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The Churches, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Question of Unfulfilled Prophetic Expectations

BY HAL FLEMINGS
SPRING 1991
 

A close look at ecclesiastical history will reveal a chronicle of unfulfilled predictions made by church leaders. In many instances turbulent events and/or great social changes gave rise to these expectations. There are cases when the predicted event or events failed to materialize that a loss of faith, if not deep disappointment, swept over the masses. Indeed, there are individuals today who, because of this history of failed predictions, are hesitant to assign credibility to any religious prognostication.

Many people are aware that the Bible contains prophetic material. And some feel that the Bible is directly responsible for many failed predictions. However, others feel that the Bible is not responsible but that individuals have read interpretations that were totally unsupported into the Bible's prophecies.

This paper will document instances of unfulfilled predictions within major religious bodies professing to be Christian and similar predictions or expectations of Jehovah's Witnesses. Next, we will examine the claim that some or all of these predictions make the sources "false prophets". Finally, we will consult the Bible to resolve any major points of controversy not adequately addressed prior thereto.

THE ISSUE IN RELATIONSHIP TO THE LUTHERAN CHURCH

One of the most prominent of the Protestant religious bodies is the Lutheran* Church. The progenitor of the Lutheran Church was the Reformer, Martin Luther, who was born in 1483 and died in 1546. Deteriorating events during the 1500s in Europe led Luther to predict that the end of the world was imminent. According to one authority** Luther stated. "For my part, I am sure that the day of judgment is just around the corner. It doesn’t matter that we don't know the precise day... perhaps someone else can figure it out. But it is certain that time is now at an end." Another researcher*** noted: "For Luther there was a clear pattern of degeneration in world history... by correlating historical events with Biblical prophecies Luther could announce the nearness of the final cataclysm -- and deliverance for believers -- with relative certainty... (Luther) was thus sure that his own time was the ‘time of the end' referred to in Daniel 12, when the meaning of these prophecies was to be revealed."

* According to the Handbook of Denominations in the United States, Sixth Edition, by Frank S. Mead, there were eight different Lutheran religious bodies in the United States in 1979, among them were "the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod" and the "American Lutheran Church".

** Reformation Principles and Practice: Essays in Honor of Arthur Geoffrey Dickens, Page 169.

*** Robin Bruce Barnes, Prophecy and Gnosis-Apocalypticism in the Wake of the Lutheran Reformation, Pages 32, 40.

Continuing the heralding of imminent disaster after Luther's death, collections of his prophecies appeared regularly. Some were brief pamphlets like "The Several Prophetic Statements of Doctor Martin Luther, the Third Elias" (1552). In this material, Lutheran writers stated that*, "Luther had prophesied that after he died the Gospel would disappear". A zealous Lutheran named Adam Nachenmoser wrote a large volume titled Prognostican Theologicum in about 1584. In this work, Nachenmoser attempted to interpret all the prophecies in the Bible. In one case, he predicted that**, "...In 1590 the Gospel would be preached to all nations and a wonderful unity would be achieved... the last day would then be close at hand. Nachenmoser offered numerous conjectures about the date; 1635 seemed most likely...".

Another Lutheran leader, Andreas Osiander, wrote Conjectures on the Last Days and the End of the World (Latin 1544 and German in 1545). It is stated in this work*** that... "The downfall of the Antichrist was projected for 1672. A period of some sixteen years would follow during which the Gospel would be preached throughout the world. At the end of this time, just as people began to think that all was well and they could live as they pleased, a terrible punishment would befall them and the Lord would come like a thief in the night."

All of these Lutheran predictions failed.

THE ISSUE IN RELATIONSHIP TO THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

The mammoth Roman Catholic Church also has a history of predictions that never occurred.

Gregory I, who was Pope from 590-604 C.E., predicted that the end of the world was imminent in a letter he wrote to Ethelbert, a European monarch. He advised **** "Further, we also wish Your Majesty to know, as we have learned from the words of Almighty God in Holy Scriptures, that the end of the present world is already near and that the unending Kingdom of the Saints is approaching. As this same end of the world is drawing nigh, many unusual things will happen - climatic changes, terrors from heaven... All these things are not to come in our own days, but they will all follow upon our times."

* Robin Bruce Barnes, Prophecy and Gnosis-Apocalypticism in the Wake of the Lutheran Reformation, Page 64.

** IBID., Pages 121, 122

*** IBID., Page 116

**** Bernard McGinn, Visions of the End—Apocalyptic Traditions in the Middle Ages, Page 64, Published 1979.

Later,* "About the year 950, Adso, a monk in a monastery of Western Franconia, wrote a treatise on Antichrist, in which he assigned a later time to his coming, and also to the end of the world... ‘A Frank King', he says, ‘will rewrite the Roman Empire, and abdicate on Mount Olivet, and on the dissolution of his kingdom, the Antichrist will be revealed.'".

No major study on this subject would be complete without reference to the predictions of Roman Catholic Abbot, Joachim of Fiore, a celebrated writer and clergyman. One authority** observed, "The most original prophetic thinker of the high medieval period was the Calabrian Abbot Joachim of Fiore (1131-1202)... In his most influential writings, Joachim interpreted history through the Bible as a progressive unfolding of three stages, each of which was ruled over by one person of the Trinity. The age of the Father, an age of fear and obedience under the Law, had been consummated in the coming of Christ. The Age of the Son was the present epoch of faith and tutelage under the Gospel. It would be followed in turn by the age of the Holy Spirit... This third and last historical stage, in which human history would be consummated, was already dawning in the late twelfth century; Joachim expected its full realization within a few generations after the year 1200...".

Another Roman Catholic, Arnald of Villanova,*** predicted that the Antichrist would appear in 1378 C.E.

It is obviously clear that all of these Roman Catholic predictions failed.

THE ISSUE IN RELATIONSHIP TO THE BAPTIST CHURCH

The Baptist Church****, composed of many branches, is one of the most prominent of the Protestant churches in the world. It also has made its share of speculative predictions.

* M'Clintock and Strong's Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological & Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 1, Page 257.

** Robin Bruce Barnes, Prophecy and Gnosis-Apocalypticism in the Wake of the Lutheran Reformation, Page 22.

*** McGinn, Visions of the End, P. 147, and Prophecy and Gnosis-Apocalypticism in the Wake of the Lutheran Reformation, P. 24.

**** There are over twenty different Baptist bodies in the United States, among which are: The "Southern Baptist Convention", The "American Baptist Association", and the "Conservative Baptist Association of America.

One of the first Baptist groups,* "The Anabaptists of the early Sixteenth Century believed that the Millenium would occur in 1533."

