The phrase "forty-two months" is prophetically characteristic of a period of persecution.  The trampling of the outer court is a proverb for the people of God under the domination of unbelievers in different periods in history—Antiochus Epiphanes, the Romans in a.d. 70, and the end-time Antichrist.

Forty-two months, or its equivalent, is mentioned several times in the Bible.  The origin seems to be the book of Daniel.

1. Daniel 7:25; 12:7 mention "a time, times, and half a time" or 1277 days (assuming a "time" equals one year), cf. Rev. 12:14

2. Daniel 8:14 mentions 2300 evenings and mornings

3. Daniel 12:11 mentions 1290 days

4. Daniel 12:12 mentions 1335 days. Similar phrasing is found in Rev. 11:3; 12:6 (1260 days) and 11:2; 13:5 (42 months).

Another way to look at this enigmatic phrase is to see it as a sequence: one, two, but not a third; therefore, a divinely limited amount of time under which Gentile kingdoms persecute God’s people. God, in the book of Daniel, is in complete control (cf. Dan. 7:4,6,11,12,18,22,25,26,27)!

When all of these occurrences are taken into account, their variety seems to speak of the symbolic nature of the numbers (see Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture), while their proximity to forty-two months seems to show that it is a symbolic number for a period of persecution.  Since three and a half is half of seven, it seems to be a reference to a complete period of persecution that has been cut short (cf. Matt. 24:22; Mark 13:20; Luke 21:24).  Persecution is limited in God's love as is judgment. 


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