THE 1914 TEACHING
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Although most Christian denominations look forward to the return of Christ in the future, the Watchtower Society teaches that Jesus Christ has already returned and has been ruling, invisibly, since 1914 C.E. Because they use a formula of dates and prophecies to come to this conclusion, the discussion of this teaching can become involved. Therefore, it may help you to tackle this topic one subheading at a time.

RUSSELL'S TEACHING

The Watchtower Society's viewpoint of this teaching began with Charles Taze Russell in the 1800's. Russell was an independent Bible researcher who was the founder, and second president of, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (W. H. Conley was the first president and served for three years: Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993, p.576). According to the Watchtower Society, Russell and his colleagues began to independently study the Bible together in order to learn its true meaning. Due to this method of study, Russell credited several men with his understanding of Scripture: Jonas Wendell, George Stetson, George Storrs, and Nelson Barbour in particular (Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993, p.120). The Watchtower Society also states that through his association with Barbour, Russell became convinced that the year 1914 would see the end of the prophetic “Gentile Times” (more on that later) (Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993, p.60). Eventually, a group known as the Bible Students became associated with Russell (Jehovah's Witnesses – Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, 1993, pp.62-63).

It is interesting to note that, when Russell began teaching the 1914 doctrine to the Bible Students (the forerunners to the Jehovah's Witnesses), his original version of his teaching was quite different from the version that today's Jehovah's Witnesses teach. For example, Russell originally taught that the “last days” would begin in 1874 and “close” in 1914 (underline ours):

Zion's Watch Tower, January 15, 1892, p.22
The date of the close of that “battle” is definitely marked in Scripture as October 1914. It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874.

The Watch Tower, June 15, 1911, p.190
...we find 1874 as the beginning of this “harvest” and the gathering together of the “elect"”from the four winds of Heaven;... October, 1914, will witness the full end of Babylon, "as a great millstone cast into the sea," utterly destroyed as a system.

Russell originally taught that Jesus became present in 1874 C.E. and received His rulership in 1878 C.E. (underline ours):

Studies in the Scriptures II -- The Time Is at Hand, p.101 (1906 edition)
...the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, which is pointed out in prophecy as due to begin the exercise of power in C.E. 1878, and that the “battle of the great day of God Almighty” which will end in 1914 with the complete overthrow of the Earth's present rulership, is already commenced.

Studies in Scriptures Series IV -- The Times of the Gentiles, p.621 (1897 edition)
Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present since October 1874, C.E., according to the testimony of the prophets, to those who have ears to hear it: and the formal inauguration of his kingly office dates from April 1878, C.E.

In contrast, modern Jehovah's Witnesses are now teaching that Jesus Christ became present and received His rulership in 1914 (The Watchtower, January 15, 2009, p.24 para.16; August 15, 2009, p.15 para.17; Paradise Restored to Mankind – By Theocracy!, 1972, p.361, para.39)

When the First World War broke out in 1914, and the “end” hadn't actually ended as Russell has predicted, Russell began teaching that 1914 was merely the beginning of the end (underline ours):

Studies In the Scriptures III -- Thy Kingdom Come, p.228, (1915 Edition)
That the deliverance of the saints must take place very soon after 1914 is manifest, since the deliverance of fleshly Israel, as we shall see, is appointed to take place at that time, and the angry nations will then be authoritatively commanded to be still, and will be made to recognize the power of Jehovah's Anointed. Just how long after 1914 the last living members of the body of Christ will be glorified, we are not directly informed; but it certainly will not be until their work in the flesh is done; nor can we reasonably presume that they will long remain after that work is accomplished.

