Part 4: Reasoning on the Meaning of Prophecy
Posted by Seeker on June 11, 1997 at 08:31:16 and 08:32:43
Earlier I quoted extensively from the Society's publications to show how they have been constantly expecting the end to come imminently. Several of the quotes contained dogmatic, but incorrect, predictions about specific dates. What does this mean? Are they just imperfect men making lots of mistakes along the way?
Opposers sometimes make the claim that the Society is a false prophet, and they point to those failed predictions as proof. What does the Society say to such charges? Note the Watchtower of March 15, 1986, on page 19:
".... we might consider what the Society has published in the past on chronology. Some opposers claim that Jehovah's Witnesses are false prophets. These opponents say that dates have been set, but nothing has happened.... Yes, Jehovah's people have had to revise expectations from time to time.... we display our faith in God's Word and its sure promises by declaring its message to others. Moreover, the need to revise our understanding somewhat does not make us false prophets.... How foolish to take the view that expectations needing some adjustment should call into question the whole body of truth! The evidence is clear that Jehovah has used and is continuing to use his one organization, with "the faithful and discreet slave" taking the lead."
So here they clearly say they are not false prophets, leading one to believe they are just imperfect men, not inspired, trying to discern Bible truth and needing to revise their expectations from time to time. This is the view we have all been told. But is this correct? This denial made me wonder just what it is they are denying.
Let's get our terms straight. What is a prophet? A prophet, according to Vol. 2. of Insight on the Scriptures, page 694, is:
"One through whom divine will and purpose are made known."
A prophecy, according to Vol. 2. of Insight on the Scriptures, pages 690, 691, is:
"An inspired message; a revelation of divine will and purpose or the proclamation thereof. Prophecy may be an inspired moral teaching, an expression of a divine command or judgment, or a declaration of something to come. As shown under PROPHET, prediction, or foretelling, is not the basic thought conveyed by the root verbs in the original languages.... yet it forms an outstanding feature of Bible prophecy.... The Source of all true prophecy is Jehovah God."
The Society says they are not prophets, not inspired of God. But looking at those definitions listed above, what does it sound like to you? Furthermore, did you know that the Society has, on occasion, explicitly said they were God's prophets? In the publication, 'The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah' -- How? on page 61, par. 16-17, it says:
"Certainly, then, back there in the postwar year of 1919 there were none among the war-guilty religious elements of Jewry and Christendom who qualified to be commissioned as the modern-day counterpart or antitype of Ezekiel. Was there no one, then, whom Jehovah could raise up to serve in a way that corresponded to that of that ancient exile in Babylon? Whom could the real "chariot" of Jehovah's organization roll up to and confront that he might bestow upon this qualified one the commission to speak as a prophet in the name of Jehovah? Ah, there was a group whose members had suffered religious persecution during World War I at the hands of Babylon the Great, ... Who were they? They were a small minority group of men and women who had dedicated themselves to Jehovah as God by following in the footsteps of his Son Jesus Christ."
It continues on page 66, par. 24:
".... It is a composite Ezekiel. It is composed of those dedicated, baptized proclaimers of God's kingdom, who have been anointed with His spirit for their work. (Isaiah 61:1-3) It is manifest that in the year 1919 the invisible heavenly organization of Jehovah, like the celestial chariot seen in Ezekiel's vision, rolled up and stopped, not before Christendom's advocates of the League of Nations, but before the anointed proclaimers of the heavenly kingdom... From atop this celestial chariot like organization Jehovah commissioned this dedicated, baptized, anointed class of servants to speak to all the nations in his name... It was most fitting that... they embraced the distinguishing name of Jehovah's Witnesses."
So here it says there was a commission to speak as a prophet in the name of Jehovah, and that it was the anointed ones who were to speak to the nations in Jehovah's name. Explicitly, it calls the anointed ones prophets.
