Article of the Month
A HUNDRED YEARS AGO
"The Guns of August"
It was a century ago in 1914
that considerable world-wide attention was focused on
the prediction by Bible students that the autumn of 1914
would introduce cataclysmic events. For nearly forty
years prior to that date, sincere students of prophecy
had been convinced that an obscure prophecy uttered by
Jesus in Luke 21:20-24 would come to pass in 1914. The
fact is that it did. Some had read more into the
prophecy than was warranted. That is only natural. But
that in no way diminishes the import of the prophecy nor
the events which began to transpire at that date.
Secular historians by the droves acknowledge 1914 as a
major turning-point in the history of the world. The
first “World War” assured that no one could ignore that
something of immense proportions and significance had
— The Prophecy’s Focus
Look closely at Jesus’ words in
Luke 21:20-24. They deal mostly with what would happen
only a few short years after his crucifixion. But the
24th verse predicts a long-term event — the freeing of
Jerusalem from the domination (“foot”) of Gentile
powers. In simpler words, Jews would again gain control
over their own historic homeland. Jesus’ words are
21:20 “But when you see Jerusalem
surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation
is at hand.
21:21 “Then let those who are in
Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are in
the midst of the city depart, and let not those who are
in the country enter the city,
21:22 “because these are the days
of vengeance, in order that all things which are written
[about this event] may be fulfilled.
21:23 “Woe to those who are with
child and to those who nurse babes in those days; for
there will be great distress upon the land, and wrath to
21:24 “And they will fall by the
edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the
nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by
the Gentiles until
All who have some awareness of
Jewish history know that the land of Israel was under
continual control by external empires since King
Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded Israel about six
centuries before Christ. After that time, Israel no
longer had kings nor independence. When we finally come
to the days of Jesus, Rome was the controlling empire.
But Jesus’ prophecy was that Jews would, shortly after
his crucifixion, be expelled from their land and be
driven into exile all over the globe (verse 24). That
did happen after the Roman general, Titus, laid seige on
Jerusalem in A.D. 69. Since that time, Jews have had no
nation until recently. Their experience is commonly
called “The Diaspora” — the dispersion of the people out
of the land of Israel. That fulfilled Luke 21:20 through
the first half of verse 24.
The true focus of the prophecy
is that this dispersion of Jews
end because Gentiles
would no longer have their “foot” (their controlling
domination) on Jerusalem. Thus this prophecy is ABOUT
ISRAEL, not about Gentiles, EXCEPT that taking the
Gentile “foot” off of the Holy Land would, of course,
cause a major upheaval in world affairs in order to
accomplish the eventual independence of Israel. This
would have to be no small event!
— What Was the Source of
Jesus’ Prediction? —
In Luke 21:22, Jesus said that
this Diaspora and its results were “written.” This
means that we should be able to find the prophecy of
which he speaks somewhere in the Old Testament writings.
We can. Jesus was basing his predictions on the
prophecy of Leviticus 26.
Leviticus 26 is a rather
complete exposition of what was to be Israel’s
experience from the days of Moses until the second
advent of Messiah. We will not here present the details
of the chapter. We will merely outline it and see how
Jesus’ prophecy is extracted from it.
There are six parts to this
chapter of Leviticus:
1-13 promise Israel spectacular
blessings if they are obedient.
14-17 promise Israel a life of punishments and
paranoia if they are disobedient.
18-28 promise “SEVEN TIMES” of an added
specialized punishment if Israel hadn’t learned from the
punishments of verse 17. This “seven times” IS the
“Times of the Gentiles” to which Jesus refers in Luke
21:24. The term refers to the fact that Israel would no
longer be independent, but would be perpetually under
the controlling “foot” of Gentile nations. We will see
shortly marvelous things about these “times” and how
they point to the end of 1914.
29-33 the eventual DIASPORA to which Jesus
34-39 describe the Diaspora itself
and the miserable fears which Jews would have to endure
during the experience.
40-45 describe the time of returning or
regathering which we have witnessed as a part of 20th
Century history. Israel is once again in its land
without Gentile domination — ready to become the very
center of God’s Kingdom on earth which will spread to
bless all the families of the earth.
— Dating the End of the
“Times of the Gentiles” —
When Jesus encapsulated the high
points of the Leviticus 26 prophecy, he extracted a few
major items which we might want to notice.
Leviticus 26:29 predicts that
Jews would “eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of
your daughters you shall eat.” Jesus warns of this in
Luke 21:23. As horrible as this sounds, it is a
documented fact that this happened during Titus’ siege
of Jerusalem when he sought to starve the inhabitants
out of the city by not allowing any food to enter.
In Leviticus 26:30 we see the
prediction of the destruction of the temple in
Jerusalem. This was only one of the things Jesus warned
about in Luke 21:22.
The Diaspora itself is predicted
in Luke 21:24 based on Leviticus 26:33.
The “desolation” of Jerusalem is
seen in Leviticus 26:31, 32, and 35. Jesus mentions it
in Luke 21:20.
But the most exciting part of
Jesus’ predictions has to do with TIME — the time when
the Gentile “foot” would be removed from Jerusalem so
that Jews could return to their own land. The
fulfillment of this we have seen with our own eyes!
Israel is now free of domination. It is now a Jewish
state. The “times of the Gentiles” have expired.
Jesus drew on the words “SEVEN
TIMES” in Leviticus 26:18 to allow us to predict 1914
and to give us the clue as to how to calculate the date
BEFORE IT CAME. When he said, “until the times of the
Gentiles be fulfilled,” he showed us that, indeed,
specific and limited “times” were allotted by God for
Gentile domination. Times could not be “FULFILLED”
unless they were promised and limited!
