1914 Failed Predictions
One of the most misleading statements in Watchtower publications is that they accurately foretold 1914 to be the "start" of the conclusion of the system of things. The Awake! 1973 Jan 22 p.8 claims “… Jehovah's witnesses pointed to the year 1914, decades in advance, as marking the start of "the conclusion of the system of things.”
Contrary to these statements, 1914 was consistently predicted to be the ‘"end" of the system of things, such as when it was boldly declared that “the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble." Zion’s Watch Tower 1894 Jul 15 p.227
The contradictions above raise two critical questions;
- What did the Watchtower predict for 1914?
- Is the Watchtower honest in presentation of its history?
Russell took his date doctrine from the Second Adventists, preaching that the Last Days started in 1799, Jesus started ruling in 1874 and Armageddon would arrive in 1914. Almost the entire body of original Watchtower doctrine regarding prophetic dates have since been discontinued.
After the failure of all Watchtower expectations for 1914, the chronology that Russell presented became less and less relevant. Between 1930 and 1943, Rutherford replaced each pre-1914 end time date of Russell, and created a concise set of new prophetic doctrine.
“In the year 1943 the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society published the book “The Truth Shall Make You Free.” …This moved forward the end of six thousand years of man’s existence into the decade of the 1970’s. Naturally this did away with the year 1874 C.E. as the date of return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the beginning of his invisible presence or parousia. … Page 324 of the above book positively says: “The King’s presence or parousia began in 1914.”” God’s Kingdom on a Thousand Years Has Approached p 209
“Napoleon began this Egyptian campaign in 1798, finished it, and then returned to France on October 1, 1799. The campaign is briefly, yet graphically described in the prophecy, verses 40-44; and its being completed in 1799 marks, according to the prophet's own words, the beginning of "the time of the end….Twelve hundred and sixty years from 539 A.D. brings us to 1799, which is another proof that 1799 definitely marks the beginning of "the time of the end." This also shows that it is from the date 539 A.D. that the other prophetic days of Daniel must be counted.” Creation (1927) p.293
“The scriptural proof is that the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D.” Prophecy (1929) p.65
"In the year 1878, the dead in Christ were resurrected, as shown by number 8. It was time for them to be engaged in kingdom work. In that same year a call was issued for the saints on this side of the "veil" to come out of Babylon. The 1845 years of fleshly Israel's disfavor ended in 1878.” Explanation of Chart Representing the Plan of the Ages “The Resurrection Of The Sleeping Saints—8
"Even though the general call ceased in 1881, the door to the high calling remains open, as shown by number 9. However, it is only when one who is spirit begotten has to be replaced, (on account of being overcharged with the cares of this world, or sinful living, or loss of faith), that one, desirous of doing the Father's will, is invited to enter the narrow way as a replacement. The door to the high calling will remain open until the bride has made herself ready.” Explanation of Chart Representing the Plan of the Ages “The General Call To The High Calling Ceased—9
1914 - Watchtower quotes prior to 1914
1914 was to be the final of many dates for Russell, the conclusion of matters.
"…we have seen that God has a set time for every feature of his plan, and that we are even now in this “Day of Vengeance,” which is a period of forty years; that it began in October, 1874, and will end in October, 1914 [very shortly].” Studies In the Scriptures Series IV – The Day of Vengeance (1897) pp.546,547
Armageddon would begin, resulting in the wholesale destruction of all government and religion. Russell and his followers were to be raised to heaven and Jesus Kingdom would then be established as paradise on earth. Nothing that Russell said about 1914 has come to pass.
“… the battle of the great day of God Almighty… The date of the close of that “battle” is definitely marked in Scripture as October 1914. It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874.” Zion’s Watch Tower 1892 January 15 p.23
Jesus ruling earth, Government overthrown
“True, it is expecting great things to claim, as we do, that within the coming twenty-six years all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved …. 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 at the end of A. D. 1914…. Be not surprised, then, when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun, that it is pointed out in prophecy as due to begin the exercise of power in A.D. 1878, and that the "battle of the great day of God Almighty" (Rev. 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced. The gathering of the armies is plainly visible from the standpoint of God's Word.” Studies In the Scriptures Series II - The Time Is At Hand (1889) pp.99, 101
It was claimed seven things would happen when Jesus took rulership of the earth 1914. The following list of quotes is extracted from Studies In the Scriptures Series II - The Time Is at Hand (1889) pp.77, 78.
- “the disintegration of the rule of imperfect men. … at that date the Kingdom of God, for which our Lord taught us to pray, saying, "Thy Kingdom come," will begin to assume control, and that it will then shortly be "set up," or firmly established, in the earth, on the ruins of present institutions.”
