Eschatology of Jehovah's Witnesses

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The eschatology of Jehovah's Witnesses is central to their religious beliefs. They believe that Jesus Christ has been ruling in heaven as king since 1914 (a date they believe was prophesied in Scripture), and that after that time a period of cleansing occurred, resulting in God's selection of the Bible Students associated with Charles Taze Russell to be his people in 1919. They also believe the destruction of those who reject their message[1] and thus willfully refuse to obey God[2][3] will shortly take place at Armageddon, ensuring that the beginning of the new earthly society will be composed of willing subjects of that kingdom.

The religion's doctrines surrounding 1914 are the legacy of a series of emphatic claims regarding the years 1799,[4] 1874,[4] 1878,[5] 1914,[6] 1918[7] and 1925[8] made in the Watch Tower Society's publications between 1879 and 1924. Claims about the significance of those years, including the presence of Jesus Christ, the beginning of the "last days", the destruction of worldly governments and the earthly resurrection of Jewish patriarchs, were successively abandoned.[9] In 1922 the society's principal journal, Watch Tower, described its chronology as "no stronger than its weakest link", but also claimed the chronological relationships to be "of divine origin and divinely corroborated...in a class by itself, absolutely and unqualifiedly correct"[10] and "indisputable facts",[4] while repudiation of Russell's teachings was described as "equivalent to a repudiation of the Lord".[11]

The Watch Tower Society has stated that its early leaders promoted "incomplete, even inaccurate concepts".[12] The Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses says that, unlike Old Testament prophets, its interpretations of the Bible are not inspired or infallible.[13][14][15] Witness publications say that Bible prophecies can be fully understood only after their fulfillment, citing examples of biblical figures who did not understand the meaning of prophecies they received. Watch Tower publications often cite Proverbs 4:18, "The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established" (NWT) to support their view that there would be an increase in knowledge during "the time of the end", as mentioned in Daniel 12:4. Jehovah's Witnesses state that this increase in knowledge needs adjustments. Watch Tower publications also say that unfulfilled expectations are partly due to eagerness for God's Kingdom and that they do not call their core beliefs into question.[16][17][18]

Current beliefs[edit]

Jehovah's Witnesses teach the imminent end of the current world society, or "system of things" by God's judgment, leading to deliverance for the saved. This judgment will begin with false religion, which they identify as the "harlot", Babylon the Great,[19][20] referred to in the Book of Revelation. They apply this designation to all other religions. They do not currently place their expectations on any specific date, but believe that various events will lead up to the end of this "system of things", culminating in Armageddon. Armageddon is understood to include the destruction of all earthly governments by God. After Armageddon, God will extend his heavenly kingdom to include earth.[21][22]

They believe that after Armageddon, based on scriptures such as John 5:28, 29, the dead will gradually be resurrected to a "day of judgment" lasting for a thousand years.[23] This judgment will be based on their actions after resurrection, not on past deeds.[24] At the end of the thousand years a final test will take place when Satan is brought back to mislead perfect mankind.[25] The end result will be a fully tested, glorified human race.[26]

Presence of Jesus Christ[edit]

Watch Tower Society publications teach that Jesus Christ returned invisibly and began to rule in heaven as king in October 1914. They state that the beginning of Christ's heavenly rule would seem worse initially for mankind because it starts with the casting out of Satan from heaven to the earth, which according to Revelation 12, would bring a brief period of "woe" to mankind.[27] This woe will be reversed when Christ comes to destroy Satan's earthly organization, throwing Satan into the abyss and extending[28] God's kingdom rule over the earth, over which Jesus reigns as God's appointed king. They believe the Greek word parousia (usually translated as "coming") is more accurately understood as an extended invisible "presence", perceived only by a series of "signs".[29]

Witnesses base their beliefs about the significance of 1914 on the Watch Tower Society's interpretation of biblical chronology,[30][31] which is hinged on their assertion that the Babylonian captivity and destruction of Jerusalem occurred in 607 BC.[32] From this, they conclude that Daniel chapter 4 prophesied a period of 2,520 years, from 607 BC until 1914.[33][34] They equate this period with the "Gentile Times" or "the appointed times of the nations," a phrase taken from Luke 21:24. They believe that when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem, the line of kings descended from David was interrupted, and that God's throne was "trampled on" from then until Jesus began ruling in October 1914.[35] Secular historians date the event of Jerusalem's destruction to within a year of 587 BC. The Witnesses' alternative chronology produces a 20-year gap between the reigns of Neo-Babylonian Kings Amel-Marduk (rule ended 560 BC) and Nabonidus (rule began 555 BC) in addition to the intervening reigns of Neriglissar and Labashi-Marduk, despite the availability of contiguous cuneiform records.[36]

They teach that after the war of Armageddon, Jesus will rule over earth as king for 1000 years after which he will hand all authority back to Jehovah.[37][38]

Sign of "last days"[edit]

Jehovah's Witnesses teach that since October 1914, humanity has been living in a period of intense increased trouble known as "the last days", marked by war, disease, famine, earthquakes, and a progressive degeneration of morality.[39][40] They also believe their preaching is part of the sign, often alluding to the text of Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in all the world as a witness to all nations. And then the end shall come." (MKJV)[41][42] They claim that various calamities in the modern world constitute proof of these beliefs, such as the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the Spanish flu epidemic in May 1918, the onset of World War II in 1939, and more recently, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.[43][44][45]

Judgment of religion[edit]

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that in 1918, Christ judged all world religions claiming to be Christian,[46] and that after a period of eighteen months, among all groups and religions claiming to represent Christ,[47] only the "Bible Students" (from which Jehovah's Witnesses developed) met God's approval.[48] Watch Tower Society publications claim that the world's other religions have misrepresented God, and filled the world with hatred.[49] They identify "Babylon The Great" and the "mother of the harlots" referred to in Revelation 17:3-6 as the "world empire of false religion"[49][50][51]

During the final great tribulation, all other religions will be destroyed by "crazed" member governments of the United Nations, acting under the direction of Jehovah.[52][53] Witness publications identify the United Nations as the "beast" to whom the "ten kings" of Revelation 17:12,13 give their "power and authority."[54]

History of eschatology[edit]

Herald of the Morning published by Nelson H. Barbour and Charles Taze Russell in 1878

Watch Tower Society eschatological teachings are based on the earliest writings of Charles Taze Russell, but have undergone significant changes since then. Many of the changes reflect altered views on the significance of the dates 1874, 1914, 1918, and 1925.

Early expectations (1871–1881)[edit]

The Second Adventists affiliated with Nelson H. Barbour expected a visible and dramatic return of Christ in 1873,[55] and later in 1874.[56] They agreed with other Adventist groups that the "time of the end" (also called the "last days") had started in 1799.[57] Soon after the 1874 disappointment, Barbour's group decided Christ had returned to the earth in 1874, but invisibly. Writing in his journal The Herald of the Morning in 1875, Barbour outlined his eschatological views and connected the years 1874, 1878, 1881, and 1914. The "harvest" was to run from 1874 to the spring of 1878, concluding with "the translation of the living saints into the air." 1881 would mark the restoration of the Jews to Palestine, and the period from 1881 until 1914 would see the installation of God's kingdom on earth. Barbour wrote that in the 40 years from 1874 to 1914 "the 'time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation;' will be fulfilled. And in the mean time, the kingdom of God will be set up, 'break in pieces, and consume all these [Gentile] kingdoms,' 'and the stone become a great mountain, and fill the whole earth,' and usher in glory of the millennial age".[5]

Russell became associated with Barbour in 1876 and accepted Barbour's eschatological understanding.[58][59] In 1877, Barbour and Russell jointly issued the book Three Worlds and the Harvest of This World, which reiterated Barbour's earlier teachings.[60] It proclaimed Christ's invisible return in 1874,[61] the resurrection of the saints in 1875,[62] and predicted the end of the "harvest" and a rapture of the saints to heaven for 1878[63] and the final end of "the day of wrath" in 1914.[64] 1874 was considered the end of 6000 years of human history and the beginning of judgment by Christ.[65]

The selection of 1878 as the year of the rapture of the saints was based on the application of parallel dispensations, which equated the 3½-year period of Christ's ministry with a similar "harvest" period following his parousia. When the rapture failed to occur, Russell admitted they "felt somewhat disappointed", but decided there would be an additional 3½-year period "making the harvest seven years long".[66] Successive issues of The Herald of the Morning identified the autumn of 1881 as the end of the "Harvest" and the likely time for the translation of the Church to heaven.[67][68][69] Russell split from Barbour over doctrinal differences and began publishing Zion's Watch Tower in July 1879.