Today, on the subject of Christ's millenial rule, one camp of the Baptist Church must be found. to be in error regarding predictions, since there are basically two conflicting prophetic viewpoints held within the Church. Authors O.K. Armstrong and Marjorie Armstrong made this clear in Chapter 17 of their volume The Indomitable Baptists: "One favorite topic of disputation among ultra conservative Baptists is the doctrine of the Millenium, dealing with the Second Coming of Christ. One mention of the Millenium in the book of Revelation, taken literally, gave rise to arguments about the rule of Christ on earth - whether it would be for a thousand years before his final ascension or a thousand years after...". One group came to be called "premillenialists" and the other "amillenialists", certainly raising the question of which group of Baptists made the correct prediction. This will be made absolutely clear in God's due time. The other group will be proven wrong, again making it clear there was some sort of failed prediction originating within a widely respected religious body.

In the early 1900s, the well-known Dr. Isaac M. Haldeman, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in New York City, predicted that before the Jews return to Palestine that the Antichrist would appear. Haldeman explained, **"The Scriptures teach that this man (the Antichrist) will be the prime factor in bringing the Jews back, as a body into their own land; that he will be the power that shall make Zionism a success; that through him the nationalism of the Jews shall be accomplished." When Israel was founded in 1948; the Jews were restored to Palestine without the advent of the Antichrist.

THE ISSUE IN RELATIONSHIP TO THE ASSEMBLIES OF GOD CHURCH

One of the principal "charismatic" Protestant churches of our times is the Assemblies of God. This group has a rich history of predictions that fell short. One definitive study on predictions made within this church was published in 1977 under the title Armageddon Now!*** The author, Dwight Wilson, is an ordained minister in the Assemblies of God and he has served as professor of History at Bethany Bible seminary in Santa Cruz, California.

* Festinger, Riecken and Schaeter, When Prophecy Fails, page 7.

** Isaac Massey Haldeman, The Signs of the Times, Pages 452—453.

*** Professor Wilson's book not only documents predictions of the Assemblies of God, but other churches, including the Baptists and the Christian and Missionary Alliance. On the jacket of his book is this caveat, "The author cautions his fellow Premillenarians that they will lose their credibility if they continue to see in each political crisis a sure fulfillment of Biblical prophecy - despite their obvious errors concerning earlier crises.

During World War I, The Weekly Evangel, an official publication of the Assemblies of God, carried this prediction:* "We are not yet in the Armageddon struggle proper, but at its commencement, and it may be, if students of prophecy read the signs aright, that Christ will come before the present war closes, and before Armageddon... The war preliminary to Armageddon, it seems, has commenced."

The May 13, 1916 edition of The Weekly Evangel, pages 6-9, carried an article headed "The Times of the Gentiles" in which more predictions were made. Among them was the statement that "As Israel lost the rule of their land at the beginning of these Gentile Times (606 B.C.E. according to the author of this article), it would seem that the first terminal date would mark some kind of a beginning of the restoration of the land. Does not this give great significance to the Zionist movement on the part of the Jews?... How inspiring is the thought that, if 1915, or 1916 shall prove to be the first terminal date, then the nineteen years more to 1934 or 1935 may cover the end time with its whirl of events, including the reign of the 'ten kings' the Antichrist, the 7-year covenant...".

A leading Assemblies of God official, Thomas M. Chalmers, in a sermon delivered at the Assembly of God Church, Springfield, Missouri, in the early 1920's made predictions based upon his exegesis of Ezekiel 38. In part, he stated, ** "...In half a dozen or a dozen years more (I don't think it will be a dozen years), some fine morning the inhabitants of Jerusalem will see a great cloud (see verse 16) - in a few minutes the cloud will develop a great cloud of airplanes landing tens of thousands of men on the soil of Palestine..." Chalmers' predictions failed to occur.

THE ISSUE IN RELATIONSHIP TO SOME OTHER CHURCHES

Indicative that the art of making erroneous predictions within the traditional church community was not limited to the Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Baptist and Assemblies of God religious bodies are the succeeding facts.

* The Weekly Evangel, April 10, 1917, Page 3.

** Thomas M. Chalmers, "Palestinian Mandate Approved", The King's Business, XIII (November, 1922), p. 1137.

In Volume II of The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers, author Leroy Edwin Froom makes this statement (on pages 417 and 419) about a prominent Anglican prelate: "Edwin Sandys (1519-1588), Archbishop of York and Primate of England was born in Lancastershire... Sandys says, ‘Now, as we know not the day and time, so let us be assured that this coming of the Lord is near. He is not slack, as we do count slackness. That it is at hand, it may be probably gathered out of the Scriptures in divers places. The signs mentioned by Christ in the Gospel which should be the foreshewers of this terrible day, are almost all fulfilled'..." This prediction made over 400 years ago plainly was not accurate.

One prediction that is well known to students of this subject was made by a Scottish National Church official, the "Reverend" John Cumming (1807-1881). In his book Redemption Draweth Nigh, published in 1860, Cumming considered the expression "seven times" found at Leviticus 26:18, 19, 24 and 28 to have special prophetic significance. Recognizing the Bible indicates that 3-1/2* times equals 1,260 days, he concluded that 7 times must equal 2,520 days since 7 times is 3-1/2 times twice. Furthermore, the fact that a prophetic day corresponds to a year, the 2,520 days become 2,520 literal years. Cumming then added, **"But when did these 2,520 years begin? God says at the time when he would ‘break the pride of their power’. When did that take place?

The ten tribes (of Israel), we find, were made tributary after the dismemberment of the Kingdom, under Rehoboam and Jeroboam; but the other two tribes retained their distance and independent existence till the time of Manasseh. Now, mark you, the captivity of Judah, under Manasseh, took place A.M. 3480. If you add to 3480, the year of the world, the period of time before Christ, 652; and if you will also add A.D. or the year 1868, it will make exactly 6000 years - what are called the six days, or the 6,000 years that constitute the world's week, previous to the sabbatical rest or millenial sabbath. In other words, if you add to the year of the world 3480, when the pride of Judah was broken, the seven times, that is 2,520 years, you will find that it will make exactly 6,000 years. Well, if this be so, the affliction of the Jews will cease about the end of the year 1867, the Jews will be restored, the Gentile oppression will come to an end; Jerusalem will be no longer trodden under foot but repossessed... Christ will appear to his ancient people... I may be wrong in this estimate of the commencement of the date; it rests with you to judge. I give data. I refuse to decide." History later did decide this matter.

* See Revelation 12:6, 14.

** John Cumming, D.O., F.R.S.E., Redemption Draweth Nigh, Pages 142, 143.

William Miller* is generally credited with founding the Adventist Church. Of him, Professor Frank S. Mead wrote,** "So influential was William Miller that for years his followers were known as Millerites. Miller himself became a Baptist in 1816. He began at once a careful study of the Scriptures, concentrating on the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. Using only the Bible, its marginal references, and Cruden's Concordance as his sources, he came to the conclusion that many old and new world Biblical scholars had already reached - namely, that the symbolic 'day' of Bible prophecy represents a year. He also concluded that the 2,300 'days' of Daniel 8:14 started concurrently with the 70 weeks of years of Daniel 9, or from 457 B.C., the year of the command to rebuild and restore Jerusalem; and he believed that the longer of the two periods would end in or about the year 1843 as calculated by Jewish reckoning. Miller thought that the 'sanctuary' mentioned in Daniel 8:14 was the earth (or the Church) which would be cleansed by fire at the Second Advent. He came to believe that this cleansing would occur sometime between March 21, 1843*** and March 21, 1844. When the advent expectation failed to materialize by the Spring of 1844, many left the movement. Miller's associates, on the basis of meticulous study of Old Testament types, set a second date, October 22, 1844, as the Great Antitypical Day of Atonement, confident that the 'day of the Lord is near, even at the door'... October 22 came and passed with no Second Coming****. Now vast numbers lost all interest in Adventism and went back to their former churches or abandoned the Christian faith altogether.

