The following article is taken from JW.ORG at the following address: http://www.jw.org/en/bible-teachings/questions/daniel-4-bible-chronology-1914/
The paragraphs have been numbered so that comments can be matched to the source. The text of Daniel 4 has been added add the end of this article for easier reference.
The Bible’s answer
1. Bible chronology indicates that God’s Kingdom was established in heaven in 1914. This is shown by a prophecy recorded in chapter 4 of the Bible book of Daniel.
2. Overview of the prophecy. God caused King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to have a prophetic dream about an immense tree that was chopped down. Its stump was prevented from regrowing for a period of “seven times,” after which the tree would grow again.—Daniel 4:1, 10-16.
3. The prophecy’s initial fulfillment. The great tree represented King Nebuchadnezzar himself. (Daniel 4:20-22) He was figuratively ‘chopped down’ when he temporarily lost his sanity and kingship for a period of seven years. (Daniel 4:25) When God restored his sanity, Nebuchadnezzar regained his throne and acknowledged God’s rulership.—Daniel 4:34-36.
4. Evidence that the prophecy has a greater fulfillment. The whole purpose of the prophecy was that “people living may know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that he gives it to whomever he wants, and he sets up over it even the lowliest of men.” (Daniel 4:17) Was proud Nebuchadnezzar the one to whom God ultimately wanted to give such rulership? No, for God had earlier given him another prophetic dream showing that neither he nor any other political ruler would fill this role. Instead, God would himself “set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.”—Daniel 2:31-44.
5. Previously, God had set up a kingdom to represent his rulership on earth: the ancient nation of Israel. God allowed that kingdom to be made “a ruin” because its rulers had become unfaithful, but he foretold that he would give kingship to “the one who has the legal right.” (Ezekiel 21:25-27) The Bible identifies Jesus Christ as the one legally authorized to receive this everlasting kingdom. (Luke 1:30-33) Unlike Nebuchadnezzar, Jesus is “lowly in heart,” just as it was prophesied.—Matthew 11:29.
6. What does the tree of Daniel chapter 4 represent? In the Bible, trees sometimes represent rulership. (Ezekiel 17:22-24; 31:2-5) In the greater fulfillment of Daniel chapter 4, the immense tree symbolizes God’s rulership.
7. What does the tree’s being chopped down mean? Just as the chopping down of the tree represented an interruption in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingship, it also represented an interruption in God’s rulership on earth. This happened when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, where the kings of Israel sat on “Jehovah’s throne” as representatives of God himself.—1 Chronicles 29:23.
8. What do the “seven times” represent? The “seven times” represent the period during which God allowed the nations to rule over the earth without interference from any kingdom that he had set up. The “seven times” began in October 607 B.C.E., when, according to Bible chronology, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians. *—2 Kings 25:1, 8-10.
9. How long are the “seven times”? They could not be merely seven years as in Nebuchadnezzar’s case. Jesus indicated the answer when he said that “Jerusalem [a symbol of God’s rulership] will be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24) “The appointed times of the nations,” the period during which God allowed his rulership to be “trampled on by the nations,” are the same as the “seven times” of Daniel chapter 4. This means that the “seven times” were still under way even when Jesus was on earth.
10. The Bible provides the way to determine the length of those prophetic “seven times.” It says that three and a half “times” equal 1,260 days, so “seven times” equal twice that number, or 2,520 days. (Revelation 12:6, 14) Applying the prophetic rule “a day for a year,” the 2,520 days represent 2,520 years. Therefore, the “seven times,” or 2,520 years, would end in October 1914.—Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6.
Non-JW Critique of Article
Title should be “Does the Bible indicate anything regarding 1914?” Or, based on the verses included below: “Is the very concept of ‘Bible Chronology” still valid?”
1. The Bible indicates nothing about 1914. The attempt to make Daniel 4 refer to 1914 is especially problematic.
2. & 3. Excellent summary, except for unwarranted addition of “initial.” (See below).
3. The word ‘initial” is incorrect because there is no hint in Daniel of an additional fulfillment. Also, direct statements in Daniel 4 indicate no other fulfillment:
Of course, the dream’s lesson or purpose (that God is always in control) can apply to any ruler, yet the dream itself was fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar.
