Hooked by a Promise—The False Prophecy of 1975

By Marlene Mercado (2015)

It was the summer of 1966, and at every district assembly held by Jehovah's Witnesses that year the excitement was at a fever pitch. All of us who were so addicted to “newlight” were more than satisfied with the release of the new book “Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God”. There, in the very first chapter, was a chart of significant dates from man's creation to 7000 A.D. Forget about all the previous dates for the end of the world! Forget about 1914, 1918, 1925, and 1941. They paled in significance to this new information which clearly showed that the end of mankind's 6000 years of existence would be in 1975. Those 6000 years plus the 1000 years of Christ's millennial reign would total the 7000 years of Jehovah God's 7th day of rest. So Armageddon and the New Earth were right around the corner, only 9 years away! And the chronology proved it! This had to be it! As the aforementioned book stated it, “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.”

To understand this, one would have to be aware of the Watchtower Society's viewpoint on creative days. Each creative day was 7000 years; six creative days would total 42,000 years; then God's rest day of 7000 years would bring us to 49,000 years. At the end of this time, which would also be the end of Christ's millennial reign, Christ would turn the whole earth over to Jehovah God in a state of absolute perfection; Jehovah would be done with his rest day, and would again be able to turn his attention toward a perfect earth. This would correspond with the idea of a Jubilee Sabbath year, which in ancient Israel was every 50 years.

For decades then, the Society had been teaching that those who were alive and old enough in 1914 to see the beginnings of the time of the end would also be blessed to see the end of these things. They used Jesus' words in Matthew 24:34 where he says, “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” Every issue of the Awake! magazine declared in its masthead, “Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.” (As late as 1993 they were still publishing this!) I would often think that my father, who was born in 1903, was a perfect example of this. I could rest assured that, if the Witnesses were right, I would never die. I would tell myself that if my father died before the end came, I would then know they were lying. Sure enough, time is the enemy of a false prophet, and it was all just a lie!

Time is ticking

It has now been 40 years since 1975, and a whole new generation of Jehovah's Witnesses arealive and have no memory of these things. Very few people have all the old Watchtower volumes from that era as I do. I personally know a couple who went to serve where the need was great, left Washington State for Missouri, then Alabama, in response to the Watchtower's call. He is now 80 and she 72, and they work at odd jobs such as cleaning people's yards, because their Social Security checks are not big enough to support themselves. They didn’t work enough at a regular job! Nor do they have any savings. The end was too close to worry about mundane things like that. As the Kingdom Ministry of May 1974 stated, “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.” The Watchtower magazine of August 15,1968 said in their article “Why are you Looking Forward to 1975?” the following: “It may involve only a difference of weeks or are 40 years later, and those who listened to the Watchtower organization are living on food stamps and government charity!

For myself, I hoped all this was true, but I adopted a “wait and see” attitude. I wasn't about to quit my job and live in poverty. My husband and I had children to support. The Watchtower was just going to have to settle for what we could do on the weekends! My husband wanted to go back to school to study auto mechanics, and that's what he did! In 1975! He got a lot of flack for this; fellow Witnesses told him that what he was doing made no sense at all. Armageddon was so close; it was a total waste of time! Most Witnesses believed that, and adjusted their lives accordingly. Some borrowed money because they knew they would never have to pay it back; some sold their homes and lived off the proceeds so they could spend all their time in the preaching work. It would be safe to say that millions of people were impacted to a greater or lesser degree.

Well, 1975 came and went, and the WT was very busy doing damage control. They still kept 1914 as a pivotal date, but claimed they had never really predicted that the end would come in 1975. How they tried to wiggle out of their self-imposed dilemma! Check out these quotes from their literature:

“...the Bible record shows...a time lapse between the creation of Adam and that of his wife, Eve....Whether that period amounted to weeks or months or years, we do not know. So we do not know exactly when Jehovah's great rest day began, nor do we know exactly when it will end. The same applies to the beginning of Christ's millennial reign.” From the WT 10/1/1975

“But it is not advisable for us to set our sights on a certain date....If anyone has been disappointed through not following this line of thought, he should now concentrate on adjusting his viewpoint, seeing that it was not the word of God that failed or deceived him and brought disappointment, but that his own understanding was based on wrong premises.” From the WT 7/15/1976

“Considerable expectation was aroused regarding the year 1975....Statements published that implied that such realization of hopes by that year was more of a probability than a mere possibility. It is to be regretted...the publication of the information that contributed to the buildup of hopes centered on that date.” From the WT 3/15/1980

Time is the Watchtower’s enemy

In other words, if I may, time is the enemy of a false prophet. It was all just a lie! But did they learn their lesson from this fiasco? Hard to believe, but they still clung tenaciously to the year 1914 and their “this generation” doctrine. On the May 15, 1984 cover of the WT, sixteen elderly people were pictured with the headline: 1914, The Generation That Will Not Pass Away. Millions of copies of this particular issue were distributed all over the world in scores of languages, presenting these people as tangible proof to all who would see it that it was time to make this biblical promise their own by joining the religion! Sad to say, all 16 of those pictured have now passed away, making this particular WT a colossal treatise on false prophecy! My father, mentioned earlier, died in 1999 at the age of 96. But I hadn't waited until this sad event to leave the Watchtower organization. We left in 1994, primarily over the blood transfusion issue, but also because we could see the deceit and the manipulation occurring as they attempted to cover their tracks regarding the year 1914.

It's been interesting to see how little by little, the Watchtower organization has “adjusted” their view on the end of this system of things. They had to completely change their explanation of what Jesus meant when he spoke about “this generation.” Now it meant “this generation of wicked people,” and since we will always have wickedness among us, the end times could drag on indefinitely! They had to change the masthead of the Awake! Magazine to read, “Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things.” (Compare this statement with the one above to see how they “adjusted” their view!)

Slick literature cannot hide a false prophet

As I was doing the research for this article, I couldn't help but notice how slick and attractive the WT literature is, and inside the pages are many beautiful pictures illustrating Bible stories. But on closer examination, if one is informed, you can see how false doctrine permeates all of it.They subtract from the deity of Christ by claiming He is a created being; they set up their organization as the only way to salvation which amounts to idolatry; and they promote works for salvation as though Christ's sacrifice was not enough. It all just reminds me of the Scripture at 2 Cor. 11:13-15 “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light. It is therefore nothing great if his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness. But their end shall be according to their works.”

It seems fitting to close this article with a quote from Deut. 18:22 from their own New World translation, “when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened at him.” It is so true: time is the enemy of a false prophet!

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