In terms of content, the structure of Revelation is built around four successive groups of seven: the messages to the seven churches; the seven seals; the seven trumpets; and the seven bowl judgments. The repeated occurrence of the number seven contributes to the overall unity of Revelation. While several numbers stand out -- 3, 4, 7, 10, 12, 24, 144, 1000 -- the number seven appears to have a special significance. In fact, there are twenty-four distinct occurrences of the use of "seven." Seven is considered the number of perfection in Christianity.
One half of seven, 3½, is also a conspicuous number in Revelation: two witnesses are given power to prophesy 1,260 days, or exactly 3½ years, according to the Hebrew year of 360 days; the witnesses are then killed, and their dead bodies lie in the streets of Jerusalem for 3½ days; the "woman clothed with the sun" is protected in the wilderness for 1,260 days, or 3½ years; Gentiles tread the holy city underfoot for 42 months, or 3½ years; and the beast is given authority to continue for 42 months, or 3½ years.
Kenneth Strand asserts that symbols and phrases of Revelation are organized as a chiastic structure, a literary device used frequently in the Old Testament. Comparison of the chiastic divisions and content help to define the progression and themes of the book and to highlight details of particular importance.
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