* William Miller was born in 1782 and died in 1849. Although lacking a "higher education", he was respected as a serious Bible student and thinker.

** Handbook of Denominations in the United States, Sixth Edition, Pages 17, 18.

*** In the volume When Prophecy Fails by Festinger, Riecken and Schaeter, page 15, Miller is quoted as saying "I believe the time can be known by all who desire to understand and to be ready for His coming. And I am fully convinced that sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21st, 1844, according to the Jewish mode of computation of time, Christ will come and bring all the Saints with him."

**** Those who stayed with the Adventist movement formed new groups; among them today are the "Seventh-Day Adventists", "The Advent Christian Church" and the "Primitive Advent Christian Church".

One of the most influential ministers on the West Coast of the United States is Chuck Smith, Pastor of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, CA, an independent church. On the jacket of his book, End Times, Smith is called a "well-known Bible scholar and prophecy teacher". Some years ago when this book was published, he made this prediction, "As we look at the world scene today, it would appear that the coming of the Lord is very, very, close. Yet, we do not know when it will be. It could be that the Lord will wait for a time longer. If I understand Scripture correctly, Jesus taught us that the generation which sees the 'budding of the fig tree', the birth of the nation Israel, will be the generation that sees the Lord's return, I believe that the generation of 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the tribution period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for his church anytime before the tribulation starts, which would mean anytime before 1981. (1948 + 40 - 7 = 1981) However, it is possible that Jesus is dating the beginning of the generation from 1967, when Jerusalem was again under Israeli control for the first time since 587 B.C. We don't know for sure which year actually marks the beginning of the last generation." (Pages 35, 36)

A similar viewpoint was expressed in the widely read book, The Late Great Planet Earth, by Pastor Hal Lindsey. This book was originally published in May 1970. On Page 43, Lindsey advised, " ... The most important sign in Matthew has to be the restoration of the Jews to the land in the rebirth of Israel. Even the figure of speech ‘fig tree' has been a historic symbol of national Israel. When the Jewish people, after nearly 2,000 years of exile, under relentless persecution, became a nation again on May 1948, the ‘fig tree' put forth its first leaves. Jesus said that this would indicate that he was ‘at the door' ready to return. Then he said, ‘Truly I say to you this generation will not pass away until all these things take place'. (Matthew 24:34 NASB) What generation? Obviously, in context, the generation that would see the signs - chief among them the rebirth of Israel. A generation in the Bible is something like forty years. If this is a correct deduction, then within forty years or so of 1948, all these things could take place. Many scholars who have studied Bible prophecy all their lives believe that this is so." This meant that by 1988 or 1989 "all these things could take place."

The facts show that they have not.

JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES IN RELATIONSHIP TO THE ISSUE

The modern day religious body known as Jehovah's Witnesses began with a young American named Charles Taze Russell, born February 16, 1852. An examination of the Scriptures with Nelson H. Barbour of Rochester, New York led Russell to the conclusion that 6,000 years of human history ended in 1874*. Barbour was an Adventist** who felt that Christ had been present, in his parousia, since 1874. This presence was invisible, not seen with the literal eye. This placed the world in the "time of the end" since 1874. On the basis of the data considered and the views thought to be accurate, even after Russell separated from Barbour, his writings reflected his acceptance of the 1874 date.*** The error in the chronology was later corrected and the understanding of the matter changed. In fact, the error in the chronology inferred-from the Bible was off by 100 years.**** The corrected chronology moved the completion of 6,000 years of human history ahead to 1975 and thus fueled anticipation among Jehovah's Witnesses again as that year approached.***** The notion that 6,000 years of human history would bring us to the end and would be quickly followed by events leading to the abyssing of Satan and the beginning of Christ's Millenial Reign has been held by numerous individuals****** throughout the Common Era (C.E.).

Later, the Witnesses had some advance inclinations regarding the year 1925. In the publication Vindication, Book 3, pp 101-102, we find the reference: "Solomon the King had been on the throne of Israel for more than three years before he began construction of the temple, or the prophetic house of the Lord at Jerusalem. ‘And it came to pass, in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord' (1 Kings 6:1) Manifestly, this Scripture should read, "... In the five hundred and eightieth year after the coming of the Israelites out of Egypt, the mistake appearing in the translation ...When the Israelites left Egypt Jehovah fixed the month Abib, afterwards

* See Studies in the Scriptures, "The Finished Mystery", p.54,55.

** One of the Adventist groups, the Second Adventists - not to be confused with the Seventh-Day Adventists - taught "that the world and all in it except Second Adventists would be burned up in 1873 or 1874." — See 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, p.36, 37

*** See Studies in the Scriptures, "The Finished Mystery", p.167, 377,386. Also God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached, p. 186,187. Later, the second President of the Watchtower Society, J.F. Rutherford, arrived at the 1874 date by applying the Scriptural principle of a "day for a year" to the 1,335 days mentioned at Daniel 12:12. The 1,335 years were added to the year 539 A.D. and thus came to 1874. See the Harp of God, p. 234—236.

**** See God's Kingdom of a Thousand years Has Approached, p.206-211.

***** See Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, p.26-35 and The Watchtower magazine, August 15, l968,p. 494-501.

****** See The Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter 15, as an example.

called Nisan, for the beginning of the year... Zif was the next month following, and hence the second month of the year, which fixes the time above mentioned as in the Spring of the fourth year of Solomon's reign or approximately three and one-half years after his reign began. This may well correspond with the beginning of the erection of Zion, the Royal and Official House of the Lord God. Christ Jesus was placed upon his throne in the year 1914*. (Psalm 2:6) In the Spring of the fourth year thereafter would bring us to the Spring of 1918. Solomon finished the erection of the temple at Jerusalem seven years after he began its erection. ‘And in the eleventh year, in the month, Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it.' (1 Kings 6:38) It is here merely suggested that this may mean that seven years after 1918, to wit, in the year 1925, marked the time when a sufficient number had been brought into the invisible temple of the Lord to make up the one hundred and forty four thousand... where the Scriptures are not definite upon a point we cannot know for a certainty what these corresponding dates do represent, if they represent anything..."** Again, in the February 15, 1984 Watchtower, page 23, "The year 1925 also held expectations for Jehovah's servants. It was thought that a cycle of 70 typical jubilees (70 x 50 years) from the time Israel entered the Promised Land would end in 1925 and mark the beginning of the Great Antitypical Jubilee, the Millenial Reign of Christ Jesus. It did not turn out that way."

