Video Script

Hello. Eric Wilson again.  This time we’re looking at 1914.

Now, 1914 is a very important doctrine for Jehovah’s Witnesses.  It is a core doctrine.  Some might disagree.  There was a recent Watchtower about core doctrines and 1914 wasn’t mentioned.  However without 1914, there can be no generation teaching; without 1914 the whole premise of us living in the last days goes out the window; and most important, without 1914, there can be no Governing Body because the Governing Body takes its authority from the belief that it was appointed by Jesus Christ as the faithful and discreet slave in 1919.  And the reason they were appointed in 1919 is based on another anti-typical application coming from Malachi which derives from the start of Jesus’ rule—so if Jesus began to rule in 1914 as king, then certain things went on—we’ll discuss those in another video—but certain things went on which then brought him to choose Witnesses out of all the religions on earth as his chosen people and to appoint over them a faithful and discreet slave; and that occurred in 1919 based on the chronology that gets us to 1914.

So no 1914…no 1919…no 1919…no faithful and discreet slave, no Governing Body.  There is no basis for the authority structure under which all Jehovah’s Witnesses today function.  That’s how important this doctrine is and those who disagree with the doctrine will attack it by challenging the start date.

Now when I say start date, the doctrine is based on the premise that in 607 BCE the Israelites were taken into exile in Babylon and Jerusalem was destroyed and thus began 70 years of devastation and exile; and also began the appointed times of the nations or the appointed times of the Gentiles.  This is all the understanding that you have as Witnesses, all based on the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and an antitypical application of that, because there was a typical application evidently or obviously from what we find in the Bible…but as Witnesses, we take the position that there is an anti typical application and the seven times in which Nebuchadnezzar was crazed, acting like a beast, eating the vegetation of the field. Those seven times correspond to seven years each year measuring 360 days, for a total of 2,520 days or years.   So counting from 607, we get to 1914—specifically October of 1914 and that’s important—but we’ll get to that in another video, okay?

So if 607 is wrong, many reason then the application of this interpretation can be challenged. I would disagree and I’ll show you why in a minute; but basically there are three ways in which we examine this doctrine:

We examine it chronologically—we examine whether the start date is valid.

The second way is we examine it empirically—in other words, it’s all well and good to say that something happened in 1914 but if there’s no empirical evidence then it’s just conjecture. It’s like me saying that, “You know Jesus was enthroned last June.” I can say that, but I have to give some proof.  So there should be empirical proof.  There should be something that we can visibly witness that gives us reason to believe that something invisible happened in the heavens.

The third way is biblically.

Now of these three ways, as far as I can see, the only valid way to examine this doctrine is biblically.  However, since so much time has been spent specifically on the first method of chronology, then we’re going to deal with that briefly; and I would like to explain why I don’t feel that is a valid method for examining the validity of this doctrine.

Now, there are a lot of people who spend a lot of time researching it.  As a matter of fact, one brother in 1977 submitted his research to the Governing Body, which was subsequently rejected and then he published a book himself called Gentile Times Reconsidered. His name is Karl Olof Jonson.  It’s a 500-page book.  Very well done; scholarly; but it’s 500 pages!  It’s a lot to go through.  But the premise is, among other things—I’m not saying that it only deals with this, but this is one of the key points in the book—that all the scholars, all the archaeologists, all the men who devote their lives to researching these things, having looked at thousands of cuneiform tablets, have determined from those tablets (Because they cannot do it from the Bible. The Bible doesn’t give us a year when this happened.  It gives us only a correlation between someone’s rule as a king and the year when he was serving and the exile) so based on what they can determine in actual years, everyone agrees that 587 is the year.  You can find that on the internet very easily. It’s in all the encyclopedias. If you go to museum exhibits dealing with Jerusalem, you’ll see it there. It’s universally agreed that 587 was the year that the Israelites were exiled.  It’s also widely agreed that 539 is the year that Babylon was conquered by the Medes and the Persians. Witnesses say, ‘Yes, 539 is the year.”

So, we agree with the experts on 539 because we have no other way of knowing.  We have to go to the world, to the experts, to find out what year Babylon was conquered by the Medes and the Persians.  But when it comes to 587, we deny the experts.  Why do we do that?

Because the Bible says that they were enslaved for 70 years and that’s our interpretation of it. So the Bible can’t be wrong.  So, therefore, the experts must be wrong.  We pick one date, say that’s the right date, and then we just discard the other date.  We could just as easily—and probably it would have been more beneficial for us as we’ll see in the next video—to have picked 587 and discarded 539, and said that’s wrong, it was 519 when the Babylonians were conquered by the Medes and Persians, but we didn’t do that.  We stuck with 607, okay?  So why isn’t that valid.  It’s not valid because Jehovah’s Witnesses are very good at moving the goalposts.