Great Pyramid of Giza (1876–1928)[edit]

The monument erected by the Watch Tower Society at C.T. Russell's grave in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania modeled after the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Influenced by the pyramidology theories of John Taylor and Charles Piazzi Smyth, Nelson Barbour and Charles Russell taught that the Great Pyramid of Giza contained prophetic measurements in "pyramid inches" that pointed to both 1874 and 1914. Russell viewed the Great Pyramid as "God's Stone Witness and Prophet".[70][71] Smyth reviewed Russell's manuscript on the Great Pyramid before publication and Russell credited him and Scottish writer Robert Menzies for the view "that the Great Pyramid is Jehovah's 'Witness', and that it was as important a witness to divine truth as to natural science."[72][73] Prophetic dates derived from the measurements inside the Great Pyramid were seen as complementary to biblical interpretations. Russell included the Great Pyramid as part of his film and color slide production The Photo-Drama of Creation in 1914, suggesting that the Great Pyramid was built by the Old Testament king-priest Melchizedek.[74] A special edition of the first volume of Studies in the Scriptures was also published, which was re-titled The Divine Plan of the Ages and the Corroborative Testimony of the Great Pyramid.[75] In accordance with Russell's wishes, a 7-foot (2.1 m) high replica of a pyramid was erected at his gravesite in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its capstone "patterned after the capstone of the Great Pyramid of Egypt, symbolic of the Christ."[76][77][78]

Early Watch Tower publications cited "the testimony of the Great Pyramid" for expectations for 1910 and 1914.

Russell's interpretations of the Great Pyramid were supported by the writings of John and Morton Edgar who were prominent members of his movement.[79][80][81] Russell had first stated that 1874 was derived from a measurement of 3416 pyramid inches,[82] but the measurement was revised in the 1910 edition to 3,457 inches (87.8 m) to point to 1915.[83] The Edgars claimed that the revision in measurement and change in date was a result of errors made by Smyth.[84] In the early 1920s, the significance of the pyramidological predictions for 1914 were re-interpreted to mean that "the old evil order began to pass away in 1914."[85][86] In 1924, an issue of Golden Age referred to the Great Pyramid as "the Scientific Bible" and added that measurements on the Grand Gallery inside the Great Pyramid confirmed the dates 1874, 1914 and 1925.[87] Similarly, the 1924 publication The Way to Paradise refers to the Great Pyramid as "the Bible in Stone" and concludes:

It is quite probable that Shem, son of Noah, a faithful servant of God, was in charge of its construction. In it have been discovered some of the deepest secrets of geometrical, geographical, astronomical, and mathematical science. The pyramid also outlines in its own peculiar way the same plan of God that we find in the Bible, and it dated beforehand some of the most notable events that have occurred in the history of mankind. It gives the date of the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt, and the date of birth and death of Jesus. It gives the date of the French revolution as 1789, and the great World War as 1914, besides many more. It was built over five hundred years before Moses wrote any part of the Bible. It is so far in advance of the wisdom of that day that no man could have been the architect. Its harmony with the Bible teachings prove that God designed it.[88]

In 1928, the belief that the Great Pyramid contained a prophetic blueprint of biblical chronology was rejected, and the Pyramid was seen as built "under the direction of Satan the Devil."[89][90]

"The Time Is At Hand" (1881–1918)[edit]

Some of Barbour's eschatology was retained by Russell after they parted company. Basing his interpretations on a concept of parallel "dispensations", Russell taught that while Jesus was invisibly present on earth he was also made its king in 1878. He believed God had rejected the "nominal Church" (considered to be "Babylon the Great") in 1878.[91] Russell also taught that in 1878 Christ resurrected all the "dead in Christ" as spirit beings to be with him on earth awaiting a future glorification to heaven. (The remainder of the 144,000 who would die after 1878 would each be resurrected at the time of the their death.) Together with Christ on earth, these invisible resurrected spirit beings were said to be engaged in directing a harvest work (running from 1874–1914) to gather the remainder of those with the heavenly calling.[92] Russell later moderated his view about the significance of 1881, stating that the "door" for the gathering of the Bride of Christ "stands ajar."[93]

In 1889, Charles Taze Russell published his interpretation of eschatology and chronology based on the idea of parallel "dispensations".

He wrote that the culmination of Armageddon would occur in 1914, preceded by the gathering of all the saints (both resurrected and living) to heaven. Based on measurements from the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, this "passing beyond the vail" or rapture was expected "before the close of A.D. 1910."[94][95] Russell enumerated seven expectations for 1914 in The Time is at Hand:

  1. God's kingdom would take full control of earth "on the ruins of present institutions";
  2. Christ would be present as earth's new ruler;
  3. The last of the "royal priesthood, the body of Christ" would be glorified with Christ;
  4. Jerusalem would no longer "be trodden down by the Gentiles";
  5. "Israel's blindness will begin to be turned away";
  6. The great "time of trouble" would reach its culmination of worldwide anarchy;
  7. God's Kingdom would "smite and crush the Gentile image—and fully consume the power of these kings".[96]

In 1911 Russell wrote that October 1914 would witness the "full end" of Babylon, or nominal Christianity, "utterly destroyed as a system".[97] At first, the hopes for 1914 were stretched to "near the end of A.D. 1915."[98] A few months before his death in October 1916, Russell wrote: "We believe that the dates have proven to be quite right. We believe that Gentile Times have ended. ... The Lord did not say that the Church would all be glorified by 1914. We merely inferred it, and, evidently, erred."[99] He interpreted the war in Europe to be the first of three phases of Armageddon[100] and the destruction of Christendom as represented in the European monarchies ruling by Divine Right[original research?] to take place in 1918.[7]

Following Russell's lead, the book The Finished Mystery[101] emphasized events for 1918. The destruction of the churches of Christendom and the deaths of "church members by the millions" was expected in 1918.[102][103] The Finished Mystery proposed the spring of 1918 for the glorification of the Church[104] and suggested that it may occur on the day of Passover in that year. First printings of The Finished Mystery predicted the end of the World War "some time about October 1, 1917," but this was changed in subsequent editions.[105][106] It also predicted the destruction of governments in 1920.[107]

"Millions Now Living Will Never Die!" (1918–1925)[edit]