In 1941, Jehovah's Witnesses published the booklet Comfort All That Mourn. On Page 22 we read, "Again note the prophecy of Daniel. When Jehovah gave Daniel the prophecy he did not understand it, and so states. Jehovah caused his angel then to appear to Daniel, who delivered from Jehovah this message: ‘But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." (Daniel 12:13) Clearly this part of the prophecy means that Daniel died and since rested in death, but at the end of the days of the prophecy Daniel shall be raised out of death as a perfect man and stand in his ‘lot'... We confidently expect Daniel the prophet of God to soon stand amongst the peoples upon this earth and many will see him and rejoice...: Riding on the assumption that Daniel was to be resurrected after "the days" that Daniel had just prior thereto referred, namely the 1,335 "days", mentioned in verse 12, some Witnesses drew the conclusion that Daniel and others like him - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. - would be resurrected before the "Great Tribulation". As a public demonstration of their faith in the resurrection of

* We will look at the 1914 prediction later.

** See also the Watchtower, December 15, 1945, page 382.

these ancient faithful servants of God, the Witnesses held title to a property in San Diego called "Beth-Sarim"* which means "House of Princes". The March 15, 1937 edition of the Watchtower, p. 86 stated, "Those ancient Witnesses specially mentioned by the Apostle in Hebrews the eleventh chapter... The Lord in his loving kindness makes provision and we may confidently expect that those faithful men of old will be back on earth before Armageddon ends and while some of the Remnant are still on earth... There is at least one house on earth the title to which is held in trust for the use and benefit of those faithful men."** This honest interpretation of Daniel 12:9-13, in time, proved to be inaccurate ***

WHO REALLY IS A "FALSE PROPHET" IN THE BIBLICAL SENSE?

From time to time, the accusation has been made that any church supporting a prophetic view that turns out to be untrue is a "false prophet organization", pursuant to the passage at Deuteronomy 18:20-22 . This passage mentions that "The prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say thine heart, how shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." (King James Version) Is the accusation valid?

Notwithstanding the accusation, an unbiased look at the Deuteronomy citation will show that the criticism does not apply to many of the predictions that we have documented. How is that the case? Well, many of the predictions that we have documented did not come about because some one person or persons claimed that God had spoken to him or God had personally commanded him to publicize some original prophecy. Nearly all the predictions were mistaken views of already written, true prophecies or true history contained in the Bible. The interpretations were inaccurate, but the Bible prophecies and Bible histories were still true.

What might be examples of the Deuteronomitic definition of a "false prophet" are the following: the February 15, 1988 edition of the Long Beach, California newspaper, the Press-Telegram, page A2, under the heading "17 Wait Patiently at Church for Overdue Divine Tornado" related, "Annie Sims, the preacher's wife, delivered the prophecy at a noon prayer meeting late in December: "The Lord said he was going to send a tornado, and many shall die, she recalls, saying God spoke through her during

* This property still exists but is privately owned by non-Witnesses.

** See the book Salvation by J.F. Rutherford, pages311-313.

*** At Matthew 24:44 Jesus indicated that true Christians living during the time of the end would make inaccurate predictions about the specific time of his coming. This will be discussed later.

the prayer service, ‘He was going to send his fury and vengeance on the people'. So 17 faithful members of the Repairer of the Breach Church of God in Christ gathered at their small Westside Church... The 39-year-old Mrs. Sims first prophesied the tornado would strike January 3, then January 24. Both dates passed uneventfully. The Simses now say God delayed the tornado to gain time to spread the warning."

Similarly, the January 1, 1990 edition of the same newspaper, page A3, reported, "About 1,000 members of the Church Universal and Triumphant were gathering in the group's commune on the edge of Yellowstone National Park this weekend for what they say may be the last New Year's. During a reporter's recent visit to the commune, signs known as El Moyra's Timetable were changed each day in a countdown to New Year's, when prophet says an ‘ascended master' named El Moyra has told her ‘to be concerned and to be prepared for a first strike by the Soviet Union upon these United States.'" These cases do not present interpretations of prophecy already written centuries ago in the Bible but are original prophecy, ostensibly provided directly from a superhuman divine source. This difference is often overlooked.

What cannot be denied with all these predictions is that people were disappointed when their expectations failed to materialize. Proverbs 13:12* observes, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." (New International Version)

EXAMPLES INSIDE THE BIBLE OF FAILED PREDICTIONS MADE BY GOD'S PEOPLE

Interestingly, the Bible provides examples of faithful servants of Jehovah who either misread or misunderstood and hence misinterpreted God's purpose in some prophetic situation.

Consider the case of the acclaimed prophet Nathan at 1 Chronicles 17:1-4 (New International Version) "After David was settled in his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent.' Nathan replied to David, ‘Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you.' That night the word of God came to Nathan, saying: ‘Go and tell my servant David, "This is what the Lord says: ‘You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in'"' Verse 15 adds, "Nathan reported David all the words of this entire revelation." The prophet had to reverse himself. The future activities that David had in mind and which the prophet Nathan was sure was in God's mind were not at all true.

* The New World Translation renders this verse "Expectation postponed is making the heart sick, but the thing desired is a tree of life when it does come."

The Gospel of John Chapter 21 verses 22 and 23 provides us another example. Speaking of the Apostle John, the resurrected Jesus stated, ‘If it should be my will that he wait until I come, what is it to you? Follow me.' That saying of Jesus became popularly held in the brotherhood, and was taken to mean that that disciple would not die. But, in fact, Jesus did not say that he would not die; he said only, "If it should be my will that he wait until I come, what is it to you?'" (New English Bible) The New International Version translates the first part of verse 23 accordingly, "Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die..." Was this prediction, attributed to Christ and spread among the members of the early church true? No, it was not.

Perhaps the most well known of failed futuristic views recorded in the Bible is found at Acts 1:6, 7. Here the resurrected Jesus was questioned by his disciples, "..Lord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?' He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the time or dates the Father has set by his own authority..." (New International Version) This question indicated their prophetic view of what they expected Jesus to do at his first advent. This was indicated also in Luke's Gospel, chapter 24 and verse 21. In this passage, two of Jesus' disciples traveling on a road to a village called Emmaus were joined by the resurrected Christ who was not recognized by them. Discussing what had been their expectations regarding Christ, they said, "... But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel." This prophetic view held by the Apostles of Christ was in error. The Kingdom of Christ was not set up in natural Israel in the First Century. The Apostles and their associates had to adjust their thinking and thus their teaching on this subject. *

ONE OF THE RELEVANT QUESTIONS: "ARE WE FINALLY IN THE TIME OF THE END?"

