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TIME IS RUNNING OUT
COUNTING OF TIME
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
In the United States of America in the 1800's, there arose a great interest in Bible Chronology. Leading the pack was Nelson H. Barbour, an early Adventist. The young (24) Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Watchtower Society, quickly fell under his influence and embraced the date 1874 as the date for the Lord's presence and harvest to begin. (See Zion's Watchtower & Herald of Christ's Presence, extra edition, April 25, 1894, p. 99). Later, Russell abandoned this date in favour of 1914.
ARE THESE DATES SCRIPTURAL ?
The Bible is used in these calculations, so we want to carefully consider the methods used to arrive at this date of 1914. Time periods are assigned by the Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses, to Bible ages which have no specified length. An example of this is found in connection with the Scripture at Luke 21:24, which reads,
"and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
THE TIME OF THE GENTILES
Obviously, the Bible does teach a time period called "The time of the Gentiles", but does not specify a time length. Jehovah's Witnesses have nevertheless assigned the "time of the Gentiles" a length of 2,520 years.
They arrived at this number by doubling another number found in Revelation, chapter 12, and changing the term "days" to "years". In the Revelation account a woman gives birth to a son. Verses 5 and 6 of Revelation 12 reads,
"And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that she might be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days."
Verse 14 of Revelation 12 is now considered, which reads,
"And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent."
"A time, times, and half a time" is now added up by Jehovah's Witnesses to total 3 1/2 times. So, in their reasoning, 3 1/2 times equals 1,260 days, or years. This figure is again expanded upon by turning to the Bible book of Daniel.
THE DANIEL LINK-UP
In Daniel, chapter 4, we find King Nebuchadnezzar troubled by his dreams. God is about to humble this King, and sent His servant Daniel to pronounce sentence on Nebuchadnezzar. The King hears his sentence from God,
"Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let a beast's mind be given to him and let seven periods of time pass over him." (Daniel 4:16).
As we read the remainder of Daniel, chapter 4, we find that, indeed, the King lost his mind for seven periods of time and acted like a beast in the field. Nebuchadnezzar learned his lesson well, and Daniel 4:34 records,
"But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation."
The truth of the dream's interpretation became a fact in the King's life and came to pass exactly as foretold by God's servant.
IS THERE A GREATER FULFILLMENT
OF THESE SEVEN TIME PERIODS?
This prophecy and its fulfillment seem to be complete at this time. There seems to be no apparent tie-in with "the times of the Gentiles" mentioned in Luke, or with the 1,260 days of Revelation, but this did not deter the Jehovah's Witnesses from inventing one.
HOW'S THAT AGAIN?
The seven periods of time that passed over King Nebuchadnezzar are said to be, by the Watchtower, the same as "the time of the Gentiles", since Nebuchadnezzar was one. Revelation mentions 3 1/2 times (with their peculiar interpretation) and they equate this with 1,260 days (changed to years). Why the time spent in the wilderness by the woman in Revelation is equated with the "time of the Gentiles" is unclear, since the male child referred to is obviously Jesus Christ, and He did not have a gentile mother! However, by doubling 3 1/2 to 7, and 1,260 to 2,520, the Jehovah's Witnesses arrive at 2,520 years as the length of the time of the Gentiles!
If the Lord had wanted us to know the exact length of time which is to pass in "the time of the Gentiles" mentioned in the Bible, then I am sure He could have told us plainly. Playing "number games" with unrelated Scriptures always results in embarrassment in the long run. Christians should leave second-guessing the Lord's perfect timing to the Cults!
DAYS INTO YEARS
Most groups who attempt to interpret Bible Chronology have the habit of changing the various Bible words for "days" into "years" without so much as a blush while doing so.
IS IT PROPER TO CHANGE "DAYS" OR
"PERIODS OF TIME" INTO YEARS?
Remember Daniel 4:23 said, "seven periods of time" would pass over King Nebuchadnezzar. The Hebrew word used here is "iddan", which means "a moment, a situation time, or time"according to the New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance. p. 1570. Why do we know this should not be arbitrarily changed from "periods of time" into "years"? Aside from the fact that "years" is not mentioned as a meaning, another Scripture, Daniel 4:34, refers to these same "seven times", but uses a clearer Hebrew word, "yowm". Page 48 of the Hebrew and Caldee Dictionary in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible states, "to be hot, a day (as the warm hours, whether lit., from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next)." This is the root meaning of "yowm".
