Song of Songs, Commentary

Prophetic Time Periods
    Religious teachers may easily pick brief passages of Scripture and assign detailed meaning to them disregarding context and harmony with the rest of the Bible. In reading or hearing other people's ideas about the Bible, we are responsible to be like the people of Berea who "searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). One topic that deserves more explanation than could easily be included along with the Bible text is how to understand the major time prophecies. I invite you to test what I tell you with your own Bible.
    At several points in the Song of Songs drama, the daughters of Jerusalem are charged not to awaken love before it is ready. This happens when the bride is waiting for the realization of hope. In comparing the story of the history of the church, we see the charges appearing during periods of trial and expectation for God's people - times when the fulfillment of love had to remain asleep.
    The specific length of one period of trial is mentioned in seven different verses the books of Daniel and Revelation. It is noted as 3½ "times" or years (Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 12:14), as 42 months (Rev. 11:2; 13:5), and as 1260 days (Rev. 11:3; 12:6). For this period and most others in the Bible books of prophecy I have found the "day" to be a prophetic symbol for a year. Here are several lines of evidence:
    1. On two specific occasions, a day is said to represent a year. When the Children of Israel refused to enter Canaan, the divine pronouncement was, "According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection" (Num. 14:34). And, speaking to Ezekiel, God said, "I have laid on you a day for each year" (Ezek. 4:6).
    2. The time span described in two major prophecies is obviously greater than the number of literal days specified. In Daniel 8:13, 14, the trampling was to be stopped and the sanctuary cleansed or vindicated "after 2300 days." Part of the question introducing the 2300 days was, "How long will be the vision?" The vision began (8:2) when the ram (Media and Persia, 8:20) was standing (in power), and continued during the time of Greece (8:5, 21) and on through the power of the little horn (8:9). This did not all happen in 2300 literal days (six 360-day years plus 140 days).
    The other long time period is the seventy weeks of Daniel 9:25-27 (somewhat more than a year in literal time). Seven of the weeks (49 days) were allotted for building Jerusalem (verse 25). That couldn't have happened in 49 days or even 490. And the earthly ministry of the Messiah (cut off in the middle of the week following the 62 weeks, verses 26, 27) was centuries after the time of Daniel.
    The day-for-a-year principle is consistent with a New Testament interpretation of the 70 weeks. Paul was evidently referring to the prophecy in Daniel 9 in writing that God sent His Son "when the fullness of the time had come." (Gal. 4:4; Dan. 9:25-27). For the fulfillment to reach to Christ's time more than literal days were required.
    3. Thinking of years in terms of "days" (although not necessarily as equivalent to days) was common in Old Testament times just as we use expressions like "back in his day" and "in this day and age" to mean more than single days. Here is a biblical example: "And Jacob said to Pharaoh, 'The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.'" (Gen. 47:9). Also study Leviticus 25, especially verse 8.
    4. In the three prophecies mentioned where 3½ literal years stands for years of symbolic days, the word "times" (in the original languages) is substituted for the usual word for years. This would seem unnecessary except to avoid confusion between literal years and symbolic years (as days) in the same passage. (See Dan. 4:10 for the use of "times" as literal years.)
    5. It works. As noted for Song of Soloman 2:5, dates 1260 years apart mark a period of time matching the prophetic description. "Days" in other time prophecies may also be seen as years in historical fulfillments.