Jehovah's Witnesses have maintained that notwithstanding the foregoing failed predictions that we are definitely now in the "time of the end". They point to two lines of evidence: (1) their exegesis of the "seven times" mentioned at Daniel 4 and (2) recent historical events which they propose correspond to events predicted in the

* They would learn later that God was now using ‘spiritual' Israel, not natural Israel. (Romans 9:1-8; Matthew 21:33-46) They would also learn that the Kingdom would be heavenly, not earthly. (2 Timothy 4:18; 2 Peter 1:10,11; Ephesians 1:20-22).

Bible to occur in the "last days". We will now examine this claim to determine whether it is any more credible than past predictions that fizzled in the course of time. Obviously, if the claim is true, it deserves universal attention. The cautious mind may be wondering how this claim would be any different from similar claims in the past? This very important question must also be answered as we move forward in the discussion.

We will look at "recent historical events" first. It is undeniably the case that the Bible specifies that certain recognizable social, political, economic, and environmental phenomena would occur during the "time of the end". For ease of reference, we will place the Bible's comments before us.

One of the standard "end times" texts is Matthew 24*. At verse 3, we find stated: "While he (Jesus Christ) was sitting upon the Mount of Olives the disciples approached him privately, saying: ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?'" (NW). Jesus went on to list visible events that would occur during the "time of the end" and added in verse 34, "Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." To that he introduced the caution in verse 36, "Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. (NW)**. Without saying any more or less than Jesus said, the accounts cited tell that a particular generation would see the "conclusion of the system of things" but the time within that generation that would see "the end" would not be known by anyone other than the Father.*** Jesus even intimates in verse 44 that faithful Christians would be guessing and predicting the "day and hour" but would be consistently wrong. There he said, "On this account you too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of Man is coming." (NW) What they would be thinking would be inaccurate and the point in time they would least expect would be the grand finale. Let us now read Jesus' list of events that would signal "the end".

* Often unintentionally ignored is Matthew 25, which is a continued discussion of the "time of the end".

** Interestingly, the disciples at this time were expecting that the end was near and that Jesus would soon set up his kingdom. They would later have this view changed. Note John 6:14,15, which gives a report of an attempt to make Jesus a king.

*** We probably can safely assume that Jesus Christ knows by now the "day and the hour" since he is a Chief Performer in the global catastrophe that is coming.

The first part of verse 7 in Matthew 24 says, "For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom...". The Apostle John quantifies this somewhat general statement about wars at Revelation 6: 3, 4 where he uses a rider of a red horse to symbolize war, "And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say: ‘Come!' And another came forth, a fiery-colored horse; and to the one seated upon it there was granted to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another; and a great sword was given him." (NW) This last account has educated us that the kind of war occurring during the time of the end would affect "the earth", not just a region of the earth. Referring to World War I, military analyst, H. W. Baldwin, wrote:* "In its scope, its violence, and above all, in its totality, it established a precedent. World War I ushered in the Century of Total War, of - in the first full sense of the term - Global War... Never before 1914-1918 had a war absorbed so much of the total resources of so many combatants and covered so large a part of the earth. Never had so many nations been involved. Never had the slaughter been so comprehensive and indiscriminate." Making a comparison The World Book Encyclopedia** related, "World War I took the lives of twice as many men as all major wars from 1790 to 1913 put together."

No one could safely dispute that the potential for wars to be progressively more destructive would be at least a function of increased population and an evolving military technology. Therefore, as earth's population expanded and as men built more sophisticated weapons, wars would carry the possibility of getting increasingly more devastating. Because of this some may argue that World War I was relatively speaking no more significant than previous wars.*** But that is not the case at all. A study of wars was completed by Harvard University several decades ago. This study was reported in Collier’s magazine of September 29, 1945, and stated that World War I was seven times greater than the 901 major wars before it consolidated into one that reached across some 2,400 years. World War II exceeded World War I and thus both wars stand, in scope, outside of all other wars in human history. Only someone abysmally ignorant of the present world would deny that man now has the power to exceed the destruction of World War II.

* World War I, pp. 1,2

** 1966 Edition, Volume 20, p. 377

*** Challenging this thinking is this remark found in The World in the Crucible, by Bernadette E. Schmitt and Harold C. Vedeler, "The conflict of nations from 1914 to 1918 was not some ‘dull rumor of some other war'. The struggle ushered in a new scope. of war, the first total war in the experience of mankind. Its duration, intensity, and scale exceeded anything previously known....

Returning to Matthew 24:7, after mentioning "wars" as part of the sign of the end, Jesus adds that, "There will be food shortages...". The Revelation account illustrates this feature also with a horseman, "And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say: ‘Come!’ And I saw, and, Look! a black horse; and the one seated upon it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice as if in the midst of the four living creatures say; ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the olive oil and the wine'." (Revelation 6:5, 6)(NW) At Matthew 20:2, Jesus presented a parable in which laborers worked in a field all day for one denarius. Now what would it mean if it took a day's wages, one denarius, to purchase just a quart of wheat? Describing the time following World War II, Look magazine of June 11, 1946 reported, "A fourth of the world is starving today. Tomorrow will even be worse. Famine over most of the world now is more terrible than most of us can imagine... There are now more people hunting desperately for food than at any other time in history." Providing us with a feel for the percent to total world population affected by the problem of scarce staples during this generation is this statement from two authorities, "About two-thirds of the world's population is undernourished."* Thus, our generation has been uniquely touched by food shortages.

Following his comments about "food shortages", Jesus continued, "There will be... earthquakes in one place after another." (Matthew 24:7) In Luke's account, Jesus said, ". . .And there will be great earthquakes... (Luke 21:11)(NW) The Italian journal Ii Piccolo** observed that, "Our generation lives in a dangerous period of high seismic activity, as statistics show." And, citing one colossal earthquake, the T'ang-Shan, China earthquake of 1976, George W. Housner, a specialist in earthquake-proof engineering, said, that it was "the greatest earthquake disaster in the history of mankind."***

Jesus next advised, "There will be... in one place after another pestilences...". (Luke 21:11) Looking at our era, Science Digest**** informed, "The Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 sped over the earth (and) took 21 million lives... In all history there had been no sterner, swifter visitation of death... had the epidemic continued its rate of acceleration, humanity would have been eradicated in a matter of months."

* Norman J. Padelford and George A. Lincoln, The Dynamics of International Politics, p. 57 (Second Edition 1962)

** October 8, 1978 Edition

*** Time, "China's Killer Quake", June 25, 1979, p. 25

**** Joseph E. Perisco, Science Digest, "1918: The Plague Year", p. 79.

Another report on this plague said, "No recorded pestilence before or since has equaled the 1918-1919 death toll in total numbers. In those two years an estimated 21,000,000 died of influenza-phneurnortia throughout the world, some 850,000 in the United States alone."* This pandemic alone, not to mention other plagues of our times, makes this generation stand out in all history where pestilences are concerned.

