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The Great Disappointment

 

A walk down the Watchtower Society's memory lane.

For those who want to understand how and from where the Watchtower Society

and the early Seventh day Adventist Church developed you will find this article very interesting.

Richard Kelsey


 THE GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT

 

In the nineteen-sixties, the hippie movement swept throughout America, waving the banner of free love, drugs, and rock and roll. Timothy Leary was high on LSD, preaching his psychedelic message, "Tune in, turn on, and drop out," to our youth. Evolution had replaced the need for a Creator in our classrooms; science was replacing the need for religion in our minds. A headline in The New York Times read, "God Is Dead."

As we entered the nineteen-seventies, many "baby-boomers" began looking for spiritual answers. The apocalyptic message in a book entitled The Vision by David Wilkerson was selling in record numbers. Wilkerson had a vision in 1973 and he was determined to tell the world about it. His book forecasted a time in which "nature will go wild" with "drastic weather changes and earthquakes" unleashing their fury upon earth. By 1978 the Jesus Movement was in full swing; many were sure the end was imminent. In a 1983 New Year's Eve TV special, the well-known evangelist Oral Roberts predicted the Rapture of the church before 1990. But 1990 came and went; God's people did not ascend. Now we have entered the next millennium, and for many, the return of Jesus Christ is overdue.

 


 Advent Theology

In this chapter we cover the recent history of two men whose predictions have had an impact upon millions. Because of their teaching, religious laypeople to this day are parroting falsehoods. Studying the theology these men propagated is essential. It will not only steer us away from their false teaching, but also steer us from the thinking that has allowed this type of delusion to become so widespread.

William Miller (1782-1849), Founder of a Movement that Branched Into the Seventh Day Adventists

William Miller was the eldest of sixteen children. He was a sincere man; he was a dedicated seeker of light, holding the highest degree of Masonry given in the region of Massachusetts where he lived. He became a Baptist preacher. Miller made it into the history books by predicting the year when Christ would appear and the end of the world would come. This alleged appearing of Jesus Christ became known as "the Advent" or "the Second Advent."


An Insubstantial Beginning

In the 1840s, the Millerite movement was mostly confined to the northeastern United States. It did make it to Europe and Great Britain; however, Miller's teachings didn't have much impact overseas, possibly because there was a lack of apparatus for spreading Miller's message back then. The first public telegram wasn't sent until 1844, and the telephone wasn't invented for another thirty years.

Miller made it clear that he did not acquire his knowledge of the year Christ would return through divine revelation. He claimed he discovered the "Time" through a study of Dan. 8:14 and certain verses in Revelation. After exhaustively researching the chronology in Daniel for seven years, Miller was convinced that the coming of Christ was likely to occur about the year 1843.185

Miller was deeply moved.  He came to believe it was his obligation to "Go and tell the world of their danger."186 That is exactly what Miller did. On the second Sunday of August 1831, he started his public speaking ministry. The crowd that heard him became ecstatic. A huge tent was made. Soon Miller and his associates were preaching hell-and-damnation sermons to large audiences. They used the fear of Christ's imminent return to stir people up to the point of conversion. During the twelve years that Miller proclaimed "the message of the hour," he stated that he personally had given over four thousand187 lectures.

 


A Small Slip-Up

Miller taught publicly that somewhere between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844, a great trumpet from heaven would sound, Jesus Christ would catch up the faithful, and the wicked would be immediately destroyed by fire. That year came and went without the anticipated results. On the morning after the last possible day for the Advent passed, Miller was in despair. Obviously, there had been a slip-up. The wicked made it though the "Time" without a hitch. The righteous followers still firmly on the ground were greatly disappointed.

One of Miller's associates, Samuel Snow, pored over the prophecy in Daniel once more, looking for an explanation as to why the Advent had not come to pass. Snow soon figured that Miller was off by one year in his calculations. He believed that from the beginning of the decree spoken of in Daniel to rebuild Jerusalem to 1843, only 2,299 years would have passed. Evidently Miller had made a miscalculation, and 1843 would end up being one year shy of the 2,300 years needed to allegedly fulfill Daniel's prophecy. Snow was now certain that Christ would return on October 22, 1844, at midnight. Miller eventually endorsed this new date.