For example, we used to believe that 1874 was a start of Christ’s presence.  It wasn’t until…I think it was 1930—I’ll see if I can get a quote for you—that we changed that, and said, ‘Okay, oh, it’s not 1874 that Christ’s presence as king began invisibly in the heavens, it was 1914.  We also, at that time, believed 1914 was the start of the Great Tribulation, and we didn’t stop believing that until 1969. I remember being at the district convention when that was revealed; that 1914 was not the start of the Great Tribulation.  It caught me by surprise, because I never thought it was, but apparently that was our understanding and had been for…oh, that would make it about 90 years.

We also moved the goalposts with regard to the generation.  In the 60s, the generation would be people who were adults in 1914; then it became teenagers; then it became children of only 10 years; finally, it became babies. We kept moving the goalposts and now we’ve moved them so far that to be part of the generation, you only have to be anointed, and had been anointed at the time of someone else who was alive at that time.  So even though you didn’t live anywhere near those years, you’re part of generation.  The goalposts have moved again.  So we could do the same with this.  It would be so easy.  We could say, “You know, you’re right! 587 is when they were exiled, but that doesn’t change anything.”  But we’d probably do it this way…we’d probably say, “Others thought…”, or “Some have thought….”  We usually do it that way.  Sometimes, we’ll just use the passive tense: “It was thought….” Again, no one’s taking blame for it.  It’s just something that happened in the past, but now we’re correcting it. And we’d use the prophecy in Jeremiah, where the 70 years is mentioned.  That’s from Jeremiah 25:11, 12 and it says:

“And all this land will be reduced to ruins and will become an object of horror, and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon for 70 years. 12But when 70 years have been fulfilled, I will call to account the king of Babylon and that nation for their error,’ declares Jehovah, ‘and I will make the land of the Chaldeans a desolate wasteland for all time.”

Okay, so you see how easy it would be?  They could say it actually says that they would serve the king of Babylon.  So that service began when Jehoiachin, the king of Israel, was conquered by the Babylonians and became a vassal king and had to then serve them; and of course, it was also an initial exile. The king of Babylon took the intelligencia—the best and the brightest, including Daniel and his three companions Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—he took them to Babylon so they served the king of Babylon from 607, but they weren’t exiled in the second exile, the one that destroyed the city and took everybody, until 587, which is what all the archeologists say—so we’re good with archaeology, and we still get to keep our date, 607.

You know, the reasoning is actually quite sound, because the Bible says that the land must become a devastated place but it doesn’t tie the devastation of the place to the 70 years. It says the nations will serve the king of Babylon these seventy years, not even just Israel, the surrounding nations, because Babylon conquered all the surrounding nations at that time.  So the devastation doesn’t pertain to the 70 years, they could say, but only the servitude. And they could even use the reasoning found in the very next verse which says that the king of Babylon and the nation would be called to account, and that God would make it desolate wastes. Well, they were called to account in 539 and yet more than five centuries later Babylon still existed.  Peter was in Babylon at one point. In fact, Babylon continued to exist for hundreds of years after that.  It was only some time after that that it finally became a desolated waste. So God’s words were fulfilled.  They were called to account, and the land became desolated waste—but not at the same time.  Likewise, they served the king of Babylon for 70 years and the Land of Israel became a desolated waste but the two things do not have to be exactly concurrent for the words of Jeremiah to have come true.

You see, the problem with challenging the date is even if you’re successful, they can do just what I’ve explained they could—move the date.  The premise is that the doctrine is valid and the date is wrong; and that’s the whole problem with challenging the date: We have to assume the doctrine is valid.

It’s like me saying ‘I’m not exactly sure when I was baptized. I know it was 1963 and I know it was at the International Convention in New York…ah…but I can’t remember if it was the Friday or the Saturday or even the month.’  So I could look it up in the Watchtower and find out when that assembly was but then I still don’t know exactly what day of that assembly the baptism was.  I might think it was the Saturday (which I think was the 13th of July) and then someone else might say ‘No, no, I think it was the Friday…I think it was Friday that that they had the baptism.’

So we could argue back and forth about the date but neither of us is disputing the fact that I was baptized. But if, during that dispute, I say, ‘By the way, I have was never baptized.’  My friend would look at me and say ‘So why are we discussing dates.  That makes no sense.’

You see, if the doctrine of 1914 is a false doctrine, it doesn’t matter that we happen to stumble upon the right date for something or other. It doesn’t matter, because the doctrine isn’t valid, so that’s the problem with examining the chronology of it.

In our next video, we’ll look at the empirical evidence that gives us a little bit more meat, but still the real way would be in our third video when we look at the doctrinal basis in the Bible.  For now, I’ll leave you with that thought.  My name is Eric Wilson. Thank you for watching.