The Bible’s answer
Bible chronology indicates that God’s Kingdom was established in heaven in 1914. This is shown by a prophecy recorded in chapter 4 of the Bible book of Daniel.
Overview of the prophecy. God caused King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to have a prophetic dream about an immense tree that was chopped down. Its stump was prevented from regrowing for a period of “seven times,” after which the tree would grow again.—Daniel 4:1, 10-16.
The prophecy’s initial fulfillment. The great tree represented King Nebuchadnezzar himself. (Daniel 4:20-22) He was figuratively ‘chopped down’ when he temporarily lost his sanity and kingship for a period of seven years. (Daniel 4:25) When God restored his sanity, Nebuchadnezzar regained his throne and acknowledged God’s rulership.—Daniel 4:34-36.
Evidence that the prophecy has a greater fulfillment. The whole purpose of the prophecy was that “people living may know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that he gives it to whomever he wants, and he sets up over it even the lowliest of men.” (Daniel 4:17) Was proud Nebuchadnezzar the one to whom God ultimately wanted to give such rulership? No, for God had earlier given him another prophetic dream showing that neither he nor any other political ruler would fill this role. Instead, God would himself “set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.”—Daniel 2:31-44.
Previously, God had set up a kingdom to represent his rulership on earth: the ancient nation of Israel. God allowed that kingdom to be made “a ruin” because its rulers had become unfaithful, but he foretold that he would give kingship to “the one who has the legal right.” (Ezekiel 21:25-27) The Bible identifies Jesus Christ as the one legally authorized to receive this everlasting kingdom. (Luke 1:30-33) Unlike Nebuchadnezzar, Jesus is “lowly in heart,” just as it was prophesied.—Matthew 11:29.
What does the tree of Daniel chapter 4 represent? In the Bible, trees sometimes represent rulership. (Ezekiel 17:22-24; 31:2-5) In the greater fulfillment of Daniel chapter 4, the immense tree symbolizes God’s rulership.
What does the tree’s being chopped down mean? Just as the chopping down of the tree represented an interruption in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingship, it also represented an interruption in God’s rulership on earth. This happened when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, where the kings of Israel sat on “Jehovah’s throne” as representatives of God himself.—1 Chronicles 29:23.
What do the “seven times” represent? The “seven times” represent the period during which God allowed the nations to rule over the earth without interference from any kingdom that he had set up. The “seven times” began in October 607 B.C.E., when, according to Bible chronology, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians.*—2 Kings 25:1, 8-10.
How long are the “seven times”? They could not be merely seven years as in Nebuchadnezzar’s case. Jesus indicated the answer when he said that “Jerusalem [a symbol of God’s rulership] will be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24) “The appointed times of the nations,” the period during which God allowed his rulership to be “trampled on by the nations,” are the same as the “seven times” of Daniel chapter 4. This means that the “seven times” were still under way even when Jesus was on earth.
The Bible provides the way to determine the length of those prophetic “seven times.” It says that three and a half “times” equal 1,260 days, so “seven times” equal twice that number, or 2,520 days. (Revelation 12:6, 14) Applying the prophetic rule “a day for a year,” the 2,520 days represent 2,520 years. Therefore, the “seven times,” or 2,520 years, would end in October 1914.—Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6.
For a detailed discussion of why the date 607 B.C.E is used, see the articles “When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?—Part One,” on pages 26-31 of the October 1, 2011, issue of The Watchtower, and “When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?—Part Two,” on pages 22-28 of the November 1, 2011, issue of The Watchtower.