God’s Kingdom ‘Comes’—When?
1. (a) Why should we “keep in expectation” of the end? (b) How may we ‘glorify our ministry,’ and with what confidence?
JUST when can we expect the Kingdom promises to come to grand fulfillment? To some who have served Jehovah faithfully for 20, 30, 40 or more years, “the end” may seem to have been delayed. But remember what God’s prophet Habakkuk tells us: “Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3) We do not need to know in advance “that day and hour” when the “great tribulation” will burst upon this world in all its fury. For the present, it is sufficient that we ‘glorify our ministry’ by proclaiming zealously the good news of the established kingdom. For we can be confident that, when the Kingdom preaching has been carried out to the extent that Jehovah wants it done, then “the end will come.”—Matthew 24:14, 21, 36; Romans 11:13.
2. (a) With regard to Jehovah’s timing of events, what is of interest? (b) When, and with what event, did the “last days” of the Jewish system get under way?
2 In connection with Jehovah’s timing of events, this fact is of interest: That God did reveal ahead of time the starting dates of the two most important periods in human history up to this present time. What are these? Both of them are judgment periods. The first of these periods was the “last days” of the Jewish system of things, and it got under way with the baptism of Jesus and his anointing as Messiah. (Joel 1:15; 2:28-32; Acts 2:17) Daniel’s prophecy, recorded more than 500 years ahead of time, pinpointed the year 29 C.E. as the start of those “last days.” How so?
Timing the Jewish “Last Days”
3, 4. (a) What are the “seventy weeks,” when did they start, and when end? (b) What events marked the last ‘week of years’ as important?
3 In Daniel 9:24-27 we read of a period of “seventy weeks of years” (An American Translation; Moffatt), or a total of 490 years, as starting “from the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem.”a When was that? The Bible account at Nehemiah 2:1-7 states that “in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king” of Persia, the king himself instructed his Jewish cupbearer, Nehemiah, to return to the city of his forefathers and “rebuild it.” According to secular history, this “twentieth year of Artaxerxes” would be 455 B.C.E. Counting 490 years from that date, we come to the year 36 C.E. Daniel’s prophecy tells us that the last ‘week of years,’ 29-36 C.E., is of special importance. And why?
4 It is because “from the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Leader, there will be seven weeks, also sixty-two weeks.” So Messiah would appear at the start of that seventieth week of years. This would also mark the start of the “last days” of the Jewish system of things, during the first seven years of which judgment period Messiah would confirm the Abrahamic covenant toward those Jews who accepted him. “At the half” of that week of years, that is, in 33 C.E., Messiah would be “cut off” in death, his own great sin-atoning sacrifice ‘causing sacrifice and gift offering [according to Israel’s law] to cease’ as being no longer of any value.—Hebrews 10:12, 18.
5. (a) What indicates that the Jews were well acquainted with the time feature of the “seventy weeks”? (b) Why were the Jews disappointed as to their expectation? (c) How true did Daniel’s prophecy prove to be?
5 No doubt the Jews were well acquainted with the time feature of the “seventy weeks,” for the Bible writer Luke tells us that in those days “the people were in expectation” of the Christ. (Luke 3:15) However, their hopes were pinned on the coming of a glorious warrior-king, who would lead the Jews to victory over their Roman oppressors. Their faith did not extend to their believing that Messiah would be “cut off,” murdered, in 33 C.E. Nor would they place credence in the prophetic warning that Jerusalem and its people would again undergo “an extermination.” But how true Daniel’s prophecy proved to be when Jerusalem was devastated by the Roman legions under General Titus in 70 C.E.!
Global “Last Days”—When?
6. What other date did Jehovah reveal ahead of time, and as the start of what?
6 However, what is the other starting date that Jehovah kindly revealed ahead of time? It is the start of “the last days” of Satan’s entire world system of things. (2 Timothy 3:1-5) These are the “critical times hard to deal with” that began earth wide in the year 1914 C.E.
7, 8. (a) How have keen Bible students regarded that date since 1880, and down into the 1980’s? (b) What statements of well-informed men of the world have likewise focused on 1914?
7 For 34 years prior to 1914, keen Bible students had been looking forward to that date. The Watchtower had frequently called advance attention to its significance from the year 1880 onward. And now, 68 years after 1914, we look back on that year as one pulsating with meaning. We are not alone in this. One well-informed writer referred to 1914 as the year when “the world, as it was known and accepted then, came to an end.”b Another described 1914 as starting “the modern era [which] everyone is acutely aware . . . could end in mass annihilation.”c—See also the book “Let Your Kingdom Come,” pages 127-140, 186-189.
8 More than 50 years after 1914, German statesman Konrad Adenauer reflected: “Thoughts and pictures come to my mind, . . . thoughts from before the year 1914 when there was real peace, quiet and security on this earth—a time when we didn’t know fear. . . . Security and quiet have disappeared from the lives of men since 1914.” And as late as November 1980, British statesman Harold Macmillan looked back on his 86 years of life and spoke wistfully of the “automatic progress” of Queen Victoria’s age. He said: “Everything would get better and better. This was the world I was born in. [But] suddenly, unexpectedly, one morning in 1914 the whole thing came to an end.”