— The Bible Versus Some
Historians do not always concur
when they attempt to date certain events. One famous
historian in a very colorful manner, refers to this
phenomenon when he says, “History is lies agreed upon.”
We mention this because we are
going to mention a date for the time that Israel lost
its last king (Ezekiel 21:24-27), and Gentiles began
their “times” of domination over the Holy Land. Not all
historians concur on the date.
One of the best tests to
determine which historians are correct is the test of
fulfilled prophecy. When a chronological prophecy is
clearly fulfilled, it PROVES which historians’ dates
were correct. This happened, for instance, when Jesus’
first advent came in fulfillment of the prophecy of
Daniel 9:25. Among other things, this prophecy
demonstrated indisputably that a “day” in prophetic time
year in actual time.
— The “Seven Times” —
A “time” in prophecy is a
360-day year. Thus we have “Time, times, and a half” in
Daniel 7:25, 12:7, and in Revelation 12:14, representing
a period of 3-1/2 symbolic
years of 360 days each, resulting in 1,260
years. This number is
expressed elsewhere as 42 months (Revelation 11:2 and
13:5). Forty-two symbolic months of 30 days each also
gives us 1,260 literal years of time.
If 3-1/2 “times” or years is
1,260 literal years, then the “SEVEN TIMES” of Leviticus
26 is twice that long — or 2,520 years from the
beginning of the domination of Gentiles over Israel
until the “times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
It was 606 B.C. when Israel’s
last king was dethroned by Nebuchadnezzar. Thus, 2,520
years later (“seven times” later) brings us to the close
of A.D. 1914 (606 years of B.C. time plus 1914 years of
A.D. time totals 2,520 years.) It was
prophecy that Bible
students predicted the worldwide cataclysm we call
“World War I.” And this prediction was made 40 years
before the fact. Among other things, it validates those
historians who do acknowledge 606 B.C. as the date of
Nebuchadnezzar’s total destruction of Jewish polity.
But, more importantly, it validates Jesus’ prediction
that the Gentile “foot” would then be removed from
As 1914 opened, the Ottoman
Empire controlled the Holy Land. The war totally
obliterated that empire and removed Gentile control over
Jerusalem. The British Empire assumed a temporary
“protectorate” over the place, but not with the
objective of becoming its new ruler. As the famous
Balfour Declaration (made during the war) stated: “His
Majesty’s government views with favor the establishment
of a homeland for the Jewish people in the land of
Palestine.” The “foot” was gone! The rest is history —
and PROPHECY WAS FULFILLED.
— The Phenomenal Number!
God always rewards the faith of
those who love His Word and dig deeply into it. He
usually rewards it by giving additional evidences that
certain interpretational approaches are correct. He has
done this with this prophecy in at least two ways:
(1) He has picked a number
(2,520) with remarkable mathematical properties.
(2) He has hidden the same number
in “The Handwriting on the Wall” found in the account of
We might call 2,520 the lowest
“perfect number.” By this we mean that all single
digits (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) divide into it
without remainder. Additionally, the running totals of
those digits also divide into 2,520 without remainder:
1 + 2 =
3 + 3 =
6 + 4 =
10 + 5 =
15 + 6 =
21 + 7 =
28 + 8 =
36 + 9 =
All of the underlined numbers
divide without remainder into 2,520. We might just
consider this a nice little numbers trick. But the
point is, God Himself arranged for a confidence-building
number for His faithful seekers as they dug to find the
meaning of an important prophecy.
— The “Handwriting on
the Wall” —
In Daniel 5:25-28 we find the
account of the overturn of the first Gentile empire
(Babylon) to the second Gentile empire (Medo-Persia)
which would have its “foot” on Jerusalem. God used the
occasion of Belshazzar’s feast to proclaim again the
limits of this Gentile rule.
On the palace wall appeared four
words: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. The first three
are weights and measures; the last word is a verb.
Daniel gives a true but surface explanation of the
words for the benefit of the king. But hidden in the
words is the number 2,520.
The words MENE and TEKEL are
Chaldean. The Hebrew language has as equivalents MINA
and SHEKEL. Both weights are divisible by a common
measure known as a GERAH. There are 20 gerahs in a
shekel; there are 50 shekels in a mina. The word
UPHARSIN is a verb meaning a DIVIDING of the larger.
Thus, in gerahs, we have
MENE = 1,000 gerahs
MENE = 1,000 gerahs
TEKEL = 20 gerahs
UPHARSIN = 500 gerahs
for a total of 2,520 gerahs.
When Daniel interprets the event, he changes UPHARSIN
to its past-tense form, PERES, which, in its Hebrew
form, was also the word for PERSIANS. Hence Daniel
could also identify the next Gentile “foot” on Jerusalem
as being Persia.
— “The Guns of August”
Guns of August is the title of a well-known
history of World War I written by the historian, Barbara
Tuchman. It is one of literally hundreds of books
dealing with this famous world-wide upheaval in human
history. We have seen Jesus’ (and Moses’ and Daniel’s)
prediction of the event. We have seen its PRIMARY
significance to be a large step in preparing Israel to
be a major factor in the establishment of God’s Kingdom
on earth for which we have prayed so long.
Clearly, the event has
ramifications far wider than the effects on Israel. The
old church-state empires were destroyed in that war.
Doctrines like “The Divine Right of Kings” soon became
almost humorous. The world is not the same. It is
falling apart. But this disintegration of an old order,
still progressing, will, in the end, be found to be a
major blessing for all the families of the earth. We
sympathize greatly for the pain we all must experience
as an old world dies. But when it is gone, and a new
life-giving order takes its place, there will not be so
much as one sigh of yearning, no nostalgia, for what we
know, deep down, has only been a life of suffering and
loss and uncertainty.
“The Gentile Times have ended,
for their kings have had their day. And with them sin
and sorrow will forever pass away.”
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