The End is Near! Still. Millions Now Living Will Never Die
The End is Near! Still. Millions Now Living Will Never Die
Jehovah's Witnesses are a Doomsday cult. They don't all wear the same shoes or drink poisoned Kool-Aid, but their theology is tightly focused on Doomsday imagery found in the Book of Revelation. Their predictions about Armageddon have constantly failed and therefore needed to be changed over time, but before we dive into the dates, let's take a moment to understand the conceptual story they believe will occur.
Revelation tells an acid-trip story about battles with dragons, multi-headed beasts, and whores being devoured by them. It should be a pretty rockin' story, but it doesn't live up to the hype. In short (sort of, but not really)...
A woman in heaven is about to give birth to a son. A giant Red Dragon, with Seven Heads and Ten horns, wants to eat the newborn baby. Archangel Michael, and his army of angels, go to war with the Dragon and the Dragon's angels. Michael kicks the Dragon's ass and tosses him down to the Earth. The Dragon stands at the edge of the sea, and a Leopard-Skinned Beast with Seven Heads and Ten Horns (but with feet like a bear!) climbs out of the sea. Then another Beast climbs out of the sea, but this time it is a Lamb who speaks like a Dragon! It convinces humanity to worship the Leopard-Bear Beast. The Lamb-Dragon creates a new image of the Leopard-Bear, a Scarlet-Colored Wild Beast also with Seven Heads and Ten Horns (pictured all the way at the top), which forces everyone in the world to get branded with a symbol (the Mark of the Beast, 666) if they want to be able to buy or sell goods. The Whore of Babylon, aka Babylon the Great, rides atop the Scarlet Colored Wild Beast drinking the blood of slain followers of God. The Scarlet Colored Wild Beast eventually turns against Babylon the Great, throws her off its back, eats her flesh and burns her corpse.
The Rider of the White Horse, of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, kicks the asses of the Lamb-Dragon and the Scarlet Colored Wild Beast, tosses them into the Lake of Fire and Sulphur, and kills all those who followed the Beasts. The Dragon is chained up for 1,000 years, after which he'll be set free for a short period of time to deceive the nations once again. After that, the Dragon will be tossed into the Lake of Fire and be tormented forever and ever. Then God shows up and makes everything shiny. The end.
What does it all mean?
This is how Jehovah's Witnesses interpret the crazy acid ramblings of John, although they have changed over time, so just keep that in mind.
First, the actors:
The woman is God's heavenly organization, her child will be God's earthly organization (i.e. Jehovah's Witnesses). The Red Dragon is Satan. Michael is the angelic form of Jesus. The Sea they are standing next to, and coming out of, is Humanity. The Leopard-Bear represents the major empires and kingdoms of the Earth over time (this interpretation changed). The Lamb-Dragon is the anti-Christ because Christ is the Lamb, but this Lamb speaks as a Dragon (i.e. Satan). The Scarlet Colored Wild Beast is the modern-day image of the Leopard-Bear and represents the present-day powerful nations (this interpretation changed). Babylon the Great represents Christendom or False Religion (this interpretation changed over time, first it was the Catholic Church, but basically means everything that isn't Jehovah's Witnesses). The Rider of the White Horse of the Apocalypse is also Jesus.
Now, the story:
Satan wants to destroy God's earthly organization before it can get started, but fails because Jesus kicks his ass and tosses him to the Earth. Out of the sea of Humanity, Satan builds his organization in his own image which is why the Leopard-Bear also has Seven Heads and Ten Horns. The False Religions of the world (the Whore) become very powerful by riding on the back of the powerful nations of the world, but as The Great Tribulation begins (bad shit that will happen just before Armageddon), the nations of the world will turn against religion and destroy it (the Scarlet Beast kills the Whore). Jesus will destroy the Anti-Christ (Lamb-Dragon) and the Nations of the world (Scarlet Beast and Leopard-Bear), establish God's Earthly Kingdom across the entire world, and then chain Satan up for 1,000 years. Then Satan will get a short time to try once more to lead people astray, after which Jesus will destroy Satan and hand the keys to the Kingdom over to God, who makes everything shiny. The end.
The Predictions and Failures
They originally believed Christ had returned in 1874, invisibly, as ruler of Earth and "The Great Tribulation" was set to begin in 1914. This number is based on some really sketchy math which requires the interpretation of phrases like a "time, times and a half" and days as years, etc, but is most fatally flawed by their start date. Their start date is the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and for their "math" to work out properly the Temple would need to have been destroyed in 607 BCE... but it wasn't. It was destroyed in 586 BCE. This error has been pointed out to them, but they just pretend not to hear you. They still claim on their website that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE.