Similarly, note the following:
"A third way of coming to know Jehovah God is through his representatives. In ancient times he sent prophets as his special messengers. While these men foretold things to come, they also served the people by telling them of God's will for them at that time, often also warning them of dangers and calamities. People today can view the creative works. They have at hand the Bible, but it is little read or understood. So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come? ... Identifying The 'Prophet'. These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? The clergy of the so-called 'Christian' nations hold themselves before the people as being the ones commissioned to speak for God. But as pointed out in the previous issue of this magazine, they have failed God and failed as proclaimers of his kingdom by approving a man-made political organization, the League of Nations (now the United Nations), as the 'political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth'. 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." [The Watchtower, April, 1, 1972, p. 197]
Or consider this quote:
"A 'prophet to the nations' is what Jehovah made him. (Jeremiah 1:5) Now today, if anything, there needs to be a 'prophet to the nations'.... Jehovah has considerately raised up his 'prophet to the nations.' Jehovah has done this during this 'time of the end,' since World War I ended.... the 'prophet' whom Jehovah has raised up has been, not an individual man as in the case of Jeremiah, but a class.... At this late date there is a mere remnant of this 'prophet' class yet on earth.... One thing is now certain: if the "prophet" class, the Jeremiah class, is facing Har-Magedon" [The Watchtower, October 1, 1982, p. 26-27]
In the book, Holy Spirit -- The Force Behind the Coming New Order, p. 176, it says:
"He [God] has put his word, his message of the hour, into the mouths of the spiritual remnant for them to confess openly before all the world, for their salvation and for that of responsive hearers."
Remember, a prophet, according to Insight, is "One through whom divine will and purpose are made known." So, according to the Holy Spirit book, is the spiritual remnant a prophet? They said 'God put his word into the mouths of the remnant', didn't they?
In the book, Preparation (1933), p. 28 it says:
"This is proof that the interpretation of prophecy does not proceed from man, but that the Lord Jesus, the chief one in Jehovah's organization, sends the necessary information to his people by and through his holy angels."
Later in the same book the thought continues:
"Certain duties and kingdom interests have been committed by the Lord to his angels, which include the transmission of information to God's anointed people on the earth for their aid and comfort. Even though we cannot understand how the angels transmit this information, we know that they do it; and the Scriptures and the facts show that it is done." [Preparation, 1933, p. 36-37]
Does this sound as if they were claiming the divine will and purpose were being made known to them?
Consider this quote and ask yourself, if it is not the opinion on any man, where does this message come from?
"The Lord has graciously provided for the publication of his message in the form of books, that the people many be informed of the truth... those books do not contain the opinion of any man." [Riches, 1936, p. 384, 385]
The Watchtower, January 15, 1959, p. 40-41 says:
"Whom has God actually used as his prophet... Jehovah's witnesses are deeply grateful today that the plain facts show that God has been pleased to use them.... Jehovah thrust out his hand of power and touched their lips and put his words in their mouths."
Isn't that very clear? If they are not claiming to be prophets, what other interpretation for that passage can you give?
Really, looking at the definitions of prophet and prophecy, we can see that the Society acts as a prophet. Common sense tells us this. Their own publications have explicitly said they act as prophets. The only time they deny this is when they are answering the charges of opposers. Then suddenly they are not prophets anymore. They are just 'revisers of expectations.'
So clearly they can be called prophets. What about the rest of the charge? Can they ever be called false prophets? Forget about motive, just consider their actions whether rightly or wrongly motivated. Well, how does one tell a true prophet from a false one? According to Deut. 18:20-22:
"However, the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. And in case you should say in your heart: "How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?" when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened at him."
So, a prophet makes known the divine will and purpose. Prophecy is an inspired message, in other words, a message from God. And there are standards which a prophet must meet; failure to meet any one makes them a false prophet
Ask yourself, has the Society spoken 'in the name of Jehovah'? Of course they have. Have they spoken words that did not occur or come true? Yes, as we have seen, and we will see more below.
Note also the Watchtower May 15, 1930, pp. 155-156, where it says:
"The false prophets of our day are the financial, political, and clerical prognosticators, they assume to foretell future events; but their dreams or guesses never come true... In 1914-1918 these same three classes told the whole world that the great world war would end all wars and make the world safe for democracy.... their prophecies did not come true, therefore, they are false prophets; and the people should no longer trust them as safe guides...."
The Society accuse others of being false prophets when they simply say something that didn't come true, i.e. guesses never come true. It's very clear that these secular authorities didn't claim to speak in Jehovah's name, yet the Society calls them prophets for saying something would happen. When it didn't happen, they were called false prophets. So what can we expect when we see the predictions quoted earlier that the Society made? They spoke in Jehovah's name, they said this is what God has said, and yet, it didn't come true.
Biblically, according to Deut. 18, is this the mark of imperfect men honestly making mistakes, or of false prophets? The March 1, 1979 Watchtower advances another argument that would prevent the Society from being classed as a false prophet:
"But let us never forget that the motives of this "slave" were always pure, unselfish; at all times it has been well-meaning."
