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Home Cults Jehovahs Witnesses view of 1914 - A Refutation

Jehovahs Witnesses view of 1914 - A Refutation

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Cults By Rev. Paul Seiler

Jehovahs Witnesses view of 1914 - A Refutation

DOES THE BIBLE TEACH THAT ANYTHING SIGNIFICANT WOULD HAPPEN IN 1914?

First of all I want to say that I have no antagonism to Jehovah’s Witnesses – I have spoken to many Jehovah’s Witnesses over the years of my ministry and I have invariably been impressed by their zeal and their dedication. My best friend at school was a Jehovah’s Witness and as God is my witness, I wish God’s blessing upon every Jehovah’s Witness. It is in a spirit of love that I raise the following problems that I have with your understanding of 1914.

You Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that something very significant happened in 1914. You believe that on that date Jesus Christ began His rule upon earth.1 You believe that in 1914 Jesus founded “a faithful and discreet slave” class providing spiritual food. You identify yourselves as this group chosen by God as the only true servants of Jehovah.2 You believe that you alone are Jehovah’s faithful servants serving the interests of Christ’s kingdom on earth.3 You regard the entire professing Christian Church as apostate and as serving Satan and its members as doomed to destruction unless they see the light and become Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact you believe that the entire Christian church has been apostate from the fourth century AD.4 You believe that since that time there has been great spiritual darkness in the world until the light dawned in 1914 when you became Jehovah’s Witnesses to the earth. This surely makes what you say about 1914 as very significant and important if it is true. If what you say is true then the whole professing Church is in error and needs to repent and we should all become Jehovah’s Witnesses.

So how do you arrive at this date 1914? You say that the disciples asked Jesus when the appointed time of His kingdom was due to start. (Acts 1:6 ) In your understanding this meant that the kingdom had not yet arrived at that point of time. You tell us that in Luke 21:24 Jesus said that Jerusalem would be trampled under foot until “the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.” You understand the “appointed times of the nations” to be a period when there is no representative government of Jehovah on earth. You understand that this period commenced in 607 BC, when, as you assert, Jerusalem was destroyed and Israel taken into captivity.5

 

How then do you reach the date 1914? You do so on the basis of the prophecy which Daniel made concerning Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. (Daniel 4:23-25 ) You understand this prophecy as having reference to the period in which Jehovah’s representative government on earth would be removed. You interpret the “seven times” as representing a period of 2,520 years. You arrive at this conclusion by drawing upon the 12th Chapter of the book of Revelation. In Revelation 12:6 it speaks of a period of 1,260 days and you claim that the same period is referred to in 12:14, where it is described as “a time and times and half a time.” You understand this to mean three and a half years. So then if three and a half years represents 1,260 days and according to your reckoning “seven times” must refer to a period of 2,520 years. On this basis you arrive at the important date of 1914.

Now, I have a number of difficulties with this whole approach to Scripture. I believe that you are guilty of hopping all over the Bible and putting texts of Scripture together in a manner that Jehovah never intended you to do. I believe that you are guilty of seriously misrepresenting the texts that you use. It is a standard law of Biblical interpretation to understand a text according to the context in which it occurs. Satan can quote Biblical texts, and he did when he tempted Jesus, but he took them out of context.

INTERPRETATION OF DANIEL CHAPTER 4:23-25:

Let us consider first of all your understanding of Daniel chapter 4. In your understanding Daniel’s prophecy indicates that a period of 2,520 years would elapse on earth during which there would be no representative government for Jehovah on the earth.

During the appointed times of the nations worldly governments would be allowed to interrupt rulership approved by God. That period began with the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E, and Daniel indicated that it would go on for “seven times.”6

Does Daniel 4:14-17 say about future events which would take place in the twentieth century? Let us consider this text in its context,

These words represent Daniel’s explanation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon and he had a dream which greatly troubled him. In this dream he saw a very tall tree, such that it could be seen to the ends of the earth. The foliage of this tree was beautiful and its fruit abundant and the birds nested in the tree. The obvious question is this: What does this tree represent? We are not left with any doubt about the answer to this question, for God’s infallible word answers it.

Consider the following which is the record of Daniel’s interpretation of the dream,

The tree that you beheld, that grew great and became strong and the height of which finally reached the heavens and which was visible to all the earth, and the foliage of which was fair, and the fruit of which was abundant, and on which there was food for all; under which the beasts of the field would dwell, and on the boughs of which the birds of the heavens would reside, it is you, O king, because you have become great, and your grandeur has grown great and reaches the heavens, and your rulership to the extremity of the earth. (Dan. 9:20-22 New World Translation)

You will notice that Daniel states quite clearly that this tree represented Nebuchadnezzar himself. Observe the phrase “It is you, O King” this can only mean that Nebuchadnezzar himself is represented by this tree. The reference to the great height of the tree so that it could be seen from everywhere was a reference to his great power and his extensive influence in the world. Now you will note that in this dream which Nebuchadnezzar had he saw the tree cut down so that only the root was left. This is how Nebuchadnezzar explained to Daniel what he saw,

