B Stett (Assisted by B J Kotwall)

(Investigator 51, 1996 November)

The JWs teach that the Bible is authored by "Jehovah" and that it predicts Armageddon by/before 2000 AD and this, they claim, is Jehovah's own interpretation.


Within Our Twentieth Century

Shortly within our twentieth century, the  "battle in the day of Jehovah" will begin against the modern anti type of Jerusalem, Christendom.
(The Nations Shall Know That I Am Jehovah - How? 1971 p. 216)
To a Jehovah's Witness (JW) the "battle in the day of Jehovah" is the same as Armageddon. It is the destruction, by the forces of nature, divided humankind, and angels of God, of all non-JW people and property. This implies the death of over 99% of the human race by 2000 AD.

When This Prophecy Began

The prophecy of Armageddon by 2000 AD began in 1945 in The Watchtower (February 15  pp. 51-60)  in  the  article  The Kingdom Sabbath and Its Lord.

Virtually the same material was repeated in the two editions of Let God Be True (1946; 1952) in the chapter The Sabbath: In Shadow and Reality.

Let's follow the 1946 reference.

Chapter 7 of Let God Be True (1946) says that each of the seven days of creation was 7,000 years long.  In particular:

Man being created toward the close of the sixth day, he was put on earth toward the end of 42,000 years of earth's preparation. (p.155)
God's "seventh day" of rest continues 7,000 years. (p. 165)

Also the 1,000-year reign of Christ (the Millennium) corresponds to the last 1,000 years of the 7,000 years of God's rest. (pp.167-169) So when did the 7,000 years of rest begin?  On page 165 it is claimed that the 7,000-year rest, "began applying over 4,000 years before Christ."

Ignoring the minor question of there being no year "0" it follows that 6,000 years will be completed by or before 6,000 - 4,000  = 2,000 AD.

Page 166 says that the 1,000-year reign of Christ will start "immediately" after Armageddon. Therefore Armageddon will also have to be over by/before 2000 AD.


Connection With 1975

When Let God Be True was published the JWs believed that Adam was created in 4028 BC. This date is not given in Let God Be True but does appear in The Truth Shall Make You Free (1943 p. 152). In the 1950s the year of Adam's creation was corrected to 4026 BC.

Adding 6,000 years to 4,026 BC and allowing for there not being a year "0" results in 1975 exactly.

However, the 7,000-year rest started, according to JWs, after Eve was created. But 4,026 BC is the year of Adam's creation.  If, for example, Eve was created two years after Adam then 6,000 years into God's 7,000 year rest would end in 1977. But Armageddon had to be over before the end of 6,000 years of God's rest–but we are not told how long before.

Because of these unknowns – how long Eve's creation delayed after Adam's and how long before end of 6,000 years from Eve's creation Armageddon would strike – JWs did not at first predict the world's end (Armageddon) for 1975 with certainty. A usual phrase and estimate used at conventions was "the mid 1970s."

Then The Watchtower (1968 May 1 p. 271) and Awake! (1968 October 8 p. 14) announced that Adam and Eve were created in the same year that is in 4,026 BC.  This was confirmed in the book Aid To Bible Understanding (1971 p. 538) This removed one of the two uncertainties.  From this new information it followed that Armageddon had to be over, and  paradise introduced in, or earlier than, 1975.

The Watchtower 1968 May 1 p. 271:

Thus, Adam's naming of the animals and his realizing that he needed a counterpart would have occupied only a brief time after his creation. Since it was also Jehovah's purpose for man to multiply and fill the earth, it is logical that he would create Eve soon after Adam, perhaps just a few weeks or months later in the same year, 4026 B.C.E. After her creation, God's rest day, the seventh period, immediately followed.
Therefore, God's seventh day and the time man has been on earth apparently run parallel. To calculate where man is in the stream of time relative to God's seventh day of 7,000 years, we need to determine how long a time has elapsed from the year of Adam and Eve's creation in 4026 B.C.E. From the autumn of that year to the autumn of 1 B.C.E., there would be 4,025 years. From the autumn of 1 B.C.E. to the autumn of 1 C.E. is one year (there was no zero year). From the autumn of 1 C.E. to the autumn of 1967 is a total of 1,966 years. Adding 4,025 and 1 and 1,966, we get 5,992 years from the autumn of 4,026 B.C.E. to the autumn of 1967. Thus, eight years remain to account for a full 6,000 years of the seventh day. 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.
When the deadline came and all the prophecies failed, it was announced that Adam and Eve were not created in the same year. (The Watchtower 1975 October 1 p. 579)

This however left intact the prediction for, "within our twentieth century".


Our Own Twentieth-Century Generation

In 1965 The Watchtower had an article titled Our Own Twentieth-Century Generation and the Resurrection  which said in part:

A "great crowd"...will never go to Hades or Sheol and need to be resurrected.  However, it will not be so with the "goat" class of our twentieth-century generation.  At the destruction of Babylon the Great and in the Battle of Armageddon they will be executed with an everlasting punishment and will never be resurrected from the dead for they will go into the "second death." Consequently, at the beginning of Christ's millennial reign, there will be no "goat class" on hand to interfere with that righteous rule. (1965 March 15 p.177)
Potentially  "Our Own Twentieth-Century Generation" could be "executed" in the twenty-first century. But if that were meant one would expect some mention of the twenty-first-century generation.

