- The 2,520 years is based on a completely bogus interpretation: one that not only conflicts with the evidence, but with the Bible’s own interpretation.
- The 607 BCE date for the destruction of Jerusalem is wrong.
- Nothing predicted about 1914 — either before or after that year — came true.
Problem 3: Nothing predicted about 1914 — either before or after that year — came true.
You’ll recall that originally the Watchtower predicted that 1914 would be the end of the “last days” and of the “battle of Armageddon” — destroying all earthly governments and ushering in the “new world”: a kingdom ruled by Christ, restoring paradise to an Earth filled with resurrected bodies of nearly all the people who had ever died.
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.”
– The Watchtower Reprints, July 15, 1894, p. 1677
Well, did any of that happen? No, it did not. So all of the expectations for 1914 failed.
Undeterred by the failure of their false prophecy concerning 1914, the Watchtower simply reinterpreted their expectations. They switched to saying that 1914 was the start of the last days, and that the generation who witnessed the events of that year would live to see Armageddon and the start of Christ’s millennial rule.
Some of the generation that discerned the beginning of the time of the end in 1914 will still be alive on earth to witness the end of this present wicked system of things at the battle of Armageddon.”
By “generation” they meant the individual people who were alive and discerning in 1914, as shown, for instance, in their 1968 publication of the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life:
But then something awful happened in Watchtower land: over a hundred years went by and the 1914 generation all died [they would be at least 113 years old today, given the Watchtower’s definition of “the age of discernment” being a minimum of 10 years old.] Also, even if still alive today, none of them would qualify as “the generation” because they wouldn’t have “discerned” at the time that 1914 was the start of the “last days” since the Watchtower was telling them it was the end.
The 1914 generation did not witness Armageddon or the start of Christ’s millennial rule.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses who could manage to overlook this second massive failure of the 1914 prophecy assuaged themselves with the latest light from the Watchtower on the matter. After a false start with reinterpreting a “generation” as people living in the time of the end who witnessed the signs but paid them no heed, and a turn-about false start which identified the generation as the anointed, the Watchtower struck potential gold with their current definition of a “generation.” Witnesses were told that the term ‘generation’ now means ‘overlapping generations’!
They now assert that any “anointed” Jehovah’s Witness who was born when a member of the 1914 generation was still alive, counts as part of the same generation due to their “overlapping” lives!
They try to find a biblical precedent for this definition of “generation” by referring to how the Bible calls Joseph and his brothers a “generation” (Ex. 1:6) even though their life-spans overlapped. (The very same verse they used to bolster their previous doctrine of the generation being the anointed and having “no end”! ) This is very flimsy “evidence” upon which to base such an important doctrine! One could as easily argue that Joseph and his brothers were “one generation” due to the fact that they were all generated from their father Jacob’s loins.
A more pertinent place to look for the Bible’s meaning of the word generation would be in the same Bible book of Matthew where Jesus mentioned “the generation.” In MT 1:17, after listing each ancestor of Jesus individually, the writer of Matthew concludes:
All the generations, then, from Abraham until David were 14 generations; from David until the deportation to Babylon, 14 generations; from the deportation to Babylon until the Christ, 14 generations.
Notice that he counts one ancestor per “generation”; not two as per the Watchtower’s definition.
The new and unique meaning the Watchtower has given to generation is yet another feeble attempt to save their baseless 1914 beliefs. It buys them at least another 80 years or so of gullible followers before they’ll have to dream up something new to save face.
But, on the down side, this definition is an oxymoron. If we were to express it as a mathematical equation it would look like this: g = 2g (where g stands for generation.) Unless g is zero, this is an impossible equation. Something cannot equal two of itself; it would lead to an infinite regress. If “generation” means two generations, then the “two generations” part of this sentence means four generations, and the “four generations” in this sentence means eight generations, which means sixteen generations… ad infinitum!
Even if we wanted to believe what the Watchtower now teaches about the 1914 generation we could not do so because what they are teaching is an impossibility.
Christ’s “Invisible Presence”
Christ Jesus has been present since 1914 and witness has been given of the signs that prove it”
–Watchtower, 1950, Jan. 15, p. 22
If the above quote were true, then what about the “signs that prove” that Christ Jesus has been present since 1874, such as the following?
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.”
–Watchtower, 1924, Jan. 1, p. 5
If there were “not the slightest room for doubt” about 1874 being the year of Christ’s presence, then they must’ve supplied just as good “proof” of that date as they now claim they have for 1914.
