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Monday, June 2, 2008

Individuals are Unimportant to God's Work

That was a grave responsibility. In order for you to appreciate the position I was in personally, perhaps I should relate an experience I had with C. T. Russell shortly before his death.

Russell always spent the forenoon from eight o'clock until twelve in his study preparing articles for The Watch Tower and any other writing he had to do that called for research on the Bible. Nobody went to the study in the morning unless he was sent for or had something very important, a life or death case.

About five minutes after eight one morning a stenographer fix said to me, "Brother Russell wants to see you in the study."

I thought, "What now?"

I walked up and knocked on the study door. He said, "Come in, brother. Please walk into the drawing room." (This was the room adjoining his study.) "I'll be with you in a moment or two."

When he walked in, with a serious expression on his face, he said, "Brother, are you as deeply interested in the truth as you were when you began?"

I looked surprised.

He continued, "Don't be surprised. That is just a leading question." Then he described his physical condition, and knew enough about pathology to know that he would now live many more months unless he had some relief.

"Now, brother, this is what I want to talk to you about: I am no longer able to take care of the work alone. I must have someone who can be an assistant to the president. The work is increasing rapidly, and it will continue to increase, for there is a world-wide work to be done in preaching the 'gospel of the kingdom' in all the world."

He gave me a word picture of the work that I now see in progress in building up the New World society. He saw it from the Bible. I thought he was talking about something he would like to see, but to me there was not much hope that he would see it.

Then I made an unfortunate remark. "Brother Russell, what you're saying doesn't add up right in my mind."

"What do you mean, brother?"

"Your dying and this work going on. Why, when you die we all will complacently fold our arms and wait to go to heaven with you. We will quit then."

"Brother, if that is your idea, you don't see the issue. This is not man's work; it's God's work. No man is indispensable to its success. Now, you are acquainted with brothers in all parts of the country because of your extensive travel serving congregations. You can tell me who you think would be suitable for the position."

We discussed various ones from different parts of the country who were active workers preaching the kingdom message, but he did not seem to think any one of them would be suitable, or in a position to come to Brooklyn.

I moved to leave then, as it was about 11:30 A.M. There was a sliding door from the drawing room out into the hallway, and he pushed that door open. As I was going out he took hold of my arm and said, "Just a minute. You go to your room and pray to the Lord on this matter and come and tell me if Brother Macmillan will accept this position."

He closed the door and I stood there half dazed. I did think it over, very seriously, and prayed about it for some time before I finally told him I would be happy to do all that I could to assist him.

This was shortly before he went away on his final preaching tour. Before he left he wrote letters to what we then termed the heads of the different departments, outlining their duties and informing them that "A. H. Macmillan is to be in full charge of the office and the Bethel Home during my absence. Anything he says for you to do you must do; it doesn't make any difference whether you agree or not. If he tells you incorrectly, I'll attend to him when I get home." Then he handed me copies of all the letters and said, "You have the skeleton organization. Go to work and do things."

This matter weighed heavily on my mind during the two months preceding that election. Obviously Russell expected the work to go on. I had been willing to assist him in his absence, but the thought of taking full management of the entire organization appalled me. I dismissed it.

Then someone said to me, "Mac, you have a strong chance of getting in yourself. You were Brother Russell's special representative when he was gone, and he told all of us to do it as you say. Well, he went away and never did return. It looks like you're the man to carry on."

"Brother," I said, "that's not the way to look at this matter. This is the Lord's work and the only position you get in the Lord's organization is what the Lord sees fit to give you; and I am sure I'm not the man for the job."

- Faith on the March, 1957 - A. H. Macmillan

Special Note: Regardless of what some might try and say after the fact, Br. Macmillan (who was appointed by Br. Russell as the assistant to the president) supported Br. Rutherford as the second president of the WTB&TS after Br. Russell's death in 1916. Also Br. Van Amburgh who was named as a member of the Editorial Committee (in Br. Russell's will of 1907) also supported Br. Rutherford as the second President of the WTB&TS. Also at the Society’s annual meeting on January 6, 1917, Br. Rutherford was nominated and elected as the president of the Watch Tower Society. And remember, The Watch Tower of November 1, 1917, suggested that a referendum vote be taken by each congregation. By December 15, 813 congregations sent in their votes and the poll indicated that 10,869 of the 11,421 votes were for J. F. Rutherford as the Society’s president. You would have a difficult time reading about this in the Watchtower Reprints offered by the Chicago Bibles Students, this is because they did not print the years 1917 - 1919. However the original Reprints produced by the Watch Tower Society are a complete set. So just go to the Nov. 1, 1917, and the Dec. 15, 1917 issues, for all of the details.


Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was formed on February 16, 1881, with W. H. Conley as president and C. T. Russell as secretary and treasurer. Arrangements were made for the printing to be done by commercial firms in various cities of Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, as well as in Britain. In 1884, Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society was legally incorporated, with C. T. Russell as president, and its charter showed that it was more than a society that would direct publishing. Its real objective was religious; it was chartered for “the dissemination of Bible Truths in various languages.” The Jehovah's Witnesses and Bible Students, view Charles Taze Russell as the first president of the Watch Tower Society from the date that the Society was Legally Incorporated, not the date that the Society was formed. Some anti Watchtower faultfinders have a difficult time comprehending the term Legally Incorporated. Or it could be, they just have to much free time, as they always need to point the finger at the WTB&TS and Jehovah's Witnesses for something. What did Pastor Russell have to say about these type of people:

“All who cut loose from the Society and its work, instead of prospering themselves or upbuilding others in the faith and in the graces of the spirit, seemingly do the reverse—attempt injury to the Cause they once served, and, with more or less noise, gradually sink into oblivion, harming only themselves and others possessed of a similarly contentious spirit. . . . If some think that they can get as good or better provender at other tables, or that they can produce as good or better themselves—let these take their course. . . . But while we are willing that others should go anywhere and everywhere to find food and light to their satisfaction, strange to say, those who become our opponents take a very different course. Instead of saying in the manly fashion of the world, ‘I have found something which I prefer; goodbye!’ these manifest anger, malice, hatred, strife, ‘works of the flesh and of the devil’ such as we have never known worldly people to exhibit. They seem inoculated with madness, Satanic hydrophobia [rabies]. Some of them smite us and then claim that we did the smiting. They are ready to say and write contemptible falsities and to stoop to do meanness.” - Charles Taze Russell, October 1, 1909

Since Brother Russell had played such a prominent role in the work of declaring the good news, he was missed greatly by many Bible Students. “When I read the telegram regarding his death to the Bethel family at breakfast the next morning,” said A. H. Macmillan, “there were moans all over the dining room.” Among God’s people in general there were mixed reactions. Arden Pate, who, incidentally, was an attendant at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio when C. T. Russell gave his last public talk, observes: “Some said, ‘That’s the end of it,’ and for them it was because they didn’t see Jehovah leading his people, but they looked too much to one man.” At Russell’s funeral services on Sunday, November 5, 1916, in the New York City Temple, a number of his close associates spoke of the great loss. However, there were also exhortations to continued faithfulness. Separate services were held at the Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh (Allegheny), Pennsylvania, beginning at 2 p.m. on November 6, with interment in the Bethel Family plot of the Rosemont United Cemeteries, Allegheny, at dusk of that day.

During the morning funeral service in New York city, A. H. Macmillan told about the talk Brother Russell had with him shortly before his death, mentioning also certain steps Russell took in connection with the work at the Society’s headquarters. Then, among other things, Macmillan declared: “The work before us is great, but the Lord will give us the necessary grace and strength to perform it. . . . some faint-hearted workers may think the time has come to lay down our harvesting instruments and wait until the Lord calls us home. This is not the time for slackers to be heard. This is a time for action—more determined action than ever before!”

Nearing the conclusion of his discourse at the evening service, J. F. Rutherford said: “My beloved brethren—we who are here, and all who are in the earth—what shall we do? Shall we slacken our zeal for the cause of our Lord and King? No! By his grace we will increase our zeal and energy, to finish our course with joy. We will not fear nor falter, but will stand shoulder to shoulder, contending for the faith, rejoicing in our privilege of proclaiming the Message of his Kingdom.”

Noteworthy, too, were the remarks of the Society’s secretary-treasurer, W. E. Van Amburgh. At Russell’s services, he stated: “This great worldwide work is not the work of one person. It is far too great for that. It is God’s work and it changes not. God has used many servants in the past and He will doubtless use many in the future. Our consecration is not to a man, or to a man’s work, but to do the will of God, as He shall reveal it unto us through His Word and providential leadings. God is still at the helm.”

For God’s people those were difficult days, indeed. Yet, they looked to Jehovah for aid. (Ps. 121:1-3) God would raise up others to carry major responsibilities in his organization. The preaching work would go on.

Jehovah’s servants had just passed through a trying time, but years of crisis were ahead of them. With the death of C. T. Russell on October 31, 1916, the Watch Tower Society lacked a president. Until its annual meeting on January 6, 1917, an executive committee managed the Society’s affairs. During that period, of course, the question of who would be the next president arose. One day Brother Van Amburgh asked A. H. Macmillan: “Brother, what do you think about it?” “There is only one person, whether you like it or not,” replied Macmillan. “There is only one man who can take charge of this work now, and that is Brother Rutherford.” Taking Macmillan’s hand Brother Van Amburgh said: “I’m with you.” J. F. Rutherford knew nothing about this and did no electioneering for votes. But at the Society’s annual meeting on January 6, 1917, he was nominated and elected as the president of the Watch Tower Society.

