Good is Jehovah to the one hoping in him, to the soul that keeps seeking for him. Good it is that one should wait, even silently, for the salvation of Jehovah.
Lamentations 3:25-26
 

Home Make Sure 

 


"The Words are Made Secret and Sealed Up"

"It Does Not Belong to You"

"They Will Draw Away the Disciples After Themselves"

"Two Slight Errors"

Calculating Backward From 539 B.C.

The Seventy Years of Desolation

"Rebelling Against God is Just as Bad as Asking Idols for Advice"

Your Attitude Regarding 607 B.C.E. May Affect Your Relationship With God

Footnotes

 

 



And Does it Matter?

"And he is changing times and seasons, removing kings and setting up kings, giving wisdom to the wise ones and knowledge to those knowing discernment. He is revealing the deep things and the concealed things, knowing what is in the darkness; and with him the light does dwell." —Daniel 2:21,22; NWT

I am including pertinent quotes from the publications, rather than simply mention where the information can be found, for the benefit of anyone who does not have access to the Watchtower Library CD. This may also help you to determine if anything is quoted out of context.

The suffix B.C.E., that follows a date, means Before Common (or Christian) Era, and refers to years prior to the First Century (sometimes also known as B.C., Before Christ). Dates from the First Century to the present are C.E., meaning Common Era; or also known as A.D., Latin for Anno Domini [in the year of the Lord]. There is no zero year between BCE and CE.

Jesus made God's kingdom the focus of his ministry, preaching it as good news everywhere he went. He taught us not only to pray for the kingdom to come, but also stressed that it should occupy the most important place in our lives. (Matt. 6:9,10, 33; Luke 4:43) This is the kingdom that God foretold by means of his prophet Daniel, when he said that he will "set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. . . It will crush and put an end to all [existing] kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." In vision Daniel also saw "someone like a son of man" to whom God gave "rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him." (Daniel 2:44; 7:13,14) Along with the son of man, Daniel further saw that "the definite time arrived" and "the kingdom and the rulership and the grandeur of the kingdoms under all the heavens were given to the people who are the holy ones of the Supreme One." (Dan. 7:18, 22, 27; NWT)

Understandably, God's people have wondered about this kingdom ever since Daniel's day. (1 Peter 1:10-12) During his ministry, Jesus provided many of the answers, such as the coming blessings of that kingdom; the identity of the "son of man," and of the "holy ones." (Matt. 11:4,5; 16:28-17:9; 19:27,28; 25:31; Luke 12:32) But he did not give his disciples the answer to perhaps the most intriguing of all questions: When does "the definite time" arrive for God's kingdom to come?

Are there any indications, anywhere in the Scriptures, that might be helpful in calculating accurately the time for the establishment of God's kingdom? Over the many centuries there have been those who reasoned that God has provided clues to answer that question, resulting in the advocacy of various dates, only to be eventually rejected with the passing of time. In the latter part of the nineteenth century the year 1914 received special attention by some who had calculated it as the time for God to set up his kingdom. The book Let Your Kingdom Come (published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1981) stated: "We can be happy that God long ago had recorded in his Word prophecies that so clearly give the timing of Jesus’ coming as Messiah in 29 C.E., and also of his 'presence' as glorious heavenly King from 1914 C.E." —kc chap. 14 pp. 138-139 par. 30 The King Reigns!

Is it true that God long ago had recorded prophecies that clearly give the timing of Jesus’ presence as glorious heavenly king since 1914? What prophecies are they referring to? How did they arrive at the year 1914? Does it merit our confidence? Does it even matter? Before we consider the answer to these questions, let us first look at what God himself has said regarding the "times or seasons which [he] has placed in his own jurisdiction." (Acts 1:7)


"The Words are Made Secret and Sealed Up"

"Go, Daniel, because the words are made secret and sealed up
until the time of [the] end."—Daniel 12:4, 9.

The question, "How long will it be to the end of the wonderful things," was also posed to Daniel; but instead of receiving an answer he was told: "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)

Daniel wondered what the appointed time, appointed times and a half involved. "Now as for me, I heard, but I could not understand; so that I said: 'O my lord, what will be the final part of these things?' And he went on to say: 'Go, Daniel, because the words are made secret and sealed up until the time of [the] end. Many will cleanse themselves and whiten themselves and will be refined. And the wicked ones will certainly act wickedly, and no wicked ones at all will understand; but the ones having insight will understand." (Dan. 12:8-10; 7:25,26)

Daniel was not given the length of time involved. Neither was it revealed how he, or anyone else, might go about deciphering this. It was none of his business to know! He was simply told: "Daniel, go about your business, because the meaning of this message will remain secret until the end of time." (CEV) Although Jehovah had revealed to Daniel "times and seasons" in connection with the kingdom, events that needed to take place over the course of many centuries, yet he did not divulge any specific time period, nor any formula that would help in figuring out a particular date to which God's servants could set their alarm.

This lack of knowing the exact time involved became further evident when Jesus was on earth. He made the kingdom the focus of his ministry, preaching it as good news wherever he went. (Matt. 4:23) He demonstrated why God's kingdom is indeed "good news" when he healed the sick and raised the dead; blessings that will occur under God's kingdom. (Matt. 11:2-6; Acts 24:15; Rev. 21:3,4) Jesus provided the answers to many of the questions regarding the kingdom, but when his disciples asked the most burning question of all, as to when ["are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time"], Jesus firmly told them, "It does not belong to you to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction." (Matt. 6:9,10;
Acts 1:6,7; NWT) In harmony with this, he had on an earlier occasion told them, "Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mark 13:32,33) He himself did not know at that time when, the day or the hour, or even the year, God had determined for him to "sit down on his glorious throne." (Matt. 25:31; Heb. 10:12,13)

The fact that Jesus himself did not know the date indicates that there is no scriptural way of calculating that information in advance. He certainly knew the year in which Jerusalem was destroyed, and exactly when the seventy years prophesied by Jeremiah began and ended; as did the prophet Daniel, having lived at that time! (Jer. 25:12; Dan. 9:2) Yet, that information did not help at all! And why not? Because, as Jesus said: "It does not belong to [us]." (Acts 1:7) Interestingly, The Watchtower acknowledges this simple truth.

WHAT could be more natural for those “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done” in Christendom and throughout the earth than to wonder when this wicked system will end and be replaced by God’s righteous new world? (Ezekiel 9:4; 2 Peter 3:13) Jesus’ apostles asked him time-oriented questions just before his death and after his resurrection. (Matthew 24:3; Acts 1:6) In reply, however, Jesus did not give them a means of calculating dates. In one case he gave them a composite sign, and in the other he said that ‘it did not belong to them to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father had placed in his own jurisdiction.’—Acts 1:7.

Although Jesus is Jehovah’s only-begotten Son, he himself has not always known his Father’s timetable for events. In his prophecy regarding the last days, Jesus humbly acknowledged: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36) Jesus was willing to wait patiently for his Father to reveal to him the exact time for destructive action to be taken against this wicked system of things.

Two things can be deduced from the way Jesus answered questions relating to when things would occur in fulfillment of God’s purpose. First, that Jehovah has a timetable; and second, that he alone fixes it, and his servants cannot expect to be given precise advance information of his times or seasons.—w98 9/15 p. 10 pars. 1-3 Times and Seasons in Jehovah’s Hands. (Bold mine)

When the prophet Daniel was told that the "words are made secret and sealed up until the time of the end," it did not mean that at that time God's people would be given the key to some secret mathematical formula for calculating the year(s) involved. That would not be necessary, for Jesus gave specific signs which would indicate to "the ones having insight" that God's kingdom had now indeed drawn near. (Luke 21:29-31) For that reason he kept stressing the need for them to "keep on the watch. . . prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming." (Matt. 24:42, 44; 25:13) Therefore, rather than calculating a specific number of years, it was the signs that Jesus pointed to that would unlock Daniel's words which had been made "secret and sealed up" until the time of the end — signs which would not be available until that time arrived. Any attempts at interpreting these things before their appointed time would be sure to fail and mislead anyone putting faith in them.

 

"It Does Not Belong to You"

"It does not belong to you [they are not for you to knowNLT] to get knowledge of the times or seasons
which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction."
—Acts 1:7, NWT.

Jesus' apostles asked him the time-oriented question: "Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?" Instead of giving the answer they were seeking, Jesus told them: "It does not belong to you to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction." In other words, the Father was withholding this information from them! (Acts 1:7, NWT) A few days earlier Jesus had told his disciples that even he had not received that information from his Father, when he said: "Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father." That is why they needed to "keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. . . because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming." (Matt. 24:36, 42, 44) Is this not also the reply that Daniel received in connection with the question "How long?" Clearly, there would be no way of calculating the time in advance.

Do you think that it is important for us to listen to God when he says that something does not belong to us?
Does he always need to explain why it does not belong to us? (Gen. 3:6) Do you believe that there are consequences when we don't listen to him; or is God more likely to commend the person and say: "Look at that clever man! He was able to calculate the times and seasons all by himself"?

