1925 – “Millions Now Living Will Never Die”
In 1918, Rutherford exclaimed in a series of public lectures, “Millions now living will never die!” This was related to his prophecy that the resurrection would commence on earth in 1925, with the return of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to earth. This article provides quotes regarding this failed doctrine of Rutherford, and shows how in recent times the Watchtower dishonestly presents this historical episode.
Click Here to download a 32Mb searchable PDF of the 1920 booklet “Millions Now Living Will Never Die”.
The failure of the 1914 predictions and death of Russell in 1916 left his followers in disarray. After legalistic wrangling1 Rutherford became next President of the Watchtower Society. Credit must go to Rutherford for his ability to rebuild the Watchtower Society. He was able to re-ignite urgency into the remaining followers by announcing through public discourse in February 1918 that “The World Has Ended – Millions Now Living May Never Die!” In March the title was changed to the more compelling “The World Has Ended — Millions Now Living Will Never Die”.2
“What an exciting message they proclaimed–“Millions now living will never die!” Brother Rutherford had given a discourse on this subject in 1918. It was also the title of a 128-page booklet published in 1920. From 1920 through 1925, that same subject was featured again and again around the world in public meetings in all areas where speakers were available and in upwards of 30 languages.” Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom p.425
Largely unknown by most Jehovah’s Witnesses today, this was the focus of the Watchtower preaching work between 1918 and 1925. Reading the brief mention of this booklet in the Proclaimers book, one could be mistaken for thinking 1925 was of little relevance in the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses; yet this was the defining prophecy of Rutherford’s leadership. “Millions Now Living Will Never Die!” introduced Rutherford’s prediction that the earthly resurrection was to begin in 1925, starting with the faithful men of old, men such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 1925 teaching seems to have originated between 1914 and 1916, possibly from Rutherford, or some other person, whilst Russell was still living, but without his consent. Watch Tower 1916 Apr 15 contained a letter asking;
DEARLY BELOVED PASTOR:… A sister recently arrived from — tells us that the Class there are teaching that the church must not expect to be glorified until 1925, and that this is your thought;…”
“Our kindest thought must be that they are not giving much head to its teachings. Otherwise they would know from its columns that we are not looking forward to 1925, nor to any other date.”
“Seventy jubilees of fifty years each would be a total of 3500 years. That period of time beginning 1575 before A.D. 1 of necessity would end in the fall of the year 1925, at which time the type ends and the great antitype must begin. What, then, should we expect to take place? The chief thing to be restored is the human race to life; and since other Scriptures definitely fix the fact that there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other faithful ones of old, and that these will have the first favour, we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of death , being resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made the visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth.” Millions Now Living Will Never Die p.88
“As we have heretofore stated, the great jubilee cycle is due to begin in 1925. At that time the earthly phase of the kingdom shall be recognized.” Millions Now Living Will Never Die p.89
“Hence these faithful men may be expected on earth within the next few years.” The Harp of God p.340
“The year 1926 would therefore begin about October first, 1925. … We should, therefore, expect shortly after 1925 to see the awakening of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Melchisedec, Job, Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, John the Baptist, and others mentioned in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.
No doubt many boys and girls who read this book will live to see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, and those other men of old, come forth in the glory of their “better resurrection,” perfect in mind and body. It will not take long for Christ to appoint them to their posts of honor and authority as his earthly representatives. The world and all the present conveniences will seem strange to them at first, but they will soon become accustomed to the new methods. They may have some amusing experiences at first; for they never saw telephones, radios, automobiles, electric lights, aeroplanes, steam engines, and many other things so familiar to us.” The Way to Paradise (1925 ed.) pp.224,226-227
Expectations for 1925 included:
- the end of Christendom
- the return of earth to a paradise
- the resurrection of the dead onto earth
- the Zionist teaching of the reestablishment of Palestine
The Way to Paradise described 1925 are the year for “God’s favour returning to the Jewish people”, Jerusalem becoming capital of the world and “ancient worthies” being awakened. This book goes on to make the following outrageous predictions:
“The Bible and “The Bible in Stone” [the Pyramid of Giza] give the date 1914: for the beginning of the great change. History proves that the ouster proceedings began promptly on time. Prophecy indicates that 1925-1926 will see the greater part of the ousting completed. All the world’s statesmen are dreading the next few years.” p.171
“For those who are now living and who will never die…” p.211
“When you take up a more advanced study of the Bible, you will find that the year 1925 A. D. is particularly marked in prophecy.” p.220
“Seventy times 50 are 3,500. The whole period would therefore have been 3,500 years from the time the Jews entered Canaan until all the types would have been fulfilled. As they entered Canaan 1,575 years before Christ there would be 1,925 years of types after Christ, or 1925 A. D.” p.223
“Of course it will take some time to get things in smoothly running order after the great stress between now and 1926. It may be ten years or more before you get your home all fixed up, and the gardens bringing forth the luscious fruits and appetizing vegetables in abundance. Even if it takes a while longer you will be that much better prepared. You will have secured the services of the best decorators you can find. Some of them used to be undertakers; but since there are no more people dying, they have had to seek some new occupation. Their experience as undertakers prepared them to become decorators with very little difficulty.” p.228
Rutherford wrote that his chronological predictions were “of God” himself and 1925 was proclaimed a “fixed” date beyond doubt.
“… this chronology is not of man, but of God…. the addition of more proofs removes it entirely from the realm of chance into that of proven certainty…. the chronology of present truth [is]… not of human origin.” Watch Tower 1922 Jul 1 p.217
“The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures because it is fixed by the law God gave to Israel. Viewing the present situation in Europe, one wonders how it will be possible to hold back the explosion much longer; and that even before 1925 the great crisis will be reached and probably passed.” Watch Tower 1922 Sep 1 p.262
“Our thought is, that 1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures. As to Noah, the Christian now has much more upon which to base his faith then Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge.” Watch Tower 1923 Apr 1 p.106
“The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914;…” Watchtower 1924 Jul 15 p.211