[Analysis of the article on page 10 of the October 1, 2014 Watchtower]
If you are reading this, it is likely you just received—possibly from a Jehovah’s Witness who visits you regularly—a copy of the October 1, 2014 Watchtower. The article on page 10 attempts to prove from Scripture that Jesus has been ruling invisibly from heaven for over a century. This belief, held by close to eight million Jehovah’s Witnesses, may seem remarkable to you given the apparent lack of any observable supporting evidence. Nevertheless, if you go by the article, there appears to be ample evidence in scripture to support this belief.
I should state before going further than I am a practicing Jehovah’s Witness and have been all my life. I believe that we understand many things correctly from the Scriptures, but like all other Christian denominations, we have some things wrong. Some important things wrong. The belief in the prophetic importance of 1914 is one of them. Therefore, in good conscience, I will not be offering the October Watchtower in the door-to-door preaching work.
It is important when examining anything others teach you about God’s Word that you exercise your own critical thinking. This is the instruction God gives us. (Hebrews 5:14; 1 John 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:21)
The article is presented in the pleasant, non-confrontational manner of two people having a friendly chat. The voice of the Jehovah’s Witness is played by Cameron, while the householder is Jon. Cameron’s reasoning is convincing on the surface. However, does it bear up well under more careful scrutiny? Let us see.
First let me say that I can’t shake the suspicion that this article is written more for those placing it then for the public at large. It lays no background before launching into the “proof”, so only one already familiar with our teaching will be able to follow it readily. To fix that, I’ll explain that the belief that Jesus began to rule invisibly in heaven is rooted in our interpretation of one prophecy in Daniel chapter 4. The historical setting is that the Jews had been taken into exile by Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar and now were enslaved. The king had a dream involving an immense tree that was cut down and lay dormant for a period of “seven times”. Daniel interpreted the dream and it was fulfilled during the lifetime of king Nebuchadnezzar. It is this dream that serves as the basis for our interpretation involving 1914. Eventually, that king died and his son replaced him on the throne. Then, many years later, his son was overthrown and killed by the invading armies of the Medes and Persians. This sequence is important to bear in mind for it will serve to show that the article starts out by misleading the reader.
Let’s get down to it. In the second column of page 10, Jon makes the valid point that in reading the prophecy of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, there is no mention of 1914. Cameron counters with the idea that “even the prophet Daniel didn’t understand the full meaning of what he was inspired to record!” Technically accurate, since he recorded a number of prophecies and by his own admission didn’t understand all of them. However, this statement is misleading as it is made in the context of one specific prophecy, one which Daniel did fully understand. This is evident from a simply reading of Daniel 4:1-37. The prophetic fulfillment is fully explained.
Nevertheless, we believe there is a secondary fulfillment, one we claim he didn’t understand. However, we have no right to make that claim until we can prove it; but instead of doing that, Cameron pushes off from this misleading statement to add, “Daniel didn’t understand because it was not yet God’s time for humans to discern completely the meaning of the prophecies in the book of Daniel. But now, in our time, we can understand them fully.” [Boldface added]
Using the internet it takes only minutes to learn that we, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, have changed our interpretation of Daniel’s prophecies many times. Therefore it is a very bold statement to make so publicly that we “now can understand them fully”. However, putting that aside for the moment, let’s examine whether the premise just given in the article is even truthful. We need proof, and the article attempts to provide it by quoting Daniel 12:9: “The words are to be kept secret and sealed up until the time of the end.”
The implication is that the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was kept secret, sealed up until our time. Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe the time of the end is synonymous with “the last days” and we believe the last days began in 1914.
But do the words of Daniel 12:9 apply to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream?
According to Insight on the Scriptures – Volume I (p. 577) published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, the book of Daniel covers an 82-year span of time. Do God’s words at Daniel 12:9 apply to all the prophetic writings over that period? Based on the context of that verse, we must honestly answer in the negative, for verse 9 is an answer to Daniel’s own question from the previous verse: “O my lord, what will be the outcome of these things?” What things? The things he’d just seen in visions as described in chapters 10 through 12 were received long after he interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, in the third year of Cyrus of Persia. (Da 10:1)
Let’s revisit our timeline. Nebuchadnezzar has a dream. It is fulfilled in his lifetime. He dies. His son takes the throne. His son is overthrown by the Medes and the Persians. Then during the rule of Darius the Mede and Cyrus of Persia, Daniel has a vision and at the end of it asks, “What is the outcome of these things?” He is then told that it’s not for him to know. Daniel wasn’t asking about some possible secondary fulfillment to a prophecy he’d delivered decades early. He wanted to know what all the strange symbols meant in the vision he’d just finished seeing. There are two reasons for trying to apply Daniel 12:9 to the prophecy of the immense tree. One is to provide the excuse for our interpretation and the other is to attempt to get around God’s law as stated as Acts 1:6, 7. (More on that later.)
