Various False Prophecies of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

Deut 18:20 “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.”

Gathered by Dr. James White:

1972 “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 the International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.” (Watchtower, April 1, 1972, p. 197)

1880 “As the beginning of that change was marked by the coming of Christ from heaven, so the 2300 years above mentioned indicated that Christ was due to leave the most holy place – ‘heaven itself’ – in 1844.” (Watchtower 7/1880 p. 3, Reprints p. 115)

1881 January: “Matt. xxv and the parallelism of the Jewish and Gospel ages, seem to teach that the wise of the virgins ‘who are alive and remain’ must all come in, to a knowledge of the Bridegroom’s presences, by the fall of 1881, when the door – opportunity to become a member of the bride – will close.” (January 1881 Watchtower, p. 4) February: “And now we come nearer to the time when our change seems due (we know not the day or hour, but expect it during 1881, possibly near the autumn when the parallels show the favor to Zion complete and due to end, the door the marriage shut and high calling to be the bride of Christ, to cease) and light on the subject is becoming clearer…” (Watchtower, February, 1881, p. 5) Note: the closer they came to October 1881 the less definite the Watchtower became regarding the “change.” July/August: “We look to October of this year, as the limit of favor – the end of ‘the acceptable year (time or age) of the Lord’ – the closing of the ‘straight gate’ to the ‘narrow way’ of the opportunity to become a member of the bride of Christ and partaker of his Divine Nature.” (July/August Watchtower, 1881, p. 6)

1889 “In this volume we offer a chain of testimony on the subject of God’s appointed times and seasons, each link of which we consider Scripturally strong…it is beyond the breadth and depth of human thought, and therefore cannot be of human origin. (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, 1889, p. 15)

1892 “The date of the close of that ‘battle’ is definitely marked in the Scripture as October, 1914. It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October 1874.” (Watchtower Reprints, January 15, 1892, p. 1355)

1897 “Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874 A.D., according to the testimony of the prophets, to those who have ears to hear it.” (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 4, 1897, pl. 621)

1914 “The war will proceed and will eventuate in no glorious victory for any nation, but in the horrible mutilation and impoverishment of all. Next will follow the Armageddon of anarchy.” (The New York Times, October 5, 1914, p. 8 )

1916 “In the meantime, eyes of understanding should discern clearly the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty now in progress; and our faith, guiding our eyes of understanding through the Word,, should enable us to see the glorious outcome – Messiah’s Kingdom.” (Watchtower Reprints, September 1, 1916, p. 5951)

1917 “The data presented in the comments on Revelation 2:1 prove that the conquest of Judea was not completed until the day of Passover, A.D. 73, and in the light of the foregoing Scriptures, prove that the Sprint of 1918 will bring upon Christendom a spasm of anguish greater even than that experienced in the Fall of 1914.” (The Finished Mystery, p. 62(1918 ed.) (some later editions have changed the dates for obvious reasons) “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’” (p. 485)

1920 “Even the republics will disappear in 1920…The three days in which Pharaoh’s host pursued the Israelites into the wilderness represent the three years from 1917 to 1920 at which time all of Pharaoh’s messengers will be swallowed up by the sea of anarchy. The wheels will come off their chariots – organization.” (The Finished Mystery, 1918 ed., p, 258)

1920 “As we have heretofore stated, the great jubilee cycle is due to begin in 1925. At the time the earthly phase of the kingdom shall be recognized…Therefore we may confidently expect that the 1925 will mark the return of Abraham…” (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, p. 89)

1922 “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.” (Watchtower September 1, 1922, p. 262)

1925 January: “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 the year. This may be accomplished. It may not be. In his own due time God will accomplish his purposes concerning his own people. Christians should not be so deeply concerned about what may transpire during this year that they would fail to joyfully do what the Lord would have them do.” (Watchtower, January 1, 1925, p. 3)

September: “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 of the work, and that therefore it would be needless for them to do more.” (Watchtower, September 1, 1925)

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, p. 1) September: “The Kingdom is here, the King is enthroned. Armageddon is just ahead. The glorious reign of Christ that shall bring blessings to the world will immediately follow. Therefore the great climax has been reached. Tribulation has fallen upon those who stand by the Lord.” (The Messenger, September 1940, p. 6)

1941 “Meantime the German people are awakening to their horrible predicament. They no longer laugh as decent men and women were made to laugh, but their faces are white, pinched and filled with forebodings of what the near future will bring and is already hastening to bring to them – Armageddon, the battle of the great day of God Almighty.” (Consolation, October 29, 1941, p. 11)

1968 “Just think, brothers, there are only about 90 months left before the 6000 years of man’s existence on earth is completed…The majority of people living today will probably be alive when Armageddon breaks out.” (Kingdom Ministry, 3/68, p. 4)

1974 “Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in the old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world’s end.” (Kingdom Ministry, May 1974, p. 3)

As the preceding conclusively proves, the Watchtower should have been speaking of itself when it said: “True, there have been those in times past who predicted an ‘end to the world,’ even announcing a specific date. Some have gathered groups of people with them and fled to the hills or withdrawn into their houses waiting for the end. Yet, nothing happened…Why? What was missing?…Missing from such people were God’s truths and the evidence that he was guiding and using them.” (Awake! October 8, 1968, p. 23)

A Chief Inconsistency of the Watchtower Society: Condemning False Prophecies While Making Them

Concerning this Jamin Hubner at the aomin.org blog writes the following:

One of the most clear and undeniable facts that demonstrates the untruthfulness of the Watchtower Society (or any religious organization/cult for that matter) is its history of false prophecies.

Scripture takes false prophecy seriously. In Old Testament Israel, the penalty for false prophecy was death (e.g. Deut. 18:20). In the New Testament church, we have commands to test prophecies and reject what is false and hold on to what is good (I Thess. 5:20-21, I Cor. 14:29).