- 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS

J. F. Rutherford knew that the annual corporation meeting of January 5, 1918, would afford the dissidents another chance to get control. He was reasonably sure that the Bible Students in general did not favor such a move. Yet, they would have no opportunity to express themselves at the election, since it was a matter to be handled only by members of the legally constituted corporation, the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. So, what could Rutherford do? He could give all of Jehovah’s dedicated servants an opportunity to make expression. Accordingly, The Watch Tower of November 1, 1917, suggested that a referendum vote be taken by each congregation. By December 15, 813 congregations sent in their votes and the poll indicated that 10,869 of the 11,421 votes were for J. F. Rutherford as the Society’s president. Among other things, the referendum vote also showed that all the faithful members of the board of directors as reconstituted in July 1917 were preferred over the rebellious individuals who claimed to be board members.

At the annual shareholders’ meeting on Saturday, January 5, 1918, the seven individuals receiving the highest number of votes were J. F. Rutherford, C. H. Anderson, W. E. Van Amburgh, A. H. Macmillan, W. E. Spill, J. A. Bohnet and George H. Fisher. Not one of the opponents succeeded in establishing himself on the board. The officers of the Society were then elected from the duly chosen board members, J. F. Rutherford receiving all the votes cast for president, Charles H. Anderson all of those for vice-president and W. E. Van Amburgh all the votes for secretary-treasurer. Therefore, these men were duly elected as officers of the Society. The opposers’ attempt to gain control had been foiled completely.

- 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses , WTB&TS

In Br. Rutherford's own words:

The four brethren accuse me of disregarding Brother Russell's will. Such a statement is wholly without foundation. Brother Russell's will was written in 1907. In 1908 Judge Carpenter, who was leading counsel for Brother Russell in some litigation in Pittsburgh involving his voting shares, to my personal knowledge told him that these voting shares could not be transferred by will or in any other manner. The same question came up at the trial against us in the case of the "Brooklyn Eagle," and I discussed this matter with him again.

Brother Russell never changed his will in this regard; in fact, it was sealed up in 1910 and never opened thereafter prior to his death.

Within a short time after his death I informed the Board of the facts above stated and suggested that by voting these shares they were wrong. We would set a precedent, so that if someone else died whose relatives were against the Truth they might vote their shares to the disadvantage of the Society; and with the knowledge and consent of the Board we procured the opinion of a firm of lawyers in writing which was read to the five sisters by Brother Van Amburgh, and they fully agreed that it was not wise to vote those shares. They would have voted for me, and it surely cannot be said that I disregarded the Will for the ulterior motive.

Brother Russell did not by his Will appoint the Board of Directors. The laws of Penna. and the Charter alone can provide for such. There is not a single instance where it can be pointed out that I have disregarded Brother Russell's Will, except when I voted for Brother Sturgeon for the Editorial Committee. It was Brothers Ritchie and Van Amburgh who signed the contract to sell the Photo-Drama, and in that they were supported by the other four brethren. It was Brother Ritchie who first proposed before the Board that the Angelophone be sold to him and that the Society turn over to him the $18,000.00 that was then in the bank to the credit of the Angelophone Company and which belonged to the Society, and that he would assume the contracts outstanding. I prevented this from being done.

In harmony with the laws of New York and to protect the PEOPLES PULPIT ASSOCIATION, and in harmony with Brother Russell's wish, as previously expressed to Brother Cooke, the manufacturing part of the Angelico Company was sold to Brother Cooke and the Society reserved the right to make and furnish the records which it still has.

The Second Edition of the Memorial issue of the WATCH TOWER, which contained a brief biography of myself, was sent out over my repeated protest. Brother Hirsh insisted that it should be done in the interest of the work. The other members of the committee eventually supported him and finally I said: "Brethren, you may do as you please, but you must take the responsibility." Thus it will be seen that the opposition arising has not been caused by any alleged mismanagement or misconduct of affairs. The whole trouble has arisen because of the desire of the brethren named to put Brother Macmillan out of the position in which he was placed by Brother Russell and put themselves in control and so tie my hands that I could practically do nothing. I submit these facts, therefore, to the brethren everywhere in explanation of what I have done, and leave it to your judgment to determine whether or not I acted in the proper manner.

- Harvest Sifting, August 1, 1917, A paper by Joseph F. Rutherford.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Watch Tower Society

Watch Tower Society Takes Over a Work Already Begun

THE Watch Tower Society did not create the Bible Students, nor did it begin the work of disseminating Bible truths and preparing men for the return of our Lord. The Society was formed to expand the work already begun by Charles Taze Russell and his associates.

As a young man Russell followed the command of Jesus to his followers to “keep on the watch.” (Matthew 24:42) He felt strongly that certain denominational creeds, such as predestination and eternal damnation, were contrary to God’s love.

Through a search of the Scriptures, Russell and several likeminded friends came to understand that God purposed to redeem mankind from death through the ransom sacrifice of his only-begotten Son, Christ Jesus. He also came to see that the object of the Lord’s return was not to destroy but to bless all families of the earth by means of God’s Kingdom, and that the manner of the Lord’s presence would be invisible as a spirit in heaven, not visible in the flesh.—Genesis 12:3; 22:18.

