The What Does the Bible Really Teach? book has a section on chronology (pp. 215-217), showing how Jehovah’s Witnesses arrived at the belief in 1914 as “a significant year in Bible prophecy.”
This section exemplifies the absurd “Bible fishing” tactics and claptrap logic which Watchtower leadership have mastered. Here is my response to the arguments raised in the book.
Decades in advance, Bible students proclaimed that there would be significant developments in 1917. What were these, and what evidence points to 1914 as such as important year.
Unfortubately, the Watchtower writers didn’t inform their readers that for decades before and after 1914, these same “Bible students” have also pointed at other years as significant.
All the “evidence” modern JWs try to read into 1914 are events that have occurred all through history. If these Bible students and their theories could be so obviously flawed historically, their chronology couldn’t be reliable either.
As recorded at Luke 21:24, Jesus said: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations [“the times of the Gentiles,” King James Version] are fulfilled.”
Here, Jesus was referring to a time in the future when the trampling of Jerusalem by the Gentile nations will end.
The Greek word for “fulfil” is plero which means to expire or to end. This period is also called “the fullness of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:25) (Though the passage suggests that Jerusalem will be free from Gentile oppression from a while until the Great Tribulation period).
The nation of Israel, however, has been trampled on by Gentile nations starting with Egypt from which God delivered her.
The book of Judges alone details how Israel was oppressed by Mesopotamia, Canaan, Midian, Philistines and the Ammonites when they forsook God. After they divided into two kingdoms (Israel and Judah), they were trampled on by Assyria which captured the kingdom of Israel before Babylon captured the kingdom of Judah.
Even at the time of Christ, Jerusalem was still under the rule of the Romans and today, much of it is occupied by the Arabs.
This should be pointed out because as we proceed, you will see how the Watchtower grossly backdates the prophecy of Jesus in Luke 21:24.
Jerusalem had been the capital city of the Jewish nation – the seat of rulership of the line of kings from the house of King David. (Psalm 48:1, 2) However, these kings were unique among national leaders. They sat on “Jehovah’s throne” as representatives of God himself. (1 Chronicles 29:23) Jerusalem was thus a symbol of Jehovah’s rulership.
This seat of rulership of kings from the house of David is an earthly rule from Jerusalem.
First Chronicles 29:22, informs us that king Solomon was anointed “unto the LORD.” Jesus as the Messiah came from this Davidic lineage, so we can see why it’s called God’s throne. Until the day JWs agree that Jesus is Jehovah, this argument is fatal to their cause.
How and when, though, did God’s rulership begin to be “trampled on by the nations”? This happened in 607 B.C.E. when Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians. “Jehovah’s throne” became vacant, and the line of kings who descended from David was interrupted.
Oh dear, what a tortured path! How can a statement Jesus made in the book of Luke about a future event be referring to an event that had occurred centuries before Christ? Jesus was speaking of the fulfillment of the times of the Gentiles, not God’s rulership.
What year was Jerusalem (capital of the kingdom of Judah) conquered by the Babylonians?
The Jewish Encyclopedia records that it’s 586 BC. The Encyclopedia Britannica says the “kingdom of Judah flourished until 587 BC when it was overrun by the Babylonians.”
The Encyclopedia Americana says the kingdom of Judah “finally fell due to the capture of Jerusalem in 587 BC.”
Why does the Watchtower, in defiance of secular history claim Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BC?
Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that they follow the Bible which says the Jews would go on exile for 70 years (Jer. 20:10) and since Cyrus gave his edict for them to return to Jerusalem in 537 BC, they did a straight calculation: 537+ 70 years = 607 BC.
One of them wrote: “Jehovah Witnesses have decided that the date of the desolation of Jerusalem must have been 607 B.C.” [because the] organization, as a whole, over a long term has the guidance of Holy Spirit.”
This excuse is typical of cults. They appeal to history only when its convenient. They make exceptions for themselves from the rules that govern others.
The World Book Encyclopedia says “The exile in Babylon occurred in three waves from 597 to 581 B.C.E. as a result of Judean rebellion against Babylonian rule.”
That is, before Jersualem was finally destroyed in 587, many Jews had already been captured on exile to Babylon.