The predictions for 1920 were discarded before that year arrived, in favor of a new chronology. In 1918-1919, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, second president of the Watch Tower Society, inaugurated a worldwide lecture series entitled "Millions Now Living Will Never Die!", later reproduced in booklet form.[108] It provided a re-interpretation of the significance of the year 1914 (now seen as the beginning of the "last days"). It also included new predictions for 1925 including the resurrection of the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and other Old Testament personages (referred to as "princes").[109][110][111] Their return would mark the beginning of a new order, from which time millions of people alive at that time would be able to live forever.[8] Newspaper advertisements for the "Millions" lecture localized the claim, with a typical declaration in a Marion, Ohio newspaper reading: "It will be conclusively proved... that thousands now living in Marion and vicinity will never die."[112]

The book stated that 1925 would be among the dates "stamped with God's approval" and The Watch Tower described the evidence for the chronology surrounding 1925 as stronger than that for 1914,[113][114] but acknowledged disappointments surrounding earlier predictions and cautioned that "all that some expect to see in 1925 may not transpire that year", and that the expectations could be "a means of testing and sifting."[115] When 1925 also passed uneventfully, meeting attendance among the Bible Students dropped dramatically in some congregations[116] and attendance at the annual Memorial fell from 90,434 to 17,380 between 1925 and 1928.[117][118][119][120]

"Armageddon Immediately Before Us" (1925–1966)[edit]

Beth Sarim (House of the Princes), built in San Diego, California in 1929 in anticipation of resurrected Old Testament "princes", was used by Watch Tower Society president Judge Rutherford as a winter home.

From 1925 until 1933, the Watch Tower Society, under Rutherford's leadership, radically changed much of its chronologies after the failure of these eschatological expectations.[121][122] In March 1925, the Watch Tower declared that Christ had been enthroned as king in heaven in 1914, not 1878.[123] A 1927 Watch Tower transferred the timing of the resurrection of the "saints" from 1878 to 1918,[124] explaining that they would be raised as spirit creatures to heavenly life to be with Christ there.[125] The belief that Christ returned invisibly in 1874 was maintained until the early 1930s.[126] Christ's Second Advent was newly explained as a "turning of attention" to the earth, with Christ remaining in heaven—a departure from the earlier teaching of a literal return to earth.[127] The judgment of "Babylon the Great" was changed from 1878 to 1919 with the publication of the book Light in 1930.[128] By 1933, it was taught that Christ had returned invisibly in 1914 and the "last days" had also begun then.[129][130] The teaching that the "great tribulation" had begun in 1914 and was "cut short" in 1918—to be resumed at Armageddon—was discarded in 1969.[131]

In 1930, Rutherford took up residence in a "Spanish mansion"[132][133] in California which he called Beth Sarim, meaning, House of the Princes. It was held in trust for the ancient biblical "princes" who were expected to be resurrected immediately prior to Armageddon.[134][135] Rutherford spent the winter months at Beth Sarim and died there in January, 1942. The belief that Old Testament "princes" would be resurrected before Armageddon was abandoned in 1950.[136]

In the mid-1930s and early 1940s, Watch Tower Society publications placed emphasis on the imminence of Armageddon, said to be "months" away[137][138] and "immediately before us."[139] Publications also urged converts to remain single and childless because it was "immediately before Armageddon."[140][141] Young Witnesses were counseled in 1943: "It is better and wiser for those of the Lord's 'other sheep' who hope to survive Armageddon and be given the divine mandate to fill the earth with a righteous offspring to defer matters until after the tribulation and destruction of Armageddon is past."[142] This view was discarded in 1950.[143][144][145]

"Looking Forward to 1975" (1966–1975)[edit]

Convention badge from circuit assembly, circa 1970

During the 1960s and early 1970s, Witnesses were instructed by means of articles in their literature[146][147][148] and at their assemblies that Armageddon and Christ's thousand-year millennial reign could begin by 1975. Strong statements for 1975 appeared, sometimes accompanied with cautionary remarks.[149] The booklet The Approaching Peace of a Thousand Years, which was the text of the keynote address to major assemblies of Jehovah's Witnesses throughout the world in 1969,[150] stated about that promised reign (which would begin at "God's fixed time"):

For Godfearing students of the Holy Bible containing both the ancient Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Greek Scriptures, there is a more important millennium that compels their attention. That is the seventh millennium ... the seventh millennium of man's existence here on earth ... Does this fact have any bearing on the approach of the peace of a thousand years or of a millennium? Very apparently Yes! ... More recently earnest researchers of the Holy Bible have made a recheck of its chronology. According to their calculations the six millenniums of mankind's life on earth would end in the mid-seventies. Thus the seventh millennium from man's creation by Jehovah God would begin within less than ten years.

Apart from the global change that present-day world conditions indicate is fast getting near, the arrival of the seventh millennium of man's existence on earth suggests a gladsome change for war-stricken humankind ... In order for the Lord Jesus Christ to be "Lord even of the sabbath day," his thousand-year reign would have to be the seventh in a series of thousand-year periods or millenniums. (Matthew 12:8, AV) Thus it would be a sabbatic reign ... Would not, then, the end of six millenniums of mankind's laborious enslavement under Satan the Devil be the fitting time for Jehovah God to usher in a Sabbath millennium for all his human creatures? Yes, indeed! And his King Jesus Christ will be Lord of that Sabbath.[151]

In 1968, a Watchtower article asked: "Why Are You Looking Forward to 1975?":

Are we to assume from this study that the battle of Armageddon will be all over by the autumn of 1975, and the long-looked-for thousand-year reign of Christ will begin by then? Possibly, but we wait to see how closely the seventh thousand-year period of man's existence coincides with the sabbathlike thousand-year reign of Christ. If these two periods run parallel with each other as to the calendar year, it will not be by mere chance or accident but will be according to Jehovah's loving and timely purposes.[152]

Young Witnesses were advised in 1969 to avoid careers requiring lengthy periods of schooling[153] and a 1974 issue of the Kingdom Ministry newsletter commended Witnesses who had sold their homes and property to engage in full-time preaching, adding: "Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world's end."[154]

In a lecture[155] in early 1975, then vice president Fred Franz selected sundown on September 5, 1975 as the end of 6000 years of human history, but cautioned that although the prophecies "could happen" by then, it looked improbable.[156][157][158][159] After 1975 passed without any sign of the expected paradise, The Watchtower described as "unwise" the actions of some Witnesses who had made radical changes in their lives, commenting: "It may be that some who have been serving God have planned their lives according to a mistaken view of just what was to happen on a certain date or in a certain year. They may have, for this reason, put off or neglected things that they otherwise would have cared for ... But it is not advisable for us to set our sights on a certain date, neglecting everyday things we would ordinarily care for as Christians, such as things that we and our families really need."[160] In 1979, in a lecture entitled "Choosing the Best Way of Life", the Watch Tower Society acknowledged responsibility for much of the disappointment around 1975.[161] The following year, a Watchtower article admitted that the leaders of Jehovah's Witnesses had erred in "setting dates for the desired liberation from the suffering and troubles that are the lot of persons throughout the earth", and that the Life Everlasting book (1966) had led to "considerable expectation" for 1975, with subsequent statements "that implied that such realization of hopes by that year was more of a probability than a mere possibility." The article added, "It is to be regretted that these latter statements apparently overshadowed the cautionary ones and contributed to a buildup of the expectation already initiated".[162]

Baptism statistics compared with the number of those reporting preaching for 1976-1980 showed that many became inactive during that period.[163]

The "generation of 1914" (1976–present)[edit]

History of Eschatological Doctrine
Last Days begin Start of Christ's Presence Christ made King Resurrection of 144,000 Judgment of Religion Separating Sheep & Goats Great Tribulation
1879–1920 1799 1874 1878 during Millenium 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920
1920–1923 1925
1923–1925 during Christ's presence
1925–1927 1914 1878 1878 within generation of 1914
1927–1930 1918
1930–1933 1919
1933–1966 1914
1966–1975 1975?
1975–1995 within generation of 1914
1995–present during Great Tribulation imminent