To inform others of this timely information Russell and his associates published, in 1873 (1877), the booklet The Object and Manner of the Lord’s Return. Four years later a book was published entitled Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption. In 1879 Russell, along with fellow contributors, began publishing the Watchtower magazine under the title Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

This magazine was published to keep to the fore the doctrine of the ransom and also the blessings to come to mankind as a result of it. The printing of the first issue was 6,000. Russell pledged that, in connection with the publishing of this magazine, they would not beg for money but depend entirely on voluntary contributions. This principle was also applied to all meetings, which were advertised with the slogan “Seats Free—No Collections.”

Further nondenominational Bible research resulted in the publishing of many tracts and pamphlets, some being called Bible Student’s Tracts, Old Theology Quarterly, Tabernacle Teachings, and Food for Thinking Christians. More than a million copies of the last-mentioned pamphlet were distributed.

In the beginning, messenger boys were sometimes hired to distribute literature, but quite early the principle was applied that the message be distributed by the unpaid, voluntary efforts of those who believed, servants of the Lord. Already in 1881 a call was made in Zion’s Watch Tower for volunteers, preachers.

In 1881 and 1882 it was emphasized in Zion’s Watch Tower that all believers should be preachers. For example, the issue of April 1882 stated: “All of our people are preachers . . . we were all given the same commission: ‘Go ye into all the world and preach this glad tiding to every creature.’” In the October 1884 issue the appeal was made to all believers as ‘fellow preachers, ministers of the grace of God . . . let us make full proof of our ministry.’

So from the date of its incorporation in 1884, the Watch Tower Society was to work closely with the Bible Students, a true society of ministers.

Meetings were held regularly by these Bible Students. They were not content to meet just once a week like many of Christendom’s churchgoers. In addition to holding public talks on Sundays, they met in smaller groups in homes at other times during the week. A basic procedure was put into operation for meetings that, apart from public lectures, all in attendance share in the discussion and also have pencil and paper for making notes. This method of conducting meetings continues down to the present time.

It was in 1881, during the early development of these activities, that Zion’s WatchTower Tract Society was formed as a non-incorporated association, to provide funds and direction for expanding the preaching activity through distribution of Bible literature. In 1884 it was decided to incorporate it under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania so that, as a legal instrument not dependent upon the life of any individuals, it could better carry on the work of expanding distribution of Bible literature. This was finalized by the Court of Common Pleas No. 1 of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on December 13, 1884.

By that time the little congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had established these basic principles: nondenominational searching for Bible truths, distributing such in printed form by voluntary workers and supporting this financially by voluntary contributions. During the four years the Society had existed before its incorporation, nearly 200,000,000 pages of tracts, pamphlets and books had been printed and distributed. And this was only the beginning.

- Jehovah's Witnesses Centennial Brochure, 1984, WTB&TS

Seven Times - The Times of The Gentiles

Additional Reading:

In the course of their Bible studies, these searching students took up a consideration of the “times of the Gentiles,” as spoken of by Jesus at Luke 21:24 (AV), and they associated those Gentile Times with the “seven times” mentioned four times in Daniel, chapter four, verses 16, 23, 25, 32. What did those Bible students determine to be the date for those “seven times” of Gentile domination of the earth to end legally before God? Well, at that time there was a monthly magazine being published in Brooklyn, New York, by one George Storrs, and it was called “Bible Examiner.” In the year 1876 the twenty-four-year-old Russell made a contribution on the subject to this magazine. It was published in Volume XXI, Number 1, which was the issue of October, 1876. On pages 27, 28 of that issue Russell’s article was published under the title “Gentile Times: When Do They End?” In that article (page 27) Russell said: “The seven times will end in A.D. 1914.”

In the following year (1877) Russell joined with one Nelson H. Barbour, of Rochester, New York, in publishing a book entitled “Three Worlds, and the Harvest of This World.” In this book it was set forth that the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. would be preceded by a period of forty years marked by the opening of a harvest of three and a half years, beginning in 1874 C.E. This harvest was understood to be under the invisible direction of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose presence or parousia began in the year 1874. Shortly afterward was understood to be the beginning of the great antitypical Jubilee for mankind, that had been foreshadowed by the ancient “jubilee” observances of the Jews under the law of Moses. (Leviticus, chapter twenty-five) According to the Bible chronology that was thereafter adopted, the six thousand years of man’s existence on the earth ended in the year 1872 but the Lord Jesus did not come at the end of those six millenniums of human existence, rather, at the start of the antitypical Jubilee in October of 1874. The year 1874 was calculated as being the end of six millenniums of sin among mankind. From this latter date mankind was understood to be in the seventh millennium.—Revelation 20:4.

From that understanding of matters, the “chaste virgin” class began going forth to meet the heavenly Bridegroom in the year 1874, as they believed him to have arrived in that year and to be from then on invisibly present. They felt that they were already living in the invisible presence of the Bridegroom. Due to this fact, when Charles T. Russell began publishing his own religious magazine in July of 1879, he published it under the title “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” He had already become familiar with Wilson’s The Emphatic Diaglott, which translated the Greek word pa‧rou‧si′a as “presence,” not “coming,” in Matthew 24:3 and elsewhere. The new magazine was heralding Christ’s invisible presence as having begun in 1874. This presence was to continue until the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, when the Gentile nations would be destroyed and the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class would be glorified with their bridegroom in heaven by death and resurrection to life in the spirit. Thus the class pictured by the five wise virgins would enter through the door into the wedding.

