Contributed by Ann O’Maly. (Who also contributed Part 1, here)
The second contrived and unrealistic conversation that one of Jehovah’s Witnesses imagined having with a neighbor in the November 2014 Watchtower will not be reproduced here. Instead let us imagine that the other Witness named Andre (sorry, I meant) Cameron has returned to the home of the other man also named Jon.
NEBUCHADNEZZAR’S DREAM – A TORTUOUS RECAP
Cameron: Hi there, neighbor!
Jon: Whoa! How the heck did you get in the house?
Cameron: Your wife let me in so …
Jon: MABEL! CALL THE COPS!
Cameron: Mabel cannot hear you. She’s sedated and locked in the closet.
Jon: *Reaches for the phone*
Cameron: It’s no use, Jon. I cut the cable. I so enjoyed our last conversation. Why not settle down and we can continue it in a civilized fashion?
Cameron: Last time, we talked about why Jehovah’s Witnesses say that God’s Kingdom began ruling in 1914.*
|* See, AN ALTERNATIVE CONVERSATION WITH A NEIGHBOR – Watchtower, October 2014|
As we discussed, we find a key piece of evidence in a prophecy in chapter 4 of the Bible book of Daniel. Do you recall what is recorded there?
Cameron: And? … What is recorded there?
Jon: Ah c’mon, you’re not starting that whole ‘treating me like a moron’ routine again, are you?
Cameron: Play the game, Jon. If necessary I’ll use this duct tape to secure you to the chair until we’re done. I’m short on my hours this month.
Cameron: Pardon me?
Jon: Urrg. It was King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about a big tree, OK?
Cameron: That’s better, and well done you! *Pats Jon on the head* In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw an immense tree that reached clear to heaven. He heard a messenger of God command that the tree be cut down, but its stump and roots were to be left in the ground. …
Jon: I know. I’ve read it. You went over this the last time, remember?
Cameron: We’re going to do this my way, OK? After a period of “seven times,” the tree would grow again.*
|* We assume you, dear reader, have the attention span of a fruit fly and cannot find the reference to “seven times” even though a few lines up we already mentioned which Bible book and chapter we were talking about. So see Daniel 4:23-25.|
We also discussed why the prophecy has two fulfillments. Do you remember what the initial fulfillment was?
Jon: Yes. Yes I do.
Cameron: *Scowls then glances at the duct tape*
Jon: OK, OK. Nebuchadnezzar lost his sanity for a period of ‘seven years’* …
|* Jon actually said ‘seven times,’ but we substituted ‘years’ anyway. We’re hoping you don’t notice the continuity problem in the conversation later.|
Cameron: Precisely. Nebuchadnezzar temporarily lost his sanity, so his rulership was interrupted. But in the fabricated larger fulfillment of the prophecy, God’s rulership would in a way be interrupted for a period of seven times …
Jon: *Interjecting*… although, if I had to choose between crazies I’d rather talk with right now, I’d choose ol’ dribbling, grass-eating Nebby-boy.
Cameron: … which we established were seven years.
Jon: We did?
Cameron: As we saw, the seven times began when Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C.E.
Jon: 587 B.C.E.
Cameron: That’s right – 607. From then on, there were no more kings on earth who represented Jehovah God in ruling his people. However, at the end of the seven times, God would appoint a new Ruler over his people—someone in heaven. In other words, the end of the seven times would mark the start of the rulership of God’s heavenly Kingdom. Now, we already discussed when the seven times started. So if we can determine how long they lasted, then we will know when God’s Kingdom began ruling. Are you with me so far?
Jon: Sure. Nebuchadnezzar’s rule, which was at enmity with and cruelly oppressed God’s people, and which was taken away by God, symbolically represents God’s righteous rule over his people whose rule was taken away by … God … and then restored by … God … so … that he … would know … um … that God is ruler.
Cameron: Great. Let’s now consider the length of the seven times. I’ve just finished reading up on this subject to remind myself of all the eisegetical hops, skips and jumps it takes to get the desired result. I’ll try to befuddle you as well as I can.
JON WISHES FOR THE END – CAMERON IS ONLY JUST BEGINNING
Cameron: In the prophecy’s initial fulfillment involving Nebuchadnezzar, the seven times were evidently seven literal years. …
Jon: ‘Evidently’? How is it evident?
Cameron: It’s obvious.
Jon: Not to me. Explain.
