As the world transitioned from the year 1999 to the year 2000, there was no shortage of persons of religion and religious organization who made predictions they felt were bible-based which have gone unfulfilled. Such as the “Rapture; The Second Coming of Christ; Christ’s Millennium; the Descent of New Jerusalem from Heaven; the revelation of the identity of the Antichrist; the establishment of God’s kingdom and so forth. What seems to be the problem? Why are so many bible-based predictions being made and when the time arrives for their expected fulfillment, nothing happens? Are persons of faith and religious organization barking up the wrong tree? Should they be engaging in time-prophecies? What do the Scriptures say in this regard.
An organization that I was associated with for many years – The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society – predicted that the year 1975 would usher in the new order; that is, the arrival of God’s kingdom. Many Jehovah’s Witnesses were very excited and zealous in their preaching work as they believed that their relief was finally approaching. Many had cashed in insurance policies; some had foregone seeking medical attention for serious ailments because they believed that at the arrival of the new order, they would be restored to perfect health. Well, the year 1975 came and went and many Jehovah’s Witnesses were left bewildered and confused. Some had even left the Watch Tower organization with their faith adversely affected. Yet, this organization and others continue to establish dates for prophetic events mentioned in Scripture.
One date that the Watch Tower organization is wedded to and almost all of their beliefs hinge on is the year 1914. It is in the fall of 1914 that the Watch Tower organization teaches that the Appointed Times of the Nations (Gentile Times) ended. It is in the year 1914 that the organization teaches that Jesus was installed as King in the heavens and has turned his attention to the earth (his Parousia). It also teaches that the 1914 generation will not pass away before the end comes. Well, we are in the year 2010 and persons born in that year would be in their late 90’s.
I know that this 1914 date is making the Watch Tower organization leadership at the top very nervous. Why is that? Because that 1914 generation has exceeded the normal life expectancy of a person and members of that generation are quickly dying off. What the Society believes is the preaching of “The Good News of the Kingdom” really has not been preached everywhere in the world – not even close. Additionally, there are other things Jesus spoke of in Matthew Chapter 24 that has not yet had fulfillment such as The Great Tribulation.
One can see a very subtle shift in Watch Tower thinking in this regard.
Readers of the Awake! magazine – published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society – will notice that in issues prior to October 22, 1995, the masthead “Why Awake! Is Published”, reads as follows:
Awake! is for the enlightenment of the entire family. It shows how to cope with today’s problems. It reports the news, tells about many lands, examines religion and science. But it does more. It probes beneath the surface and points to the real meaning behind current events, yet it always stays politically neutral and does not exalt one race above another. Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation of the events of 1914 passes away.
Awake! issues published after October 22, 1995, and beginning with the November 8, 1995, issue, the masthead reads:
Awake! is for the enlightenment of the entire family. It shows how to cope with today’s problems. It reports the news, tells about many lands, examines religion and science. But it does more. It probes beneath the surface and points to the real meaning behind current events, yet it always stays politically neutral and does not exalt one race above another. Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things.
Notice that all reference to the date 1914 has been removed. Why is that and why should this be of interest and concern to all servants of Jehovah?
Because what millions believe within the Watch Tower Organization concerning the “End of the Gentile Times; Christ Being Enthroned As King; The Second Parousia of Christ; and other prophetic events hinge on the accuracy of this date.
If the Watch Tower Organization is correct in its assessment of this date, then all that has been written and spoken in the past 14 years and spoken in the talks in the Kingdom Halls and Assemblies will prevail as truth and will not be overthrown by anyone. (Acts 5:33-40)
However, if the Watch Tower Organization is in error, then it’s membership is in very big trouble because the error completely shatters a seemingly unmovable and important belief that will leave many of them confused and their faith affected as it was back in the year 1975 when it was believed that the world would end at that time.
If the Watch Tower Organization is wrong, then the time table of the prophetic events taught by them and appearing in their many publications in the homes of millions are severely skewed or not true at all.
For example – and for the sake of kind argument – let us assume that the 1914 date is not the correct date in which the Gentile Times Ended or the Second Parousia of Christ occurred. Suppose those events are yet future?
That would mean that “The Appointed Times of the Nations” has not ended either; that Christ has not yet been enthroned as king; and that his parousia has not occurred yet.
Here is a fact that many Jehovah’s Witnesses are not aware of: Beginning back in 1873, a man by the name of Nelson H. Barbour – a Second Adventist – began to publish a magazine called “Herald of the Morning” in which Charles Taze Russell was an Assistant Editor.