As the years passed by and the time drew closer, the remnant of the “chaste virgin” class looked ahead with intensifying interest to that critical date, October 1, 1914. These were a class of Christians separated from this unclean world and fully “consecrated” to God through Christ, and they had symbolized their “consecration” to God by water immersion. They were endeavoring to let their light shine as they approached the time when they expected to meet their Bridegroom in the heavens. Finally the day arrived, October 1, 1914, and on the morning of that day Charles T. Russell as president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society announced to the headquarters staff of workers in Brooklyn, New York: “The Gentile Times have ended and their kings have had their day.”


October, 1876 – The Bible Examiner Vol. XXI. No. 1 Whole No. 313

“Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” -Luke 21:24.

Doubtless our Lord intended to communicate to His disciples some knowledge, and possibly it was addressed more to the disciples in our day, than to the early church.

Let us then search what times the prophecy, which was in Christ, did signify. Of course, if it be one of the secret things of God, we cannot find out; but if a secret, why should Jesus mention it? If, on the contrary, it is revealed it belongs to us. Shall we guess and suppose? No: let us go to God’s treasure-house; let us search the Scriptures for the key.

Jesus does not foretell its treading under foot of the Gentiles, as Rome had her foot upon them at that time. He does tell us, however, how long it will continue so, even the disciples thought “that it was he which should have DELIVERED Israel.”

We believe that God has given the key. We believe He doeth nothing but he revealeth it unto His servants. Do we not find part of the key in Lev. 26:27, 33? “I, even I will chastise you seventimes for your sins: . . . and I will bring your land into desolation . . . and will scatter you among the heathen.” Israel did not hearken unto the Lord, but disobeyed him, and this prophecy is now being fulfilled, and has been since the days of Zedekiah, when God said, “Remove the diadem, take off the crown, . . . I will overturn, overturn, overturn it, . . . until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it unto Him.” Comparing these Scriptures, we learn, that God has scattered Israel for a period of seven times, or until “he comes whose right” the Government is, and puts an endto Gentile rule or government. This gives us a clue at least, as to how long until the Jews aredelivered. Further, Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, the head of gold, is recognized by God as the representative of the beast, or Gentile Governments. “A king of kings and wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, hath God given into his hand.” Dan. 2:38. God had taken the crown off Zedekiah and declared the Image, of which Nebuchadnezzar is the head, ruler of the world until the kingdom of God takes its place (smitingit on its feet); and, as this is the same time at which Israel is to be delivered, (for “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled”), we here get our second clue, viz.: these two events, noted of the Scriptures of truth-“Times of Gentiles,” and“Treading of Jerusalem,” are parallel periods, commencing at the same time and ending at the same time; and, as in the case of Israel, their degradation was to be for seven times, so with the dominion of the Image; it lasts seven times; for, when in his pride the “Head of Gold” ignored“The God of heaven,” the glory of that kingdom (which God gave him, as a representative of the Image,) departed, and it took on its beastly character, which lasts seven times. Dan 4:23 – and, (prefigured by the personal degradation for seven years, of Nebuchadnazzar, the representative) until the time comes when they shall acknowledge, and “give honor to the Most High, whose Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom.” Dan 4:34: for all the ends of the earth shall remember andturn unto the Lord when He is the Governor among the nations.

Our next question naturally, is, How long are seven times? Does God in his word, furnish usany clue from which to determine the length of that period? Yes, in Revelations we learn that three and one-half times, 42 months, and 1260 prophetic days, literal years, are the same (it has for years been so accepted by the church,) and it was so fulfilled: if three and one-half times are 1260 years, seven times would be twice as much, i.e., 2520 years. At the commencement of our Christian era, 606 years of this time had passed, (70 years captivity, and 536 from Cyrus to Christ) which deducted from 2520, would show that the seven times will end in A.D. 1914; when Jerusalem shall be delivered forever, and the Jew say of the Deliverer, “Lo, this is our God, wehave waited for Him and He will save us.” When Gentile Governments shall have been dashed to pieces; when God shall have poured out of his fury upon the nation, and they acknowledge, him King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

But, some one will say, “If the Lord intended that we should know, He would have told usplainlyand distinctly how long.” But, no, brethren, He never does so. The Bible is to be a light to God’s children;--to the world, foolishness. Many of its writings are solely for our edification upon whom the ends of the world are come. As well say that God should have put the gold on top instead of in the bowels of the earth it would be too common; it would lose much of its value. So with truth; but, “to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom.

We will ask, but not now answer, another question: If the Gentile Times end in 1914, (and there are many other and clearer evidences pointing to the same time) and we are told that it shall be with fury poured out; at time of trouble such as never was before, nor ever shall be; a day of wrath, etc., how long before does the church escape? as Jesus says, “watch, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape those things coming upon the world.”