 


On the Road Again

As this new light spread among the Adventist believers, it seemed there was an irresistible power attending its proclamation . . . It swept over the land with the velocity of a tornado and it reached hearts in different and distant places almost simultaneously, and in a manner which can be accounted for only on the supposition that God was in it.188 Miller and Snow claimed: "There is no possibility of a mistake in this time."189 They warned the unbelieving, "Those who reject this light will be lost." To the uninitiated, the signs of Christ's coming were too plain to be doubted. Magazines were printed, heralding the coming of Christ. Newspaper reporters attended and covered Adventists' speaking engagements. Fifteen hundred Millerites traveled across the United States, going from town to town, proclaiming "the Advent near."

When October 22 came, the Millerites watched and prayed. With white ascension robes on, many stood upon rooftops, anticipating a heavenly ride. As the midnight hour approached, the faithful were at peace with God. They spent the last hours in quiet solitude. Softly praying. Waiting. Resting. Standing on the brink of eternity. The summer was over; the harvest was in the barns. It was time for the laborers to reap their rewards. Now was the time to flee from Egypt and enter Canaan's land. Now was the time.

Nothing happened on October 22. For the faithful, heavy depression set in. This day was perhaps the greatest disappointment to befall the church in the history of the New Dispensation. Fifty thousand of Miller's followers had found it impossible to stay in fellowship with their former congregations. They left those churches when their peers failed to accept William Miller's delusion. These fifty thousand now had to face the truth. They hadn't been taken into glory. The wicked still weren't destroyed by fire. One by one they retreated from their housetops and places of worship and went to bed.

Miller penned a letter for the faithful: "Brethren hold fast; let no man take your crown. I have fixed my mind on another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light, and that is today, today, and today, until he comes."190

William Miller never associated with any of the Adventist offshoots. He never accepted the new thoughts espoused by the Adventist leaders who took his failed prediction about the "Time" of Christ's return and tried to make sense out of it.

 


Had There Been Another Slip-Up?

Could a movement that spanned twelve years and had over fifty thousand believers be wrong? The faithful had been living in a revival-like atmosphere for years. Many had quit their jobs and given all of their possessions to nonbelievers in the days before October 22 as a testimony to their faith. In the days following the Great Disappointment, the unwavering followers were convinced that this was merely the final test. Surely something significant happened on October 22, 1844?

 


Does This Sound Logical?

Eventually the Adventist leaders taught that the computation of Miller's prophecy in Daniel was correct: they claimed that the 2,300-day period mentioned in Daniel did end in 1844, on October 22, at midnight, but they now believed Miller had made a few mistakes.  The Adventists soon came to believe that Christ was not supposed to come to earth in October 1844 as first thought. They concluded that William Miller had made an error in the interpretation of Daniel's prophecy, not in the time,191 but in the representation of the sanctuary, or temple, the prophecy depicted.

Let's look at that prophecy: "He said to me, 'It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated'" (Dan. 8:14). Miller had substituted the days in Daniel for years. Miller taught that Daniel's 2,300-year period started in 457 B.C., with the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem; he simply added 2,300 years to 457 B.C. and arrived at A.D. 1844. He taught that the "sanctuary" in Daniel was the earth, but now the Adventists believed it was not. Miller had taught that when the sanctuary, or earth, was cleansed, Christ would return; now his associates believed he would not. The Adventists came to believe that when God gave Moses the pattern for the tabernacle in the Old Testament, it was the representation192 of a heavenly temple, or sanctuary.