    The interpretations offered for the 1260 and 2300-day time periods differ from some others you may hear. But to this simple Bible reader they are clear, consistent, and logical while other explanations run into difficulty when the verses are taken in context and when they are compared with the facts of history. I appeal to your personal study, as "a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). The 2300-day prophecy is mentioned briefly in the commentary for Song of Solomon 3:5. You may want to look there to pick up the thread of the discussion which follows.
    Gabriel was told to explain the vision of Daniel 8 but we come to the end of the chapter finding the prophet still very distressed about the 2300 days which were left unexplained (Dan. 8:16, 27). The term translated "days" in verse 14 is literally "evenings and mornings" (drawing on Gen. 1:5). Some ten, years later, Gabriel returned to give the prophet "skill to understand" (Dan. 9:22). He told him to "consider the matter, and understand the vision: Seventy weeks are determined [literally, "cut off"] for your people and for your holy city. . . ." (Dan. 9:24).
    Daniel had been praying about his rebellious people who should have been ready to return to Jerusalem after the 70 years of captivity predicted by Jeremiah (Dan. 9:2, 11, 17; Jer. 25:8-11). Now God was giving the Jewish People a different probationary period of 7 times 70 years. Taking the 70 weeks to have been "cut off" from the 2300 days, we may assume the same beginning date. In verse 25 of Daniel 9, a beginning time Is given as "from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem." The decree which called for both the restoration and the building of Jerusalem is historically dated as 457 B.C. (Dan. 9:25; Ezra 7:11-26).
    This date is consistent with the less-specific beginning time for the vision of the 2300 days given in chapter 8. In the opening scene of that vision, Daniel saw the ram of Media and Persia standing (Dan. 8:2, 20). In other words, the Medes and Persians (chapter 8) were in power in 457 B.C. at the time the decree was issued (chapter 9). Both prophecies related to Daniel's contemporary concern for his people and city and are thus measured from a date in his general time in history.
    Not long after the beginning of the new religious freedom which followed the 1260 day-years, a world-wide religious awakening developed predicting the return of Christ in 1843, then in 1844. Key texts were Daniel 8:14 (about the sanctuary cleansing after 2300 days) and Revelation 14:8 (the hour of judgment is come; leave Babylon). Both the cleansing of the sanctuary and the judgment were thought to be associated with the purification of the earth by fire at the coming of Christ. Obviously the events didn't occur as expected.
    Some of the disappointed ones studied to learn what went wrong. They discovered that the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 was not the earth at all but that Jesus is ministering for us in a sanctuary in heaven which indeed needed cleansing or restoration (Hebrews 8:1, 2; Heb. 9:23, 24). The sanctuary Moses built (Ex. 25:8) and the Jewish temples which followed it were only copies of the sanctuary in heaven (Ex. 25:9, 40).
    They also saw, in Revelation 10, a description of their own experience of hope and disappointment: "And I took the little book out of the angel's hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter." Then continuing with the next verse, they found their responsibility: "And he said to me, 'You must prophecy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings [the very terminology of one of their key texts!]' Then I was given a rod. And the angel stood, saying, 'Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there'" (Rev. 10: 10 - 11:1). The items to be "measured" were atoned for on the annual Day of Atonement when the Old Testament sanctuary was cleansed or restored (Lev. 16:20). They found that instead of coming to the earth in 1844 at the end of the 2300 day-years, Christ went into the most holy place of the sanctuary in heaven. (See Heb. 7:25; Rev. 4:5; 11: 19; Dan. 7: 10.) His purpose: cleansing and judgment (See the commentary on Song 6:2). And see the article on this topic (r03d).
    The Holy and Most Holy sections of the tabernacle corresponded to Christ's forgiveness ministry throughout the year and His cleansing ministry on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 4:27-31; 16:16, 29, 30; Compare 1 John 1:9). Both ministries were based on His death on the cross which was represented by sacrifices on the altar in the sanctuary courtyard. As you can see, the whole sanctuary system is a picture of Christ's ministry for us. It shows His dealing with the plague of sin so we can choose to share His victory!

    Some people feel that Jesus' sitting down on His Father's throne (Rev. 3:20) is represented by the high priest's entering the most holy place on the Day of Atonement. Since Jesus sat down on the throne after He ascended to heaven (Heb. 1:3), they reason that nothing special happened in 1844 (after 2300 years). The idea sounds good except that sitting down on the throne was symbolized by something else - the setting up (inauguration) of the whole system of the sanctuary (explained under "crowned" at Song 3:11). Furthermore, if the ministry in what the Bible usually calls the Most Holy Place had begun immediately after the ascension, there would have been no time allotted to the Holy Place ministry, since neither was possible before Christ's blood was shed on the cross (Heb. 9:22). When our Saviour died, the temple veil was torn in two by an unseen hand, showing that He had brought to an end the old system of sacrifice and offerings (Matt. 27:51; Dan. 9:27). At the last supper with His disciples, Jesus had said, "This [bread] is my body. . . ." and "this cup is the new covenant in My blood" (1 Cor. 11:25). Since the cross, we are able to approach Him "by a new and living way, through the veil, that is, His flesh" (Heb. 10: 19; The veil was the door to the whole tabernacle. A second veil partitioned off the inner sanctuary or Most Holy Place (Heb. 9:3).
    After the cross, Christ's work began in the sanctuary in heaven. This ministry was for people of both the Old and New Testaments. It had been accepted as a promise by worshipers at the tabernacle Moses set up and at the Jewish temples which followed. After Christ, as the Lamb of God, had been sacrificed as the lamb in the courtyard (the earth), it was time for Him, as the priest, to continue His ministry inside the tabernacle (heaven). Before beginning that work he received the crown and sat down with His Father on the throne (which was not confined to the Most Holy Place, Isa. 66: 1; Psalms 139:7-10; Matt. 26:64; Psalm 110:1). He was first to minister in the Holy Place for the forgiveness of sin, and later (after 2300 years) in the Most Holy for the cleansing of sin from the sanctuary (and thus from the people). This process would stop the trampling (Dan. 8:13, 14). Incidentally, these verses do not say that the sanctuary restoration would be accomplished In an instant at the end of 2300 days.
    Do you see these time prophecies about Christ and His church reflected in the story of the Song of Songs? How did the Old Testament sanctuary illustrate God's on-going resolution of the sin problem? Here are challenges for your study.
Bible texts from the NKJV
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