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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Seven Times - The Times of The Gentiles

Additional Reading:

In the course of their Bible studies, these searching students took up a consideration of the “times of the Gentiles,” as spoken of by Jesus at Luke 21:24 (AV), and they associated those Gentile Times with the “seven times” mentioned four times in Daniel, chapter four, verses 16, 23, 25, 32. What did those Bible students determine to be the date for those “seven times” of Gentile domination of the earth to end legally before God? Well, at that time there was a monthly magazine being published in Brooklyn, New York, by one George Storrs, and it was called “Bible Examiner.” In the year 1876 the twenty-four-year-old Russell made a contribution on the subject to this magazine. It was published in Volume XXI, Number 1, which was the issue of October, 1876. On pages 27, 28 of that issue Russell’s article was published under the title “Gentile Times: When Do They End?” In that article (page 27) Russell said: “The seven times will end in A.D. 1914.”

In the following year (1877) Russell joined with one Nelson H. Barbour, of Rochester, New York, in publishing a book entitled “Three Worlds, and the Harvest of This World.” In this book it was set forth that the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. would be preceded by a period of forty years marked by the opening of a harvest of three and a half years, beginning in 1874 C.E. This harvest was understood to be under the invisible direction of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose presence or parousia began in the year 1874. Shortly afterward was understood to be the beginning of the great antitypical Jubilee for mankind, that had been foreshadowed by the ancient “jubilee” observances of the Jews under the law of Moses. (Leviticus, chapter twenty-five) According to the Bible chronology that was thereafter adopted, the six thousand years of man’s existence on the earth ended in the year 1872 but the Lord Jesus did not come at the end of those six millenniums of human existence, rather, at the start of the antitypical Jubilee in October of 1874. The year 1874 was calculated as being the end of six millenniums of sin among mankind. From this latter date mankind was understood to be in the seventh millennium.—Revelation 20:4.

From that understanding of matters, the “chaste virgin” class began going forth to meet the heavenly Bridegroom in the year 1874, as they believed him to have arrived in that year and to be from then on invisibly present. They felt that they were already living in the invisible presence of the Bridegroom. Due to this fact, when Charles T. Russell began publishing his own religious magazine in July of 1879, he published it under the title “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” He had already become familiar with Wilson’s The Emphatic Diaglott, which translated the Greek word pa‧rou‧si′a as “presence,” not “coming,” in Matthew 24:3 and elsewhere. The new magazine was heralding Christ’s invisible presence as having begun in 1874. This presence was to continue until the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, when the Gentile nations would be destroyed and the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class would be glorified with their bridegroom in heaven by death and resurrection to life in the spirit. Thus the class pictured by the five wise virgins would enter through the door into the wedding.

As the years passed by and the time drew closer, the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class looked ahead with intensifying interest to that critical date, October 1, 1914. These were a class of Christians separated from this unclean world and fully “consecrated” to God through Christ, and they had symbolized their “consecration” to God by water immersion. They were endeavoring to let their light shine as they approached the time when they expected to meet their Bridegroom in the heavens. Finally the day arrived, October 1, 1914, and on the morning of that day Charles T. Russell as president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society announced to the headquarters staff of workers in Brooklyn, New York: “The Gentile Times have ended and their kings have had their day.”


October, 1876 – The Bible Examiner Vol. XXI. No. 1 Whole No. 313

“Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” -Luke 21:24.

Doubtless our Lord intended to communicate to His disciples some knowledge, and possibly it was addressed more to the disciples in our day, than to the early church.

Let us then search what times the prophecy, which was in Christ, did signify. Of course, if it be one of the secret things of God, we cannot find out; but if a secret, why should Jesus mention it? If, on the contrary, it is revealed it belongs to us. Shall we guess and suppose? No: let us go to God’s treasure-house; let us search the Scriptures for the key.

Jesus does not foretell its treading under foot of the Gentiles, as Rome had her foot upon them at that time. He does tell us, however, how long it will continue so, even the disciples thought “that it was he which should have DELIVERED Israel.”

