In three chapters of the Book of Revelation, the number 1260 is referred to six times. Four times in chapter eleven, once in twelve and one more time in thirteen. At the end of chapter thirteen there is a reference to the number 666.
Chapter eleven starts with an a angel telling the prophet John to measure the temple of God, the alter and those who worship therein, but in verse two he is told not to measure the court outside of the temple for it is given to the gentiles. These same gentiles will walk over the holy city for forty-two months.
In prophesy each day represents a year and a month is 30 days. Forty-two months therefore represents 1260 years.
In verse three mention is made of two witnesses who will prophesy for 1260 days, again representing 1260 years. These two witnesses are given some amazing powers. Verse five says that fire proceeds from their mouths and devours their enemies. In prophesy that which proceeds from the mouth represents the words they speak, so it is their words that devour their enemies. These two witnesses have complete power until the beast appears. When they have finished their testimony the beast will ascend out of the bottomless pit and make war against them, overcome them and kill them.
These witnesses would not be buried but their bodies would lie in the great city where our Lord was crucified for three and a half days. In prophesy this represents three and a half years, each year representing 12 months of 30 days or 360 days. Three and a half times three hundred and sixty is equal to one thousand two hundred and sixty days. If we again take a day for a year we have 1260 years or this may mean just 1260 days.
The people of the earth rejoiced at their death and celebrated until the spirit of Life from God entered into them. In verse eleven we have our fourth reference to 1260 when it states that they came alive and stood up after three and a half days. Now their enemies would see them ascend into Heaven in clouds and great disasters would torment the earth killing many.
In chapter twelve we are introduced to a woman who would give birth to a man child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. A great red dragon pursued the woman with intentions of devouring her child, but the child was snatched up into heaven and the woman hid in the wilderness for 1260 days. (verse 6)
Now chapter thirteen opens with an introduction to a beast named Blasphemy. Having seven heads and ten horns and wearing ten crowns, it would seem this beast represents ten nations ruled by seven leaders. This is the big one. It had authority and power and it blasphemed God. The people of earth reverenced it and stood in awe before its power, even worshipping this beast. It was given power to continue for forty-two months. This is the sixth reference to 1260.
This beast was given power and a mouth to blaspheme, but that was not enough. Another beast appears with equal power and causes the people of earth to worship the first beast. He now makes an image of the first beast and gives it life. All who refuse to worship the beast are to be killed. No one can buy or sell unless he has the mark of the beast, the name of the beast or the number of his name on his right hand or forehead. The chapter concludes by telling us that the number of the beast is the number of a man and that his number is 666.
I have shortened this synopsis and left many things out, so it would be wise to read these chapters for yourself and see what understanding you come to.
I once went to a study class on revelation and had the mark of the beast explained in this way.
Forehead means understanding, as it is in the frontal lobe of the brain where understanding occurs. 666 is 999 upside down. 9 is the number for perfection since it is the largest single digit and is said to have all other numbers within it. Perfection upside down would refer to corruption. Repeated three times means corruption of the mind, soul and body. So taking the mark of the beast in your forehead means that you have corruption in your understanding.
It wasn’t explained what it means by the right hand, but I think this refers to what we do as the right had is usually employed in most of our tasks.
To me it can be no mere coincidence that the number 1260 appears so many times in prophesies and that the declaration of the Báb occurred in the year 1260 AH. It is the description of the things that occur for and duration of 1260 years that I find confusing. I suppose trying to understand spiritual things with a physical brain has its drawbacks. Perhaps the 1260 is repeated simply so we will recognize the significance of that year in history, but time being a physical limitation has no meaning in the spiritual.
The man mentioned in chapter 12 that was destined to rule may refer to Mohammad or Baha’u’llah. Since they are regarded as one, this is not a problem. Mohammad was destined to rule but was snatched into Heaven to protect Him from the Dragon. His Mother, representing the creative force that brought Him into being, was kept alive in the wilderness for 1260 years. We know that the creative power is the word of God, so the woman represents the Qur’an. Although Mohammad’s physical being lived on earth for a short time, His true abode was Heaven were the dragon could not reach Him.
The two witnesses in chapter 11 may very well represent the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. Of course we are not to make any distinction between the Manifestations of God so they are therefore equivalent to Mohammad. Bahá’u’lláh revealed to us, “Beware, O believers in the Unity of God, lest ye be tempted to make any distinction between any of the Manifestations of His Cause, or to discriminate against the signs that have accompanied and proclaimed their Revelation.” (Gleanings p59)
So the Manifestation of God held awesome power over the earth for 1260 years, but the people didn’t like it so they rejoiced when the beast rose from the bottomless pit and killed them. By this time they had finished their revelation and now they would lie as dead in the great city for 1260 years. In other words the life of their revelation was gone and only the outward form (their bodies) remained. The people rejoiced at their death for 1260 years until they were given new life. They then watched in terror as the two witnesses ascended into Heaven in a cloud. We know that clouds are that which obscure the vision, so our spiritual eyes do not see clearly the significance of these witnesses. Somehow, now, time has no meaning. These two witnesses had complete power for 1260 years and they were as dead for the same 1260 years. They rose again and ascended into Heaven to possibly rule forever. However they were always in Heaven and always alive, have always ruled and will forever rule the earth. It is only our perception of them that changes. Sometimes they appear to us as dead outward forms of something that was once alive and powerful. Other times they appear as All Powerful and All Mighty. They are the channel through which we see God and so they appear as God to us. They are dead when God appears as dead to us. This is when our relationship with God is dead, for God Himself is always alive. When we become dead to his revelation He appears as dead to us.
At the same time He is alive and All Powerful. We recognize that we can’t control Him and that we are subject to His laws. If we don’t submit to His will we will hate the control He has over us. This makes us dead to Him and makes Him appear as dead to us, so we rejoice that He no longer can control us, but then we experience horror as we see Him come back to life because we realize that our evil deeds will be found out. This cycle continues as our finite minds try to comprehend the infinite. Of course the finite can never comprehend the infinite, so we are left with inklings of an All Powerful, Omnipotent Being. In some way we learn that which He desires for us to learn and we know enough to keep us on the path that He has destined for us.
Now I am left with no more head knowledge than when I began. My spirit is content for somehow I know that He is All Powerful and in control. I don’t have to understand His will for me; I only need to submit to it. When I feel I am in trouble I only need to remember this prayer of the Báb.
Is there any Remover of difficulties save God? Say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants, and all abide by His bidding!
(Baha'i Prayers, p. 27)
All are His servants. All abide by His bidding. He is in control. I have nothing to fear so long as I am acting within His will.