"Millions Now Living Will Never Die"
"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
After the failure of 1914 to result in Armageddon, Rutherford was able to re-ignite urgency into Watchtower followers by making the announcement in 1918 that "Millions Now Living Will Never Die!" which predicted the end would be 1925.
This was published in the 1920 booklet "Millions Now Living Will Never Die" which can be downloaded as a 32Mb searchable pdf.
"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
Between 1918 and 1925, this was the focus of the Watchtower preaching work. Reading the brief mention of this booklet in the Proclaimers book, and the way the predictions for 1925 are neither mentioned nor known by most Witnesses today,
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.
"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." The Way to Paradise p.224
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
"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 these teachings were "of God" himself and 1925 was proclaimed a "fixed" date beyond doubt.
"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
"... 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 July 1 p.217
"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
Could there be any more direct evidence of an organization that promoted false prophecy in the name of God? How could Rutherford say that his followers had more reason to accept his prediction of 1925 than Noah had to believe the words directly spoken by Jehovah?
It is reprehensible that from the moment Rutherford's prediction proved wrong (and continuing to this day) the Governing Body shifted the blame for the false expectation away from themselves and onto the members.
"Question: Have the ancient worthies returned? Answer: "Certainly they have not returned. No one has seen them, and it would be foolish to make such an announcement. It was stated in the 'Millions' book that we might reasonably expect them to return shortly after 1925, but this was merely an expressed opinion; besides it is still shortly after 1925
Some anticipated that the work would end in 1925, but the Lord did not state so. The difficulty was that the friends inflated their imaginations beyond reason; and that when their imaginations burst asunder, they were inclined to throw away everything." Watch Tower 1926 pp.196, 232
"Instead of its being considered a 'probability,' they read into it that it was a 'certainty'." Yearbook 1975 p.146
"Ever since the 1870's, Bible Students had been serving with a date in mind - first 1914, then 1925. Now they realized that they must serve for as long as Jehovah wishes." Watchtower 1993 Nov. 1 p.12
Despite the failure of 1925, Rutherford continued stating that the earthly resurrection of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was about to happen. In 1929, he authorised the purchase of a house for Abraham and other resurrected Princes to live in.
"At San Diego, California, there is a small piece of land, on which, in the year 1929, there was built a house, which is called and known as Beth-Sarim. The Hebrew words Beth Sarim mean "House of the Princes"; and the purpose of acquiring that property and building the house was that there might be some tangible proof that there are those on earth today who fully believe God and Christ Jesus and in His kingdom, and who believe that the faithful men of old will soon be resurrected by the Lord, be back on earth, and take charge of the visible affairs of earth. The title to Beth-Sarim is vested in the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society in trust, to be used by the president of the Society and his assistants for the present, and thereafter to be forever at the disposal of the aforementioned princes on earth. . . . while the unbelievers have mocked concerning it and spoken contemptuously of it, yet it stands there as a testimony to Jehovah's name; and if and when the princes do return and some of them occupy the property, such will be a confirmation of the faith and hope that induced the building of Beth-Sarim."
Salvation (1939) p.311
The Golden Age 1930 March 19 included a copy of the Beth-Sarim deed, showing who was expected to live in it.
"Both the grantor and the grantee are fully persuaded from the Bible testimony which is the word of Jehovah God and from extraneous evidence that God's Kingdom is now in the course of establishment and that it will result beneficially for the peoples of earth; that the governing power and authority will be invisible to men but that the kingdom of God will have visible representatives on the earth who will have charge of the affairs of the nations under supervision of the invisible ruler, Christ. That among those who will be thus the faithful representatives and visible governors of the world will be David, who was once King over Israel; and Gideon, and Barak, and Samson, and Jepthai, and Joseph, formerly ruler of Egypt, and Samuel the prophet and other faithful men named with approval in the Bible at Hebrews 11th. chapter. The WATCH TOWER BIBLE AND TRACT SOCIETY shall hold said title perpetually in trust for the use of any or all of the men above named as representatives of God's kingdom on earth and that such men shall have possession and use of said property hereinabove described as they may deem for the best interest for the work in which they are engaged.
Any persons appearing to take possession of said premises shall first prove and identify themselves to the proper officers of said Society as the person or persons described in Hebrews chapter eleven and in this deed."
In 1931, The Messenger contained an article on Bethsarim, with some interesting photos, including Rutherford seated in front of the fireplace.
Rutherford's imagination that Jehovah was going to resurrect the Princes to live in California shared the American centric views of similar religions such as the Mormons. In 1942 the 'House of Princes' was sold, proving false the statement that it would be "perpetually" and "forever at the disposal of the aforementioned princes."