What war is He
speaking about? Why, the fast-approaching war of Armageddon, “the war
great day of God the Almighty,” which is now so very near. (The Watchtower 1961
Suppose your great grandfather was told that Armageddon
is near and that to avoid death he had to preach door to door. He
preached but he still died. Suppose the same happened to your
grandfather and your father.
For example, Awake!
magazine (1969 April 22 page 19) says:
1914 began “the last
days” of this system. The generation of mankind that witnessed those
events of nearly 55 year ago is now getting old. This means that time
is fast running out! This system and the churches that have long
supported it, are rapidly nearing
their end... That destruction is
near! Therefore, do not hesitate!
Suppose you've grown old and you still hear that
"Armageddon is near" — should you believe it?
Library CD (2007) has most of the Jehovah's Witness (JW)
publications from 1950 to 2007. The main omissions are Awake! magazine prior to 1970 and
the monthly meeting guide called Kingdom
Ministry prior to 1970.
Library (2007) search function lists 11,463 occurrences of the
words "near", “nearing” and “nears” in JW publications. Not all
occurrences are in an Armageddon context since "near" can also refer to
emotional nearness, or a travel destination, or a scheduled secular
event. But many of the 11,463 instances do refer to Armageddon or
allied events such as the annihilation of other religions, the future
paradise on Earth, the removal of Satan the Devil, or the resurrection
of the dead.
Sometimes these events are alleged to be "very near",
"so near", "now near" or "so very near".
OVER 140 YEARS OF NEAR
In the 19th century and into the 1920s the Watchtower
Society's publications used the word "near" in reference to Armageddon
sparingly. This was because the sect that became Jehovah's Witnesses
focused on specific dates such 1874, 1878, 1881, 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920
and 1925, and this made reminders of "near" unnecessary.
By 1930 the leaders realized that although false
prophecies for specific dates "bring in the sheep", many "sheep" are
lost when the predictions fail.
Therefore they reduced the emphasis on specific calendar years and
brought the word "near" into regular use as well as its synonyms such
as "shortly", "short time", "about to", "close", "imminent", "soon",
"impending", "time is fast running out", "at hand" and "fast
Here are some "near" examples from The Watchtower magazine of 1930:
...in the near future
that “old serpent”, called the “Devil” and
“Satan”, is to be bound for a thousand years... (w1930 2/1 13)
The second and eighth quotes threaten sect-members
living in 1930 with punishment by God if they neglect door-to-door
activity. This warning is regularly repeated through successive
2. It is the anointed of God, and
these only who continue thus faithfully to serve unto the end, that
will be permitted to stand with the King of kings in that great battle
and victory that is near. (w1930 3/15 87)
3. The kingdom of Christ is soon to
be fully established on earth, and all men will be aware of that fact
in the very near future.
(w1930 4/15 122)
4. According to Bible chronology,
"signs of the times," and the physical facts, “the last days” began in
1914 and will end in the very near
future in what the Bible calls "the
battle of that great day of God Almighty", otherwise called "the battle
of Armageddon". (w1930 5/1 141)
5. Satan’s kingdom is doomed to a
complete destruction in the near
future. (w1930 6/1 171)
6. To keep his kingdom intact, Satan
is trying to organize a league of nations, a federation of churches,
and giant mergers of big business. His object in forming these unions
is self-preservation and the preservation of his kingdom on earth. Of
course, all these three elements hate those who are announcing their
doom, and so are united in their opposition to the message that
proclaims Armageddon near.
(w1930 6/15 219)
7. But peace is coming, and it lies
in the very near future.
(w1930 8/1 234)
8. If any of the Lord’s people lack
the courage to thus take a stand for the Lord, they are laying up in
store for themselves a terrible tribulation, in the near future, which
will punish them for their lack of faith and confidence in the Lord...
(w1930 10/1 302)
"VERY NEAR" SINCE 1950
Many of the occurrences of "near" listed on Watchtower Library (2007) are
qualified with "very", "now" or "so" or other words that imply the
"near" period is well-advanced. We get for example:
• very near 286
• so near 186
• now so near 50
• now so very near 4
Hear are some examples of "very near":
The day of Jehovah is far spent and the night of Armageddon is very near. (w1950 4/1 108)
The "day of Jehovah" in the first quote referred to the
period since 1914. This interpretation has since been revised and "day
of Jehovah" is now synonymous with Armageddon.