They were wrong before (despite their certainty) so the chances are pretty good that they are just as wrong now. This is proof that the Watchtower has a historical record of being wrong in its proclamation of the year of Christ’s presence. This is proof that they don’t have the ability to recognize the “signs of Christ’s presence.” So, what does that lead us to reasonably conclude about their latest date of 1914?
But let’s think seriously about this whole “invisible presence” thing for a moment (if that’s possible.) The Watchtower makes much of the imprecise meaning of the Greek word Parousia in MT 24:3, and insists that it should be rendered presence instead of the way the vast majority of translations render it as coming :
While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?”
—MT 24:3 (NWT 2013 ed.)
As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
—MT 24:3 (NIV)
The Watchtower makes this claim in spite of the fact that their own translation has Jesus referring to it as his “coming” in verse 30, in answer to the apostles’ question. And, of course, Jesus would know better how to describe what he intended to do in the future than would his often bewildered and in-the-dark disciples (Luke 9:45).
Now, according to the writer of Matthew once again: Jesus clearly stated that he would “always be with” his disciples: “look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (MT 28:20 NWT, 2013 ed.) If he was with them, then he was present nearly 2,000 years before 1914. The Watchtower admits this, but explains it by saying that his “presence” in 1914 was different because he “actively assumed his kingship” at that time:
Jesus had promised to be with his followers in their meeting together (Mt 18:20), and he also assured them that he would be ‘with them’ in their discipling work “all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Mt 28:19, 20) The parousia of Matthew 24:3 and related texts, of course, must signify something beyond this. It clearly relates to a special presence, one involving and affecting all earth’s inhabitants and inseparably connected with Jesus’ expression of full authority as King anointed by God.
it-2 pp. 676-679
But, as we’ve already seen, he already had this “kingship.” So I guess what the Watchtower is saying is that all those many centuries prior to 1914 he was: king, present, and invisible, but he was lazing about all that time until he suddenly struggled to his feet in 1914, adjusted the crown on his head, and assumed an “I’m ready for action now!” stance. It was this action which then made him: king, present, and invisible as he hadn’t been before (even though he was all those things before.)
So, picture the governor of Minnesota, who has been on a long weekend drinking binge, and is sprawled out on his living-room couch: miserably hungover. We can’t see him, because his 24/7 web-cam aimed at the couch is currently blocked by an empty case of beer. Suddenly the governor stands up and declares that he’s off to a governmental meeting! It is only at this point that the Watchtower would say that he is the present invisible governor of Minnesota. Prior to that, of course, he was the present invisible governor of Minnesota — but not really. Get it? Me neither.
All of this “invisible presence” and “assuming kingship” nonsense are just more things the Watchtower claims happened in 1914 — things which actually contradict the Bible and when examined prove to be thoroughly meaningless.
But, when all is said and done, should we still give the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses the benefit of the doubt, for being sincere Christian shepherds trying their honest best to understand the Bible? Well, no, we can’t do that given the following example of their rank dishonesty about the matter:
The Watchtower has consistently presented evidence to honest-hearted students of Bible prophecy that Jesus’ presence in heavenly Kingdom power began in 1914.”
– Watchtower 1993 Jan. 15, p.5
Not only did they get it wrong, they have lied about it as well! They claim that they have “consistently” presented evidence for 1914 as the beginning of Christ’s presence, when, as we just saw: they formerly presented “evidence” for this presence as beginning in 1874 (proclaiming this date for at least 45 years!)
If they supposedly are God’s mouthpiece on Earth, how could they proclaim Christ was present — without a doubt in their minds — for 45 years, when Christ was not present at all? Their “Christ detection apparatus” must be faulty. Doesn’t that make you suspect that there is something flawed in regard to their “pipeline from God”? Is it more likely that God feeds his mouthpiece false information to dispense to his people, or that this isn’t God’s mouthpiece?
The Last Days and Armageddon
But what about the “last days” (aka “the time of the end” aka “the start of the conclusion of the system of things”) and the battle of Armageddon? Recall that prior to 1914 that year was believed to be the end, not the beginning of the “time of the end.” Here’s another quote showing this:
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 Time Is at Hand, 1907, p. 101
An honest mistake? Not in light of the following:
Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to the year 1914, decades in advance, as marking the start of “the conclusion of the system of things.”