That the article should start out with such a misleading misapplication is troubling and should move us to extra caution as we look at the remaining explanation.
On page 11 at the top of the second column, Cameron says, “In a nutshell, the prophecy has two fulfillments.” When asked how we know that, he refers to Daniel 4:17, “so that people living may know that the Most High is ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that he gives it to whomever he wants.” [Boldface added]
I think we can agree that by removing the king of the ruling world power from the throne and then restoring it to him, Jehovah God was making the point that men rule only at his pleasure, and he can remove or appoint anyone he wants when he wants. It is an easy leap from there to the idea that when Jehovah wants to appoint his Messiah as king, he’ll do so and no one will stop him. This much is easy to derive from the prophecy and is in keeping with the central theme of the Book of Daniel which involves aspects of God’s kingdom.
However, is there also a basis to conclude the prophecy is given to provide us with a means to foreknow when the Kingdom comes? That is the gist of our belief. However, to get there, yet another leap must be made. Cameron says, “In the second fulfillment of the prophecy, God’s rulership would be interrupted for a period of time.” (p. 12, col. 2) What rulership? The rulership over the kingdom of mankind.
To explain what this interruption consists of, Cameron next explains that the kings of Israel represented God’s rulership. So the rulership was interrupted in 607 B.C.E. and was reinstated in 1914 based on a calculation of the length of the seven times. (We’ll wait for the follow-up Watchtower article in this series before looking into dates.)
Did you notice the inconsistency?
Daniel 4:17 speaks about God’s rulership over “the kingdom of mankind”. This rulership was interrupted. If true, then applying it to the lineage of Israelite kings makes Israel into “the kingdom of mankind”. That is quite a leap, is it not? Consider, God ruled over Adam and Eve. They rejected his ruldership, so his kingdom over mankind was interrupted. Then—if we accept Cameron’s logic—his kingdom was reinstated over mankind when he began ruling the nation of Israel. This occurred during the time of Moses hundreds of years before the first King (Saul) sat on the Israelite throne. So his kingdom didn’t need the presence of an earthly king. If the dominion of Babylon constituted an interruption in God’s rulership over the Israelites, then so did the years they spent during the pre-King time of the judges when they were ruled by the Philistines, the Amorites, the Edomites and others. God’s kingdom was interrupted then restarted multiple times by this reasoning.
Doesn’t it make more sense to conclude that when God says he can appoint anyone he wants over the kingdom of mankind, he means just that—not some subset of mankind like one branch of Abraham’s descendants, but all of mankind? Does it not also follow that his rule over the kingdom of mankind was interrupted when the first man—the first Adam—rejected it? From this we can see that the interruption will end when the last Adam, Jesus, takes kingly power and conquers the nations. (1 Corinthians 15:45)
To accept Cameron’s arguments thus far, we must assume that Daniel 4:1-37 has two fulfillments, something not stated in the Bible. All the other prophecies in Daniel have only one fulfillment, so this premise is not even consistent with the rest of his writings. Next, we must assume that the secondary fulfillment involves a time calculation. Then to settle on a date, we have to assume that by “kingdom of mankind” God really meant “the kingdom of Israel”.
There are many other assumptions that are required, but we’ll hold off on exposing those until next month’s article comes out. For now, let’s address one final one: Cameron quoted Daniel 12:9 (“The words are to be kept secret and sealed up until the time of the end.”) making the point that only now can we (Jehovah’s Witnesses) fully understand these words. Why is that important? Why not believe that the first century Christians who received miraculous gifts of the holy spirit, were taught by Jesus and his apostles, and wrote the final books of the Bible could also understand it? The answer is to be found at Acts 1:6,7:
“So when they had assembled, they asked him: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” 7 He said to them: “It does not belong to you to know the times or seasons that the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.” (Ac 1:6, 7)
We have to explain how this injunction does not apply to us, so we misapply Daniel 12:9 to the prophecy in chapter 4 which occurred decades earlier, instead of restricting it to the vision Daniel wrote about in that very context in chapters 10 through 12. Any serious Bible student should hear alarm bells when he or she is being asked to accept a speculative statement based on a scriptural misapplication to get around a clearly stated prohibition from God.
