By Irvin Himmel
For twenty-five years (1917-1942) the Watch Tower Society, hierarchical organization of the group known today as “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” was under the leadership of J. F. Rutherford. Of the many writings that came from his pen, none is more vivid than a 128-page book entitled Millions Now Living Will Never Die! The book was published in 1920.
World Ended in 1914
Rutherford argued that the word “world” in the Bible means an epoch or dispensation of time. He reasoned that a “world” existed from the time of Eden to the flood, then a new “world” began which was to last until the coming of the Messiah’s kingdom. He declared that 1914 marked the end of the second world and the beginning of a new period
“We therefore propose to prove in this argument that the social order of things, the second world, legally ended in 1914, and since that time has been and is passing away; that the new order of things is coming in, to take its place; that within a definite period of time the old order will be completely eradicated and the new order in full sway; and that these things shall take place within the time of the present generation and that therefore there are millions of people now living on earth who will see them take place, to whom everlasting life will be offered and who, if they accept it upon the terms offered and obey those terms, will never die” (p. 12).
A clever system of interpretation still used by Jehovah’s Witnesses-a conglomeration of figures from assorted passages wherever needed-made possible the arbitrary date of 1914. So Rutherford wrote with the sound of confidence in 1920:
” . . .that the old world legally ended in 1914 and the process of removing the worn out systems in now progressing, preparatory to the inauguration of Messiah’s kingdom” (p. 19).
Abraham and Others to be Resurrected in 1925
By a similar method of calculation, Rutherford announced:.
“That period of time beginning 1575 before A. D. 1 of necessity would end in the fall of the year 1925, at which time the type ends and the great antitype must begin. What, then, should we expect to take place? In the type there must be a full restoration; therefore the great antitype must mark the beginning of restoration of all things. The chief thing to he restored is the human race to life; and since other Scriptures definitely fix the fact that there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other faithful ones of old, and that these will have the first favor, we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of death, being resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made the visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth” (p. 88).
“As we have heretofore stated, the great jubilee cycle is due to begin in 1925 . . . They are to be resurrected as perfect men and constitute the princes or rulers in the earth . . . 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 chapter eleven, to the condition of human perfection” (pp. 89, 90).
“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 he still on the earth in 1925” (p. 97).
Rutherford died in 1942 and his calculated resurrection of Abraham and others had not taken place. In 1943, the Watch Tower Society published a book called “The Truth Shall Make You Free, ” in which it is stated, “there is hope that these faithful men of old may be resurrected in the near future” (p. 358). It is now more than thirty years later, and still no appearance of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob from the dead!
Russell, Rutherford, and others of Watchtower fame have set dates when there is no Biblical basis for such calculations. Rutherford was manifestly wrong in his interpretations about 1925, so why put confidence in such a nian and his teachings? Today’s publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses are largely a rehash of Rutherford’s books and pamphlets. The Bible, not Watch Tower literature, should be man’s guide in all that pertains to his faith and practice.
Truth Magazine XX: 44, pp. 700-701
November 4, 1976