Furthermore to a JW of the 1950s to 1980s the phrase "our generation" referred to people old enough to witness with understanding the outbreak of World War I in 1914. "Our generation" and "this generation" therefore meant people born 1900-1905 or earlier. A few references to "this generation" meaning pre-World-War I people are:

             Awake! 1966 October 8 p. 18
             Awake! 1968 October 8 pp. 13-14
             The Watchtower 1969 February 15 p. 101
             The Watchtower 1974 June 15 p. 359
             Awake! 1981 July 22 p. 4

Awake!  (1986 November 8)  reported on interviews of teenagers by WTS branch offices. The year 2000 got mentioned repeatedly.  For example:

"For the year 2000, I visualize a world transformed into a beautiful paradise!  But I don't think that either the present world or its rulers will live to see that day...  We are living in the last days of the system of things."  (pp. 7-8)

The Awake! explained:
"The Scriptures call this short period preceding God's intervention "the time of the end" and specify that it will not last longer than a "generation."...  Since the "generation" of 1914 is now well advanced in years, God's promise is really up-to-date news for young people today."

A Firm And Definite Prophecy

The prophecy of Armageddon in our twentieth century continues as a firm and definite prophecy:

The Watchtower 1984 March 1 pp. 18-19:

Some of that "generation" could survive until the end of the century. But there are many indications that "the end" is much closer than that!
1989 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses p. 3:
How many will accept the invitation?  John's vision recorded in Revelation 7:9 had to become a reality.  He saw  "a great crowd which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands."  With confidence in the vision's complete fulfillment during the decades of this 20th century the anointed remnant of the bride class have never let up in saying "Come!" Every effort has been made to broadcast the message to all nations.
The Watchtower 1989 January 1 p. 12:
The apostle Paul was spearheading the Christian missionary activity. He was also laying a foundation for a work that would be concluded in our 20th century.
The quotes from the Yearbook and the 1989 Watchtower in effect say the same thing. This is that the JW preaching work, with everyone who will survive Armageddon having become a JW, will be completed in the 20th century.  And every JW knows that the end of the preaching work coincides with the eruption of  "the great tribulation" and  "Armageddon".

The 1989 Watchtower quote is from the single-issue printing of The Watchtower. In the bound volume reprints the quote was changed to:

He was also laying a foundation for a work that would be completed in our day.
Despite this revision, the prophecy of  "in our 20th century" remains an official doctrine which we'll see next:

Armageddon Not Further Than We Had Thought

The final generation of this world was first clearly linked to 1914 in 1953. That was in the booklet Basis for Belief in a Righteous New World (p. 51). An earlier booklet Evolution Versus The New World (1950 p. 53) discussed "this generation" in a 1914 context but didn't clearly link the two ideas together except by implication.

Later there were quotes like:

Even if we presume that youngsters 15 years of age would be perceptive enough to realize the import of what happened in 1914, it would still make the youngest of  "this generation" nearly 70 years old today. (Awake! 1968 October 8 p. 13-14)
This doctrine and prophecy was taught as  "the Creator's promise". From January 1982 Awake! magazine had the claim:
Most importantly, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new order before the generation that saw the events of 1914 C.E. passes away.
In 1995 this promise was revised to:
Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things. (Awake! 1995 November 8)
In discussing this revision The Watchtower said:
Does our more precise viewpoint on "this generation" mean that Armageddon is further away than we had thought?  Not at all! (1995 November 1 p. 20)
Well, how close had the JWs  "thought" and prophesied Armageddon to be?  The answer is that people born around 1900 would live to see Armageddon and it would happen  "within our twentieth century".

That only leaves four years from the present – 1996.

All JW Teaching Is From "Jehovah"

JW leaders claim that their organization is, "the only organization on earth that understands the 'deep things of God'!" (The Watchtower 1973 July 1 p. 402)

They call their propaganda "true religion" and say of true religion:

…its teachings must all be in harmony with God's word. (The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life 1968 p.130)
The official position is well expressed in The Watchtower of 1931:
The Watchtower recognizes the truth as belonging to Jehovah, and not to any creature. The Watchtower is not the instrument of any man or set of men. No man's opinion is expressed in The Watchtower. God feeds his own people, and surely God uses those who love and serve him according to his own will. (November 1 p. 327)
Furthermore The Watchtower (1943 July 1 p. 202) says:
Jehovah God is therefore the only Supreme Court of interpretation of His inspired word.
 The subsequent page adds:
To such remnant of faithful servants of Jehovah God Christ Jesus has entrusted all "his goods", or earthly interests of the Kingdom. This does not signify that the faithful remnant or society of Jehovah's anointed witnesses are an earthly tribunal of interpretation, delegated to interpret the Scriptures and its prophecies.  No; Christ Jesus the King has not entrusted that them. THE SUPREME COURT STILL INTERPRETS, thank God; and Christ Jesus, the Court's official mouthpiece of interpretation, reserves to himself that office as head of Jehovah's "faithful and wise servant" class. He merely uses the "servant" class to publish the in interpretation after the Supreme Court by Christ Jesus reveals it. (p. 203)
The "Creator's promise" regarding the 1914 generation has already been discussed. That "promise" is also "Jehovah's prophetic word":
Jehovah's prophetic word through Christ Jesus is: "This generation [of 1914] will by no means pass away until all things occur." (Luke 21:32)  And Jehovah, who is the source of inspired and unfailing prophecy, will bring about the fulfillment... (The Watchtower 1984 May 15 pp. 6-7)
From statements such as these it follows that if Armageddon by 2000 AD fails to occur the "Jehovah" of the JWs will be exposed as a liar.

JW Prophecy To Fail Again

JW prophecies are known to have failed for many other dates.

These include 1878, 1881, 1906/1907, 1912, 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1924, 1925, 1928, 1930s, 1935/1936, 1942,1940s, 1970s.

Generalizing from this trend of failure the prophecy of  "within our twentieth century" should prove to be false.

[Update: The 20th century ended December 31 2000AD.  The JW leaders speaking for "Jehovah" repeatedly staked Jehovah's credibility on Armageddon occuring by that date. Investigator in contrast predicted that this: "should prove to be false".   Ed.]

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