In part 1 of this series I looked at the big claims JWs have about the year 1919 and why it is so important to them. I also discussed the fact that in their literature they seem a bit reluctant to discuss it in greater detail. In this post I will look at the rare occasions they do discuss their ‘evidence’ for that year.
Let’s start with a book a lot of JWs wish would quietly disappear – the 1988 ‘Revelation-Its Gland Climax at Hand’. (Maybe get some coffee because this is a little dry but is important to show the absurdities of these claims.) In chapter 25 (which covers Revelation 11) paragraph 7 it quotes Rev 11:2 about the ‘holy city being trampled for 42 months’ and gives us this shocking claim:
“As we shall see the reference here is to the literal 42 months extending from October 1914 into 1918, when all professing Christians were put to a severe test.”
(Interestingly the online revised edition here says December 1914 not October, without any explanation of the change) They go on to talk about the troubles of world war 1 during that time. During that time JWs were put to severe trials and pressures from the nations. Paragraph 9 ends with this bold claim: “So trampling on them (JWs) is tantamount to trampling on the city itself (the holy city mentioned in Rev 11:2).”
Revelation chapter 11:3,4 is then discussed dealing with the ‘two witnesses prophesying for a thousand two hundred and sixty days in sackcloth’. Here I will quote most of paragraph 12:
“The John class had to preach for a definitely stated time:1,260 days, or 42 months, the same length of time that the holy city was to be trampled underfoot. This period seems to be literal, since it is expressed in to different ways, first in months and then in days. Additionally, at the beginning of the Lord’s day, there was a marked period of 3 and half years when the had experiences of God’s people matched the events prophesied here-starting from the outbreak of the first world war in the latter part of 1914 and continuing to the early part of 1918.”
To recap, the numbers are literal because its mentioned twice in different ways (never mind that is just how they WANT to interpret it; it could be separate numbers BECAUSE its mentioned in 2 different ways), and they know its literal because it seems to match what happened to them between 1914 and 1918.
What about 1919 though? So far they are only applying the Revelation prophecy from 1914 to 1918? Skip over to paragraph 19 where they begin to discuss Revelation 11:7-10 about the two witnesses being killed for 3 and a half days. In 1918 the work of JWs were brought to a halt when the President of the Watchtower and several other top guys were imprisoned (par 21). Since everything in the Bible is really about them, the prophecy in Revelation about the two witnesses being killed must be talking about this event. What about the 3 and half days part? Where the JWs only imprisoned for 3 and a half days in fulfillment of the prophecy? Hey now, those are dangerous questions to ask. The answer is no, and to explain why that’s OK and make everything fit together the way they want it to they explain it – in a footnote:
“Notice that in examining the experience of God’s people at this time, it appears that while the 42 months represents a literal three and a half years, the three and a half days do not represent a literal period of 84 hours. Likely the specific period of three and a half days is mentioned twice ( in verse 9 and 11) to highlight that it would be only a short period compared with the actual three and a half years of activity that precede it.”
That’s a VERY important point to just leave to a footnote. So, you get from 1914 to 1918 by a LITERAL 3 and half year period in Rev 11:3, but then to get the important date of 1919 (the year they were released from prison and ‘revived’) you have to have a SYMBOLIC 3 and half days, which in reality lasted 9 months. In the same passage of scriptures you have the Watchtower saying one part is real the other is just a allegory . Just take their word that it makes sense.
1914 – October starts the last days, and in December starts the 3 1/2 year revelation 11:3 prophecy (for some unexplained reason)
1918 – In June the LITERAL 3 1/2 year period ends and the SYMBOLIC 3 1/2 days prophecy begins with Rutherford and others being imprisoned
1919 – In March, after 9 LITERAL MONTHS, the SYMBOLIC 3 1/2 DAYS period ends with Rutherford and others released from prison and restarting their work. This marks when Jesus selected JWs as his only people.
***NOTE*** I know that in 2013 the Watchtower began to update a lot of their interpretations of these prophecies. Notably they get rid of the year 1918 in their timeline but keep everything else, now saying that the whole period from 1914 to 1919 was a period of inspection and cleansing:
“How long did this inspection and cleansing take place? This period of time includes both the 1,260 days (42 months) and the symbolic three and a half days referred to in Revelation chapter 11.”- WT 11/15 2014 p.30
They are now more emphasizing and trying to connect the events of 1914-1919 to the prophecy of Malachi chapter 3 which discusses ‘Jehovah’s messenger coming to cleanse and refine’, which to do you have to believe that the prophecy there not only was fulfilled in the 1st century but had another LARGER fulfillment in the 20th century. You also have have to see a parallel between Jesus 3 1/2 year ministry, specifically the 2 times WT says that Jesus went in and ‘cleansed the temple’, and the events of 1914-1919. (According to most scholars, Jesus only threw out the money changers from the temple ONCE, at the end of his ministry. The other account in Matthew is put out of chronological order, which WT has acknowledged that Matthew does at times.)
So many things have to be believed at face value to get to the year 1919. First, you have to accept their word that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 (Which has been overwhelmingly proven false. It took place in 587). THEN have to believe that the ‘7 times’ of Daniel chapter 4 is actually talking about a period of 2540 years that began at the false date of 607 and ended in 1914. THEN believe that you have to combine a LITERAL time period and a SYMBOLIC time period together (which I don’t think is possible) to get from 1914 to 1919. THEN once your at that year, connect Jesus words about a LITERAL ‘faithful slave’ to this point in history and……….Voila`!……Jehovah’s Witnesses are God’s chosen organization on Earth today! Are your eyeballs bleeding yet?
There is a reason when you ask a JW why they believe that their organization is the true religion, they won’t bring up any of this. I think they know deep down that it is bat-shit insane. But, again, why bother to bring any of this boring inaccurate dates and ideas? The answer goes back to the question of authority. As I spelled out in Part 1 of this post, if JWs are not the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ mentioned by Jesus and invested with that authority to act on his behalf, they CANNOT dictate to you what to believe or how to act. They can only give their opinions. And to be honest, after reviewing all the crazy lies and deception they use to convince you to trust them, why would you?