Deut. 18 says nothing about motive, nothing about making allowance for sincerity. It says nothing about revising expectations, so why add to the scriptures? Where in the Bible does it say that "pure motives" are of any value in determining whether the words of a prophet are true or false? The Society itself often says that God will destroy members of all false religions no matter how sincere they may be, since God's standard is truth, not sincerity.
So, now that I could see that the Society has claimed to be prophet, and certainly has acted like one, and certainly common sense would tell you they are acting like prophets, I now set out to see just what they had predicted over the years. We all know that the Society admits to past mistakes, but were you aware (as I was not) of just how many, and how many explicit, predictions were made over the years? Please note the following as a selection, and remember what it means to be a prophet in the scriptural sense:
"The End Of This World; that is the end of the gospel and the beginning of the millennial age is nearer than most men suppose; indeed we have already entered the transition period, which is to be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation Dan. 12:3." [Three Worlds, and the Harvest of This World, p. 17]
"Christ came in the character of a Bridegroom in 1874.... at the beginning of the Gospel harvest." [Zion's Watch Tower, 1879, p. 4]
"We need not here repeat the evidences that the "seventh trump" began its sounding A.D., 1840, and will continue until the end of the time of trouble, and the end of "The times of the Gentiles," A.D., 1914, and that it is the trouble of this "Great day," which is here symbolically called the voice of the Archangel when he begins the deliverance of fleshly Israel. "At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince (Archangel) which standeth for the children of thy people and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." Dan. xii. 1. Nor will we here, again present the conclusive Bible proof that our Lord came for his Bride in 1874, and has an unseen work as Reaper of the first-fruits of this Gospel Age. [Zion's Watch Tower, 1880, p. 1]
"The outlook at the opening of the New Year has some very encouraging features. The outward evidences are that the marshaling of the hosts for the battle of the great day of God Almighty, is in progress while the skirmishing is commencing. [...] The time is come for Messiah to take the dominion of earth and to overthrow the oppressors and corrupters of the earth, (Rev. 19:15 and 11:17, 18) preparatory to the establishment of everlasting peace upon the only firm foundation of righteousness and truth." [Zion's Watch Tower, January 1886]
"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 the date will be the farthest limit of the rule of imperfect men. And be it observed, that if this is shown to be a fact firmly established by the Scriptures, it will prove; Firstly, that at that date the Kingdom of God, for which our Lord taught us to pray, saying, Thy Kingdom come, will obtain full, universal control, and that it will then be set up, or firmly established, in the earth, on the ruins of present institutions." [Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, 1888, p. 76, 77]
"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, Vol. 2, p. 101. (The 1915 Edition changed "A.D. 1914" to read 'A.D. 1915')]
"In the coming 26 years, all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved." [Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p. 98-99]
"In this chapter we present the Bible evidence which indicates that six thousand years from the creation of Adam were complete with A.D. 1872; and hence that, since A.D. 1872 are chronologically entered upon the seventh thousand or the Millennium." [Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p. 33]
"Seventeen years ago people said, concerning the time features presented in Millennial Dawn, They seem reasonable in many respects, but surely no such radical changes could occur between now and the close of 1914: if you had proved that they would come about in a century or two, it would seem much more probable. What changes have since occurred, and what velocity is gained daily? 'The old is quickly passing and the new is coming in.' Now, in view of recent labor troubles and threatened anarchy, our readers are writing to know if there may not be a mistake in the 1914 date. They say that they do not see how present conditions can hold out so long under the strain. 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." [Zion's Watch Tower, July 15, 1894]
"...this measurement is 3416 inches, symbolizing 3416 years.... This calculation shows A.D. 1874 as marking the beginning of the period of trouble...." [Studies in the Scriptures: Thy Kingdom Come, Series III, p. 342, 1897 edition (1916 edition changed to read: "We find it to be 3457 inches, symbolizing 3457 years.... Thus the Pyramid witnesses that the close of 1914 will be the beginning of the time of trouble....")]
Note: the measurement was the length of an interior passageway discovered inside the Pyramids, believe it or not!