Why has it always been such a challenge for God's people to listen to him? (Deut. 9:13,14) When Jehovah tells us that something does not belong to us, that clearly means that we need to stay away from it! We can also deduce from that that we don't need it; and he doesn't have to tell us the reason! (Psalms 84:11) Becoming curious to the point of reaching out for it in spite of God's expressed restriction is obviously not being obedient. When Jehovah told Adam and Eve not to eat from "the tree of the knowledge of good and bad," which he had planted in the middle of the Garden of Eden, he meant for them to stay away from it, not to touch it, not even to look upon its fruit with desire. Eve knew of that command, that is why, when the serpent asked her: "Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden," she answered: "Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. But as for [eating] of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it that you do not die.'" Eve saw "that the tree was good for food and that it was something to be longed for to the eyes, yes, the tree was desirable to look upon. So she began taking of its fruit and eating it." (Genesis 3:2,3, 6)

Adam's and Eve's submission and loyalty to their Creator was involved, as noted in the following Watchtower article:

"One reason why we need to walk with Jehovah God is explained at Jeremiah 10:23: 'I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.' So we humans have neither the ability nor the right to direct our own life course. We are in desperate need of guidance. Those who insist on going their own way, independent of God, make the same mistake that Adam and Eve made. The first pair assumed the right to determine for themselves what is good and what is bad. (Genesis 3:1-6) That right simply “does not belong” to us. —w05 11/1 p. 22 par. 6 Will You Walk With God? (Bold mine)

Adam and Eve clearly rejected God's command regarding "the tree of the knowledge if good and bad." It wasn't God who enticed them to eat from it. It is always an act of rebellion to go against God's commands! Taking something that does not belong to us is the same as stealing, and as a recent Watchtower article noted: "Stealing, that is, taking something that does not belong to you, is another form of greed. 'You must not steal,' says the Bible. (Exodus 20:15)"—w06 11/15 p. 7 An Issue That Involves You.

Has Jehovah withheld from us all knowledge (as Satan insinuated to Eve), or is it only the knowledge regarding the times or seasons which he has placed in his own jurisdiction? Disobedience to God always has consequences, without exception! (Gal. 6:7,8) And although Jehovah has always clearly warned his people, it never seizes to amaze how some formerly faithful servants plunge headlong into rebellion anyways. (Rom. 1:32) Consider the case of king Uzziah.
He was a king in Israel who "kept doing what was right in Jehovah's eyes." But he did not remain that way, for "as soon as he was strong, his heart became haughty even to the point of causing ruin, so that he acted unfaithfully against Jehovah his God." What was it that caused Uzziah to sin? He went "into the temple of Jehovah to burn incense upon the altar of incense." This action was reserved only for the priests. Uzziah was not ignorant of that fact: "Immediately Azariah the priest and with him priests of Jehovah, eighty valiant men, came in after him. Then they stood up against Uzziah the king and said to him: 'It is not your business, O Uzziah, to burn incense to Jehovah, but it is the business of the priests the sons of Aaron, the ones sanctified, to burn incense. Go out from the sanctuary; for you have acted unfaithfully, and it is not for any glory to you on the part of Jehovah God.'"

Did Uzziah, as the anointed king and having been blessed by Jehovah, really believe that this made him exempt from obeying God? He should have yielded to Azariah the priest, when Azariah tried to prevent him from sinning: "But Uzziah became enraged while in his hand there was a censer for burning incense, and, during his rage against the priests, leprosy itself flashed up in his forehead before the priests in the house of Jehovah beside the altar of incense. When Azariah the chief priest and all the priests turned toward him, why, there he was stricken with leprosy in his forehead! So they excitedly began to remove him from there, and he himself also hastened to go out, because Jehovah had smitten him." (2 Chron. 26:1, 4, 16-20)

What is the lesson that we can learn from Uzziah's example? Is it possible for someone today to fall into the same trap of presuming such self-importance as to consider themselves to be above listening to God's word? (1 Cor. 10:11,12) When Jehovah says that it does not belong to his people to get knowledge of the times or seasons which he has placed entirely in his own jurisdiction, is anyone then bold enough to believe that God will provide him with the means that enables him to violate that prohibition? Would we admire such a person?


"They Will Draw Away the Disciples After Themselves"

"I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves."—Acts 20:29,30.

There have always been individuals among God's people who, like king Uzziah, failed to acknowledge God's commands or restrictions as applying to them. This has also been the case of those who could not resist partaking of the tree of the "knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction." In explaining their supposed special insight into things that have been "made secret and sealed up until the time of the end," such persons usually inferred that the "time of the end" had already arrived, and thus it was now the appointed time for them to know "the deep things of God." (Daniel 12:9; 1 Cor. 2:10) As long as it was done in good faith, such searching into God's "sacred secrets" has usually been viewed by many as something to be respected, even admired as exceedingly spiritual. (1 Cor. 13:2; Gal. 2:6) They have all too often attracted their own following. (Acts 20:30) When their predictions and expectations did not materialize, it did not shake the faith of most of their followers. No alarms going off, to call to mind God's warnings to his people against such prophets. (Matt. 24:24,25; 2 Peter 2:1-3) Instead, the failed assumptions were quickly explained away with updated information which was then readily accepted as "new truth." (Jer. 23:31,32; Matt. 24:23-25) Doesn't this explain the reason for the great variety of churches in Christendom, with each one having had their own spiritual leader? (2 Tim. 4:3,4)

Charles Taze Russell was admired as someone who was greatly blessed with deep insight into God's Word, and this attracted him quite a following; some a hundred years later still basing their faith in much of what he taught. We are interested in him because of the influence he exerted on God's people. As a young man he began a serious study of the Scriptures, and quickly began to realize that the churches of Christendom had pagan ideas mixed in among Bible teachings. This greatly disturbed him and he joined with others who were like-minded. One Watchtower article offered the following brief outline of his early years and that of some of the men who came to influence his studies:

In the late 1800’s, a number of sincere individuals were searching for an understanding of “the pattern of healthful words.” (2 Tim. 1:13) One such person was Charles Taze Russell. In 1870 he and a few other truth-seekers formed a class for Bible study. In 1872 they examined the subject of restitution. Later, Russell wrote: “Up to that time we had failed to see clearly the great distinction between the reward of the church now on trial and the reward of the faithful of the world.” The reward of the latter will be “restoration to the perfection of human nature once enjoyed in Eden by their progenitor and head, Adam.” Russell acknowledged that he had been helped in his study of the Bible by others. Who were these?

Henry Dunn was one of them. He had written about the “restoration of all things of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets of old time.” (Acts 3:21) Dunn knew that this restoration included the elevation of mankind to perfection on earth during the Thousand Year Reign of Christ. Dunn also examined a question that had puzzled many, Who will live forever on earth? He explained that millions will be resurrected, taught the truth, and have the opportunity to exercise faith in Christ.

In 1870, George Storrs also came to the conclusion that the unrighteous will be resurrected to an opportunity of everlasting life. He also discerned from the Scriptures that a resurrected one who fails to respond to this opportunity “will end in death, even if the ‘sinner be a hundred years old.’” (Isa. 65:20) Storrs lived in Brooklyn, New York, and edited a magazine called the Bible Examiner.

Russell discerned from the Bible that the time had come to make the good news widely known. So in 1879, he started publishing Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, now called The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. Previously, the truth about mankind’s hope was understood by very few people, but now groups of Bible Students in many countries were receiving and studying The Watchtower. The belief that only a few will go to heaven, whereas millions will be given perfect human life on earth, set the Bible Students apart from most of Christendom.

The foretold “time of the end” began in 1914. Did true knowledge about the hope of mankind become plentiful? (Dan. 12:4) By 1913, Russell’s sermons were printed in 2,000 newspapers with a combined readership of 15,000,000. By the end of 1914, over 9,000,000 people on three continents had seen the “Photo-Drama of Creation”—a program including motion pictures and slides that explained Christ’s Millennial Reign.—w09 8/15 pp. 14-16 Everlasting Life on Earth—A Hope Rediscovered.

The belief that "only a few go to heaven," was not the only teaching that "set the Bible Students apart from most of Christendom." Most significant was Russell's emphasis on the year 1914. Further, the above article also asserted that "the foretold 'time of the end' began in 1914."

That raises the question: Since the prophet Daniel was told that "the words are made secret and sealed up until the time of the end," and the foretold time of the end is said to have begun in 1914, did none of his associates raise the question as to how anyone could discern matters in connection with 1914 almost forty years before that remarkable year? Did God make an exception in Russell's case? If we choose to believe that, then we call into question the truthfulness of God's word itself. (John 17:17; Romans 3:4)

On the other hand, it is reasonable to conclude that, like in times past, presumptuous men began to interpret matters apart from God, and ahead of his appointed time. Jesus explained that rather than some mathematical chart providing the key for discerning the time of the end, it would be the observing of the signs he gave in connection with it that would give insight to those looking for it; and these would not be available until that time arrived. Apart from the signs, there would be no way of understanding Daniel's words before the time of the end. That is why Daniel was told, "no wicked ones (anyone not listening to God) at all will understand; but the ones having insight will understand." (Matt. 24:3, 32-34; Dan. 12:10) Since these men predicted decades in advance when God's kingdom would come, it is logical to expect them to have to make adjustments to their interpretations with the passing of time, for it was not God's spirit that taught them. Has this proved to be so?


"Two Slight Errors"

"You have set our errors right in front of you, Our hidden things before your bright face."—Psalms 90:8.

