DNCall - I don't know why the printing plates were destroyed (and I haven't read the Oct 2019 WT) but I remembered this from the Revelation Grand Climax book (chap. 21 pp. 129-131) - is it possible they destroyed the printing plates themselves because they thought they were going off to heaven?
A Time for
A significant silence this! Half an hour can
seem a long time when you are waiting for something to happen. Now, even the
constant heavenly chorus of praise is no longer heard. (Revelation 4:8) Why?
John sees the reason in vision: “And another angel
arrived and stood at the
altar, having a golden incense
vessel; and a large quantity
of incense was given him
to offer it with the
prayers of all the holy
ones upon the golden altar
that was before the throne.
And the smoke of the
incense ascended from the
hand of the angel with
the prayers of the holy
ones before God.”—Revelation 8:3, 4.
3 This reminds us that under the Jewish
system of things, incense was burned daily at the tabernacle and, in later
years, at the temple in Jerusalem. (Exodus 30:1-8) During such incense burning,
the nonpriestly Israelites waited outside the sacred area, praying—no doubt
silently in their hearts—to the One to whom the incense smoke was ascending.
(Luke 1:10) John now sees something similar happening in heaven. The incense
offered by the angel is associated with “the prayers of the holy ones.” In
fact, in an earlier vision, incense is said to represent such prayers.
(Revelation 5:8; Psalm 141:1, 2) Evidently, then, the symbolic silence in
heaven is to allow the prayers of the holy ones on earth to be heard.
4 Can we determine when this happened?
Yes, we can, by examining the context, together with historical developments
early in the Lord’s day. (Revelation 1:10) During 1918 and 1919, events on
earth harmonized remarkably with the scenario described at Revelation 8:1-4.
For 40 years before 1914, the Bible Students—as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then
called—had been announcing boldly that the times of the Gentiles would end in
that year. The distressful events of 1914 proved them correct. (Luke 21:24, King
James Version; Matthew 24:3, 7, 8) But many of them also
believed that in 1914 they would be taken from this earth to their heavenly
inheritance. That did not happen. Instead, during the first world war, they
endured a time of severe persecution. On October 31, 1916, the first
president of the Watch Tower Society, Charles T. Russell, died. Then, on
July 4, 1918, the new president, Joseph F. Rutherford, and seven
other representatives of the Society were transported to the Atlanta, Georgia,
penitentiary, wrongly sentenced to long years in prison.
5 The sincere Christians of the John
class were perplexed. What did God want them to do next? When would they be
taken up to heaven? An article entitled “The Harvest Ended—What Shall Follow?”
appeared in the May 1, 1919, issue of The Watch Tower.
It reflected this state of uncertainty and encouraged the faithful to continued
endurance, adding: “We believe it is now a true saying that the harvest of the
kingdom class is an accomplished fact, that all such are duly sealed and that
the door is closed.” During this difficult period, the fervent prayers of the
John class were ascending, as though in the smoke of a large quantity of
incense. And their prayers were being heard!
End of quote