Brethren, the taking by Christ of His Bride, is evidently, one of the first acts in the Judgment; for judgment must begin at the house of God.

W. Philadelphia.

Additional Reading:

The book "Revelation - Its Grand Climax at Hand" (published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society) states in the footnote on p. 105 that "research made it necessary to adjust B.C. 606 to 607 B.C.E." Critics allege that there was no such "research" and that there is "no evidence whatsoever for this new date." Is this true?

The footnote on p. 105 of Revelation - Its Grand Climax at Hand reads: "Providentially, those Bible Students had not realized that there is no zero year between "B.C." and "A.D." Later, when research made it necessary to adjust B.C. 606 to 607 B.C.E., the zero year was also eliminated, so that the prediction held good at "A.D. 1914." — See The Truth Shall Make You Free, published by the Watch Tower Society in 1943, page 239."

What "research" made it necessary to adjust the date 606 B.C.E. to 607 B.C.E.?

The Watchtower of February 1, 1955, states on p. 94: "Jehovah's witnesses from 1877 up to and including the publishing of "The Truth Shall Make You Free" of 1943 considered 536 B.C. as the year for the return of the Jews to Palestine, basing their calculations for the fall of Babylon on secular histories that were inaccurate, not up to date on archaeological evidences. This meant that Jeremiah's seventy years of desolation for Jerusalem ran back from 536 B.C. to 606 B.C., instead of more correctly as now known from 537 B.C. to 607 B.C. (2 Chron. 36:21; Jer. 25:12; Zec. 1:12)"

A more detailed account of this research was presented in the Watchtower of May 1, 1952, pp. 271-2:

21 At this point some will inquire why Charles T. Russell in 1877 used the date 606 B.C. for the fall of Jerusalem whereas The Watchtower of late years has been using 607 B.C. This is because, in the light of modern scholarship, two slight errors were discovered to have been made which cancel each other out and make for the same result, namely, 1914. Concerning the first error, Russell and others considered 1 B.C. to A.D. 1 as being two years whereas in fact this is only one year because, as has been said above, there is no "zero" year in the B.C.-A.D. system for counting years. "The Christian era began, not with no year, but with a 1st year."—The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, p. 102.

22 The second error had to do with not beginning the count of the 2,520 years at the right point in view of historic facts and circumstances. Almost all early Bible chronology ties in with secular history at the year 539 B.C., in which year the fall of Babylon to Darius and Cyrus of the Medes and the Persians occurred. In late years several cuneiform tablets have been discovered pertaining to the fall of Babylon which peg both Biblical and secular historic dates. The one tablet known as the "Nabunaid Chronicle" gives the date for the fall of Babylon which specialists have ascertained as being October 12-13, 539 B.C., Julian Calendar, or October 6-7, 539 B.C., according to our present Gregorian Calendar. This tablet also says that Cyrus made his triumphant entry into Babylon 16 days after its fall to his army. Thus his accession year commenced in October, 539 B.C. However, in another cuneiform tablet called "Strassmaier, Cyrus No. 11" Cyrus’ first regnal year is mentioned and was determined to have begun March 17-18, 538 B.C., and to have concluded March 4-5, 537 B.C. It was in this first regnal year of Cyrus that he issued his decree to permit the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. (Ezra 1:1) The decree may have been made in late 538 B.C. or before March 4-5, 537 B.C.

23 In either case this would have given sufficient time for the large party of 49,897Jews to organize their expedition and to make their long four-month journey from Babylon to Jerusalem to get there by September 29-30, 537 B.C., the first of the seventh Jewish month, to build their altar to Jehovah as recorded at Ezra 3:1-3. Inasmuch as September 29-30, 537 B.C., officially ends the seventy years of desolation as recorded at 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21, so the beginning of the desolation of the land must have officially begun to be counted after September 21-22, 607 B.C., the first of the seventh Jewish month in 607 B.C., which is the beginning point for the counting of the 2,520 years.

As one can plainly see, the Revelation Climax book is truthful in stating that "research made it necessary to adjust B.C. 606 to 607 B.C.E." The false claim advanced by apostates amounts to nothing more than a feeble attempt to "speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves."—Acts 20:30.

Amid these rumblings of industrial, commercial, social and religious changes early voices of small religious groups were heard in their efforts to read the signs of the times and predict the imminent second coming of Jesus, Jehovah’s Christ. Various adventist groups were busy in the United States and Europe, proclaiming a visible return of Christ for 1873 or 1874, even though the American founder of their movement, William Miller, had acknowledged his error and disappointment as to the former set dates of 1843 and 1844. Earlier, the German Lutheran theologian Bengel (1687-1751) had fixed upon 1836 as the marked date for the beginning of the millennium of Revelation 20:6. In Scotland and England others, commonly known as “Irvingites,” raised their voices to announce 1835, 1838, 1864 and finally 1866 for Christ’s return. Christian writers such as Elliott and Cumming looked for the end in 1866, Brewer and Decker predicted 1867 and Seiss favored 1870. In Russia, Claas Epp, a leader of the Mennonite Brethren (Bruedergemeinde), and his associate fixed upon the date of 1889 for a great cosmic happening.(a) But all these widely proclaimed predictions came to complete disappointment because they were not based on accurate Biblical knowledge of Jehovah’s prophecies. Christ’s return was destined to be, not a physical manifestation as they had assumed, but rather, as the Scriptures now clearly indicate, an invisible presence of glory and power to provoke the greatest crisis ever experienced by man on earth.

