1260 Insights

Insights on the Meaning of 1260

Astute observers of the Scriptural use of the number 1260, either in days and/or years, have come to the conclusion that this number has a deeper significance than may appear at a casual glance. The following study is a result of my own research, and it is my hope that it may inspire you to continue to dig deeply into the Word of God to discover the hidden gems of truth that are waiting there for our understanding and enlightenment.

First, I would like to clarify a very important concept found in Scripture, which is centered in the phrase, “the appointed time.” This is first used in Genesis 18:14, when the divine Visitor informed Abraham that he and Sarah would have the promised heir “at the appointed time next year.” Solomon says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecc. 3:1. An appointed time in Scripture, or “Moed” in Hebrew, means a set, designated time for meeting an appointment which has previously been made. In the context of prophecy, it is the time when the prophecy is to be fulfilled.

The most prominent use of this word for Seventh-day Adventists is found in Daniel 8:19, and 11:35, concerning the appointed time for the cleansing of the heavenly Sanctuary, and of the time of the end. Paul also refers to the time of the judgment as being “the appointed time” (NIV). 1 Cor. 4:5. One important factor to note is that in order for the fulfillment of a prophecy to be complete, there must be a people who are prepared to receive the prophecy with open hearts and faith in God’s promises, and to be willing to share the message with others. This part is so important that God promises to be there personally to see that the promise is fulfilled.

“I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass…. From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there.” Isa. 48:3, 16.

That was certainly true when Abraham and Sarah were visited by the LORD to announce the time of the birth of Isaac. It was also true when Michael came to help Gabriel convince Cyrus to let God’s people go back to the land of Israel at the end of the 70-year prophecy of Jeremiah 29:10. It was true when Jesus and His disciples came preaching “The time is fulfilled” to His generation. Mk. 1:15, KJV. And it was true of the precious Advent pioneers who preached the message of the judgment in 1844. All of these people received the promise with faith and joy, and were enabled to share the message with their generation. (See Heb. 11:11).

What a challenge to us who are seeing the signs which have been prophesied concerning the second coming of Jesus! We have the privilege of heralding the coming of the King! We must beware of becoming drowsy or unfaithful on the borders of the heavenly kingdom, for Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Lu. 18:8. He must have a people who will catch the vision, and preach the good news to everyone. Jesus is coming again!

But what does “the appointed time” have to do with the prophetic number, 1260? We find this number five times in the books of Daniel and Revelation, all referring to the duration of papal persecution during the dark ages, when the little horn was given power to persecute God’s people. We find Jesus alluding to this time period in Matthew 24:15, along with the signs recorded in the surrounding texts, which map out the experience of God’s people during that time. But since Matthew 24 is a composite of three different time periods – the fall of Jerusalem, the dark ages, and the time immediately preceding His second coming, - Jesus certainly meant for those of us who live in the days just before His coming to understand the prophetic application for our own time in history. We are now on center stage, for we are the ones who are to receive and understand the prophetic messages for our time, and proclaim them to our generation.

One fascinating aspect of the 1260-day/year period, is the fact that so many significant things in Scripture happened during a period of 3 1/2 years, or 1260 literal days. For example, Elijah’s period of no rain was 3 1/2 years. Paul was in the desert of Arabia for 3 years in preparation for his ministry (Gal. 1:18). Jesus’ ministry was 3 1/2 years. His disciples preached for 3 1/2 years after His death, until the stoning of Stephen and the close of Jewish probation as a nation. It was 3 1/2 years from the time the Roman armies first surrounded Jerusalem in the fall of AD 66, until they returned in the spring of AD 70 and destroyed the temple and the city.

What, if any, could be the meaning of this cyclical repetition of the 3 1/2 days or years? From my observation, the common thread seems to be that it takes 3 1/2 years to complete the full cycle of finishing something in every detail. But what is that “something?” I believe the key to be found in 2 Thes. 2:3, when Paul says that Jesus would not come back again until the man of sin, (or lawlessness), was revealed. Perhaps this helps us understand why God allowed His people to be given over to the papal power for 1260 years, until the court of heaven would sit and his power would be taken away (Dan. 7:26).

By this we can conclude that this is the time God allowed for Satan to display his purposes and the nature of his opposition to God’s law, His government and His people. By this process the true character of the “man of sin” was revealed to the universe, judged by God and His saints, and prepared for destruction.

This is consistent with a very important principle in God’s government – that of allowing freedom of choice - and giving ample opportunity for His created beings to choose whether they will follow His laws and love and serve Him with an intelligent appreciation of who He is, what He stands for, and an understanding that all His ways are based upon love. In order to do this, He gives time and opportunity for everyone to see the validity of His requirements and the outworking of His principles versus the results of disobedience. This introduces the concept of a “harvest principle” which is apparent all throughout Scripture. This means that when the outworking of the purposes of God are complete, He acts.

“God permits the wicked to prosper and to reveal their enmity against Him, that when they shall have filled up the measure of their iniquity, all may see His justice and mercy in their utter destruction.” GC 48.

