The year 1914 is a significant date among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our leadership firmly believes that 1914 was a pivotal year in theocratic world events. This date is so important that any among our association who do not agree with the Society’s interpretation of what occurred in 1914 are subject to disfellowshipping and being labeled as apostates. We cannot understand how questioning an interpretation is a disfellowshipping offense, especially since the interpretation of what occurred in 1914 and its significance has changed a few times by the leadership itself.
Nevertheless, we will proceed cautiously and respectfully in full faith that our leadership will find no fault in our imitating the ancient Beroeans about whom it was written:
“Now the [Beroeans] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with the greatest eagerness of mind, carefully examining the Scriptures daily as to whether these things were so.”
– Acts 17:11
Like the Beroeans, we have diligently searched the scriptures, but we have found no mention of the year 1914, nor any mention that something specific will occur during that year. We note that many Christians, not only Jehovah’s Witnesses, have culled together various scriptures and formulated manmade dispensational calculations that lead some to conclude that Christ Jesus’ second coming occurred in the year 1914. We certainly understand the eagerness to know when the Christ would arrive, but we cannot dismiss Jesus’ own words:
“Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.”
– Matthew 24:36
“Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”
– Matthew 24:42
Seeing that we ‘cannot know’ that date, all attempts to figure it out are at best speculation. Speculation is fine as long as it is presented as speculation and not doctrine; and as long as those who cannot assent to the speculations are not subjected to discipline. Otherwise our leadership would be ignoring the counsel of Paul to the Corinthians:
“Hence do not judge anything before the due time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring the secret things of darkness to light and make the counsels of the hearts manifest, and then each one will have his praise come to him from God. Now, brothers, these things I have transferred so as to apply to myself and Apollos for your good, that in our case you may learn the [rule]: “Do not go beyond the things that are written,” in order that you may not be puffed up individually in favor of the one against the other.”
– 1 Corinthians 4:5-6
We know that our leadership, and all others who are diligently trying to calculate Christ’s arrival, are very well aware of these scriptures. In their minds, they are applying the counsel to ‘keep on the watch,’ and thus they indulge in these speculations.
So, for purposes of this article, let us indulge with them in their speculations. Let us examine what the interpretation is of 1914 and the events related to Jesus’ coming, according to the current understanding of the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses, including the so-called ‘new light’ revealed on October 6, 2012, and published in the Annual Report on November 19, 2012. If we are mistaken in our representation, please email us with any corrections and we will be swift about making those corrections.
While Jesus was on earth, he was the king-designate of God’s Kingdom of the Heavens. After his resurrection, Jesus proclaimed that all authority had been given him in heaven and on earth, so his followers on earth should go make disciples of all nations, primarily looking for 144,000 faithful men and women who would qualify to rule with Jesus in his heavenly Kingdom.
But Jesus himself sat down at God’s right hand to wait for God to ‘place his enemies as a stool for Jesus’ feet.’ Perhaps Satan and his horde are the enemies that God was to place at Jesus’ feet. Although all authority had been given him, Jesus did not become King of the Kingdom at that time. Instead, Jesus waited almost 1900 years for his Father to do the work of gathering together Christ’s enemies. We note that God does not conquer Jesus’ enemies; he just gathers them together at Jesus’ feet.
Finally, in 1914, Jesus ‘became King’ of the heavenly Kingdom and invisibly arrived on earth and ‘started’ to rule over mankind. At that time, he ousted Satan and his hordes from heaven. However, instead of conquering Satan, the newly enthroned King gave Satan even more freedom and allowed him to continue to wreak havoc on the earth, especially against Jesus’ followers, who had already been severely attacked and persecuted during the preceding 1900 years.
From 1914 through 1919, Jesus invisibly inspected all those who claimed to be his followers on earth, and in 1919, he settled on a small group of Bible Students serving at their headquarters in New York, in the United States of America. Jesus appointed them over all his ‘domestics to give them food at the proper time’ and to continue to gather and groom the remaining 144,000 that Jesus had begun to gather in 33 C.E. Thus, of all Christians associations on earth in 1919, this small group was given the authority by Jesus himself as the only channel qualified to dispense truth to the world. It was apparently a secret appointment because no other group on earth was aware of it.