We believe that God has given the key. We believe He doeth nothing but he revealeth it unto His servants. Do we not find part of the key in Lev. 26:27, 33? “I, even I will chastise you seventimes for your sins: . . . and I will bring your land into desolation . . . and will scatter you among the heathen.” Israel did not hearken unto the Lord, but disobeyed him, and this prophecy is now being fulfilled, and has been since the days of Zedekiah, when God said, “Remove the diadem, take off the crown, . . . I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, . . . until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it unto Him.” Comparing these Scriptures, we learn, that God has scattered Israel for a period of seven times, or until “he comes whose right” the Government is, and puts an endto Gentile rule or government. This gives us a clue at least, as to how long until the Jews aredelivered. Further, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the head of gold, is recognized by God as the representative of the beast, or Gentile Governments. “A king of kings and wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, hath God given into his hand.” Dan. 2:38. God had taken the crown off Zedekiah and declared the Image, of which Nebuchadnezzar is the head, ruler of the world until the kingdom of God takes its place (smitingit on its feet); and, as this is the same time at which Israel is to be delivered, (for “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”), we here get our second clue, viz.: these two events, noted of the Scriptures of truth-“Times of Gentiles,” and“Treading of Jerusalem,” are parallel periods, commencing at the same time and ending at the same time; and, as in the case of Israel, their degradation was to be for seven times, so with the dominion of the Image; it lasts seven times; for, when in his pride the “Head of Gold” ignored“The God of heaven,” the glory of that kingdom (which God gave him, as a representative of the Image,) departed, and it took on its beastly character, which lasts seven times. Dan 4:23 – and, (prefigured by the personal degradation for seven years, of Nebuchadnazzar, the representative) until the time comes when they shall acknowledge, and “give honor to the Most High, whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom.” Dan 4:34: for all the ends of the earth shall remember andturn unto the Lord when He is the Governor among the nations.

Our next question naturally, is, How long are seven times? Does God in his word, furnish usany clue from which to determine the length of that period? Yes, in Revelations we learn that three and one-half times, 42 months, and 1260 prophetic days, literal years, are the same (it has for years been so accepted by the church,) and it was so fulfilled: if three and one-half times are 1260 years, seven times would be twice as much, i.e., 2520 years. At the commencement of our Christian era, 606 years of this time had passed, (70 years captivity, and 536 from Cyrus to Christ) which deducted from 2520, would show that the seven times will end in A.D. 1914; when Jerusalem shall be delivered forever, and the Jew say of the Deliverer, “Lo, this is our God, wehave waited for Him and He will save us.” When Gentile Governments shall have been dashed to pieces; when God shall have poured out of his fury upon the nation, and they acknowledge, him King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

But, some one will say, “If the Lord intended that we should know, He would have told usplainlyand distinctly how long.” But, no, brethren, He never does so. The Bible is to be a light to God’s children;--to the world, foolishness. Many of its writings are solely for our edification upon whom the ends of the world are come. As well say that God should have put the gold on top instead of in the bowels of the earth it would be too common; it would lose much of its value. So with truth; but, “to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom.

We will ask, but not now answer, another question: If the Gentile Times end in 1914, (and there are many other and clearer evidences pointing to the same time) and we are told that it shall be with fury poured out; at time of trouble such as never was before, nor ever shall be; a day of wrath, etc., how long before does the church escape? as Jesus says, “watch, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape those things coming upon the world.”

Brethren, the taking by Christ of His Bride, is evidently, one of the first acts in the Judgment; for judgment must begin at the house of God.

W. Philadelphia.

Additional Reading:

The book "Revelation - Its Grand Climax at Hand" (published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society) states in the footnote on p. 105 that "research made it necessary to adjust B.C. 606 to 607 B.C.E." Critics allege that there was no such "research" and that there is "no evidence whatsoever for this new date." Is this true?

The footnote on p. 105 of Revelation - Its Grand Climax at Hand reads: "Providentially, those Bible Students had not realized that there is no zero year between "B.C." and "A.D." Later, when research made it necessary to adjust B.C. 606 to 607 B.C.E., the zero year was also eliminated, so that the prediction held good at "A.D. 1914." — See The Truth Shall Make You Free, published by the Watch Tower Society in 1943, page 239."

What "research" made it necessary to adjust the date 606 B.C.E. to 607 B.C.E.?

The Watchtower of February 1, 1955, states on p. 94: "Jehovah's witnesses from 1877 up to and including the publishing of "The Truth Shall Make You Free" of 1943 considered 536 B.C. as the year for the return of the Jews to Palestine, basing their calculations for the fall of Babylon on secular histories that were inaccurate, not up to date on archaeological evidences. This meant that Jeremiah's seventy years of desolation for Jerusalem ran back from 536 B.C. to 606 B.C., instead of more correctly as now known from 537 B.C. to 607 B.C. (2 Chron. 36:21; Jer. 25:12; Zec. 1:12)"

A more detailed account of this research was presented in the Watchtower of May 1, 1952, pp. 271-2:

21 At this point some will inquire why Charles T. Russell in 1877 used the date 606 B.C. for the fall of Jerusalem whereas The Watchtower of late years has been using 607 B.C. This is because, in the light of modern scholarship, two slight errors were discovered to have been made which cancel each other out and make for the same result, namely, 1914. Concerning the first error, Russell and others considered 1 B.C. to A.D. 1 as being two years whereas in fact this is only one year because, as has been said above, there is no "zero" year in the B.C.-A.D. system for counting years. "The Christian era began, not with no year, but with a 1st year."—The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, p. 102.

22 The second error had to do with not beginning the count of the 2,520 years at the right point in view of historic facts and circumstances. Almost all early Bible chronology ties in with secular history at the year 539 B.C., in which year the fall of Babylon to Darius and Cyrus of the Medes and the Persians occurred. In late years several cuneiform tablets have been discovered pertaining to the fall of Babylon which peg both Biblical and secular historic dates. The one tablet known as the "Nabunaid Chronicle" gives the date for the fall of Babylon which specialists have ascertained as being October 12-13, 539 B.C., Julian Calendar, or October 6-7, 539 B.C., according to our present Gregorian Calendar. This tablet also says that Cyrus made his triumphant entry into Babylon 16 days after its fall to his army. Thus his accession year commenced in October, 539 B.C. However, in another cuneiform tablet called "Strassmaier, Cyrus No. 11" Cyrus’ first regnal year is mentioned and was determined to have begun March 17-18, 538 B.C., and to have concluded March 4-5, 537 B.C. It was in this first regnal year of Cyrus that he issued his decree to permit the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. (Ezra 1:1) The decree may have been made in late 538 B.C. or before March 4-5, 537 B.C.

23 In either case this would have given sufficient time for the large party of 49,897Jews to organize their expedition and to make their long four-month journey from Babylon to Jerusalem to get there by September 29-30, 537 B.C., the first of the seventh Jewish month, to build their altar to Jehovah as recorded at Ezra 3:1-3. Inasmuch as September 29-30, 537 B.C., officially ends the seventy years of desolation as recorded at 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21, so the beginning of the desolation of the land must have officially begun to be counted after September 21-22, 607 B.C., the first of the seventh Jewish month in 607 B.C., which is the beginning point for the counting of the 2,520 years.

As one can plainly see, the Revelation Climax book is truthful in stating that "research made it necessary to adjust B.C. 606 to 607 B.C.E." The false claim advanced by apostates amounts to nothing more than a feeble attempt to "speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves."—Acts 20:30.

Amid these rumblings of industrial, commercial, social and religious changes early voices of small religious groups were heard in their efforts to read the signs of the times and predict the imminent second coming of Jesus, Jehovah’s Christ. Various adventist groups were busy in the United States and Europe, proclaiming a visible return of Christ for 1873 or 1874, even though the American founder of their movement, William Miller, had acknowledged his error and disappointment as to the former set dates of 1843 and 1844. Earlier, the German Lutheran theologian Bengel (1687-1751) had fixed upon 1836 as the marked date for the beginning of the millennium of Revelation 20:6. In Scotland and England others, commonly known as “Irvingites,” raised their voices to announce 1835, 1838, 1864 and finally 1866 for Christ’s return. Christian writers such as Elliott and Cumming looked for the end in 1866, Brewer and Decker predicted 1867 and Seiss favored 1870. In Russia, Claas Epp, a leader of the Mennonite Brethren (Bruedergemeinde), and his associate fixed upon the date of 1889 for a great cosmic happening.(a) But all these widely proclaimed predictions came to complete disappointment because they were not based on accurate Biblical knowledge of Jehovah’s prophecies. Christ’s return was destined to be, not a physical manifestation as they had assumed, but rather, as the Scriptures now clearly indicate, an invisible presence of glory and power to provoke the greatest crisis ever experienced by man on earth.