The Great Tribulation is supposedly a period of badness that is the prelude to Armageddon. When WWI began in 1914, they were stoked because they thought they had finally gotten a prediction right! Unfortunately, for them, they predicted more than 1914. They also predicted the Nations of the world would rise up in 1918 and destroy Christendom (Scarlet Beast destroying the Whore). That didn't happen, but JWs aren't going to let reality get in the way of their predictions. They also believe that Jesus looked down from Heaven starting in 1914 judging the world's religions to find the One True Religion and in 1919 Jesus chose Jehovah's Witnesses. Uh huh.
In 1920, Jehovah's Witnesses released a book titled Millions Now Living Will Never Die.
It claimed that Bible chronology set 1925 as the year in which would mark the beginning of the end:
"Earthly phase of God's Kingdom shall be recognized." ... "Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Prophets of Old... to the condition of human perfection"
They straight up said that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Prophets of old would be resurrected and show up as perfect humans. Not just a "spiritual, invisible" return, but a physical, human return. Confidently!
"It is reasonable to conclude that millions of people now on Earth will still be on 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."
So, if this book was published in 1920 and Armageddon was going to happen in 1925, then it stands to reason that the millions of the people alive in 1920 would still be alive in 1925 and so Millions Now Living Will Never Die. Is it a guess? Are they hedging their bets? Not even in the slightest. Positive and indisputable conclusion!
The pre-cursor to Jehovah's Witnesses had many failed date choices as well, most of these come from Millenial Dawn - Thy Kingdom Come, later renamed by JWs as Studies in the Scriptures III - Thy Kingdom Come:
- 1799 - original published date for beginning of the "Last Days" and the "Time of the End."
- 1874 - original published date for Christ's invisible presence.
- 1878 - original published date for Christ to begin his 1000 year reign.
- 1878 - original published date for the Fall of Babylon the Great
- 1881 - original published date for the resurrection of anointed Christians to Heaven.
The Generation That Will Not Pass Away
After all of their predictions about 1914, 1918, and 1925 failed, they needed to think up something quickly. In 1927, Rutherford changed their definitions around so that the generation of Anointed People alive in 1914 would not pass away (the Anointed are the 144,000 which will live in Heaven instead of on Paradise Earth). About 10 years later, in 1938, Rutherford said Armageddon was merely months away!
That didn't happen either, and by 1951, many of those who had already been Anointed in 1914 were dead or getting close and we can't have that now, can we? So, they changed it again. The 1914 generation which would never pass away wasn't just the Anointed, but it included everyone in the world. If you were born in 1914, then your entire lifespan counted as the allowable window for Armageddon to begin. Then, of course, in 1966 the date for Armageddon was set to 1975.
Over the course of the years, it wasn't just the dates which changed. After the League of Nations was founded in 1920, JWs considered it to be the Scarlet Colored Wild Beast, but after the League was dismantled and replaced with the United Nations... AH! Then they understood! The League of Nations was the Leopard-Bear! And the United Nations was the Scarlet Colored Wild Beast, the image of the League! It all makes so much sense now. /eyeroll
So far this has all been before my lifetime, but let's step into my lifetime.
The Awake! magazine, the companion to The Watchtower magazine, was published with this in every issue from 1982 to 1995:
"Why Awake! is published
... 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."
In Nov 8, 1995, it was changed to read "peaceful and secure New World that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things." 1914 is no longer mentioned. Why? Well, shit, if you were born in 1914 you're pushing 81 years old now!
I started college that year and began my slow walk away from the cult, but they didn't stop revising their teachings.
In 2010, they changed their definition of "generation" once again to a grand new idea called "overlapping generations." So, it's not just the lifetime of the people alive in 1914, it's the lifetimes of the people alive in 1914 as well as the lifetimes of anyone who was alive during the lifetime of someone who was alive in 1914. /facepalm
How Do They Survive Being So Horribly Wrong?
Jehovah's Witnesses are an insular cult which punishes you for associating with outsiders. Their members don't know all of these changes because they don't talk about them internally and you're not allowed to learn about them from outsiders. Those who were members while they happen and change either leave or rationalize it to themselves and then never speak of it again. Then the younger generation of JWs simply won't know about the history and to them "Armageddon is near" seems like a reasonable teaching because they simply haven't seen the last 100 years of "Armageddon is near!"
If you have the pleasure of receiving Jehovah's Witnesses at your doorstep, keep this info handy. Ask them about it, wait for them to claim it never happened, and then present them with the direct evidence included here and linked below.
(Originally posted April 13, 2014)