Secondary fulfilment to prophecy?

by Doug Mason 26 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    In its use of the prophecy contained in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Daniel 4), the WTS applies a "greater fulfilment" beyond its initial application.

    While they complain about the WTS's action, at the same time these people make their own secondary applications to prophecies, such as with Micah 5:2. These people also find "greater" meaning to historical statements, such as at Isaiah 9:6 and at Isaiah 53.

    Such passages had their local meaning yet people are prepared to find their "greater application" which suits their ends, just as the WTS does. It is not an excuse to say that the NT writers indulged themselves in the practice.

    I am not saying that I agree with the practice; I am simply seeking consistency and integrity.


  • alanv

    There are many groups that have tried to make prophesy fit their own agenda, and Watchtower are one of them. It took them 130 years to decide that they would stop having types and anti types that are not spoke of in the bible. When one of Watchtower's interpretation of scripture fails, they just change the meaning to something else. JWs are so indoctrinated they just except the new interpretation without question. Very sad.

  • The Fall Guy
    The Fall Guy

    @ Doug - for me, the org's most malevolent "greater fulfillment" teaching is that the great tribulation which Jesus foretold for 1st century Christians will be repeated in our time.

    As JW'S, we totally accepted the "faithful slave's" literature explanation about that G.T. having a "greater fulfillment" and completely dismissed Jesus Christ's Biblical description of it - Matthew 24:21 - ", nor will occur again".

    How can something which Jesus said would never be repeated, have another fulfillment?

    Thanks to the org's double-speak which combines Matthew 24:21 & Revelation 7:14 to create the lie, JW's cannot see that contextually, a completely different great tribulation is being discussed at Revelation 7:14, namely, the one spoken of earlier at Revelation 2:22. It's not rocket science, JW.'s - just read it.

    Acts 17:11 also speaks of a "great tribulation," but again, the context shows that it is unconnected to any other G.T.'s

  • Half banana
    Half banana

    Just a note on the sources of what appears to be a Biblical allegory of Nebuchadnezzar's dream.

    The first literature we know of encompassing the mythical image is in Hesiod's Work and Days dating from 700BC and written in early (Epic) Greek. The essence of it being a statue of different metals, each one from head to feet diminishing in value from gold down to iron, with each metal representing a decline of value. The interpretation --as borrowed in the book of Daniel--(2nd century BC) was the succession of human epochs starting with the heroic golden age followed by a succession of inferior periods. Ovid at the end of the first century BCE or early first century CE also writes of the image with four stages.

    My point is that since this allegory had been in circulation for so long there are no grounds whatsoever to say that it is prophetic or inspired of God and with even less reason to conclude that it or anything can have a "secondary fulfillment."

    The gross mistake of gullible humanity is to believe that written material can be sacred.

  • rickroll

    Is that not the WT type and antitype BS

  • peacefulpete

    It's a methodology at least as old as Qumran. The interpretation of passages as having multiple meanings, often prophetically. This has the effect of keeping a static text seem alive and fresh, it also allows one book to become many books as if were. The meaning being in the eyes of the interpreter.

    I was just reading an interesting article that mentioned the practice of the Qumran writers of dividing up the text with pesarim commentary. First a passage then commentary, then another passage and then more commentary. This method slicing up the text gave interpreters freedom to isolate passages from their context. This naturally results in wider even wilder interpretations. The modern chapter and verse divisions have the same effect of facilitating the isolation of a passage from it context and voila,... 'proof text" theology really got its wings.