Russel went to his grave believing this. After his death in 1916, the Watchtower Society continued to teach Russell's point of view: Christ became present in 1874 and the beginning of the end started in 1914. As far as we could find, they also continued believing Christ was enthroned in 1878 as well. These things were taught as true doctrine up until 1924 (The Watchtower, January 1, 1924, p.5). The following year, the Watchtower Society updated this doctrine by teaching that Christ became present in 1874, began gathering His followers in 1878, and was later enthroned in 1914 (underline ours):

From 1878 forward Jesus was gathering together his consecrated followers; and these, with the hope of an early birth of the new nation or government, have struggled on for the cause of righteousness, holding fast to the precious truths. They expected this birth in 1910 and at other dates, but particularly in 1914. In that year the Lord took his power and began his reign”... “Michael, who is Christ the Lord, has been present since 1874, but he did not interfere with Satan. He remained silent until his right to rule had come. Satan's right had expired in 1914...”(The Watchtower, March 1, 1925, p.69, para. 27, 35).

Inexplicably, even though Russell's old teaching was active all the way up until this change in 1925, for several decades the Watchtower Society gave the impression that they had been teaching the current view since the 1800's: “...a prophecy providentially caused sincere 19th-century Bible students to be in expectation... they anticipated that Christ would receive Kingdom power in 1914 (The Watchtower, September 15, 1998, p.15).

Could this have simply been an editor's error? Possibly, but it is notable that this kind error happened on more than one occasion:

  • Although the Jehovah's Witnesses (then called “Bible Students”) before 1925 believed Christ's presence began in1874, the Watchtower Society stated that these very same Bible Students were looking for his presence to begin in 1914: It is because they have not heeded the world-wide advertising of Christ's return and his second presence. Since long before World War I Jehovah's witnesses pointed to 1914 as the time for this great event to occur” (The Watchtower, June 15, 1954, p.370, para.4).

  • Although the pre-1925 Jehovah's Witnesses believed Christ was enthroned in 1878, a Watchtower article from 1966 claimed that these ones pointed to Christ's enthronement as happening in 1914: Compare this with what has taken place since the year 1914. For over thirty years before that date and for half a century since, Jehovah’s witnesses have pointed to the year 1914 as the time for the end of “the appointed times of the nations” and the time in which Christ would begin his Kingdom rule. (The Watchtower, February 15, 1966, p.103).

  • The Watchtower Society also claimed that, in 1928, a woman learned about Christ's second advent occuring in 1914 through a Bible Student who instructed her to read the Watchtower Society's book “The Harp of God” (The Watchtower, May 1, 1988, p.21-22). “The Harp of God”, published in 1921, reads (underline ours) Applying the same rule, then, of a day for a year, 1335 days after 539 A. D. brings us to 1874 A.D., at which time, according to Biblical chronology, the Lord's second presence is due. (The Harp of God, 1921, p.230, para.398). Therefore, this particular woman could not have possibly learned that Christ's presence began in 1914 through that book because it was written during the time of the old teaching.

Although we haven't found further untrue statements of this nature published after 1998, it is clear that the Watchtower Society had published these inaccurate statements for several decades. Many have noted this repetitive inaccuracy, causing a lingering question: If the Watchtower Society writers cannot keep their own history straight, how accurate is any of the other knowledge they have taught?

And, of course, there is another question: When did they truly begin teaching the current doctrine?

The current doctrine, as of this writing, is that Christ became present and was enthroned in 1914. During the research on this topic we came across a reference that stated the Watchtower Society first taught the current version in their magazine journal “The Golden Age”, 1930, p.503. Unfortunately, we couldn't happen to track down a copy of this reference in order to verify it. HOWEVER, we did find where the Watchtower Society admits to teaching this doctrine in 1943, as mentioned in their book God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached,” 1973, p.209-210, para. 55:

In the year 1943 the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society published the book “The Truth Shall Make You Free.” In its chapter 11, entitled “The Count of Time,” it did away with the insertion of 100 years into the period of the Judges and went according to the oldest and most authentic reading of Acts 13:20, and accepted the spelled-out numbers of the Hebrew Scriptures. This moved forward the end of six thousand years of man’s existence into the decade of the 1970’s. Naturally this did away with the year 1874 C.E. as the date of return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the beginning of his invisible presence or parousia. The millennium that was to be marked by the detaining of Satan the Devil enchained in the abyss and by the reign of the 144,000 joint heirs with Christ in heavenly glory was therefore yet in the future. What, then, about the parousia (presence) of Christ? Page 324 of the above book positively says: “The King’s presence or parousia began in 1914.”