The sixth quote says that the Millions Now Living Will Never Die
message "expressed the conviction that the time for the realization of
that hope was very near". That
message, however, did not merely predict
"very near", but predicted 1925:
2. Armageddon, the battle of the
great day of God Almighty, is very
near... (w1950 8/1 237)
3. Whether the enemy chooses to
attack or run and hide, nothing will prevent Jehovah's Executioner,
Christ Jesus, from blotting them out. (Amos 9:1-4) Today their end is very near. (w1951 9/1 528)
4. Only those who keep on taking in
the right kind of knowledge and make a change in their lives can hope
to be spared from the expression of God's wrath at Armageddon, which
fulfillment of Bible prophecy is very
near at hand. (w1958 9/15 548)
5. God's Word clearly shows that His
toleration of man's wickedness is very
near its end. (Awake! 1973 4/8 16)
6. What an exciting message they
proclaimed—"Millions now living will never die!" Brother Rutherford had
given a discourse on this subject in 1918. It was also the title of a
128-page booklet published in 1920… And it expressed the conviction
that the time for the realization of that hope was very near. (JWs Proclaimers of
God's Kingdom 1993, 425)
7. Jehovah's witnesses also believe
that the end of this wicked system of things is very near, and so they
are busily engaged in warning people of this fact... Jehovah's
witnesses want people to know that God is going to bring an end to
wicked conditions in the earth and replace them with righteousness by
means of his perfect, heavenly Kingdom government. The time for that to
happen is very near; it is to
occur in this generation. (w1970 4/15 445)
8. God's time to destroy wicked
people is very near. (Learn
From The Great Teacher 2003, 66)
As we have heretofore
stated, the great jubilee cycle is due to begin in 1925. At that time
the earthly phase of the kingdom shall be recognized. The Apostle Paul
in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews names a long list of faithful men
who died before the crucifixion of the Lord and before the beginning of
the selection of the church. These can never be a part of the heavenly
class; they had no heavenly hopes; but God has in store something good
for them. They are to be resurrected as perfect men and constitute the
princes or rulers in the earth, according to his promise. (Psalm 45:16;
Isaiah 32: 1; Matthew 8: 11) Therefore we may confidently expect that
1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful
prophets of old... (pp 89-90)
The sixth quote further calls the Millions message "exciting". The JW
Governing Body may think false prophecy is "exciting", but the Bible
calls false prophecy, "appalling and horrible". (Jeremiah
The seventh quote, published in 1970, links "very near"
with "this generation". Until 1995 JWs predicted that the people who
experienced 1914 would live long enough to experience Armageddon.
Therefore, "very near" in 1970 meant at most several decades and was
another false prediction.
OMINOUSLY NEAR in 1971
"Ominously near" occurs only once on Watchtower Library 2007:
We know that we are in
the "time of the end” as regards the political nations of this world
and that the destruction of them in the approaching "great tribulation”
upon the whole world is ominously near.
(w1971 12/15 754)
In 1971 the emphasis was on 1975 for Armageddon to
occur — hence "ominously near".
JWs today deny that 1975 was a definite prediction
because their main theologian at the time, Frederick W. Franz
(1893-1992), said: "Don't any of you be specific."
So how definite was 1975 as the date for Armageddon?
According to JW doctrine Armageddon would occur at the
completion of 6000 years of evil on Earth, and Adam was created in 4026
BC. Since there was no year "0" this comes to 1975. The reason for
being non-specific was that evil began after Eve was created, but the
Bible does not state how long Adam was alone.
However, on at least three occasions JW publications
stated or implied that Adam and Eve were created in the same year —
thus confirming Armageddon for 1975 (or possibly 1976). The three
• The Watchtower 1968 5/1 271
In late 1975, with no Armageddon in sight and prophetic
failure looming, The Watchtower
denied that Adam and Eve were created in the same year, putting it like
1968 10/8 14
to Bible Understanding (1971) page 538
Whether that period
[between Adam and Eve's creation] amounted to weeks or months or years,
we do not know. (w1975 10/1 579)
We are now 41 years past 1975 which means JWs believe
that Adam lived alone for at least 41 years!
THE TIME IS NEAR
The 11,463 occurrences of "near", "nears" and "nearing"
on Watchtower Library include
57 of the phrase "The time is near".
Regarding "the time is near" Jesus said:
"Beware that you are
not led astray; for many will come in my name and say … 'The time is
near!' Do not go after them." (Luke 21:8)
The cult that became JWs predicted magical events for
1874, 1878, 1881, 1914, 1915, 1918 and 1925 but was wrong every time
and its members died disappointed.
In 1971 Armageddon was "ominously near" because it was
due in 1975. Those JWs too were disappointed and about half of them
have died and hundreds of thousands left the sect.
There were other dates such as 1942, the "generation of
1914", and "within our twentieth century". Most JWs of 1942 have died,
the generation of 1914 has died out, and the 20th century is gone.
Armageddon clearly had not been "near" despite
thousands of repetitions that it was.
Spurred by prophecy many JWs deserted their careers,
dropped out of high school, sold homes, and even avoided marriage to
preach "The time is near". They ignored Jeremiah who called false
prophecy "horrible", and Jesus who said "Beware that you are not led
truthful and educational is the so-called "Bible truth" and "Bible
education" of the
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