The End is Near! ... in 1975
The End is Near! ... in 1975
Trustworthy. Reliable. Dependable.
If someone told you, "I'll have the money tomorrow" or "I'll meet you in the morning" but it didn't happen, you would be upset. You might pass it off as an accident or an anomaly. What if it happened twice? Three times? What if it happened EVERY time?
What if that person was a Church?
The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is the corporate name of Jehovah's Witnesses, and JWs have a long history of making predictions about when Armageddon is going to happen... and their track record is not good. For example, 20 years ago...
... when I was graduating from high school in 1994 and I received my acceptance letter from USC, I was very excited! When I went to the Kingdom Hall that night (JW name for Church), I went around to many members of my congregation to tell them the good news and I was repeatedly scoffed at for "wasting my time with school when Armageddon is so close!" They told me I should be "out in service" (going door to door to evangelize) because what would be the point in spending all that time learning "worldly" things in college when "this system" was coming to an end so soon?
How have JWs survived though if they keep getting it wrong? The answer is they shift the blame. When the JWs predict Armageddon and it doesn't happen (which is every time), then the standard operating procedure is to claim innocence and shift the blame to the "brothers and sisters" (i.e. the members of the church). I'll tackle a few other examples in my next post, but for now let's talk about one big example, the year 1975.
1975 was first mentioned as an important time for JWs in a book published in 1966 called Life Everlasting - in freedom of the Sons of God.
Some background: JWs are Young Earth Creationists (yes, I was one of them as a young man, please forgive me), however they aren't as "Young" as some others. They believe each "Creative Day" in Genesis was 7,000 years long. They believe the 7th Day, during which God rested, is now. So, after 6,000 years of supposed human existence, there would be 1,000 years left for God to rest.
They also believe Jesus is supposed to show up at Armageddon, kick a bunch of ass, and lock Satan up in a prison. Jesus will then rule over the Earth for 1,000 years at which point Satan will be released from his prison for one last chance to lead humans astray. (Revelation 20) That 1,000 years would account for the time remaining during the 7th Creative Day. Then after a short period of time, Satan and all those who follow him, will be ultimately destroyed and Jesus will hand the keys to the kingdom over to Jehovah.
The Life Everlasting book presented what they like to call "math" to prove that 1975 was the end of the 6,000 years of man's existence, which meant Armageddon was coming and Jesus would begin his 1,000 year reign to finish off the 7th Creative Day.
"How appropriate it would be for Jehovah God to make of this coming seventh period of a thousand years a sabbath period of rest and release, a great Jubilee sabbath for the proclaiming of liberty throughout the earth to all its inhabitants!"
"It would be according to the loving purpose of Jehovah God for the reign of Jesus Christ to run parallel with the 7th millenium of man's existence."
The Oct 8th, 1966 issue of Awake! magazine also reiterated this point. In a section titled "6,000 Years Completed in 1975" it says:
"So we can expect the immediate future to be filled with thrilling events for those who rest their faith in God and his promises. It means that within relatively few years we will witness the fulfillment of the remaining prophecies that have to do with the "time of the end."
In the next section titled "End Near" it says:
"But when a brief period of years at the most separates us from the great windup of this old system, the vital thing is to stay spiritually awake."
2 years later, in 1968, The Watchtower, May 1st, 1968 said, in regards to 1975,
"The immediate future is certain to be filled with climactic events, for this old system is nearing its complete end. Within a few years at most the final parts of Bible prophecy relative to these 'Last Days' will undergo fulfillment."
Some members of the congregation didn't get married, didn't have kids, some sold their houses and quit their jobs so they could spend the remaining months in service. Remember that after 1975, the JWs blamed the brothers and sisters for misunderstanding! But...
The May 1974 issue of the Kingdom Ministry said,
"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." (Pioneer service is full-time door to door evangelizing.)
Right up to the end of the line, JWs were definitively telling its members that The End was happening in 1975, but after their prophecy failed, they just blamed the brothers and sisters for misunderstanding. Don't the published statements above make it pretty damn clear that Armageddon was coming in 1975?
My brother remembers the young members in our congregation, back in the 70s, were hesitant about getting married and having children. Many JWs thought Armageddon was supposed to arrive in 1975 and when it didn't, there were a lot of REALLY angry people in the church. He also remembers hearing members of our congregation, in the 80s, saying that Jehovah used 1975 to separate the sheep from the goats, those who were just "serving the date" from those who were "sheep-like ones."
Even after these clear modern day predictions failed to come true, JWs continued to claim the End was Near. I was still in Junior High at the time, but my brother ran into this obstacle when he and his wife were contemplating having children. "Is this really a good time for this, considering the fact that we are so close to the time of the end?" He hoped at the time there would still be enough years left in "this system" for his kids to grow and not be "a burden" during the "time of the end."
The word "burden" seemed to be everywhere when discussing kids during Armageddon and it wasn't a coincidence... it was a talking point. A very old one.
I'm about to take you all the way back to 1938, in my next post, to share some stuff from the Jehovah's Witnesses past they would prefer you never knew... stay tuned!
(Originally posted April 9th, 2014)