"Our Lord, the appointed King, is now present, since October 1874, A.D.... and the formal inauguration of his kingly office dates from April 1878, A.D." [Studies in the Scriptures, Vol.4, p.621]
"When Uranus and Jupiter meet in the humane sign of Aquarius in 1914, the long-promised era will have made a fair start in the work of setting man free to work out his own salvation, and will insure the ultimate realization of dreams and ideals of all poets and sages in history." [Zion's Watch Tower, May 1, 1903, p. 130-131]
"According to our expectations the stress of the great time of trouble will be on us soon, somewhere between 1910 and 1912, culminating with the end of the 'Times of the Gentiles,' October, 1914." [Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 6, p. 579]
"Studying God's Word, we have measured the 2520 years, the seven symbolic times, from that year 606 B.C. and have found that it reached down to October, 1914, as nearly as we were able to reckon. We did not say positively that this would be the year." [The Watch Tower, November 1, 1914, p. 325]
"The present great war in Europe is the beginning of the Armageddon of the Scriptures Rev 19:16-20). It will eventuate in the complete overthrow of all the systems of error which have so long oppressed the people of God and deluded the world. We believe the present war cannot last much longer until revolutions shall break out" [Pastor Russell's Sermons, p. 676]
"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 near the end of A.D. 1915. [Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, 1915 edition, p. 99]
"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. 1915, with the complete overthrow of the earth's present rulership, is already commenced." [Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, 1915 ed., p. 101]
"So it was in this harvest also up to A.D. 1878 the time prophecies and the fact of the Lord's presence, substantially as here presented, though less clearly, was our message. Since then the work has widened, and the view of other truths has become brighter and clearer; but the same fact and scriptures, teaching the same time and presence, stand unchallenged and incontrovertible." [Studies in the Scriptures, Vol 2, 1915 ed., p. 236]
"The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great 1000 year days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great 7th Day, the 1000 years of Christ's Reign, began in 1873." [Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, Foreword, p. 2, 1916]
"The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is the greatest corporation in the world, because from the time of its organization until now the Lord has used it as his channel through which to make known the glad tidings...'" [The Watch Tower, January 15, 1917, p. 22]
"There will be no slip-up... Abraham should enter upon the actual possession of his promised inheritance in the year 1925" [The Watch Tower, October 15, 1917, p. 6157]
"And the mountains were not found. Even the republics will disappear in the fall of 1920. And the mountains were not found. Every kingdom of earth will pass away, be swallowed up in anarchy." [The Finished Mystery, 1917 edition, p. 258]
"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, 1917 edition, p. 485]
"As the fleshly-minded apostates from Christianity, siding with the radicals and revolutionaries, will rejoice at the inheritance of desolation that will be Christendom's after 1918, so will God do to the successful revolutionary movement; it shall be utterly desolated, "even all of it." Not one vestige of it shall survive the ravages of world-wide all embracing anarchy, in the fall of 1920. (Rev. II: 7-13)" [The Finished Mystery, 1917, p. 542, (The 1926 ed. reads: "in the end of the time of trouble.")]
"In all his (Russell's) warnings he claimed no originality. He said that he could never have written his books himself. It all came from God, through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit." [Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 7, p. 387.]
"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." [Millions Now Living Will Never Die, p. 89]
"Based upon the argument heretofore set forth, then, that the old order of things, the old world, is ending and is therefore passing away, and that the new order is coming in, and that 1925 shall mark the resurrection of the faithful worthies of old and the beginning of reconstruction, it is reasonable to conclude that millions of people now on the earth will be still on the earth in 1925. Then, based upon the promises set forth in the divine Word, we must reach the positive and indisputable conclusion that millions now living will never die." [Millions Now Living Will Never Die, 1920, p. 97]
"'The time of the end' embraces a period from 1799 A.D., as above indicated, to the time of the complete overthrow of Satan's empire and the establishment of the kingdom of the Messiah. The time of the Lord's second presence dates from 1874, as above stated. The latter period is within the first named, of course, and in the latter part of the period known as "the time of the end." [The Harp of God, 1921 p. 236]
"The period must end in 1925. The type ending, the antitype must begin; and therefore 1925 is definitely fixed in the scriptures. Every thinking person can see that a great climax is at hand. The Scriptures clearly indicate that the climax is the fall of Satan's empire and the full establishment of the Messianic kingdom. This climax being reached by 1925, and that marking the beginning of the fulfillment of the long promised blessings of life to the people, millions now living on earth will be living then and those who obey the righteous laws of the new arrangement will live forever. Therefore it can be confidently said at this time that millions now living will never die." [The Golden Age, January 4, 1922, p. 217]