  • Mac48

    In Daniel chapter 4 we are told that the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, had a dream that he asked Daniel to interpret. In his dream, Nebuchadnezzar saw a giant tree. “Its top touched the sky” and “it was visible to the ends of the earth.” “Under it the beasts of the field found shelter, and the birds of the air lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.” (Daniel 4:11-12) Then a messenger was seen coming down from heaven. He ordered that the tree be cut down, but its stump and roots were to remain in the ground, bound with metal bands. (Daniel 4:13-15) The messenger then referred to this chopped down tree as a person by saying, “Let him live with the animals …. And let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times pass by for him.” (Daniel 4:15-16) Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar that the tree he saw cut down in his dream was meant to picture him, and that Nebuchadnezzar would soon “be driven away from people” and “live with the wild animals” until “seven times” passed by. Daniel then told the king that “the command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.” (Daniel 4:24-26) Daniel then told us that “twelve months later” “what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.” Daniel concluded his account by informing us that “at the end of that time” Nebuchadnezzar’s “sanity was restored” and he then returned to his throne. (Daniel 4:29-36)

    For many centuries millions of Bible readers, not just Jehovah's witnesses, have thought this prophecy was simply too big to have applied only to Nebuchadnezzar. Believing that the key to discovering its greater meaning might lie in understanding the cryptic phrase “seven times,” some have twisted these two words every which way. For instance, over the past 200 years, several Bible expositors have told us that the words “seven times,” as found in Daniel chapter 4, were meant by God to be understood as a period of seven so-called “prophetic years” of 360 days, totaling 2,520 days. And they have told us that those 2,520 days were intended by God to represent a period of 2,520 years. And they have speculated that those 2,520 years began at some point in time now passed and told us those 2,520 years would end at the time of Christ‘s return. (Different starting points have been assigned by different expositors. Jehovah's Witnesses have long claimed those supposed 2,520 years began in the year 607 BC, their unique date for Babylon's destruction of Jerusalem.)

    Such complicated explanations of Daniel chapter four’s supposed “greater fulfillment” have long bewildered me. For if the prophecy given by God to Nebuchadnezzar, and interpreted for him by Daniel, was indeed meant by God to have a greater fulfillment, that fulfillment has long seemed to me quite obvious. For I have long thought that it made sense that the tree that was cut down in Nebuchadnezzar‘s dream, with its roots left in the ground and its stump banded until “seven times” had passed, and Nebuchadnezzar being removed from his throne until “seven times” had passed, to both prefigure the time when Satan the devil will be removed from his position of power.

    After all, on three occasions Jesus Christ called Satan “the ruler of this world,” leaving no doubt who most people now really serve. (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11 - New Revised Standard Version). And Revelation 20:1-3 tells us that God intends to bind Satan with a metal “chain,” as the tree in Daniel chapter four was bound with metal bands. And that God will then cast Satan into an “Abyss” which will be “locked and sealed … over … for a thousand years … to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years” have ended. Revelation then tells us that “after that he must be set free for a short time,” just as the tree in Daniel chapter 4 was to be banded only until “seven times” ended, and just as Nebuchadnezzar was again allowed to rule his kingdom after “seven times” had passed.

    Nebuchadnezzar was a king who, for almost twenty years, attacked the land of Judah before he finally totally destroyed the Jewish people’s holy city of Jerusalem, along with its temple. Nebuchadnezzar then took everyone in the land of Judah to Babylon as his slaves. Certainly he was well cast to picture Satan the devil in the initial fulfillment of this prophecy contained in Daniel chapter four, if indeed it was intended by God to have one.

    That Nebuchadnezzar may have been intended by God in Daniel chapter four to picture Satan the devil seems likely when we read the 14th chapter of Isaiah. There we find in verses 4 and 12 that “the king of Babylon” is actually called “Lucifer.” (King James Version) He was there given that name partly because of his haughty attitude, as described in verses 13 and 14, an attitude very similar to that which Daniel 4:29-33 tells us Nebuchadnezzar displayed. In further confirmation of this “Nebuchadnezzar pictured Satan” understanding, we also find in Isaiah 14:12 that God told Isaiah people would “taunt” Babylon‘s king by telling him that he had “fallen from heaven” and “been cast down to the earth,” which reminds us of how Jesus Christ said that He “saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18)

    So if we understand that Nebuchadnezzar may have been intended by God to portray Satan the devil in Daniel chapter 4, we don’t need any complicated mathematical formula to determine what period of time was there represented by the words “seven times.” For the Bible itself, in Revelation 20:1-3, tells us that in this understanding of Daniel chapter 4’s greater fulfillment, those “seven times” will be fulfilled by a period of “1,000 years.” But how can “seven times” equal “1,000 years”?