According to C. T. Russell's explanation, the date 1914 was itself dependent on another pivotal date, namely, 606 B.C.E., the year it was believed that Jerusalem was destroyed. This, however, was later changed to 607 B.C.E. Why? Here is how one Watchtower article explained the discrepancy: 

At this point some will inquire why Charles T. Russell in 1877 used the date 606 B.C. for the fall of Jerusalem whereas The Watchtower of late years has been using 607 B.C. This is because, in the light of modern scholarship, two slight errors were discovered to have been made which cancel each other out and make for the same result, namely, 1914. Concerning the first error, Russell and others considered 1 B.C. to A.D. 1 as being two years whereas in fact this is only one year because, as has been said above, there is no “zero” year in the B.C.-A.D. system for counting years. “The Christian era began, not with no year, but with a 1st year.”—The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, p. 102.—w52 5/1 p. 271 pars. 21-22 Determining the Year by Fact and Bible. (Bold mine)

As explained above, Russell had made a mistake in that he did not take into consideration the fact that there was no zero year between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D. (now commonly referred to as B.C.E and C.E.—Before Common Era; Common Era). If he had understood this from the beginning, he would have publicized the year 1913 rather than 1914, and we probably would not have heard anything further about it. When the mistake was discovered after his death, it became necessary to make an adjustment to his calculation. This error and its correction was finally acknowledged in 1944. For obvious reasons 1914 was untouchable! After all, did not the outbreak of the great war that same year vindicate Russell as a prophet from God, whereas nothing significant took place in 1913? (See footnote)

It's a delicate matter to correct a mistake without losing one's credibility. It could not simply be announced that upon further examination it was discovered that Russell was off by a year, and then go ahead and remove the one year from the far end in the way of correction. The adjustment needed to be justified and explained, which is called Russell's "second error." It was proposed that due to
"inaccurate" and "not up to date on archaeological evidences," C. T. Russell used the wrong year as the starting point in calculating his 2,520 years. In other words, Pastor Russell made not one but two errors, and the two errors cancelled each other out, resulting in the wonderful truth as we know it today.

This is how The Watchtower in 1952 explained the necessary adjustment made to legitimize the correction to Russell's "slight second error":

The second error had to do with not beginning the count of the 2,520 years at the right point in view of historic facts and circumstances. Almost all early Bible chronology ties in with secular history at the year 539 B.C., in which year the fall of Babylon to Darius and Cyrus of the Medes and the Persians occurred. In late years several cuneiform tablets have been discovered pertaining to the fall of Babylon which peg both Biblical and secular historic dates. The one tablet known as the “Nabunaid Chronicle” gives the date for the fall of Babylon which specialists have ascertained as being October 12-13, 539 B.C., Julian Calendar, or October 6-7, 539 B.C., according to our present Gregorian Calendar. This tablet also says that Cyrus made his triumphant entry into Babylon 16 days after its fall to his army. Thus his accession year commenced in October, 539 B.C. However, in another cuneiform tablet called “Strassmaier, Cyrus No. 11” Cyrus’ first regnal year is mentioned and was determined to have begun March 17-18, 538 B.C., and to have concluded March 4-5, 537 B.C. It was in this first regnal year of Cyrus that he issued his decree to permit the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. (Ezra 1:1) The decree may have been made in late 538 B.C. or before March 4-5, 537 B.C.—w52 5/1 p. 271 pars. 21-22 Determining the Year by Fact and Bible. (Bold mine)

Jehovah’s witnesses from 1877 up to and including the publishing of “The Truth Shall Make You Free” of 1943 considered 536 B.C. as the year for the return of the Jews to Palestine, basing their calculations for the fall of Babylon on secular histories that were inaccurate, not up to date on archaeological evidences. This meant that Jeremiah’s seventy years of desolation for Jerusalem ran back from 536 B.C. to 606 B.C., instead of more correctly as now known from 537 B.C. to 607 B.C. (2 Chron. 36:21; Jer. 25:12; Zec. 1:12) With the above Absolute date for the fall of Babylon, the date 607 B.C. is on solid ground for the fall of Jerusalem, when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon terminated the reigning Davidic dynasty by taking Jerusalem’s last ruler, King Zedekiah, captive. This leads to the important modern date of 1914, which marks the end of the “seven times” of 2,520 years of Gentile domination since the first fall of Jerusalem 607 B.C. (Dan. 4:9-16; Luke 21:24) This adjustment of one year for Jerusalem’s fall to 607 B.C. was acknowledged in the book “The Kingdom Is at Hand” of 1944, footnote of page 171, and also in The Watchtower of 1952, page 271.
w55 2/1 p. 94, Questions From Readers. (Bold mine)

How reliable is the claim that "the date 607 B.C. is on solid ground for the fall of Jerusalem," when it is based on two slight errors, which cancel each other out? Please reflect on Jesus' words when he said: "What I teach is not mine, but belongs to him that sent me." (John 7:16,17) Can you imagine Jesus making two errors in his teaching—which cancel each other out to make a truth—and yet still claim that he is taught by his Father? As is evident in the above case, and as we shall further see, a lie always takes longer to explain than a simple truth. Often, the person telling a lie will get confused in the process of explaining it, spawning yet other lies, in the believe that one lie will cover another, thereby canceling each other out. Prosecutors in a court of law seize on the inconsistencies to expose these errors, and thus in the end the person is found guilty, having been condemned out of his own mouth. (2 Sam. 1:16; Isaiah 3:12-15; Luke 19:22) 

The 2,520 years, mentioned in the above article, was the number Russell had deciphered from the Bible as indicating the length of the "Gentile Times" ("appointed times of the nations," NWT) as spoken of by Jesus, which he identified with Daniel's
appointed time, appointed times and a half. (Luke 21:24) He reasoned that the Gentile Times started in 606 B.C. (today's 607 B.C.E.), with the destruction of Jerusalem and the removal of the last Israelite king, who was said to sit on Jehovah's throne. With that information, he calculated that they would end 2,500 years in the future, in 1914, when God would again establish his kingdom, and have a king sit on his throne. (1 Chron. 29:23; Matt. 25:31) Permit me to refer to the book LET YOUR KINGDOM COME, published in 1981, to explains this:

We are helped to fix the calendar date for the start of the Gentile Times by consulting God’s Word. As we have already noted, Jehovah allowed the Babylonians to conquer his people, destroy Jerusalem and its temple, remove Zedekiah from “the throne of the kingship of Jehovah” and take the Jews into Babylonian exile. (1 Chronicles 28:5) Events that followed “in the seventh month” led the few Jews who had remained in the land to flee to Egypt, so that Judah then lay completely desolate. (2 Kings 25:1-26; Jeremiah 39:1-10; 41:1–43:7) Jehovah’s prophet Jeremiah had foretold that the desolation would last for 70 years. (Jeremiah 25:8-11) Then Jehovah would ‘call to account against the king of Babylon his error’ and ‘bring His people back to this place,’ their homeland.—Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10.

Daniel himself lived in Babylonian exile for many years. On the night that Babylon fell to the Medo-Persians, he was an eyewitness to the fulfillment of his own prophecy, and of other prophecies, against that city. (Daniel 5:17, 25-30; Isaiah 45:1, 2) Historians calculate that Babylon fell in early October of the year 539 B.C.E. Soon thereafter, Daniel discerned from Jeremiah’s prophecy that the 70-year captivity and desolation for Jerusalem was about ended. (Daniel 9:2) And he was right! In the first year of Cyrus the Persian, which most historians date from the spring of 538 B.C.E., Cyrus issued a decree permitting the Jews to return to their homeland to repopulate it and to rebuild Jehovah’s temple there. (2 Chronicles 36:20-23; Ezra 1:1-5) The inspired historical account tells us that the Jews responded readily to Cyrus’ decree, so that “when the seventh month arrived the sons of Israel were in their cities.” (Ezra 3:1) By our calendar that would be October, 537 B.C.E., which date therefore marks the completion of the foretold 70 years of desolation.

That historical information is important to us in determining the beginning of “the appointed times of the nations.” Since the 70 years of desolation for Judah and Jerusalem ended in 537 B.C.E., they began in 607 B.C.E. That would be the year when Zedekiah ceased to sit upon the “throne of the kingship of Jehovah” in Jerusalem. It therefore marks also the date for the beginning of the Gentile Times. Counting from October 607 B.C.E., the “seven times” of 2,520 years bring us down to early October 1914 C.E., when, as we have already seen, Jesus’ great prophecy on “the conclusion of the system of things” started to be fulfilled. Reliable information in God’s Word is the basis for this conclusion, which the Watchtower magazine has been championing now for more than 100 years.

Thankful, indeed, we can be that Jehovah preserved in his inspired Word an accurate picture of the needed details involving the Jews, the Babylonians and the Medo-Persians in the sixth century B.C.E. Otherwise it would be difficult to piece together the exact timing of events back there, for secular records of that period are certainly incomplete.
kc chap. 14 pp. 136-139 pars. 25-28 The King Reigns!