Therefore, it is safe to say that it was sometime between 1925 and 1943 when the current teaching became active.

Incredibly, even though this teaching had undergone quite an evolution over the years, the Watchtower Society has claimed The Watchtower [magazine] has consistently presented evidence to honesthearted students of Bible prophecy that Jesus' presence in heavenly kingdom power began in 1914” (The Watchtower, January 15, 1993, p.5).

ORIGINATION OF RUSSELL'S TEACHING

Although Russell was influenced by his colleagues regarding his original teaching regarding the year 1914, many don't realize that this teaching actually based on the pseudo-science of pyramidology, a belief system that gained popularity in the 19th century.

The popularity of pyramidology rose with John Taylor, who authored a book in 1859 titled "The Great Pyramid; Why Was it Built, and Who Built it?" Taylor believed measurements of the passages in the Great Pyramid held great significance; a theory which Russell embraced and correlated with the Scripture at Isaiah 19:19-20 (underline ours):

    (19) 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. (20) And it must prove to be for a sign and for a witness to Jehovah of armies in the land of Egypt; for they will cry out to Jehovah because of the oppressors, and he will send them a Saviour, even a grand one, who will actually deliver them."

Russell's belief in the Great Pyramid was so staunch that at one point, the first volume in his book series Studies in the Scriptures (titled The Divine Plan of the Ages) was subtitled As Shown In the Great Pyramid (1913 edition). Being that he believed the Great Pyramid was Jehovah's “Stone Witness,” he used measurements from the inner passages of the structure to come to the conclusion that 1874 was the beginning of the time of trouble (which ultimately led to the teaching that 1914 was to be the end of the time of trouble). He published these findings:

Studies In the Scriptures Series III - Thy Kingdom Come (1898 edition) p.342
...we find it to be 3416 inches, symbolizing 3416 years from the above date, B.C. 1542. This calculation shows A.D. 1874 as marking the beginning of the period of trouble; for 1542 years B.C. plus 1874 years A.D. equals 3416 years. Thus the Pyramid witnesses that the close of 1874 was the chronological beginning of the time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation – no, nor ever shall be afterward.

However, he later seemed to have changed his mind on the matter and decided that his measurements were insufficient. As a result, in latter editions of the same book he updated the information and produced different measurements from those very same pyramid tunnels in order to teach that 1914 was the beginning of trouble instead of the end of trouble:

Studies In the Scriptures Series III - Thy Kingdom Come (1911 edition) p.342
...we find it to be 3457 inches, symbolizing 3457 years from the above date, B.C. 1542. This calculation shows A.D. 1915 as marking the beginning of the period of trouble; for 1542 years B.C. plus 1915 years A.D. equals 3457 years. Thus the Pyramid witnesses that the close of 1914 will be the beginning of the time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation – no, nor ever shall be afterward.

Nowadays, though, the Watchtower Society no longer subscribes to this pyramid teaching, as published in 1928: (underline ours):

    (8) In this and a subsequent issue of The Watch Tower proof will be submitted which it is believed shows beyond a doubt that the prophecy of Isaiah 19:19,20 has no reference whatsoever to the great pyramid of Egypt... (12) But it is contended by some that “the great pyramid of Gizeh is strong corroborative proof of God's plan as set forth in his word.” If that were true, that would be an admission on God's part that his word needs corroborative proof and is therefore insufficient in itself...(15) If therefore the Word God does not refer to the pyramid, teaching of and concerning the pyramid, and its measurements, then the drawing of conclusions therefrom is not only contrary to the Scriptures and out of order, but is presumptuous before the Lord...He who teaches that which is not found in the Word of God is not teaching “good things”...(19) If the pyramid is not mentioned in the Bible, then following its teachings is being led by vain philosophy and false science, and not following after Christ. (32) It is reasonable to conclude that Lucifer there learned about the measurements of the earth and its relationship to the stars and planets and that he afterward used this information for his own selfish purpose to mislead others...he could use this information in constructing the pyramid. (35) It is more reasonable to conclude that the great pyramid of Gizeh, as well as the other pyramids thereabout, also the sphinx, were built by the rulers of Egypt under the direction of Satan the Devil. (The Watchtower, November 15, 1928, article “The Altar in Egypt, part 1” pp.339-345)