After the passing of 1975, the Watch Tower Society continued to emphasize the teaching that God would execute his judgment on humankind before the generation of people who had witnessed the events of 1914 had all died.[164][165][166][167] This teaching was based on an interpretation of Matthew 24:34 ("Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur"), with the term "a generation" said to refer "beyond question" to a generation living in a given period.[168]

The term had been used with regard to the nearness of Armageddon from the 1940s, when the view was that "a generation" covered a period of about 30 to 40 years.[169] As the 40-year deadline passed without Armageddon occurring, the definition of "a generation" underwent a series of changes: in 1952 it was said for the first time to mean an entire lifetime, possibly 80 years or more;[169][170] in 1968 it was applied to those who had been at least 15 years old in 1914, who were considered to be "old enough to witness with understanding what took place when the 'last days' began" (italics theirs).[171] In 1980 the starting date for that "generation" was brought into the 20th century when the term was applied to those who had been born in 1904 and therefore aged 10 and able simply "to observe" when World War I had begun. The Watchtower commented: "The fact that their number is dwindling is one more indication that "the conclusion of the system of things" is moving fast toward its end."[169][172]

From 1982 to 1995, the inside cover of Awake! magazine included, in its mission statement, a reference to the "generation of 1914", alluding to "the Creator's promise ... of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away." In 1985, Witnesses were reminded: "The 1914 generation is well into the evening of its existence, thus allowing only little time for this prophecy yet to be fulfilled.".[173]

Former Governing Body member Raymond Franz claimed members of the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses debated replacing the doctrine with a markedly different interpretation and that in 1980 Albert Schroeder, Karl Klein and Grant Suiter proposed moving the beginning of the "generation" to the year 1957, to coincide with the year Sputnik was launched. He said the proposal was rejected by the rest of the Governing Body.[174]

Despite its earlier description as being "beyond question", the "generation of 1914" teaching was discarded in 1995. Rather than a literal lifespan of 70 to 80 years, the definition of "generation" was changed to "contemporary people of a certain historical period, with their identifying characteristics," without reference to any specific amount of time.[175][176][177] This class of people was described as "the peoples of earth who see the sign of Christ's presence but fail to mend their ways".[178] Mention of 1914 was dropped from Awake! magazine's mission statement as of November 8, 1995.[169] The Watchtower insisted, however, that Armageddon was still imminent, asking: "Does our more precise viewpoint on 'this generation' mean that Armageddon is further away than we had thought? Not at all!"[179]

In 2008 the "generation" teaching was again altered, and the term was used to refer to the "anointed" believers, some of whom would still be alive on earth when the great tribulation begins.[180] This was a return to a belief previously held between 1927 [181] and 1950 when the teaching of the "generation of 1914" not passing away was adopted.[182]

In 2010, the teaching of the "generation" was modified again, to refer to a new generation of "anointed" whose lives "overlap" with "the anointed who were on hand when the sign began to become evident in 1914."[183]

Controversy[edit]

Fall of Jerusalem[edit]

Jehovah's Witnesses assert that Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 607 BC and completely uninhabited for exactly seventy years. This date is critical to their selection of October 1914 for the arrival of Christ in kingly power—2520 years after October 607 BC.[184] Non-Witness scholars do not support 607 BC for the event; most scholars date the destruction of Jerusalem to within a year of 587 BC, twenty years later.[185] Jehovah's Witnesses believe that periods of seventy years mentioned in the books of Jeremiah and Daniel refer to the Babylonian exile of Jews. They also believe that the gathering of Jews in Jerusalem, shortly after their return from Babylon, officially ended the exile in Jewish month of Tishrei (Ezra 3:1). According to the Watch Tower Society, October 607 BC is derived by counting back seventy years from Tishrei of 537 BC, based on their belief that Cyrus' decree to release the Jews during his first regnal year "may have been made in late 538 B.C. or before March 4–5, 537 B.C."[186][187] Non-Witness sources assign the return to either 538 BC or 537 BC.[188][189][190][191][192]

In The Gentile Times Reconsidered: Chronology & Christ's Return, Carl O. Jonsson, a former Witness, presents eighteen lines of evidence to support the traditional view of neo-Babylonian chronology. He accuses the Watch Tower Society of deliberately misquoting sources in an effort to bolster their position.[193] The Watch Tower Society claims that biblical chronology is not always compatible with secular sources, and that the Bible is superior. It claims that secular historians make conclusions about 587 BC based on incorrect or inconsistent historical records, but accepts those sources that identify Cyrus' capture of Babylon in 539 BC, claiming it has no evidence of being inconsistent and hence can be used as a pivotal date.[186][194][195]