The above article explains how the momentous year of 1914 was arrived at, based on the pivotal year of 607 B.C.E. Does it merit our confidence? In fact, does it really matter how 1914 was calculated? Have events since then not confirmed it as being accurate? Let us allow the Society's own publications to establish the claim that "the date 607 B.C. is on solid ground for the fall of Jerusalem." It is vital that we do so because an entire system of worship has been built upon that declared "solid ground"; and unless our worship is solidly based on God's Word of truth, our worship is in vain. (Matt. 15:8,9; John 4:23,24; 17:17; Acts 20:30; 2 Tim. 4:3,4)

Quote from Awake! 1993 3/22 p. 4 "Why So Many False Alarms?":

Jehovah’s Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus’ second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect. Because of this, some have called them false prophets. Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’ Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah.’ The Watchtower, the official journal of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has said: “We have not the gift of prophecy.” (January 1883, page 425) “Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible.” (December 15, 1896, page 306) The Watchtower has also said that the fact that some have Jehovah’s spirit “does not mean those now serving as Jehovah’s witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes.” (May 15, 1947, page 157) “The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic.” (August 15, 1950, page 263) “The brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times, it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18)”February 15, 1981, page 19.


 

Calculating Backward From 539 B.C.

As noted in the previous quote, we can indeed be thankful "that Jehovah preserved in his inspired Word an accurate picture of the needed details involving the Jews, the Babylonians and the Medo-Persians in the sixth century B.C.E. Otherwise it would be difficult to piece together the exact timing of events back there, for secular records of that period are certainly incomplete." (kc chap. 14 pp. 136-139 pars. 28 The King Reigns!) God's servants are under obligation to hold "firmly to the faithful word as respects his art of teaching, that he may be able both to exhort by the teaching that is healthful and to reprove those who contradict." (Titus 1:9) 
In order to calculate any dates for the time period involving God's people and the destruction of Jerusalem, we need to work backwards from the year 539 B.C.E., the year that Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians, as explained in The Watchtower: "It is well to understand that all Bible chronology dates for events prior to 539 B.C. must be figured backward from the Absolute date of 539 B.C."w55 2/1 p. 94, Questions From Readers)

Let us consult the available record of the rulerships of the kings of Babylon, in order to establish the most likely year in which Jerusalem was destroyed, in fulfillment of God's word as preached by Jeremiah. We start with the Absolute year of 539 B.C.E., as explained above.

The last Babylonian ruler was Nabonidus. For how many years did Nabonidus rule in Babylon? Insight on the Scriptures Vol 2, answers that he was the “Last supreme monarch of the Babylonian Empire; father of Belshazzar. On the basis of cuneiform texts he is believed to have ruled some 17 years (556-539 B.C.E.).” A 1965 Watchtower further commented on this last of the Babylonian rulers: "Nabonidus, who had served as governor of Babylon and who had been Nebuchadnezzar’s favorite son-in-law, took the throne and had a fairly glorious reign until Babylon fell in 539 B.C.E. He devoted his time to literature, art and religion. He is reported to have been the son of a priestess of the moon at Harran (Haran), which fact had endeared him to Nebuchadnezzar.” Thus, Nabonidus ruled from 556 until 539 B.C.E.w65 1/1 p. 29 The Rejoicing of the Wicked Is Short-lived; it-2 p. 457 Nabonidus.

Nabonidus had succeeded Labashi-Marduk, the underage son of Neriglissar, "a vicious boy," who was assassinated within nine months. Labashi-Marduk ruled in 556 B.C.E. for nine short months. He had succeeded his father Neriglissar. w65 1/1 p. 29 The Rejoicing of the Wicked Is Short-lived

Neriglissar reigned for four years, from 560 to 556 B.C.E, "which time he spent mainly in building operations."
w65 1/1 p. 29 The Rejoicing of the Wicked Is Short-lived.

Amel-Marduk (Evil-merodach) as the oldest son had succeeded Nebuchadnezzar to the throne in 581 B.C.E. He reigned two years, from 562 to 560 B.C.E., and was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissar.w65 1/1 p. 29 The Rejoicing of the Wicked Is Short-lived.

Nebuchadnezzar was the "second ruler of the Neo-Babylonian Empire; the son of Nabopolassar and father of Awil-Marduk (Evil-merodach), who succeeded him to the throne. Nebuchadnezzar ruled as king for 43 years," from 605 to 562 B.C.E. It was king Nebuchadnezzar who brought Jehovah's foretold destruction upon Jerusalem with its temple, taking God's people into exile. INSIDE ON THE SCRIPTURES VOL. 2, says: "Finally, in 607 B.C.E., on Tammuz (June-July) 9 in the 11th year of Zedekiah’s reign (Nebuchadnezzar’s 19th year if counting from his accession year or his 18th regnal year), a breach was made in Jerusalem’s wall." (Jer. 52:12,13) —it-2 p. 481 Nebuchadnezzar.

According to the above quotes, please examine the chart below of the Babylonian kings, whose length of rulership is considered to be pertinent in establishing the year Jerusalem was destroyed, namely, in "the nineteenth year of king Nebuchanezzar." (Jer. 52:12) Counting backward from the Absolute date of 539 B.C.E. we arrive at 587 B.C.E., not the year 607 B.C.E. that is argued to be on "solid ground."

Nabonidus

539

556

17 years

"Last supreme Ruler of Babylonian Empire, father of Belshazzar"

Labashi-Marduk

556

556

9 months

assassinated within 9 months

Neriglissar

556

560

4 years

 

Evil-merodach

560

562

2 years

murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissar

Nebuchadnezzar

562

605

43 years

18th regnal year (19th accession year) of Nebuchadnezzar is 587 B.C.E.

Upon closer examination of the Society's publications regarding the date of Nebuchadnezzar's rule, we discover that they use, not one, but three different time periods, which adds to the confusion:
 

(A) INSIDE ON THE SCRIPTURES (Vol. 2) claims 624-582 B.C.E. as the period of Nebuchadnezzar's 43 year reign, pegging his "seventh regnal year as ending in Nisan 617 B.C.E." (it-2 p. 480-481 Nebuchadnezzar) (B) On the other hand,
the book Let Your Kingdom Come, printed in 1981, puts Nebuchadnezzar's first regnal year as beginning in 604 B.C.E., saying: "According to that Neo-Babylonian chronology, Crown-prince Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C.E. (Jeremiah 46:1, 2) After Nabopolassar died Nebuchadnezzar returned to Babylon to assume the throne. His first regnal year began the following spring (604 B.C.E.)"—kc p. 186 Appendix to Chapter 14. (Bold added)

(C) To add further to the confusion, it is claimed that Nebuchadnezzar's rule started to count when he became world ruler after having destroyed Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. The book Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy! explains: “'In the second year of the kingship of Nebuchadnezzar,' wrote the prophet Daniel, 'Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams; and his spirit began to feel agitated, and his very sleep was made to be something beyond him.' (Daniel 2:1) The dreamer was Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Babylonian Empire. He had effectively become world ruler in 607 B.C.E. when Jehovah God allowed him to destroy Jerusalem and its temple. In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign as world ruler (606/605 B.C.E.), God sent him a terrifying dream."
dp chap. 4 p. 46 par. 2 The Rise and Fall of an Immense Image. (Bold added)

Take a closer look at the years as presented above. Do they add up? If we accept (A) 624-582 B.C.E. as the correct dates, where Nebuchadnezzar's seventh regnal year is given as 617 B.C.E.; then according to (B) the seventh regnal year would be 597 B.C.E.; and according to (C) 600 B.C.E.  Interestingly, both, (B) & (C), would place the destruction of Jerusalem (19th year of king Nebuchadnezzar) at 586 & 589 B.C.E. respectively, rather than 607 B.C.E.; much closer to the commonly accepted year of 587 B.C.E. (Jer. 52:12-14) (View Chart)

There is no Scriptural evidence, however, to suggest that Jehovah, or anyone else, started to count Nebuchadnezzar's reign from the time Jerusalem was destroyed; and therefore we must dismiss any claims based on this sort of calculation. The confusion appears to be calculated, deliberate, for surely they are aware of the discrepancies. Who would expect anyone to make the effort of sorting through all these contrary dates? How about you? Were you aware of the conflicting information taught? In spite of all this, The Watchtower confidently points out that their chronology must be correct, for after all, did they not accurately interpret the "seven times" of Daniel's prophecy as pinpointing 1914?

Why have Jehovah’s servants had such insight? Because they have full confidence in the written Word of God, they obey it, and Jehovah’s spirit is upon them. This has also enabled them to understand vital Bible prophecies, and this is the fifth point that we are going to consider.

Secular historians, relying on their interpretation of what are in some cases fragmentary tablets unearthed by archaeologists, have concluded that 464 B.C.E. was the first year of the kingship of Artaxerxes Longimanus and that 604 B.C.E. was the first year of the kingship of Nebuchadnezzar II. If that were true, the 20th year of Artaxerxes would begin in 445 B.C.E., and the date of Jerusalem’s desolation by the Babylonians (in Nebuchadnezzar’s 18th regnal year) would be 587 B.C.E. But if a Bible student uses those dates when calculating the fulfillment of prophecy, he will simply be confused.

