This week’s Bible reading covers Daniel chapters 10 to 12.  The final verses of chapter 12 contain one of the more enigmatic passages in Scripture.

To set the scene, Daniel has just finished the extensive prophecy of the Kings of the North and South. The final verses of the prophecy in Daniel 11:44, 45 and 12:1-3 present the only part yet to be fulfilled in our day.  The opening verses of chapter 12 describe Michael, the great prince, standing up in behalf of his people during a time of distress which we understand to be the Great Tribulation. It then appears that Daniel has an extension to this vision involving two men, one on either side of a stream, who are conversing with a third man.  The third man is described as being above the waters.  Daniel 12:6 describes one of the two men asking this third man, “How long will it be to the end of the wonderful things?”

Given that Daniel has just described an astonishing sequence of events culminating in the greatest tribulation of human history, one can safely assume that these are the wonderful things this angel is asking about.  The angel wants to know when it will all end. (1 Peter 1:12)

In answer, the man above the waters replies, ““It will be for an appointed time, appointed times and a half. And as soon as there will have been a finishing of the dashing of the power of the holy people to pieces, all these things will come to their finish.” (Dan. 12:7)

What would you take that to mean?

Without getting into speculation, it would be safe to say that there will be a time period of 3 ½ times—whether symbolic or literal—after which the power of the holy people is dashed to pieces. Now the phrase, “dashed to pieces” or variations thereof, is used 23 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and always refers to killing or destroying someone or something. (You can verify this yourself using the “search” feature of the WT Library using “dash*”—sans quotes—to search by.)  So the power of the holy people is done away with, killed, or destroyed.  After that happens, then all the things that Daniel has just foretold will have reached their conclusion.

Looking at the context, it is clear that the wonderful things the Angel referred to include, as their final part, Michael standing up during a time of distress such as has never occurred before. Jesus used that same phraseology to describe the Great Tribulation which we understand pertains to the destruction of Babylon the great. So the dashing of the power of the holy people which brings all things to their finish must occur in the future, because it marks the end of the wonderful things which includes the destruction of Babylon the Great, an admittedly future event.

Nowadays we have much more to go on than Daniel did, so it is quite understandable that he was confused, and therefore asked an additional question.

“O my lord, what will be the final part of these things?” (Dan. 12:8)

He is told in so many words that it is not for him to know.  “Go, Daniel, because the words are made secret and sealed up until the time of the end.” (Dan. 12:9)  However, it appears that the angel throws this very desirable man one last prophetic tidbit—and so we come to the crux of our post:

(Daniel 12:11, 12) 11 “And from the time that the constant

  • has been removed and there has been a placing of the disgusting thing that is causing desolation, there will be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 “Happy is the one who is keeping in expectation and who arrives at the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days!

    Since the angel just asked about how long would be until these things come to an end, and since Daniel has added a question about what will be the final part of these things, one can rightly assume that the 1,290 and the 1,335 days are linked to the dashing of the power of the holy people to pieces and therefore come at a time when “all these things come to their finish”.

    That all seems perfectly logical, doesn’t it?

    Is that our official understanding of the Scriptures? It is not. What is our official understanding? To answer that, let us first assume that the official understanding is correct and therefore will persist into the New World.  At some point in the New World, Daniel will be resurrected.

    (Daniel 12:13) 13 “And as for you yourself, go toward the end; and you will rest, but you will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.”

    It is probably a very safe assumption to say that one of the first things Daniel will want to learn about upon his resurrection will be how his prophetic words were fulfilled.  Assuming our official teaching is correct, here’s how that conversation might go:

    DANIEL:   “So what did the appointed time, appointed times and a half turn out to be?”

    US:    “That was a literal 3 ½ year period.”

    DANIEL:   “Really, and when did it start?”

    US:    “In December, 1914.”

    DANIEL:   “Fascinating. And what event marked its start?”

    US:    “Ah, well, no event actually.”

    DANIEL:   “But wasn’t there a really big war that year?”

    US:    “Actually, there was, but it started in October, not December.”

    DANIEL:   “So December, 1914 was notable for the time when the power of the holy people was dashed to pieces?”

    US:    “No.”

    DANIEL:   “Then how do you know that the time period started in that month?”

    US:    “Because we know it ended in June, 1918, so we just count backwards from then.”

    DANIEL:   “And what happened in June, 1918?”

    US:    “That’s when eight members of the headquarters staff were thrown in prison.”

    DANIEL:   “I see. So what did the 3 ½ times represent?”

    US:    “Those 3 ½ years were the period of time in which Jehovah’s people were persecuted, trampled on, so to speak.”

    DANIEL:   “So the persecution began in December 1914?”

    US:    “Well, not actually. According to a Watchtower article brother Rutherford wrote in the March 1, 1925, there was no significant persecution until late in 1917. During the time brother Russell was alive, there really was no persecution of any significance.”[i]

    DANIEL:   “So then why do you say that the 3 ½ times began in December, 1914?”

    US:    “It has to have started then.  Otherwise, we can’t say that it ended in June, 1918”

    DANIEL:   “And we know this because the power of the holy people was dashed to pieces in June, 1918?”

    US:    “Exactly.”

    DANIEL:   “And that’s because eight members of the world headquarters staff were jailed.”

    US:   “Yes, the work virtually stopped.”

    DANIEL:   “By “virtually” you mean…?”

    US:    “According to one report, there was a 20% drop in the preaching activity in 1918 over 1914.”[ii]

    DANIEL:   “So “virtually stopped” means it was diminished by 20%.”

    US:    “Essentially, yeah.”

    DANIEL:   “But the publishing of the Watchtower magazine that you told me about…surely that was stopped then?”

    US:    “Oh no, we never missed a printing. Not even one month. We only stopped printing the Watchtower when the attack on false religion began. That’s when the preaching work ended.”

    DANIEL:   “So what you’re saying is that the power of Jehovah’s people was dashed to pieces because there was a 20% drop in the preaching work in one year and no cessation of the printing of the magazines?”

    US:    “Yes, well, we didn’t know what to do when the leaders were imprisoned.”

    DANIEL:   “But somehow the brothers still managed to print the Watchtower, right?”

    US:    “Absolutely. You can’t stop Jehovah’s people.”

    DANIEL:   “And they keep going out in the preaching work.”

    US:    “Yes, indeed!”

    DANIEL:   “Even when they were dashed to pieces.”

    US:    “Precisely!”

    DANIEL:   “Okay. Got it. So once the power of the holy people was dashed in 1918, then all the things that I had written down under inspiration came to their end, correct? The King of the North met his end? Michael the great prince stood up in behalf of his people? And there was a time of distress such as never had occurred before in human history?”

    US:    “No, that didn’t happen until much later. Over a century later in fact.”

    DANIEL:   “But the Angel who was above the waters told me that ‘all these things would come to their finish when the power of the holy people had been dashed to pieces. You told me that happened in 1918, so the end must’ve come right after that.  What did your publications have to say about that?”

    US:    “Well, nothing actually.”

    DANIEL:   “But weren’t there publications that explained the prophecy I recorded?”

    US:    “Yes, several.  The last one was called Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy.  It was an excellent publication.”

    DANIEL:   “So what did it have to say about why the Great Tribulation didn’t come when the power of the holy people was dashed to pieces in June, 1918, as the angel that spoke to me had prophesied would happen?”

    US:    “Nothing at all.”

    DANIEL:   “It said nothing at all on the subject?”

    US:    “Yeah, well, I guess we just sort of skipped over that part.”

    DANIEL:   “But wouldn’t that seem to be an intrinsic part of the prophecy?”

    US:    “Yes, it would seem to be so. But like I said, we never explained it.”

    DANIEL:   “Hmm, okay, let’s get down to the part about the constant feature being removed and the placing of the disgusting thing.?”

    US:    “Yes. That is an interesting part. The constant feature, you see, refers to the preaching work which was removed in 1918.”

    DANIEL:   “By being reduced in quantity by 20%?”

    US:    “You got it!”

    DANIEL:   “And the disgusting thing?”

    US:    “The disgusting thing refers to the League of Nations which came into being in 1919.”

    DANIEL:   “Why was it called the ‘disgusting thing’?”

    US:    “Because it stood in a holy place; a place where it should not have been standing. This refers to the time when the United Nations attacked Christendom, which was considered holy even though it had been rejected by Jehovah God. It’s like ancient Israel in 66 C.E. Its temple was still referred to as a holy place even though it had been rejected by Jehovah God after the Jews had killed his son.  When Rome attacked the temple, it was called the disgusting thing standing in the holy place. So in the same way when the United Nations attacked Christendom, which like ancient Israel had gone apostate, it was a disgusting thing standing in a holy place.”[iii]

    DANIEL:   “I see.  But the League of Nations never stood in the holy place, only the United Nations did, from what you’re telling me. So how come we called the League of Nations the ‘disgusting thing’?  What did it do to be distinguished from all other governments as a disgusting thing?”

    US:   “It stood in the holy place.”

    DANIEL:  “Okay, but it never stood in the holy place.  Its successor did.”

    US:    “That’s correct.  When the United Nations attacked Babylon the Great, over one hundred years later, it was standing in the holy place.”

    DANIEL:   “But we don’t count that.  We count 1919 as the placing of the disgusting thing.”

    US:    “Now you’ve got it.”

    DANIEL:   “I do?  But how can we call it a disgusting thing when the real disgusting thing wouldn’t be placed for over a century?”

    US:    “I just explained that.”

    DANIEL:   “You did?”

    US:   “Sure.”

    DANIEL:   “Okay, let’s leave that for now.  Tell me about the 1,290 days?”

    US:    “Ah, those are literal days.  The 1,290 days only starts after the constant feature is removed and the disgusting things has been placed.”