Yes, Nebuchadnezzar's "seven times" were probably literal 24 hour days, not years, and were totally fulfilled during his lifetime. They should not be linked with unrelated portions of Scripture to try and make the "seven times" fulfilled on him expand into the entire "time of the Gentiles" mentioned in Luke 21:24, via a strange interpretation of Revelation 12.
EXACT DATES AND THE BIBLE
The dates, or the chronology in the Bible, is not absolute, but relative. Old Testament chronology ends at a point hundreds of years before the beginning of our Christian era, and no absolute dates are found in the Bible at all. Our Christian era extends back only about 2,000 years.
Events prior to that time can be related to each other in a relative way, but establishing these events in relation to our time frame and method of counting time is a difficult, if not impossible task. Since the Bible contains no absolute dates, scholars are forced to use secular dates as a basis for their Bible Chronology.
CHOOSING A SECULAR SOURCE
Jehovah's Witnesses have fluctuated over the years on the setting of an "absolute date", but finally settled on 539 BC as the correct date for the fall of Babylon. (WT 2-1-55, p. 93-95).
Counting back seventy years to accommodate Jeremiah 25:11 and 29:10 and the 70 year desolation period for Jerusalem, they conclude that Jerusalem was devastated in 607 BC. At various times they have quoted the following secular works to establish the 539 BC "absolute date", to fix all their later dates from. They are hard-pressed to find anyone to agree with their 607 BC date for the fall of Jerusalem.
This canon is a list of kings and their reign beginning with the Babylonian King Nabonassar (about 747 BC) and ending with the Roman Emperor Pius, about 900 years later. Ptolemy used about eighty solar, lunar, and planetary positions to augment his historical dates. Although the Watchtower at one time supported Ptolemy's Canon and declared it correct, we find in the Watchtower of December 15, 1977, page 747, that they called him a fraud. In any event, the majority of scholars agree that Ptolemy's Canon sets the date for Babylon's downfall at 538 BC, not 539 BC.
THE GREAT PYRAMID
The Watchtower supported their so-called "absolute date" of 539 BC with extensive measurements and calculations from the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, allowing "an inch for a year" (WT 6-15-22, p. 187). This nonsense has since been quietly dropped by the Society and never mentioned again. Various groups keep resurrecting the great pyramid from time-to-time likewise trying to set dates. 1914 is particularly popular with pyramid-based groups.
THE NABONIDUS CHRONICLES
This is a cuneiform tablet found near Baghdad in 1879. It fixes only the day that Babylon fell, namely, Tishri the 16th, or October 6-7, but not the exact year. The Watchtower of August 15, 1968, page 490 claimed that the year was definite in the Nabonidus Chronicle, but a later Watchtower reversed this (WT 5-15-71, p.'s 315 & 316) and admitted that only the day was known, not the year.
THE GREEK OLYMPIAD RECKONING
The Greek Olympiad era started in 776 BC, the first year of the first Olympiad. The Greeks held Olympic games much earlier, but the eras based on the games were first mentioned in historical sources in the 3rd century BC and date back to 776 BC.
This reckoning of time, then, is 500 years out of date before it even began! Copies of copies were used, and their exact accuracy is in question.
The Greek Olympiad does not support the 539 BC "absolute date" for the Watchtower either, and in fact establishes 587 BC as the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar, and the desolation of Jerusalem and its temple. The Watchtower desperately wants this date to be 607 BC, but no historical records will accommodate them!
Does this mean then that we can never set exact dates for Bible events? No, it does not, and we will explain further now.
PROBLEMS WITH ANCIENT DATES
Since Bible Chronology is all relative and not absolute, and the modern counting of time did not begin until the Christian era some 2,000 years ago, can we set accurate dates for Old Testament happenings?
We know the Old Testament began and ended at some point in time and we can relate all events to each other with accuracy, but pinpointing the dates in our stream of time is more difficult.
