(Note: Be sure to click on the footnote links to understand the relevance of this story. They’re the tiny blue numbers that are easy to miss.)
A visitor relates:
In my imaginary idyllic childhood I had a friend named Dave. We used to go swimming on hot summer evenings in a creek about three miles from our neighborhood. Then we’d lie on the bank and allow the sun to dry us off. In that relaxing, lazy time, with the warm sun beating down on us, we’d stare up into the sky, watch the clouds roll by, and philosophize until the sun was going down.
I well remember one of these pastoral occasions when Dave said, “At 19 hundred hours and 25 minutes (that’s 7:25 pm for you dummies who can’t tell military time) lightning will strike the cemetery across the way, and your Uncle Pete will be blasted out of his grave, swim over to us and say “Hi, y’all!” 1
I laughed, but he looked serious. “Are you sure?” I asked.
Dave had convinced me the previous year that September 5th would be the end of the world.4 That date had come and gone with the world still going strong, but Dave explained to me that it was due to Eve being created a longer time after Adam than he thought.5 I wasn’t sure how he made the connection. Still, he assured me that the end would come “any day now”. Most likely it would be September 5th of next year.
“Look,” he told me, “we have more reason to believe that your uncle is about to be resurrected than Noah had for believing the flood was imminent.”6
“Okay, what time is it now?” I asked.
“It’ll be 19:25 in sixty seconds, starting… Now!” he said, and we both began counting: “One one-thousand, two one-thousand…” until we came to
“sixty one-thousand,” and held our breath.
I looked over at Dave expectantly.
“Well,” he said after swallowing his disappointment, “I’m sure there was a lightning strike somewhere in the world just then.”
“No doubt whatever,” I agreed, but echoing his previous words evidently sounded sarcastic to him.
“It’s not my fault if what I stated as a probability you took for a certainty,”7 he said petulantly.
“But you said–”
“Never mind what I said,” he barked. “you read more into it because you selfishly wanted to see your uncle.”8
“I don’t think that’s fair,” I told him.
“Not fair?” He yelled, standing up and quickly dressing. “Listen: I’m a prophet9, and there’s lots of my friends who recognize that. They don’t harp on my human imperfections when I deliver the word of God to them. Where is your loyalty? After all, who was it that gave you the truth about the end of the world?”
“You did,” I meekly acknowledged.
“Very well, then,” he said, “Now prove your loyalty and repeat after me: ‘It was a probability, and I selfishly mistook it for a certainty.'”
“That would be a lie,” I told him.
Dave was a bit of a bully and by now had me in a half-nelson. “Repeat it!” he demanded. But instead of repeating what he’d said I called him a liar. He released his hold and shoved me to the ground. “Then be destroyed with the rest of the world!” he cried. “You’d better not tell anybody about this, ’cause it never happened. I’m going to tell all our friends to hate you and to stop talking to you because you’ve got a mental disease that makes everything you say a lie.”10
With that, he hopped on his bike and sped off, yelling back at me: “The ravens will soon be pecking out your eyeballs! I can’t wait to rejoice at that sight!”11
It was our last swim together.
I didn’t know what a Jehovah’s Witness was back then.
I found out a few weeks later when Dave and his father knocked on our door, Watchtowers in hand.
— Footnotes —
1 We may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old … 1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old and the beginning of the reconstruction…
(Millions Now Living May Never Die, pp. 89, 90, 97 – WBTS) return
2 We have no doubt whatever in regard to the chronology relating to the dates of 1874, 1914, 1918, and 1925.
(Watchtower 1922 p. 147) return
3 The date 1925 is even more distinctly indicated by the Scriptures than 1914.
(The Watchtower 9/1/22, page 262) return
4 September 5th, 1975 was the date mentioned by then Watchtower vice-president Fred Franz in a talk entitled “What is the Significance of 1975?” delivered at conventions held that year. return
5 Another speaker, F. W. Franz, the Society’s vice-president, forcefully impressed on the audience the urgency of the Christian preaching work.
He stressed that, according to dependable Bible chronology, 6,000 years of human history will end this coming September according to the lunar calendar. This coincides with a time when “the human species [is] about to starve itself to death,” as well as its being faced with poisoning by pollution and destruction by nuclear weapons. Franz added: “There’s no basis for believing that mankind, faced with what it now faces, can exist for the seventh thousand-year period” under the present system of things. Does this mean that we know exactly when God will destroy this old system and establish a new one? Franz showed that we do not, for we do not know how short was the time interval between Adam’s creation and the creation of Eve, at which point God’s rest day of seven thousand years began. (Heb. 4:3, 4)
But, he pointed out, “we should not think that this year of 1975 is of no significance to us,” for the Bible proves that Jehovah is “the greatest chronologist” and “we have the anchor date, 1914, marking the end of the Gentile Times.” So, he continued, “we are filled with anticipation for the near future, for our generation.”—Matt. 24:34.
— Watchtower 5/1/1975, p.285 return
6 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 Watchtower, 4/1/23, page 106) return
7 1925 was a sad year for many brothers, some of them were stumbled; their hopes were dashed. They had hoped to see some of the ancient worthies resurrected. Instead of being a “probability” they read into it that it was a “certainty.”
(1975 Yearbook, p. 146) return
8 The end of 1925 is about here. Some had expected to see the work of the church in the flesh completed this year. Probably this expectation has been induced somewhat by the desire to end earth’s journey of toil and to sit at ease in glory. If so, then is there not a measure of selfishness in such a desire and expectation?
(Watchtower 1925, p. 259) return
9 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.
(Watchtower 1972 April 1 p.197 ‘They Shall Know that a Prophet Was Among Them’) return
10 Well, apostates are ‘mentally diseased’, and they seek to infect others with their disloyal teachings
– Watchtower, 7/15/2011
You have seen the benefit of godly love, but do you know how to hate? …These very strong words are an expression of godly hate, and you too must have this quality to be pleasing to God. Hate causes a feeling of disgust to well up inside you. You loathe, abhor, despise the object of your hatred.
– Watchtower 7/15/1974 p.442) return
11 This feast for the birds of every sort and for the wild beasts is called a “sacrifice” by Jehovah, for sacrifices made to him in pre-Christian times called for the slaughter of animal and bird victims. Their blood has to flow. In Revelation 19:17 it is called “the great evening meal of God.” The fact that Jehovah leaves the bodies of those slain… lying exposed on the ground for birds and wild beasts to gorge themselves upon symbolizes that they will not be laid in respected memorial tombs in hope of a resurrection for them. The unburied dead, “those slain by Jehovah,” will be so enormously many that even the carrion birds and scavenging wild beasts could never take care of their consumption…
‘How horrible all this!’ Should that be our reaction of mind toward this prophecy…? Not rightly so!
… rejoice at the fiery destruction that proceeded from Jehovah’s celestial chariot against hypocritical Christendom and all the rest of Babylon the Great. Surely all of us want to be on the side of those who rejoice when that occurs.
— The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah – How? (Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1971, p. 191,376-377) return