"The indisputable facts, therefore, show that the "time of the end" began in 1799; that the Lord's second presence began in 1874." [The Watch Tower, March 1, 1922]
"We have no doubt whatever in regard to the chronology relating to the dates of 1874, 1914, 1918, and 1925. It was on this line of reckoning that the dates 1874, 1914, and 1918 were located; and the Lord has placed the stamp of his seal upon 1914 and 1918 beyond any possibility of erasure. What further evidence do we need? Using this same measuring line.... it is an easy matter to locate 1925, probably in the fall, for the beginning of the antitypical jubilee. There can be no more question about 1925 than there was about 1914." [The Watch Tower, May 15, 1922, p. 150]
"It is on the basis of such and so many correspondencies -- in accordance with the soundest laws known to science -- that we affirm that, Scripturally, scientifically, and historically, present-truth chronology is correct beyond a doubt. Its reliability has been abundantly confirmed by the dates and events of 1874, 1914, and 1918. Present-truth chronology is a secure basis on which the consecrated child of God may endeavor to search out things to come." [The Watch Tower, June 15, 1922]
"This chronology is not of man, but of God. Being of divine origin and divinely corroborated, present-truth chronology stands in a class by itself, absolutely and unqualifiedly correct...." [The Watch Tower, July 15, 1922, p. 217]
"1925 is definitely settled by the Scriptures... the Christian has much more upon which to base his faith than Noah had (so far as the Scriptures reveal) upon which to base his faith in the coming deluge" [The Watch Tower, April 1, 1923, p. 106]
"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, p. 5]
"The year 1925 is a date definitely and clearly marked in Scriptures, even more clearly than that of 1914." [The Watch Tower, 1924, p. 211]
"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, 1925, p. 262]
"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, 1925, p. 56]
"Some anticipated that the work would end in 1925, but the Lord did not so state." [The Watch Tower, August 1, 1926, p. 232]
"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, February 15, 1925, p. 57]
"The time of the Lord's second presence dates from 1874, as above stated." [The Harp of God, p. 236, 1928 edition]
"If these prophesies have not been fulfilled, and if all possibility of fulfillment is past, then these prophets are proven false." [Prophecy, 1929, p. 22]
"The Scriptural proof is that the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D." [Prophecy, 1929, p. 65]
"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." [Vindication, vol. 1, 1931, p. 146]
"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. Later the faithful learned that these dates were definitely fixed in the Scriptures; and they also learned to quit fixing dates for the future and predicting what would come to pass on a certain date, but to rely (and they do rely) upon the Word of God as to the events that must come to pass." [Vindication, p. 338-339]
"...the scriptural evidence and the physical facts strongly indicate that such witness work is now almost done; and when it is done the universal war will begin. Universal war is absolutely certain to come and that soon, and no power can stop it. [...] during the few remaining months until the breaking of that universal cataclysm the powers that rule the nations of the earth will continue to make treaties and tell the people that by such means they will keep that world peace and bring about prosperity. [Universal War Near, 1935, p. 3, 26-27]
"... mark the words of Jesus, which definitely seem to discourage the bearing of children immediately before or during Armageddon.... It would therefore appear that there is no reasonable or scriptural injunction to bring children into the world immediately before Armageddon, where we now are." [The Watchtower, November 1, 1938, p. 324]
"Would it be scripturally proper for them to marry and begin to rear children? No, is the answer, which is supported by the scriptures.... It will be far better to be unhampered and without burdens, that they may do the Lords will now, as the Lord commands, and also be without hindrance during Armageddon.... Those... who now contemplate marriage, it would seem, would do better if they wait a few years, until the fiery storm of Armageddon is gone." [Face the Facts, 1938, p. 46, 47, 50]
"The abundance of Scriptural evidence, together with the physical facts that have come to pass showing the fulfillment of prophecy, conclusively proves that the time for the battle of the great day of God Almighty is very near and that in that battle all of God's enemies shall be destroyed and the earth cleared of wickedness." ... "Likewise today, all the nations and peoples of earth are face to face with the greatest emergency. They are being warned as God commands, that the disaster of Armageddon is just ahead." [Salvation, 1939, p. 310, 361]
"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, April, 1940, p. 1]
"Armageddon is surely near, and during that time the Lord will clean off the earth everything that offends and is disagreeable.... From now on we shall have our heart devotion fixed on The Theocracy, knowing that soon we shall journey forever together in the earth. Our hope is that within a few years our marriage may be consummated and, by the Lord's grace, we shall have sweet children that will be an honor to the Lord. We can well defer our marriage until lasting peace comes to the earth." [Children, 1941, p. 366]
"Receiving the gift, [the book Children] 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, p. 288]
"Now, with Armageddon immediately before us, it is a matter of life or destruction. Those who would be of the Lord's other sheep that shall compose the great multitude of Armageddon survivors and live joyfully on earth forever must find the answer to a very personal question, and very important." [The Watchtower, April 1, 1942, p. 139]
