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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 2


6. The Ten Days, or Day for a Year.



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This letter to the Smyrneans is the first place in the Apocalypse where "days" stand for years. The Apocalypse is a book of symbols, in which the greater is represented by the less. Its agents, and their operations, and its times preliminary to the thousand years, are all miniature representations of the reality -- great things illustrated by small. This is the rule of prophecy, whether the truth be stated literally or by symbols -- the verbal always falls short of the real, which is "joy unspeakable and full of glory;" things which cannot be expressed. Because of the Spirit's working by this rule so much has been revealed in so small a book. It is a condensed view of the deep things of the Deity, which, if they had been magnitudinously revealed, "I suppose," as John says, "that even the kosmos itself could not contain the books that should be written."

Condensation, then, is the general principle of divine revelation but of the symbols, it is the special. The apocalyptic times are an apportionment of the times of the Holy City, or of the Saints, concurrent with "the Times of the Gentiles," during which Jerusalem's polity, Hebrew and Christian, is trodden under their feet Hence Jerusalem has her times, and the Gentiles have theirs; but the two sets of times are not times of concurrent prosperity and triumph. On the contrary, when Jerusalem's polity is subject, her times are times of adversity; and those of the Gentiles relatively prosperous; and when she "arises and shines because her Light is come," she becomes victorious,

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and the Gentiles prostrate, according to the word of Isaac, who said to Jacob, "Let the peoples serve thee, and the nations bow down to thee; be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee; cursed is every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee" (Gen. 27:29).

Day is frequently used in scripture to represent a year. The first intimation of this is in Gen. 47:9, where Jacob says, "the days of my pilgrimage are 130 years" and in ver. 28, "the ays of the years of his life were 147 years." In this we have 47,450 days of pilgrimage represented by 130 years. Now, as many thousand days are condensable into a few years, upon the same principle many years may be compressed into a few days. Hence, "the days of the years were 147 years," or, Jacob lived 147 days, each day for a year of days, or 52,6911 days.

This principle of the ideal condensation of a great while into a little, is practically exhibited in Numbers xiv. While the twelve tribes of Israel were in the wilderness, they sent twelve spies to search out the land of promise; "and they returned from searching of the land after forty days." Now these were literal days, and so would have remained purely and simply, but for an incident which was made the occasion of converting them into typical or symbolical days. The spies caused the tribes to despise the land, so that they refused to go up and take possession of it. Therefore the Spirit said, they should wander in the wilderness forty years. His words are, "After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise." Here is the ay for a year rule plainly indicated. Forty days searching of the land in a faithless spirit, working disobedience in the multitude, made typical of forty years bearing of iniquity, ending in death in the wilderness.

The next notable example of a day being appointed to represent a year, is in Ezek. 4:4. In this place he states that he was commanded to lie upon his left side 390 days, during which he would be considered as bearing the past iniquity of the house of Israel. After these were expired, he was to lie upon his right side 40 days, to bear the iniquity of the house of Judah, making in all 430 days for the iniquity of the whole twelve tribes. All these were sign-days, for the Spirit said, "I have appointed thee each day for a year." They were memorial of the past, and prophetic or significant of the future. They memorialized the iniquity of the nation, from their revolt against the house of David, in the fourth year of the reign of Rehoboam, to the nineteenth of Nebuchadnezzar, B.C. 589, when the temple was burned, an interval of 390

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years; and the iniquity of Judah from the fourth of Solomon, when the foundation of the temple was laid, to the fourth of Rehoboam, when his dominion was restricted to Judah and Benjamin. The whole 430 years marks the existence of the temple built by Solomon, a period of national transgression coextensive with the interval between the typical Confirmation of the Land-Covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:7-21), and the end of the sojourning in Canaan and in Egypt (Exod. 12:40). This text is obscure as it stands in the English Version and the Hebrew, unless we read "who dwelt in Egypt" as a parenthesis, thus, "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel (who dwelt in Egypt) was 430 years." That is, "their sojourning was 430 years," partly in Canaan and partly in Egypt, and is so expressed in the Septuagint, which, after Egypt, adds the words kai en ge chanaan, and in the land of Canaan.

