Daniel’s Prophetic Days and Our Faith
“Happy is the one who is keeping in expectation and who arrives at the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days!”—DANIEL 12:12.
1. Why do many fail to find real happiness, and to what is true happiness linked?
EVERYONE wants to be happy. Today, though, very few are. Why? In part because most look for happiness in the wrong places. Happiness is sought in such things as education, wealth, a career, or the pursuit of power. Jesus, though, in the opening of his Sermon on the Mount, linked happiness with having a consciousness of one’s spiritual need, mercy, purity in heart, and similar qualities. (Matthew 5:3-10) The kind of happiness Jesus spoke of is real and lasting.
2. According to prophecy, what would lead to happiness in the time of the end, and what questions arise regarding this?
2 For the anointed remnant in the time of the end, happiness is linked with something additional. In the book of Daniel, we read: “Go, Daniel, because the words are made secret and sealed up until the time of the end. Happy is the one who is keeping in expectation and who arrives at the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days!” (Daniel 12:9, 12) What time period did these 1,335 days cover? Why were those living through them happy? Does this have anything to do with our faith today? We are helped to answer these questions if we look back to the time when Daniel wrote these words, soon after Israel’s release from captivity in Babylon and in the third year of Cyrus the king of Persia.—Daniel 10:1.
A Restoration Brings Happiness
3. What act by King Cyrus brought great happiness to faithful Jews in 537 B.C.E., but what privilege did Cyrus not give to the Jews?
3 For the Jews, release from Babylon was an occasion for real jubilation. After the Jews had endured almost 70 years of exile, Cyrus the Great invited them to return to Jerusalem to rebuild Jehovah’s temple. (Ezra 1:1, 2) Those who responded set out with high hopes, arriving in their homeland in 537 B.C.E. However, Cyrus did not invite them to restore a kingdom under a descendant of King David.
4, 5. (a) When was the Davidic kingship overthrown? Why? (b) What assurance did Jehovah give that the Davidic kingship would be restored?
4 That was significant. Some five centuries earlier, Jehovah had promised David: “Your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast to time indefinite before you; your very throne will become one firmly established to time indefinite.” (2 Samuel 7:16) Unhappily, most of David’s royal descendants proved rebellious, and the nation’s bloodguilt became so great that in 607 B.C.E., Jehovah allowed the Davidic kingship to be overthrown. Apart from a short period under the Maccabees, Jerusalem was under foreign domination from then until its second destruction in 70 C.E. Thus, in 537 B.C.E., “the appointed times of the nations,” during which no son of David would rule as king, were under way.—Luke 21:24.
5 Nevertheless, Jehovah did not forget his promise to David. By a series of visions and dreams, he revealed through his prophet Daniel details of future world events that would span the centuries from the time of world domination by Babylon to the time when a king in the line of David would once again rule in a kingdom of Jehovah’s people. These prophecies, recorded in Daniel chapters 2, 7, 8, and Da 10-12, assured faithful Jews that, eventually, David’s throne truly would “become one firmly established to time indefinite.” Surely, such revealed truth brought happiness to those Jews who returned to their homeland in 537 B.C.E.!
6. How do we know that some of Daniel’s prophecies were to be fulfilled in our time?
6 Most Bible commentators claim that Daniel’s prophecies were fulfilled almost in their entirety before the birth of Jesus Christ. But this is clearly not the case. At Daniel 12:4, an angel tells Daniel: “Make secret the words and seal up the book, until the time of the end. Many will rove about, and the true knowledge will become abundant.” If the book of Daniel was to be unsealed—its meaning fully revealed—only in the time of the end, surely at least some of its prophecies must apply to that period.—See Daniel 2:28; 8:17; 10:14.
7. (a) When did the appointed times of the nations end, and what urgent question had to be answered then? (b) Who were not “the faithful and discreet slave”?
7 In 1914 the appointed times of the nations ended, and the time of the end for this world began. The Davidic Kingdom was restored, not in earthly Jerusalem, but invisibly in “the clouds of the heavens.” (Daniel 7:13, 14) At that time, because “the weeds” of counterfeit Christianity were flourishing, the situation of true Christianity was not clear—at least to human eyes. Nevertheless, an important question had to be answered: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave?” (Matthew 13:24-30; 24:45) Who would represent on earth the restored Davidic Kingdom? Not Daniel’s fleshly brothers, the Jews. They had been rejected because they lacked faith and stumbled over the Messiah. (Romans 9:31-33) In no way was the faithful slave found among the organizations of Christendom! Their wicked works proved that Jesus did not know them. (Matthew 7:21-23) Who, then, was it?
