Why Many Now Living Have Opportunity Never to Die
THE time for God’s kingdom to begin administering all earth’s affairs is at hand. You may be among those to witness the grand blessings it will bring to mankind. That is no unfounded assertion. There is much evidence to back it up, including evidence that you have personally seen.
Many centuries ago Jehovah God revealed the specific time for the conferring of rulership upon the one whom he would designate to be king over the world of mankind. He used symbols to do so and transmitted some of the information by means of a dream.
That such means of communication were used by God to convey this vital information to men should not give rise to doubts. Consider what modern men now do in transmitting information. Cryptic messages are sent in code through space. Thereafter these coded messages are “unscrambled” by either men or machines. This manner of conveying information is purposeful. It conceals the meaning of the information from those not entitled to it.
Similarly, God’s use of symbolisms has not been without purpose. The understanding of such symbolisms requires diligent study. But many people are unwilling to take the time to understand, because of having no real love for God and truth. Hence, the “sacred secrets of the kingdom” remain hidden to them.—Matthew 13:11-15.
AN ANCIENT PROPHETIC DREAM
One of those “sacred secrets” is contained in the Bible book of Daniel. That book provides essentials for determining the time for the giving of royal authority to God’s appointed king. In the fourth chapter of that book you will find narrated a divinely sent dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. What was the intent or purpose of this dream and its fulfillment? The record states:
“That people living may know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that to the one whom he wants to, he gives it and he sets up over it even the lowliest one of mankind.”—Daniel 4:17.
The content of the dream was basically this: An immense tree was seen being chopped down at the command of a “holy one,” an angel. The stump of the tree was then banded to prevent it from sprouting. It was to remain thus banded amid the “grass of the field” for “seven times.”—Daniel 4:13-16.
What was the meaning of this dream? The inspired explanation of the prophet Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar was:
“The tree that you beheld, . . . it is you, O king, because you have grown great and become strong, and your grandeur has grown great and reached to the heavens, and your rulership to the extremity of the earth.
“And because the king beheld a watcher, even a holy one, coming down from the heavens, who was also saying: ‘Chop the tree down, and ruin it. However, leave its rootstock itself in the earth, but with a banding of iron and of copper, among the grass of the field, and with the dew of the heavens let it become wet, and with the beasts of the field let its portion be until seven times themselves pass over it,’ this is the interpretation, O king, and the decree of the Most High is that which must befall my lord the king. And you they will be driving away from men, and with the beasts of the field your dwelling will come to be, and the vegetation is what they will give even to you to eat just like bulls; and with the dew of the heavens you yourself will be getting wet, and seven times themselves will pass over you, until you know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind, and that to the one whom he wants to he gives it.
“And because they said to leave the rootstock of the tree, your kingdom will be sure to you after you know that the heavens are ruling.”—Daniel 4:20-26.
So this dream had an initial fulfillment upon King Nebuchadnezzar. For “seven times,” or seven literal years, Nebuchadnezzar was insane. His kingdom, however, was held secure for him so that, upon regaining soundness of mind, he again assumed his royal office.—Daniel 4:29-37.
KINGSHIP OF “THE LOWLIEST ONE OF MANKIND”
But this detailed account about the chopped-down tree was not limited in its fulfillment to King Nebuchadnezzar. How do we know this? Because, as stated in the vision itself, it relates to God’s kingdom and rulership by the one whom he designates. And who is God’s choice for the kingship? The answer given to King Nebuchadnezzar was: “the lowliest one of mankind.”—Daniel 4:17.
The facts of history prove undeniably that lowliness has not been displayed by human political rulers. Human governments and their rulers have exalted themselves and they have made a beastly record for themselves, waging sanguinary wars against one another. It should therefore come as no surprise that the Bible compares imperfect human governments or kingdoms to beasts and shows that all of them will eventually be deprived of their rulership. (Daniel 7:2-8) As to who will replace them, the Bible records these words of the prophet Daniel:
“I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! with the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him. His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin.”—Daniel 7:13, 14.
The one here described is none other than Jesus Christ, who is designated in the Scriptures as both the “Son of man” and as the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Matthew 25:31; Revelation 19:16) He willingly gave up his superior position in the heavens and became a man, a “little lower than angels.” (Hebrews 2:9; Philippians 2:6-8) As a man, Jesus Christ, even under extreme provocation, proved himself to be “mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” (Matthew 11:29) “When he was being reviled, he did not go reviling in return. When he was suffering, he did not go threatening, but kept on committing himself to the one who judges righteously.”—1 Peter 2:23.