Why are we trying so hard to prop up a fanciful interpretation now stretched incredibly thin after 100 years of disconfirmation? We’ll get to that in our next article.
It really amazes me how they can use the bible like this to support their false teachings without thinking about the consequences, one being making the bible very contradictory. For example they use Daniel 12:8 out of context to try and convince us that Daniel didn’t understand what he was writing, but one can easily point to Daniel 10:1 which shows that he actually understood what he was writing. So now what, is Daniel contradicting himself or our understanding of the text is wrong. I don’t think we need more evidence to discard the Watchtower as false teachers.
[…] The answer to this is, ‘Nothing.’ The Messianic Kingdom has yet to begin, or are we to believe the 1,000 year rule has begun? If so, then there are only 900 years left. (See When Did God’s Kingdom Begin Ruling?) […]
Jesus told us when Satan fell from heaven, and how. It was not 1914. ” The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke10:17-20) Jesus seeing Satan fall, is in the past tense, Satan is the “enemy”. He… Read more »
Most acknowledge that unprecedented distresses have afflicted the globe since 1914. Rather than ascribe these things to the start of a Divine Kingdom, why not accept the Bible’s explanation of the cause? Jesus describes the signs of the end as the “beginning” of “labor pains” (Mark13:8; Rev.12:1,2). Which comes first…labor pains?…or the Kingdom’s birth? Does not the birth come AFTER labor pains? We all need to wake up, and OPEN our eyes.
[…] Part 1 of this series appeared in the October 1, 2014 Watchtower. If you have not read our post commenting on that first article, it might be beneficial to do so before proceeding with this one. […]
Meleti said: “First let me say that I can’t shake the suspicion that this article is written more for those placing it than for the public at large.” I think your suspicion is right. The following quote is from the latest Kingdom Ministry (Oct 2014) “The Scriptures encourage us to be “ready to make a defense” of our beliefs, “doing so with a mild temper and deep respect.” (1 Pet. 3:15) Realistically, we may find it challenging to explain deep Bible truths, such as how we know that the Kingdom started ruling in 1914. To help us, a two-part series… Read more »
Thanks john its incredible how repeatedly go against their own counsel . I think its a confidence trick it used to make me think we had the truth and could stand up against any scrutiny now i know different . Ask them the same questions they want us to ask so called christendom and your out . As ive found out first hand .and they are convinced ive left the truth .were any of us ever in it .at least im honest enough to stand up and say when i know somethings wrong . Kev
Sargon it would be something 2 meet on the grid. Truthfully im just glad 2 know that one of my REAL brothers is here with me(Prov 18:24). That mustve been 1 long elevator ride! I know u wanted 2 ask him what kind of tricks he had up his sleeve lol.
Thanks Vivlon that cleared things up considerably. What is amazing 2 me is that while complex mathematical pseudo-theorems give birth 2 the almighty 1914, basic arithmetic collapses & dissolves this doctrine. For example, the 2 months btwn the start of the war & satans ouster that just wont go away! Also the simple problem of Christ millenial reign. He’s only promised 1000 yrs. (Rev chap 20.). Which when translated, means he either only has 900 yrs left (& we are all slowly growing back 2 perfection & just dont know it) or he rules longer than 1000yrs-100 of which we… Read more »
Hey I’m at this convention in Detroit. I was on the elevator with Morris as he headed to the basement before he went on stage. I wish I could meet you today. Haha. Typing away on my phone before the program starts.
Ahhh i wish i would have been on that lift with him ..well funny .Especially with me tight pants .kev
Could anyone tell me what scripture says satan got kicked out of heaven in 1914. Ive read Rev 12:9 but 4 some reason my copy of the scriptures dont say a date.
