“Yes. World conditions as well as Bible chronology indicate that the last days began in 1914. At that time, God’s Kingdom began ruling in heaven, and one of its first actions was to expel Satan the Devil and the demons from heaven and restrict their activity to the earth. (Revelation 12:7-12) Satan’s influence on mankind can be seen in many of the bad attitudes and actions that make the last days “critical times hard to deal with.”—2 Timothy 3:1.”
Watchtower claims that “Bible chronology indicate[s] that the last days began in 1914.” How did they reach this remarkable conclusion?
The organization’s focus on 1914 is a vestige of Second Adventist Nelson Barbour, who first proposed that year as a marked date in Bible prophecy in the June, 1875 issue of his magazine Herald of the Morning. Charles Taze Russel, who would go on to found the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, was quite taken by this idea, and would go on to collaborate with Barbour and borrow a number of his teachings. The supposed importance of 1914 is based around a unique interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in the book of Daniel, which Watchtower still holds today:
Critically, the entire notion of a “larger fulfillment” is centered around 607 B.C.E., which Watchtower asserts is the date of Jerusalem’s destruction.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are the only organization who believe Jerusalem was destroyed in this year.
Historians and bible scholars are in complete agreement that Jerusalem was in fact destroyed in 587 B.C. Watchtower published a two-part article in 2011 attempting to defend this date, citing a number of historians and bible scholars, but the article includes an incredible footnote: “Note: None of the secular experts quoted in this article hold that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C.E.”
Watchtower also states that “At that time , God’s Kingdom began ruling in heaven,” which would imply that between Jesus’ death and resurrection around AD 35 and AD 1914 Christ spent nearly a thousand years doing absolutely nothing.
Suffice it to say, there is no valid evidence to suggest the last days began in 1914.* However, one might still wonder if we are living in “the Last Days” spoken about by Jesus.
“The Bible describes events and conditions that would mark “the conclusion of the [current] system of things,” or “the end of the world.” (Matthew 24:3; King James Version) The Bible calls this time period “the last days” and the “time of the end,” or “end times.” (2 Timothy 3:1; Daniel 8:19; Easy-to-Read Version) The following are some outstanding features of last-days, or end-times, prophecies:
- War on a large scale.—Matthew 24:7; Revelation 6:4.
- Famine.—Matthew 24:7; Revelation 6:5, 6.
- Great earthquakes.—Luke 21:11.
- Pestilences, or epidemics of “terrible diseases.”—Luke 21:11, Contemporary English Version.
- Increase of crime.—Matthew 24:12.
- Ruining of the earth by mankind.—Revelation 11:18.
- Deterioration of people’s attitudes, as shown by many who are “unthankful, disloyal, . . . not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride.”—2 Timothy 3:1-4.
- Breakdown of the family, with people who have “no natural affection” and children who are “disobedient to parents.”—2 Timothy 3:2, 3.
- Love of God growing cold in most people.—Matthew 24:12.
- Noteworthy displays of religious hypocrisy.—2 Timothy 3:5.
- Increased understanding of Bible prophecies, including those related to the last days.—Daniel 12:4.
- Global preaching of the good news of the Kingdom.—Matthew 24:14.
- Widespread apathy and even ridicule toward the evidence of the approaching end.—Matthew 24:37-39; 2 Peter 3:3, 4.
- The simultaneous fulfillment of all these prophecies, not just a few or even most of them.—Matthew 24:33.”
You may have noticed that right off the bat Watchtower uses curious language in citing Matthew 24:3.
- “The Bible describes events and conditions that would mark ‘the conclusion of the [current] system of things,'”
Why the inclusion of the word “current” in brackets when it does not appear in the verse itself? This was slid in because Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that humans today are living in Satan’s “old system,” but Jehovah is making way for a new system; these have become common aphorisms among Witnesses. These phrases are not found in the Bible, and in fact most translations do not contain the phrase “conclusion of a system of things” at all, but rather “end of the world,” “end of time,” or “end of the age.”
Watchtower conspicuously does not cite the very next verse of Matthew 24. It reads:
- “Look out that nobody misleads you, for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You are going to hear of wars and reports of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for these things must take place, but the end is not yet.” Matthew 24: 4 NWT
Jesus repeatedly warned his followers about listening to men who would proclaim that the end is near on the basis of his name:
- “Look out that you are not misled, for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The due time is near.’ Do not go after them. Furthermore, when you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified.” Luke 21: 8, 9 NWT
- “Therefore, if people say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” Matthew 24: 26 NWT
Rather than being a decades-long period of time as Watchtower asserts, Jesus described it as being as quick as lightning.
Contrary to Jesus’ warnings, Watchtower persistently claims that “the due time is near.”
Their leaders also equate following them with following Christ:
“The Governing Body continues “following the Lamb,” Jesus, “no matter where he goes.” (Revelation 14:4) So when we follow the direction of the Governing Body, we follow our Leader, Jesus.” ws17 February pp. 20-26
Here are men who preach that the “due time is near” on the basis of Jesus’ name, exactly the sort of men Jesus said to avoid.
In fact, Jesus said emphatically that “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mt 24:36)
It is true that Jesus listed “signs” of the last days, but these were general things that can (and have) been applied to any time in human history. Jesus did not want his followers to concern themselves with the “day and hour.” Instead, his commandment was the following:
- “This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you” John 15: 12 NWT
*For an in-depth review of Watchtower’s stance on 607 B.C.E., head over to jwfacts.com