New Light - A New Understanding of Daniel's Vision

It's recorded in the Old Testament that Israel's high priest entered the Holy of Holies in the temple once a year to make intercession for the sins of Israel. It's also written in the New Covenant that Jesus now holds the position of high priest. The Old Covenant design of the high priest making atonement for man's sins was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Building upon this model, the Adventists began to teach that even as the earthly high priest entered an earthly temple on the Day of Atonement, on October 22, 1844, the heavenly High Priest - Jesus - stepped through the heavenly temple's193 veil, moving from the holy place to the Holy of Holies. Having entered the most holy place in the heavenly temple, Christ had now, as of October 22, 1844, at midnight, allegedly cleansed the sanctuary in fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy. This is the position of the Seventh-Day Adventists today.194


The Millerite Movement Splits into Factions

Others rejected this concept, believing that Jesus Christ had returned to earth on October 22, 1844, and that he is invisible. This division believed the world did come to an end; however, the end happened differently than they expected. There were many theories as to when Christ's kingdom would be ushered in. One maintained it would take an additional three and one-half years after Christ's invisible return before his kingdom would be thoroughly established, which led to setting another date in 1848.

 


Adventism - Atmosphere of the Time

William Miller's ministry had produced fruit in such people as Brother George Storrs, Joshua V. Himes, Ellen G. White, and Nelson H. Barbour. These men and women kept the Advent faith alive. The Seventh-Day Adventist prophetess Ellen White said: "Some are looking too far off for the coming of the Lord. Time has continued a few years longer than expected; therefore they think it may continue a few years more, and in this way their minds are being led from present truth . . . In a view given June 27, 1850, my accompanying angel said, Time is almost finished, get ready, get ready, get ready."195 Advent fever was not going away. Ellen and her husband fanned the fire for years. The number of Adventists were growing steadily at the time our next subject was coming of age.

 


Charles Taze Russell (1852 - 1916), Founder of a Movement that Branched Into the Jehovah's Witnesses

In 1868 young Charles Russell accidentally stumbled into a dusty hall where Adventist preacher Jonas Wendell was holding a meeting. Wendell proclaimed that in 1873, six thousand years would have passed since the creation of Adam. In the autumn of 1873, the Advent would occur, and the world would be destroyed by fire.196 Wendell used a different method than Miller to come up with this new chronology.

Russell's faith in God and belief in the Bible, which had lapsed in recent years, were restored during this meeting. Russell began to fellowship with Adventist preacher George Storrs. Storrs, one of Wendell's associates, had played a major role in the Millerite movement. However, Storrs became disillusioned with Miller after the Great Disappointment of 1844. He believed that he had been mesmerized by Millerite emotionalism. George Storrs took the young Russell under his wing and had a great influence on him. It was Storrs who taught Russell many of the doctrines that are penned throughout Watchtower publications. Among these doctrines are the following:

1. An earthly second resurrection for all those who had died without the knowledge of Christ;

2. A restored Paradise on earth;

3. The taking of the sacraments only once a year.

Many of Russell's ideas concerning the return of Jesus Christ and the coming kingdom came from concepts that were popular in his time. The two-stage return of Christ doctrine is a good example. Dr. Joseph Seiss refined the doctrine, which had originated in 1828 and spread throughout Great Britain in the 1860s and 1870s.

 


Russell's First Publication

In the 1870s Russell began composing his thoughts on paper. In 1877 he authored and printed 50,000 copies of a 64 page pamphlet entitled The Object and Manner of Our Lord's Return. Many of the concepts stated in the pamphlet appear to have come directly from Storrs and Seiss. Russell also borrowed directly from the commentaries of Sir Isaac Newton and Adam Clarke.

While Russell gave no date for the return of Christ in this pamphlet, he did spell out the manner in which Jesus Christ would return. Here is a small sample:

"Briefly stated, we believe the scriptures to teach, that, at His coming and for a time after He has come, He will remain invisible; afterward manifesting or showing Himself in judgments and various forms, so that "every eye shall see Him."

In a footnote on the same page Russell goes on to explain,

"This scripture (Revelation 1:7) does not necessarily teach that every eye will see Him at the same moment" (Object and Manner, p. 39).

In this pamphlet, Russell stated that Jesus would return to earth invisibly with only his elect knowing of his presence; during the time of Christ's presence, the Rapture would occur, and then the world would be immediately destroyed by fire.

 


Nelson Barbour Prints Herald of the Morning

In the 1870s Dr. Nelson H. Barbour, an Adventist preacher who had been with Miller, was printing a struggling publication entitled Herald of the Morning out of Rochester, New York. Barbour was a friend and colleague of George Storrs and Jonas Wendell. According to Barbour's publication, Jesus had returned to earth invisibly in 1874, and the Rapture would occur in 1878.

