After foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, Jesus Christ said: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled. . . . And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”—Luke 21:24-27.
Thus the close of the “appointed times of the nations” was to be followed by the unexpected revelation of Jesus Christ. He will then make manifest his power and glory in a stupendous act against all opposers of his kingly authority. This is evident from Jesus’ later admonition: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:36.
Is there any way to determine the start of the period that culminates in Christ Jesus’ destruction of all enemy elements? Yes, other scriptures enable us to do so.
In the apostle Matthew’s account (Mt chapter 24) of Jesus’ prophecy about the overthrow of Jerusalem, we find references to the Bible book of Daniel. Can we find in that book information to establish the length of the “appointed times of the nations”? The evidence is that we can.
A PROPHETIC DREAM
In the fourth chapter of the book of Daniel there is a record of a divine revelation given in a dream to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The whole purpose of this dream and its fulfillment was 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.”—Dan. 4:17.
Accordingly, what befell Nebuchadnezzar in fulfillment of his dream was evidently prophetic of something that pointed to God’s bestowing rulership on the “lowliest one of mankind.” We know that, in God’s due time, he did select Jesus Christ to receive such rulership. Jesus proved himself to be “mild-tempered and lowly in heart.” Also, those who refused to exercise faith in him held Jesus in low esteem.—Matt. 11:29; Isa. 53:3.
But how did what befell Nebuchadnezzar point to the time when the “lowliest one of mankind,” Jesus Christ, would receive rulership over the world of mankind?
SEVEN PROPHETIC TIMES
Like the tree that he saw in his dream, Nebuchadnezzar was cut down from his position as world ruler for “seven times,” or seven years. As the years of prophetic time were reckoned as consisting of twelve months of thirty days each, those “seven times,” or seven years, amounted to 2,520 days.* During that period Nebuchadnezzar was deprived of his sanity and, like a beast, ate grass. At the end of this time he regained his sanity and his throne. It was then as if the tree seen in his dream had begun to sprout, the restraining bands having been removed.—Dan. 4:20-37.
Since Nebuchadnezzar occupied the position of world ruler by God’s permission, his being deprived of that position must have been symbolic of something relating to the exercise of divine sovereignty. The same aspect of matters is involved in Jesus Christ’s reference to ‘Jerusalem’s being trampled on.’ How so? In that Jerusalem was at one time the capital of a theocratic government, the city from which kings of the royal line of David ruled. These kings were said to sit on “Jehovah’s throne.” (1 Chron. 29:23) Hence, with its destruction and the exile of its monarch in 607 B.C.E.,* Jerusalem as representing God’s sovereignty began to be trampled on.
Does this mean that the end of the symbolic “seven times” would see the restoration of a theocratic kingdom in the city of Jerusalem, with a descendant of King David on the throne? No. After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians no king of the Davidic line ever again ruled as king at Jerusalem. The permanent heir of King David, Jesus Christ, indicated that his kingdom would instead be heavenly, saying: “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matt. 4:17) He did not expect to rule from earthly Jerusalem but revealed that this city would cease to have any special recognition from Jehovah God.—See Matthew 23:37, 38.
This being the case, the end of the “appointed times of the nations” was to witness Jesus Christ’s receiving royal authority over the world of mankind, not as a king on an earthly throne in the city of Jerusalem, but as a heavenly king.
When was this to be? At the end of the “seven times” of 2,520 prophetic days from the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. It was not until more than six centuries after that initial destruction of Jerusalem that Jesus Christ appeared on the earthly scene as King-Designate. Therefore, the prophetic 2,520 days must actually cover a period of many centuries. The Bible itself provides the key for determining their exact length, saying: “A day for a year.” (Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6) This means that the 2,520 prophetic days ended 2,520 actual years from the desolation of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. When would this be?
From October 607 B.C.E. to October of 1 B.C.E. is 606 full years; from October of 1 B.C.E. to October of 1 C.E. is one year; and from October of 1 C.E. to October 1914 C.E. is 1,913 years. Adding these figures (606 + 1 + 1,913), we get 2,520 years. So the “seven times” ended in October 1914 C.E., and it was then that, though invisible to human eyes, Jesus Christ received rulership over the world of mankind.
Confirmation for this is found in other parts of the Bible. Revelation 11:2, 3 shows that a period of “forty-two months” is “a thousand two hundred and sixty days.” This means that one month is thirty days long (1,260 ÷ 42). Also, Revelation 12:6, 14 reveals that 1,260 days amounts to “a time and times and half a time” (three and a half times), or “three years and a half” (New English Bible). Hence, “seven times,” or seven years, would equal 2 × 1,260 days, or 2,520 days.
Regarding the reliability of this date for Jerusalem’s destruction, see Aid to Bible Understanding, pp. 339, 348.
[Graph on page 163]
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SEVEN PROPHETIC TIMES
606 YEARS 1913 YEARS
607 B.C.E. 1 B.C.E. 1 C.E. 1914 C.E.
End of This System
Within One Generation