 years and 1,335 days equals 44.5 years. When applied to Ethiopian events (starting our counting from 1974 from the year of the Ethiopian revolution), these two dates take us up to 2017 and 2018, respectively. But do these two-year markers then match any significant change in Ethiopian politics? Do the 43 and 44.5-year mark dates (i.e., counting from the 1974 Ethiopian Revolution) mean anything?
The year 2017 is significant because the anti-regime protests had become widespread and sustained. The year 2017 made clear that the EPRDF days were numbered. The second phase of Ethiopia’s Marxist/ Stalinist Revolution (i.e., the EPRDF dispensation) looked to wind down.
What happened in the 44.5-years mark, meaning in mid-2018? Something quite prophetic and remarkable has happened in Ethiopia in mid-2018 which gained worldwide attention and respect. It was in April 2018 that the 2.5-years old protests crested achieving radical change. The leadership changed at the top. The coming of Dr. Abiy Ahmad (who is a born-again Christian) to the helm of power, in many eyes, is God’s miracle. Abiy’s rise to power inaugurated a new day in Ethiopian politics. It became clear that communism/ atheism was out of the Ethiopian palace finally.
Hence, we can conclude that 1,260 days initiated, the 1,290 days sustained, and the 1,335 culminated the regime change protest movement.
Or, we can equally argue the 1,290-days and 1,335-days mark points are included for another reason. We can argue saying that the momentous tribulation train does not come to an immediate stop. Mechanical engineering requires that a train with high momentum must apply the brakes slowly lest the train derails. Similarly, God slowly winds down the Marxist/ Stalinist train slowly, gradually. He needs two or three additional years to bring everything to a halt and system change. Hence, the same deceleration principle applies to the prophetic-spiritual world.
But does, the 44.5-years mark (mid-2018) mean total and final rest? No, because again some time must elapse as indicated by the angel who spoke to Daniel:
"As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance." (Dan. 12:13, NIV)
It is just like this. Once an airplane has touched down, it must run on the runway for a few miles before it stops. Even after the airplane has stopped, passengers must wait until the motor (blades) stop rotating. Only then do the doors open and passengers leave the airplane. As there are stages of ending a long flight, in similar ways God’s long tribulation journey, apparently, follows the same principle. The series of dates about the the duration of the tribulation (i.e., 1,260, 1,290, and 1,335, etc.) are intended to intimate such idea: Things do not return to normal right away. .
The idea of gradual deceleration of calamity also gets support from one story in the Scriptures. Regarding, the Flood (Gen. 8), once the rains has stopped, we are informed that the flood waters receded gradually. The Holy Spirit intentionally marks out milestone dates and the series of waiting days Noah has to do before he disembarked from the boat.
"The water receded steadily from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the water had gone down, and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible. After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark" (Gen. 3-6, NIV)
Noah's times foreshadows the sinful culture of the last days and the Flood prefigures the wrath of God which will overtake the earth as the result (Luk. 17). Similarly, the effect of the tribulation will recede step by step, and not immediately.
[Note 1: Throughout the Bible we read how God uses three days (similarly, the third day) as symbol of a divine sanctioned waiting period. We have either to wait, journey, or prepare for three days before God perfects His plan. The period is used as a sign of our obedience in waiting upon God. For example, see Gen. 22:4; Joshua 1:11, 3:2; Esther 4:16; Luke 13:32; Matt. 12:40; Rev. 11:11.]
[Note 2: Time capsules (heaps) are human inventions used to measure time more conveniently and to organize life easily. Some of the most common ones include the following:
1 day = 12 (24) hours
1 week = 7 days
1 month = 30 days
1 year = 12 months
Decade = 10 years
Century = 100 years
Millennium = 1,000 years
[Dedication: To my beloved mother Etete Desta. RIP]
Glory be to God.
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