Jehovah’s Witnesses have been interested in the findings of archaeologists as these relate to the Bible. However, where the interpretation of these findings conflicts with clear statements in the Bible, we accept with confidence what the Holy Scriptures say, whether on matters related to chronology or any other topic. As a result, Jehovah’s servants have long recognized that the prophetic time period that began in the 20th year of Artaxerxes was to be counted from 455 B.C.E. and thus that Daniel 9:24-27 reliably pointed to the year 29 C.E. in the autumn as the time for the anointing of Jesus as the Messiah. For the same reason, they have realized that the prophecy in Daniel chapter 4 regarding the “seven times” began counting in 607-606 B.C.E. and that it pinpointed 1914 C.E. in the autumn as the year when Christ was enthroned in heaven as ruling King and this world entered its time of the end. But they would not have discerned these thrilling fulfillments of prophecy if they had wavered in their confidence in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. Thus, the insight that they have shown has been directly associated with their reliance on God’s Word.
w89 3/15 pp. 21-22 Insight That Jehovah Has Given. (Bold added)

How insincere for anyone to talk about relying on God's Word, while at the same time rejecting God's restriction in connection with his "times or seasons," which he has kept from us. Jehovah accuses them: "And they kept turning to me the back and not the face; though there was a teaching of them, a rising up early and teaching, but there were none of them listening to receive discipline." (Jeremiah 32:33)

 

The Seventy Years of Desolation

"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."
Jeremiah 25:11

The main point, or argument, presented as evidence for establishing 607 B.C.E. as the year for the destruction of Jerusalem, are the "seventy years" that Jehovah foretold in connection with his judgment upon his people. By means of his prophet Jeremiah, God foretold: “For this is what Jehovah has said, ‘In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to you people, and I will establish toward you my good word in bringing you back to this place.’" (Jeremiah 29:10) The prophet Daniel came to discern the time involved regarding the seventy years: "In the first year of [Darius'] reigning I myself, Daniel, discerned by the books the number of the years concerning which the word of Jehovah had occurred to Jeremiah the prophet, for fulfilling the devastations of Jerusalem, [namely,] seventy years. And I proceeded to set my face to Jehovah the [true] God, in order to seek [him] with prayer and with entreaties, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes." (Daniel 9:1,2; NWT)

Clearly, according to both, Jeremiah and Daniel, Jehovah foretold the passing of "seventy years" at Babylon. For that reason, is it not simply a matter of counting back seventy years from the date of Babylon's fall to establish the year of Jerusalem's destruction, regardless of how secular scholars interpret the archaeological and historical evidence?

There are two important points to consider. First, Jehovah did not indicate exactly at what point the foretold seventy years began, which are in his own authority and jurisdiction. Simply counting back seventy years from the fall of Babylon does not in itself establish the date when Jerusalem was destroyed, for there were several developments affecting his people that Jehovah could have had in mind from which to start his reckoning. Was the prophet Daniel able to discern in advance when those seventy years would expire? He was already in exile in Babylon when word reached him that Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians, yet he did not discern the fulfillment of the seventy years until after Babylon had fallen to the Medes and Persians, "in the first year of Darius." (Dan. 9:1,2) Rather than counting seventy years from the destruction of Jerusalem, Daniel discerned that the foretold restoration of the exiles to their homeland had arrived because of the fall of Babylon from power.

Take as an example the time when Jehovah sentenced his rebellious people to wander in the wilderness for forty years. When did those forty years begin? God told them: "And your sons will become shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and they will have to answer for your acts of fornication, until your carcasses come to their end in the wilderness. By the number of the days that you spied out the land, forty days, a day for a year, a day for a year, you will answer for your errors forty years, as you must know what my being estranged means." (Numbers 14:33,34)

We might obviously conclude that the forty years started to count from the moment Jehovah passed sentence upon his rebellious people at the time the twelve spies returned, as the account suggests when it ties the forty years of being estranged from Jehovah to the forty days they had spied out the land. But that is not the case! INSIDE ON THE SCRIPTURES Vol. 2, notes that the Israelites were already in the second year of their exodus: "In the second year after their Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites pulled away from Hazeroth and encamped at Kadesh-barnea. (Compare Nu 10:11, 12, 33, 34; 12:16; 13:26.) Moses then sent 12 men to spy out the Promised Land. Ten of these spies brought back a bad report, resulting in rebellious murmurings among the Israelites. Jehovah, therefore, sentenced the nation to wander in the wilderness." (it-2 p. 142 Kadesh) The entire time period, from leaving Egypt until entering the promised land amounted to the decreed forty years (not forty-two years) of being estranged from God. No one, especially not faithful Joshua and Caleb, wandered in the wilderness for longer than forty years. Who is to say that a similar counting of time does not also prove true in the case of the seventy years under consideration? Did the seventy years apply to all the Jews, or just a few?

Please consider the following: INSIDE ON THE SCRIPTURES (Vol. 1) tells us that exiles were taken to Babylon about ten years before Jerusalem's destruction: "In 617 B.C.E., King Nebuchadnezzar took the royal court and the foremost men of Judah into exile at Babylon." (it-1 p. 775 Exile; p. 1269 Jehoiakim.) Besides the royal court, among the foremost men taken to Babylon at that time were Daniel and his three companions; also the prophet Ezekiel who ministered to those in exile; and many of the utensils from the temple in Jerusalem. (Dan. 1:1-7; Ezek. 1:1-3) By means of those loyal servants Jehovah provided encouragement for other Jews who would join them in obedience to his command: "Here I am putting before you people the way of life and the way of death. The one sitting still in this city will die by the sword and by the famine and by the pestilence; but the one who is going out and who actually falls away to the Chaldeans who are laying siege against you will keep living, and his soul will certainly come to be his as a spoil." (Jer. 21:8,9; 27:12)

Note: If Jerusalem fell in 607 B.C.E., as we are taught, are we to assume that any Israelite who obediently listened to Jehovah by going over to the Chaldeans prior to the destruction, spent longer than seventy years in exile? For example, did the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel serve over eighty years in Babylon, since they were among the earlier exiles? Ezekiel sheds light on this when he recorded: "At length it occurred in the twelfth year, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month of our exile, that there came to me the escaped one from Jerusalem, saying: 'The city has been struck down.'" Thirteen years later, Ezekiel again wrote: "In the twenty-fifth year of our exile, in the start of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city had been struck down, on this very same day the hand of Jehovah proved to be upon me..." (Ezekiel 33:21; 40:1)

Ezekiel tells us that he, and the many other exiles to whom he ministered as a prophet, had already been in Babylon for more than eleven years before Jerusalem was finally struck down. This creates a problem with our present understanding regarding when the seventy years started their count, as explained in our literature! If we calculate the year Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians by counting back seventy years from the release of the exiles and their return to Palestine
in 537 B.C.E., that would mean, according to Ezekiel, that the early exiles spent almost eighty-two years in Babylon, not the seventy years as pronounced by Jehovah. Would that be just?

On the other hand, if none of the Jews were in exile for longer than seventy years, and Jehovah started the beginning of the foretold time period with the deportation of the earlier exiles, including Daniel, Ezekiel, and the royal family, then the destruction of Jerusalem would have been closer to 596 B.C.E. (To Wit: Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians in 539 BCE, an absolute date. Counting back seventy years from the supposed year of the exile's return to their homeland two years later in 537 BCE, gives us 607 BCE as the date of the first exiles being taken to Babylon. Seeing that these earlier exiles had spent already eleven full years in Babylon when word reached them that the city had fallen, places the time of Jerusalem's destruction to around 596 BCE.) One thing is clear, Jehovah's reckoning of the beginning of the seventy years differs from ours, as the prophet Daniel likewise suggests.

It seems that Daniel himself did not fully understand when the seventy years began, and the release of the Jewish exiles that was to follow its completion, until after the fall of Babylon, as he wrote: "In the first year of [Darius'] reigning I myself, Daniel, discerned by the books the number of the years concerning which the word of Jehovah had occurred to Jeremiah the prophet, for fulfilling the devastations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years." (Dan. 9:1,2) If it was simply a matter of calculating seventy years from the destruction of Jerusalem to the time of the foretold release, Daniel could have simply marked the years off on his calendar. But that was not the case! It was only after Babylon had fallen that Daniel discerned the significance of that event, namely, that the seventy years were about to expire, because when Jehovah had foretold the devastation upon the city with its seventy years, he had more in mind than just the physical city itself, but also what Jerusalem represented.* This would make the year of the destruction of the physical city irrelevant. One thing we can be sure of is that the date of the destruction of Jerusalem cannot be used to determine the future establishing of God's kingdom, as Jesus himself indicated when he said: "Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matt. 24:36; Luke 21:29-31; Acts 1:7)

* By pronouncing his judgment upon "Jerusalem," Jehovah referred to more than just the physical city. INSIGHT ON THE SCRIPTURES VOL. 2 provides this insight: "Jerusalem was far more than the capital of an earthly nation. It was the only city in all the earth upon which Jehovah God placed his name. (1Ki 11:36) After the ark of the covenant, associated with God’s presence, was transferred there, and even more so when the temple sanctuary, or house of God, was constructed there, Jerusalem became Jehovah’s figurative ‘residence,’ his “resting-place.”. . . Jerusalem therefore represented the seat of the divinely constituted government or typical kingdom of God. From it went forth God’s law, his word, and his blessing. (Mic 4:2; Ps 128:5) Those working for Jerusalem’s peace and its good were therefore working for the success of God’s righteous purpose, the prospering of his will. (Ps 122:6-9) Though situated among Judah’s mountains and doubtless of impressive appearance, Jerusalem’s true loftiness and beauty came from the way in which Jehovah God had honored and glorified it, that it might serve as “a crown of beauty” for him.—Ps 48:1-3, 11-14; 50:2; Isa 62:1-7.
   Since Jehovah’s praise and his will are effected primarily by his intelligent creatures, it was not the buildings forming the city that determined his continued use of the city but the people in it, rulers and ruled, priests and people. (Ps 102:18-22; Isa 26:1, 2) While these were faithful, honoring Jehovah’s name by their words and life course, he blessed and defended Jerusalem. (Ps 125:1, 2; Isa 31:4, 5) Jehovah’s disfavor soon came upon the people and their kings because of the apostate course the majority followed. For this reason Jehovah declared his purpose to reject the city that had borne his name. (2Ki 21:12-15; 23:27)
it-2 pp. 48-49 Jerusalem. (Bold mine)

There is yet a second point to consider, which seems to be never mentioned.