9. (a) How did Bible students come to appreciate in advance that the year 1914 could be significant? (b) What interpretation of Daniel’s prophecy in Da chapter 4 led to this view?
9 How did earnest Bible students, now known as Jehovah’s Witnesses, appreciate 34 years ahead of time that 1914 would mark such a change? It was because the “faithful and discreet slave” (Matthew 24:45-47), made up of anointed Christians serving under their Master, Jesus Christ, was, in the words of Second Peter 1:19, ‘paying attention to the prophetic word as to a lamp shining in a dark place.’ Through the prophecy of Daniel chapter 4, they learned that the overthrow of the dynasty of King David in Jerusalem, which occurred in 607 B.C.E., would not mark forever the end of Jehovah’s rule in the earth. The “tree” of God’s kingly authority would sprout again. After “seven times,” or 2,520 years, of beastlike Gentile rule of the earth, it would be known again “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 4:14-17.
10. How does Messiah’s appearing in 1914 contrast with his first coming?
10 Yes, it would be in that calamitous year 1914 that the ‘lowly’ One who, at his first coming as Messiah, had been cruelly “cut off, with nothing for himself,” would appear again. But this time Christ comes invisibly, in heavenly glory, and all the holy angels with him, to “sit down on his glorious throne.” —Daniel 9:26; Matthew 25:31.
The “Generation” of 1914
11. (a) Which “generation” will not pass away before the things foretold by Jesus occur? (b) What may remaining ones of this “generation” expect to see?
11 At that time of the start of Christ’s presence, or parousia, he was unseen by human eyes. But that generation of 1914 certainly did see what happened here on earth as a “sign” of his presence and as “a beginning of sorrows” for mankind! (Matthew 24:8, Authorized Version) And the remaining ones of that generation of 1914 are still talking about it. Some of them will be talking about it right down to the time when the “great tribulation” wipes Satan’s wicked system of things off the face of our globe. For Jesus Christ himself assures us: “Truly I say to you that this generation [the generation that saw the ‘beginning of pangs of distress’ in 1914] will by no means pass away [completely] until all these things occur. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.”—Matthew 24:3, 8, 34, 35.
12. (a) What happenings beginning in 1914 should convince us of the accuracy of prophecy? (b) However, in what is our faith anchored? (c) On what does the “good news” focus?
12 The “sorrows” foretold to begin in 1914 burst upon the world scene with startling suddenness. And they continue to afflict mankind! They provide the convincing “sign” that 1914 marked the beginning of “the conclusion of the system of things.” However, our faith is not based simply on a date, such as 1914. Our faith is firmly anchored in the entire word of God, in the “good news” that was preached first by Jesus and his disciples, in the marvelous fulfillments of so many of the Bible prophecies in this, our day, and especially as these apply to and identify the “faithful and discreet slave” and his companion workers. It is “this good news of the kingdom,” the entire message of the Bible, that is the foundation of our faith. All of this focuses on Jesus Christ, God’s Son, whom he sent to earth to redeem mankind, and who now reigns gloriously in the established kingdom of the heavens. (Matthew 24:3, 14, 45-47; 25:31-33; Revelation 19:10) Having faith, we can appreciate also how the Kingdom will “come” for the salvation of all who love and practice righteousness. How will that be?
a See “Let Your Kingdom Come,” pages 58-66, for a complete discussion of this time feature.
b The book 1914, by James Cameron, published in 1959.
c Editorial, the Seattle Times, January 1, 1959.
[Box on page 14]
“SEVENTY WEEKS OF YEARS” (Daniel 9:24-27)
FROM the “going forth of the word” of king of Persia to Nehemiah in 455 B.C.E.
455 - 1 B.C.E. = 454 years
1 B.C.E. - 1 C.E. = 1 year
1 C.E. - 36 C.E. = 35 years
455 B.C.E. - 36 C.E. = 490 years
Messiah “cut off . . . at the half of the week,” April 33 C.E.
TO the end of special favor to Jews in 36 C.E. with conversion of Cornelius’ household
[Box on page 15]
“APPOINTED TIMES OF THE NATIONS” (Daniel 4:14-25; Luke 21:24-26)
Banding of Jehovah’s Sovereignty as Gentile Times start, 607 B.C.E.
“SEVEN TIMES” = 7×360 = 2,520 years
(See Revelation 12:6, 14; Ezekiel 4:6b)
607 - 1 B.C.E. = 606 years
1 B.C.E. - 1 C.E. = 1 year
1 C.E. - 1914 C.E. = 1,913 years
607 B.C.E. - 1914 C.E. = 2,520 years
Jehovah’s Sovereignty restored in Messianic Kingdom, 1914 C.E.