[For the original treatise on the whether 1914 was
the start of Christ’s presence, see this post.]
I was talking with a long-time friend a couple of days ago who served with me many years back in a foreign assignment. His loyalty to Jehovah and his organization is well known to me. In the course of the conversation, he admitted that he didn’t really believe our latest understanding of “this generation”. That emboldened me to broach the subject of the many date-related prophetic fulfillments we hold to have occurred in the years following 1914. I was quite surprised to learn that he didn’t accept most of these interpretations either. His only holdout was 1914. He did believe 1914 marked the beginning of the last days. The concurrence of the start of World War One was just too enticing for him to dismiss.
I confess that it took me a while to overcome that bias. One doesn’t like to believe in coincidences, assuming it even was a coincidence. The fact is, we are constantly bombarded with reinforcement for the idea that 1914 is prophetically significant; marking, as we believe, the beginning of the presence of the Son of Man. So I thought it was wise to revisit our position on 1914, this time from a slightly different viewpoint. I figured it might be useful to list all the assumptions we have to make before we can accept our interpretation involving 1914 as true. As it turns out, there is quite a litany of them.
Assumption 1: Nebuchadnezzar’s dream from Daniel chapter 4 has a fulfillment beyond his day.
The book of Daniel makes no mention whatsoever of any fulfillment beyond his day. There is no indication that what happened to Nebuchadnezzar is some type of prophetic drama or minor fulfillment to a major future antitype.
Assumption 2: The seven times of the dream are meant to represent 360 years each.
When this formula applies elsewhere in the Bible, the year-for-a-day ratio is always explicitly stated. Here we are assuming that it applies.
Assumption 3: This prophecy applies to the enthronement of Jesus Christ.
The point of this dream and its subsequent fulfillment was to provide an object lesson to the King, and mankind in general, that rulership and the appointment of a ruler is the sole prerogative of Jehovah God. There is nothing to indicate that the enthronement of the Messiah is indicated here. Even if it is, there is nothing to indicate that this is a calculation given to show us when that enthronement takes place.
Assumption 4: This prophecy was given to establish the chronological extent of the appointed times of the nations.
There is only one reference to the appointed times of the nations in the Bible. At Luke 21:24 Jesus introduced this expression but gave no indication as to when it began nor when it would end. He also made no connection whatsoever between this phrase and anything contained in the book of Daniel.
Assumption 5: The appointed times of the nations began when Jerusalem was destroyed and all the Jews were taken into exile in Babylon.
There is nothing in the Bible to indicate when the appointed times of the nations began, so this is pure speculation. They could have begun when Adam sinned or when Nimrod built his tower.
Assumption 6: The 70 years of servitude refers to 70 years in which all the Jews would be exile in Babylon.
Based on the wording of the Bible, the 70 years could refer to years in which the Jews were under the rule of Babylon. This would include the servitude when the nobels, including Daniel himself, were taken to Babylon, but the rest were allowed to stay and pay tribute to the King of Babylon. (Jer. 25:11, 12)
Assumption 7: 607 B.C.E. is the year in which the appointed times of the nations began.
Assuming assumption 5 is correct, we have no way of knowing with certainty that 607 B.C.E. was the year in which the Jews were taken into exile. Scholars agree on two years: 587 B.C.E. as the year of the exile, and 539 B.C.E. as the year in which Babylon fell. There is no more reason to accept 539 B.C.E. as valid then there is to reject 587 B.C.E. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate the year the exile started nor ended, so we must accept one opinion of worldly authorities and reject another.
Assumption 8: 1914 marks the end of the trampling of Jerusalem and therefore the end of the appointed times of the nations.
There is no evidence that the trampling of Jerusalem by the nations ended in 1914. Did the trampling of Spiritual Israel end in that year? Not according to us. That ended in 1919 according to the Revelation Climax book p. 162 par. 7-9. Of course, the trampling has continued on through the 20th Century and right down to our day. So there is no evidence whatsoever that the nations have ceased trampling upon Jehovah’s people nor that their time has ended.
Assumption 9: Satan and his demons were cast down in 1914.
We contend that Satan cause the First World War out of anger for being cast down. However, he was cast down in October of 1914 according to our interpretation, and yet the war began in August of that year and preparations for the war had been going on for a considerable time before that, as early as 1911. That would mean he had to get angry before he was cast down and the woe to the earth began before he was cast down. That contradicts what the Bible says.
Assumption 10: The presence of Jesus Christ is invisible and is separate from his coming at Armageddon.
There is strong evidence in the Bible that the presence of Christ and his arrival at Armageddon are one and the same. There is no hard evidence to indicate that Jesus would rule from heaven invisibly for 100 years before manifesting himself visibly prior to the destruction of this old system of things.
Assumption 11: The injunction against Jesus’ followers getting knowledge of his installation as king as stated at Acts 1:6, 7 was lifted for Christians in our day.
This statement of Jesus would mean that the apostles of his day had no right to know when he would be enthroned as king of Israel–spiritual or otherwise. The meaning of Daniel’s prophecy of the 7 times was supposedly hidden from them. Yet, the significance of the 2,520 years was revealed to William Miller, the founder of the Seventh Day Adventists in the early part of the 19th Century? That would mean the injunction was lifted for Christians in our day. Where in the Bible does it indicate that Jehovah has changed on this position and granted us foreknowledge of such times and seasons?
To base the interpretation of a prophetic fulfillment on even one assumption opens the door for disappointment. If that one assumption is wrong, then the interpretation must fall by the wayside. Here we have 11 assumptions! What are the odds that all 11 are true? If even one is wrong, everything changes.
I put it to you that if our start year of 607 B.C.E. had been instead 606 or 608, giving us 1913 or 1915, the interpretation of that year marking the end of the world (it later morphed into the invisible presence of Christ) would have joined all our other failed date-specific interpretations on the dust heap of history. The fact that a single, albeit major, war broke out that year shouldn’t be cause for us to lose our reason and base so much of our prophetic understanding on an interpretation founded on the sand of so many assumptions.