I continued beholding in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, look! A watcher even a holy one, coming down from the heavens themselves. He was calling out loudly and this is what he was saying: CHOP the tree down, and cut off its boughs. SHAKE off its foliage, and scatter its fruitage. Let the beast flee from under it, and the birds from its boughs. However, LEAVE its rootstock itself in the earth, even with a banding of iron and of copper, among the grass of the field; and with the dew of heavens let it be wet, and with the beast let its portion be among the vegetation of the earth. Let its heart be changed from that of mankind and let the heart of a beast be given to it, and let seven times pass over it. (Dan. 4:13-16 New World Translation)

What is the meaning of the cutting down of this tree? Again God’s infallible word answers this question for us. Daniel explained to Nebuchadnezzar that the Most High God was going to remove him from his dominion for a season. The reason for this judgment is made perfectly clear, it was because of Nebuchadnezzar’s great pride in that he would not acknowledge the Most High as ruler over mankind. The length of that season of his madness was to be “seven times.” During this period of “seven times” his heart would be changed to the heart of a beast and he would be driven away from mankind and eat grass like the wild animals.

..this is the interpretation, O king, and the decree of the Most High is that which must befall my lord the king. And you will be driven away from men and with the beasts of the field and the vegetation is what they will give even to you to eat just like the bulls; and with the dew of the heavens you yourself will be getting wet, and seven times themselves will pass over you, until you know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind, and that to the one whom he wants to give it. (Dan. 4:24,25 New World Translation)

It is plainly evident that Daniel regarded this dream as referring to king Nebuchadnezzar himself – note how many times the word you occurs in this text. Note that Daniel said that these things must “befall my lord and king,” clearly referring to Nebuchadnezzar. Also note the very significant word until. You will note that Daniel said that “seven times” would pass over Nebuchadnezzar until he would recognize the Most High as Ruler in the kingdom of mankind. Did Nebuchadnezzar come to recognize this truth? Yes! See what Nebuchadnezzar had to say after his period of humiliation of “seven times,”

And at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up to the heavens my eyes, and my own understanding began to return to me; and I blessed the Most High himself, and the One living to time indefinite I praised and glorified, because his rulership is a rulership to time indefinite and his kingdom is for generation to generation. (Dan. 4:34 )

It is evident that the “seven times” refers to the period of time of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness. There is no good reason in the text to understand it as having reference to anything else at all other than the period of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness. It will be observed that these ‘seven times” would pass over Nebuchadnezzar before he would come to his senses – so these seven times cannot possibly be interpreted to mean a period of 2,520 years. What is the meaning of “seven times?” Whatever this phrase means it obviously has to be a relatively short time period. For Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity did not last for a long period of time. Scholars have suggested it could mean either seven lunar years, seven seasons or seven months. I am not sure which one of these is correct – however, what I am sure of is that seven times cannot possibly mean 2,520 years.

It will be observed in reading this prophecy that it has absolutely nothing whatever to do with the kingdom of God. This prophecy is about the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar and has absolutely nothing whatever to do with God’s kingdom. By no stretch of the imagination is there anything in this text that would lead anyone to conclude that the period of seven represents a period of 2,520 years.

It appears to me incredible that you Jehovah’s Witnesses make the incredible claim that you alone are God’s true witnesses on the earth and regard 1914 as a very significant date at which Christ began His rule on earth through the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet the most significant text that you choose to base your existence on does not support your incredible claims.

THE DATE OF THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM:

Now, you assert that Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 607 BC and that this date began the exile which then finished in 537BC. Yet Secular historians date the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 587 BC, twenty years later. It is of course true that secular historians frequently make mistakes and that we should depend upon God’s word and the clues that it gives us for dating certain things. So let us then consider what the Bible has to say about this. The question is whether the Scripture does indicate that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BC and this began the period of exile which ended in 537BC.

First of all it should be pointed out that nowhere did any of the prophets in the Bible prophesy that Jerusalem would remain in ruin for 70 years. What they did prophesy was that the children of Israel would be in exile for 70 years. Let us consider some of the prophecies that are made of the exile. Jeremiah made these two prophecies,

And all this land must become a devastated place, and object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years. (Jer. 25:11)

For this is what Jehovah has said, ‘In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to you people, and I will establish toward you my good word in bringing you back to this place.’ (Jer. 29:10 )

You will observe that in neither of these two prophecies did Jeremiah prophesy anything about the destruction of Jerusalem. He did prophesy that that the land would be devastated for seventy years, which does not necessarily mean that Jerusalem would be devastated for that period of time.