Before going further, it would not be gratuitous to compare the Witness prediction based on historical events with similar predictions made in past generations. There is no doubt that sincere individuals living in the past noted historic events occurring around them and that this led them to suspect that the end was close. The essential problem with their predictions was that the events mentioned by Jesus and others in the Bible were not the ones happening. Hence they were not living in the time of the end. The historical events of the time of the end are global, not local, and multi-dimensional, not just political or social, but a many-faceted combination of startling developments in all areas of human endeavor. Predictions in the past, invariably, were based on regional realties not world-wide ones. A visceral response to local tragedies overrode an objective consideration of the Scriptural material on the end time and led to the failed predictions.

Another very important fact closely akin to the foregoing should be expressed. Until mankind developed a sufficiently sophisticated communications technology that would allow him to make some generalizations about what was happening over the globe, he would not be able to see, on a timely basis, if the events that Jesus mentioned were occurring. That technology has been developed only in modern times.

Returning to Matthew 24, we center on verse 14 which declares, "And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come." (NW) In order for a world-wide witness to take place, mankind first would have to know the physical dimension of the world. Until several centuries ago, large groups of mankind lived on continents totally ignorant of the fact that there were other groups of mankind on other continents. Now in modern times, that has all changed.**

* The Saturday Evening Post, September 26, 1959

** Earlier predictions about an end of the world were inescapably led to failure since a world-wide preaching of the Kingdom was not possible as long as people had no real knowledge of what constituted the world.

Witnesses point to the fact that they have covered the world with the message of the Kingdom*. Even their "church" buildings are called "Kingdom Halls". In his book, These Also Believe, Professor of Religious History Charles S. Braden observed, "Jehovah's Witnesses have literally covered the earth with their witnessing... It may be truly said that no single religious group in the world displayed more zeal and persistence in the attempt to spread the good news of the Kingdom than the Jehovah's Witnesses...

Referring to the same religious group that would be preaching the "good news of the Kingdom", Jesus warned, "Then people will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name." (Matthew 24:9) Interestingly, as a result of their world-wide evangelism, the Witnesses, although respected for their good behavior, are disliked globally because of their theology, especially their message of "the Kingdom". They are maligned by nearly every human institution and for that they certainly fit the description of Matthew 24:9. And, all of that has come about in our time.

Another indicator of the "time of the end" has a political nature to it. Jewish and Christian commentators are well aware of prophecies in the book of Daniel discussing the rise and fall of political states across time. Many would agree with the following chart.

THE RISE AND FALL OF SPECIFIC NATION STATES IN BIBLE HISTORY

 

 

Nation(s)

Daniel 2:31-45

Daniel 5:1-30

Daniel 7:1-27

Daniel 8:1-8, 20-22

Daniel 10:19 - 11:45

Tenure as an Empire

1.

Babylonia

Verse 37 "Head of Gold"

Verses 22-27

Verses 1, 4 "Lion"

 

 

645 BCE to 539 BCE
 

2.

Medio-Persia

Verses 32, 39 "Breasts & Arms of Silver"

Verses 28-31

Verse 5 "Bear"
 

Verse 20 "Ram"

Chapter 11 Verse 1

539 BCE to 331 BCE

3.

Greece

Verses 32, 39 "Belly & Thighs of Copper"

 

Verse 6 "Leopard"

Verse 21 "Hairy He-Goat"

Chapter 11 Verses 2-19

331 BCE to 30 BCE

4.

Rome

Verses 33, 40 "Legs of Iron"

 

Verse 7 "Iron Toothed Animal"

 

Chapter 11 Verses 20-26

30 BCE to 476 CE (West) 7th Century CE (East)

 

* Most religious groups emphasize one message or theme above all others. Some promote "personal salvation" while others promote Sabbath observance. Some promote "positive thinking" while others focus on contemporary social issues, etc. The religious body that Jesus would be directing would be promoting "the Kingdom" message pursuant to Matthew 24:14.

A correlation of the several prophecies makes it very clear that Daniel wrote that the Neo-Babylonian Empire would be succeeded by the MedoPersian Empire which would, in turn, be followed by the Grecian and then the Roman Empires. Chapters 7 and 8 of the book of Daniel use animals to represent nations* which is a model employed by the Christian Apostle John years later in the book of Revelation (Apocalypse). In Revelation Chapter 17, we find prophecy involving the nations in the Danielian prophecies and others. We shall see that this prophecy helps to identify the "time of the end". In rich symbolic language, John describes a vision of a woman sitting upon a strange looking beast. The account reads, "...And I caught sight of a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored wild beast that was full of blasphemous names and that had seven heads and ten horns... Well, on catching sight of her I wondered with great wonderment. And so the angel said to me: ‘Why is it you wondered? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the wild beast that is carrying her and that has the seven heads and the ten horns... (Revelation 17:3,6) Commenting on the "wild beast", the angel explained, "Here is where the intelligence comes in: the seven heads mean seven mountains, where the woman sits on top.. And there are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while. And the wild beast that was but is not, it is also itself an eighth king, but springs from the seven, and it goes off into destruction. And the ten horns that you saw mean the ten kings, who have not yet received a kingdom, but they do receive authority as kings one hour with the wild beast." (Revelation 17:9-13) It is during the time of the eighth king and the attendant ten kings that Jesus comes and the end occurs. This is indicated in verse 14, "These will battle with the Lamb,** but, because he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, the Lamb will conquer them..." A correct identification of the "eighth king" at the same time identifies the time of the end.

Jehovah's Witnesses identify the "eighth king" as the United Nations. When John wrote, "And there are seven*** kings: five have fallen, one is...", the Witnesses identify the five that had "fallen" as the empires in Bible prophecy preceding the Apostle John's time.

* Daniel 7:23 illustrates this point, "This is what he said, ‘As for the fourth beast, there is a fourth kingdom that will come to be on the earth..."

** The "Lamb" is Jesus Christ. See John 1:29, 36.

*** There is agreement and disagreement on who the "seven kings" are. Evangelist Hal Lindsey in his popular book The Late Great Planet Earth, p.112, lists the first five of the seven kings: (1) Chaldean (2) Egypt (3) Babylon (4) Medo-Persia (5) Greece. However, Bible translator Richard Francis Weymouth wrote, "The five who ‘have fallen' are the Emperors Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, ClaudiUS and Nero. The one ‘still reigning' is Vespasian - and the seventh is probably Titus, and the eighth Nero Redivivus in the person of Domitian." (See Weymouth's footnote to Revelation 17:10 in his translation The New Testament in Modern Speech).  Halley's Bible Handbook by Henry H. Halley suggests this list: (1) Egypt (2) Assyria (3) Babylon (4) Persia (5) Greece (6) Rome.