On the front cover, lower right-hand corner of the Herald we find this statement:
Times of the Gentiles end in 1914.
See copied image of the Herald below:
Many Jehovah’s Witnesses may not attach any significance to this but they should. Here is why?
Because the 1914 concept and date did not originate with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. It originated with a man by the name of John Aquila Brown in 1823, twenty-nine years before C.T. Russell was born and forty-seven years before Russell started his Bible study group.
In 1818, a man by the name of William Miller – a New England Baptist and self-proclaimed end time prophet – predicted the return of Christ in 1843-1844. When his predicted dates failed to occur, he quit the movement.
Another member of the Millerite movement, Ellen G. White, left the movement of 1844 in disappointment and founded the Second Adventist movement (Today they are known as the Seventh-Day Adventist).
In 1869 a young Charles Taze Russell – who has raised a Presbyterian and was a member of the Congregational Church – attended meetings by Jonas Wendell, Second Adventist preacher, after which he led a Bible study class that evolved into a separate movement. Russell was heavily influenced by Second Adventists George Stetson and George Storrs in three-year relationship.
In January of 1876, C.T. Russell allied with Second Adventists Nelson H. Barbour and J.H. Paton.
Nelson H. Barbour, a Second Adventist, after teaching that the earth would burn up in 1874, became main author” of 1877 end time prophetic book, “Three Worlds” paid for and co-published by C.T. Russell, in which, Barbour now asserted that date (1874) to mark Christ’s invisible return in 1874 and the “day of wrath” in AD 1914.
Charles Taze Russell – the founder and first Watch Tower president – broke away from Barbour and his Second Advent mentors in 1879 to publish his own journal, Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. (Today this magazine is called The Watchtower).
Russell enlarged on the proof of the end time date of 1914 by lengthy argumentation in his books (Studies in the Scriptures Volumes 1 through 6) and the Watch Tower magazine from 1879 until his death in 1916.
Russell became “Pastor” to an increasing group of supporters called “Bible Student’s” today known as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In 1993, the Watch Tower published a book entitled “Jehovah’s Witnesses – Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom.” This publication was an attempt to present a history of the Watch Tower organization. What is missing from the publication is that the Second Adventist movement was the source of many of Charles Taze Russell’s teachings; including the 1914 date.
In fact, almost none – if any – of Charles Taze Russell’s publications appear in the Watch Tower library today. Another fact is if Russell was alive today and spoke as he did when he founded the Watch Tower, he would be viewed as an “apostate” by the very organization he founded.
Today, most Jehovah’s Witnesses are left with the impression that most of these teachings and the date 1914 originated with Russell and that he and his Watch Tower magazine constituted a unique divine channel for the revealing of previously lost or unknown truths.
I want the reader to understand that I have no problem with Jehovah’s Witnesses (or members of any religious organization). In fact, I find most Jehovah’s Witnesses to be polite, kind, and considerate. Their zeal is to be commended. That is is not the issue.
The issue and question are who one should listen to? An “organization” or to The Son of God?
According To Jesus, Such Dates Cannot Be Ascertained By Humans or Angels; Not Even Himself
The Most High God Jehovah, says that we are to listen to his Son. (Matthew 17:5; Luke 9:35) What does His Son say with regard to dates? Jesus said at Acts 1:7:
It does not belong to YOU to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction
Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.
Keep on the watch, therefore, because YOU do not know on what day YOUR Lord is coming
He said to them: “It does not belong to YOU to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.
Care must be taken that one does not follow the course of the “Evil Slave” in Jesus’ parable at Matthew 24:45-51. In that parable, Jesus describes two slaves within his household: A Faithful and Discreet Slave and an Evil Slave. It should not be mistaken that the “Evil Slave” is not a member of Jesus’ household as the Scripture says of them:
But if ever that evil slave should say in his heart, ‘My master is delaying … (Matthew 24:48)
How about the other slaves – the faithful ones – within the masters household who were being beaten by the Evil Slaves, were they expecting the master to return on a certain date or season?
Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so.
Jesus would say to the Evil Slave:
The master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know, and will punish him with the greatest severity and will assign him his part with the hypocrites. (Matthew 24:50-51)
Again showing, there is no human or human agency who can know a time, date, or hour of the Master’s return.
We must always go back to the one who Jehovah sent to us. It is to him that we are to listen to. If all others – no matter who they claim to be or speak for – speak in a strangers voice and not that of Jesus, they are to be put to the test as given at 1 John 4:1. I know that the Watch Tower Organization applies this Scripture to all but itself, but that is not what the Scripture says. It says:
Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.
This is my Son, the one that has been chosen. Listen to him.