Cameron: *Mumbles* … ‘iddan’ … Revelation … 3½ times … *snuffles* …
Jon: Revelation? What’s Revelation got to do with …? I’m sorry, I can’t … . Speak up.
Cameron: … 1,260 days x 2 … *stammers* … years.
Cameron: In the larger fulfillment we threw together involving God’s Kingdom, the seven times must be much longer than seven literal years.
Jon: Huh? Why must they?
Cameron: B-b-because they must! Recall that the seven times began when Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 B.C.E. …
Jon: 607 B.C.E.
Cameron: That’s right – 587. If we start counting from 587 B.C.E., seven literal years would take us to … HEY, HEY, what are you trying to pull! It’s 607 B.C.E! If we start counting from 607 B.C.E., seven literal years would take us to the year 600 B.C.E. But we can’t tie anything of significance, no matter how tenuous, to that year with regard to God’s rulership. So we have to think up something longer range than literal years.
Jon: But you’ve been harping on about how the seven times are seven literal years! How long are you saying they are now?
Cameron: As we considered before, centuries later when Jesus was here on earth, he indicated that the seven times had not yet ended.
Jon: Jesus doesn’t indicate anything about any ‘seven times.’ He doesn’t even mention them.
Cameron: Pretend he does. So this period of ‘seven times’ from 607 B.C.E … *mumbles* … Revelation … pyramids … 3½ times … *snuffles* … 1,260 days x 2 … *stammers* … Ezekiel … ‘a day for a year’ … *murmur* … Lackawanna Railroad … 2,520 years … *coughs* ends 1914 which is the start of Jesus’ rule as King of God’s Kingdom.
Cameron: But don’t worry your confused little head too much about the number jiggery-pokery because, if you are still unconvinced, we can point to how major world events – events that the Bible foretold for the last days – have happened only since 1914.
Jon: Like what?
Cameron: Jesus said at Matthew 24:7, concerning the time when he would start ruling in heaven: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another.” Notice that Jesus foretold food shortages and earthquakes during that time period. Our world has certainly seen a lot of that kind of trouble in the past century, hasn’t it?
Jon: It’s seen a lot of that kind of trouble in every century.
Cameron: Ahh no, see, there was never a world war before, was there? That trumps all the other wars. Do you recall when the first world war broke out?
Cameron: Well done y… Wait. What?
Jon: 1754 to 1763. In 1756 Europe was drawn in and then it became known as the Seven Years War.
Cameron: *Chuckling* Don’t be silly. The first world war was 1914.
Jon: Not according to many historians. Check it out.
Cameron: *Laughing* Why, the Seven Years War doesn’t even have the words ‘first’ and ‘world’ in its title! No, Jon. The first world war was in 1914. 1754 doesn’t fit with our imaginary fulfillments. You see, when we cobble together all these disjointed pieces – the prophecy about the seven times as well as other Bible prophecies concerning the time of the end – it really does a mind job. Jehovah’s Witnesses are convinced that Jesus began ruling as King of God’s Kingdom in 1914 and that the last days began in the same year,* and we are simply not going to budge from that illusion.
|* See chapter 9 of the book Our Current Spin On What the Bible Teaches for descriptions of undesirable human behavior from the apostle Paul’s day and a collection of cherry-picked statistics to convince you that things are really, really bad now, as well as digging up unverifiable invisible events and JW accomplishments to prove we’re definitely living in the last milliseconds of the last seconds of the last minutes of the last days.|
Jon: Yeah, it explains why you’re not wrapped too tight!
Cameron: It’s perfectly understandable. As I mentioned before, it took me a while and many indoctrination sessions to see it. But at the very least, I hope our discussion has helped you to see that even though the year 1914 isn’t specifically mentioned in the Bible, it doesn’t prevent Jehovah’s Witnesses from constructing some specious scriptural links.
Jon: Yes, as I said last time (I’m strangely getting déjà vu here), I’ve always been ‘impressed’ with this about you. I guess that is why this is all so mind-bendingly complicated.
Cameron: The more we talk, the more you’ll understand it our way.
*Distant thumping and muffled sounds*
Jon: Um … what’s that?
Cameron: That will be your wife coming around from her sedation and trying to get out of the closet … which is my cue to go. I’ll be back. I may return your lawnmower next time.
Jon: Keep it. (Mabel and I really should emigrate …)
Do you have a particular Bible subject that you have wondered about? Are you curious about any of the beliefs or religious practices of Jehovah’s Witnesses? If so, think twice about asking your Jehovah’s Witness neighbor. Instead visit jwfacts.com.