THE “MILLIONS CAMPAIGN”
Contributing to disciple-making work in those days was a new preaching activity—the “Millions Campaign.” It featured distribution of the 128-page book Millions Now Living Will Never Die, placed with the people on a contribution of 25c a copy. The book was used in conjunction with a public-speaking program that began on September 25, 1920, and that centered around a lecture (originally entitled “The World Has Ended—Millions Now Living May Never Die”) given by J. F. Rutherford in Los Angeles on February 24, 1918, and published in the new book in 1920.
In retrospect, Lester L. Roper says: “Then came my time for a public talk on the subject ‘Lift Up a Standard for the People, Millions Now Living That Will Never Die.’ I was accustomed to dealing with the public, but that was different. I felt the floor would come up and hit me in the face any time. And I guess it did take intestinal fortitude, as then we had only a very small number in the truth in all the world—and to tell them ‘Millions now living would never die’!”
Millions Now Living Will Never Die eventually was translated and published in various languages. Unlike the “pastoral work,” which had consisted of lending books to the people, copies of the “Millions” book were placed with them on a contribution, and interested persons could later obtain volumes of Studies in the Scriptures. The “Millions Campaign” lasted for some time, and a great witness was given by this means. Newspaper notices and billboards with the words “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” were used to bring it to public attention. So extensive was the campaign that the slogan has been remembered through the years.
Recalling the effect of the “Millions Campaign,” Rufus Chappell writes: “We had offered the publication Millions Now Living Will Never Die in and around Zion [Illinois] and the results were of interest. I remember a large, flashing electric sign over the Waukegan Dry Cleaners building on North Sheridan Road about five miles from Zion, which said, ‘We Dye for the Millions Now Living Who Will Never Die.’ This was a very popular subject at that time, and many people had questioned the phrase and learned the truth from this publication.” - 1975 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS
In the lecture “Millions Now Living Will Never Die,” delivered by J. F. Rutherford on March 21, 1920, at the Hippodrome in New York City, attention was directed to the year 1925. On what basis was it thought to be significant? In a booklet published in that same year, 1920, it was pointed out that if 70 full Jubilees were calculated from what was understood to be the date when Israel entered the Promised Land (instead of starting after the last typical Jubilee before the Babylonian exile and then counting to the beginning of the Jubilee year at the end of the 50th cycle), this could point to the year 1925. On the basis of what was said there, many hoped that perhaps the remaining ones of the little flock would receive their heavenly reward by 1925. This year also was associated with expectations for resurrection of faithful pre-Christian servants of God with a view to their serving on earth as princely representatives of the heavenly Kingdom. If that really occurred, it would mean that mankind had entered an era in which death would cease to be master, and millions then living could have the hope of never dying off the earth. What a happy prospect! Though mistaken, they eagerly shared it with others. - Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, WTB&TS
ANNOUNCING HOPE FOR MILLIONS
The Watch Tower magazine published a full report of the convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1919, and this gave a fillip to the activity in Britain. On August 25, 1920, President Rutherford and others from Brooklyn began a lecture tour of Britain. The public address was entitled “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” Up and down the land, packed halls, overflow meetings and thousands not getting in, marked the public response. This lecture was the high point of a four-day convention in London, where the brothers distributed more than 400,000 leaflets for a meeting that overflowed the Royal Albert Hall.
Toward the close of 1920 the Society published Golden Age No. 27, a twenty-page outsize issue of a new magazine. It gave authentic reports on persecutions of God’s people in England, Canada, America, Germany and other lands. It exposed the part Christendom’s religion and its leaders had played. It pointed out the reason for these attacks and declared that Christendom as well as the entire system was doomed. It exposed the League of Nations. It predicted extensive Communism and anarchy. But, above all, it pointed to the remedy for all humankind’s trouble. The campaign with this magazine, planned to start on December 1, 1920, called for a copy to be left at each home. Two weeks later, at a second visit, the caller would invite the householder to contribute for the magazine. Some made a contribution, but some made a fuss because of their distaste for its message.
In 1922 came another tour of Britain by Brother Rutherford again to present the “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” lecture, and again to capacity audiences. In 1925, at conventions during April and May, the same halls were used and again were rapidly packed, and, in many cases, crowds had to be turned away. By the end of that year 1925, there were 355 congregations in Britain and 167 full-time colporteurs besides 96 part-time workers, then known as “auxiliaries.”
Following the lead given by Brother Rutherford, speakers traveled throughout the land giving the same address, “Millions Now Living Will Never Die,” in cinemas, halls, any kind of meeting place that could be rented. Large-scale advertising in newspapers and with tracts and posters drew the attention of the public. The brothers would hire a hall, sometimes in an outlying district, advertise the meeting intensively, give the address, and then cover the territory with the book Millions Now Living Will Never Die. For the first year’s campaign, a quarter of a million books were printed and lectures were given to hundreds of thousands of people. There have been very few statements at any time that have made a greater impact on the public mind than that confident declaration “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” - 1973 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS
1925—A CRITICAL YEAR
The year 1925 got off to a good enough start, with the French Watch Tower magazine being enlarged from 12 to 16 pages. Also, the tract entitled “Ecclesiastics Indicted” was distributed in France, many copies right outside the churches. In the whole of the French-speaking field, over two million of these tracts were put out!