The world of mankind viewed Jesus Christ as being of no account, refusing to accord him the honor he rightfully deserved. The situation was as had been foretold by the prophet Isaiah: “He was despised and was avoided by men, a man meant for pains and for having acquaintance with sickness. And there was as if the concealing of one’s face from us. He was despised, and we held him as of no account.”—Isaiah 53:3.
There can be no question that Jesus fits the description of “the lowliest one of mankind.” Hence, the prophetic dream about the chopped-down tree must point to the time when he would receive rulership over the world of mankind. This would be at the end of “seven times.” How long are these “times”? When do they start? When do they end?
THE LENGTH OF THE “SEVEN TIMES”
More than six centuries after Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, Jesus Christ appeared on the scene, declaring that “the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matthew 4:17) He could say this because he, as King-Designate, was present. But he did not at that time receive kingship over the world of mankind. Thus, on one occasion when others wrongly concluded that “the kingdom of God was going to display itself instantly,” Jesus Christ gave an illustration showing that a long period of time would be involved before his gaining such kingly power. (Luke 19:11-27) It is, therefore, clear that in the larger fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy the “seven times” cover a period, not of just seven years, but of many centuries.
The evidence is that these “seven times” amounted to 2,520 days, that is, seven prophetic years of 360 days each. This is confirmed in other parts of the Bible that mention “times,” “months” and “days.” For example, Revelation 11:2 speaks of a period of “forty-two months,” or three and a half years. In the next verse Re 11:3 the same period is mentioned as being “a thousand two hundred and sixty days.” Now, if you were to divide 1,260 days by 42 months, you would get 30 days for each month. A year of 12 months would therefore be 360 days long. On this basis, “seven times,” or seven years, would be 2,520 days long (7 x 360).
The correctness of this computation is verified by Revelation 12:6, 14, where 1,260 days are spoken of as “a time and times and half a time,” or ‘three and a half times’ (“three years and a half,” The New English Bible). Seven being the double of three and a half, “seven times” would equal 2,520 days (2 x 1,260).
Of course, as they relate to Jesus’ receiving the kingship over the world of mankind, the “seven times” of Daniel’s prophecy span a period of far more than 2,520 twenty-four-hour days. Is there any way to ascertain the length of each of these “days”? Yes, the Bible’s formula for prophetic days is: “A day for a year.” (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6) Applying this to the “seven times,” we see that they amount to 2,520 years.
THE START OF THE “SEVEN TIMES”
Knowing the length of the “seven times,” we are now in position to investigate when they began. Again we direct our attention to what happened to Nebuchadnezzar in fulfillment of the prophetic dream about the chopped-down tree. Consider his situation:
At the time that Nebuchadnezzar lost his sanity he was exercising world domination, for Babylon was then the number one power on earth. In Nebuchadnezzar’s case the cutting down of the symbolic tree meant a temporary break in his rule as a world sovereign.
The whole intent of what God did in Nebuchadnezzar’s case involved rule by the king of God’s own choice. Nebuchadnezzar’s losing his throne for “seven times” must therefore have been symbolic. Of what? Of a temporary break in rulership or sovereignty by God’s arrangement, since, in Nebuchadnezzar’s case, Jehovah God was the one who had permitted him to attain the position of world ruler and thereafter took that position away from him temporarily, as the king himself acknowledged. (Daniel 4:34-37) So what befell Nebuchadnezzar must have been symbolic of the removal of sovereignty from a kingdom of God. Hence, the tree itself represented world domination as regards the earth.
At one time the government that had its seat in Jerusalem was a kingdom of God. The rulers of the royal line of David were said to sit upon “Jehovah’s throne” and were under command to reign according to his law. (1 Chronicles 29:23) Jerusalem was therefore the seat of God’s government in a representative sense.
So when the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, and the land of its dominion was completely desolated, world rulership passed into Gentile hands without any interference from a kingdom representing Jehovah’s sovereignty. The Supreme Sovereign restrained himself from exercising his rulership in this way. This restraining of himself from wielding sovereignty over the earth by a kingdom of his is likened to the banding of the remaining tree stump. At the time of its destruction and total desolation Jerusalem, as the capital city representing the governmental expression of Jehovah’s sovereignty, began to be “trampled on.” That means, therefore, that the “seven times” had their start at the time that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and the land of Judah was completely desolated. When did that event occur?
