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Time, Times, and Half a Time (Kairos)

Francesco de' Rossi, Time As Occasion (Kairos) (PD)
The woman was given two wings of a great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent’s presence to her place in the wilderness, where she was fed for a time, times, and half a time.
-Revelation 12:14

What time is it?  It is important to understand the times.  There are two basic kinds of time in the NT.  Kairos times and chronos time.  Kairos is the appointed time, special time, or time of opportunity; and chronos time is just the passing of time.

To say, "It was the time when we got married", is kairos time.  Another example is , "Harvest time".  The harvest is at an appointed time, when the produce is ready to be brought in.  Time (chronos) is passing throughout the year, but only one time is harvest time (kairos).

Kairos comes out of chronos.  In other words; strategic, opportune times come out of regular, normal times (general, daily routine times).  For example, a woman experiences a time of pregnancy and a time of birth.  Some pregnancies and births seem simple, but for many other mothers and children, it is very dangerous.  There is opportunity and danger in kairos seasons and times.

In Revelation 12, the word is "kairos".  Revelation 12:14 is an echo of Daniel 7:5 and 12:7.  The phrase, "Time, times, and half a time", based on Daniel's prophecy, that is believed to have been first fulfilled with the time of Jewish suffering from 167 to 164 BC, under the Syrian despot, Antiochus Epiphanes (1); means, according to the NIV Study Bible,  "a limited period of unrestrained wickedness".

But, in Revelation 12, John uses this apocalyptic time symbol for a 3 1/2 year period of intense persecution, as a time of hiding, of being hidden by God.  The wings of the eagle take the woman away from danger, to a place of refuge, where she is protected and nourished.  Perhaps she is also trained, if we use the whole Bible to interpret what happens in the desert.  The desert is a place of growth.

In Revelation 12, we have "second exodus" imagery (2).  The woman, who represents Israel(3), flees from the dragon, who represents Satan.  Wings of an eagle lift the woman and take her to safety.  Who does the eagle represent?  I don't know, but it is God's gracious care.

The woman is lifted and taken to the desert.  The text (I have the CEB open) reads, "the great eagle", "her place in the desert", and "so she could be taken care of".  This is not just "an eagle" or "a flock of eagles", but "the great eagle".  This sounds like John is saying that it is an archangel or God, Holy Spirit.  I love how it says, "her place".  Even in the desert, God has a place for you, a place that will be home, even if for a set time.  Then, it says, that she will be taken care of.  The desert is not a place of banishment, but a place of nurture.

The picture that John seems to be painting in Revelation chapter 12, is that the early church(3) will have an exodus into the wilderness, and be pursued as the Israelite's were by Pharaoh.  This will be for a time, and during that time, God will deliver and care for the church in the wilderness.

In researching this topic, I found the theory or belief that "time" here, and in Daniel 7 and 12, equals 1000 years.  I think they call that "apocalyptic time", so "time, times, and half a time" would be 3,500 years.  I am not arguing for that or against it.

It looks like we can deduce that "time" in this verse (Rev. 12:14) means year, because nearby, John gives the same period of time in days (12:6), (1,260 days); and months (13:5), (42 months).

My point, or take-away, is that "time" here is kairos time, a special, significant, strategic time.  John was prophesying a coming kairos time of a limited period of persecution and hiding.   Throughout the times (chronos), there have been these seasons and we might, or some of the worldwide church might be in one right now.

The point is that these strategic times come and we need to be aware of them.  There is a time for preparation and a time for battle.  Those are two different times.  We need to be aware of what time we are in.  We are in a different time and season that we were in the past.

This is a corporate and individual issue.  For example, one couple is courting, another couple are newlyweds, another couple have small children, and another couple are watching their now adult children get married, and start their own homes.

Corporately; churches, cities, states, and nations have times and seasons that are strategic.

Esther 4:14 is a verse to look at, which says, "For such a time as this".  Grab your Greek OT and see how they translated that verse.

I believe we are in a special time.  God is always on the move.  There are windows of opportune time and periods of siege, when we let God protect us and teach us.  Siege and wilderness and different, by the way.

Knowing the times should be part and parcel for all believers.  Distraction and passivity, consumerism, and selfishness are all available, to keep us from God's kairos.  There's no better time than right now, to freshly commit to God and take up your cross and follow the one with the nail pierced hands into his destiny for you.

1. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, p. 241
2. Fee, Revelation, p. 176
3. Ladd sees, "the woman is the heavenly representative of the people of God, which he calls the ideal Zion or ideal church in heaven", (Ladd, Revelation, 1972).  If we say that the woman represents the church, some will cry "foul" and say she is Israel.  And when we say, "She is Israel", some would ask, "What about (where is) the church".  The church is the (spiritual) Israel in Rev. 7, and it is (ethnic) Israel in Re. 12.  But spiritual Israel, the people of God, are birthed through Messiah, who comes out of ethnic Israel.  Cannot it be "both-and", rather than "either-or"?  I'm pretty sure that the seven churches in Asia Minor, were comprised of Jews and Gentiles, ethnic Israelite's and converted Gentiles, not to Judaism, but to Christ.  Isn't this the "new man"(Eph. 2:11-15) or the "grated branches" into the olive tree, of the people of God (Rom. 11:11-31)?


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