Since John lived during the time of the Roman Empire, the preceding powers or "kings" could be illustrated this way:

1. Egypt <-- 2. Assyria <-- 3. Babylonia <-- 4. Medo-Persia <-- 5. Greece <-- 6. Rome  [[The Apostle John]]

Witnesses identify the seventh king as the Anglo-American Alliance. Out of the disintegration of the Roman Empire evolved the greatest empire in world history, the British Empire, which, in time, struck up an alliance with the United States, and hence the Anglo-American Power. Now, the "eighth king" is peculiar in that he, according to verse 11*, "Springs from the seven" (New World Translation), "He belongs to the seven" (New International Version), "He springs from the seven" (The New Berkeley Version). Thus, the "eighth king" has some kind of a link with each of the preceding political states mentioned.

According to The Concord Desk Encyclopedia under the heading "League of Nations", "The League of Nations (1920-46) (was) the first major international association of countries; a total of 63 states were members, although not all simultaneously." World War II helped to bring the League of Nations to an end but according to one history text, "When the Second World War ended, three men dominated the scene - Winston Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin. With their advisers they set up a United Nations organization to replace the League of Nations."** Another reference adds, "League of Nations, an international organization established in 1920 under a covenant of twenty-six articles forming part of the Versailles Treaty which was concluded after the First World War. It came to end in 1946 when the United Nations was founded."***

Now, with the foregoing history in mind, the Witnesses remind us that all of the previous "kings" were represented for the first time in human history in one international body with the emergence of the League of Nations and the United Nations into which the League of Nations metamorphosed. The "eighth king" is described as having all "seven heads that is, all of the previous political powers that we have identified along with the "ten horns" representing other nations.

* The Greek text says, "και εκ των επτα εστιν" which literally translates "and out of the seven is"

** L. J. Cheney, A History of the Western World, p. 288.

*** Elliott and Summerskill, A Dictionary of Politics, (Revised Edition), P. 204.

When the League of Nations essentially died with the eruption of World War II, the Witnesses published a booklet in 1942 called Peace - Can It Last?, in which (on pages 18-22) they identified the seven headed "wild beast" of Revelation 17 as the League of Nations and predicted that though at that time the War was on and the League was "in the abyss" that after the War, it would reappear as an international body. This was pursuant to verse 8 of the prophecy which stated, "The wild beast that you saw was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss, and it is to go off into destruction." After the War was over, the League of Nations was revived as the United Nations. The Witness prediction was correct. The Witnesses now expect the United Nations to meet its end with the Second Coming of Christ - verse 14. Thus despite some earlier misunderstandings of Biblical data, the Witnesses have established an impressive case for their contention that we are indeed at Armageddon's door.

These events have all occurred since the year 1914. Noteworthy are these observations from non-Witnesses:

"World War I (1914-1918) and its aftermath led to the greatest economic depression in history during the early 1930's. The consequences of the war and the problems of adjustment to peace led to unrest in almost every nation." --The World Book Encyclopedia, 1984, Volume 21, page 379.

"Security and quiet have disappeared from the lives of men since 1914". - German statesman, Konrad Adenauer, The West Parker, Cleveland, Ohio, January 20, 1966, Page 1.

"The First War... closed a long era of general peace and began a new age of violence in which the Second War is simply an episode. Since 1914 the world has had a new character... thus the first World War marks a turning point in modern history." - The New York Times Magazine, August 1, 1954, page 9. Comments of H.R. Trevor-Roper, Historian.

"In the year 1914, the world, as it was known and accepted then, came to an end, far more than any year before or since was this the punctuation-mark of the Twentieth Century... from then on nothing could ever be the same." - The book 1914, by J. Cameron, 1959,p V, VI.

It is indeed ironic that some clergymen who are members of church communities strongly opposed to Jehovah's Witnesses are now noticing the significance of the year 1914. One example of that is Pastor Tim LaHaye, formerly the Senior Pastor of Scott Memorial Baptist Church in San Diego, California. Several years ago his book The Beginning of the End was published and in it he reviewed Bible prophecy targeting the events that would occur during the time of the end. On page 39 Pastor LaHaye alerted his readers, "Although I am open to additional evidence on the subject, I am convinced that the events of 1914-1918 fulfill the beginning of Jesus' prophecy. World War I was unique among conflicts not only in size and extent, but in the way it started. Until history produces a more acceptable fulfillment, it is reasonable to conclude that 1914 ushered in the beginning of the end."

The other line of evidence that led the Witnesses to the year 1914 was the material found at Daniel Chapter 4.

Daniel Chapter 4 is the record of a prophetic dream given by Jehovah God to the Babylonian monarch, Nebuchadnezzar in the Seventh Century B.C.E. In his dream he sees a tree that grows up into the heavens. Afterwards, it is cut down, although its rootstock is left and banded so that no growth can occur for "seven times". Nebuchadnezzar is subsequently. informed by the Hebrew prophet Daniel that the tree represents him, the King of Babylonia (vs. 20-22). As the tree was cut down, so too would Nebuchadnezzar be "cut down", away from his throne for apparently seven years which would correspond to the "seven times" (vs. 23-25). After his absence for seven years, he would be restored to the throne (vs. 26,34-36). Now, many would argue, why read more into the account than the fact that a monarch was being given a lesson in humility from the Creator?

There are a few indicators that more than a lesson in humility is being told at Daniel 4. In the book of Daniel, the "Kingdom of God" is constantly related to the Kingdom that God establishes in the "last days" under Christ. At Daniel 2:44, we have an example of this, "And in the days of those kings the God of Heaven will set up a Kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the Kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." Later at Daniel 7:13,14 we find another example, "I kept on beholding in the visions of the night and, see there! With the clouds of the heavens someone like a Son of Man (Jesus Christ) happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days (Jehovah) he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin." Why should this "Kingdom of God" be mentioned in Daniel 4 if this chapter has no connection with it? In Daniel 4, we discover similar phraseology:

Daniel 4:2,3: "The signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed with me, it has seemed good to me to declare. How grand His signs are, and how mighty his wonders are! His kingdom is a kingdom to time indefinite, and his rulership is for generation after generation."

Daniel 4:34: "...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 after generation."

If the foregoing inference lacks force, another factor is the similarity between the description of Jesus Christ being appointed as King of the Kingdom by Jehovah, the "Ancient of Days" at Daniel 7:13,14 and the allusion to the same action mentioned in Daniel Chapter 4 as shown:

Verse 17 "...To the intent that people living may know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that to the one whom he wants to, he gives it and he sets up over it even the lowliest one of mankind."

Verse 25: "...Until you know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind, and that to the one he wants to he gives it."

Verse 32: ". . .Until you know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind, and that to the one whom he wants to he gives it."

At Daniel 7:13,14 the one to whom Jehovah gives the "kingdom of mankind" is the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. But, why would this be mentioned in Daniel 4? Witnesses concluded that the connection was not accidental but indicated that Daniel Chapter 4 was not unlike other chapters of Daniel which carried prophecy about the rise and fall of human political powers over time culminating in the establishment of God's Kingdom by Christ Jesus, the one to whom God ‘wants to give it'.

