Units Of Metaphorical Time In Prophecy

Time periods as expressed in the prophetic books of the Bible are usually expressed in terms of days actually meaning years. Here are two verses where God tells us that one prophetic day will be appointed for one actual earthly year in prophecy.

  • "After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, ever forty days, each day for a year..." (Numbers 14:34)

  • "I (God) have appointed thee each day for a year." (Ezekiel 4:6)

Below is a table showing the values for various prophetic time periods:

Time Period

Normal Time

Prophetic Years


One Year

360 Days

360 Years

Revelation 9:15

One Month

30 Days

30 Years

Zecariah 11:8

One Week

7 Days

7 Years

Daniel 9:27

One Day

One Day

1 Year

Ezekiel 4:6

One Hour

One Hour

15 Days (360 / 24)

Revelation 17:12

Here are some examples taken from scripture:

  1. "But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months." (Revelation 11:2)

    Forty two months is 42 X 30 (years in one 'month') = 1260 years. This 1260 years is re-iterated in the verse that follows the above verse"

    "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth." (Revelation 11:3 KJV)

  2. "And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men." (Revelation 9:15 KJV)

    An hour equals 15 days. A day equals 1 year. A month equals 30 years. A year equals 360 years. Total: 391 years and 15 days.

The Forty-two months, three and one-half years, or twelve
hundred and sixty days mentioned throughout Revelation:

As the symbolic number 144,000 of Revelation 7 verse 9 actually refers to "...A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues...", those periods in Revelation related as 3 1/2 years, 42 months, or 1,260 days also refer to a symbolic time period.

According to the prophecy of the Covenant of the Messiah with Israel, rendered in Daniel Chapter Nine, The Messiah would "confirm the covenant with many" among the Children of Israel for 7 years (1 prophetic week of 7 days) to establish His Kingdom of Heaven on earth:

    "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
    (Dan 9:27 KJVA)

As this verse says, Jesus was crucified during the midst of that 7 year period, which is what caused the "sacrifice and oblation to cease". Since He was the sacrificial Lamb of God, His death and resurrection made further temple sacrifices obsolete.

However, there were still 3 1/2 years left of God's Covenant of Promise with Israel. God's covenants with man are everlasting until fulfilled or He breaks them.

Because He was crucified halfway through His confirmation of the covenant, the remaining 3 1/2 years, 42 months, or 1,260 days of Jesus' confirmation of the Covenant of Promise, metaphorically and prophetically, will continue until Jesus' return.