The End of the World is Certain but Uncertain

The End of the World is Certain but uncertain-the consuming fire

 

You heard it for it has been mentioned in the Bible. It has been the trumpet call of every Christian for so many decades and centuries since Jesus’ time.

But the problem lies in our understanding of what the Bible says about Jesus’ coming and the end of the world.


Claims Documented

I. Let’s examine some of the claims documented from The Watchtower Society of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

January 1886 issue of Zion’s Watchtower (Vol. VII, No. 5, p. 817):

The outlook at the opening of the New Year has some very encouraging features.  The outward evidences are that the marshaling of the hosts for the battle of the great day of God Almighty is in progress. . .the time is come for Messiah to take the dominion of earth and to overthrow the oppressors and corruptors of the earth. . .the time for the glorifying of the Church the body of Christ is nigh at hand.

January 15, 1892 issue of Zion’s Watchtower (p. 1355 or 21-23):

The date of the close of that “battle” is definitely marked in Scripture as October 1914.  It is already in progress, its beginning dating from October 1874. . . The Scriptures show also that the battle of the great day will begin with the church of God, and that the overthrow of the great nominal church systems will precede the overthrow of the present civil powers.

1897 with the publication by the Watchtower Society of the book The Time Is AT Hand. On page 101, it is stated:

Be not surprised, then, when in subsequent chapters we present proofs that the setting up of the Kingdom of God is already begun. . . that the “battle of the great day of God Almighty” (Rev. 16;14) which will end in A.D. 1915, with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced.

By 1912, very clear information appeared in Series II of Studies in the Scriptures also entitled “The Time Is At Hand”:

In this chapter we present the Bible evidence proving that the full end of the times of the Gentiles, i.e., the full end of their lease of dominion, will be reached in, A.D. 1914; and that date the Kingdom of God. . . will obtain full, universal control, and that it will then be “set up,” or firmly established, in the earth, on the ruins of present institutions. (p. 76, 77)

Towards the end of 1914, The Watchtower wrote that the battle of Armageddon was still future, but very near:

While it is possible that the Armageddon may begin next Spring, yet it is purely speculation to attempt to say just when.  We see, however, that there are parallels between the close of the Jewish age and this Gospel age. These parallels seem to point to the year just before us–particularly the early months. (Sept. 1, 1914, pp. 261-263)

The years 1914, 1915 and most of 1916 passed by, but still the world did not end.  In the September 1, 1916, issue of The Watchtower, members of the Society were told that their “eye of understanding” should discern that the “Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty” was already in progress and that the outcome would be Messiah’s kingdom.

By 1917, the new date that members of the Society were to look forward to was 1918.  The reason was given in a book that the Society published that year (1917) called The Finished Mystery:

Until 1878 the nominal church had been in a sense God’s sanctuary or Temple; but He was from then on, culminating in 1918, to remove it with a stroke or plague of erroneous doctrines the churches wholesale and the church members by millions, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russel to learn the meaning of the downfall of “Christianity.” (pp. 484, 485)

Three years passed and as “Christianity” continued to exist, another great event was foretold by the Watchtower Society in a book entitled Millions Now Living Will Never Die, published in 1920:

The chief thing to be restored is the human race to life; and since other Scriptures definitely fix the fact that there will be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other faithful ones of the old, and that these will have the first favor, we may expect 1925 to witness the return of these faithful men of Israel from the condition of death, being resurrected and fully restored to perfect humanity and made the visible, legal representatives of the new order of things on earth. . .

Therefore we may confidently expect that 1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old, particularly those named by the Apostle in Hebrews Chapter eleven, to the condition of human perfection. (pp. 88, 89, 20)

Anticipation grew as the year drew near.  In the May 2, 1922 issue of The Watchtower, it was stated that “1925 is definitely settled by the Scripture,” and that they were to “expect such a climax in the affairs of the world that the people will begin to realize the presence of the Lord and His kingdom power” (p. 100).

After 1925, the Watchtower Society was relatively quiet about exact dates for the end of the world until the late 1960s.  In 1966, they published the book Life Everlasting-In Freedom of the Sons of God, where it was stated:

. . .the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975 C.E.. . . It would not be by mere chance or accident but would be according to the loving purpose of Jehovah God for the reign of Jesus Christ, the “Lord of the Sabbath,” to run parallel with the seventh millennium of man’s existence. . . The blessed time for its introduction is fast approaching.  (p. 81, 82)

The August 15, 1968, issue of The Watchtower gave more detailed information about this in an article entitled “Why Are You Looking Forward to 1975?” The article shows why 1975 is the end of 6,000 years of human history since Adam’s creation, and that the “Sabbath-like thousand-year reign of Christ” might start after the autumn of 1975.  It was also pointed out:

Are we to assume from this study that the battle of Armageddon will be all over by the autumn of 1975, and the long-looked-for-thousand-year reign of Christ will begin by then? Possible. . . Even if one cannot see beyond 1975, is this any reason to be less active? (p. 499, 501)

By May 1974, in the Watchtower publication Kingdom Ministry, the Witnesses were encouraged to accomplish “a great work of Kingdom-preaching before the end of this system comes” (p. 3).  Other exhortations said:

Should we not today be initiating his (Jesus) example, especially since we have such a short time left now in which to complete the Kingdom-preaching?  Yes, the end of this system is so very near. . . 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. (p. 3)

The following chart briefly reviews the different dates and prophecies that were discussed:

1886

  • Messiah will take the dominion of earth and overthrow its oppressors

1914

  • Close of Battle of Great Day of God Almighty
  • Kingdom of God established on earth
  • Farthest limit of the rule of imperfect men

1915

  • End of the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty
  • Complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership
  • Armageddon might begin

1918

  • End of the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty
  • Wholesale destruction of churches and nominal “Christianity”

1925

  • Climax in the affairs of the world
  • Resurrection of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and faithful people listed in Hebrews 11
  • Resurrected beings will head the new order of things on earth

1975-

  • End of 6,000 years of human history
  • Possible date for Armageddon and beginning of Christ’s rule on earth.

Concerning 1975 as the end of the 6,000 years, an earlier issue of The Watchtower (April 1, 1915) stated that the “past six thousand years of the reign of sin and death, have reached their culmination. . . in fulfillment of our heavenly Father’s glorious plans” (p. 101-102).  In other words, 1915 was supposed to be the end of the 6,000 years!


II. The UCCP Statement of Faith

We believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ has overcome the power of death gives assurance of life after death, and we look forward to His coming again in all fullness and glory make all creation new and to gather all the faithful in the Kingdom of God.

As all faithful Christians believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines believes it so.

It is a certain thing to happen because we believe in all the words and promises of the Lord Jesus Christ, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matt. 24:35)

The day of the coming is uncertain. “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32)

 

The Verdict

It is obvious that none of the Watchtower prophecies were fulfilled.  They all failed.  Jesus warned us to be aware of false prophets and not be misled by them. (Matt. 7:15-23; 24:4, 5, 11, 24-28).

According to the test given us by Moses in Deuteronomy 18, The Watchtower Society is a false prophet.  It only takes one false prophecy to make a false prophet, and the Watchtower has been wrong at least six times.  Therefore, we are not to fear it but reject it and its teachings.

 

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References:

UCCP Statement of Faith

Counterfeit, by Donal L. Platt: The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (or Jehovah’s Witnesses); p. 79-82.

The Bible