Rolf Furuli, a Jehovah's Witness and a lecturer in Semitic languages, presents a study of 607 BC in support of the Witnesses' conclusions in Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian Chronology Compared with the Chronology of the Bible, Volume 1: Persian Chronology and the Length of the Babylonian Exile of the Jews.[196] Lester L. Grabbe, professor of theology at the University of Hull, said of Furuli's study: "Once again we have an amateur who wants to rewrite scholarship. ... F. shows little evidence of having put his theories to the test with specialists in Mesopotamian astronomy and Persian history."[197]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The House-to-House Ministry--Why Important Now?". The Watchtower: 5–6. July 15, 2008. 
  2. ^ You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1989, p. 155.
  3. ^ Revelation—Its Grand Climax at Hand!, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, p. 6.
  4. ^ a b c The Watchtower, March 1, 1922, page 73, "The indisputable facts, therefore, show that the 'time of the end' began in 1799; that the Lord's second presence began in 1874."
  5. ^ a b "Our Faith" (PDF). The Herald of the Morning: 52. September 1875. 
  6. ^ The Watchtower, July 15, 1894, p. 1677: "We see no reason for changing the figures—nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble."
  7. ^ a b September 1, 1916 The Watchtower, pages 264-265
  8. ^ a b Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, page 97, "Based upon the argument heretofore set forth, then, that the old order of things, the old world, is ending and is therefore passing away, and that the new order is coming in, and that 1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old and the beginning of reconstruction, it is reasonable to conclude that millions of people now on the earth will be still on the earth in 1925. Then, based upon the promises set forth in the divine Word, we must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die."
  9. ^ Holden, Andrew (2002). Jehovah's Witnesses: Portrait of a Contemporary Religious Movement. Routledge. p. 1. ISBN 0-415-26609-2. 
  10. ^ "The Strong Cable of Chronology", Watch Tower, July 15, 1922, page 217, "The chronology of present truth is, to begin with, a string of dates... Thus far it is a chain, and no stronger than its weakest link. There exist, however, well established relationships among the dates of present-truth chronology. These internal connections of the dates impart a much greater strength than can be found in other [secular, archeological] chronologies. Some of them are of so remarkable a character as clearly to indicate that this chronology is not of man, but of God. Being of divine origin and divinely corroborated, present-truth chronology stands in a class by itself, absolutely and unqualifiedly correct."
  11. ^ The Watchtower, May 1, 1922, page 132, "To abandon or repudiate the Lord's chosen instrument means to abandon or repudiate the Lord himself, upon the principle that he who rejects the servant sent by the Master thereby rejects the Master. ... Brother Russell was the Lord's servant. Then to repudiate him and his work is equivalent to a repudiation of the Lord, upon the principle heretofore announced."
  12. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom (Watch Tower Society, 1993), chapter 10.
  13. ^ Revelation – It's Grand Climax, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, page 9.
  14. ^ "False Prophets". Reasoning From the Scriptures. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. p. 137. 
  15. ^ "To Whom Shall We Go but Jesus Christ?". Watchtower: 23. March 1, 1979. the “faithful and discreet slave” has alerted all of God’s people to the sign of the times indicating the nearness of God’s Kingdom rule. In this regard, however, it must be observed that this “faithful and discreet slave” was never inspired, never perfect. Those writings by certain members of the “slave” class that came to form the Christian part of God’s Word were inspired and infallible [the bible], but that is not true of other writings since. 
  16. ^ Why have there been changes over the years in the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses?,"Jehovah's Witnesses", Reasoning From the Scriptures, ©1989, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, page 205
  17. ^ "Allow No Place for the Devil!", The Watchtower, March 15, 1986, page 19
  18. ^ "Keep in Step With Jehovah’s Organization", Watchtower, January 15, 2001, page 18.
  19. ^ Revelation—Its Grand Climax at Hand 1988, pages 235-236 pars. 2-3 "Judging the Infamous Harlot", © Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania
  20. ^ Revelation—Its Grand Climax at Hand, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, pp. 205-206.
  21. ^ The Watchtower, September 1, 1959, pp. 530-531 par. 15.
  22. ^ Armageddon—A Happy Beginning Jehovah's Witnesses Official Web Site
  23. ^ The Watchtower, May 15, 2006, p 6.
  24. ^ Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 2, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988,p. 788.
  25. ^ The Watchtower, May 1, 2005, p. 20.
  26. ^ The Watchtower, August 15, 2006, p. 31
  27. ^ The Watchtower, February 1, 1996, p6.
  28. ^ Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy!, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1999, p. 62.
  29. ^ "Jesus' Coming or Jesus' Presence—Which?", The Watchtower, August 15, 1996, p. 12.
  30. ^ All Scripture is Inspired of God, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1990, pp. 278-284
  31. ^ "Why do Jehovah's Witnesses say that God's Kingdom was established in 1914?", Reasoning From the Scriptures, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1989, p. 95-96.
  32. ^ What Does the Bible Really Teach?, page 216, Watchtower Bible & Tract Society
  33. ^ Gruss, Edmond C. (1972). The Jehovah's Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. pp. 20–58. ISBN 0-87552-306-4. 
  34. ^ "Let Your Kingdom Come", Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 1981, pp. 186-189 Appendix to Chapter 14.
  35. ^ What Does The Bible Really Teach?, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 2005, pp. 217-218.
  36. ^ "Let Your Kingdom Come", Appendix, page 187: "Business tablets: Thousands of contemporary Neo-Babylonian cuneiform tablets have been found that record simple business transactions, stating the year of the Babylonian king when the transaction occurred. Tablets of this sort have been found for all the years of reign for the known Neo-Babylonian kings in the accepted chronology of the period.", Watchtower Bible & Tract Society
  37. ^ The Watchtower, 15 January 2004, p. 16
  38. ^ Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy!, Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, 2006, pp. 94,95.
  39. ^ "Do You Recognize the Sign of Jesus' Presence?". The Watchtower (Watch Tower Society): 4. October 1, 2005. 
  40. ^ "The Visible Part of God’s Organization". The Watchtower: 24. May 1, 1981. the Gentile Times, “the appointed times of the nations,” had ended in October of 1914. (Luke 21:24) Since then the old world has been in its “time of the end” or in its “last days.” 
  41. ^ The Watchtower, October 15, 2000, p11.
  42. ^ Awake!, October 22, 1993, p. 11.
  43. ^ The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1981, pg 86.
  44. ^ True Peace and Security- How Can You Find It?, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1986, pp 81-84.
  45. ^ "A Century of Violence", Awake!, May 8, 2002, p. 8.
  46. ^ Revelation—Its Grand Climax at Hand!, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, p. 56.
  47. ^ Revelation—Its Grand Climax at Hand!, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, pp. 259-260.
  48. ^ The Watchtower, January 15, 2008, p. 24.
  49. ^ a b "Babylon the Great Indicted", The Watchtower, April 15, 1989, page 23.
  50. ^ What Does The Bible Really Teach?, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 2005, page 220.
  51. ^ "Babylon the Great—Fallen and Judged", The Watchtower, May 1, 1989, pages 3-7.
  52. ^ Revelation—Its Grand Climax at Hand!, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1988, page 256 par. 17.
  53. ^ "No Peace for the False Messengers!" The Watchtower, May 1, 1997, pp. 17-18 par. 17: "Shortly, 'crazed' members of the UN will be maneuvered by Jehovah to turn on false religion, as described at Revelation 17:16 ... This will mark the start of the great tribulation"
  54. ^ "Deliverance at the Revelation of Jesus Christ", The Watchtower, May 1, 1993, p. 24.
  55. ^ Evidences for the Coming of the Lord in 1873: or the Midnight Cry, N.H. Barbour (1871). Available online at: http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/history/barbour%20midnight%20cry.htm
  56. ^ The Midnight Cry and Herald of the Morning, March 1874. See Section under "Our Faith."
