One of the great Watchtower lies is that it always foretold 1914 was to start the conclusion of the system of things. I have just put together an article comparing what the Watchtower said prior to 1914, to the claims it makes today. It is very revealing as to the honesty of Watchtower propoganda. This appears at http://jwfacts.com/index_files/1914dates.htm
Zion’s Watch Tower 1894 July 15 p.227 “But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning , but for theend of the time of trouble .
Awake! 1973 January 22 p.8 “… Jehovah's witnesses pointed to the year 1914, decades in advance , as marking the start of "the conclusion of the system of things.”
One of the most misleading statements in Watchtower publications is that they accurately foretold 1914 to be the ‘start’ of the conclusion of the system of things. In reality 1914 had consistently been predicted to be the ‘end’ of the system of things. The contradictory statements above raise two critical questions;
- What did the Watchtower predict for 1914?
- Does the Watchtower honestly present its history?
1914 is the pivotal date for the existence of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is currently explained as the date;
- The Last Days began
- Jesus started ruling in heaven
- The Gentile times ended
1914 is the basis for the interpretation of the majority of other Bible prophecies. Most importantly, 3 ½ years after 1914 is when Jesus is said to have come to inspect and cleanse the Watchtower Society, resulting in Jesus choosing it to be the only organization he works though in our time, and the only means of salvation.
The current understanding is significantly different to the teachings prior to 1914. Originally, the Watchtower believed;
- The Last Days began 1799
- Jesus started ruling in heaven in 1874
- The Gentile Times would end in 1914, resulting in
- End of Armageddon
- The fall of false religion
- The end of all governments
- The resurrection
- Paradise on earth
The ability of the Watchtower to accurately foretell the meaning of 1914 is a great source of faith for Jehovah's Witnesses unaware of what the Watchtower said prior to 1914.
Watchtower quotes prior to 1914
1914 was to be the final of many dates for Russell, the conclusion of matters. Nothing that Russell said about 1914 has come to pass. Russell taught that Jesus invisible rulership began in 1874.
Studies in Scriptures Series IV (1897) p.621 “Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present since October 1874 , A.D., according to the testimony of the prophets, to those who have ears to hear it: and the formal inauguration of his kingly office dates from April 1878, A.D.”
From 1874 to 1914 was the greatest time of trouble in history, with 1914 being the conclusion of the Last Days. Armageddon would begin, resulting in the wholesale destruction of all government and religion. Russell and his followers were to be raised to heaven and Jesus Kingdom would then be established as paradise on earth.
The following quotes during the lead up to 1914 show there could be no doubt as to what followers of the Watchtower Society were to believe.
Zion’s Watch Tower 1892 January 15 p.23 “… the battle of the great day of God Almighty… The date of the close of that “battle” is definitely marked in Scripture as October 1914 . It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874.”
Jesus ruling earth, Government overthrown
Studies In the Scriptures Series II - The Time Is at Hand (1889) pp.77, 78 claimed seven things would happen in 1914. The following statements are extracted from that list. Not one of these things occurred;
- “the disintegration of the rule of imperfect men. … at that date the Kingdom of God, for which our Lord taught us to pray, saying, " Thy Kingdom come ," will begin to assume control, and that it will then shortly be "set up," or firmly established, in the earth, on the ruins of present institutions .”
- He whose right it is thus to take the dominion will then be present as earth’s new Ruler ; and not only so, but it will also prove that he will be present for a considerable period before that date ;
- the last member of the divinely recognized Church of Christ, the “royal priesthood,” “the body of Christ,” will beglorified with the Head;
- Jerusalem shall no longer be trodden down
- Israel’s blindness will begin to be turned away
- the great “time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation,” will reach its culmination in a world-wide reign of anarchy
- It will prove that before that date God’s Kingdom, organized in power, will be in the earth and then smite and crush the Gentile image (Dan. 2:34)—and fully consume the power of these kings .”
Not one of these seven events eventuated.