(9) Symbolically, Egypt always represents Satan's organization... (12) The word “Egypt” is derived from the Hebrew word which means “That which bind, troubles, and oppresses”...this definition exactly fits Satan's organization.(34)...those who are devotees to the pyramid of Gizeh, and are delving into its supposed secrets, are doing nothing whatsoever to bear witness against the Devil's organization... (37) Devotees and teachers of the pyramid, and who claim to be of Christ, say that the pyramid of Gizeh is the great sign and wonder mentioned in the Scriptures...the wily scheme of Satan to induce Christians to pin their faith to the pyramid of Gizeh will not succeed in deceiving any true child of God at this time... (47) We now wonder why ever believed in or devoted any time to the study of the pyramid of Gizeh. (The Watchtower, December 1, 1928, article “The Altar in Egypt, part 2”, pp.355-361)

In 1956, the Watchtower Society published yet another article emphasizing their view of the pyramid as having satanic origins:

Remarkable as some of its measurements seem to appear, it also cannot be denied that these have led to false hopes resulting in disappointments and none of them serve any purpose in magnifying the name of Jehovah... If there are facts about the Great Pyramid that cannot be explained solely on the basis of human wisdom, then in view of all the foregoing we have no alternative but to conclude that it must have been accomplished by means of demon power rather than by the active force of Jehovah God...., this most logical explanation of all as to the reasons underlying the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza would indicate that it certainly was not built by those engaging in the true worship of Jehovah God but by those devoted to astrology, a manifestation of Devil religion, and was built in furtherance of such religion.”(The Watchtower, May 15, 1956, pp.298-300).

Apparently, the Watchtower Society doesn't seem to realized that they have unwittingly accused Russell of being a false Christian who promoted a demonic religious teaching.

 

THE CURRENT TEACHING

Since the Watchtower Society stopped teaching that the Great Pyramid referred to the year 1914, it was important for them to publish a newer teaching in relation to the year 1914. For starters, they began teaching that Christ's words at Luke 21:24, (Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.”) refers to a time period when Godly rulership in Jerusalem would remain dormant until Jesus returned. They take the position that Jerusalem was the symbol of Jehovah's rulership but that it was conquered by Babylon in 607 (B.C.E.), commencing the start of the “Times of the Nations,” also referred to as “The Gentile Times.” They posit that Ezekiel 21:26-27 refers to Christ as being the only one with the right to re-take the Kingdom, ending this time of “trampling.” They parallel this teaching with Daniel chapter 4, which tells of a prophetic dream had by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar. In this dream, a colossal tree was chopped down while an angel announced that the tree's stump was to be prevented from re-growing for a period of “seven times.” The Watchtower Society teaches that this tree dream is connected to the trampling of Jerusalem mentioned in Luke 21:24 and represents God's rulership being interrupted for “seven times.” They calculate “seven times” to mean 2,250 years, with this reasoning:

Revelation 12:6,14 shows that a time period of “three and a half times” indicates a period of 1,260 days. Ergo, “seven times” (which is twice the amount of three and a half times) would have to mean a period of 2,520 days. According to the Watchtower Society, on the grounds that Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6 each speak of “a day for a year,” then the “seven times” would span 2,520 years [Our note: God always indicated when the day/year correlation applied; and in the Revelation passage mentioning “3 ½ times”, this indication is completely absent, meaning the Watchtower Society is erroneously assuming this application].

