Scripture foretells in other places of the antichrists’ persecution of believers. For example, it was revealed to John, as he recorded it in the book of Revelation:
And there was given to him [the antichrist] a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies; and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him (Rev. 13:5-7, emphasis added).
Note that the antichrist will be given “authority to act” for forty-two months, or exactly three-and-a-half years. It is interesting that this is exactly one-half the time of the seven-year Tribulation. It seems reasonable to think that it will be the final forty-two months of the Tribulation that the antichrist will be given his “authority to act,” since his authority will certainly be completely taken away from him when Christ returns to wage war against him and his armies at the close of the Tribulation.
Obviously, this “authority to act” for forty-two months speaks of some special authority, as the antichrist will certainly be given some authority by God during his rise to power. This special “authority to act” could well be a reference to the time he is given to overcome the saints, because we read in the book of Daniel:
I kept looking, and that horn [the antichrist] was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days [God] came, and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom….And he [the antichrist] will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time (Dan. 7:21-22, 25, emphasis added).
Daniel foretold that the saints will be given into the hand of the antichrist for “a time, times, and half a time.” This cryptic phrase should be interpreted three-and-a-half years , according to a comparison of Revelation 12:6 and 14. We are told in Revelation 12:6 that a certain symbolic woman will be given a place to hide in the wilderness to be “nourished” for 1,260 days, which amounts to three-and-a-half years of 360-day years. Then, just eight verses later, she is spoken of again, and it is said that she will be given a place in the wilderness to be “nourished” for “a time and times and half a time.” Thus “time and times and half a time” is the equivalent of 1,260 days or three-and-a-half years.
So the word “time” in this context means year , “times” means two years , and “half a time” means half a year . This unusual expression found in Revelation 12:14 must mean the same thing as it did in Daniel 7:21. Thus we now know that the saints will be given into the hand of the antichrist for three-and-a-half years, the same time that we were told in Revelation 13:5 that the antichrist would be given “authority to act.”
I think it goes without saying that both of these forty-two month periods will be identical periods of time. If they begin at the antichrist’s declaration of deity at the middle of the seven-year Tribulation, then the saints will be given into his hands for the next three-and-a-half years, and Jesus will deliver them when He appears in the sky and gathers them to himself at or near the close of the seven-year Tribulation. If, however, those forty-two months begin at some other point during the seven-year Tribulation, then we could conclude that the Rapture will occur at some point before the end of the seven-year Tribulation.
The difficulty with the latter of those two possibilities is that it requires that the saints will be given into the hands of the antichrist before they are in danger and need to flee for the mountains at his declaration of deity. That seems illogical.
The difficulty with the former of those two possibilities is that it would seem to mean that the saints will still be on the earth during many of God’s cataclysmic and worldwide judgments of which we read in the book of Revelation. We will consider this difficulty later.
Now let’s return to the Olivet Discourse.