Studies In the Scriptures Series II - The Time Is At Hand (1889) pp.99, 101 “True, it is expecting great things to claim, as we do, that within the coming twenty-six years all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved …. In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, 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 at the end of A. D. 1914…. Be not surprised, then, when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, that it is pointed out in prophecy as due to begin the exercise of power in A.D. 1878, and that the "battle of the great day of God Almighty" (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced. The gathering of the armies is plainly visible from the standpoint of God's Word.”
Studies In the Scriptures Series IV – The Day of Vengeance (1897) - pp.546, 547 “…we have seen that God has a set time for every feature of his plan, and that we are even now in this “Day of Vengeance,” which is a period of forty years; that it began in October, 1874, and will end in October, 1914 [very shortly].”
Religion Utterly Destroyed
Three Worlds and The Harvest of This World (1877) p.143 “The seventh trumpet sounds from Aug. 1840, until "the time of trouble," or day of wrath is ended. Hence, it doubtless ends with the times of the Gentiles, and this forty years of conquest; and therefore, sounds until A . D . 1914; at the end of which, Babylon the great, will have fallen , and the "dragon" be bound: that is, the nations will be subdued, and "the prince of this world cast out."”
Studies In the Scriptures Series III - Thy Kingdom Come (1891) p.153 “A.D. 33, to A.D. 70 was 36 ½ years; and so from A.D. 1878 to the end of A.D. 1914 is 36 ½ years. And, with the end of A.D. 1914, what God calls Babylon, and what men call Christendom, will have passed away , as already shown in prophecy.”
Watch Tower 1911 June 15 p.190 “October, 1914, will witness the full end of Babylon , “as a great millstone cast into the sea,” utterly destroyed as a system.”
Harvest work complete
Studies In the Scriptures Series III - Thy Kingdom Come p.135 “HARVEST” is a term which gives a general idea as to what work should be expected to transpire between the dates 1874 and 1914.”
Studies In the Scriptures Series III - Thy Kingdom Come pp.149-150 “These, already examined, show that the close of 1874 marked the beginning, as the close of 1914 will mark the end , of this 40 years of harvest; while all the minutiae of the order and work of this harvest were portrayed in that of the Jewish age, its type.”
Three Worlds and The Harvest of This World (1877) p.166 “And yet "Jerusalem must be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled;" hence, trodden down until A. D. 1914, when the day of wrath will be passed, and the resurrection and return of the " whole house of Israel" due.”
Studies in the Scriptures after 1914
Studies in the Scriptures written prior to 1914 were very specific about what would happen prior to and during 1914. These journals continued to be used after 1914. To overcome the obviously erroneous predictions in 1915 they were reissued with amendments.
For example the 1908 edition of Studies in the Scriptures Series III - Thy Kingdom Come stated on p.228 that the resurrection would occur before 1914.
“That the deliverance of the saints must take place some time before 1914 is manifest, since the deliverance of fleshly Israel, as we shall see, is appointed to take place at that time, and the angry nations will then be authoritatively commanded to be still, and will be made to recognize the power of Jehovah’s Anointed. Just how long before 1914 the last living members of the body of Christ will be glorified, we are not directly informed; but it certainly will not be until their work in the flesh is done; nor can we reasonably presume that they will long remain after that work is accomplished. With these two thought in mind, we can approximate the time of the deliverance.”
The 1915 edition changed this to state that the resurrection was to occur soon after 1914.
“ That the deliverance of the saints must take place very soon after 1914 is manifest, since the deliverance of fleshly Israel, as we shall see, is appointed to take place at that time, and the angry nations will then be authoritatively commanded to be still, and will be made to recognize the power of Jehovah’s Anointed. Just how long after 1914 the last living members of the body of Christ will be glorified, we are not directly informed; but it certainly will not be until their work in the flesh is done; nor can we reasonably presume that they will long remain after that work is accomplished. ”
The 1915 March 1 issue of the Watch Tower admitted to these changes in the following article.