According to the Watchtower Society, since Babylon captured Jerusalem in October of 607 B.C.E., then this 2,520 year period of time would end in October of 1914 C.E. Therefore, this is the year in which they state Jesus Christ became present and ascended the throne of God's Kingdom. Putting it simply, according to the Watchtower Society's doctrine, 607 B.C.E. marked the end of God's Kingdom ruling on Earth via Jewish rulership, symbolized by the cutting down of the tree in Nebuchadnezzar's dream. The tree'sseven timesof dormancy meant 7 prophetic years, or 2,520 days. Since some Scriptures follow the day-for-a-year correlation, then this means 2,520 years. Therefore, this period of 2,520 years after 607 B.C.E. wasThe Times of the Nations,” a.k.a. the “Gentile Times,” which ended in 1914 C.E. At this end of the Gentile Times Jesus Christ invisibly took rulership. This entire teaching is explained in greater detail in their books What Does the Bible Really Teach?, 2005, pp.215-218; Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy, 1999, pp. 82-97; You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, 1989, pp.134-141.

A DAY FOR A YEAR?

[Note: This subheading is NOT discussing prophetic weeks which are converted-into-days-then-converted-into years, so don't let someone get you sidetracked on a prophetic “weeks” debate. This is solely dealing with prophecy which references only prophetic “days”]

Let's talk a little more about this “day for a year” teaching: First, as we've seen, according to the Watchtower Society's teaching the seven years is considered to be “prophetic years.” A “prophetic year” is only 360 days long, in contrast to a regular solar year of 365 days. The idea of a Prophetic Year comes from the passage in Revelation 12:5-14, which states in part:

...And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and sixty days... But the two wings of the great eagle were given the woman, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place; there is where she is fed for a time and times and half a time away from the face of the serpent.

Since this passage speaks of 1,260 days, and correlates it to a time and times and half a time (1 + 2 + 1/2 = three and a half times), they deduce thattimes are actually years, which are only 360 days long in order to fit the two references together. Since this 360-day year is spoken of only in prophecy, it is called a “prophetic year” (Insight On the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p.1215). Because the prophetic tree dream speaks ofseven times”, the Watchtower Society applies prophetic years to this time-line. Ergo, the prophetic seven timesin the tree dream would add up to 2,520 days.

Since the prophecies in the aforementioned passages at Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6 show God instructing that a number of prophetic days should be tallied as literal years, the Watchtower Society deduces that this prophetic seven times, which adds up to 2,520 days, really means 2,520 years.

The Watchtower Society teaches that this day for a year is an actual rule in Scripture (The Watchtower, July 15, 2006, p.7 subheading “Kingdom Rule Begins”; The Watchtower, October 15, 1990, pp.10-11, para.2). However, it is notable that this day for a year rule isn't actually a rigid rule in Scripture. First, in the aforementioned Revelation passage the 1,260 days weren't commanded to be converted into years, in contrast to the passages in Numbers and Ezekiel, and so the Watchtower Society does not convert them into literal years, instead they remain viewed as days:

[referring to Revelation 11:3-4] 1,260 days, or 42 months, the same length of time that the holy city was to be trampled underfoot. This period seems to be literal, since it is expressed in two different ways, first in months and then in days (Revelation Climax, 2006 edition, p.164, para.12).

Second, note that the seven times in Daniel, likewise, lacks any command to convert days into years. Third, none of the other prophecies referencing “days” in Daniel have this conversion command attached – thus none of these other ones have been converted into years by Watchtower Society teaching, as shown in their own literature:

  • 1,260 days (Daniel 12:7) is not converted by the Watchtower Society into years:
    Both prophecies in Daniel (7:25 and 12:7) refer to ‘a time, times, and half a time.’ Scholars generally recognize this to mean three and a half times. Revelation refers to the same period as 42 months, or 1,260 days. (Revelation 11:2, 3) This confirms that the three and a half times in Daniel refer to three and a half years of 360 days each. (Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy, 1999, p.295, para.17)

  • 1,290 days (Daniel 12:11) is not converted by the Watchtower Society into years:
    Daniel was told: “From the time that the constant feature has been removed and there has been a placing of the disgusting thing that is causing desolation, there will be one thousand two hundred and ninety days...the 1,290 days began in early 1919 and ran until the autumn (Northern Hemisphere) of 1922.! In March 1919 the president of the Watch Tower Society and his close associates were released from prison. They were later exonerated of the false charges against them... . By the end of the foretold 1,290 days, the holy ones were well on the way to a cleansed and restored standing. In September 1922, right about the time when this period ended, they held a landmark convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A. It gave tremendous impetus to the preaching work. (Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy, 1999, pp.297 – 303, para. 21-23; The Watchtower, November 1, 1993, pp.10-11, para.15)