Witnesses concluded that King Nebuchadnezzar's departure from his throne, his government, for seven years corresponded with the destruction of Jehovah's government, the Kingdom of Judah in 607 B.C.E. and that the return of Nebuchadnezzar to his throne after seven years corresponded to the re-establishment of Jehovah's government through Jesus Christ. It may be worthwhile to look at this a little closer.

Jehovah made a covenant with King David that out of him would issue a dynasty of kings that would rule over God's people. (2 Samuel 7:11-16). During pre-Christian times, the last king in David's line to rule over God's people was King Zedekiah of whom the prophet Ezekiel wrote:

"This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Remove the turban, lift off the crown. This will not be the same. Put on high even what is low, and bring low even the high one. A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no one's until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.'" (Ezekiel 21:26, 27 NW) After this, the next time the Bible talks about a king out of the line of David ruling, it is talking about Jesus Christ, the one "who has the legal right". Of Jesus, Luke 1:32,33 (NW) says, "This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of this kingdom."

We will now return to Daniel Chapter 4 and chart the information we have accumulated:

 

[A]

"7 times"

 

Tree (Dan. 4:10)

Banded Rootstock (Dan. 4:15)

"Resusicitated" Tree (Dan. 4:23)
 

 

[B]

7 Years

 

King Nebuchadnezzar
Ruling (Dan
4:22)

Nebuchadnezzar Mentally Sick; Not Ruling (Dan 4:24-25)

 

 

Nebuchadnezzar Restored To Kingdom (Dan.4:34-36)

[C]

"7 times"

 

Davidic Kings Ruling from 1077 B.C.E. to 607 B.C.E. (2 Samuel 7:11-16 Ezekiel 21:26-27)

After 607 B.C.E. No Theocratic Government Headed by a Davidic King (Ezekiel 21:26, 27)

Jesus Christ, The ‘One Who Has Legal Right' is Made King, Not Only Over the Territory of Natural Israel but the World (Daniel 7:13,14) Luke 1:32,33; Rev. 11:15)


The unanswered question that needed an answer was: How long was the "seven times" from King Zedekiah to King Jesus Christ? The Bible already showed that 3-1/2 times* equaled 1,260 days at Revelation 12:6, 14. From this, determining seven times became possible:

   3-1/2 times = 1,260 days
+ 3-1/2 times = 1,260 days
          7 times = 2,520 days

History confirmed that 2, 520 days after King Zedekiah was taken off the throne, Jesus Christ did not become King. It thus became clear that the prophetic principle of a day** representing a year was applicable here just as it was in the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-26, which was a prophecy about the first coming of Jesus Christ. The 2,520 days accordingly became 2,520 years. Stretching the time line across 2,520 years from 607 B.C.E. brought Witness Bible students to the year 1914 C.E. When the "end time" events mentioned by Jesus commenced in 1914 C.E., Jehovah's Witnesses had the empirical evidence that their exegesis of Daniel 4 was correct.

At Daniel.7:13,14, we learn that Jesus Christ is made King in heaven, not on the earth. For that reason, Witnesses confidently say that Jesus Christ was enthroned in heaven in 1914. That he would not begin destroying the earthly system at the point that he was made King is indicated in the following passages:

Matthew 25:31, 32: "When the Son of Man arrives in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another....".

Revelation 12:10,12: "Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ... On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time."

* At Revelation 11:2,3 God's people are pictured as undergoing tribulation for 1,260 days or 42 months, each which equals 3—1/2 years. Compare with Daniel 7:25, 12:7.

** See Ezekiel 4:6, Numbers 14:34.

According to the account in Matthew 25, after sitting "down on his glorious throne" and before he proceeds to bring destruction upon this corrupt world, Jesus separates those with the prospect of eternal life from those not so favored. At Revelation 12, we learn that after God establishes his special kingdom under the authority of Jesus, Satan and his angelic brethren are evicted from the heavens to the earth and rather than the "great tribulation" starting immediately thereafter, we are informed that the Devil would be allowed to create problems on the earth for "a short period of time". This then would account for the historic difficulties that the world has experienced since 1914 C.E.

At 2 Peter 3:3, 4 Peter foretold, "For you know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death all things are continuing exactly as from creation's beginning.'" It has not escaped the attention of Jehovah's Witnesses that, in spite of an abundant body of historical data singling out our era as unique in all history, skeptics continue to play down comparisons of our time over against earlier times. This, in itself, becomes an evidence of the "time of the end".

CONCLUSION

For those who accept the Bible as the Word of God, its prophecies are absolutely true and dependable. They are not diminished by misinterpretation - regardless of who misinterprets them. They merit our respect and interest for they are the carriers of hope about a better world which will see the Creator given his due place in the hearts and minds of all intelligent creatures and which will see all his obedient, loving subjects free of sickness, sorrow and death.

END NOTES

1. Robert Glenn Gromacki - Are These the Last Days? Publishers: Fleming H. Revell Company (1970), Re: The identification of "Babylon the Great" at Revelation 17:5. "Some have identified her as the Roman Catholic Church because she sits on seven mountains or hills. (Tradition states that Rome is built on seven hills.) It is safer to say that this is apostate Christendom at its worst, composed of all denominations, sects and isms that profess allegiance to Christ but in reality deny and oppose him." (page 71).

2. Unfulfilled prediction of religious Jews. "Prevalent among Jews at that time (the 1640's) was ‘the belief that the Messiah would come in the year 1648. His coming was to be accompanied by all manner of miracles and the era of redemption would dawn... Sabbatai Zevi proclaimed himself as the promised Messiah to his small group of disciples. Needless to say, the year 1648 passed and the era of redemption did not dawn and the expected miracles were not forthcoming." Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken and Stanley Schaeter, When Prophecy Fails, University of Minnesota Press (1956) page 9.

3. Views of Bible translator, John Wycliffe: "Wycliffe wrote a library of learned and powerful disquisitions. The earliest work attributed by some to him is a small treatise entitled ‘The Last Age of the Chirche' written in 1356. It constitutes an indictment of the sins of the church and her priests... The calculation of the end is significant, being influenced by the 1260 and 1355 year prophecies. Though Wyclif was persuaded no one could foretell the day of judgment, he was certain the time was nigh at hand. ‘It is said that the occasion of the writing was the terrible earthquakes and fearful pestilences decimating Europe..." Leroy Edwin Froom, The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers, Volume II, page 59.

4. Baptist Minister "Reverend" Harold Edwin Bafton, It's Here: The Time of the End, Exposition Press (1963):

(a) Regarding the seven times of Daniel 4, "So also does the 7 years of bestial degradation of Nebuchadnezzar during his insanity, answer to the7 years of Gentile rule, or 2,520 years on the day for a year measurement, it being a period of mural and spiritual debasement." Page 35

(b) "Without going into any detail at all, it is therefore plain to the most superficial student that the three main periods of chronological prophecy converge in our days and expire in a very few years, when the longest date given in the Bible will end. Even so, we cannot pinpoint the day nor the hour, but we do know the time and seasons, which the first disciples did not know, nor were they intended to know." Page 93

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