“CHANGES IN "SCRIPTURE STUDIES"
We call attention to a few slight changes which have been made in four pages of Vol. II. and six pages of Vol. III., "STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES." These are all trivial and do not alter the real sense and lesson, but conform to the facts as we have them today. The pages containing these corrections are as follows:
Vol. II., page 77, line 1, "will be the farthest limit," reads "will see the disintegration."
Vol. II., page 77, line 6, "will obtain full universal control," reads "will begin to assume control."
Vol. II., page 77, lines 16,17, "end of A.D. 1914," reads "end of the overthrow."
Vol. II., page 81, line 9, "can date only from A.D. 1914," reads "could not precede A.D. 1915."
Vol. II., page 170, line 16, "at that time they will all be overturned."*
*How long it will require to accomplish this overturning we are not informed, but have reason to believe the period will be short.
Vol. II., page 221, line 25, "full favor until A.D. 1914," reads "full favor until after 1915."
Vol. III., page 94, line 29, "in this end or harvest," reads "at the end of this harvest."
Vol. III., page 126, line 12, "at A.D. 1914," reads "after 1914."
Vol. III., page 133, line 21, "ere the harvest is fully ended."+
+The end of the harvest will probably include the burning of the tares.
Vol. III., page 228, line 11, "some time before 1914," reads "very soon after 1914."
Vol. III., page 228, line 15, "just how long before," reads "just how long after."
Vol. III., page 362, line 11, "some time before," reads "some time near."
Vol. III., page 364, line 14, "must not only witness," reads "may not only witness."”
How the Watchtower presents its history
The Watchtower uses the Bible Student’s foresight of 1914 as proof of Jehovah’s direction. Can this be true, knowing how wrong the Watchtower was? The following quotes show the positive spin the Watchtower puts on Russell’s inaccurate teaching. This is used to make people believe Holy Spirit directs the Watchtower Society to uncover Bible prophecy. Statements that the Watchtower foretold 1914 to be the end of the Gentile Times are strictly accurate, but lead the reader to an incorrect conclusion. At other times the Watchtower blatantly lies when saying the Watchtower pointed to 1914 as “the start of “the conclusion of the system of things.””
God's Eternal Purpose Now Triumphing For Man's Good (1974) pp.178-179 “This remnant of anointed ones have identified themselves on the pages of history since 1914 C.E. Before this year members of this anointed remnant had been earnestly studying God' s Word apart from Christendom. They put the Holy Bible ahead of man-made religious traditions. As early as 1876 they were publishing that the Gentile Times of 2,520 years would terminate in the year 1914. Events that have taken place from that year onward prove they were not wrong .”
Yearbook 1975 p.37 “Even earlier, however, C. T. Russell wrote an article entitled "Gentile Times: When Do They End?" It was published in the Bible Examiner of October 1876, and therein Russell said: "The seven times will end in A.D. 1914." He had correctly linked the Gentile Times with the "seven times" mentioned in the book of Daniel. (Dan. 4:16, 23, 25, 32) True to such calculations, 1914 did mark the end of those times and the birth of God's kingdom in heaven with Christ Jesus as king. Just think of it! Jehovah granted his people that knowledge nearly four decades before those times expired.”
Awake! 1973 January 22 p.8 ”Of all men used by God to prophesy, Jesus is outstanding. Based on what he said, along with the words of Daniel and John, Jehovah's witnesses pointed to the year 1914, decades in advance , as marking the start of "the conclusion of the system of things."
What Has Religion Done For Mankind? (1951) p.308 “Under the guidance of God's spirit of freedom the magazine today known as The Watchtower but known back there as Zion's Watch Tower , began to be published in July, 1879. In the first year of its publication it pointed to the date 1914 as marked in the Bible.”