One winter's day in January 1876, Charles Russell read a copy of Herald of the Morning. Can you imagine Russell's emotions as he contemplated that the invisible return of Christ had already commenced. Russell had read Herald of the Morning shortly before his own pamphlet was published. Some sources claim that Russell first learned of the idea of a "presence" of Christ only after reading Barbour's publication. One thing is clear; Nelson Barbour's teaching on the return of Christ had a major impact on Russell's faith.

Evidently, Jesus Christ was invisibly present and had been since the autumn of 1874. The direct implication was that the faithful had only two years to warn the world of the impending Rapture. Russell was deeply moved.


Russell Backs the Publication Herald of the Morning

Russell sent train fare to Barbour and asked him to come to Philadelphia and fully show the scriptural proof that Jesus was present. This is exactly what Nelson Barbour did. Russell was satisfied with the reasoning. He moved to New York, backed the publication financially, and went to work as Barbour's assistant in publishing Herald of the Morning.


The Disappointment of 1878

Envision Russell's frustration as 1878 was coming to an end. He had fully expected to be taken to heaven. Again, Charles was looking for answers. Charles Russell and Nelson Barbour had a falling out when the Rapture did not occur in 1878, because Barbour set out to change the date. Russell maintained that 1878 was the right year, but his expectations as to what would occur must have been wrong. Perhaps the resurrection was invisible. Russell surmised that the faithful who died after the autumn of 1878 would be immediately resurrected and not sleep in death. Russell believed that the dead were resurrected in 1878 and that the living would be caught up in 1881. Because of this and other disputes, Barbour and Russell split. Charles was now free to publish his own concepts: he started printing a publication entitled Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence.

Russell penned these words:

Looking back to 1871, we see that many of our company were what are known as Second Adventists, and the light they held, briefly stated, was that there would be a second advent of Jesusthat he would come to bless and immortalize the saints, to judge the world and to burn up the world and all the wicked. This, they claimed, would occur in 1873 because the 6,000 years from the creation of Adam were complete then.

Well, 1873 came, the end of 6,000 years, and yet no burning of the world; but prophecies were found which pointed positively to 1874 as the time when Jesus was due to be present . . . The autumn of 1874 anxiously expected finally came, but the earth rolled on as ever; "all things continued as they were from the beginning of creation." All their hearts were sad; they said, surely we have been in error - but where? Surely it is clearly taught that Jesus will come again; perhaps our calculation of time is at fault. Carefully they examined the chronology but it seemed faultless and positively declared that the 6,000 years ended in 1873. Then the prophetic arguments were carefully re-examined: Was an error found? No, they stood the test of all investigation. ("Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence," Zion's Watch Tower, Feb. 1881)

Russell was convinced that the period that he and his colleagues set for Christ's presence to begin on earth was correct. However, as the year 1881 was coming to an end, he found it necessary to make some changes in his timetable. Russell abandoned the earlier time frames of a three-and-a-half- or seven year period after Christ's invisible return before the world would experience Armageddon and started teaching there would be a forty-year waiting period197 instead.

In due time the Watchtower Society maintained that Armageddon would occur in the autumn of 1914. 1914 came and went. Russell then penned these words: "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."198 Russell also taught that the burning of the world by fire at Armageddon was no longer expected to be "literal in nature but was really symbolic and signified a great time of trouble which would be the close of the Gospel age and dawn of the Millennial age in which all evil principles of governments and society would be manifested and destroyed."199 When Charles Russell died in 1916, he was convinced that World War I200 would soon culminate in Armageddon.

