JWINSIDER #010: ALL aspects of 1914 doctrine are now problematic from a Scriptural point of view

This site now has permission to reprint various postings and articles from JWFacts, JWStudies, JWInsider, and several others. We are still working on getting more content from more posters, bloggers, and site creators, and are especially looking for JWs who have taken up the same studies about chronology that we focus on here.

JWINSIDER #010

The original context is found here:  https://www.theworldnewsmedia.org/topic/39516-all-aspects-of-1914-doctrine-are-now-problematic-from-a-scriptural-point-of-view/

[Responses or questions from other forum participants are removed, unless brief]

…if 607 BCE is such a clunker, how did it get to be a foundation in the first place?

That’s just it. It wasn’t a foundation in the first place. The “foundation in the first place” was something called “Israel’s Double” based on a now debunked idea that Israel would get a “double” amount of time, resulting in a parallel dispensation between Israel and Christianity, the Old and the New. Many Second Adventists scrambled quickly for new explanations after William Miller’s spectacular failure. Miller had predicted Christ’s Return in 1844, based mostly on the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14, coupled with the idea that the 7th Millennium had just dawned (6,000 years from Adam).

One of several popular updates to Miller’s chronology, was to fix the start of the Millennium to 1872. Then “Israel’s Double” counting from the death of Jacob (a.k.a. “Israel”) to the death of Jesus in 33 C.E. gave the length of Israel’s first dispensation (era/age). That was calculated to be 1,845 years. Adding 1,845 years to the year 33 C.E. showed that the second dispensation would end in 1878. 1845+33=1878.

But that was when Jesus had become King in 33 C.E. and therefore King again in 1878. Jesus became “present” as the Christ back in 29/30 C.E. and therefore also in 1874. But the preaching to Israel could last until 70 C.E. which was a full 40 years from the time Jesus started preaching after his baptism. Therefore, this was one of the reasons to believe in a 40 year “harvest” that would last from 1874 to 1914 (as it did from 30 to 70).

Therefore the October 1889 Watch Tower, and Volume II of Millennial Dawn (also in 1889), and several other issues of Zion’s Watch Tower repeatedly spoke of “Israel’s Double” especially since that time.

With this all in mind, recall our statements and the Scripture testimonies on the subject of Israel’s double;–that the first part, from the beginning of the nation at the death of Jacob to the rejection of the nation at the death of Christ, was a period of 1845 years of waiting for the promised kingdom, during which they had divine favor and supervision (discipline, etc.); and that when they then rejected and crucified the Redeemer, they were sentenced to a “double” or repetition of their already long period of waiting –during which God would show them no favor, manifest no interest in them. Every Jew of intelligence and piety is able to recognize the fulfilment of these predictions of the prophets.–Zech. 9:12;Jer. 16:18Isa. 40:2.

And note the fact so pointedly marked –that where their double of waiting for the Kingdom expired, the kingdom did come in 1878; which we think MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vol. II., clearly proves from the Scriptures.

And this must have been pretty convincing because the February 1890 Watch Tower prints approving letters about how persons have been responding to these latest publications. (Dawn content was also included as a replacement for the content of some recent Watch Tower issues in 1889.)  One person responded by trying to sell off everything and giving what was left over that he could offer to the Watch Tower:

DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:–After reading Dawn, Vol. II., the chapters on “The Times of the Gentiles,” “The Jubilee Cycles,” Israel’s Double and the Time Chronology, I became convinced that we are indeed in the time of the harvest, while the chapter on the manner of our Lord’s second coming and the harmony of present indications leaves no room for even a doubt. Then in place of marrying and settling down, as I undoubtedly would have done, I sold off my personal property, paid all my indebtedness except a mortgage on some land, to engage in this harvest work. As I have not as yet been able to sell the land, and it being mostly unimproved will not rent for enough to pay the interest on the mortgage and the taxes, I thought to spend about a week in the spring putting in enough of a crop to pay the expenses of the place till I can sell it. If I can sell it for even a good deal less than I thought it was worth two years ago, I would have a few hundred dollars left to use as an offering to the Lord. My neighbors thought me very foolish at the course I have taken, and when I began to hold up the truth I met with opposition, but our blessed Lord and Saviour suffered without the gates and we may go to him without the camp bearing his reproach. I esteem the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. I will not be afraid of them, neither of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks. Yours in the Lord, W. B__________.

All this is confirmed in the Proclaimers book:

*** jv chap. 28 p. 632 Testing and Sifting From Within ***
Based on the premise that events of the first century might find parallels in related events later, they also concluded that if Jesus’ baptism and anointing in the autumn of 29 C.E. paralleled the beginning of an invisible presence in 1874, then his riding into Jerusalem as King in the spring of 33 C.E. would point to the spring of 1878 as the time when he would assume his power as heavenly King. They also thought they would be given their heavenly reward at that time. When that did not occur, they concluded that since Jesus’ anointed followers were to share with him in the Kingdom, the resurrection to spirit life of those already sleeping in death began then. It was also reasoned that the end of God’s special favor to natural Israel down to 36 C.E. might point to 1881 as the time when the special opportunity to become part of spiritual Israel would close. . . . That 1878 was a year of significance seemed to be fortified by reference to Jeremiah 16:18 (‘Jacob’s double,’ KJ) along with calculations indicating that 1,845 years had apparently elapsed from Jacob’s death down till 33 C.E., when natural Israel was cast off, and that the double, or duplicate, of this would extend from 33 C.E. down to 1878.
Extending the parallels further, it was stated that the desolation of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (37 years after Jesus was hailed as king by his disciples when he rode into Jerusalem) might point to 1915 (37 years after 1878) for a culmination of anarchistic upheaval that they thought God would permit as a means for bringing existing institutions of the world to their end. This date appeared in reprints of Studies in the Scriptures. (See Volume II, pages 99-101, 171, 221, 232, 246-7; compare reprint of 1914 with earlier printings, such as the 1902 printing of Millennial Dawn.) It seemed to them that this fitted well with what had been published regarding the year 1914 as marking the end of the Gentile Times.