In 2 Kings 25:12-16 Jehoachin, the king of Judah was captured by Nebuchadnezzar. This happened in 597 BC. This gives a gap of 60 years between 597 BC and 537 BC. Daniel indicated that they had been captured before Jehoachin (Dan. 1:1-3, 6).
Jewish historian, Josephus agrees, that Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians in 605 BC and sent captives from the Jews, Phoenician, Syrians and Egyptians to Babylon (Antiquities 10.11.1).
Additionally, the Jews counted their calendar according to the sabbath years and they must have stopped counting the 70 years at the feast of Tabernacles (Ezr. 3:4).
The Babylonian captivity of the Jews must have started around 604 BC while their nation, Jerusalem was finally conquered in 587 BC.
…Ezekiel said regarding Jerusalem’s last king, Zedekiah: “Remove the turban and lift off the crown. … It will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has legal right, and I must give it to him.” (Ezekiel 21:26, 27) The one who has “the legal right” to the Davidic crown is Christ Jesus. (Luke 1:32) So the ‘trampling’ would end when Jesus became King
God debased Zedekiah by removing his crown and decreed that the kingdom of Judah was to be overthrown and exist no more until the Messiah would come whose right it is; and it would be given Him (Gen. 49:10; Isa. 9:6-7, 42:1).
The trampling of the Gentiles over Jerusalem would end at Jesus’ Second Advent when He will reign as King from Jerusalem.
[Nebuchadnezzar] saw an immense tree that was chopped down. Its stump could not grow because it was banded with iron and copper. An angel declared: “Let seven times pass over it.” – Daniel 4:10-16. In the Bible, trees are sometimes used to represent rulership … So the chopping down of the symbolic tree represents how God’s rulership, as expressed through the kings at Jerusalem, would be interrupted.
It’s mystifying how the Watchtower writer managed to put this art work together. This is a skill an interior decorator needs.
The “chopping down” and “seven times” refer to the 7 years of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness not to trampling by Gentile nations. How did a dream of Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity relate to “God’s rulership”?
Or how did a Bible passage about a king of Babylon become that of the kings of Jerusalem?
However, the vision served notice that this ‘trampling of Jerusalem’ would be temporary – a period of “seven times.” How long a period is that? Revelation 12:6, 14 indicates that three and half times equal “a thousand two hundred and sixty days.” “Seven times” would therefore last twice as long, or 2,520 days.
That vision neither refers to trampling nor to Jerusalem. If “seven times” means 2,520 days in one passage, it must also mean it in all passages unless otherwise stated.
Using this Watchtower argument: Jacob bowed down to Esau for 2,520 days (Gen. 33:3). The Jews sprinkled blood on their sacrifices for 2,520 days during each day (Lev. 4:6). Israel marched around Jericho 2,520 days on the 7th day (Jos. 6:4). Elijah’s servants looked for rain for 2,520 days (1 Kgs. 18:43) and the resurrected child sneezed for 2,520 days (2 Kgs. 4:35). Do these statements make sense?
On the basis of Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, which speaks of “a day for a year,” the “seven times” would cover 2,520 years
Whether by hook or by crook, the Watchtower is bent on latching on to 1914. But no one has the authority to change a day to a year in any Bible passage he pleases.
If God, who knows the difference between a day and year, said “days” in a certain scripture He meant days, and if he said “years” He meant years.
Just because He commanded Israel to wander in the wilderness for 40 years according to the number of days the spies were in Canaan and appointed years according to the same number of days in Ezekiel’s case doesn’t give anyone the right to conclude that the word days means years in every place in prophecy.
The 2,520 years began in October 607 B.C.E., when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and the Davidic king was taken off his throne. The period ended in October 1914. At that time … Jesus Christ was installed as God’s heavenly king.”
This is a sandcastle. The Watchtower Society has invested too much in 1914 to give it up, so they disregard Biblical exegesis or history to build their raft.
How did the earthly Davidic throne of Christ become a heavenly one?
When did God transport Jerusalem up into heaven?
Every honest JW must reject the uninspired teachings of the Watchtower and hold to the plain teaching of inspired Scripture.