8. Who have proved to be “the faithful and discreet slave” during the time of the end? How do we know?
8 Without any doubt at all, it was the small body of anointed brothers of Jesus who in 1914 were known as the Bible Students but since 1931 have been identified as Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10) Only they have publicized the restored Kingdom in the line of David. (Matthew 24:14) Only they have remained separate from the world and magnified Jehovah’s name. (John 17:6, 14) And only on them have Bible prophecies relating to God’s people in the last days been fulfilled. Among these prophecies is the series of prophetic periods listed in Daniel chapter 12 that includes the 1,335 days that would bring happiness.
The 1,260 Days
9, 10. What events characterized the “time, and times and half a time” of Daniel 7:25, and in which other scriptures is a parallel time period mentioned?
9 At Daniel 12:7, we read of the first prophetic period: “It will be for an appointed time, appointed times and a half. And as soon as there will have been a finishing of the dashing of the power of the holy people to pieces, all these things will come to their finish.”* This same period is mentioned at Revelation 11:3-6, which says that God’s witnesses would preach in sackcloth for three and a half years and then be killed. Again, at Daniel 7:25, we read: “He will speak even words against the Most High, and he will harass continually the holy ones themselves of the Supreme One. And he will intend to change times and law, and they will be given into his hand for a time, and times and half a time.”
10 In this latter prophecy, “he” is the fifth world power counting from Babylon. It is the “horn, a small one,” during whose time of power the Son of man receives “rulership and dignity and kingdom.” (Daniel 7:8, 14) This symbolic horn, originally imperial Britain, developed during the first world war into the Anglo-American dual world power, now dominated by the United States. For three and a half times, or years, this power would harass the holy ones and try to change times and law. Finally, the holy ones would be given into its hand.—See also Revelation 13:5, 7.
11, 12. What events led up to the start of the 1,260 prophetic days?
11 How were all these parallel prophecies fulfilled? For years before World War I, Jesus’ anointed brothers publicly warned that 1914 would see the conclusion of the appointed times of the nations. When war broke out, it was evident that the warning had been ignored. Satan used his “wild beast,” the world political organization then dominated by the British Empire, in an effort to “change times and law,” to put off the time when God’s Kingdom would rule. (Revelation 13:1, 2) He failed. God’s Kingdom was established in heaven, far out of human reach.—Revelation 12:1-3.
12 For the Bible Students, the war meant a time of testing. Since January 1914 they had been showing the Photo-Drama of Creation, a Biblical presentation that drew attention to Daniel’s prophecies. In the summer of that year in the Northern Hemisphere, war broke out. In October, the appointed times ended. By the end of the year, the anointed remnant were expecting persecution, as seen from the fact that the yeartext chosen for 1915 was Jesus’ question to his disciples, “Are ye able to drink of my cup?” based on Matthew 20:22, King James Version.
13. How did the Bible Students preach in sackcloth during the 1,260 days, and what happened at the end of that period?
13 Hence, from December 1914, this small band of witnesses ‘preached in sackcloth,’ humbly enduring as they announced Jehovah’s judgments. A shock to many was, in 1916, the death of C. T. Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. As war fever took hold, they encountered mounting opposition. Some were imprisoned. Individuals, such as Frank Platt in England and Robert Clegg in Canada, were tortured by sadistic authorities. Finally, on June 21, 1918, J. F. Rutherford, the new president, together with the directors of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, was sentenced on false charges to a long term in prison. Thus, at the end of the prophetic period, the “little horn” killed the organized public preaching work.—Daniel 7:8, King James Version.
14. How did things change for the anointed remnant in 1919 and thereafter?
14 The book of Revelation prophesies what happened next. After a short period of inactivity—foretold as three and a half days of lying dead in the street—the anointed remnant became alive and active again. (Revelation 11:11-13) On March 26, 1919, the president and the directors of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society were released, and they were later totally exonerated of the false charges against them. Immediately after their release, the anointed remnant began to reorganize for further activity. Thus, in fulfillment of the first woe of Revelation, they came out of the abyss of inactivity like spiritual locusts accompanied by thick smoke, portending a dark future for false religion. (Revelation 9:1-11) During the next few years, they were spiritually nourished and prepared for what lay ahead. In 1921 they published a new book, The Harp of God, designed to help new ones and children learn basic Bible truths. (Revelation 12:6, 14) All these things happened during another landmark time period.
The 1,290 Days
15. In what way can we calculate the beginning of the 1,290 days? When did this period end?
15 The angel said to Daniel: “From the time that the constant feature [“the continual sacrifice,” footnote] has been removed and there has been a placing of the disgusting thing that is causing desolation, there will be one thousand two hundred and ninety days.” (Daniel 12:11) Under the Mosaic Law, “the continual sacrifice” was burned on the altar at the temple in Jerusalem. Christians do not offer burnt sacrifices, but they do offer a spiritual continual sacrifice. Paul referred to this when he said: “Let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.” (Hebrews 13:15; compare Hosea 14:2.) This continual sacrifice was taken away in June 1918. What, then, was “the disgusting thing”—the second feature to look for? It was the League of Nations, promoted by the victorious powers at the end of World War I.* It was disgusting because the leaders of Christendom put it in the place of God’s Kingdom, representing the League as man’s only hope for peace. The League was proposed in January 1919. If we count 1,290 days (three years, seven months) from that time, we arrive at September 1922.