    DANIEL:   “So the constant feature was removed in June, 1918 when the eight members of headquarters staff were removed, and it was restored when they were released nine months later in March of 1919, right?”

    US:    “Correct, and the League of Nations was placed during the nine month time period when it was proposed in January, 1919.”

    DANIEL:   “So that’s when it came into being?”

    US:    “Yes.  Well, no.  It depends.  That’s when it was proposed, but it didn’t come into existence until the accord was signed by the 44 founding member states which happened on June 28, 1919.”

    DANIEL:   “But that would be outside of the nine months the constant feature was removed.”

    US:    “Exactly, that’s why we ignore the date of its creation and go with the date it was proposed in January, 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference.”

    DANIEL:   “So it was placed when it was proposed, not when it was created, right?  That means it became the disgusting thing when it was merely proposed?”

    US:    “Correct, otherwise, our understanding wouldn’t work.”

    DANIEL:   “And that would never do.  So if January, 1919 marks the start of the 1,290 days, what marks its end?”

    US:    “Well, nothing actually.  But about three months after it ended we held a September convention in Cedar Point, Ohio.”

    DANIEL:   “A convention.  You’re telling me that the prophecy I penned over 2,500 years ago was fulfilled by a convention that was held in Ohio?”

    US:    “It was a landmark convention.”

    DANIEL:   “But the convention didn’t occur when the 1,290 ended.”

    US:    “It was only three months off.”

    DANIEL:   “I don’t know.  It seems like such a specific time period—so precise.  If it was to be a convention, then wouldn’t Jehovah have been able to get it right to the day?”

    US:    [Shrugging our shoulders]

    DANIEL:   “And the 1,335 days?  When did they end.”

    US:    “They’re counted as contiguous to the 1,290 days, so they would have ended in March, 1926.”

    DANIEL:   “And what happened in March, 1926.”

    US:    “Well, nothing actually.  But there was an important Watchtower article in January of that year, and then in May, there was a convention in which we released the book, Deliverance.  It replaced Studies in the Scriptures. ”

    DANIEL:   “But nothing happened in March when the 1,335 actually ended?”

    US:    “Ah, no.”

    DANIEL:   “So this holding of conventions and releasing of books was a fairly rare and noteworthy occurrence at that time?”

    US:    “Not at all.  We did that every year.”

    DANIEL:   “I see.  So every year there was a convention and every year you released a new book and so there was bound to be a convention and a book the year that the 1,335 days ended, just not on the day they actually ended?”

    US:    “Pretty much, yeah.”

    DANIEL:   “I see.  And was the convention, by any chance, held in Cedar Point, Ohio?”

    US:    “You know. I don’t know.  But I can find out.”

    DANIEL:   “Never mind.  But thanks for your time.”

    US:    “No problem.”

    An alternate theory

    Sorry if the foregoing seems somewhat facetious, but we are merely trying to take our interpretation to its logical conclusion.  If valid, it should be able to stand the test.

    However, given that the constant feature of our worship and the fruit of the lips was not removed in 1918—a diminishment of 20% cannot be considered “a removal”—and given that we now teach that the disgusting thing stands or is placed in the holy place when the UN attacks Babylon the Great, it seems very safe to conclude that the 1,290 days and the 1,335 days have not yet begun.  The power of the holy people has not been dashed to pieces yet.  The two witnesses have not finished their witnessing and they have not been killed.  (Rev. 11:1-13)  It is all still in our future.

    What of the 3 ½ times?  Is this literal or figurative?  The Bible uses various terms to refer to this measure of time: 3 ½ times, 42 months, 1,260 days.  Sometimes it is obviously figurative, other times we cannot be sure.  (Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 11:2, 3; 12:6, 14; 13:5)  We’ll have to wait and see what it refers to .  However, everything points to an as-yet future fulfillment of the 1,290 and 1,335 days.  This would indicate a time of trial and testing; a time requiring endurance.  It would indicate that those who endure and reach the end of the 1,335 days will be pronounced happy.

    Rather than falling into the trap of speculation, let’s leave it at that and just keep our minds and hearts open for indications as to when these two time periods actually begin.  Those signs shouldn’t be hard to see.  After all, the removal of the constant feature and the placing of the disgusting thing will be events visible on the world stage.

    Dangerous, but exhilarating times lie ahead.


    [i] March 1, 1925 Watchtower article “Birth of the Nation” he stated:  “ 19 … Be it noted here that from 1874 until 1918 there was little, if any, persecution of those of Zion; that beginning with the Jewish year 1918, to wit, the latter part of 1917 our time, the great suffering came upon the anointed ones, Zion.”

    [ii] “Nevertheless, according to available records, the number of Bible Students reported as having some share in preaching the good news to others during 1918 decreased by 20 percent worldwide when compared with the report for 1914. “ (jv chap. 22 p. 424)

    [iii] See w99 5/1 “Let the Reader Use Discernment”