- He whose right it is thus to take the dominion will then be present as earth’s new Ruler; and not only so, but it will also prove that he will be present for a considerable period before that date;
- the last member of the divinely recognized Church of Christ, the “royal priesthood,” “the body of Christ,” will beglorified with the Head;
- Jerusalem shall no longer be trodden down
- Israel’s blindness will begin to be turned away
- the great “time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation,” will reach its culmination in a world-wide reign of anarchy
- It will prove that before that date God’s Kingdom, organized in power, will be in the earth and then smite and crush the Gentile image (Dan. 2:34)—and fully consume the power of these kings.”
Not one of these seven events eventuated.
Religion Utterly Destroyed
“The seventh trumpet sounds from Aug. 1840, until "the time of trouble," or day of wrath is ended. Hence, it doubtless ends with the times of the Gentiles, and this forty years of conquest; and therefore, sounds until A. D. 1914; at the end of which, Babylon the great, will have fallen, and the "dragon" be bound: that is, the nations will be subdued, and "the prince of this world cast out."” Three Worlds and The Harvest of This World (1877) p.143
“A.D. 33, to A.D. 70 was 36 ½ years; and so from A.D. 1878 to the end of A.D. 1914 is 36 ½ years. And, with the end of A.D. 1914, what God calls Babylon, and what men call Christendom, will have passed away, as already shown in prophecy.” Studies In the Scriptures Series III - Thy Kingdom Come (1891) p.153
“October, 1914, will witness the full end of Babylon, “as a great millstone cast into the sea,” utterly destroyed as a system.” Watch Tower 1911 Jun 15 p.190
Harvest work complete
“HARVEST” is a term which gives a general idea as to what work should be expected to transpire between the dates 1874 and 1914.” Studies In the Scriptures Series III - Thy Kingdom Come p.135
“These, already examined, show that the close of 1874 marked the beginning, as the close of 1914 will mark the end, of this 40 years of harvest; while all the minutiae of the order and work of this harvest were portrayed in that of the Jewish age, its type.” Studies In the Scriptures Series III - Thy Kingdom Come pp.149-150
“And yet "Jerusalem must be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled;" hence, trodden down until A. D. 1914, when the day of wrath will be passed, and the resurrection and return of the "whole house of Israel" due.” Three Worlds and The Harvest of This World (1877) p.166
How the Watchtower presents its history
Today the Watchtower points to its apparent foresight of 1914 as proof of Jehovah’s direction. Can this be true, knowing how wrong Watchtower predictions were?
Watchtower articles deceptively declare they were correct about 1914. As shown above, prior to 1914 it was taught that Jesus second presence and heavenly rulership commenced in 1874 and he would start ruling the earth in 1914, yet the following quotes claim quite differently.
“Why, then, do the nations not realize and accept the approach of this climax of judgment? It is because they have not heeded the world wide advertising of Christ’s return and his second Presence. Since long before World War I Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to 1914 as the time for this great event to occur.” Watchtower 1954 Jun 15 p.370
“Even earlier, however, C. T. Russell wrote an article entitled "Gentile Times: When Do They End?" It was published in the Bible Examiner of October 1876, and therein Russell said: "The seven times will end in A.D. 1914." He had correctly linked the Gentile Times with the "seven times" mentioned in the book of Daniel. (Dan. 4:16, 23, 25, 32) True to such calculations, 1914 did mark the end of those times and the birth of God's kingdom in heaven with Christ Jesus as king. Just think of it! Jehovah granted his people that knowledge nearly four decades before those times expired.” Yearbook 1975 p.37
“For over thirty years before that date and for half a century since, Jehovah’s witnesses have pointed to the year 1914 as the time for the end of “the appointed times of the nations” and the time in which Christ would begin his Kingdom rule. (Luke 21:24)” Watchtower 1966 Feb 15 p.103
“The Watchtower has consistently presented evidence…that Jesus’ presence in heavenly Kingdom power began in 1914. Events since that year testify to Jesus’ presence. … Jehovah’s Witnesses have consistently shown from the Scriptures that the year 1914 marked the beginning of this world’s time of the end and that “the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men” has drawn near.” Watchtower 1993 Jan 15 pp.5,9
“…a prophecy providentially caused sincere 19th-century Bible students to be in expectation. By linking the “seven times” of Daniel 4:25 with “the times of the Gentiles”, they anticipated that Christ would receive Kingdom power in 1914.” Watchtower 1998 Sep 15 p.15
Can the Watchtower be trusted knowing that it consistently made false predications about 1914 for over 30 years? Can they be trusted knowing that it now blatantly lies about what it said was to happen in 1914?