We are now in what I believe to be a forty-two month period of preparation for Christ’s return, when victories are determined for the people of God, in anticipation of Jesus’ descent from heaven and the ultimate manifestation of His glory. This article explains what this assertion means and does not mean.
Because of what the Lord has revealed in His word about the meaning and nature of the number forty-two in the Old Testament and in the book of Revelation, and because of the state of the world and the discrepancy between what many Christians say they believe and how they live, it is possible to now be in the forty-two month period of achieving victory in preparation for Christ’s return.
It took Israel forty-two journeys to leave Egypt and to rid themselves of Egyptian influence. It took “days, one thousand, two hundred, sixty” or forty-two months of preaching for the witnesses of Revelation to deliver their message; those who overcame the enemy and accuser are protected for the same amount of time. Forty-two also represents the transformation of all perceived interruptions to our goal into steppingstones toward its fulfillment. We become ready for the return of Christ by obeying the voice of Jesus.
The obvious question is, “How can we know if we are in that time period today?” I do not know exactly when the forty-two month period began. I would not be able to pinpoint the date on the calendar. I am also unable to say that the 1,360 days will end precisely on a particular calendar day of the week in a certain year. The Biblical meaning of the number fort-two is what leads me to believe that we are now somehow in that period of history.
Although the book of Revelation in the New Testament refers to forty-two months or an equivalent time period, those references are not the first time the Bible refers to forty-two. Looking at the development of the concept in Scripture can help us understand how forty-two applies today.
To understand the implications of the forty two months or what is also referred to as time, times, and half a time, or three and a half years, we must first travel back to when the Lord delivered Israel from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. The essence of the forty-two months is the deliverance of God’s people from the power of world forces and spiritual authorities other than Christ, to give Israel freedom as God’s children. In Israel’s case, they needed to be freed from the idolatry of Egypt; today, we need freedom from the idolatry of the nations.
Numbers 33:1 introduced forty-two as the number of Israel’s journeys. These journeys out of Egypt can help us understand what forty-two months means in the last days. Although many interpret this number literally, I believe it is most useful to understand it both literally and metaphorically based on its meaning to Israel.
Yes, Israel literally camped at the forty-two sites described in Numbers 33. Knowing the beginning and the end, God chose to make the number forty-two, the number of events it took for Israel to leave Egypt through the power of God, represent the time it takes for the two witnesses of Revelation to complete their message and the time the Lord cares for the believers in the desert who have achieved victory (Revelation 12). We must complete the journeys the Lord has for us, all the stops along the way as He wills, as Elijah had to complete His divine appointments before the whirlwind carried Him up to heaven.
Jews believe it took forty-two journeys not so much for Israel to leave Egypt but to complete their cleansing from the idols of Egypt. We also must become purified in heart from the unrighteous influences of idols. In Daniel, purifying, refining, and cleansing are all part of reaching the end of 1,335 days mentioned in Daniel 12. Also, in the same chapter, it was said to Daniel, `After a time, times, and a half, and at the completion of the scattering of the power of the holy people, finished are all these.’
But someone may say that Christ’ death and resurrection has already fulfilled the seventy weeks of Daniel. Since the number seventy implies forgiveness, restoration, and return, as when the time of the Babylonian captivity was completed, that actually supports the fact that Christ’s victory is available to everyone who believes, because as Christ said when He was dying upon the cross, “It is finished.” He completed the work the heavenly Father had for Him to do. Now, we must become the servants God has called us to be.
God has made a way through the blood of the Lamb for His bride to become spotless and stand victorious with Christ at His second coming. Jesus said in the book of Revelation that it takes waking up to complete the works God has for us to accomplish. We must complete what God has for us to do, as Israel had to complete her journeys, which separated to God those prepared to enter the Promised Land.
The forty-two journeys, which in total covered the forty years Israel had to wander in the desert, separated the generation who would enter into the land of God’s promise from the generation who would perish in the desert. God intended Israel’s sojourns to take them out of the narrow confinements of idolatry into the position to overcome every enemy and establish the reign of God to light the way of the nations back to God. The Lord also uses our circumstances to bring us to Himself as the only one who can provide strength in place of our weaknesses, His power to meet our needs, and His guidance to accomplish His purpose.
Just as Israel had to be cleansed from the influences of Egypt, believers in Jesus today must come out and be separated from spiritual Babylon. Water baptism externally removes dirt from the body, and believers must undergo a baptism of fire for internal cleansing and purification. John, who said he is not worthy to untie the sandal of Jesus, said Christ, the one who is to come, would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Forty-two is about the humble victory of God’s people over the accuser of the brethren, but search online for Bible references to the number forty-two and you will likely come across negative associations, specifically with God’s people being trampled and the beast being granted authority against the people of God, yet other references frame the period in a positive light and that is the focus here. For forty-two months the two witnesses of Revelation 11 testify with great authority. God also protects His overcoming people in the desert for the same amount of time, spoken of in Revelation 12 as a time, times, and half a time.
Israel saw each stop along their way across the desert as an interruption to their reaching the Promised Land, but each stop was needed to bring them to their destination. As it was for them it is for us. Each perceived setback in life is not an interruption but rather something God transforms into an essential steppingstone to the goal. Having reached the goal was the key for Israel being able to see all the stops as preparation for entering into the promised land, the deliverance from the time of Jacob’s trouble and his descendants fulfilling the patriarch’s return to Canaan. We are brought to the goal through Jesus providing Himself the sacrifice for our sins, so we can now see our past in the light of the transformation of Christ.
Two things are clearly happening at this time. The world is ever getting worse, and Christians are being trampled, but all of this is happening in order to refine and purify God’s people, so they can stand before God unashamed and with confidence at Christ’s return. God is giving discernment of what is happening for those who are being made ready, while those who continue to do wickedness will not understand.
The forty-two months is literal in the sense that the message of overcoming the enemy by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and not loving life unto death is literal. Living in a manner worthy of the Lord can also literally hasten His return. Our goal is to finish the work God has prepared for us to do, so that we, who are minding the things above, not only speed His return but can also influence others to experience His reign and the hope of His second coming.
When we are no longer moved by what moves the nations of the world, when we are content as His true servants should be with what the Lord has for us to do, whether large or small, highly visible or nearly invisible to the eyes of others, we will be preparing His way and making straight paths for Christ’s return.
Revelation 11 speaks of two witnesses completing their message in three and a half years.
Why that amount of time? According to the book of Daniel, the time of the end is the time for purifying, cleansing, and refining. Forty-two journeys and forty-two months are similar. They inform each other. The focus of this study of the 42 months is not the number of days, per se, but what takes place in each believer’s heart to finish those days, completing the process to reach the goal and experience God’s protection, not the number itself. In Daniel 12, God promises to bless those who reach the end of the 1,335 days. Why? They are becoming refined, purified, and cleansed; they have completed the 42 months.
What does the Lord want us to do to fulfill the work He has for us, so that we with confidence can say like Paul that we have kept the faith, finished the race, and have fought the excellent fight? Each of us must be hearing what the Spirit is saying and must be achieving the victory He has for us through the grace and promises of Jesus. If we are doing the will of God, then whenever the time comes for Christ’s return, we will be ready.