Indeed, all the Biblical evidence points to the fact that the exile began considerably earlier than Jerusalem’s destruction. It will be observed from the book of Daniel that he was among the first exiles from Judah. It is evident from the book of Daniel that he and the other Judean exiles arrived in Babylon at least a year before Nebuchadnezzar came to the throne. It will be observed that in Daniel chapter 2:1 that Daniel and his three friends had completed their training in Babylon by the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. The Scriptures teach that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in his 19th year. (2 Kings 25:8) If the year he destroyed Jerusalem was 607 BC then this means that Nebuchadnezzar’s reign began in the year 626BC. (The Columbia Encylopedia dates his reign 605-562 B.C. Columbia University Press, New York, London, p.1471) This would mean that Daniel and his friends were taken into captivity some time before this, probably in 628 B.C. There are obvious difficulties with this date, since this would mean that Daniel was in captivity from 628 right up to 538 B.C., when Cyrus passed his edict allowing the Jews to return, this means that Daniel spent 80 years in exile. Now, it seems that you Jehovah’s Witnesses are very mixed up with your dating, because in your Publication “From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained” (1958, p.106) you state that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken into captivity in the year 618 B.C. If that is correct then that would mean that the temple would have been destroyed about 598/7 B.C. since the temple was destroyed in Nebuchadnezzar’s 19th year of reign.

The Bible gives clear evidence that the exile began long before the destruction of Jerusalem. As I have already pointed out Daniel and his three friends went into exile in Babylon at least 20 years before the destruction of the temple. The Bible also teaches that Ezekiel was an exile in Babylon long before the destruction of the temple. Consider his own words,

Now it came about in the thirteenth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, while I was in the midst of the exiled people by the river Chebar, that the heavens opened and I began to see visions of God. (Ezek. 1:1 )

You will observe that Ezekiel says quite clearly he was among the exiled people by the river Chebar when he received these visions from God, so the exile had begun. In the next verse Ezekiel tells us exactly when he received these visions, it was in the fifth year of the exile of Jehoiachin. So when did Jehoiachin go into exile? The Bible gives an answer to that question – he went into captivity in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. (2Kings 24:12) This means that Jehoichin went into exile eleven years before the destruction of Jerusalem which according to (2Kings 25:8). Now, you might object and say that this was not really the start of the exile proper. Just read on in 2 Kings 24 and note that not only was Jehoichin taken into captivity some 11 years before the destruction of Jerusalem, but so were thousands of Judeans taken into exile at that time,

Thus he took Jehoiachin into exile to Babylon and the king’s mother and the king’s wives and his court officials and the foremost men of the land he led away as exiled people from Jerusalem to Babylon. As for all the valiant men, seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the builders of bulwarks, a thousand, all mighty men carrying on war, the king of Babylon proceeded to bring them as exiled people to Babylon. (2 Kings 24 ;15,16)

It is plainly evident from the above material that the exile in Babylon began long before the destruction of the temple. The word of God explicitly and clearly states that Jehoichin went into exile along with many thousands of Judeans 11 years before the destruction of Jerusalem (literally in the 8th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign). There is absolutely no question at all that the exile began before the destruction of Jerusalem, as I have shown above.

I put to you that the exile officially began when Daniel and his friends were taken into exile in Babylon a year before Nebuchadnezzar’s reign began, a little over 20 years before the destruction of Jerusalem. (Dan. 1:1 ; 2Kings 25:8)) That many thousands of Judean were taken into exile in Babylon in the 8th year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (2Kings 24:15,16) And that Jerusalem was destroyed in Nebuchadnezzar’s 19th year of reign. (2 Kings 25:8 ) Since you Jehovah’s Witnesses agree that the exile ended in the year 537 BC. Then it is plainly evident that the exile did in fact begin in 607 BC, which was the date that Daniel was taken into captivity. This would mean that Jehoichin and many thousands of Judeans were taken into captivity in about 599/8 BC, (the 8th year of Nebuchadnezz’s reign) and that the temple was destroyed in 587BC).

CONCLUSION

Now, all my calculations have been based upon the Bible chronology – I have not resorted to any dates given by secular historians. I have quoted from your own version of the Bible and have shown that you have no basis whatsoever for your claim that 1914 is a significant biblical date at represents the end of a period of 2,520 years of the absence of God’s reign on the earth. Your argument that Daniel prophesied of a long period in which there would be no representative government for Jehovah on the earth simply does not stand up to honest biblical investigation. Daniel four says nothing of the sort – it simply speaks of the period of time that Nebuchadnezzar would be mad and nothing more. Your dating of the destruction of Jerusalem can be shown to be inconsistent with the biblical data. Therefore I call upon Jehovah’s Witnesses to repent of your most arrogant claims.

1 Knowledge that Leads to Everlasting Life Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvannia, 1995, p.97.

2 You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvannia 1982, p.193.

3 Knowledge that Leads to Everlasting Life p.105.

4 1975 Year Book of Jehovah’s Witnesses p.33

5 Knowledge that Leads to Everlasting Life p.96

6 Knowledge that Leads to Everlasting Life p.97

Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 August 2010 12:51  

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