  • 1,355 days (Daniel 12:12) is not converted by the Watchtower Society into years:
    Jehovah’s angel concludes his prophecy regarding the holy ones with these words: “Happy is the one who is keeping in expectation and who arrives at the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days!” (Daniel 12:12). The angel gives no clues as to when this period begins or ends. History suggests that it simply follows on the heels of the preceding period. In that case it would run from the autumn of 1922 to the late spring of 1926... (Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy, 1999, p.303, para. 24)

Ergo, it is obvious they recognize that the command to convert days into years is not the rule, it is actually the exception, which is why God needed to specify the exception on those two occasions in Numbers and Ezekiel. So the question is: Why should the Watchtower Society insist on a “day for a year” conversion in this one particular prophecy in Daniel when they don't apply it to any of the others of Daniel's “days” prophecies? Many have come to the conclusion that the only reason they teach that the one singular instance should be converted into years without a Biblical command is because it is the only way it can fit into their current teaching.

 

THE TREE DREAM

Nebuchadnezzar was the pagan king of Babylon, which was the major world power at the time in which he had this dream about the tree. He reigned during the time that the Israelites were exiles in Babylon, and the prophet Daniel was one of those exiles. Here is the entire Biblical account of this dream from Daniel 4:4-37 according to the World English Bible (Because the Jehovah's Witness Bible, the New World Translation, is copyrighted we chose to use a public domain version for such a large passage of Scripture):

4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace. 5 I saw a dream which made me afraid; and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. 6 Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. 7 Then came in the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers; and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known to me its interpretation. 8 But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and I told the dream before him, saying, 9 Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no secret troubles you, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation. 10 Thus were the visions of my head on my bed: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the Earth; and its height was great. 11 The tree grew, and was strong, and its height reached to the sky, and its sight to the end of all the Earth. 12 The leaves of it were beautiful, and its fruit much, and in it was food for all: the animals of the field had shadow under it, and the birds of the sky lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. 13 I saw in the visions of my head on my bed, and behold, a watcher and a holy one came down from the sky. 14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Cut down the tree, and cut off its branches, shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruit: let the animals get away from under it, and the fowls from its branches. 15 Nevertheless leave the stump of its roots in the Earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of the sky: and let his portion be with the animals in the grass of the Earth: 16 let his heart be changed from man’s, and let an animal’s heart be given to him; and let seven times pass over him. 17 The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will, and sets up over it the lowest of men. 18 This dream I, king Nebuchadnezzar, have seen; and you, Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in you. 19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was stricken mute for a while, and his thoughts troubled him. The king answered, Belteshazzar, don’t let the dream, or the interpretation, trouble you. Belteshazzar answered, My lord, the dream be to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your adversaries. 20 The tree that you saw, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached to the sky, and its sight to all the Earth; 21 whose leaves were beautiful, and its fruit much, and in it was food for all; under which the animals of the field lived, and on whose branches the birds of the sky had their habitation: 22 it is you, O king, that are grown and become strong; for your greatness is grown, and reaches to the sky, and your dominion to the end of the Earth. 23 Whereas the king saw a watcher and a holy one coming down from the sky, and saying, Cut down the tree, and destroy it; nevertheless leave the stump of its roots in the Earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field, and let it be wet with the dew of the sky: and let his portion be with the animals of the field, until seven times pass over him; 24 this is the interpretation, O king, and it is the decree of the Most High, which has come on my lord the king: 25 that you shall be driven from men, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field, and you shall be made to eat grass as oxen, and shall be wet with the dew of the sky, and seven times shall pass over you; until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will. 26 Whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree; your kingdom shall be sure to you, after that you shall have known that the Heavens do rule. 27 Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you, and break off your sins by righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if there may be a lengthening of your tranquility. 28 All this came on the king Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking in the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king spoke and said, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? 31 While the word was in the king’s mouth there fell a voice from the sky, saying O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you: 3 and you shall be driven from men; and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field; you shall be made to eat grass as oxen; and seven times shall pass over you; until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will. 33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled on Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and ate grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of the sky, until his hair was grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws. 34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to Heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honoured him who lives forever; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the Earth are reputed as nothing; and he does according to his will in the army of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the Earth; and none can stay his hand, or ask him, What are you doing? 36 At the same time my understanding returned to me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and brightness returned to me; and my counselors and my lords sought to me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honour the King of Heaven; for all his works are truth, and his ways justice; and those who walk in pride he is able to abase.

