[This article was contributed by Apollos]
Anyone who has seriously examined the Biblical and historical discussions over the dates surrounding the fall and restoration of Jerusalem will know that it becomes complex. Whole books have been written on the topic. No superficial arguments should be accepted if one is to separate truth from error. Some have no doubt tried to make a careful examination of both sides and simply given up trying to absorb all of the information, opting simply to believe the chronology that suits their personal framework of belief. Since 607 B.C.E. has been categorically represented by JW’s as an article of faith in God’s Word as opposed to secular historical records, it is easy to see why believers would opt to favor the “evidence” that purports to support this date.
In my presentation of the facts here I have made clear that the overwhelming historical and scriptural evidence against 607 B.C.E. is certainly not the biggest problem for a Christian to believe in a 1914 C.E. parousia. Although I addressed a number of scriptures regarding the 70 years, I tried to avoid getting bogged down in this topic as there are extensive sources for that elsewhere.
All that having been said, I would here like to present a simple challenge to those who are still arguing in favor of the official 1914 chronology.
To keep things focused, and in order to demonstrate that the chronology cannot be true (at least based on the framework that is used), I will ask the reader to reason on a single scripture:
(Jeremiah 25:12) ‘And it must occur that when seventy years have been fulfilled I shall call to account against the king of Babylon and against that nation,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘their error, even against the land of the Chal·de′ans, and I will make it desolate wastes to time indefinite.
Next note the following quotation that I believe we can all agree on, and further note that the above scripture is cited as an example:
The Bible abounds with examples showing God’s punctuality. (Jer. 25:11-13) [w10 8/15 p. 27]
With that in mind please consider the following question:
What specific event was to mark the end of the seventy year period spoken of in Jer 25:12?
If you answered “the release of the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem” you will need to reread the text. If you answered that the “king of Babylon would be called to account” then you are in agreement with God’s Word.
When then, was the king of Babylon called to account?
(Daniel 5:26-28) “This is the interpretation of the word: ME′NE, God has numbered [the days of] your kingdom and has finished it. 27 “TE′KEL, you have been weighed in the balances and have been found deficient. 28 “PE′RES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”
In what year did this occur?
… ancient Babylon fell in 539 B.C.E. [w89 5/1 p. 3]
The outstanding Absolute date for the B.C. period of the Hebrew Scriptures is that for the fall of Babylon as the capital city of the third world power at the hands of Cyrus, king of the Persians, October 13, 539 B.C., Julian calendar (or October 7 by our present Gregorian calendar) [w55 2/1 p. 94 Questions From Readers]
Therefore, according to our own literature the seventy years spoken of in Jer 25:12 must have ended in 539 B.C.E. If God is truly punctual we cannot twist the scriptures to claim a couple of years here or there.
If 539 B.C.E. marks the end of the 70 year period then when did it begin?
The scriptural and historical answer would have to be 609 B.C.E.
In 609 B.C.E. the Babylonians gained permanent ascendency over the previous world power – Assyria* – thus perfectly fulfilling the words of the preceding verse:
(Jeremiah 25:11) And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
To me this is so straightforward as to be incontrovertible. Either the seventy years is a precise time period that in this scripture is said to end with the judgment against Babylon, or it is not. If it is, then the start point must be 609 B.C.E. (with the destruction of Jerusalem occurring approximately 22 years later). If not, then we must at least acknowledge that the start and end of the period is not clearly defined in scripture, in which case Jehovah God did not intend for us to calculate a date that He has “placed in his own jurisdiction” (Acts 1:7).
You will find it an interesting exercise to search the Watchtower Library using “Jer 25:12” as your search term. Try as you might you will not find any attempt to address the above points. Any references to this scripture simply presume that the reader already believes the official chronology, and the elephant in the room is politely ignored.
* The Neo-Assyrian Empire was an empire in Mesopotamian history which began in 934 BC and ended in 609 BC. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Assyrian_Empire)