16. At the end of the 1,290 days, how was it evident that the anointed remnant was ready for action?
16 What happened then? Well, the Bible Students were now refreshed, free from Babylon the Great, and ready to go on the offensive. (Revelation 18:4) At a convention held in September 1922 at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A., they began fearlessly to declare God’s judgments on Christendom. (Revelation 8:7-12) The stings of the locusts really began to hurt! What was more, the second woe of Revelation began. A mass of Christian cavalry—composed initially of the anointed remnant and later swelled by the great crowd—surged through the earth. (Revelation 7:9; 9:13-19) Yes, the end of the 1,290 days brought joy to God’s people.* But more was in store.
The 1,335 Days
17. When did the 1,335 days begin and end?
17 Daniel 12:12 says: “Happy is the one who is keeping in expectation and who arrives at the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days!” These 1,335 days, or three years, eight and a half months, evidently began at the end of the previous period. Counting from September 1922, this brings us to the late spring (Northern Hemisphere) of 1926. What happened during those 1,335 days?
18. What facts indicate that back in 1922 there was still progress to be made?
18 Despite the landmark nature of events in 1922, evidently some still looked longingly to the past. The Studies in the Scriptures, authored by C. T. Russell, were still basic study material. Further, the widely circulated booklet Millions Now Living Will Never Die presented the view that in 1925, God’s purposes regarding the restoring of the earth to Paradise and the resurrecting of the faithful ones of old would begin to be fulfilled. The endurance of the anointed seemed to be nearly completed. Nevertheless, some associated with the Bible Students did not feel impelled to share the good news with others.
19, 20. (a) How did many things change for God’s people during the 1,335 days? (b) What events marked the end of the 1,335-day period, and what did they indicate regarding Jehovah’s people?
19 As the 1,335 days progressed, all of this changed. To strengthen the brothers, regular group studies of The Watch Tower were organized. Field service was stressed. Beginning in May 1923, everyone was invited to share in field service on the first Tuesday of every month, and time was set aside during the midweek congregation meeting to encourage them in this work. In August 1923, at an assembly in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., it was shown that Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats would be fulfilled before the Millennial Reign. (Matthew 25:31-40) The year 1924 saw the inauguration of radio station WBBR, which was used to broadcast the good news over the airwaves. The article “Birth of the Nation” in the March 1, 1925, issue of The Watch Tower gave an adjusted understanding of Revelation chapter 12. Finally, faithful Christians could properly understand the tumultuous events of 1914-19.
20 The year 1925 came to its conclusion, but the end was not yet! Ever since the 1870’s, Bible Students had been serving with a date in mind—first 1914, then 1925. Now, they realized that they must serve for as long as Jehovah wishes. The January 1, 1926, issue of The Watch Tower carried the landmark article “Who Will Honor Jehovah?” highlighting as never before the importance of God’s name. And finally, in May 1926 at the London, England, convention, a resolution was adopted entitled “A Testimony to the Rulers of the World.” This forthrightly proclaimed the truth about God’s Kingdom and the coming destruction of Satan’s world. At the same convention, the hard-hitting book Deliverance was released, becoming the first of a series to replace Studies in the Scriptures. God’s people were now looking forward, not backward. The 1,335 days were concluded.
21. What did endurance through the 1,335-day period mean for God’s people back then, and what does the fulfillment of prophecy regarding this time period mean for us?
21 Some were unwilling to adjust to these developments, but those who endured were truly happy. Moreover, as we look back on the fulfillment of these prophetic time periods, we too are happy because our confidence is strengthened that the small body of anointed Christians who lived through those times really is the faithful and discreet slave. In the years since then, Jehovah’s organization has expanded enormously, but the faithful and discreet slave is still at its center, guiding it. How thrilling, then, to know that for the anointed and the other sheep, still more happiness is in store! This will be seen as we consider another of Daniel’s prophecies.
For a discussion of how to calculate these prophetic periods, see Our Incoming World Government—God’s Kingdom, chapter 8, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Can You Explain?
□ How do we know that some prophecies in Daniel were to be fulfilled in our time?
□ Why can we be confident that the anointed remnant is “the faithful and discreet slave”?
□ When did the 1,260 days begin and end?
□ What refreshment and restoration did the 1,290 days bring to the anointed remnant?
□ Why were those who endured to the end of the 1,335 days happy?
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DANIEL’S PROPHETIC TIME PERIODS
December 1914 to June 1918
January 1919 to September 1922
September 1922 to May 1926
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Since 1919 it has been clear that “the faithful and discreet slave” is the anointed remnant
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Headquarters of the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland