When Did Jesus Become King? A Review of “When Did Jesus Become King?” from “The Watchtower”
A few weeks ago, two “Jehovah’s Witnesses” (JW) stopped by my house, offering free study material, asking that I examine the content and discuss it with them upon their return. I accepted it and the offer to study. (I’m still waiting for them to come back.) While many of the articles in the edition of “The Watchtower” that they gave me were “helpful,” there are seeds of false doctrine scattered throughout.
As I read, I was looking for something that would be easily refuted by Scripture, so that, when I study with them on their return, we can have a simple Bible study (i.e. one that initially avoids complex spiritual truths). I found just such an article: a short Q & A entitled “When Did Jesus Become King?” (WDJBK).
The first question—What kingdom was Jesus promised?—is answered correctly, for the most part: Jesus is the promised “seed” of King David (cf. Lk. 1:32-33). God did indeed promise David that his kingdom would be “established forever” (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 89:3-4), because it is really God’s throne (cf. 1 Chron. 28:4-5; 29:23). The article WDJBK also correctly indicates that “no king of David’s family line has ruled from the literal city of Jerusalem” since the Fall of Jerusalem in 607 or 606 BC.
The next section of WDJBK, however, begins misusing (and abusing) the Scriptures. (Their examination of Bible prophecy in this part is infuriating, because it is not “exegesis,” the “bringing out of the text,” but “eisegesis,” “putting into the text.”) The question discussed is “For how long did the rulership that David and Jerusalem represented lie dormant?” While it is true that Daniel (prophet around and following the Destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC) predicted that God would establish His eternal kingdom (cf. Dan. 7:13-14), the JW interpretation of when this rule began is totally erroneous. Consider this excerpt:
Daniel interpreted a vision in which God ordered that an immense tree be cut down, just as God had ordered that the kingdom in Jerusalem be cut down and destroyed. But the tree’s root was to be left in the ground so that after “seven times” it would grow again. The Bible indicates that three and a half “times” equals 1,260 days, so “seven times” equals 2,520 days (Rev. 12:6, 14). In Bible prophecy, days often represent years (Num. 14:34). So, God’s Kingdom would lie dormant for 2,520 years (Dan. 4:10-17).
Now to the trained-by-Scripture eye, the following quotation is exasperating. The JW theory is obviously convoluted and confusing. (Please allow me to reply with “bullet-points.”)
- If we examine Daniel 2, it is obvious that the kingdom would be established “in the days of those kings” (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome), not 1,900 years later!
- The vision of the great tree has nothing to do, contextually or otherwise, with the Jerusalem kingdom but describes King Nebuchadnezzar’s greatness, his abasement, and subsequent reinstatement (cf. Dan. 4:1-37).
- There are no contextual links between the “times” in Daniel 4 and Revelation 12 that would necessitate an interpretative connection. It is wrong to tie different texts together simply to prove a predetermined, unscriptural point. (It is like the proverbial Bible student who got himself in trouble, because he believed God would guide his reading if he just opened his Bible and pointed at verses. He read that Judas “went away and hanged himself” and that Jesus said “Go and do the same.”)
- Though in poetic and prophetic Biblical literature “days” can represent periods of times (or “years”), figurative language cannot be forced into a literal application. (Notice in the above quote that “seven times” is semi-literal but becomes 2,520 days—figurative—then to 2,520 years—literal. It is too inconsistent, and God is not the author of confusion!)
Obviously, with such flawed interpretations of Biblical prophecy, the third question—When did Jesus become king?—is answered incorrectly. WDJBK suggests that 2,520 years after 607 BC would be AD 1914. Thus, the kingdom was established in the 20th century AD. It goes on to misinterpret Revelation 12, tying world crises since 1914 to the expulsion of Satan and demonic powers from heaven and connecting such with prophecies in Matthew 24 and Luke 21—texts that contextually and historically find their fulfillment in the AD 70 Destruction of Jerusalem.
The truth is, Jesus became king when He ascended to heaven in AD 30 and established the church. Before that time, Jesus (along with others) promised that the kingdom was at hand (cf. Matt. 4:17). The first century was the “fullness of the time” (cf. Gal. 4:4; Eph. 1:10), the predicted age of the Roman Empire when God would establish His eternal kingdom (cf. Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14). When the Lord returned to heaven, He possessed (and possesses) all authority (cf. Matt. 28:18), sat down on His Father’s throne (cf. Heb. 1:1-3; Eph. 1:18-23), and admitted the saved into His kingdom (cf. Col. 1:12-14).
The final section in WDJBK reads, “What does Jesus’ kingship mean for you? The fulfillment of prophecies about Jesus’ kingship proves that you can rely on God’s Word. Soon, Jesus will use his kingly power to relieve mankind of all suffering (Ps. 72:8, 12, 13; Dan. 2:44).” They are partially right! We can trust the Scriptures but not the JW distortions of it. Moreover, Jesus will return, but we “do not know the day nor the hour” (Matt. 25:13). Furthermore, the Lord is not coming to set up an earthly kingdom that relieves all physical suffering but to hand the kingdom back to God and bring all His citizens home to heaven (cf. 1 Cor. 15:23-28, 50-56). Let’s be ready!