Still other voices were heard, but these began to proclaim an impending invisible return of the Messiah. One of these groups was led by George Storrs of Brooklyn, New York. He and his associates after 1870 published a magazine entitled The Bible Examiner, setting forth their views that Christ’s return would be an invisible one. Another group headed by H. B. Rice of Oakland, California, published a magazine called The Last Trump, heralding an invisible return as occurring in the 1870’s. A third group comes to our attention, this time of disappointed Second Adventists who forsook that movement because of the failure of the Lord to return in 1873 as the Adventists had further predicted. This group was led by N. H. Barbour. They radiated their activities from Rochester, New York, performing a preaching service by sending out speakers to whatever churches would open their doors to them. They also published a monthly, The Herald of the Morning. One of this group came into possession of B. Wilson’s Diaglott translation of the “New Testament,” noticing in it that, at Matthew 24:27, 37, 39, the word the King James Version rendered coming is translated presence. This was the clue that led this group to advocate an invisible presence of Christ, claiming it began in the fall of 1874.

Yet a fourth voice of proclaimers of an invisible presence of Christ comes to view, a group of sincere students of the Bible at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U. S. A., with its chairman, C. T. Russell. Charles Taze Russell was born in Old Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh) February 16, 1852; he was one of three children of Joseph L. and Eliza Birney Russell. Both parents were Presbyterians of Scottish-Irish lineage. Russell’s father operated a clothing store business. His mother died when he was only nine years old. While still a boy, he used to write Bible texts with chalk on the sidewalks, and although brought up a Presbyterian, he joined the neighborhood Congregational church, because it was more liberal. At fifteen years of age Russell was in partnership with his father in a growing chain of men’s clothing stores. But while things went well for young Russell in business, he was troubled in mind. The doctrines of predestination and eternal punishment gave him particular difficulty, and by the time he was seventeen he had become an avowed skeptic, discarding the Bible and the creeds of the churches.

During the next few months Russell continued to reflect over the subject of religion, unable to accept it, and yet unwilling to let it go. Finally one day in 1870 he dropped into a dusty, dingy little basement hall near his Federal Street store—

“to see if the handful who met there had anything more sensible to offer than the creeds of the great churches. There, for the first time, I heard something of the views of Second Adventists, the preacher being Mr. Jonas Wendell . . . Though his Scripture-exposition was not entirely clear, and though it was very far from what we now rejoice in, it was sufficient, under God, to re-establish my wavering faith in the divine inspiration of the Bible, and to show that the records of the apostles and prophets are indissolubly linked.”

Shortly after this Russell and about five others began to meet together regularly from 1870 to 1875 to make a systematic study of the Bible. Note the following description of the change-over of thinking that was the fruitage of these five years of joint Bible study.

“[We] soon began to see that we were living somewhere near the close of the Gospel age, and near the time when the Lord had declared that the wise, watching ones of his children should come to a clear knowledge of his plan. . . . We came to see something of the love of God, how it had made provision for all mankind, how all must be awakened from the tomb in order that God’s loving plan might be testified to them, and how all who exercise faith in Christ’s redemptive work and render obedience in harmony with the knowledge of God’s will they will then receive, might then (through Christ’s merit) be brought back into full harmony with God, and be granted everlasting life. . . . We came to recognize the difference between our Lord as ‘the man who gave himself,’ and as the Lord who would come again, a spirit being. We saw that spirit-beings can be present, and yet invisible to men. . . . We felt greatly grieved at the error of Second Adventists who were expecting Christ in the flesh, and teaching that the world and all in it except Second Adventists would be burned up in 1873 or 1874, whose time-settings and disappointments and crude ideas generally of the object and manner of his coming brought more or less reproach upon us and upon all who longed for and proclaimed his coming Kingdom. These wrong views so generally held of both the object and manner of the Lord’s return led me to write a pamphlet—The Object and Manner of Our Lord’s Return, of which some 50,000 copies were published.”

In January, 1876, Charles Russell for the first time received a copy of the monthly magazine The Herald of the Morning as published by the Rochester group headed by Nelson H. Barbour. A meeting was soon arranged between Russell and Barbour, since it was discovered that their views were the same concerning Christ’s second coming as being invisible. As a result the Pittsburgh Bible group of nearly thirty decided to affiliate with the Rochester group slightly larger in number. Russell became a joint editor along with Barbour for The Herald of the Morning. The Pittsburgh group on Russell’s initiative agreed to finance a small printing place in Rochester for the joint printing undertakings. It was also decided to publish a bound book containing their joint views, the work being completed by 1877. The 194-page publication was entitled “Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption,” by Barbour and Russell as joint authors. During this time Russell at the age of twenty-five began to sell out his business interests and went full time into the preaching work, going from city to city to talk to various gatherings of the public, on the streets and, Sundays, in Protestant churches, where he could arrange such with the clergy.