 

By the time of  “Dawn” (Volume II) it was beginning to be a more important part of the 1914 explanation. But even in the chapter on the Gentile Times, from page 73 up to page 90 of that chapter, Daniel 4 is not mentioned, yet, except as a reference to show that sometimes the word “times” can also refer to literal years. This is contrasted at first with the more important use of “seven times” in Leviticus that is a better match to Jesus’ use of “times” in Luke 21:24. The real focus on the seven Gentile times was in Leviticus:

Now bear in mind the date already found for the beginning of these Gentile Times–viz., B.C. 606–while we proceed to examine the evidence proving their length to be 2520 years, ending A.D. 1914. . . .

Turning to Leviticus we find recorded blessings and cursings of an earthly and temporal character. If Israel would obey God faithfully, they would be blessed above other nations; if not, certain evils would befall them. The conclusion is stated thus: “And I will walk among you and be your God, and ye shall be my people;…but if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments, …I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies; they that hate you shall reign over you.” “And ye shall sow your seed in vain; for your enemies shall eat it.” “And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, THEN I WILL PUNISH YOU SEVEN TIMES more [further] for your sins.” Lev. 26:17,18,24,28

This threat of “seven times” of punishment is mentioned three times. . . .  But these chastisements having failed, he applied the threatened seven times: the crown was permanently removed, and Israel, as well as the whole world, was subject to the beastly powers for seven times. Thus it befell them according to God’s warning–“If ye will not yet for all this [previous chastisements] hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times.”

. . .  These seven times therefore refer to the length of time during which the Gentiles should rule over them. And to this period of “seven times” our Lord undoubtedly referred when speaking of “the Times of the Gentiles.”

The tree dream is finally mentioned, however, at some length, from page 90 to 97. Russell uses it under the heading “Another Line of Testimony.” But he admits that it is only through a type-antitype method because in Nebuchadnezzar’s case this had referred to literal years:

. . . the Hebrew word translated “seven times” in Leviticus 26:18,21,24,28, is the same word so translated in Daniel 4:16,23,25,32, except that in Daniel the word iddan is added, whereas in Leviticus it is left to be understood. . . . In Nebuchadnezzar’s case they were literal years, but, as we shall yet see, both Nebuchadnezzar and his “seven times” were typical. . . .  True to Daniel’s interpretation, we are told that “All this came upon the king, Nebuchadnezzar,” and that in this insane, degraded, beastly condition he wandered among the beasts until seven times (seven literal years in his case) passed over him. Daniel’s interpretation of the dream relates only to its fulfilment upon Nebuchadnezzar; but the fact that the dream, the interpretation and the fulfilment are all so carefully related here is evidence of an object in its narration. And its remarkable fitness as an illustration of the divine purpose in subjecting the whole race to the dominion of evil for its punishment and correction, that in due time God might restore and establish it in righteousness and everlasting life, warrants us in accepting it as an intended type. . . .  The exact date of Nebuchadnezzar’s degradation is not stated, and is of no consequence, because the period of his degradation typified the entire period of Gentile dominion . . . .

I didn’t have space to include all the statements that are ironic in their confusion about what Nebuchadnezzar represents. He represented the dominion of all nations, the whole race and dominion of evil. Yet only this Gentile’s 7 years of degradation represented Gentile dominion, not his years of actual Gentile domination. His restoration to Gentile dominion therefore would represent the end of Gentile dominion when Jesus (a non-Gentile) is restored to the throne of Israel. 

1914 had already been established more clearly through other methods (which we no longer accept). However, by 1890 Russell was here treating Daniel 4 at least on par with all other evidence. It was a bit better than the treatment in that first article about the seven Gentile times he had published in the Bible Examiner back in October 1876. At best, initially, one could say that the seven times was not “dependent” on Daniel 4 alone, but that Daniel 4 provided supplementary evidence to Leviticus. In fact, Russell spoke of the “seven times” as a less clear method of showing that 1914 would see the end of the great time of trouble Gentile nations had caused. In Bible Examiner, after using mostly Leviticus, but also combined with Daniel 4, he had concluded:

We will ask, but not now answer, another question: If the Gentile Times end in 1914, (and there are many other and clearer evidences pointing to the same time) . . . 

Note, that it was the many other evidences that were clearer than either Leviticus or Daniel 4. These clearer evidences had already been based on 1874 and 1878 which Russell had shown were more sure because they had been indicated through so many different “independent” proofs.

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