The Watchtower Society also seems to believe that false prophecy is the mark of a false religious group:

True, there have been those in times past who predicted an “end to the world,” even announcing a specific date. Some have gathered groups of people with them and fled to the hills or withdrawn into their houses waiting for the end. Yet, nothing happened. The “end” did not come. They were guilty of false prophesying. Why? What was missing? Missing was the full measure of evidence required in fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Missing from such people were God’s truths and the evidence that he was guiding and using them. (“A Time to ‘Lift Up Your Head’ in Confident Hope,” Awake!, October 8, 1968, 1).

However, Jehovah did not let the people of Christendom, as led by the clergy, go without being warned that the League was a counterfeit substitute for the real kingdom of God. He had a “prophet” to warn them. 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. They are still proclaiming a warning, and have been joined and assisted in their commissioned work by hundreds of thousands of persons who have listened to their message with belief. 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. (Watchtower. April, 1972, 197.)

As the citations indicate, these quotes come from 1968 and 1972.

Beginning in 1966 (after a 6 year low in baptisms), Jehovah’s Witnesses predicted that 6,000 years of human history would end in 1975:

Hence, the fact that we are nearing the end of the first 6,000 years of man’s existence is of great significance. Does God’s rest day parallel the time man has been on earth since his creation? Apparently so. From the most reliable investigations of Bible chronology, harmonizing with many accepted dates of secular history, we find that Adam was created in the autumn of the year 4026 B.C.E. Sometime in that year Eve could well have been created, directly after which God’s rest day commenced. In what year, then, would the first 6,000 years of man’s existence and also the first 6,000 years of God’s rest day come to an end? The year 1975. This is worthy of notice, particularly in view of the fact that the “last days” began in 1914, and that the physical facts of our day in fulfillment of prophecy mark this as the last generation of this wicked world. So we can expect the immediate future to be filled with thrilling events for those who rest their faith in God and his promises. It means that within relatively few years we will witness the fulfillment of the remaining prophecies that have to do with the “time of the end.” (“How Much Longer Will it Be?” (Awake! October, 1966, 19-20.)

Do we know that the seventh year from now will conclude the 6,000th year since Adam was created? And if we live to that year 1975, what should we expect to happen? (“The Book of Truthful Historical Dates.” Watchtower. August, 1968, 488-501)

1975 came and went. Historian Ruth Tucker records the outcome:

With the failed prophecy, the number of full-time publishers dropped nearly 40%, and rumblings of discontent were on the upsurge. As a result, the organization further tightened its reins in an effort to banish the “apostates.” In that sense, 1978 was a banner year. Nearly 30,000 were expelled. (Another Gospel, 131)

Just in passing, the reason you see 1914 in one of the above quotes is because the followers of Charles Russell (founder of Watchtower Society) predicted that Armageddon would end in that year (The Time is at Hand, 1911, 101), and after 1914 came and went, it was pushed back to 1915 ( just search for “1915” in Charles Russell’s revised book The Time is Near on Amazon.com). However, it appears 1914 was still “right” in some sense, as decades later the Watchtower Society said that 1914 marked “the beginning of the “time of the end” (Watchtower, May, 1968, 271, emphasis mine), and “we have the anchor date, 1914, marking the end of the Gentile Times” (FW Franz, Watchtower, 1975). In fact, according to Raymond Franz, 1914 was “the date when Christ’s active rulership began, his commencing judgment then and, above all, his selecting the Watch Tower organization as his official channel, his assigning full control of all his earthly interests to a ‘faithful and discreet slave class’ and, factually, giving ultimate authority to its ruling body” (Raymond Franz, Crisis of Conscience, 343). In other words, Armageddon didn’t end that year, but something else significant happened: God declared the Watchtower Society to be his official organization.

Convenient, or bogus? I’ll let you decide. And, just in passing, one also wonders how Russell was right when he said on page 221 of The Time is Near, “the Jew will not be received back into full favor until after 1915.” Of course, more Jews were murdered at one time after 1915 (holocaust) than at any other point in history. Russell was not just wrong, he probably couldn’t have been more wrong.

Dr. James White has documented over a dozen false prophecies made by the Watchtower Society (see above). That should be enough for any rational thinking person to know that the Watchtower Society should not be trusted.

But I recall the conversation I had with a Jehovah’s Witness over the phone about a month ago (as best from memory):

Me: “I have just a basic question.”

JW: “OK, sure.”

Me: “Would you believe something if it could be shown to be false?”

JW: “Well, yeah. I guess so.”

Me: “If I could show you something that was false in your religion, would you still believe it?”

JW: “I don’t see how that’s possible, what I believe is true.”

Me: “I understand, but if it was even possible for your religion to be proven false somehow, would you still believe it?”

JW: “…I think so.”

Most of the JW’s I’ve encountered and heard about either (A) have the same attitude, or (B) say they would reject their faith if it could be shown false, but then hang up or walk out and keep believing the lie that has just been shown to them to be, indeed, a lie.

It’s truly sad, as it wouldn’t take more than a serious week of research to conclude most sufficiently that the Watchtower Society and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a false organization/church/sect that should be completely rejected. But as it seems with many in this age, truth is simply irrelevant. We are often more concerned about the punishment we will receive on earth when leaving an organization than the punishment we’ll receive for eternity after dying.

If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness reading this, wouldn’t it make more sense to lose friends and family instead of losing your own soul for eternity? The truth is there, it is knowable, and it’s true. But truth will hurt somehow. It has to, since we are imperfect, fallen human persons. We don’t like correction, change, or disruption. But surely there is a reward for taking the risk of embracing the truth – especially if the truth means embracing the true Creator and Savior of our world.