Brother Rutherford visited France once again in May of 1925. He was scheduled to give the talk, “The Frauds of the Clergy Exposed,” at the great Trocadéro Palace overlooking the river Seine opposite the Eiffel Tower. Brothers from the north of France had come down to Paris a week beforehand to help the local brothers advertise it. But the large-sized handbills quickly got into the hands of the Catholic clergy, who put pressure on the police to stop this street advertising. As a result, some of the brothers were arrested.
About 2,000 persons responded to the invitation and came to the talk. Brother Rutherford began to speak when suddenly about 50 priests and members of Catholic Action, armed with sticks, rushed into the hall singing the Marseillaise (the French national anthem). Three times, Brother Rutherford left the stage and then came back. Opposers were shouting: ‘If he’s a judge, let him go judge the Americans!’ The August 1, 1925, Watch Tower reported:
“While a greater mass of the audience were opposed to the clergy, yet . . . they were bantering with each other and paid no attention to the speaker; and it was impossible to address them. . . . it became absolutely necessary to abandon the meeting.”
That same year of 1925 sparked off even greater difficulties within the organization. The book Millions Now Living Will Never Die had been widely used in the French field since 1921, and on the basis of its contents, much was expected of 1925. But when 1925 came and went without the anticipated happenings coming to pass, those on the outside who had read the book made fun of the brothers. Brother Jules Anache in Sin-le-Noble writes: “We were scoffed at by our enemies who wrote articles, one of which was entitled ‘Millions now living will never die if they take Pink pills,’ referring to a remedy that was popular at the time.”
Worse still, the faith of some of the brothers themselves was shaken. Some expected to go to heaven that year. This brought about siftings in the congregations, particularly in Alsace. Sister Anna Zimmermann writes: “Unjustified hopes brought about great testings. Many gave up.”
Indicative of this testing was the question meeting held by Brother Rutherford during the Basel, Switzerland, assembly, which took place May 1-3, 1926. The report on this convention stated:
“Question: Have the ancient worthies returned?“Answer: Certainly they have not returned. No one has seen them, and it would be foolish to make such an announcement. It was stated in the ‘Millions’ book that we might reasonably expect them to return shortly after 1925, but this was merely an expressed opinion.”A mistake had been made but, as Brother Rutherford stated, this was no reason to stop serving the Lord. Yet some did, and so that period marked further siftings in the French field. Figures published in the French Watch Tower show that in 1925 there were 93 present at the Memorial in the Mulhouse Congregation in Alsace, whereas in 1927 the Memorial attendance had dropped to 23. - 1980 Yearbook of Jehovah's Witnesses, WTB&TS
As we have heretofore stated, the great jubilee cycle is due to begin in 1925. At that time the earthly phase of the kingdom shall be recognized. The Apostle Paul in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews names a long list of faithful men who died before the crucifixion of the Lord and before the beginning of the selection of the church. These can never be a part of the heavenly class; they had no heavenly hopes; but God has in store something good for them. They are to be resurrected as perfect men and constitute the princes or rulers in the earth, according to his promise. (Psalm 45:16; Isaiah 32:1; Matthew 8:11) 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. - Millions Now Living Will Never Die, published in 1920, WTB&TS.
At the time, it was believed that faithful men of old times, such as Abraham, Joseph, and David, would be resurrected before the end of this system of things and would serve as “princes in all the earth,” in fulfillment of Psalm 45:16. This view was adjusted in 1950, when further study of the Scriptures indicated that those earthly forefathers of Jesus Christ would be resurrected after Armageddon.—See “The Watchtower,” November 1, 1950, pages 414-17.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, in their eagerness for Jesus’ second coming, have suggested dates that turned out to be incorrect. Because of this, some have called them false prophets. Never in these instances, however, did they presume to originate predictions ‘in the name of Jehovah.’ Never did they say, ‘These are the words of Jehovah.’ The Watchtower, the official journal of Jehovah’s Witnesses, has said: “We have not the gift of prophecy.” (January 1883, page 425) “Nor would we have our writings reverenced or regarded as infallible.” (December 15, 1896, page 306) The Watchtower has also said that the fact that some have Jehovah’s spirit “does not mean those now serving as Jehovah’s witnesses are inspired. It does not mean that the writings in this magazine The Watchtower are inspired and infallible and without mistakes.” (May 15, 1947, page 157) “The Watchtower does not claim to be inspired in its utterances, nor is it dogmatic.” (August 15, 1950, page 263) “The brothers preparing these publications are not infallible. Their writings are not inspired as are those of Paul and the other Bible writers. (2 Tim. 3:16) And so, at times, it has been necessary, as understanding became clearer, to correct views. (Prov. 4:18)”—February 15, 1981, page 19. - March 22, 1993 Awake, http://jehovah.to/xlation/fp.html
“As for you, beloved ones, call to mind the sayings that have been previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how they used to say to you: ‘In the last time there will be ridiculers, proceeding according to their own desires for ungodly things.’ These are the ones that make separations, animalistic men, not having spirituality.” (Jude 17-19) Beloved ones, this is now the second letter I am writing YOU, in which, as in my first one, I am arousing YOUR clear thinking faculties by way of a reminder, that YOU should remember the sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through YOUR apostles. For YOU know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep [in death], all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.” (2 Peter 3: 1-4)