“The Lord….does not forget or neglect His children; but He permits the wicked to reveal their true character, that none who desire to do His will may be deceived concerning them. Again, the righteous are placed in the furnace of affliction, that they themselves may be purified;…and also that their consistent course may condemn the ungodly and unbelieving.” Ibid.

An example of this is shown when in mercy for the Canaanite nations God gave them 430 years of probationary time to accept or to reject His laws. As He said to Abraham, “In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites is not yet full.” And exactly 430 years later, to the very day (Ex. 12:41), the Israelites left Egypt and headed for the promised land. The allotted time period of probation for the Canaanites was ended, and God’s people accepted the challenge to move toward the fulfillment of His promises to them.

This same principle is also displayed in His dealings with His own people, the Jewish nation. As He said to Daniel, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” Dan. 9:24. Once again, a designated time period is specified to deal with the problem of sin, and to bring about righteousness through Jesus. And “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son…to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Gal. 4:4, 5. Thus when Jesus came, His opening message to the world was, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” Mark 1:15.

(Even in the whole plan of salvation for the creation and redemption of our world we can see the working out of the harvest principle and its relationship to the set times of God. The creation of the world took place in 7 (God’s #) days; the re-creation of the world as it has to do with working out God’s plan to redeem mankind has taken 7,000 years. Perhaps that is why Peter is prophetically inspired to say, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day.” 2 Pet. 3:8. This would be consistent with the symbolic meaning of 7000 equaling the finished product of God’s work of grace in the earth, just as in the symbolic number of the finished remnant - 144,000. Seven days times 1000 = 7000; 12 (man’s #) tribes times 1000 = 12,000 for each tribe.)

So it seems apparent that within God’s set time periods are built in the aspects of His longsuffering and mercy, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Pet. 3:9. He gives time for repentance, but He also works to make sure that within the time allotted, all will have had their chance to see the issues and make a final decision. And “as soon as the grain is ripe, He puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” Mark 5:29.

But now let’s go back to our original premise that the number 1260 days and/or years is specifically chosen as God’s allotted timing for allowing Satan to display the nature of his character, and his intentions to take over God’s government, and subvert His people and His truth. Thus the 1260 years of papal supremacy during the dark ages allowed the world and the universe to see what would happen when Satan takes charge of people.

But what about the short time of papal resurgence after the deadly wound is healed? Will there be a parallel for God’s people at the time of the end? Before answering this question, we need to look carefully at two very important key texts found in the Old Testament. These are the most notable ones which are used to show the validity of the year/day principle.
“For forty years – one year for each of the forty days you explored the land – you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.” Num. 14:34.

But notice that the second text is exactly opposite.

“After you have finished this, lie down again…and bear the sin of the house of Judah. I have assigned you 40 days, a day for each year.” Eze. 4:6.

The first text was to be one year for every day the spies explored the land of Canaan and came back with an evil report, thus causing Israel to lose heart and lack the faith to go in and take the land at the command of God. This shows the expansion of time needed to accomplish the consequences of their sins. The second text is one day for every year of Israel’s sin, which God told Ezekiel to bear upon himself, although he was not a participant in that sin. This shows the abbreviated time needed for a righteous person to illustrate or symbolically bear the results of the sins of those whom he is representing.

Thus, we see that when God is allowing human beings to work through the results of their own sins and come to an understanding of the nature of that sin and its consequences, it is a longer time period than when the results of a sin are being displayed and the punishment endured by one who is taking the place of the sinner, though not being personally guilty.
The major example of this principle is displayed in the life of Jesus. His fast of 40 days in the wilderness was commensurate with the 40 years of wandering for the children of Israel.

Where they failed, He conquered Satan and was victorious. The texts that He used to vanquish the evil one were taken directly from the commands given by Moses to sustain and guide God’s people through the wilderness experience. He was tempted in all points like as they were, and He passed the tests in their behalf – and for us, as well. As their representative, He “cleaned the slate” for them,–so to speak,– by His obedience. And if they died in repentance and faith in Him as their Savior, His life of obedience atoned for their sins and shortcomings.

He then entered upon His ministry, and for 3 1/2 years (1260 days) He endured every test that His people would endure during the 1260-year period of struggle with the powers of papal darkness; and not only for them, but for all the faithful saints of God who throughout the ages of earth’s history have given and will yet give their lives in service for their Master.

Because He was completely surrendered to His Father’s will, and the plan of God was perfectly lived out in Him, the battle with the evil one could be “cut short in righteousness” (Rom. 9:28). Satan’s character was completely displayed in that length of time. The universe needed to see no more to be convinced of the hatred and malignity of Satan, contrasted with the wonderful love and mercy of God, His justice in dealing with sin and sinners, and the necessity of the final destruction of the wicked at the end of time. That part of the plan of salvation was finished, and the death of Jesus sealed it in for all time and eternity.