Still other voices were heard, but these began to proclaim an impending invisible return of the Messiah. One of these groups was led by George Storrs of Brooklyn, New York. He and his associates after 1870 published a magazine entitled The Bible Examiner, setting forth their views that Christ’s return would be an invisible one. Another group headed by H. B. Rice of Oakland, California, published a magazine called The Last Trump, heralding an invisible return as occurring in the 1870’s. A third group comes to our attention, this time of disappointed Second Adventists who forsook that movement because of the failure of the Lord to return in 1873 as the Adventists had further predicted. This group was led by N. H. Barbour. They radiated their activities from Rochester, New York, performing a preaching service by sending out speakers to whatever churches would open their doors to them. They also published a monthly, The Herald of the Morning. One of this group came into possession of B. Wilson’s Diaglott translation of the “New Testament,” noticing in it that, at Matthew 24:27, 37, 39, the word the King James Version rendered coming is translated presence. This was the clue that led this group to advocate an invisible presence of Christ, claiming it began in the fall of 1874.

Yet a fourth voice of proclaimers of an invisible presence of Christ comes to view, a group of sincere students of the Bible at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U. S. A., with its chairman, C. T. Russell. Charles Taze Russell was born in Old Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh) February 16, 1852; he was one of three children of Joseph L. and Eliza Birney Russell. Both parents were Presbyterians of Scottish-Irish lineage. Russell’s father operated a clothing store business. His mother died when he was only nine years old. While still a boy, he used to write Bible texts with chalk on the sidewalks, and although brought up a Presbyterian, he joined the neighborhood Congregational church, because it was more liberal. At fifteen years of age Russell was in partnership with his father in a growing chain of men’s clothing stores. But while things went well for young Russell in business, he was troubled in mind. The doctrines of predestination and eternal punishment gave him particular difficulty, and by the time he was seventeen he had become an avowed skeptic, discarding the Bible and the creeds of the churches.

During the next few months Russell continued to reflect over the subject of religion, unable to accept it, and yet unwilling to let it go. Finally one day in 1870 he dropped into a dusty, dingy little basement hall near his Federal Street store—

“to see if the handful who met there had anything more sensible to offer than the creeds of the great churches. There, for the first time, I heard something of the views of Second Adventists, the preacher being Mr. Jonas Wendell . . . Though his Scripture-exposition was not entirely clear, and though it was very far from what we now rejoice in, it was sufficient, under God, to re-establish my wavering faith in the divine inspiration of the Bible, and to show that the records of the apostles and prophets are indissolubly linked.”

Shortly after this Russell and about five others began to meet together regularly from 1870 to 1875 to make a systematic study of the Bible. Note the following description of the change-over of thinking that was the fruitage of these five years of joint Bible study.

“[We] soon began to see that we were living somewhere near the close of the Gospel age, and near the time when the Lord had declared that the wise, watching ones of his children should come to a clear knowledge of his plan. . . . We came to see something of the love of God, how it had made provision for all mankind, how all must be awakened from the tomb in order that God’s loving plan might be testified to them, and how all who exercise faith in Christ’s redemptive work and render obedience in harmony with the knowledge of God’s will they will then receive, might then (through Christ’s merit) be brought back into full harmony with God, and be granted everlasting life. . . . We came to recognize the difference between our Lord as ‘the man who gave himself,’ and as the Lord who would come again, a spirit being. We saw that spirit-beings can be present, and yet invisible to men. . . . We felt greatly grieved at the error of Second Adventists who were expecting Christ in the flesh, and teaching that the world and all in it except Second Adventists would be burned up in 1873 or 1874, whose time-settings and disappointments and crude ideas generally of the object and manner of his coming brought more or less reproach upon us and upon all who longed for and proclaimed his coming Kingdom. These wrong views so generally held of both the object and manner of the Lord’s return led me to write a pamphlet—The Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return, of which some 50,000 copies were published.”

In January, 1876, Charles Russell for the first time received a copy of the monthly magazine The Herald of the Morning as published by the Rochester group headed by Nelson H. Barbour. A meeting was soon arranged between Russell and Barbour, since it was discovered that their views were the same concerning Christ’s second coming as being invisible. As a result the Pittsburgh Bible group of nearly thirty decided to affiliate with the Rochester group slightly larger in number. Russell became a joint editor along with Barbour for The Herald of the Morning. The Pittsburgh group on Russell’s initiative agreed to finance a small printing place in Rochester for the joint printing undertakings. It was also decided to publish a bound book containing their joint views, the work being completed by 1877. The 194-page publication was entitled “Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption,” by Barbour and Russell as joint authors. During this time Russell at the age of twenty-five began to sell out his business interests and went full time into the preaching work, going from city to city to talk to various gatherings of the public, on the streets and, Sundays, in Protestant churches, where he could arrange such with the clergy.