This book set forth their belief that Christ’s second presence began invisibly in the fall of 1874 and thereby commenced a forty-year harvest period. Then, remarkably accurately, they set forth the year 1914 as the end of the Gentile times.—Luke 21:24.

“Hence, it was in B.C. 606, that God’s kingdom ended, the diadem was removed, and all the earth given up to the Gentiles. 2520 years from B.C. 606 will end in A.D. 1914, or forty years from 1874; and this forty years upon which we have now entered is to be such ‘a time of trouble as never was since there was a nation.’ And during this forty years, the kingdom of God is to be set up (but not in the flesh, ‘the natural first and afterwards the spiritual’), the Jews are to be restored, the Gentile kingdoms broken in pieces ‘like a potter’s vessel,’ and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and the judgment age introduced.”—Three Worlds or Plan of Redemption, pp. 83, 189.

After two years of affiliation a testing occurred that brought about a parting of the ways. In 1878 Barbour began to fall victim to higher criticism. He published an article in the Herald—“denying that the death of Christ was the ransom price . . . saying that Christ’s death was no more a settlement of the penalty of man’s sins than would the sticking of a pin through the body of a fly and causing it suffering and death be considered by an earthly parent as a just settlement for misdemeanor in his child.”

This plain denial of basic Bible doctrine amazed the Pittsburgh group and Russell. Months of argument ensued in publishing articles in the Herald pro and con on the ransom issue. Finally the Pittsburgh Bible group withdrew association from the Barbour group to undertake a separate Bible publishing work. Many of the Rochester group sided in with Russell and his associates on the ransom issue and they too came over to the Pittsburgh association. This parting proved fatal to the Rochester group, for within a few years the Herald ceased to be published and nothing more has been heard from this early voice sounding the “second coming” call.

- 1955 Watchtower, January 1st, pp. 6 - 8, WTB&TS

(a) The Small Sects in America (1949 revised edition) by E. T. Clark, pp. 33, 34. Catholic Encyclopedia (1910, New York), “Irvingites.” Cyclopædia (McClintock & Strong, 1882, New York), “Millennium”; “Bengel, John Albert.”


Additional Reading:

DURING the first few months of 1914 the clergy and others poured considerable ridicule upon C. T. Russell and the Watch Tower Society for failing to see anything happening to the Gentile nations. But all this ridicule stopped when nation after nation and kingdom after kingdom began cascading into what now is called the first world war. From July 27 onward into August of that year was a time of world-shaking surprises. A typical public-press reaction to the situation was published August 30, 1914, by a leading New York city newspaper, The World. “End of All Kingdoms in 1914” was the arresting headline of a long feature article in that journal’s Sunday magazine section (pages 4 and 17), from which we quote:

“According to the Calculations of Rev. Russell’s ‘International Bible Students,’ This Is the ‘Time of Trouble’ Spoken of by the Prophet Daniel, the Year 1914 Predicted in the Book ‘The Time Is at Hand,’ of which Four Million Copies Have Been Sold, as the Date of the Downfall of the Kingdoms of Earth.

“The terrific war outbreak in Europe has fulfilled an extraordinary prophecy. For a quarter of a century past, through preachers and through press, the ‘International Bible Students’, best known as ‘Millennial Dawners,’ have been proclaiming to the world that the Day of Wrath prophesied in the Bible would dawn in 1914. ‘Look out for 1914!’ has been the cry of the hundreds of travelling evangelists who, representing this strange creed, have gone up and down the country enunciating the doctrine that ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand.’ . . . Although millions of people must have listened to these evangelists, . . . and although their propaganda has been carried on through religious publications and a secular press service involving hundreds of country newspapers, as well as through lectures, debates, study classes, and even moving pictures, the average man does not know that such a movement as the ‘Millennial Dawn’ exists. . . . Rev. Charles T. Russell is the man who has been propounding this interpretation of the Scriptures since 1874. . . . ‘In view of this strong Bible evidence,’ Rev. Russell wrote in 1889, ‘we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God will be accomplished by the end of A.D. 1914.’ . . . But to say that the trouble must culminate in 1914—that was peculiar. For some strange reason, perhaps because Rev. Russell has a very calm, higher-mathematics style of writing instead of flamboyant soap box manners, the world in general has scarcely taken him into account. The students over in his ‘Brooklyn Tabernacle’ say that this was to be expected, that the world never did listen to divine warnings and never will, until after the day of trouble is past. . . . And in 1914 comes war, the war which everybody dreaded but which everybody thought could not really happen. Rev. Russell is not saying ‘I told you so’; and he is not revising the prophecies to suit the current history. He and his students are content to wait—to wait until October, which they figure to be the real end of 1914.”

- March 15, 1955 Watchtower, pp. 173 -174, WTB&TS