Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3
From its very beginnings as International Bible Students, the Watchtower Society has claimed that we are living in the last days. This of course, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. As Christians we are to live expectantly, to live as if Jesus may return at any point.
The thought of Jesus’ return motivates Christians to be about their Master’s business (Matthew 24:46); proclaiming the good news (Matthew 24:14) and, out of a love for their Master and fellow man, they tell everyone about the way of salvation (John 14:6)
For Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus has already returned ‘invisibly’ in 1914, and now they await the judgement of God – Armageddon, where only they, if they have worked hard enough, have the chance to survive the wrath of God.
Throughout its 140 year history, The Watchtower Society has persistently tried to ‘guesstimate’ when Jesus would return and when ‘the end’ would come. Here are a few of their many predictions:
“The Scriptural proof is that the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ began in 1874 A.D.” Prophecy 1929 p.65
“… the battle of the great day of God Almighty … The date of the close of that “battle” is definitely marked in Scripture as October 1914. It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October, 1874.” Zion’s Watch Tower 1892 Jan 15 p.23
“… this chronology is not of man, but of God…. the addition of more proofs removes it entirely from the realm of chance into that of proven certainty…. the chronology of present truth [is]… not of human origin.” Watchtower 1922 Jul 1 p.217
“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 then Noah had upon which to base his faith in a coming deluge.” Watchtower 1923 Apr 1 p.106
“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
“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.” Watchtower 1941 Sep 15 p.288
“Are we to assume from this study that the battle of Armageddon will be all over by the autumn of 1975, and the long-looked-for thousand-year reign of Christ will begin by then? Possibly, but we wait to see how closely the seventh thousand-year period of man’s existence coincides with the Sabbath like thousand-year reign of Christ. If these two periods run parallel with each other as to the calendar year, it will not be by mere chance or accident but will be according to Jehovah’s loving and timely purposes. Our chronology, however, which is reasonably accurate (but admittedly not infallible), at the best only points to the autumn of 1975 as the end of 6,000 years of man’s existence on earth. It does not necessarily mean that 1975 marks the end of the first 6,000 years of Jehovah’s seventh creative “day.” Why not? Because after his creation Adam lived some time during the “sixth day,” which unknown amount of time would need to be subtracted from Adam’s 930 years, to determine when the sixth seven-thousand-year period or “day” ended, and how long Adam lived into the “seventh day.” And yet the end of that sixth creative “day” could end within the same Gregorian calendar year of Adam’s creation. It may involve only a difference of weeks or months, not years.” Watchtower 1968 Aug 15 p.499
“The fact that fifty-four years of the period called the “last days” have already gone by is highly significant. It means that only a few years, at most, remain before the corrupt system of things dominating the earth is destroyed by God.” Awake! 1968 Oct 8 p.13
“Today there is a great crowd of people who are confident that a destruction of even greater magnitude is now imminent. The evidence is that Jesus’ prophecy will shortly have a major fulfilment, upon this entire system of things. This has been a major factor in influencing many couples to decide not to have children at this time.” Awake! 1974 Nov 8 p.11
“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 p. 216
The Watchtower claims to only teach what the Bible says and yet throughout their history they have completely ignored these words of Jesus:
‘But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.’ Matthew 24:36
Watchtower literature points to an increase in lawlessness since Jesus returned ‘invisibly’ in 1914, and they claim that the First World War (1914-1918) is evidence of Jesus taking his place on the heavenly throne:
‘Soon after he received Kingdom power, Jesus took action. “War broke out in heaven,” says the Bible. “Michael [another name for Jesus] and his angels battled with the dragon [Satan the Devil], and the dragon and its angels battled.”_ Satan and his wicked angels, the demons, lost that war and were cast out of heaven to the earth. God’s faithful spirit sons rejoiced that Satan and his demons were gone. Humans, however, would experience no such joy. Instead, the Bible foretold: “Woe for the earth . . . because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”
Revelation 12:7, 9, 12.
Please notice what would result from the war in heaven. In his fury, Satan would bring woe, or trouble, upon those on earth. As you will see, we are now living in that time of woe. But it will be relatively brief—only “a short period of time.” Even Satan realizes that. The Bible refers to this period as “the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1)
How glad we can be that God will soon do away with the Devil’s influence over the earth! Let us consider some of the things foretold in the Bible that are happening right now.
These prove that we are living in the last days and that God’s Kingdom will soon bring everlasting blessings to those who love Jehovah.’
(What Does The Bible Really Teach p.87,88)
The implications of this for Jehovah’s Witnesses is that time is short, therefore they have to work harder in order to please Jehovah, because ‘everlasting blessings’ come ‘to those who love Jehovah.’ If you truly love Jehovah you will subject yourself to the teachings and guidance of his organisation.
This chapter continues by showing how there has been a marked increase in wars, food shortages, earthquakes, and pestilences over the past century. This may or may not be true. Certainly the rise of the media has increased our knowledge of these things, but there have always been wars, starvation, earthquakes and disease and some of these things were far worse in the past.
The purpose of proposing that we are living in the last days is to convince the potential convert that there is an urgency to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses for ‘If we were to draw away from Jehovah’s organization, there would be no place else to go for salvation and true joy.’ (Watchtower 15th Sept.1993 p.22)
Citing 2 Timothy 3:1-5, the chapter turns from looking at how bad the world is, to how bad people are:
“In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here.” In part, Paul said that people would be
ˇ lovers of themselves ˇ lovers of money ˇ disobedient to parents ˇ disloyal
ˇ having no natural affection ˇ without self-control ˇ fierce
ˇ lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God
ˇ having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power
Then the question is asked: ‘Have people become like that in your community?’ and answered: ‘No doubt they have.’
We only have to watch the news to be convinced that the world and its people appear to be getting worse. This is why door step conversations often begin with a question about ‘world conditions’.
After revealing the ‘bad’ news, The Watchtower offers the ‘good’ news.
‘True knowledge’ is abundant as Jehovah’s Witnesses preach the ‘good news of the Kingdom in all the inhabited earth’ (Matthew 24:14).
Throughout the earth, the good news of the Kingdom—what the Kingdom is, what it will do, and how we can receive its blessings—is being preached in over 230 lands and in more than 400 languages. Millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses zealously preach the Kingdom good news. (What The Bible Really Teaches p.92)
After showing that we are indeed ‘living in the last days, The Watchtower asks the reader: ‘What will you do?’
This according to The Watchtower is what you should do:
Since the end of Satan’s system is near, we need to ask ourselves, ‘What should I be doing?’ It is wise to continue to learn more about Jehovah and his requirements for us. (John 17:3) Be a serious student of the Bible. Make it your habit to associate regularly with others who seek to do Jehovah’s will. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Take in the abundant knowledge that Jehovah God has made available to people worldwide, and make necessary changes in your life so that you may enjoy God’s favour.—James 4:8. (What Does The Bible Really Teach p.94)
After going through the first 8 chapters of this publication with the potential convert, this chapter is the ‘hard sell’. After all you have been taught, and in light of the fact the ‘end is near’ now is the time to decide if you are in or out? You must decide to “Come to Jehovah’s organization for salvation” Watchtower 1981 Nov 15 p.212
Is that what Scripture teaches?
Jesus said: ‘Come to ME all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.’ Matthew 11:28
Peter said: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’ John 6:68 and ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’ Acts 4:12
If we are we living in the last days, we need to come to Jesus for only He can truly save.