The Bible and secular history can be used to establish 607 B.C.E. as the date for this event.a The evidence is as follows:
Secular historians are in agreement that Babylon fell to Cyrus the Persian in the year 539 B.C.E. This date is substantiated by all available historical records of ancient times. The Bible reveals that in his first year of rule, Cyrus issued a decree permitting the exiled Israelites to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. There being first the brief rule of Darius the Mede over Babylon, Cyrus’ first year of rule toward Babylon evidently extended from 538 to 537 B.C.E. (Daniel 5:30, 31) As considerable distance in traveling was involved, it must have been by the “seventh month” of 537 B.C.E. (rather than 538 B.C.E.) that the Israelites were back in their cities, ending the desolation of Jerusalem and the land of Judah. (Ezra 3:1, 6) Nevertheless, they remained under Gentile domination, and therefore spoke of themselves as ‘slaves upon their own land.’—Nehemiah 9:36, 37.
The Bible book of Second Chronicles (36:19-21) shows that a period of seventy years passed from the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the desolation of its domain until the restoration. It says:
“He [Nebuchadnezzar] proceeded to burn the house of the true God and pull down the wall of Jerusalem; and all its dwelling towers they burned with fire and also all its desirable articles, so as to cause ruin. Furthermore, he carried off those remaining from the sword captive to Babylon, and they came to be servants to him and his sons until the royalty of Persia began to reign; to fulfill Jehovah’s word by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid off its sabbaths. All the days of lying desolated it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”
Counting back seventy years from the time the Israelites arrived back in their cities, that is, in 537 B.C.E., brings us to 607 B.C.E. It was in that year, therefore, that Jerusalem, the seat of God’s government in a representative sense, began to be trampled on by Gentile nations.
THE END OF THE “SEVEN TIMES”
Jesus Christ referred to this trampling on Jerusalem when he said to his disciples: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24) Those “appointed times” were to end 2,520 years after 607 B.C.E. This would be in the year 1914 C.E. Did the trampling on Jerusalem cease then?
True, the earthly city of Jerusalem did not witness the restoration of a king in the royal line of David in 1914 C.E. But such a thing was not to be expected. Why not? The earthly city of Jerusalem no longer had any holy significance from God’s viewpoint. While on earth, Jesus Christ stated: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her—how often I wanted to gather your children together in the manner that a hen gathers her brood of chicks under her wings, but you people did not want it! Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” (Luke 13:34, 35) Moreover, the kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ is not an earthly government with Jerusalem or any other city as its capital. It is a heavenly kingdom.
Hence, it was in the invisible heavens that the year 1914 C.E. witnessed the fulfillment of Revelation 11:15: “The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.” What Jerusalem represented, that is, the Messianic government ruling with divine approval, was then no longer being trampled on. Once again there was a king of the Davidic dynasty who, by divine appointment, exercised rulership over the affairs of mankind. The visible events that have taken place here on earth in fulfillment of Bible prophecy since 1914 C.E. prove that this is the case.
One of these prophecies is found in the sixth chapter of the Bible book of Revelation 6. There the giving of royal authority to Jesus Christ and the events following it are described in symbolic terms.
Of Jesus’ receiving the kingship the account says: “Look! a white horse; and the one seated upon it had a bow; and a crown was given him, and he went forth conquering and to complete his conquest.” (Revelation 6:2) Later on, the book of Revelation unmistakably identifies the rider on that horse, saying: “Look! a white horse. And the one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. . . . And upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”—Revelation 19:11-16.
As to what would happen here on earth after Jesus’ receiving the “crown” of active kingship over the world of mankind, Revelation chapter 6 continues:
“Another came forth, a fiery-colored horse; and to the one seated upon it there was granted to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another; and a great sword was given him. And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say: ‘Come!’ And I saw, and, look! a black horse; and the one seated upon it had a pair of scales in his hand. . . . And when he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say: ‘Come!’ And I saw, and, look! a pale horse; and the one seated upon it had the name Death. And Hades was closely following him. And authority was given them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with a long sword and with food shortage and with deadly plague and by the wild beasts of the earth.”—Re 6 Vss. 4-8.
Have not these words been fulfilled? Did not the sword of global warfare rage from 1914 onward? Indeed! World War I witnessed the slaughter of humans on a scale never known before. Over nine million combatants died from wounds, disease and other causes. Civilian deaths directly or indirectly resulting from the war also ran into the millions. The second world war snuffed out an even greater number of lives. It claimed an estimated fifty-five million civilians and combatants.