    In this prophecy’s initial fulfillment upon King Nebuchadnezzar some believe that those “seven times” may have simply meant “seven years.” But that does not appear to be possible. For many of the major activities which Nebuchadnezzar engaged in during his forty-three-year reign are very well documented and dated to various years of his rule, both in biblical and extra-biblical sources of reference. And these historical records show that there was never a seven-year period of time during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign when he was not actively involved in ruling his kingdom.

    But if this is so, and if in the greater fulfillment of this prophecy the words “seven times” refer to a period of 1,000 years, what period of time could those “seven times” have referred to in this prophecy’s initial small scale fulfillment during the lifetime of Nebuchadnezzar? In other words, how long was Nebuchadnezzar then away from his throne? The Bible does not say. But that time may have been 1,000 days. For we know that the God of the Bible used days on a small scale to represent an equal number of years on a large scale elsewhere in the Scriptures. (Ezekiel 4:1-6) And though the well documented and dated activities of Nebuchadnezzar during his forty-three-year reign do not allow for him to have been away from his throne for seven years, they do allow him to have left it for 1,000 days. (See “The Gentile Times Reconsidered” - fourth edition, by Carl Olof Jonsson, page 254.) And 1,000 days of foraging for food in the wilderness, without a bath, a haircut, a shave, or a manicure, is plenty of time to make any man look like a beast.

    But by what mathematical formula can the Bible’s cryptic term “seven times” be shown to equal 1,000 years? And if “seven times” were intended by God to represent 1,000 years, shouldn’t the Bible’s other cryptic term “a time, times, and half a time,” or “three and a half times,” represent 500 years? No, not according to this same mathematical formula, which I might discuss here later.

  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason

    I must say that I am deeply impressed by everybody's contribution. Thank you.

    Mac48, as for your thoughts, although I have my reservations at this stage, I would like to offer you some suggestions that might remove some mental roadblocks.

    The book of Daniel as we have it comes from the second century BCE. The preceding centuries witnessed the rise of apocalypticism, so inform yourself about the contemporary times (1 Enoch, Jubilees, Dead Sea community, in particular). That period was also responsible for the creation of an evil spirit world, including their leader, known as Belial / Beliar / Mastema / Azazel / Satan, etc. The LXX took over the Greek diabolos / Devil. Later, the NT writers created demons. This period also invented a War inside Heaven(!).

    Regarding the numbers, do not be distracted by modern mathematics, particularly with its focus on positional notation. Rather, work through their ideas of Gematria, Kabbalah, and so on ("the number of his name", etc.), in other words, the spiritual meanings given to numbers.

    There is a consensus that when the 2nd century CE writers compiled the Book of Daniel for their own immediate needs, that they did not get the history precisely correct in the way that we would understand history. The Hebrews and the Jews created stories in order to give meaning to their own situation. It is thus thought that they reapplied Nabonidus' ten year absence from Babylon in Tema, as it suited their objective regarding Antiochus. Taken in sequence, chapters 2, 3 and 4 of Daniel show that the mighty, who think their kingdom will last forever, will all be humbled.

    As for the Johannine community that wrote, Revelation, that is another separate exercise which has to look at their own situation and approaches.

    My thoughts on the dream, which I hope to start another Thread with:


  • Doug Mason
    Doug Mason


    Yes, and this reapplication is prominent throughout the Gospels, notably Matthew, as well as by Paul.


  • Mac48


    You did not respond to my contention that if the Daniel 4 prophecy was intended by God to have a greater and secondary fulfillment, the tree that was cut down in that vision and Nebuchadnezzar who was subsequently removed from his thrown for "seven times" were both most likely meant by God to picture Satan the devil, who the Bible tells us will one day be cut down and removed from his throne for 1,000 years.

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