Introduction

The Watchtower, Brooklyn, NY
"But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him" (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).

"If we were following a man, undoubtedly it would be different with us: undoubtedly one human idea would contradict another and that which was light one or two or six years ago would be regarded as darkness now: But with God there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, and so it is with truth: any knowledge or light coming from God must be like its author. A new view of truth never can contradict a former truth. "New light" never extinguishes older "light," but adds to it" (Zion's Watch Tower [February 1881], 188).

"So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? …These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? …This 'prophet' was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah's Christian witnesses. …Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a 'prophet' of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record.

…Jehovah's witnesses today make their declaration of the good news of the Kingdom under angelic direction and support. …And since no word or work of Jehovah can fail, for he is God Almighty, the nations will see the fulfillment of what these witnesses say as directed from heaven" ("They Shall Know that a Prophet was Among Them," The Watchtower [April 1, 1972], 197 and 200).

"Jehovah is also the Great Exposer of false messengers. How does he expose them? He frustrates their signs and predictions. In this way he shows that they are self-appointed prognosticators, whose messages really spring from their own false reasoning--yes, their foolish, fleshly thinking!" ("Identifying the Right Kind of Messenger," The Watchtower [May 1, 1997], 8).

"True, there have been those in times past who predicted an 'end to the world,' even announcing a specific date. …Yet nothing happened. The 'end' did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? ...Missing from such people were God's truths and evidence that he was using and guiding them" (Awake, [September 8, 1968], 23).

The following are some Watchtower attempts to determine dates:

1873

Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), Founder of Jehovah's Witnesses
"The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great thousand-year Days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great Seventh Day, the thousand years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873" (Charles Taze Russell, "The Time Is at Hand," Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2 [1916 ed.], ii).

1874

"Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874" (Russell, "The Battle of Armageddon," Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 4 [1897] 621).

"Surely there is not the slightest room for doubt in the mind of a truly consecrated child of God that the Lord Jesus is present and has been since 1874" (The Watch Tower [January 1, 1924], 5).

1878

"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" (Russell, "The Time Is at Hand," Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2 [1916 ed.], 101).

1914

"[T]he 'battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced" (Russell, "The Time Is at Hand," Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2 [1908 ed.], 101).

"This Volume sets forth, what its author has been preaching for over forty years, that the 'Times of the Gentiles' chronologically ended in the fall of A.D. 1914. The expression, 'Times of the Gentiles,' in Bible usage signifies the years, or period of time, in which the Gentile nations of the world were to be permitted to have control, following the taking away of the typical kingdom from natural Israel, and filling the hiatus between that event and the establishment of God's Kingdom in the hands of Messiah--'whose right it is.'

We could not, of course, know in 1889, whether the date 1914, so clearly marked in the Bible as the end of the Gentile lease of power or permission to rule the world, would mean that they would be fully out of power at that time, or whether, their lease expiring, their eviction would begin. The latter we perceive to be the Lord's program; and promptly in August, 1914, the Gentile kingdoms referred to in the prophecy began the present great struggle, which, according to the Bible, will culminate in the complete overthrow of all human government, opening the way for the full establishment of the Kingdom of God's dear Son" (Russell, "The Time Is at Hand," Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2 [1916 ed.], iii).

"In this chapter we present the Bible evidence proving that the full end of the times of the Gentiles, i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion, will be reached in A.D. 1914; and that that date will see the disintegration of the rule of imperfect men" (Russell, "The Time Is at Hand," Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2 [1916 ed.], 76).

"Evidence establishes that his foretold return, the beginning of his 'presence,' occurred in 1914. (Matthew 24:3-14) In that year, Jesus was invisibly enthroned in the heavens as the King of God's Kingdom" ("What Does the Messiah's Coming Mean to You? We Have Found the Messiah," The Watchtower [February 15, 2006]).

"As soon as Jesus became King, he threw Satan and his wicked angels out of heaven and down to the locality of the earth. That is why things have become so bad here on earth since 1914" ("Lesson 6: What is the Kingdom of God?," What Does God Require of Us?).

1915

"[T]he 'battle of the great day of God Almighty' (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1915, with the complete overthrow of earth's present rulership, is already commenced" (Russell, "The Time Is at Hand," Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2 [1916 ed.], 101).

1918

"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. One large part of the adherents of ecclesiasticism will die from pestilence and famine. (Deut. 32:24.) 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. The Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17), which is the Word of God, will be wielded in the hands of 'Present Truth' believers in such a manner as to cause conscientious supporters of ecclesiasticism to cease to be supporters.

…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'" (The Finished Mystery [SS-7, 1917 ed.], 398-9 and 485).

1925

Judge Joseph Franklin Rutherford (1869-1942), Successor to Charles Russell
"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 favor, 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.

Messiah's kingdom once established, Jesus and his glorified church constituting the great Messiah, shall minister the blessings to the people they have so long desired and hoped for and prayed might come. And when that time comes, there will be peace and not war…

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.

…Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews 11, to the condition of human perfection" (Joseph F. Rutherford, Millions Now Living Will Never Die [International Bible Students Association, 1920], 88-90).

"The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914" (The Watch Tower [September 1, 1922], 262).

"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 than Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge" (The Watch Tower [April 1, 1923], 106).

"The year 1925 is here. With great expectation Christians have looked forward to this year. Many have confidently expected that all members of the body of Christ will be changed to heavenly glory during this year. This may be accomplished. It may not be. In his own due time God will accomplish his purposes concerning his people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire this year" (The Watch Tower [January 1, 1925], 3).

"It is to be expected that Satan will try to inject into the minds of the consecrated, the thought that 1925 should see an end to the work" (The Watch Tower [September 1925], 262).

"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" (The Watch Tower [September 1926], 232).

"God's faithful people on earth emphasized the importance of the dates 1914 and 1918 and 1925. They had much to say about these dates and what would come to pass, but all they predicted did not come to pass.

…There was a measure of disappointment on the part of Jehovah's faithful ones on earth concerning the years 1914, 1918, and 1925, which disappointment lasted for a time... and they also learned to quit fixing dates for the future and predicting what would come to pass on a certain date" (Rutherford, Vindication, Vol. 1 [1931], 146 and 338-9).

1940

"'The year 1940 is certain to be the most important year yet, because Armageddon is very near.' It behooves all who love righteousness to put forth every effort to advertise The Theocracy while the privileges are still open" (Informant [May 1940]).

1941  

"Cartons of [the book] Children that had been deposited in The Arena were now opened, and Judge Rutherford instructed the children how to come and each get a copy thereof… Receiving the gift, the marching children clasped it to them, not a toy or plaything for idle pleasure, but the Lord's provided instrument for most effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon" (The Watchtower [September 15, 1941], 288).

1975

"1975… End of the 6th 1,000-year day of man's existence (in early autumn)
2975… End of the 7th 1,000 -year day of man's existence (in early autumn)" (The Watchtower [May 1, 1968], 273).

"Other Bible prophecies clearly foretell God's purpose to bring this wicked system to an end in a few years" (Awake [January 22, 1969], 16).

"If you are a young person, you also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things. Why not? Because 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 toward its finish, if not actually gone!" (Awake [May 22, 1969], 15).

"Shortly, within our twentieth century, the "battle in the day of Jehovah" will begin against the modern antitype of Jerusalem, Christendom" (The Nations Shall Know that I am Jehovah [1971], 216).

R. M. Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
Rob@JWinfo.org