When Jehovah foretold that the land would lie desolate for seventy years, he also included in his judgment the kings of the nations round about Israel: "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." The kings and the peoples of the nations mentioned, who would also share in the judgment passed upon Israel, included Egypt; all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines and Ashkelon and Gaza and Ekron and the remnant of Ashdod; Edom and Moab and the sons of Ammon; and all the kings of Tyre and all the kings of Sidon and the kings of the island that is in the region of the sea; and Dedan and Tema and Buz and all those with hair clipped at the temples; and all the kings of the Arabs and all the kings of the mixed company who are residing in the wilderness; and all the kings of Zimri and all the kings of Elam and all the kings of the Medes.(Jeremiah 25:11-29) The obvious and fitting question is: When did their seventy years begin?

It is inconsistent, to say the least, to argue that the seventy years of desolation foretold for the nation of Israel and Jerusalem, started precisely seventy years before their release from Babylonian captivity, when we don't apply that same measurement to the other nations who were under the same seventy year judgment. Or is there anyone who might argue that they were all laid waste in the same year, namely 607 B.C.E., and then released upon the fall of Babylon seventy years later?

Whether Jerusalem was destroyed in 607; 596; or 587 B.C.E.; or some other date, may be of historical interest to some, or mere academic curiosity to others, but it is entirely irrelevant when it comes to calculating the year for God's kingdom to come, and the return of Christ Jesus.  (Phil. 1:9,10; 1 Tim. 1:4; Titus 3:9) As we have already seen, Jesus certainly knew the exact moment when those seventy years started to count, yet he indicated that there was no way of determining the future time of his return, for he said: "Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matt. 24:36) Since "it does not belong to us to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction," it is unrealistic to believe that anyone who sets dates in accord with his calculations does so with the help of God's spirit. (Acts 1:7; Daniel 12:9) Clearly, the year 607 B.C.E. has no bearing on the time when Jesus comes in kingdom power. The fact that much of the information presented by Pastor Russell proved to be inaccurate and in need of reinterpretation, revising, altering, periodic updating, or even outright rejection, in itself proves that it did not originate with God. (1 John 4:1)


"Rebelling Against God is Just as Bad as Asking Idols for Advice"

"Tell me," Samuel said. "Does the LORD really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn't want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey him. Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice. —1 Samuel 15:22,23;
CEV

Pastor Russell believed that Jesus' invisible presence, his parousia, took place in 1874, not 1914 as we are taught today. To him 1914 meant the end of the foretold Gentile Times, and the removal of all worldly governments at the battle of Armageddon. (Dan. 2:44) When the great war of 1914 broke out (later known as World War I), in seeming fulfillment of his prediction, Russell gained greatly in stature among his associates. Says a recent Watchtower: "On Friday morning, October 2, 1914, Charles Taze Russell, who took the lead at that time among the Bible Students, strode into the dining room at Bethel in Brooklyn, New York. 'Good morning, all,' he said cheerily. Then, before taking his seat, he joyfully announced: 'The Gentile times have ended; their kings have had their day.—w07 11/1 p. 24 par. 11 The Word of Jehovah Never Fails. (See Footnote for more information regarding the year 1874)

However, Pastor Russell's understanding and inspiration did not come solely from God's Word. Since Jehovah would not answer his inquiries regarding times or seasons, Russell turned to consult another source, namely that which he called the "Bible in Stone." He was literally inquiring of idols, that is, the stone monument in Egypt with its "demonic signs of astrology to confirm the witness given in the Bible." (compare 1 Sam. 28:6-8) This is how The Watchtower (2000) explains this shocking source for Russell's outline for his Bible chronology:

In 1886 when C. T. Russell published a book that came to be called The Divine Plan of the Ages,* this volume contained a chart linking the ages of mankind with the Great Pyramid of Egypt. It was thought that this memorial of Pharaoh Khufu was the pillar referred to at Isaiah 19:19, 20: “In that day there will prove to be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to Jehovah beside its boundary. And it must prove to be for a sign and for a witness to Jehovah of armies in the land of Egypt.” What relationship could the pyramid have with the Bible? Well, as an example, the length of certain passages in the Great Pyramid was said to indicate the time for the beginning of the “great tribulation” of Matthew 24:21, as it was then understood. Some Bible Students became engrossed with measuring different features of the pyramid to determine such matters as the day they would be going to heaven!
   This so-called Bible in Stone was held in esteem for some decades, until the Watchtower issues of
November 15 and December 1, 1928
, made clear that Jehovah needed no stone monument built by pagan pharaohs and containing demonic signs of astrology to confirm the witness given in the Bible. —w00 1/1 pp. 9-10 Serving With the Watchman. (Bold mine)

*(This book became Volume 1 [of 6] of the widely distributed set Studies in the Scriptures. Volume 2, The Time Is at Hand [1889], pointed to 1914 as the end of “the times of the Gentiles.”
w98 5/15 p. 12 par. 12 Christian Faith Will Be Tested)

The Proclaimers book (1993) likewise notes: "For some 35 years, Pastor Russell thought that the Great Pyramid of Gizeh was God’s stone witness, corroborating Biblical time periods. (Isa. 19:19) But Jehovah’s Witnesses have abandoned the idea that an Egyptian pyramid has anything to do with true worship. (See “Watchtower” issues of November 15 and December 1, 1928)" —jv chap. 14 p. 201 “They Are No Part of the World”. (Bold mine)

Although it is readily acknowledged that much of what Pastor Russell believed regarding "times or seasons" was based on what he learned from the Great Pyramid in Egypt, and which has long been discarded by the Watchtower Society, yet, incredibly, the claim is still made that it was holy spirit that guided him:

"Judging by the results, there can be no doubt that Jehovah’s holy spirit was directing the endeavors of Brother Russell and those associated with him. They gave evidence of being identified with the faithful and discreet slave. Though many clergymen of the time professed to believe that the Bible was God’s inspired Word and that Jesus was the Son of God, they subscribed to false, Babylonish doctrines, such as the Trinity, the immortality of the human soul, and eternal torment. In keeping with Jesus’ promise, it truly was due to the holy spirit that the humble efforts of Brother Russell and his associates caused truth to shine forth as never before. (John 16:13) Those anointed Bible Students gave proof that they were indeed part of the faithful and discreet slave class, whose commission it is to provide spiritual food for the Master’s domestics. Their efforts were a great aid in the gathering of the anointed ones.

It is remarkable to see how greatly Jehovah, by means of holy spirit, favored these early Bible Students with flashes of light.—w95 5/15 p. 17 pars. 7-8 Part 1—Flashes of Light—Great and Small.

The Jews blasphemously attributed the work Jesus did to Satan and his demons, and thus they became guilty of sinning against the holy spirit. (Mark 3:22, 29) We, on the other hand, have attributed teachings of the demons to holy spirit. Is that not likewise blasphemy? The apostle Paul forewarned: "God's Spirit clearly says that in the last days many people will turn from their faith. They will be fooled by evil spirits and by teachings that come from demons. They will also be fooled by the false claims of liars whose consciences have lost all feeling." (1 Tim. 4:1,2; CEV) Such liars even have us believe that their errors taught in God's name can be beneficial, drawing us closer to God. Isn't that what Satan wants us to believe? He has always presented disobeying God as being enlightening and for our good, as in the case of Adam and Eve: "For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God." (Gen. 3:5) The Watchtower of March 15, 1980, in the study article "Choosing the Best Way of Life," offered the following comments regarding 1975 and the failed expectations as had been promoted in the book "Life Everlasting—in Freedom of the Sons of God":

"If we remain faithful, God will not let us make ruinous mistakes. But sometimes he permits us to be in error so that we may see our need to look always to him and his Word. This strengthens our relationship with him and our endurance while waiting. We learn from our mistakes that it is necessary to be more careful in the future. The desire for the new system of things to take complete charge of the earth has always been very strong in Christians down through the centuries. And because of their own short life-span, they doubtless longed for it to come in their particular lifetime. Those who have tried to keep God’s judgment time “close in mind” have, on more than one occasion throughout history, become overly eager for that day’s arrival, in their own minds trying to rush the arrival of the desired events. (2 Pet. 3:12)" (Bold mine)

Who do they want us to be "faithful" to? Them, or to God? They are actually suggesting that errors taught in God's name, which have led to disappointment and harm over the years, including financial, emotional and broken relationships, results in our drawing closer to God and "strengthens your relationship with him." Does God bless our errors and lies? (Ezek. 14:9,10) If that truly were the case, then why bother to "test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God?" We are admonished to "take note of the inspired expression of truth and the inspired expression of error." (1 John 4:1, 6; Acts 17:11) The inspired expression of "truth" is contained in God's Word; whereas the inspired expression of "error" originates with Satan and his demons. (John 8:44; 1 Tim. 4:1,2; 1 Cor. 4:6)