  57. ^ Present Truth, Or Meat in Due Season by Jonas Wendell, pp. 34-35
  58. ^ C.T. Russell (April 1880). "From and To The Wedding". Zion's Watch Tower: 2. The writer, among many others now interested, was sound asleep, in profound ignorance of the cry, etc., until 1876, when being awakened he trimmed his lamp (for it is still very early in the morning.) It showed him clearly that the Bridegroom had come and that he is living "in the days of the Son of Man". 
  59. ^ The Watchtower reprints, "Harvest Gatherings and Siftings", July 15, 1906, page 3822.
  60. ^ Three Worlds and The Harvest of This World by N.H. Barbour and C.T. Russell (1877). Text available online at: http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/history/3worlds.pdf Scan of book in PDF format
  61. ^ Three Worlds, p. 175
  62. ^ Three Worlds, pp. 104-108
  63. ^ See pages 68, 89-93, 124, 125-126, 143 of Three Worlds.
  64. ^ Three Worlds, p. 189: "the 'times of the Gentiles,' reach from B.C. 606 to A.D. 1914, or forty years beyond 1874. And the time of trouble, conquest of the nations, and events connected with the day of wrath, have only ample time, during the balance of this forty years, for their fulfillment."
  65. ^ "The Second Hand in the Timepiece of God" (PDF). The Golden Age: 412–413. March 27, 1935. 
  66. ^ C.T. Russell (July 1878). "The Prospect" (PDF). The Herald of the Morning: 11–12. 
  67. ^ "Bible Theology" (PDF). The Herald of the Morning: 22. August 1878. ...showing that we are now in the last half of the 'harvest' of the gospel age; and that it will terminate in A.D. 1881. 
  68. ^ "Harmony of the Scriptures" (PDF). The Herald of the Morning: 52. October 1878. Hence, the 'real rising again of Israel' can not begin until the autumn of 1881, at which date, the presumption is, that the gospel church will be taken away to meet the Lord. 
  69. ^ "Book of Revelation: Coming Time of Trouble" (PDF). The Herald of the Morning: 6. January 1879. And from that time, or the autumn of 1881, the 91st Ps[alm]: 'He shall give his angels charge over thee,' etc., will begin to have its fulfillment. From that time onward, we believe no one of the company of the overcomers need die, even though they reach that point tottering, as it were on the verge of the grave. 
  70. ^ "Herald of the Morning". January 1876. 
  71. ^ C.T.Russell (1891). Thy Kingdom Come. pp. 309–376. ISBN 0-9728243-2-4. 
  72. ^ Russell (1891). Thy Kingdom Come. Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. ISBN 0-9728243-2-4.  (p. 320)
  73. ^ Joseph Seiss' book A Miracle in Stone was also influential for Russell.
  74. ^ Photo Drama of Creation, p. 25. Video of Russell discussing the Great Pyramid
  75. ^ Charles Taze Russell (1913). The Divine Plan of the Ages and the Corroborative Testimony of the Great Pyramid (PDF). Watchtower.  (Google Books Version)
  76. ^ Program of the 1921 Annual Meeting of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society: "The Pyramid monument erected at the grave of Brother Russell was sketched by Brother J.A. Bohnet and approved by Brother Russell several years ago. It was his desire that such a monument be erected on this lot and he set about to procure the materials before his death. After Brother Russell's death, Brother Rutherford, learning that Brother Russell had ordered the erection of this monument asked Brother Bohnet to proceed at once to get the material and let the contract for its construction and erection."
  77. ^ 1919 Bible Student Convention Souvenir Booklet, pp. 6-7.
  78. ^ [1]
  79. ^ John Romer (2007). The Great Pyramid: Ancient Egypt Revisited. Cambridge University Press. p. 55. ISBN 0-521-87166-2. 
  80. ^ The Edgars' 2 volume work Great Pyramid Passages and Chambers was advertised and sold in the The Watchtower (August 1, 1910 Watch Tower Reprints, p. 4658; October 15, 1913 The Watchtower, page 306, Reprints p. 5336). Research by the Edgars on the Great Pyramid was published in the November 15, 1904 Watch Tower, Reprints, p. 3459, the June 15, 1905 Watch Tower, Reprints, p. 3574 and the June 1, 1910 The Watchtower, Reprints, p. 4621. John Edgar was named to be on the editorial committee for the Watch Tower magazine in the December 1, 1916 The Watchtower, (Reprints p. 5999), but had died before Russell. Research by Morton Edgar was published in the August 15, 1923 The Watchtower, pp. 253-254, the December 31, 1924 Golden Age, pp. 209-211 and on pp. 163, 355, 357 of the 1923 The Watchtower. Morton Edgar explained the spiritual meaning of the Great Pyramid in "God's Plan of Salvation in the Great Pyramid," a lecture which was published in the 1911 Bible Students Convention Report
  81. ^ Morton Edgar, on page 151 of the 1924 edition of the second volume of Great Pyramid Passages, refers to Judge Rutherford's booklet Millions Now Living Will Never Die as a "wonderful message of life."
  82. ^ Thy Kingdom Come (1904 edition—Millennial Dawn, vol 3) p.342
  83. ^ Thy Kingdom Come (copyright 1891) (Studies In The Scriptures, vol. 3, 1910 edition) p.342
  84. ^ Great Pyramid Passages and Chambers (1913), volume 2: "Professor C. Piazzi Smyth very properly says, `no two human measures ever agree exactly.'" (Ibid p.1) According to the Edgars, Professor Smyth (from whom Russell gained his information) had not personally measured this passage since it was blocked. It had been roughly measured in 1837 by Col Howard Vyse, but the Edgars personally measured "the length of this passage seven times" and ended up with seven different measurements, though within a few inches. (Ibid p.8 ) In answering a question about different measurements of the pyramid, The Watchtower stated "that Prof. Smyth's interest centered in the upper chambers of the Pyramid ... Much less care and precision [were] manifested in his dealings with all other parts". (The Watchtower November 1904 p. 326 "The Great Pyramid Measurements")
  85. ^ Edgar (1924). Great Pyramid Passages Volume II (PDF). p. 72. For many years students of the Word believed that the foretold destruction of "Babylon the Great" would begin in 1914- 1915 AD., the date marked by the upper terminal of the Grand Gallery. Nor have their expectations been disappointed; for although the "Great Time of Trouble" covers a longer period than was thought possible, this trouble which is to end Christendom is manifestly now in progress; and it began precisely at the date expected. Beginning with 1914 A.D. in the great World War in which most of the mightiest 'Christian' nations were actively engaged, Christendom, called in the Scriptures Babylon the Great, received a blow from which it can never recover. The old evil order began to pass away in 1914 A.D. 
  86. ^ Edgar (1924). The Great Pyramid: Its Symbolism, Science and Prophecy (PDF). p. 119. 
  87. ^ "Golden Age" (PDF). December 31, 1924. pp. 207, 222. 
  88. ^ The Way to Paradise, pp. 156-158
  89. ^ The last favorable reference to the Great Pyramid in Watch Tower Society publications appears in The Watchtower, the April 15, 1928, p. 125
  90. ^ Pyramidology was first rejected in the November 15, 1928 Watchtower, p 344: "It is more reasonable to conclude that the great pyramid of Gizeh, as well as the other pyramids thereabout, also the sphinx, were built by the rulers of Egypt and under the direction of Satan the Devil...The Devil, by the use of the descendants of Ham, set up Egypt, or the land of Ham, as the first great world power. Then Satan put his knowledge in dead stone, which may be called Satan's Bible, and not God's stone witness. In erecting the pyramid, of course, Satan would put in it some truth, because that is his method of practising fraud and deceit."
  91. ^ Zion's Watch Tower, April 1883. Reprints pp. 474-5: "This spuing out, or casting off, of the nominal church as an organization in 1878, we then understood, and still proclaim, to be the date of the commencement of Babylon's fall..."
  92. ^ Thy Kingdom Come (1890), Volume 3 of Millennial Dawn, later retitled Studies in the Scriptures, p. 305-308.
  93. ^ "Questions of Interest: The Gradual End of Gospel Favor" (PDF). Watch Tower: 190. June 15, 1911. Our understanding is that the open or general 'call' of this age to kingdom honors ceased in October, 1881....we make a distinction between the end of the 'call' and the closing of the 'door'; and believe that the door into the kingdom class is not yet closed; that it stands ajar for a time... 
  94. ^ Thy Kingdom Come, p. 364: "this date, 1910, indicated by the pyramid ... we may accept as correct the testimony of the great pyramid, that the last members of the body or bride' of Christ will have been tested and accepted and will have passed beyond the vail before the close of A.D. 1910."
  95. ^ The New Creation, p.579: "According to our expectations the stress of the great time of trouble will be on us soon, somewhere between 1910 and 1912—culminating with the end of the 'Times of the Gentiles,' October, 1914." (Later editions may read differently)