After Jesus appointed these men to take care of his people on earth, he retired again to the heavens to wait some more and watch how this small group of appointed servants would carry out their duties. If they succeeded and acted faithfully and discreetly, they would be rewarded with charge over all of Christ’s belongings, in heaven and on earth. But if they failed, they would be punished with the greatest severity.
It has now been nearly 100 years, and Christ Jesus is still waiting and watching. During the preceding 1900, neither God nor Jesus had accumulated 144,000 persons who were faithful enough to reign with Christ. Neither has Jesus’ 1919 appointed channel of representatives developed the full number of 144,000. Apparently some who were once chosen proved unfaithful and had to be replaced. Even as recent as October 2012, the Governing Body continues to ‘channel’ information from God to help develop this group. While this type of channeling is acceptable, all other groups who claim to channel messages from God are really being misled by Satan.
But the angels in heaven are anxiously waiting for the full number of 144,000 to be approved; then the great tribulation will start and, sadly, Jesus’ followers will be subjected to even more persecution such as has not occurred in all the history of mankind.
And when the number of 144,000 is filled, Christ will return a third time during the great tribulation, and reward his faithful appointed ‘channelers’ with the authority over all his belongings, in heaven and on earth. According to the Annual Report of 2012, the Governing Body wrote:
“Consequently, Jesus will reward “the faithful and discreet slave” by resurrecting the individual members of that group to heavenly life and by giving them royal authority over all Christ’s belongings in heaven and on earth. This is the same reward promised to all faithful anointed Christians.”
That appears to mean that they will all be taken to heaven at that time – similar to the teaching of a rapture. When the war of Armageddon breaks out, all the anointed Christians will be in heaven caring for all of the Christ’s belongings.
Though the 144,000 have spent their life on earth learning peace and love and tolerance, all of them, both men and women, will immediately take up arms and go to war with Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to shepherd the nations with an ‘iron rod’ and kill off the vast majority of disobedient mankind. But the faithful followers remaining on earth will not get involved in the war. They will remain peaceful and peaceable, but they will suffer greatly, and they will be the ones responsible for cleaning up the earth after the great destruction of the War of Armageddon. For information on how the story continues, according to the leadership among Jehovah’s Witnesses, see The Cherished Earthly Hope.
So, according to the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, we are not waiting for Jesus’ second coming; we are waiting for his third coming. Most of mankind completely missed his second coming. Obviously ‘every eye’ did not see him in 1914.
“Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him. Yes, Amen.”
– Revelation 1:7
And it seems that although Jesus Christ underwent severe trials while on earth, he has not had to do much since he returned to heaven. He waited while his Father put his enemies under his feet; he appointed a channel on earth to gather and teach his followers, and when he resurrects the full number of 144,000 approved ones, he will entrust all his heavenly and earthly belongings to them. It appears the only thing the Prince of Peace will do is to war against his own creations, put to eternal death billions of them, and practically destroy civilization. Sigh.
This scenario is what the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society teaches. If we have misstated anything here, please email us with any corrections and we will be swift about making those corrections.
In the meantime, we ask, what are we to do with this interpretation of Bible prophesy? How do we reconcile it with Jesus’ actual original, plain, and open teachings that we are all children of God and heirs with Christ? What about the Father’s purpose that he foreordained before the founding of the world that all mankind would be adopted into heaven as his sons and daughters? What about Jesus’ teaching that he alone is the way to God, not any man or group of men? What about the promise that at his second coming, ‘every eye will see him?’
Before we go any further in this discussion, we open this up to our visitors. Have we misstated the ‘current understanding?’ How do you understand these matters? Let’s have an interchange of encouragement. After all, our eternal lives depend on it.
And we ask that the responses be civilized. Perhaps this article treads upon deeply ingrained beliefs. If so, respond as Paul suggested:
“But sanctify the Christ as Lord in your hearts, always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of you a reason for the hope in you, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect.”
– 1 Peter 3:15
If we are mistaken, win us over with your persuasive arguments. There is no need for name calling or offensive speech.
We look forward to hearing from as many as possible. And please know that all responses will be kept confidential unless it is expressly stated that your thoughts can be made public.
(See the follow up article: Let the Dead Bury the Dead.)