Jehovah Witness’ make the claim that Jesus heavenly kingdom was established in 1914 according the the biblical prophecy of Daniel about a great oak tree. Does their claim stand up to Biblical and historical criticism? Nope. And here is why.
From JW.org we can find the Watchtower’s explanation of why they think 1914 is the date of the establishment of Jesus’ kingdom in heaven the specific page is called “A significant year in Bible Prophecy”. In summary the argument is that the prophecy of Daniel is of the Rulership of Israel that ends when Jerusalem is taken captive by Babylon and that the prophesy declares that not for 2,520 years afterwords will there be a king in that reign. 2,250 years after the sack of Jerusalem gives the date 1914 and so it is at this time that Jesus is given his heavenly rulership. Below I’ve listed several reasons why such in interpretation is at best a huge leap of theological gymnastics or a downright unbiblical interpretation.
- The Prophecy is fulfilled already: The prophecy of a great tree being chopped down is interpreted by Daniel as a prophecy about Nebuchanezar that is fulfilled within the next decade historically speaking and fulfilled in the same chapter Biblically. (see Daniel 4:19-37) If this prophecy is to have a double meaning Witness’ must create a strong case for why it should be. From what I’ve seen, they don’t even seem to make much of an attempt.
- Daniel does not mention 2,520 years: Daniel does not say 2,250 years. In fact the prophecy in Daniel 4 does not even mention a empirical measurement of time at all, but simply says ‘seven times’, which could mean months, days or years. Witness’ play Biblical hopscotch and jump to Revelation 12:6, 14 to interpret ‘time, times, and half a time to mean 1,260 days in Revelation. First, they then assume ‘time, times, and half a time’ to mean three in a half years, which it may or may not mean. Second since revelation calls ‘time, times’ and half a time to mean’ 1,260 days they assume 7 times mentioned in Daniel must mean 2,520 days.
Finally, They then jump to Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6 for a conversion of days into years even though those verses also have their own fulfillment within their context. These verses say that a day signifies a year and so the 2,520 days should now mean 2,520 years. But once again they must illustrate why these conversions should be applied to Daniel. Furthermore, they must also prove why 2 Peter 3:8 where a day is 1,000 years to God shouldn’t be the conversion. In fact if were were to assume that Witness’ are right about part one it seems more likely that 1,000 years should be our conversion because there is no fulfillment mentioned for Peter while there are for Numbers and Ezekiel which Witness’ are using for their conversion. But if Peter’s conversion is used that would give us the date 2519393 not 1914. And yes I did read that right I did write the year two million five hundred and nineteen thousand three hundred and ninety three. 😆
- Jerusalem was sacked in 597B.C. not 607B.C.: Witness date of 1914 is dependent on Jerusalem being sacked in 597B.C., but every historian believes that Nebuchanezzar did not come to power till 604B.C. So, how then could he have sacked Jerusalem before? Historians actually agree that 597B.C. is the actual date for the fall of Jerusalem if that’s the case and if we were to assume that Jehovah Witness are right about the above two points, which they aren’t we would still end up with the date 1924.
So do we have reason to believe that Jesus has established his kingdom in 1917? Biblically speaking, no. The Jehovah Witness will need to make their case elsewhere.