"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, 2nd ed., p. 216]
"Yes, the end of this system is so very near! Is that not reason to increase our activity?... Reports are heard of brothers selling their homes and property and planning to finish out the rest of their days in this old system in the pioneer service. Certainly this is a fine way to spend the short time remaining before the wicked world's end." [Our Kingdom Ministry, May 1974, p. 3]
"If the wicked system of this world survived until the turn of the century (the year 2000), which is highly improbable in view of world trends and the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, there would still be survivors of the World War I generation. However, the fact that their number is dwindling is one more indication that "the conclusion of the system of things" is moving fast toward its end." [The Watchtower, October 15, 1980, p. 31]
"Some of that "generation (of 1914)" could survive until the end of the century. But there are many indications that "the end" is much closer than that!" [The Watchtower, March 1, 1984, pp. 18-19]
"These definitions embrace both those born around the time of a historic event and all those alive at that time. If Jesus used 'generation' in that sense and we apply it to 1914, then the babies of that generation are now 70 years old or older. And others alive in 1914 are in their 80's or 90's, a few even having reached a hundred. There are still many millions of that generation alive. Some of them 'will by no means pass away until all things occur." [The Watchtower, May 15, 1984, p. 5]
"Prophetic information in the Bible about our day detail the following: ... (4) The survival of at least some of the generation that saw the beginning of "the conclusion of the system of things." [True Peace And Security, 1986, p. 70]
"The apostle Paul was spearheading the Christian missionary activity. He was also laying a foundation for a work that would be completed in our 20th century." [The Watchtower, January 1, 1989, p. 12 (bound volume changed "20th century" to "day")]
"Today, a small percentage of mankind can still recall the dramatic events of 1914. Will that elderly generation pass away before God saves the earth from ruin? Not according to Bible prophecy. 'When you see all these things,' Jesus promised, 'know that he is near at the doors. Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.' -- Matthew 24:33, 34." [The Watchtower, May 1, 1992, p. 3]
"[Discussing the generation of Mt 24] "apparently refers to the peoples of earth (now) who see the sign of Christ presence but fail to mend their ways." [The Watchtower, November 1, 1995, p.12]
"Why Awake is Published":
[Before November 8, 1995] "Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away."
[After November 8, 1995] "Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things."
I think the idea is clear. The Society has clearly predicted things, in Jehovah's name, and those predictions have failed. In what sense can they not be called false prophets?
When answering the charges of opposers, wouldn't it be better to follow the example of the apostles and admit they had been false prophets in the past? Why the verbal song-and-dance to get around that? It would be so much better to just say "Our expectations led us to make claims in God's name that turned out to be wrong. Yes, by acting in this way as a prophet we made mistakes, but that was just due to our own eagerness with a right motive, not a wrong one. It is not that we are false prophets in general, but in a few specific cases we admit that we made predictions and those predictions turned out to be false. Therefore in those specific instances we have to say we acted as false prophets. We meant the best and we were not trying to fool anyone. We made a simple error and moved on." That would be so much more effective in dealing with opposers than blindly saying, "It never happened! We never acted as false prophets!" when the facts are there in black and white.
By looking at the definition of a prophet, and the way a true prophet can be distinguished from a false prophet, I realized why they get so defensive when called 'false prophets.' They really do fit the definition! Sincere or not, the scriptures and their own past writings are crystal clear.
Realizing that the Society would resort to cover-ups and deception in dealing with their own past made me wonder about the Society itself. If they were willing to be deceptive, even perhaps dishonest, then was the Society acting in harmony with scriptural principles?
Certainly the Society has not acted like the apostles, carefully recording their every mistake and being completely open and honest about their failings. The Society is like the guilty person who admits to shoplifting a $1 item to keep people from realizing he has also looted the store vault! This is very un-Christlike in their approach, in my opinion. This pattern of deception was disturbing to me. Like the child caught raiding the cookie jar when he isn't supposed to, the fact that the child later lies about the matter is far more disturbing than the fact that he wanted another cookie. I wouldn't have been upset about the fact the Society had occasionally acted as false prophets if they had admitted it. Because they tried to hide the truth, to cover over their past, it made me wonder why they would act this way. Thinking about the way Christ and the apostles acted, and especially studying the Greatest Man book for the bookstudy, led me to the answer of why the Society acts this way: Like the Pharisees of Jesus' day, they have a vested interest in keeping the status quo and therefore are willing to do whatever it takes to maintain it. The problem stemmed from the way the modern-day organization has developed.