Did not food shortage, like a black horse, stalk through the earth? Yes, in many parts of Europe there was famine during and after the World War I period. In Russia millions died. After the second world war came what The World Book Encyclopedia (1973) describes as “the greatest world-wide shortage of food in history.” And today the grim fact is that one out of every three people on earth is slowly starving or suffering from malnutrition.
Deadly plague also took its toll. In a matter of months, during 1918-1919, the Spanish influenza epidemic alone killed about 20,000,000. No single disaster had ever before caused such a mammoth destruction of life among mankind.
Truly these things have been too big to escape notice. Says Joseph Carter, in his book 1918 Year of Crisis, Year of Change: “In that autumn [of 1918], horror was piled on horror, for three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse—war, famine, and pestilence—were indeed abroad.” To this day the symbolic horsemen have not stopped their ride.
Thus there exists visible evidence that in 1914 C.E. the restraining bands were removed from the symbolic tree stump of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Jehovah God began exercising authority through the kingdom of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. But why did this not improve conditions on earth? Why has the time of Christ’s being given ruling authority over mankind been associated with trouble?
This is because Satan the Devil is against God’s kingdom by Christ. He fought against it at the time of its being given authority over mankind. But he lost the battle and was ousted along with his demons from the holy heavens. Enraged, he and his demons are stirring up all the trouble they can among mankind to bring everyone and everything to ruin. That is why, after describing the war in heaven and its outcome, the Bible account continues: “Be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Revelation 12:7-12.
How short is that period of time remaining to the Kingdom’s adversary? Jesus Christ revealed that the time of his coming in Kingdom glory and the removal of the ungodly system of things would fall within the lifetime of one generation of people. He said: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.”—Matthew 24:3-42.
Hence, some of the generation alive in 1914 C.E. must be among the people to witness Jesus’ completing his conquest and taking full control of earth’s affairs. That also means that many now living have the opportunity never to die. How so?
WHY MANY NOW LIVING WILL NOT EXPERIENCE DEATH
In completing his conquest, Jesus Christ as king will take action only against those who refuse to submit to his rulership. When comforting fellow believers who were suffering persecution, the inspired apostle Paul wrote of this, saying: “It is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for you, but, to you who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength.”—2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.
Certainly not all persons refuse to “know” or recognize God’s authority in their lives. Not all are disobedient to the ‘good news about Jesus Christ.’ Though few, when compared with the world’s population, there is a body of Christians who are striving hard to prove themselves to be devoted servants of God and loyal disciples of Jesus Christ. Those whom the day of divine execution finds exclusively devoted to Jehovah God can rest assured that they will not be swept away by that judgment. The Bible says:
“These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore, neither will the sun beat down upon them nor any scorching heat, because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.”—Revelation 7:14-17.
The prospect before the great crowd of “tribulation” survivors is, not death, but life. The “Lamb,” that is, the Lord Jesus Christ, will be guiding them to “fountains of waters of life.” This is not life for merely seventy or eighty years, but forever. He will be applying to them the benefits of his sin-atoning sacrifice, liberating them from sin and its death-dealing effects. As they obediently respond to his help, they will attain to human perfection, with no need to die.
There will be no interference from Satan and his demonic horde to hinder their progress. After the “great tribulation” has brought an end to the earthly wicked system of things, Satan will be abyssed for a thousand years. The Bible’s symbolic description of this event reads: “I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, that he might not mislead the nations.” (Revelation 20:1-3) Thus, as if dead, Satan and his demons will be in no position to cause trouble for humankind.
The Bible clearly pinpoints the generation alive in 1914 C.E. as the one that will yet witness the ushering in of Kingdom rule free from Satanic interference. Hence, many living today will have the opportunity never to die. They will survive the destruction of the present ungodly system and thereafter gradually be freed from sin and brought to human perfection. As sinless humans they will then be exempt from sin’s wages—death.—Romans 6:23.
This makes it urgent for you to place yourself on the side of the King Jesus Christ, if you have not already done so, and to live now as one of his loyal subjects. That is what Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are endeavoring to do, and they are eager to assist others to do the same.
a Modern secular historians do not generally present 607 B.C.E. as the date for this event, but they are dependent on the writings of men who lived centuries after it happened. On the other hand, the Bible contains testimony from eyewitnesses, and it sets out factors that are ignored by secular writers. Furthermore, the fulfillment of Bible prophecy at the end of the “seven times” establishes the date beyond doubt. As to why the Bible’s chronological data is more reliable than secular history, see the book Aid to Bible Understanding, pp. 322-348.