When the Babylonian forces penetrated Jerusalem, Zedekiah knew he was in trouble. The final Judean king, he’d double-crossed Nebuchadnezzar years before, and the Chaldean king wasn’t that nice a guy. So he tried to run away, but it was no good.
And a military force of the Chaldans went chasing after the king, and they got to overtake Zedekiah in the desert plains of Jericho; and all his own military force was scattered from his side. Then they seized the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might pronounce upon him judicial decisions. And the king of Babylon proceeded to slaughter the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and also all the princes of Judah he slaughtered in Riblah. And the eyes of Zedekiah he blinded, after which the king of Babylon bound him with copper fetters and brought him to Babylon and put him in the house of custody until the day of his death. Jer 52:8-11
This was a nasty end for Zedekiah, but not just for him. It was the end of an entire line of Judean kings that had run nearly 500 years, starting with David. And since the Jews were God’s chosen people, the end of that line marked the end of a particular expression of God’s sovereignty on earth. [And Solomon began to sit upon Jehovah’s throne as king in place of David his father …..1 Chron 29:23] Israel was never again self-ruling, (until 1948, but that doesn’t count) but was always a vassal under some power or other. During Jesus’ time, you'll recall, it was an uneasy province of Rome.
This change of rulership, represented by the last king Zedekiah, was foretold:
And as for you, O deadly wounded, wicked chieftain of Israel, whose day has come in the time of the error of [the] end, this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. This will not be the same. Put on high even what is low, and bring low even the high one. A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no [one’s] until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give [it] to him.’ Ezekiel 21:25-27
Wicked, because of entrenched disobedience to God’s law, which Israel had sworn to obey. (Exodus 19:8) “Low” Gentile rulership would be placed “high” and “high” (God’s sovereignty) would become “low.” Not for all time, though, for one who “has the legal right” would one day inherit the kingship. This latter event is significant. When does it take place?
The key is found in a dream related by that same Babylonian conqueror, Nebuchadnezzar, the one who brought Jewish rule to an end.
“‘Now the visions of my head upon my bed I happened to be beholding, and, look! a tree in the midst of the earth, the height of which was immense. The tree grew up and became strong, and its very height finally reached the heavens, and it was visible to the extremity of the whole earth. Its foliage was fair, and its fruit was abundant, and there was food for all on it. Under it the beast of the field would seek shade, and on its boughs the birds of the heavens would dwell, and from it all flesh would feed itself.
“‘I continued beholding in the visions of my head upon my bed, and, look! a watcher, even a holy one, coming down from the heavens themselves. He was calling out loudly, and this is what he was saying: “chop the tree down, and cut off its boughs. shake off its foliage, and scatter its fruitage. Let the beast flee from under it, and the birds from its boughs. However, leave its rootstock itself in the earth, even with a banding of iron and of copper, among the grass of the field; and with the dew of the heavens let it be wet, and with the beast let its portion be among the vegetation of the earth. Let its heart be changed from that of mankind, and let the heart of a beast be given to it, and let seven times pass over it. By the decree of watchers the thing is, and [by] the saying of holy ones the request is, to the intent 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 4:10-17
Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by the dream, and wanted it explained to him, but nobody could do it until they brought to him Daniel, a Jewish exile, one of his advisors:
“At that time Daniel himself, whose name is Belteshazzar, was astonished for a moment, and his very thoughts began to frighten him.
“The king was answering and saying, ‘O Belteshazzar, do not let the dream and the interpretation themselves frighten you.’
“Belteshazzar was answering and saying, ‘O my lord, may the dream [apply] to those hating you, and its interpretation to your adversaries. “‘The tree that you beheld, that grew great and became strong and the height of which finally reached the heavens and which was visible to all the earth, and the foliage of which was fair, and the fruit of which was abundant, and on which there was food for all; under which the beasts of the field would dwell, and on the boughs of which the birds of the heavens would reside, 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…..All this befell Nebuchadnezzar the king. vs. 19-26
It did indeed befall Nebuchadnezzar, and history alludes to a period of royal insanity. But the dream’s real significance doesn’t lie in Nebuchadnezzar’s own reign. It lies in the reign he interrupted. That is the real tree which was chopped down in 607 BCE, a year determined per the Bible’s own chronology. Here the purpose of the dream bears repeating: to the intent 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.” That’s too lofty a purpose to be squandered on a tyrant, no matter how big a splash he made in his day. Who does the Most High want to establish as ruler over “the kingdom of mankind” and who….hint..hint…fit’s the description as “the lowliest one of mankind?”
Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light. Matt 11:28-30
you are to call his name Jesus. This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” Luke 1:31-33
Still another hint: [what more can any reader ask?] Jesus being born into the family line of David (traceable through both mother and foster-father) gives him the “legal right” to inherit that kingdom, per the Ezek 21 passage already quoted.
So the “tree” which represents God’s sovereignty is “bound,’ starting in 607 BCE, for a period of 7 times. There are various tangents one can explore to determine how long a “time” is, but we will bypass them all to simply report that some Bible versions, based on those tangents, actually translate the term time as years. (The New American Bible, A New Translation by James Moffatt, The Complete Bible—An American Translation, the Good News Bible) One time, therefore, is one year.
Nebuchadnezzar’s 7 times, therefore, are seven years, though secular history is not detailed enough to confirm this point with regard to his insanity. But with regard to God’s sovereignty, the seven years are not mere years of days, as are the ones on your calendar. They are, not years of 360 days, but years of 360 years, that is 7 x 360, or 2520 years. Is that permissible? Who says you can do that….just substitute a day for a year? Apparently, as the next two scriptures indicate, this is a sort of “prophetic rule.”
By the number of the days that you spied out the land, forty days, a day for a year, a day for a year, you will answer for your errors forty years, as you must know what my being estranged means. Numbers 14:34
A day for a year, a day for a year, is what I have given you. Ezekiel 4:6
The reader must go himself to examine the context. The point is, “day for a year” appears to be a prophetic “formula,” and as will be seen, it was used by Jehovah’s Witnesses before the event, not afterwards.
A Hebrew month consisted of 30 days, so 12 of them meant 360 days. That’s not quite enough to round out an astronomical year, so every few years an extra month, VeAdar or second Adar, was thrown in to put the calendar in sinc with the sun.
With 607 BCE as the starting point, add 2520 years, and remember that there is no zero year….go directly from 1 BCE to 1CE. You arrive at 1914 CE.
As early as 1880, Watchtower publications began drawing attention to that date. World War I commenced in that year (1914), the first time ever that the whole world went to war at the same time.
While he was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” And in answer Jesus said to them…..For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress. Matt 24:3,7
The World, a leading New York newspaper of that time, featured this headline in its August 30, 1914 magazine section: “End of All Kingdoms in 1914”
“The terrific war outbreak in Europe has fulfilled an extraordinary prophecy….For a quarter of a century past, through preachers and through press, the ‘International Bible Students [Jehovah’s Witnesses], best known as ‘Millennial Dawners,’ have been proclaiming to the world that the Day of Wrath prophesied in the Bible would dawn in 1914. ‘Look out for 1914!’ has been the cry of the hundreds of traveling evangelists who, representing this strange creed, have gone up and down the country enunciating the doctrine that ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand.’”
There is considerable evidence, then, that 1914 is a marked year in Bible prophesy, evidence drawn both from chronology and world events. So let’s not hear from any more from whiners who claim that it isn’t.