As we saw in part one, the significance the Watchtower accords the year 1914 rests upon two critical pedestals:
- A Watchtower interpretation of a dream recorded in Daniel chapter four.
- 607 BCE being the year that Jerusalem was destroyed.
They teach that God’s kingdom as represented by his “chosen people” in Jerusalem ended in 607 BCE and wouldn’t be re-established for a period of 2,520 years [which brings us up to 1914] — and then only as a spiritual kingdom.
The only problems with this chronology are:
- The 2,520 years are based on a completely bogus interpretation: one that not only conflicts with the evidence, but with the Bible’s own interpretation.
- The 607 BCE date for the destruction of Jerusalem is wrong.
- Nothing predicted about 1914 — either before or after that year — was correct.
Other than that, it’s golden!
Let’s look at these problems one at a time.
A tiny bit of relevant Watchtower history.
The Watchtower used to teach the following dates:
- 1799 The start of the “last days.”
- 1874 The start of Christ’s “invisible presence” and of his assumption of “kingly power” [the latter in 1878 to be precise.] Also the start of the battle of Armageddon!
- 1914 The end of the last days and of Armageddon. The start of the “new order.”
The indisputable facts, therefore, show that the “time of the end” began in 1799; that the Lord’s second presence began in 1874…
Watchtower Mar 1 1922, p. 73
We see no reason for changing the figures — nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God’s dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble.”
– The Watchtower Reprints, July 15, 1894, p. 1677
“The date of the close of that ‘battle’ is definitely marked in Scripture as October, 1914. It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874.”
— The Watchtower Reprints, January 15, 1892, p.1355
But after 1914 they eventually moved the start of everything — except Armageddon and the “new order” — into the single year of 1914 (which remains the current teaching.) So now we have simply:
- 1914 The start of the “last days” aka “the time of the end.” The start of Christ’s “invisible presence” and of his assumption of “kingly power” and the start of the “generation” who would live to see Armageddon and the “new order.”
On top of that, they now insist that they had proclaimed 1914 to be the “start of the last days” prior to 1914!
“Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to the year 1914, decades in advance, as marking the start of “the conclusion of the system of things.”
–Awake! 1973 Jan 22 p.8
The above is clearly a lie. It also contradicts their own rule about prophecy:
“…prophecy can be understood only when fulfilled or in course of fulfilment.”
—Watchtower 1927 Jan. 15 p.19
While pretending that Russell had “the truth” about 1914 being the start of the “time of the end,” the Watchtower explains that the reason why no one before Russell’s time recognized the truth about the date is because it had been “sealed up until the time of the end.” This made some sense when the start of the “last days” was believed to be 1799: well before Russell’s birth. But today it makes no sense for them to make this claim: how could Russell have understood the significance of 1914 (the “start of the time of the end”) prior to that year if the knowledge was “sealed up” until that date? (See, for instance: The Harp of God p. 231, published by Watchtower president Rutherford in 1921.)
Thus endeth the history lesson.
What’s wrong with the Watchtower’s Interpretation of Daniel 4
- The Bible uses the word translated as “times” as a vague, indefinite period. It can refer to a year, half a year, a season, or a month. There is no reason to conclude that it means a “year” of 360 days in this instance. In fact, there is a reason to conclude that it could not have been referring to such a period: We have a complete record of Nebuchadnezzar’s activities throughout his reign. The only period of inactivity was for less than 7 years [even if they were 360-day years.]
- There is no reason to apply the “day for a year” formula here. Other instances where the Bible uses “times” (such as Rev. 12:14) are not taken as “a day for a year” in the Watchtower’s interpretations.
Instead of applying Num 14:34 (“a day for a year”) as the conversion factor, it would make just as much sense (i.e. none) to apply 2 Tim 3:8: “a day is as a thousand years” which would yield 2,520,000 years, changing 1914 to the year 2519394.
- If they are going to use a “prophetic” year of 360 days to arrive at 2,520 years, it is inconsistent to then apply the 2,520 to solar years of 365 1/4 days each.
2,520 prophetic years (of 360 days each) would amount to slightly less than 2,484 solar years, bringing us to the year 1878 instead of 1914.
- The Watchtower’s interpretation is that the banded tree represents God’s kingdom, while Nebuchadnezzar represents “gentile” governments and their beastly rule during the 2,520 years. However, this conflicts with the Bible’s own interpretation given by Daniel, where the tree represents Nebuchadnezzar [so the tree and Nebuchadnezzar represent the same thing: not two radically different things.]
- If Nebuchadnezzar represented the gentile powers ruling the Earth — as the Watchtower’s interpretation demands — then why does Daniel’s interpretation state that the seven times were when that gentile ruler would be off his throne grazing in a field?
- It simply isn’t true that the nation of Israel ruled the world prior to the time of Jerusalem’s destruction, so that at the end of the 2,520 years a spiritual Israel could be “restored” to rule the world once again. Israel was a tiny, independent country, dwarfed by the nations around it.Besides, this notion of Israel being God’s kingdom on Earth conflicts with the Watchtower dogma that states that God left Satan to rule the Earth after Adam and Eve disobeyed him, and that Satan’s rulership (as represented by worldly governments) has held sway since that time at least up until 1914.Here’s a chart of exactly who is ruling what and when they are ruling it, as best as we can gather according to current Watchtower doctrine:
- The destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BCE was not the end of the story. The Jewish exile ended; the Jews returned to Jerusalem; their little kingdom was restored. The real end of the story was in the year 70 CE when Rome sacked the city and hauled off the temple treasures (as depicted to this day on the arch of Titus.) If the Watchtower wants to use this more relevant event as their starting date, it would move the year 1914 to 2590 [or 2554 using “prophetic” years]: a date not urgent enough to win many converts.
- The Watchtower claims that it was in the year 1914 that Jesus was granted “kingly power” — part of the whole deal where the “gentile rulers” came to the end of their turn (the “end of the time of the gentiles”) and God’s heavenly kingdom, with Jesus as king, began its reign.
However, this cannot be true according to the Bible, because way back about 2,000 years before this Jesus said: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on Earth.” (Mt. 28:18) And we also read in that same time period way before 1914 that as soon as Jesus was raised from the dead, God had given him authority “far above every government and authority and power and lordship and every name that is named, not only in this system of things but also in that to come. He also subjected all things under his feet and made him head over all things” (Eph. 1:20-23)
So, if he had “all authority” way back then, there couldn’t have been any additional authority to give him (“assuming kingship”) in 1914; he already had it all!
- The WT interpretation of Daniel 4 was formulated during a period when the WT found “types and antitypes” in virtually every Bible story. But they have recently admitted that this was not very discreet:
If you have been serving Jehovah for decades, you may have noticed a gradual shift in the way our literature explains many of the narratives recorded in the Bible. How so? In times past, it was more common for our literature to take what might be called a type-antitype approach to Scriptural accounts.
(pg. 9, paragraph 7)
Where the Scriptures teach that an individual, an event, or an object is typical of something else, we accept it as such. Otherwise, we ought to be reluctant to assign an antitypical application to a certain person or account if there is no specific Scriptural basis for doing so.” (pg. 18, emphasis added)”As we might expect, over the years Jehovah has helped ‘the faithful and discreet slave’ to become steadily more discreet. Discretion has led to greater caution when it comes to calling a Bible account a prophetic drama unless there is a clear Scriptural basis for doing so.
(pgs. 9-10, paragraph 10)
March 15, 2015 Watchtower
Since there is no Scriptural basis for an “antitypical” fulfillment of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the whole 1914 notion should be scrapped.