–Awake! 1973 Jan 22 p.8 (emphasis added.)
Another blatant lie. This one is also accompanied by some deception. A footnote tells us to see The Bible Examiner of October, 1876. This would lead one to believe that the referenced article actually stated that 1914 would be the start of “the conclusion of the system of things.” The writers of Awake! probably thought no one would be fact-checking this, given how difficult it would be to obtain a copy of that issue of The Bible Examiner.
But the article has been scanned in and is available from archive.org:
in A.D. 1914; when Jerusalem shall be delivered forever, and the Jew say of the Deliverer, “Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him and He will save us.” When Gentile Governments shall have been dashed to pieces; when God shall have poured out of his fury upon the nation, and they acknowledge, him King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
…If the Gentile Times end in 1914, (and there are many other and clearer evidences pointing to the same time) and we are told that it shall be with fury poured out; a time of trouble such as never was before, nor ever shall be; a day of wrath, etc., how long before does the church escape?
It turns out that the very article the Awake! referenced as proof, not only fails to support their claim, but in fact shows that Russell was expecting 1914 to see the delivery of the Jews and the destruction of all earthly governments completed (i.e. the end of Armageddon) followed by worldwide conversion.
I don’t think it would be wise to trust proven liars with biblical interpretation, much less with our very lives.
According to the Watchtower we have proof that we are living in the “last days” since 1914 because earthquakes, famine, and wars have increased on an unprecedented scale since that year, in fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Matthew 24.
But once again the Watchtower is at odds with reality. The evidence does not back up their claim.
Earthquakes have unequivocally not increased since 1914. Please read this excellent article regarding this.
But the Watchtower has stooped to deception in making it appear otherwise:
The severity and deadliness of earthquakes have increased markedly since “the time of the end” commenced for this old system in 1914. In fact, over 900,000 persons have died from earthquakes in this century, including close to 1,250 in the United States.
— Watchtower, May 1, 1970, page 270.
But you will notice that this figure dates from the beginning of the 20th century rather than from 1914. The fact is that more than half that number died prior to 1914! To be precise, if you were to look the matter up in the Collier’s Encyclopedia, Volume 8, page 254, you’d find that between the years 1905 and 1908, 520,000 people lost their lives in earthquakes. That’s well over half the number the Watchtower cited to prove that the number has gone up since 1914! So, if the straight facts were given, they would disprove the notion that 1914 marked the beginning of the “last days” due to increased deaths from earthquakes.
Deaths From Earthquakes, 1900-1970
Interestingly, the Watchtower finally admitted the true facts in 1993:
The earth and its dynamic forces have more or less remained the same throughout the ages.
— Watchtower, December 1, 1993, p. 6
Typically, however, they did not bother to mention that this fact contradicted what they had been preaching for over 50 years. They also failed to mention that this retraction removed one of their principal pieces of “evidence” for their “last days” argument.
Famine has not increased, and its effects have actually decreased dramatically.
Yes, we have wars, and have had them since 1914, including two “world wars.” But, even though the war that began in 1914 is called World War One [and began months before the October date the Watchtower assigns to Satan’s ouster from heaven], the first world war actually occurred in 1754. Our past has been so egregiously violent that we are actually living in the most peaceful time in history!
When it comes to 1914 and the “last days” the Watchtower has deceptively manipulated the facts in order to use fear-mongering to recruit and keep more members.
Recently the Watchtower has backed off somewhat on claiming that war has increased by stating [correctly] that the “signs” do not speak of an increase of wars [nor any of the other criteria] — only that they will be on-going during the time of the end.
But such things have always been on-going. It is not a “sign” of anything to say that things that have always been going on will continue to be going on at the predicted time. You might as well give as a sign: “And there will be a sunrise followed by really crappy weather, and there will be complaints and rumors of complaints, and women will sell themselves to men, and there will be cheaters and lots of drinking, partying, and foolishness: and then the end will come.”
In conclusion, we’ve seen that the 1914 doctrine is wrong on so many levels and in so many ways that it’s a wonder that anyone would fall for it as “truth.” But just when you think the Watchtower has reached their quota of idiocy, I’d like to conclude with my all-time favorite quote regarding 1914:
The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914
– Watchtower 1924 Jul 15 p.211
1925 was the year that Abraham, Isaac, David, et al. were to be resurrected on Earth. If that date was “more clear” to the Watchtower leadership than the 1914 date, what does that say about 1914?