Watchtower 1952 November 1 p.658 “As for the time of Christ’s second presence, Daniel’s prophecy is again the one that gives the chronology for it. (Dan. 4:16) It was figured out as pointing to A.D. 1914, and The Watchtower called notice to the significance of 1914 in the year 1879 .”
Watchtower 1954 June 15 p.370 “Why, then, do the nations not realize and accept the approach of this climax of judgment? It is because they have not heeded the world wide advertising of Christ’s return and his second Presence . Since long before World War I Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to 1914 as the time for this great event to occur.”
Watchtower 1965 July 15 p.428 ”This was a new revelation of great importance to God’s people who had been anxiously awaiting his second presence toward the end of the nineteenth century.”
Watchtower 1966 February 15 p.103 “For over thirty years before that date and for half a century since, Jehovah’s witnesses have pointed to the year 1914 as the time for the end of “the appointed times of the nations” and the time in which Christ would begin his Kingdom rule . (Luke 21:24)”
True Peace And Security (1986) p.70 “As far back as 1876, Jehovah' s Witnesses realized that Bible prophecy marked the year 1914 C.E. as a time when major events would take place that would have far-reaching effects on human affairs. They gave the reason for this fact wide publicity.”
Watchtower 1989 September 1 pp.12-13 “Back in 1904, the book The New Creation called attention to this new organization that came into existence in the first century C.E. (Studies In The Scriptures, Series VI, Study V, entitled "The Organization of the New Creation") Owing to its view of what the end of the Gentile Times would mean, that book did not envision the remarkable organizational work that was due to take place after the crippling effects of the first world war of human history. - Luke 21:24 KJ”
Watchtower 1993 January 15 pp.5,9 “The Watchtower has consistently presented evidence … that Jesus’ presence in heavenly Kingdom power began in 1914 . Events since that year testify to Jesus’ presence. … Jehovah’s Witnesses have consistently shown from the Scriptures that the year 1914 marked the beginning of this world’s time of the end and that “the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men” has drawn near.”
Watchtower 1998 September 15 p.15 “…a prophecy providentially caused sincere 19th-century Bible students to be in expectation. By linking the “seven times” of Daniel 4:25 with “the times of the Gentiles”, they anticipated that Christ would receive Kingdom power in 1914 . “
The only aspect of Russell’s teaching on 1914 remaining is the term ‘Gentile times’. Though the term is remains, the meaning has greatly changed. Before 1914 this meant that earthly governments would end in total destruction and false religion would be overturned, heralding God’s kingdom on earth. Now it simply means that Jesus is ruling in heaven, a handy concept as it is invisible and unnoticed.
It is interesting that Russell’s incorrect understanding of 1914 had a huge weight of scriptural prophecy to support it. Some of the reasoning was as follows;
- The 1260 days prophecy pointed to 1799 as the last days
- The 2300 day prophecy pointed to 1844
- The 1355 day prophecy, end of the 6000 years and jubilee cycles all pointed to 1874 as the beginning of Jesus presence
From the above prophecies 1914 could be determined because;
- 1914 was a 40 year Jewish harvest from 1874.
- It was a 70 year generation from 1844.
- It was indicated by the prophecy of the seven times
- 40 years from 1874 to 1914 corresponds to 40 years from Jesus baptism in 30 A.D. to Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 A.D.
- 36 ½ years from 1878 to 1914 corresponded to 36 ½ years of trouble from Jesus death to the Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 A.D.
These concepts are now unknown to Witnesses and few realise the huge importance placed on 1874 for over 50 years.
Russell stated in Zion’s Watch Tower 1892 January 1 p.22 “never was there such a general time of banding together as at present.” All this weight of reasoning has since been discarded and today only one prophecy is used to specifically point to 1914 as the start of Jesus presence; that is, the Seven Times. All of the other scriptural proofs are now considered to be wrong.