After Russell's death, the Watchtower organization, under Russell's successor, Judge Rutherford, announced, "The establishment of the Kingdom in Palestine will probably be in 1925, ten years later than we once calculated."201 Nineteen twenty-five came and went. Armageddon didn't happen. God's kingdom was seemingly nowhere in sight. The wicked were still among us. There had been one slip-up after another in the organization's date-setting practices. Yet, concerning the 1925 date, Judge Rutherford had once promised the faithful, "There will be no slip-up!" (Watchtower, Oct. 15, 1917, p. 6157)

 


Claims Made by the Watchtower

In the 1920s, The Watchtower Society penned the following statements: "The indisputable facts, therefore, show that the 'time of the end' began in 1799; that the Lord's second presence began in 1874."202 "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."203 Look at the word usage in these passages: "indisputable facts," "not the slightest room for doubt." These strong statements allegedly nailed down the Watchtower's foundational teaching that in 1874, Christ's earthly presence began. Earlier - in Russell's day - the terms "unchallenged and incontrovertible"204 were used to defend this teaching.

However, as year after year went by, failing to bring Armageddon, followers were beginning to lose faith in the Watchtower organization. The faithful were leaving by the droves. Something had to be done. In 1932 a group of men at the Watchtower headquarters in New York restructured their timetable. They abandoned the 1874 date for Christ's invisible return altogether. Once again the year 1914 was in vogue, not for Armageddon, as was previously taught - 1914 became the new year for Christ's invisible return. 205 The story as told in the bi-monthly Watch Tower magazine was that "invisible angels channeled"206 this information to those overseeing the Watchtower organization. A Watchtower book entitled, God's Kingdom (1973) claimed this change was made official in 1943. This change in the time of Christ's return pushed Armageddon off for one more generation.


The Great Disappointment of 1975

The Jehovah's Witnesses expected that as God's Seventh Day commenced, the millennial kingdom would be established on earth. In 1966, the year 1975 207 was officially embraced as the last year marking the end of the six-thousand-year period since the creation of Adam, not 1872 208 or 1873 209 or 1972 210 as was once taught. Many Jehovah's Witnesses, upon hearing that 1975 211 was the end of the great six days of human existence, sold their houses, quit their jobs, and went into the ministry full time. Older Witnesses withdrew their pensions and followed suit. The church encouraged this behavior: "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."212

These dedicated Witnesses expected that in 1975 or shortly thereafter, Armageddon would destroy all of mankind except for Jehovah's Witnesses. Therefore, Jehovah's Witnesses, out of a genuine concern, warned the world of their danger. From 1968 to 1975, the Watchtower Society grew in numbers by over two and one-half million.

However, when October 1975 came and went, it brought great disappointment to many who had trusted in the Watchtower organization and had sacrificed everything in order to win souls. Jehovah's Witnesses repeated the Millerite movement of 1844 in 1975.

 


Can we learn from the history of Miller, Wendell, Barbour, Russell, and the Watchtower organization? All of the years 213 these people established for the Rapture of the church, the Battle of Armageddon, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ were erroneous, even though they were presumed to be infallible

History is bound to repeat itself. Therefore, it's inevitable that as the days pass before the actual Second Advent, certain men and women will draw multitudes to themselves by crying out, "I know the Time."

(End notes -- scroll down below)


End Notes

The Great Disappointment

185 "With intense interest [William Miller] studied the books of Daniel and the Revelation, employing the same principles of interpretation as in the other scriptures, and found, to his great joy, that the prophetic symbols could be understood. Angels of Heaven were guiding his mind, and opening to his understanding prophecies which had ever been dark to God's people. Link after link of the chain of truth rewarded his efforts; step by step he traced down the great lines of prophecy, until he reached the solemn conclusion that in a few years the Son of God would come the second time, in power and glory, and that the events connected with that coming and the close of human probation would take place about the year 1843" (Cosmic Conflict, Ellen White, ch. 13).

186 (William Miller and the Advent Crisis, pp. 8-9)

187 (Jane Marsh Parker, "A Wonder Book of my Children," Outlook, May 1908, p. 117).

188 (Advent Herald in Portsmouth Journal, November 9, 1844)

189 (History of Advent Message, p. 596)

190 (Bliss, Memoirs, p. 278)

191 "The scripture which above all others had been both the foundation and central pillar of the advent faith was the declaration, 'Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.' Daniel 8:14.

These had been familiar words to all believers in the Lord's soon coming.

By the lips of thousands was this prophecy joyfully repeated as the watchword of their faith. All felt that upon the events therein brought to view depended their brightest expectations and most cherished hopes. These prophetic days had been shown to terminate in the autumn of 1844. In common with the rest of the Christian world, Adventists then held that the earth, or some portion of it, was the sanctuary, and that the cleansing of the sanctuary was the purification of the earth by the fires of the last great day.