HOW BEST TO DETERMINE ANCIENT DATES
It is possible to establish accurate dates with the assistance of astronomically-fixed dates, provided the observation of, for example, eclipses, were correctly recorded by these ancient historians. An example would be, "in the 18th year of the reign of King "whatever" the moon was darkened, and the exact location of the other planets was a follows:...".
The Babylonians were accomplished astronomers in their day, and gave exact descriptions for the most part of these heavenly happenings and tied them to earthly events. In the cuneiform texts, we find they record days and months, time of day or night, duration of eclipse, whether total or partial, etc.
Ptolemy records a partial eclipse in great detail in the fifth year of King Nabopolassar. So great is the accuracy of details supplied, that modern astronomers know that this occurred on April 22nd, 621 BC, and can date Babylonian Chronology from that fixed point. The precise recording of the planetary positions given will not repeat again for thousands of years.
The astronomical texts for the Babylonian era have proven to be the most correct for determining Bible Chronology. The "STRM.400", the "VAT 4956" and "Ptolemy's Canon" support each other and the Bible writers, and have made possibly the most correct setting of dates for Bible events. The Watchtower dates, on the other hand, have no basis in Biblical or secular sources and have proven to be false in the past.
FALSE WATCHTOWER DATES
The so-called "absolute year" of 539 BC used by the Watchtower is without support and false. This fact sets off a whole string of equally false dates. The year 607 BC for the desolation of Jerusalem is likewise false. The "seven times" or "Gentile times" used by the Jehovah's Witnesses and calculated as 2,520 years is also incorrect and without Biblical basis.
Their "keystone year" of 1914 is likewise in error and it will soon be evident to all Jehovah's Witnesses when the generation of 1914 passes on with no fulfillment of their hopes for a new order to be ushered in. Certainly seekers after truth need to carefully examine the chronology used by their organization.
Obviously Christ has not been ruling by "an invisible presence" since 1874, later altered to 1914, a doctrine invented by Jehovah's Witnesses when their date for Christ's visible second coming failed. 1914 did not make the slightest difference to the Gentiles, so it appears their "time" has not ended. God did not allow His word to be distorted to agree with man's fleshly, uninspired speculation concerning time.
WHAT TIME PERIOD ARE WE IN
ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE?
We are presently in a time period called "The Day of Salvation". 2 Corinthians 6:1,2 reads, "And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain--for He says,
"At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you"; behold, now is "THE ACCEPTABLE TIME," behold, now is "THE DAY OF SALVATION."
THE DAY OF SALVATION
During this Day of Salvation there is still time to receive Christ's free gift of salvation. Ephesians 2:8,9 reads,
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."
Our "works" consist, not of selling the publications of some organization setting false dates, or seeking donations for them, but of believing in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus Himself said,
"This is the Work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." (John 6:29).
LET'S LOOK TO JESUS CHRIST
Belief in the Jesus Christ of the Bible results in salvation. The Jesus Christ of the Watchtower Society of Jehovah's Witnesses who is a secondary god, an archangel named Michael, and merely a man, is not the Jesus Christ of the Holy Scriptures. Write to us for further information.
A FOOTNOTE FOR
SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS
Just as the Jehovah's Witnesses' time reckoning is faulty, so the Seventh Day Adventists' use of the 2,300 days of Daniel 8:14 to arrive at their 1844 date is likewise false.
The Hebrew words translated "days" in Daniel 8:13 & 14 are not "years" as the Seventh Day Adventists publications have stated. The words translated "days" in the King James Bible are actually two Hebrew words, "ereb boqer", literally meaning "evening and morning".
Obviously a literal solar day of 24 hours is meant, and there is not the slightest justification for changing "evening-mornings" into years.
Check out our SDA section and links to other ministries for further information on Seventh Day Adventism and the Bible.
ETERNAL LIFE? YOU CAN COUNT ON IT!
HOW TO RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE FROM JESUS.
1. Realize that salvation is a gift freely given from Jesus to you. (Ephesians 2:8,9)
2. Decide to turn away from your false beliefs or unclean life. (Acts 3:19,20)
3. Receive Christ by praying and asking Him to come into your life as your Savior and Lord. (John 1:12 & 13)
Have you done this? Congratulations! You are now "BORN AGAIN"! (John 3:1-7)