As shown previously, the Watchtower Society connects this tree dream in with Luke's appointed times of the nations.” even though this connection is sorely lacking Biblical support; there is no such connection revealed in either the Hebrew Scriptures or the Greek Scriptures. And, as seen in Daniel 4:24-27, Daniel's interpretation of the dream shows it is connected solely to Nebuchadnezzar; no secondary connection is indicated. On top of this, Jesus Christ Himself never spoke of a connection between His Messianic Kingship and Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and neither did any of the apostles or other Spirit led teachers in the Greek Scriptures. The absolute absence of such a connection in Scripture is extremely significant, especially since this is supposed to be a foundational doctrine.

TIMES OF THE NATIONS”

Next, let's look at the Scriptural passage which the Watchtower Society connects to this dream at Luke 21: 24 (with its surrounding verses for the sake of context):

(20)“Furthermore, when YOU see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. (21) Then let those in Ju·de´a begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw, and let those in the country places not enter into her; (22) because these are days for meting out justice, that all the things written may be fulfilled. (23) Woe to the pregnant women and the ones suckling a baby in those days! For there will be great necessity upon the land and wrath on this people; (24) and they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.

Just as the tree dream lacks connection to this passage, likewise this passage lacks connection to the tree dream: There is no connection to King Nebuchadnezzar, an immense tree, the book of Daniel, a period of seven times, or Christ's enthronement. There is nothing here to suggest that this passage ties in with Nebuchadnezzar's dream, Heavenly rulership, Jesus, or any of those things. Instead, as shown by the surrounding verses, the context of this passage is directly connected to a completely different event; the then-future destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman Empire, which is something the Watchtower Society itself even connects part of the passage with (Insight On the Scriptures, 1988, Vol.2, pp.47-48 subheading During the Apostolic Period).

Considering that earlier in this essay we saw where the Watchtower Society dismissed Russell's pyramid teaching due to a complete lack of Scriptural connection, it is a curious thing that they continue to adhere to this teaching, even though this also has a complete lack of connection in Scripture.


WHEN DID THE GENTILE TIMES START?

Another thing that the Watchtower Society doesn't take into consideration is the fact that, if the “Gentile Times” had truly begun with the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem – which happened hundreds of years before Jesus spoke these words in Luke 21:24 – then Jesus would not have spoken this passage in the future tense:...and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations..., He would have spoken these words in the PRESENT tense because that time period of the “Gentile Times” should have been already in progress if it had truly begun with the Babylonian conquest in 607 B.C.E. Since this passage in Luke is connecting the beginning of the trampling with the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, which happened in 70 C.E., then this passage cannot be related to the Babylonian conquest that happened over five hundred years earlier.

 

So here we have it in a nutshell:

The Watchtower Society began with one teaching on this topic and evolved the teaching over time to the current doctrine. Although the Watchtower Society currently teaches that the “Gentile Times” took place between 607 B.C.E. and 1914 C.E., based upon Nebuchadnezzar's dream, there is a major lack of Biblical support for which to uphold this teaching, just as there was a lack of Biblical support to uphold the teaching on the Great Pyramid.

 

If you are interested in reading a thorough and accurate examination of this Watchtower Society's 1914 teaching, consider reading the bookThe Gentile Times Reconsidered”, written by Carl Olof Jonsson, a former Jehovah's Witness elder.