 This they understood would take place at the second coming of Christ. Hence the conclusion that Christ would return to the earth in 1844.

But the appointed time came, and the Lord did not appear. The believers knew that God's word could not fail; their interpretation of the prophecy must be at fault; but where was the mistake? Many rashly cut the knot of difficulty by denying that the 2300 days ended in 1844. No reason could be given for this position, except that Christ had not come at the time of expectation. They argued that if the prophetic days had ended in 1844, Christ would then have come to cleanse the sanctuary by the purification of the earth by fire; and that since He had not come, the days could not have ended.

To accept this conclusion was to renounce the former reckoning of the prophetic periods, and involve the whole question in confusion. It was a deliberate surrender of positions which had been reached through earnest, prayerful study of the Scriptures, by minds enlightened by the Spirit of

God, and hearts burning with its living power; positions which had withstood the most searching criticism and the most bitter opposition of popular religionists and worldly-wise men, and which had stood firm against the combined forces of learning and eloquence, and the taunts and revilings alike of the honorable and the base. And all this sacrifice was made in order to maintain the theory that the earth is the sanctuary.

God had led His people in the great Advent movement, His power and glory had attended the work, and He would not permit it to end in darkness and disappointment, to be reproached as a false and fanatical excitement. He would not leave His word involved in doubt and uncertainty. Though the majority of Adventists abandoned their former reckoning of the prophetic periods, and consequently denied the correctness of the movement based thereon, a few were unwilling to renounce points of faith and experience that were sustained by the Scriptures and by the special witness of the Spirit of God.

They believed that they had adopted sound principles of interpretation in their study of the Scriptures, and that it was their duty to hold fast the truths already gained, and to still pursue the same course of Biblical research.

With earnest prayer they reviewed their position, and studied the Scriptures to discover their mistake. As they could see no error in their explanation of the prophetic periods, they were led to examine more closely the subject of the sanctuary" (Cosmic Conflict, Ellen G. White, ch. 18).

192 "They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven" (Heb. 8:5 NIV).

193 "After this I looked and in heaven the temple, that is, the tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened. Out of the temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues" (Rev. 15:5-6 NIV).

194 (William Miller and the Advent Crisis, p. 159).

195 (Early Writings, pp. 58 and 64, respectively).

196 (Apocalypse Delayed, 1997, M. James Penton, University of Toronto Press, p. 18).

197 "Moses was forty years in coming to the point where he offered himself to Israel . . . until the period which the Scriptures show us marked his second coming (October, 1874)" (Watchtower, Dec. 1, 1901).

198 "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" (The Time Is at Hand, 1915 edition p. 99).

199 (Watchtower, 1881)

200 "The Battle of Armageddon, to which this war is leading, will be a great contest between right and wrong, and will signify the complete and everlasting overthrow of the wrong, and the permanent establishment of Messiah's righteous kingdom" (Watchtower Reprints, VI, April 1, 1915, p. 5659).

201 Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 7, "The Finished Mystery," p. 128

202 The Watchtower, Mar. 1, 1922

203 The Watchtower, Jan. 1, 1924

204 The Time Is at Hand; 1889, 1915 ed., p. 236

205 "Christ returned and began ruling in the midst of his enemies in the year

1914" ("You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth," Watch Tower Bible

and Tract Society 1982).

206 Watchtower, Nov. 15, 1935, p. 331.

207 "Eight years from the Autumn of 1967 would bring us to the Autumn of 1975, fully 6,000 years into God's seventh day, his rest day" (Watchtower,

May 1, 1968, p. 271).

208 "We are already living in the seventh millennium-since October 1872," (The Time Is at Hand; 1889, p. 363, 1915 ed.).

209 "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," (The Time Is at Hand; 1889; Foreword, p. 2, 1916 ed.).