Yes, God "permits us to be in error," as the above article says, but not for the purpose "so that we may see our need to look always to him and his Word." Rather, as the apostle Paul explains, "God lets an operation of error go to them, that they may get to believing the lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thess. 2:11,12)

True worship cannot be based on falsehood, errors and lies. God does not lie, and neither does his holy spirit teach errors that need to be corrected, or somehow "cancel each other out." (Rom. 3:4) God simply does not accept that sort of worship! Jesus definitely said: "The true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him." (John 4:23) It is God's truth that sanctifies us, that is, makes us holy as God's people. If we reject his truth, he will reject us and our worship. (John 17:17; Matt. 7:21-23; Mark 7:7; 2 Thess. 2:10)

“'And they will certainly become mine,' Jehovah of armies has said, 'at the day when I am producing a special property. And I will show compassion upon them, just as a man shows compassion upon his son who is serving him. And you people will again certainly see [the distinction] between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.'” (Malachi 3:17,18) Do you see yourself among God's special property? Do you love the truth? Do you distinguish between what is from God, and any "inspired expression of error?" (Psalms 146:3, 5) Can Jehovah see in you the difference, between one serving him and one who has not served him? (2 Cor. 6:14-18) Your view of the God-dishonoring errors that are taught in his name have a bearing on where you stand in your worship with God: "You cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; you cannot be partaking of 'the table of Jehovah' and the table of demons. Or 'are we inciting Jehovah to jealousy'?" (1 Cor. 10:21,22)


Your Attitude Regarding 607 B.C.E. Matters

"An astonishing situation, even a horrible thing, has been brought to be in the land: The prophets themselves actually prophesy in falsehood; and as for the priests, they go subduing according to their powers. And my own people have loved it that way; and what will do you men do in the finale of it."—Jeremiah 5:30,31

If, because of the foregoing information, you have reached the conclusion that God has neither a people nor a household, then you have missed the point entirely; because the Scriptures foretold the situation here discussed as existing among God's own people, yes, right within God's temple; and this in connection with the imminent return of Christ Jesus, his foretold presence. God's judgment will start with his own house. (1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 3:16,17; 1 Peter 4:17-19) The apostle Paul prophesied two thousand years ago, under inspiration of holy spirit we might add, saying:

"However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of you 2 not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through  letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here.
   3 Let no one seduce YOU in any manner, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction. 4 He is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called “god” or an object of reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god. 5 Do YOU not remember that, while I was yet with YOU, I used to tell YOU these things?
   6 And so now YOU know the thing that acts as a restraint, with a view to his being revealed in his own due time. 7 True, the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work; but only till he who is right now acting as a restraint gets to be out of the way. 8 Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence. 9 But the lawless one’s presence is according to the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and portents 10 and with every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved. 11 So that is why God lets an operation of error go to them, that they may get to believing the lie, 12 in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.—2 Thessalonians 2:3-12, NWT.

How was it possible for the man of lawlessness to gain entrance into God's temple, and in a position of trust and authority at that? His "presence is according to the operation of Satan." For as long as God has had a people, Satan has been successful in corrupting especially those entrusted with responsibility by Jehovah. (Exodus 30:31-33; Psalms 78:36-41) That was the situation in Jeremiah's day, as it was also true when Jesus was on earth. (Jer. 1:18, 19; Zeph. 1:4-6; John 11:47,48) Although the priests were anointed by God, and had been assigned specific duties by him, they nevertheless eventually came under the influence of Satan. Jesus exposed them as being "from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father." (John 8:44) For the same reason he also condemns the modern day man of lawlessness, whose presence is "according to the operation of Satan." (2 Cor. 11:13-15)

When Satan tempted Jesus by offering him the authority over all the kingdoms of the world along with their glory, for a single act of worship, Jesus rejected him outright with the words: "It is written, 'It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.'" (Luke 4:5-8) Not so with these ambitious "spiritual" men. (Gal. 2:6) By disregarding God's clearly stated prohibition regarding times or seasons which do not belong to any of us, these individuals opened the door to come under the influence of Satan the Devil. Since Jehovah was not giving them the information they were seeking, Satan saw the opportunity to step in and provide his own version of it. (Gal. 1:8,9) He in turn rewarded them with authority and glory over God's people within God's temple, having himself now gained access by means of them. Although such a situation had already made itself apparent in the first century, it was at this point that Paul's prophecy regarding the man of lawlessness prior to Christ's return began to be fulfilled. As "the son of destruction" they are "set in opposition," rather than teaching us to worship with "spirit and truth." (John 4:24)

Of course, they strongly assert that they have received their authority from Jesus, having been appointed by him over all his belongings as the "faithful and discreet slave." As "prove" they point to "the fact" that Jesus returned in 1914, which they say is "clearly established" by the year 607 B.C.E. and stands on "solid ground." If, though, 607 B.C.E. is not what they claim it to be then this would also call into question the trustworthiness of 1914. For the past hundred years they have compelled God's people to submit to them on that basis, and quite successfully we might add; for there are many who feel that they cannot render sacred service to Jehovah apart from the secular corporation that was created for that purpose. As proof for God's blessing upon them, they point to the many Bethels, properties, and the immense preaching work that has been accomplished by means of their abundant publications.

Not surprisingly, they have become increasingly authoritarian in the last couple of decades due to the fact that it is Jehovah's time to not only reveal the presence of the man of lawlessness within God's household, but also his identity. They have not been able to discern that this is from Jehovah, although he foretold it, and therefore they blame "apostates" for their demise. All lovers of truth can take comfort in knowing that the rulership of this "lawless one" is fast approaching its end, on the day when Jesus returns. "Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence." (2 Thess. 2:8; Luke 12:45,46; 1 Cor. 4:8)

It is natural to wonder why Jehovah would allow Satan to exercise such far reaching authority over his people within his temple. The lack of this understanding has resulted in many being stumbled. The apostle Paul provides the answer: "But the lawless one’s presence is according to the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and portents and with every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved. So that is why God lets an operation of error go to them, that they may get to believing the lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thess. 2:9-12)

The presence of the man of lawlessness within God's temple makes it possible to clearly distinguish between "a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him." It helps in identifying the weeds from the wheat; and between the sheep and the goats. (Mal. 3:17,18; Matt. 13:40-43, 49; 25:45) Interestingly, the book God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached (1973) had this to say in way of explanation:

God does not directly send an “operation of error” to these deceived ones. He lets it go to them, in order to prove what it is that they want and also because this is really what they want. This is what the apostle Paul pointed out to his fellow missionary Timothy in a final letter to him. Paul explained why he wanted Timothy to preach God’s Word urgently in all seasons in the Christian congregation. Paul said: “For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories.” (2 Timothy 4:2-4) By means of the inspired Word of God a person can protect himself against an “operation of error” during the presence of the “lawless one.” But by letting Satan carry on an “operation of error” and by thus letting this operation go to the professed Christians, Jehovah God puts them to the proof as to whether they “accept the love of the truth” or love the lie.—ka chap. 18 pp. 392-393 par. 62 Bringing the “Man of Lawlessness” to Nothing.

Because Jehovah has allowed this wicked element to exist within his temple, we are obligated to wait on him to deal with it at his own appointed time. Jehovah treasures our loyalty to him! He wants us to love the truth and obey him, for our own benefit, because it involves our everlasting life. (Isaiah 48:17,18; Jude 21) That is why he has not withheld from us the knowledge that we really need, knowledge which safeguards us from unscrupulous men who teach lies in God's name, and might carry us "off as [their] prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ." (Col. 2:8; 1 Cor. 4:3,4) Although the presence of the "lawless one" within God's household calls for endurance on our part, yet at the same time we can find comfort as we recognize the significance of it all, for Jesus said: "But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near." (Luke 21:28; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9)

Jehovah has made available to us the knowledge that enables us to positively identify his household, his temple. This includes the many prophecies in connection with his people in the last days, which we are now seeing being fulfilled, even in your own congregation. This knowledge is vital in helping us bear up under persecution; and it also makes possible for us, under present circumstances, to render sacred service that is acceptable to Jehovah. (Ezekiel 9:4, 6; Phil. 3:3; Heb. 9:14; Rev. 7:14,15) Every member of God's household ought to be able to explain from the Scriptures what it is that makes us his people—his temple; which is not due to any claim on our part. (1 Cor. 3:16,17; 2 Cor. 6:16-18; Eph. 2:19-22) For an indepth discussion on identifying God's temple, please see the article, "Does God Have an Organization?")

Satan has been busy from the very beginning in hindering men from worshipping Jehovah; yet Jehovah has never hindered anyone from leaving him, if they chose to do so. If anyone has been stumbled because God has permitted the man of lawlessness to operate in our midst until the present, then he allows them to leave. When "many of [Jesus'] disciples" were stumbled on account of something Jesus had said, and "went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him," he did not try to prevent them. Instead, he turned to his apostles and asked: "You do not want to go also, do you?" (John 6:60, 66,67; Dan. 11:35)

As in the case of Jesus himself, we want to continue to worship Jehovah within his temple, in spite of the presence of the man of lawlessness. (Luke 19:47,48; Acts 5:41,42) Jesus takes note of his faithful disciples and their suffering with endurance. (Matt. 24:13) That is why he tells them: “I also have a message for the rest of you in [name of your congregation] who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come." —Revelation 2:24,25; 3:4-6, New Living Translation.