But the 430 days of Ezekiel became typical of 430 years, during which the children of Israel "should eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them," saith the Spirit (verse 13). That is, as Ezekiel ate defiled bread for the 430 days he typically bore their iniquity, so the people scattered by Nebuchadnezzar should eat their defiled bread 430 years. History shows this to have been literally fulfilled in the condition of the nation from the burning of the temple to the recovery of independence under the Maccabees, B.C. 169. Thus, 430 years of transgression were visited with 430 years of national humiliation, the former memorialized by 430 sign-days, and the latter typified by the same.

The next instance that may be adduced is illustrative of a day representing years in prophecy, as found in Dan. 8:14. In the previous verse the question is asked, "For how long the vision of the Daily, the desolating transgression, to give both the holy (city) and the host, for a treading underfoot?" The answer is, "For an evening-morning of two thousand and three hundred, then the holy shall be avenged."

In Gen. 1:5, Moses says, "the evening and the morning were one day." Here then is one day of 2300. This is a long day. Is it a day of 2300 days, weeks, months, or years? When the answer was given, the Holy City was nothing but heaps of ruins, and the host of Israel scattered abroad. Now 2300 days are six years, three months, and twenty days; but the period could not be literal days, because from no date that can be selected with the least plausibility did the things predicted come to pass at their expiration. The fulfilment belongs to the times of the Little Horn Power, and this did not appear in the Holy City until B.C. 63. No termination, therefore, before that event can be admitted. The only conclusion that can be arrived at is that it is a day of 2300 years. This long day was to form an interval at the expiration of which means

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would be instituted for the vindication of the Holy from violence. The years have expired, and "the time of the end" has come in which the vindication is to be consummated. It is a day containing the first, second, and part of the third, days of Hosea 6:2, where the Spirit represents Israel as saying, "AFTER two days will he revive us; in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight." These are days of 1000 years each; of the third of which 586 years have passed away. Some time in the third day of a 1000 years the twelve tribes of Israel are to be the subject of a national resurrection.

But we come to understand that the 2300 is a period of years from the evidence afforded in the prophecy of the Seventy Weeks. These relate to the Holy and the Host, and the suppression of the Daily, as well as the 2300. The seventy are evidently weeks of years; for they are stated as beginning at the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, and ending at the cutting off of Messiah the Prince, which was exactly 490 years to a day; and containing seven seventy times.

The Lord Jesus spoke according to the day for a year rule in Luke 13:32. When certain of the Pharisees said to him, "Get thee out and depart hence, for Herod will kill thee;" he replied, "Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out demons, and I do cures to-day, and to-morrow, and the third day, I shall be perfected. Nevertheless, I must walk to-day and to-morrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem." In this passage a day is used six times for a year. Jesus ministered during the latter half of the seventieth week, or the last three years and a half of the 490. When the Pharisees warned him of Herod, there were yet three years for him to occupy; and these years he represented in his reply by as many days.

From these examples we see that a day, according to the nature of the subject treated of, may signify a year, a thousand years, or two thousand three hundred years. In Numb. 14 and Ezek. 4, for the Old Testament; and in Luke 13 and Apoc. 2 for the New, the day for a year cypher is clearly adopted. And I may remark here that the apocalyptic times can be correctly interpreted upon no other. It is true, that the day for a year cypherists have not hitherto succeeded in interpreting the book; but it is also as eminently true that those who affirm, that a day in symbolic writing means a literal day of twenty-four common hours, have as signally failed as their opponents. What they have urged in support of the tradition delivered to them by Romanist and German controversialists and critics, has so little weight in it, that it is not worth the time and space of a formal refutation in these pages. We shall therefore give the objectors the go-by,

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and when we treat of the apocalyptic times as they severally occur, show the correctness of the principle by the fitness and historical accuracy of the interpretation.




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