210 The Truth Shall Make You Free, 1943 edition.

211 "In this twentieth century an independent study has been carried on that does not blindly follow some traditional chronological calculations of Christendom, and the published time table resulting from this independent study gives the date of man's creation as 4026 B.C.E. According to this trustworthy Bible chronology, six thousand years from man's creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975 C.E." (Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, President Frederick Franz, Watchtower publication, 1966). 212 Kingdom Ministry, May 1974, p. 3. 213 Watchtower Dates:


• 1844

• Miller's "end of the world." To Russell, start of thirty-year "tarrying time," corresponding to thirty years from Jesus' birth to his baptism.

Abandoned in 1930.


• 1846

End of the 2,300 days, George Storrs and others abandoned false doctrines, "sanctuary cleansed." Abandoned in 1930.


• 1873

Six thousand years of human existence end, start of seventh millennium: The millennium of Revelation; the Day of the Lord. (New chronology making 1975 the end of six thousand years was adopted in 1943, but 1975 was not made an official prophetic date until 1966, with Life Everlasting.)

Abandoned in 1930.


• 1874

The start of Christ's invisible presence. Russell's most important date. Three Worlds, p. 175, Our Lord's Return, p. 27. Russell taught that this year marked the start of the Battle of Armageddon.

Officially abandoned in 1943.


• 1875

End of "Great Jubilee Cycle." End of 1,335 days in Dan. 12:12. The invisible resurrection of the saints began. (Please note that Russel taught that the "Biblical year" 1875 actually started in Oct 1874.) Three Worlds, p. 108.


• 1878

End of gospel age, the rapture of the saints. Three Worlds, p. 68; Proclaimers, p. 632; Divine Purpose, p. 19.

Abandoned after 1878.


• 1878

Heavenly resurrection of dead saints. God's favor returning to the Jews. Kingdom of God started to exercise power. WT, Oct. 1879 [repr., p. 39]. Millions (1920), p. 27-8.

Abandoned in 1930.


• 1881

Rapture of the saints, including Russell and other Bible Students. WT, Jan. 1881 [repr., p. 180], Dec. 1880 [repr., p. 172], compare May 1881 [repr., p. 224].

Abandoned after 1881


• 1910

Expected rapture of the Saints. Abandoned after 1910.


• 1914

The end of this world, Christ's literal return, the end of Armageddon, and latest possible date for rapture. • Abandoned after 1914.


• 1914

Christ's invisible return, start of reign as King, end of last days (earlier held to be 1874).


• 1915

The end of the world. 1915 replaced 1914 in Russell's writings.


• 1918

Fall of Babylon"all false religion." See Revelation Climax, p. 260, which says, "So by 1919 Babylon the Great had fallen."


• 1919

The Bible Student/Watchtower movement chosen by Christ to be only "channel" of communication from God to men. Current Watchtower doctrine.


• 1920

Worldwide anarchy, collapse and fall of all earthly governments. Abandoned after 1920.


• 1925

The end of the world immediately following the resurrection of "men of old" (Biblical heroes listed in Hebrews chapter 11). Establishment of Kingdom in Palestine. Millions, p. 88, 97. Very definite statements in WT, 6/15, 1922; 4/1, 1923, elsewhere. Abandoned after 1925.


• 1941

WWII was expected to end in Armageddon, God's War. WT, 9/15, 1941, p. 288, talked about the "remaining months before Armageddon." Abandoned in 1943, after death of Rutherford.


• 1951

This was thirty-seven years after 1914, like Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70, which was thirty-seven years after Christ's death (WT'S chronology).

Some WT articles in 1950 hinted strongly to this parallel. WT, 11/1, 1950, p. 407; 9/1, 1950, p. 277; compare WT, 3/15, 1951, p. 179 and 4/1, 1951, p. 214, both pointing out that "we are 37 years into the 'time of the end' of this world."

Idea was abandoned in WT, 9/1, 1952, p. 542.


• 1975

End of six thousand year of human history after WTS chronology. Strongly hinted to be end of the world; could only be a matter of "days

and months, not years" before Armageddon. Life Everlasting, pp. 26-30; WT, 7/15, 1967, pp. 4467; 8/15, 1968, p. 499; 5/1, 1975, p. 285.

See also YB, 1980, pp. 3031.

Abandoned after 1975.

 

 

  

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