"Be courageous, and may your heart be strong, All you who are waiting for Jehovah."Psalms 31:24
 


Footnotes:


1874

"In the course of their Bible studies, these searching students took up a consideration of the “times of the Gentiles,” as spoken of by Jesus at Luke 21:24 (AV), and they associated those Gentile Times with the “seven times” mentioned four times in Daniel, chapter four, verses 16, 23, 25, 32. What did those Bible students determine to be the date for those “seven times” of Gentile domination of the earth to end legally before God? Well, at that time there was a monthly magazine being published in Brooklyn, New York, by one George Storrs, and it was called “Bible Examiner.” In the year 1876 the twenty-four-year-old Russell made a contribution on the subject to this magazine. It was published in Volume XXI, Number 1, which was the issue of October, 1876. On pages 27, 28 of that issue Russell’s article was published under the title “Gentile Times: When Do They End?” In that article (page 27) Russell said: “The seven times will end in A.D. 1914.”

"In the following year (1877) Russell joined with one Nelson H. Barbour, of Rochester, New York, in publishing a book entitled “Three Worlds, and the Harvest of This World.” In this book it was set forth that the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. would be preceded by a period of forty years marked by the opening of a harvest of three and a half years, beginning in 1874 C.E. This harvest was understood to be under the invisible direction of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose presence or parousia began in the year 1874. Shortly afterward was understood to be the beginning of the great antitypical Jubilee for mankind, that had been foreshadowed by the ancient “jubilee” observances of the Jews under the law of Moses. (Leviticus, chapter twenty-five) According to the Bible chronology that was thereafter adopted, the six thousand years of man’s existence on the earth ended in the year 1872 but the Lord Jesus did not come at the end of those six millenniums of human existence, rather, at the start of the antitypical Jubilee in October of 1874. The year 1874 was calculated as being the end of six millenniums of sin among mankind. From this latter date mankind was understood to be in the seventh millennium.—Revelation 20:4.

"From that understanding of matters, the “chaste virgin” class began going forth to meet the heavenly Bridegroom in the year 1874, as they believed him to have arrived in that year and to be from then on invisibly present. They felt that they were already living in the invisible presence of the Bridegroom. Due to this fact, when Charles T. Russell began publishing his own religious magazine in July of 1879, he published it under the title “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” He had already become familiar with Wilson’s The Emphatic Diaglott, which translated the Greek word parousi'a as “presence,” not “coming,” in Matthew 24:3 and elsewhere. The new magazine was heralding Christ’s invisible presence as having begun in 1874. This presence was to continue until the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, when the Gentile nations would be destroyed and the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class would be glorified with their bridegroom in heaven by death and resurrection to life in the spirit. Thus the class pictured by the five wise virgins would enter through the door into the wedding.

As the years passed by and the time drew closer, the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class looked ahead with intensifying interest to that critical date, October 1, 1914. These were a class of Christians separated from this unclean world and fully “consecrated” to God through Christ, and they had symbolized their “consecration” to God by water immersion. They were endeavoring to let their light shine as they approached the time when they expected to meet their Bridegroom in the heavens. Finally the day arrived, October 1, 1914, and on the morning of that day Charles T. Russell as president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society announced to the headquarters staff of workers in Brooklyn, New York: “The Gentile Times have ended and their kings have had their day.”

However, with that end of the Gentile Times there did not also come the anticipated glorification of the remnant of the church in the heavens. It was first on October 31, 1916, that Russell himself died, leaving the Society’s presidency to another. Something must have been miscalculated. —ka (God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached, 1973) chap. 11 pp. 186-189 "Here Is the Bridegroom!" pars. 5-9 (Bold added)
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"End of All Kingdoms in 1914"
On August 30, 1914, the arresting headline “End of All Kingdoms in 1914” blazed across page 4 of the Sunday magazine section of The World, a leading New York newspaper. “The terrific war outbreak in Europe has fulfilled an extraordinary prophecy,” stated this feature article. “For a quarter of a century past, through preachers and through press, the ‘International Bible Students [Jehovah’s Witnesses],’ best known as ‘Millennial Dawners,’ have been proclaiming to the world that the Day of Wrath prophesied in the Bible would dawn in 1914. ‘Look out for 1914!’ has been the cry of the hundreds of traveling evangelists who, representing this strange creed, have gone up and down the country enunciating the doctrine that ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand.’”
Whether you were alive in that year or not, 1914 should mean more to you than a mere calendar sheet curled and yellowed with age or a headline on a crumbled magazine page. It is a momentous year that touches your life today.
w84 4/1 pp. 5-6 1914 a Marked Year—Why?
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BELSHAZZAR
Does secular history confirm the role of Belshazzar as a ruler of Babylon?
A cuneiform tablet dated as from the accession year of Neriglissar, who followed Awil-Marduk (Evil-merodach) on the Babylonian throne, refers to a certain “Belshazzar, the chief officer of the king,” in connection with a money transaction. It is possible, though not proved, that this refers to the Belshazzar of the Bible. In 1924 publication was made of the decipherment of an ancient cuneiform text described as the “Verse Account of Nabonidus,” and through it valuable information was brought to light clearly corroborating Belshazzar’s kingly position at Babylon and explaining the manner of his becoming coregent with Nabonidus. Concerning Nabonidus’ conquest of Tema in his third year of rule, a portion of the text says: “He entrusted the ‘Camp’ to his oldest (son), the firstborn [Belshazzar], the troops everywhere in the country he ordered under his (command). He let (everything) go, entrusted the kingship to him and, himself, he [Nabonidus] started out for a long journey, the (military) forces of Akkad marching with him; he turned towards Tema (deep) in the west.” (Ancient Near Eastern Texts, edited by J. Pritchard, 1974, p. 313) Thus, Belshazzar definitely exercised royal authority from Nabonidus’ third year on, and this event likely corresponds with Daniel’s reference to “the first year of Belshazzar the king of Babylon.”—Da 7:1.

In another document, the Nabonidus Chronicle, a statement is found with regard to Nabonidus’ seventh, ninth, tenth, and eleventh regnal years. It reads: “The king (was) in Tema (while) the prince, the officers, and his army (were) in Akkad [Babylonia].” (Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, by A. Grayson, 1975, p. 108) Apparently Nabonidus spent much of his reign away from Babylon, and while not relinquishing his position as supreme ruler, he entrusted administrative authority to his son Belshazzar to act during his absence. This is evident from a number of texts recovered from the ancient archives proving that Belshazzar exercised royal prerogatives, that he issued orders and commands. Matters handled by Belshazzar in certain documents and orders were those that would normally have been handled by Nabonidus, as supreme ruler, had he been present. However, Belshazzar remained only second ruler of the empire, and thus he could offer to make Daniel only “the third one in the kingdom.”—Da 5:16. . .

Thus, archaeologist and language scholar Alan Millard writes: “In the light of the Babylonian sources and of the new texts on this statue, it may have been considered quite in order for such unofficial records as the Book of Daniel to call Belshazzar ‘king.’ He acted as king, his father’s agent, although he may not have been legally king. The precise distinction would have been irrelevant and confusing in the story as related in Daniel.”—Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1985, p. 77. INSIGHT ON THE SCRIPTURES VOL. 1, pp. 282-284 Belshazzar.
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BABYLON’S LAST DYNASTY OF SEMITE KINGS
Nebuchadnezzar (who ruled as king for 43 years; it-2 p. 480) was now growing old, and eyes began to turn toward a successor for him. By his Median queen Amytis Nebuchadnezzar had his first son, Evil-merodach. He had two sons-in-law, Neriglissar and Nabonidus. The latter was the husband of Nitocris, Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter by his wife of the same name. This marriage produced Belshazzar, who was therefore a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar and a great-grandson of Nabopolassar, the founder of the last dynasty of Semite kings of Babylon.


"Amel-Marduk
(Evil-merodach) as the oldest son succeeded Nebuchadnezzar to the throne in 581 B.C.E. He did a kindness to one of the Judean captives, by which kindness he unwittingly carried out Jehovah’s purpose. Second Kings 25:27-30 states: “It came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin the king of Judah, in the twelfth month [in 580 B.C.E.], . . . Evil-merodach the king of Babylon, in the year of his becoming king, raised up the head of Jehoiachin the king of Judah out of the house of detention; and he began to speak good things with him, and then put his throne higher than the thrones of the kings that were with him in Babylon. And he took off his prison garments; and he ate bread constantly before him all the days of his life.” Jehoiachin (or Jeconiah) had seven sons in Babylonia, including Shealtiel, whose nominal son Zerubbabel became governor of rebuilt Jerusalem, and through whose line of descent Jesus Christ came.—1 Chron. 3:17-19; Hag. 1:1; 2:23; Ezra 5:1, 2; Matt. 1:12.

"Evil-merodach reigned two years and was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissar, who reigned for four years, which time he spent mainly in building operations. His underage son Labashi-Marduk, a vicious boy, succeeded him, and was assassinated within nine months. Nabonidus, who had served as governor of Babylon and who had been Nebuchadnezzar’s favorite son-in-law, took the throne and had a fairly glorious reign until Babylon fell in 539 B.C.E. He devoted his time to literature, art and religion. He is reported to have been the son of a priestess of the moon at Harran (Haran), which fact had endeared him to Nebuchadnezzar.” —w65 1/1 p. 29 The Rejoicing of the Wicked Is Short-lived; it-2 p. 480 Nebuchadnezzar. (Bold added)
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