As impressive as Russell’s reasoning looks, it was progressively changed as one prediction after another failed to eventuate. Russell originally wrote that the Bible Students ascension to heaven and the fall of Babylon were to happen in years prior to 1914. 1914 was just the date when the Gentile times would end and paradise be established on earth. As his predictions failed to eventuate there occurrences was moved to 1914. Russell was clearly wrong when not one of these had occurred by the end of 1914.
In addition to his predictions being wrong, Russell was unsure whether to use the year 1914 or 1915. As shown later, he did not know how to deal the year zero when calculating prophecy, and so fluctuated between saying the end would arrive in 1914 or 1915. When 1914 did not eventuate in Armageddon Watchtower publications began to promote 1915. When this year came to nothing the entire meaning of all his prophetic interpretation required rewriting. It took until 1943 for the new understanding to finally be clarified.
Why has the Watchtower Society discontinued its belief in all their original date interpretations but retained 1914? The occurrence of World War One in 1914 appears to give this single year a historical significance that can not be attached to any of the other 20 or so dates promoted. Later in this book the Watchtower explanation of the prophecy of the Seven Times is examined and shown to be based on historical errors and inconsistent reasoning, leaving no reason to say that 1914 is of any relevance to us today.
Russell was not guided by Jehovah to uniquely understand Daniels prophecy of the Seven Times; he took his interpretation from Adventists such as Barbour. He adamantly stated that 1914 would be “the final end” of this system of things. The Watchtower has not presented a consistent understanding of 1914 and the current interpretation was not finalised until 1943.
God’s Kingdom on a Thousand Years Has Approached p 209 shows; “ In the year 1943 the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society published the book “The Truth Shall Make You Free.” …This moved forward the end of six thousand years of man’s existence into the decade of the 1970’s. Naturally this did away with the year 1874 C.E. as the date of return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the beginning of his invisible presence or parousia. …Page 324 of the above book positively says: “The King’s presence or parousia began in 1914.””
That Jesus started ruling in 1914 can not be proven as the Watchtower describes this as an unseen event.
It is disappointing to read how the Watchtower describes those individuals in the early 1900’s that thought the end was to come in 1914.
Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose p.52 “There is no doubt that many throughout this period were overzealous in their statements as to what could be expected. Some read into the Watch Tower statements that were never intended …”
The Watchtower Society blames those who believed they were going to heaven on misunderstanding the Watchtower message. Similarly, the Proclaimers book indicates that those who left were serving out of wrong motives.
Jehovah’s Witnesses - Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom p. 61 “The Gentile Times have ended; their kings have had their day”! So exclaimed Brother Russell as he entered the dining room at the Brooklyn headquarters of the Watch Tower Society the morning of Friday, October 2, 1914. Excitement was high. Most of those present had for years been looking forward to 1914. But what would the end of the Gentile Times bring? World War I was raging, and at that time it was believed that the war was leading into a time of global anarchy that would result in the end of the existing system of things. There were also other expectations concerning 1914. Alexander H. Macmillan, who had been baptized in September 1900, later recalled: “A few of us seriously thought we were going to heaven during the first week of that October. … Had some been attracted by the thought of their own early salvation rather than love for God and a strong desire to do his will?”
This is a common Watchtower formula; blame the members. Rather then apologise for error say the followers were overzealous, misunderstood things or read into things. As prior quotes showed, this is just not true. The statements flowed unendingly, ‘this is an established truth’, there is ‘proof’, these things ‘will’ occur. It was spelled out so clearly that was no need for the members to read in what was not intended.
Possibly worse is that these mistakes are also handed off to be the fault of God.
Studies in the Scriptures Series II 1916 ed. foreword “This was a natural mistake to fall into, but the Lord overruled it for the blessing of His people.”
The Watchtower Society spent decades promoting its most prominent doctrine that the end would occur in 1914. Can a person trust the Watchtower Society when it was proven so dramatically wrong? Can a person trust the Watchtower Society when it continues to resort to deception when presenting its history? How can a person want to belong to an organization that refuses to accept responsibility for its mistakes, passing the blame to its faithful followers?