But something very important remained to be accomplished before the redemption of mankind was complete. Jesus’ purpose in coming here on such an expensive errand was to totally “destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jno. 3:8). In order to do this, He must prove that what the Holy Spirit had accomplished in Him, could also be accomplished in His people. His very name means, “He will save His people from their sins.” Matt. 1:21.

To do this would necessitate revealing the works of the devil so clearly that every person would be able to make an intelligent choice. Because we are born in sin and the carnal nature is at enmity with God, it would take time to reveal all the facets of the rebellion of Lucifer to the satisfaction of everyone.

And so, the long time period – the 1260 years, which God permitted to completely reveal the workings of the man of sin - began. During that time, pride, arrogance, doctrines of devils and every evil thing crept into the church. The darkness deepened as the centuries rolled by, until it seemed that the light of truth would be entirely extinguished. But at last the display was complete, and Jesus moved into His final work in the heavenly Sanctuary — the investigative judgment. During this process, all the atrocities and errors of the little horn power would be revealed and judged (Dan. 7:26), in preparation for the eradication and blotting out of even the records of sin from the universe.

We are still in that judgment process. Since 1844, God’s people have been sounding the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14. During that time, the shaking and sealing of the church has also been in process. But the sands in the hourglass are running low. The angels are loosening their hold upon the four winds of the earth. There is only a little space of time for the people of God to prepare for what is coming.

This preparation is at least twofold. First, we must personally understand, experience and internalize the messages of the three angels of Revelation 14. We must search our lives to see whether there are yet within us remnants of thought and behavior which are in sympathy with Satan and his kingdom. We must flee to our Savior to receive from Him the white robe of His merits and His holy life. And we must stay with Him, walk with Him, communicate with Him and live for Him through all the days that lie ahead.

And second, we must be concerned for those around us – first, for our families and those closest to us, and then outward as God shall direct. In Rev. 13:11-15, is prophesied a short time of resurgence, when the little horn power will once again be revealed, but with an even greater ability, and winsomeness to deceive. The universe will have one more chance to see what Satan will do when he is permitted to exercise his power over the people of this earth. We must be willing to do our part to alert them of the danger of accepting the Satanic delusions which will captivate the world. (Rev. 18:1-4).

Although we do not know how much time remains for the finishing of our work, we can be sure that it will be no longer than is necessary for the full and final display of Satan’s evil intentions, and for God’s true children to come out and join the remnant who will stand through the time of trouble.

When Jesus comes again, there will be only two groups –those who have given themselves entirely to the evil one, and those who follow Jesus all the way through the final atonement work of Jesus in the heavenly Sanctuary, and are pronounced “blameless” (Rev. 14:5). When these two groups are fully developed, Jesus will have completed the conditions which are necessary to give Him full legal rights to rescue His faithful ones, and to destroy the wicked at His coming. What are the conditions which Jesus must fulfill before His work is finished?
In Deuteronomy 19:15, we find this very important text: “One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”

Thus, if God should destroy sinners on the basis of the witness of the life of Christ alone, the question would ever remain, “But can God eradicate the sin problem in the lives of fallen sinners who have been steeped in iniquity and captives of Satan?” Praise God, the mouths of all will be stopped when God produces His final remnant, who are cleansed and purified by the merits and sacrifice of His Son, and who no longer covet anything that Satan has to offer. They have learned to hate sin, and to hunger and thirst after righteousness – and they are filled.

This final purified remnant is essential to the finishing of the work of Jesus in the heavenly Sanctuary. In them He has the “second witness” of the efficacy of His merits and His blood to remove and blot out all the sins of His people. These are a finished, living representation of the saved of all ages (Rev. 7:4-10) who have fallen asleep in Jesus at various stages of their spiritual development. The final remnant is the “firstfruits” of the earth (Rev. 14:4), the example of what all true followers of Jesus would, or could, have been had they lived in our day and time with all the light that is shining upon this generation.

It is for this reason that the final remnant, like Ezekiel and Jesus who were representatives of their people but were not participants in their sin, can go through the 3 1/2 years in literal time instead of prophetic, year-day time (See Rev. 10:6, 7). Their cleansing is already accomplished before the 1260 days begins. Of them it is said: “The remnant of Israel will do no wrong.” Zeph. 3:13 (See also Jer. 50:20).

At the same time, the little horn power who will persecute them will have reached the completion of their development as the antichrist and representative of the character of Satan. They, too, will finish the work of transgression in literal time, for they need no more than that to display their true character (See 2 Thes. 2:5-12, and Rev. 17:8-11). This final experience of God’s people is especially foreshadowed in Dan. 12:1-12, although there are still mysteries to be understood as the scroll of these prophecies unrolls.

What a privilege we have to be the elect of God, the generation chosen to live at this time in history–the appointed time of the judgment and the culmination of all things. How can we complain of our hardships when we have such a privilege? Therefore, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,” and, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, “let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Heb. 12:1, 2). Soon – much sooner than we may think – the battle will be over, and we will be at home with our Lord.