4. There is no evidence of another “fulfillment.” The article merely focuses on the word “want” and then plays on the idea of what God would “ultimately” want. Surely, God could never want this proud, wicked, pagan, Gentile king to “ultimately” have rulership. However, God’s “will” must include what God “allows.” “What God might want to allow” becomes “what God must ultimately want in the future.” This negates the Bible’s own clear statement about the interpretation. Illogically, the article says that just because Jehovah didn’t “ultimately” want Nebuchadnezzar to reign forever, then this must really be about a “kingdom that would never be destroyed,” something never hinted at in the dream, the interpretation or the entire chapter.
5. The article claims, then, that the dream is ultimately about “the one who has the legal right,” Christ Jesus. Yet, the lesson is “that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the lowest of men.” (ASV) The “kingdom of God” is never called the “kingdom of men,” so it’s NOT appropriate to say it’s about God’s kingdom through Christ. It’s about the kingdom of men, of nations, and how God can give rulership to even the lowest of men. Proud rulers credit their own greatness, but it’s only if God wants to allow it, and it’s not ultimately in the ruler’s control. Even for someone like Nebuchadnezzar!
The article admits that Jesus is NOT like Nebuchadnezzar, in a weak attempt to call Jesus the “lowest of mankind” because he was “lowly in heart.” Really? This is merely a play on the word “low.” Was Jesus “brought low” to prove just how base, undeserving, insane and beastly he was? Obviously not!
6. Yes, a tree can represent rulership, in this case, Nebuchadnezzar’s pagan, Gentile rulership that trampled on Jerusalem. How can it symbolize the opposite: God’s Messianic rulership that restores Jerusalem so that it is no longer trampled?
7. The twisted illogical absurdity is spelled out: “Nebuchadnezzar’s kingship,… represented…God’s rulership” The dream was about Nebuchadnezzar being chopped down by angels. So how could there be a “greater” fulfillment where Nebuchadnezzar was the angel chopping down Jehovah’s throne!?!?
8. The seven times simply “represent” the time Nebuchadnezzar was insane, predicted so he’d know the Most High had ultimate control. (Trying to make it about a time period ending in 1914, also creates a later problem: nations continue both to rule and interfere with Jehovah’s Witnesses, who claim to represent that Kingdom today.)
Even worse, Bible chronology does not support claims about Jerusalem’s destruction in 607 BCE. In fact, the Bible aligns closely with secular chronology, supporting 587/6 BCE, [link] a fact that would otherwise be celebrated by JW’s as evidence of the Bible’s historical correctness. There is no evidence for 607, and literally thousands of pieces evidence against it [link]. The article moves from illogical interpretation to dishonesty by claiming it’s “according to Bible chronology.”
9. The “seven times” of Daniel 4 indicated the time when a certain Gentile king could NOT trample Jerusalem. However, the “Gentile Times” of Luke 21:24 indicated a time when Gentiles would trample on Jerusalem. The context of Luke speaks of seeing Jerusalem surrounded by armies. There was a Roman war against Jerusalem from about 66 to 70 CE. Because this was future, the seven times were clearly NOT under way since 607 BCE. With no explanation or apology, the interruption of Gentile rulership is simply interpreted to mean the time when the Gentiles would rule.
10. By now it should be clear that the “seven times” are not relevant to 1914:
There is an even clearer way to show that the “seven times” of Daniel 4 are not the same as Luke 21:24’s “times of the nations” (aka “Gentile Times). Revelation 12:6, cited, says those Gentile Times are 1,260 days, NOT 2,520!
In fact, for several centuries before Russell was even born, the only number any Bible expositor ever associated with the “Gentile Times” was based on the 1,260 (days or years). But 1,260 didn’t even reach back to Biblical times, so it wasn’t worth much to anyone who wanted to claim that their own generation was Biblically significant. (See discussion.)
