1914 is key to the existence of Jehovah’s Witnesses. 1914 is said to signify the end of the Gentile Times, commencement of Jesus heavenly rulership and start of the Last Days. Jesus subsequently chose the Watchtower organization in 1919 to be his sole means of salvation before the battle of Armageddon.
The significance of 1914 is derived from the Seven Times in Daniel chapter 4. This article shows why the 1914 calculation is wrong.
Daniel 4:9-32 discusses Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about a tree that was cut down for a period of 7 times. Daniel interpreted this to mean that Nebuchadnezzar would spend 7 years off the throne. Watchtower claims this passage also shows that 1914 was the start of the Last Days.
Image courtesy of Watchtower 2014 Nov 1 p.11
The interpretation goes as follows;
- Cutting down the tree represents the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar in 607 B.C.
- The “seven times” constitute 2,520 days, or seven 360 day years
- Each day signifies a year, converting 2,520 days to 2,520 years
- 2,520 years from 607 B.C. ends in 1914 A.D.
This article reviews each point, and shows why they are wrong.
Daniel’s Prophecy was not an End Time Prophecy
Each prophecy in Daniel has only one application, and there is no reason that Daniel 4 should be treated differently and given two fulfilments. Recognising that Daniel 4 is not an end time prophecy makes further discussion redundant. However, as Jehovah’s Witnesses insist on a secondary application, further examination is necessary.
Jerusalem did not fall in 607 B.C.
Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 B.C. This is the date listed in all encyclopaedias as proven by a weight of evidence. If Watchtower were to use 587 B.C. as the destruction of Jerusalem, it would arrive at 1934 as the start of the Last Days, not 1914.
Surprisingly, even Watchtower’s own publications can be used to calculate Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 B.C. and not 607 B.C..
Watchtower claims Jerusalem fell in 607 B.C., from which it counts 2,520 years to arrive at 1914. There is no evidence that Jerusalem fell in 607 B.C., and Watchtower makes little attempt to present any compelling proof. It’s reasoning is that the Bible says Jerusalem would be desolate for 70 years, and counts back 70 years from the return to Jerusalem in 537 B.C. to arrive at the date for destruction as 607 B.C.
Watchtower ignores historical proof of Jerusalem’s destruction on the basis it contradicts the Bible. However, it is not the Bible being contradicted, but Watchtower’s misinterpretation of the Bible. The period of 70 years need not be applied solely to Jerusalem, since Jeremiah 25:11-12 applies the 70 years to all nations in the region saying, “and these nations will have to serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” Nor need the 70 years be considered literal, since Isaiah 23:15 says Tyre would be destroyed for 70 years, which it was not.
Claiming historians are wrong when calculating 587 B.C. undermines the accuracy of all corresponding dates from that time, including 537 B.C. which Watchtower uses to arrive at the year 607 B.C.. Discrediting the accuracy of historical dating discredits Watchtower doctrine that relies on those very dates.
There are a number of inconsistencies in the way Watchtower arrives at 1914.
Watchtower calculates Jerusalem fell in 607 B.C. by counting back 70 years from the fall of Babylon. However, it admits Babylon was destroyed in 539 B.C., not 537 B.C..
Watchtower insists the 70 years of desolation for Jerusalem were literally 70 years, but the 70 years of desolation for Tyre were figurative and not a period of 70 years. (see Isaiah’s Prophecy- Light For All Mankind 1 p.253)
Watchtower used to claim that Babylon fell in 536 B.C. and Jerusalem in 606 B.C.. When Watchtower admitted in 1943 that is no year zero between B.C. and A.D., and hence their calculations were wrong, instead of change 1914, they simply changed 606 to 607. (Revelation – Its Grand Climax at Hand! p.105)
Jehovah’s Witnesses use World War One as signifying the start of the Last Days and 1914 as a marked year. However, World War One started in July, and Watchtower teaches the Seven Times did not end until October 2. (Yearbook 1975 p.73)
The Seven Times calculation uses a 360 day lunar year applied to a 365 day solar year. For consistency, when a lunar year is converted to days and then applied to the modern Gregorian solar calendar, 607 extends to 1878, not 1914.
Holy spirit did not reveal an understanding of the Seven Times to Pastor Russell, Watchtower’s first leader. In 1823, John Aquila Brown published in The Even-Tide that the “seven times” of Daniel 4 were prophetic of 2,520 years. In the 1830’s, William Miller used this to prove the end of the world in 1843, attracting a group of followers referred to as Millerites.
The world did not end in 1843, and Miller admitted his teachings were wrong. Unfortunately, not all Millerites were willing to admit they had been deceived, and formed groups that came to be known as the Adventist movement. One Adventist preacher, Nelson Barbour, adjusted Miller’s dates, claiming Jesus’ return would be in 1873. When Jesus did not return physically in that year, Barbour claimed Jesus had in fact returned invisibly, and that the total fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy would be by 1914. This caught Russell’s attention, who met with Barbour in 1876, and together they began publishing about the Lord’s return. Disagreement regarding Jesus’ Ransom led to them parting ways in 1879. Russel started his own publication, the Watchtower, his teachings strongly dependant on Barbour and the Adventist movement, including 1914 being the end of the world.
When the end did not occur in 1914, Russell started to say the end would be soon, a phrase Watchtower leaders continue to recycle over 100 years later. 1914 Failed Prophecy shows how the Seven Times was kept relevant by saying the conclusion of The Gentiles Times was not “the end,” but “the start of the end.”
The Last Days
In an attempt to support that 1914 heralded the End of the Gentile Times and commencement of the Last Days, Watchtower constantly writes that we are living in the worst period of time ever. It claims that since 1914 there have been substantially more earthquakes, wars, famine and disease. Evidence presents that the exact opposite is true. We are living in the best period of time ever, the greatest period of peace, significant reduction in disease and famine related deaths, and no change in earthquake frequency or deaths. (See The Last Days.)
This is one of the most important topics Jehovah’s Witnesses face and fundamental to core doctrine. Daniel 4 does not have a second or “greater fulfilment,” and is not an end time prophecy, which means there is no support for 1914 being the start of the Last Days. Daniel 4 does not point to 1914 being the end of the Gentile Times, a term that does not even appear in the Bible.
The rapid increase in global living standards and doubling of life expectancy since Watchtower’s incorporation undermines claims the four horsemen started their ride in 1914, or these being the Last Days.
Image courtesy of Watchtower 2014 Jan 15 p.30
Watchtower has consistently been wrong with its end time predictions, commencing with the Watchtower’s first leader proclaiming the end would come in 1914, the second leader stating the end would be in 1925, strong indications under its third leader that the end would be in 1975, and more recently, strong indications that the end would come before the conclusion of the 20th century. The passing of time and failed predictions has forced Watchtower to introduce ‘new light’ in the form of ‘the overlapping generation teaching’ while still recycling the old phrase – ‘the end will be soon’. It is sad to think of the millions of people who have been misled, many now deceased.
If you knew 1914 had no basis, would you have made the same choices in life?
See https://www.jwfacts.com/watchtower/607-7-times.php for more detailed information.