  96. ^ The Time is at Hand, pages 76-78. Post 1914 editions read differently--1917 edition.
  97. ^ Zion's Watch Tower, June 15, 1911, page 190.
  98. ^ The Time is at Hand, 1915 ed., p. 99: "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 near the end of A.D. 1915. Then the prayer of the church, ever since her Lord took his departure - 'Thy kingdom come' - will be answered; and under that wise and just administration, the whole earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord" (Later editions have 1914 instead of 1915)
  99. ^ "The Watchtower". April 15, 1916. pp. 126–127. 
  100. ^ The Watchtower, September 1, 1916: "Our eyes of understanding should discern clearly the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty now in progress."
  101. ^ The Finished Mystery from Google Book Search. Published in 1917 by the Watch Tower Society. It was considered to be volume 7 of Studies in the Scriptures. PDF version of The Finished Mystery. Later editions read differently.
  102. ^ The Finished Mystery, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1917, Page 485: "Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of 'Christianity.'"
  103. ^ The Finished Mystery, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1917,Pages 398-9: "The people who are the strength of Christendom shall be cut off in the brief but terribly eventful period beginning in 1918 A.D. A third part are 'burned with fire in the midst of the city.' Fire symbolizes destruction ... After 1918 the people supporting churchianity will cease to be its supporters, be destroyed as adherents, by the spiritual pestilence of errors abroad, and by the famine of the Word of God among them."
  104. ^ The Finished Mystery, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1917, Page 64. Page 177
  105. ^ The Finished Mystery (1917 edition) (PDF). 1917. p. 367. 
  106. ^ W.F. Hudgings (member of the Board of Directors for the Watch Tower Society) (February 3, 1919). "Why I Accept the Seventh Volume". 1919 Souvenir IBSA Convention: 47. There is no more reason why we should reject the Seventh Volume because of some statements there about the ending of the war in October, 1917, which did not come true, than there is that we should throw Volume Two away because we weren't all glorified in October, 1914 
  107. ^ The Finished Mystery, 1917 edition, p.258.258. (This date is changed in later editions.)
  108. ^ "The Watchtower". December 15, 1921. p. 379. 
  109. ^ M. James Penton (1985). Apocalypse Delayed. University of Toronto Press. pp. 57–58. ISBN 978-0-8020-7973-2. 
  110. ^ "New Date For Millennium: Russellites Now See It Coming on Earth in 1925" (PDF). New York Times. June 2, 1919. 
  111. ^ J.F. Rutherford (1920). Millions Now Living Will Never Die! (PDF). International Bible Students Association. pp. 89–90. ISBN 1-4116-2898-5.  (Page 89 from Google Book Version)
  112. ^ The Marion Star, Marion, Ohio, April 9, 1921. The Bridgeport Telegram, Bridgeport, Connecticut, December 4, 1920. Scans available at News Clippings from the "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" Campaign (1919-1925)
  113. ^ The Watchtower, September 1, 1922, p. 262, "The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914."
  114. ^ The Watchtower May 15, 1922, p. 147, 150, "We have no doubt whatever in regard to the chronology relating to the dates of 1874, 1914, 1918, and 1925 ... There can be no more question about 1925 than there was about 1914."
  115. ^ The Watchtower, May 15, 1922, p. 150, "Noting the date marked so prominently, it is very easy for the finite mind to conclude that all the work to be done must center about it, and thus many are inclined to anticipate more than has been really foretold. Thus it was in 1844, in 1874, in 1878 as well as in 1914 and 1918. Looking back we can now easily see that those dates were clearly indicated in Scripture and doubtless intended by the Lord to encourage his people, as they did, as well as to be a means of testing and sifting when all that some expected did not come to pass. That all that some expect to see in 1925 may not transpire that year will not alter the date one whit more than in the other cases."
  116. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses: Proclaimers of God's Kingdom. Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society. p. 633. 
  117. ^ Your Will Be Done on Earth. Watchtower. 1958. p. 337.  Annual Memorial attendances were 17,961 (1919), 32,661 (1922), 42,000 (1923) 62,696 (1924), 90,434 (1925), 89,278 (1926) and 17,380 (1928). Statistics were also published each year in the Watchtower until 1926
  118. ^ "Watchtower". August 15, 1996. p. 31.  In 1935, Memorial attendance had increased again to 63,146.
  119. ^ Timothy White (1967). A People For His Name. Vantage. pp. 238–239. 
  120. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose. Watchtower. 1959. p. 313. 
  121. ^ Penton, M. James (1997). Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses. University of Toronto Press. p. 170. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3. 
  122. ^ Thomas Daniels. "Historical Idealism and Jehovah's Witnesses" (PDF). pp. 3–37. 
  123. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1993, pp. 138-9.
  124. ^ Light, Book One, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1930, p. 78.: "In June, 1927, the Watch Tower published the proof from the Scriptures that those who thus died faithful were asleep in death until the coming of the Lord to his temple in 1918."
  125. ^ Light, Book One, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, p. 333.
  126. ^ The Harp of God (both the 1921 and 1927 editions) affirmed on page 231 that "the Lord's second presence dates from 1874." The March 1, 1922 Watch Tower and pages 65-66 of the book Prophecy (published in 1928) reiterated this position. However, by 1930 some vagueness can be seen. For example, the October 15, 1930 Watch Tower, page 308, says the "second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ dates from about A.D. 1875." The November 1, 1932 Watch Tower, page 325 is even less precise, stating that from "approximately 1875 forward" Christ was preparing the way.
  127. ^ Tony Wills (2007). A People For His Name: A History of Jehovah's Witnesses and an Evaluation. Lulu.com. p. 147. ISBN 978-1-4303-0100-4. 
  128. ^ Light, Book One, p. 318-319.
  129. ^ The Watchtower, December 1, 1933, p. 362.
  130. ^ Golden Age, March 14, 1934, p. 380.
  131. ^ The Watchtower, September 1, 1969, p. 521.
  132. ^ Time magazine, March 31, 1930, p. 60. Scan of article.
  133. ^ July 25, 1931 Messenger, pages 6,8.
  134. ^ Golden Age, March 19, 1930 , pages 496-497
  135. ^ http://www.bibletopics.com/biblestudy/89a.htm San Diego Sun, March 1930 Interview with Rutherford about Beth Sarim
  136. ^ Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1959, p. 252.
  137. ^ Universal War Near, Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, 1935: "Universal war is absolutely certain to come and that soon, and no power can stop it ... during the few remaining months until the breaking of that universal cataclysm."
  138. ^ Watchtower 15 September 1941 p. 288.
  139. ^ Watchtower, April 1942, p.139.
  140. ^ The Watchtower, November 1, 1938, p. 323: "If in obedience to the divine command the Jonadabs or great multitude will marry and rear children after Armageddon, would it not be Scripturally proper for them to begin doing so immediately before Armageddon? and should the Jonadabs now be encouraged to marry and rear children? No, is the answer, supported by the Scriptures."
  141. ^ J.F. Rutherford (1938). Face The Facts. Watchtower. p. 46. There are now on earth Jonadabs devoted to the Lord and who doubtless will prove faithful. Would it be Scripturally proper for them to now marry and to begin to rear children? No, is the answer, which is supported by the Scriptures. 
  142. ^ 1943 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, Daily Texts and Comments for November 7. The fictional sweethearts of Children, John and Eunice, defer marriage "until lasting peace comes to the earth" while hoping "that within a few years our marriage may be consummated." J.F. Rutherford (1941). Children. Watchtower. pp. 366–367. ISBN 0-7500-1058-4. 
  143. ^ "The Watchtower". October 15, 1950. p. 382. Since the carrying out of the command to 'be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth' waits until after Armageddon, does that mean that those who now marry and rear children are violating God's laws? No, for the Scriptures show that 'marriage is honourable in all'—Hebrews 13:4 
  144. ^ Barbara Grizzuti Harrison (1978). Visions of Glory. Simon & Schuster. pp. 74–77. ISBN 0-671-22530-8. 