But in the early 1800’s there was a breakthrough This site as an article “1914 – History of Teaching” where you’ll see that long before Russell was aware of it, there were people in the 1800’s pointing to “seven times” that would run from 604 BCE to 1917. Soon afterwards some expositors stopped associating it with the The first person to show this in 1823 got his “7 times” from Leviticus, and the “Gentile Times” were, for him, 1,260 days ending in 1844. Adventists, especially, had made adjustments to these dates in the 1800’s so that 1844, 1874, 1878, 1881 were beginning to be considered more significant. And some Adventists, like Seiss in 1870 and Barbour in 1875, were seriously considering E.B.Elliot’s huge 1844 commentary on Revelation that had included one alternative for the seven times, ending in 1914. Russell became convinced of it around 1876.
In fact, this can help explain why the article says that Jerusalem was destroyed in October. Before Russell was around, Barbour and other Adventists had already decided that October was the month for these prophecies to come true. So, if you look up the Bible account in 2 Kings 24:10-12 you can see that Jerusalem was seized in March, which agrees with the Babylonian Chronicles BM 21946. 2 Kings 25:2-4, Jeremiah 39:2 and 52:5-11 shows that Jerusalem was finally captured in July. And 2 Kings 25:8-10 shows that the Temple was burned and Jerusalem destroyed in August. Why October, when not even the revised calendar in the NWT shows any October dates for these events? Simple, October had been decided before Russell even came onto the scene of such prophecies.
The Millerites final date for Christ’s return was:
These dates are so ingrained that it doesn’t matter if the Bible says August, JWs say October! Historically, it’s also possible to discover the probable mistake that Barbour made when reading E B Elliott’s commentary on Revelation that made him think 606 was the destruction of Jerusalem.
Why October? That’s actually a key that is often overlooked. It was early in the 19th century, long before Russell was born, that the year 1914 had already been determined to be a valid date for the end of the “seven times” (see 1914 – History of the Doctrine.) This was not based on Daniel, it was based on Leviticus. Also, before Russell learned of this teaching, the month of October had already become ingrained among Second Adventists, starting with William Miller, then … and … and … Note:
The problem was that all of the methods of calculating the dates of Jesus’ return related to Leviticus and William Miller’s methods were dismissed as false. Nelson Barbour taught that Daniel 4 pointed to 1914, and Russell later accepted it. But Russell admitted that he considered it one of the less important methods that supported the other methods, which were all an extension of Miller’s methods, which he spoke of much more often, and called them “God’s dates”. Even Rutherford spoke of methods extended from Miller that reached 1925, as much more … even than 1914.
But those methods were dropped and all they had left was this up-side-down method, of attaching 2,520 years to the chopping down of a pagan Gentile, and saying that this was now the new calculation of the 1,260 years that the Bible had attached to the chopping down of the non-pagan, non-Gentile rulership. Nebuchadnezzar meant Jesus. 1,260 meant 2,520. Gentile meant non-Gentile. It even required using the wrong year for the destruction of Jerusalem. It even required using the wrong month. All because the October 1914 date had already been accepted and they had to work backwards. In fact, Russell didn’t know for sure if there was a zero year, when he found out there was, it was either going to be a moving of October 1914 5o October 1915, or it would mean changing the date from 606 to 607. It didn’t make any difference, and both fixes were tried.
dates of 1844, adding 30 years for Christ’s age at baptism to reach 1874, and then adding another 40 years of “harvest” determined to be the length of time from Jesus baptism to the destruction of Rome in 70 CE. That reached 1914. That was the strong method, and Daniel was a way of confirming it if one allowed that the 7 times meant 2,520 days, which meant years, and that they started in 606 BCE. Even without worrying what year Jerusalem was destroyed (it was 587/6 not 607/6), we can know the month that the Bible gives.
In the seventh year (of Nebuchadnezzar-599 BC.) in the month Chislev (Nov/Dec) the king of Babylon assembled his army, and after he had invaded the land of Hatti (Syria/Palestine) he laid siege to the city of Judah. On the second day of the month of Adar (16 March) he conquered the city and took the king (Jeconiah) prisoner. He installed in his place a king (Zedekiah) of his own choice, and after he had received rich tribute, he sent forth to Babylon.
Daniel Chapter 4 from New World Translation – 2013 Revision