This book set forth their belief that Christ’s second presence began invisibly in the fall of 1874 and thereby commenced a forty-year harvest period. Then, remarkably accurately, they set forth the year 1914 as the end of the Gentile times.—Luke 21:24.

“Hence, it was in B.C. 606, that God’s kingdom ended, the diadem was removed, and all the earth given up to the Gentiles. 2520 years from B.C. 606 will end in A.D. 1914, or forty years from 1874; and this forty years upon which we have now entered is to be such ‘a time of trouble as never was since there was a nation.’ And during this forty years, the kingdom of God is to be set up (but not in the flesh, ‘the natural first and afterwards the spiritual’), the Jews are to be restored, the Gentile kingdoms broken in pieces ‘like a potter’s vessel,’ and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and the judgment age introduced.”—Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption, pp. 83, 189.

After two years of affiliation a testing occurred that brought about a parting of the ways. In 1878 Barbour began to fall victim to higher criticism. He published an article in the Herald—“denying that the death of Christ was the ransom price . . . saying that Christ’s death was no more a settlement of the penalty of man’s sins than would the sticking of a pin through the body of a fly and causing it suffering and death be considered by an earthly parent as a just settlement for misdemeanor in his child.”

This plain denial of basic Bible doctrine amazed the Pittsburgh group and Russell. Months of argument ensued in publishing articles in the Herald pro and con on the ransom issue. Finally the Pittsburgh Bible group withdrew association from the Barbour group to undertake a separate Bible publishing work. Many of the Rochester group sided in with Russell and his associates on the ransom issue and they too came over to the Pittsburgh association. This parting proved fatal to the Rochester group, for within a few years the Herald ceased to be published and nothing more has been heard from this early voice sounding the “second coming” call.

- 1955 Watchtower, January 1st, pp. 6 - 8, WTB&TS

(a) The Small Sects in America (1949 revised edition) by E. T. Clark, pp. 33, 34. Catholic Encyclopedia (1910, New York), “Irvingites.” Cyclopædia (McClintock & Strong, 1882, New York), “Millennium”; “Bengel, John Albert.”


Additional Reading:

DURING the first few months of 1914 the clergy and others poured considerable ridicule upon C. T. Russell and the Watch Tower Society for failing to see anything happening to the Gentile nations. But all this ridicule stopped when nation after nation and kingdom after kingdom began cascading into what now is called the first world war. From July 27 onward into August of that year was a time of world-shaking surprises. A typical public-press reaction to the situation was published August 30, 1914, by a leading New York city newspaper, The World. “End of All Kingdoms in 1914” was the arresting headline of a long feature article in that journal’s Sunday magazine section (pages 4 and 17), from which we quote:

“According to the Calculations of Rev. Russell’s ‘International Bible Students,’ This Is the ‘Time of Trouble’ Spoken of by the Prophet Daniel, the Year 1914 Predicted in the Book ‘The Time Is at Hand,’ of which Four Million Copies Have Been Sold, as the Date of the Downfall of the Kingdoms of Earth.

“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’, 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 travelling evangelists who, representing this strange creed, have gone up and down the country enunciating the doctrine that ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand.’ . . . Although millions of people must have listened to these evangelists, . . . and although their propaganda has been carried on through religious publications and a secular press service involving hundreds of country newspapers, as well as through lectures, debates, study classes, and even moving pictures, the average man does not know that such a movement as the ‘Millennial Dawn’ exists. . . . Rev. Charles T. Russell is the man who has been propounding this interpretation of the Scriptures since 1874. . . . ‘In view of this strong Bible evidence,’ Rev. Russell wrote in 1889, ‘we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God will be accomplished by the end of A.D. 1914.’ . . . But to say that the trouble must culminate in 1914—that was peculiar. For some strange reason, perhaps because Rev. Russell has a very calm, higher-mathematics style of writing instead of flamboyant soap box manners, the world in general has scarcely taken him into account. The students over in his ‘Brooklyn Tabernacle’ say that this was to be expected, that the world never did listen to divine warnings and never will, until after the day of trouble is past. . . . And in 1914 comes war, the war which everybody dreaded but which everybody thought could not really happen. Rev. Russell is not saying ‘I told you so’; and he is not revising the prophecies to suit the current history. He and his students are content to wait—to wait until October, which they figure to be the real end of 1914.”

- March 15, 1955 Watchtower, pp. 173 -174, WTB&TS