There isn’t one. 🙂 However, we “know” he got kicked out of heaven then because he was so angry that he brought woe to the earth. He got kicked out after October, because it was in October that the 2,520 years ended. Therefore, the first world war is evidence that he got kicked out and was really angry, because he started it. Don’t let the fact that there had been a decade-long arms race with Germany building up a million-man army in preparation for the war mislead you. Satan knew ahead of time that he was going to get tossed… Read more »
Quote from WT February 2014 “What reasons did Jews in the ﬁrst century have for being ‘in expectation’ of the Messiah?” “If the apostles and other early Christians had correctly understood the prophecy about the 70 weeks, we would expect them to have mentioned the prophecy as proof that Jesus Christ was the Messiah and that he had arrived on time. But there is no evidence that the early Christians did so. “Another point is worth noting. Gospel writers often mentioned prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures that were fulﬁlled by Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:22, 23; 2:13-15; 4:13-16) But none of… Read more »
Corporate decisions require collective agreements. If we disqualify our complex 1914 evidence of Christ’s enthronement so must we disqualify our 1919 evidence, i.e. the fall of Babylon the Great and appointment of the Faithful and Discrete Slave. Simple. Corporate decisions are simple. Arguing will only put you on a political backbench.
There are two fundamental problems with the organization’s use of Luke 21:24 and Daniel 4, to suggest that the Jesus started ruling in heaven in 1914. Firstly, Daniel 4 uses the expression “kingdom of mankind”. This shows that Daniel 4 is really speaking about earthly political rulership. Daniel 4 was making the point that God is ultimately in charge of political rulership of earth’s inhabitants and he can appoint any ruler over them that he desires, to express his rulership through that leader. Would God appoint a ruler in the “kingdom of mankind” before he is ready for that ruler… Read more »
What an excellent line of reasoning. Thanks for adding to the fund of our knowledge on this important subject.
The kingdom of mankind is identified at Matt.12:8; John18:37; Rev.1:5; 5:9,10.
they believe the lie, or they are just Charlton’s.
Why are we ( the Gb ) trying so hard to prop up a fanciful interpretation now stretched incredibly thin after 100 years of disconfirmation? Simply to create a sense of urgency and sell the books and magazines they publish , I guess. So let’s go and celebrate more then 100 years of false prophesying and do it in the Wt style, produce and disseminate more false info among gullible people . Oh, sorry they don’t do that because Rutherford said it : Wt May 1 1938 p 143 – “The interpretation of prophecy, therefore is not from man ,… Read more »
I don’t see how the governing body expects anyone to buy their teachings anymore. I thought they had to be joking with this latest article. I find it odd that they are going all in with the 1914 doctrine, as it is really their weakest teaching. In fact it worries me. The ridiculous jumps in logic the article makes is comical. Random scriptures in Daniel are quoted and made to be relevant to their argument. A simple google search will destroy the 607 date. As you know I do not think the governing body actually believes what they teach. They… Read more »
Maybe they will downsize and sell off a few of the kingdom halls they have now surreptitiously ‘acquired’ thanks to the donations for loans wrangle.
I have no time or patience for these false prophets anymore!
Jesus has been ruling for 100 years?!? Excuse me, but I was under the distinct impression that according to Matthew 28:18 that “…All power has been granted me in heaven and on earth…” I’m just a simple country girl, but the words power and authority basically mean the same thing right? So if Jesus was given ALL power in heaven and on earth, wouldn’t that mean that he was in a position of authority (rulership) since THAT time? I’m just sayin…
Good point, SilverTop.
Yeah good point silvertop jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth since the ascension in 33 ce . So in what sense did he begin ruling in 1914 .im under the impression that jesus is the head of the christian congregation .but what real proof is there that they claim that jesus has somehow differently turned his attention to the earth since 1914 . I dont deny that jesus prescence will come like those mentioned at 2 peter . But to say that its here now and has been for the last 100 years to my… Read more »
Oh, my goodness. When will they really read the bible? Acts 1:7 – He said to them, It is not for you to become acquainted with and know what time brings [the things and events of time and their definite periods] or fixed years and seasons (their critical niche in time), which the Father has appointed (fixed and reserved) by His own choice and authority and personal power. (AMP) 2 Thess 2:1,2 – But relative to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and our gathering together to [meet] Him, we beg you, brethren, Not to allow your… Read more »
Not to worry. I wish the worst thing that anyone had ever done to me was only to misspell my name. 🙂
I got to say i have given that talk on daniel 4 lots of times and the numerology is really stretching it i think its based more on someones imagination rather than real facts .ok it does say that the most high is ruler in the kingdom of mankind and to the one whom he wants he gives it true . But how do we know for sure that its a prophetic timetable when gods kingdom establishes its reign on earth . That view is not consistant with the rest of the bible no one knows the timing its coming… Read more »