  145. ^ M. James Penton (1985). Apocalypse Delayed. University of Toronto Press. pp. 265–266. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3. 
  146. ^ Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God. Watch Tower Society. 1966. pp. 29–35. 
  147. ^ "Is it Later Than You Think?". Awake!: 13–16. 8 October 1968. 
  148. ^ "How Much Longer Will It Be?". Awake!: 17–20. 8 October 1966. 
  149. ^ Public Address by District Overseer Charles Sunutko in Spring 1967 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Mp3 of Lecture by Sinutko
  150. ^ The Approaching Peace of a Thousand Years: "Undisturbed peace with health, happiness and freedom from fear is on the divine program for humankind on earth. Reliable evidences indicate that it will begin within this generation! We do not want to keep this gladsome information to ourselves, and so in this booklet we pass it on to you."
  151. ^ Penton. Apocalypse Delayed. p. 95. ISBN 0-8020-7973-3. 
  152. ^ "Watchtower". August 15, 1968. pp. 494–501. 
  153. ^ Awake!, May 22, 1969, p.15: "You also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things ... All the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that this corrupt system is due to end in a few years ... Therefore, as a young person, you will never fulfill any career that this system offers. If you are in high school and thinking about a college education, it means at least four, perhaps even six or eight more years to graduate into a specialized career. But where will this system of things be by that time? It will be well on the way towards its finish, if not actually gone! This is why parents who base their lives on God's prophetic Word find it much more practical to direct their young ones into trades that do not require such long periods of additional schooling."
  154. ^ http://www.jwfiles.com/scans/KM5-1974p3.htm "How Are You Using Your Life?", Our Kingdom Ministry, May 1974 p.3.
  155. ^ Sound clip of lecture "What is the Significance of 1975?" by Governing Body Member Fred Franz. http://www.freeminds.org/media/fredfranz75an.html; MP3 of complete lecture
  156. ^ Crisis of Conscience, Raymond Franz p. 249. Scan available at http://web.archive.org/web/20031209184316/http://users.volja.net/izobcenec4/coc/9.pdf
  157. ^ Time magazine archive "Witnessing the End", July 18, 1969 Time Scan of article: "The Witnesses have what they believe is Scriptural proof that the end is coming. For one thing, their interpretation of Biblical chronology reveals that Adam and Eve were created in the autumn of 4026 B.C., or 5994 years ago. Linking 6000 years to the six days of God's creation, they believe it fitting that there be a sabbath-like rest thereafter, beginning in 1975—though Witnesses cautiously avoid a flat prediction linked to that year."
  158. ^ The Arizona Republic August 24, 1969
  159. ^ July 11, 1977 Time magazine
  160. ^ The Watchtower, July 15, 1976, p.441
  161. ^ 1980 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, p. 30
  162. ^ The Watchtower, March 15, 1980, p.17.
  163. ^ "Defectors Feel 'Witness' Wrath: Critics say Baptism Rise Gives False Picture of Growth" by John Dart, Los Angeles Times, January 30, 1982, p. B4
  164. ^ The Watchtower, May 1, 1985, p.4.
  165. ^ The Watchtower, May 15, 1984
  166. ^ "Watchtower". December 1, 1968. p. 715. A generation, according to Psalm 90:10, is from seventy to eighty years. The generation that witnessed the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 does not have many more years left. 
  167. ^ "Watchtower". December 15, 1967. p. 751. The expression 'this generation' was used by Jesus to mark a very limited period of time, the life-span of members of a generation of people living during the time that certain epoch-making events occurred. According to Psalm 90:10, that life-span could be of seventy years or even of eighty years. 
  168. ^ "Vision of the 'Time of the End'". Watchtower: 404. July 1, 1951. 'Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.' (Matt. 24:34, NW) The actual meaning of these words is, beyond question, that which takes a 'generation' in the ordinary sense, as at Mark 8:12 and Acts 13:36, or for those who are living at the given period ... This therefore means that from 1914 a generation shall not pass till all is fulfilled, and amidst a great time of trouble. 
  169. ^ a b c d Franz, Raymond (2007). Crisis of Conscience. Commentary Press. pp. 254–272. ISBN 0-914675-23-0. 
  170. ^ "Watchtower". September 1, 1952. p. 542. 
  171. ^ "Awake!". October 8, 1968. pp. 13, 14. 
  172. ^ "The Watchtower". October 15, 1980. p. 31. 
  173. ^ The Watchtower, May 1, 1985, p.7.
  174. ^ Crisis of Conscience, Raymond Franz p. 262. Scan available at http://web.archive.org/web/20031210004130/users.volja.net/izobcenec4/coc/10.pdf accessed January 27, 2006.
  175. ^ "Saved From a 'Wicked Generation'", The Watchtower (November 1) 1995, pp. 10-15.
  176. ^ Crompton, Robert (1996). Counting the Days to Armageddon. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co. p. 101. ISBN 0-227-67939-3. 
  177. ^ Joel P. Engardio (December 18, 1995). "Apocalypse Later". Newsweek. 
  178. ^ "A Time To Keep Awake", The Watchtower, November 1, 1995, p. 19 par. 12, and p. 20 par. 15.
  179. ^ "Watchtower". November 1, 1995. p. 20. 
  180. ^ The Watchtower, February 15, 2008, pages 23-24: "As a class, these anointed ones make up the modern-day "generation" of contemporaries that will not pass away "until all these things occur."* This suggests that some who are Christ's anointed brothers will still be alive on earth when the foretold great tribulation begins."
  181. ^ The Watchtower, February 15, 1927, p. 62, "Interesting Questions".
  182. ^ The Watchtower, November 1, 1950, p. 419.
  183. ^ "Holy spirit's role in the outworking of Jehovah's purposes". The Watchtower: 10. 15 April 2010. 
  184. ^ Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy! chap. 6 par. 25-29
  185. ^ Edmond C. Gruss, Jehovah's Witnesses and Prophetic Speculation, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1972, ISBN 0-87552-306-4 Page 42.
  186. ^ a b "When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?—Part One" The Watchtower, October 1, 2011, page 26
  187. ^ "Evidences of the Year’s Correctness". The Watchtower: 271–2. May 1, 1952. It was in this first regnal year of Cyrus that he issued his decree to permit the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. (Ezra 1:1) The decree may have been made in late 538 B.C. or before March 4–5, 537 B.C. In either case this would have given sufficient time for the large party of 49,897 Jews to organize their expedition and to make their long four-month journey from Babylon to Jerusalem to get there by September 29–30, 537 B.C., the first of the seventh Jewish month, to build their altar to Jehovah as recorded at Ezra 3:1-3. Inasmuch as September 29–30, 537 B.C., officially ends the seventy years of desolation as recorded at 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21, so the beginning of the desolation of the land must have officially begun to be counted after September 21–22, 607 B.C., the first of the seventh Jewish month in 607 B.C., which is the beginning point for the counting of the 2,520 years. 
  188. ^ "Babylonian Exile." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010.
  189. ^ Timeline of Judaism after the Babylonian Exile
  190. ^ Keller, Werner (1983). The Bible As History. Bantam; 2 Revised edition. p. 352. ISBN 0-553-27943-2. 
  191. ^ Dictionary of the Bible: Biographical, Geographical, Historical and Doctrinal by Charles Randall Barnes, Page 247.
  192. ^ Dyer, Charles (2003). Nelson’s Old Testament survey: Discovering essence, Background & Meaning about Every Old Testament book. 
  193. ^ The Gentile Times Reconsidered: Chronology & Christ's Return by Carl O. Jonsson. ISBN 0-914675-06-0 Publisher: Commentary Press (July, 1998, Fourth edition 2004)
  194. ^ "When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?—Part Two" The Watchtower, November 1, 2011, page 22
  195. ^ Insight from scriptures. Vol.2 page 458, "secular chronologers calculate the 16th day of Tashritu (Tishri) as falling on October 11, Julian calendar, and October 5, Gregorian calendar, in the year 539 B.C.E. Since this date is an accepted one, there being no evidence to the contrary, it is usable as a pivotal date in coordinating secular history with Bible history."
  196. ^ Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian Chronology Compared with the Chronology of the Bible, Volume 1: Persian Chronology and the Length of the Babylonian Exile of the Jews (2003) ISBN 82-994633-3-5
  197. ^ Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 28:5 [2004], p. 42-43

Bibliography[edit]

Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah's Witnesses by M. James Penton, professor emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Lethbridge and former Jehovah's Witness ISBN 978-0-8020-7973-2