In the October 2021 issue of The Watchtower, there is a final article titled “1921 One Hundred Years Ago”. It shows a picture of a book published in that year. Here it is. The Harp of God, by J. F. Rutherford. There is something wrong with this picture. Do you know what it is? I’ll give you a hint. That is not the book that was published that year, well, not exactly. What we are seeing here is a bit of revisionist history. Well, what’s so bad about that, you might say?
Good question. Here are some Bible principles I’d like us to bear in mind before we find out what is wrong with this picture.
Hebrews 13:18 reads: “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a [clean] (sic) conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18, ESV)
Then Paul tells us that we should “put away falsehood, [and] let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are [all] (sic) members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:25 ESV)..
Finally, Jesus tells us that “Whoever is faithful with very little will also be faithful with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10 BSB)
Now what is wrong with this picture? The article is talking about events pertaining to the Watch Tower Society from one hundred years ago, in the year 1921. On page 30 of the October 2021 current issue, under the subtitle “A NEW BOOK!”, we are informed that this book The Harp of God came in November of that year. It did not. This book came out four years later, in 1925. Here is The Harp of God that came out in 1921.
Why are they not showing the cover of the actual book they are referring to in the article? Because on the front cover, it reads “PROOF CONCLUSIVE THAT MILLIONS NOW LIVING WILL NEVER DIE”. Why are they hiding that from their followers? Why are they not, as Paul said, ‘speaking truth with their neighbor’? You may think it is a little thing, but we just read where Jesus said that “whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”
What does that title really mean?
Returning to the article in the current Watchtower, the October 2021 issue, we read in the introduction:
“WHAT, therefore, is the particular work that we can see immediately before us for the year?” The Watch Tower of January 1, 1921, posed this question to eager Bible Students. In answer, it quoted Isaiah 61:1, 2, which reminded them of their commission to preach. “Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek . . . , to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God.”
I’m sure that any Jehovah’s Witnesses reading that today will just jump to the conclusion that the “particular work” in question is the preaching of the good news just like Jehovah’s Witnesses do today. No!
Back then, what was the acceptable year of the Lord? It was a very specific year. 1925!
The Bulletin of October 1920, a monthly publication of the Watch Tower Society, provided the Bible Students of the time with this direction for preaching:
I’m going to have to pause while reading this because there are a number of inaccuracies that need to be identified. I’m using the term “inaccuracies” to avoid another more pejorative term.
“Do you know that millions now living will never die?
“I mean just what I say—that millions now living are never going to die.
“ ‘The Finished Mystery’, the posthumous work of Pastor Russell, tells why there are millions now living who will never die; and if you can keep alive until 1925 you have excellent chances of being one of them.
This was not the posthumous work of Russell. The book was written by Clayton James Woodworth and George Herbert Fisher without authorization by the Watch Tower Executive Committee, but by the decree of Joseph Franklin Rutherford.
“Since 1881 everybody ridiculed Pastor Russell and the International Bible Students Association’s message that the Bible prophesied a world war in 1914; but the war came on time, and now the message of his final work, ‘millions now living will never die’, is being regarded seriously.
The Bible did not prophecy a world war in 1914. If you doubt that, check out this video.
“It is an absolute fact, stated in every book of the Bible, foretold by every prophet of the Bible. I believe you will agree that this subject is well worth a few evenings’ time for investigation.
Okay, this is just an outrageous lie. Every book of the Bible, every prophet of the Bible, all speak about millions now living never dying? Please.
“ ‘The Finished Mystery’ can be had for $1.00.
“In order that those living may be aware of the actual existence of this period, The Golden Age, a bi-weekly magazine, deals with current events that mark the institution of the Golden Age—the age when death will cease.
Well, that sure didn’t work out as planned, did it?
“A year’s subscription is $2.00, or both book and magazine can be had for $2.75.
“ ‘The Finished Mystery’ tells why millions now living will never die, and The Golden Age will reveal cheer and comfort behind the dark and threatening clouds—both for two-seventy-five” (don’t say dollars).
They truly believed that the end was going to come in 1925, that the ancient faithful ones like Abraham, King David, and Daniel would be resurrected to life on earth and would live in the United States. They even purchased a 10-bedroom mansion in San Diego, California to house them and called it “Beth Sarim“.
That piece of history of the organization is factual and exists in writing, and in the hearts and minds of disappointed men and women—as the end did not come and ancient faithful ones were nowhere to be seen. Now, we might excuse all of that as just the types of well-intentioned mistakes that imperfect over-zealous men can make. I’m sure I would have, had I known of all this when I was a fully committed Jehovah’s Witness. Of course, it is a false prophecy. That cannot be disputed. They prophesied something would happen and put that prediction in writing, so that makes them, by the definition of Deuteronomy 18:20-22, a false prophet. Yet, given that, I would have still overlooked it, because of years of conditioning. Nevertheless, such things were beginning to trouble me as we entered the 21st century.
Years ago, when I was having dinner with some JW friends, a former pioneer and her former Bethelite husband, I found myself complaining about things within the organization. They grew troubled and asked me what I was really upset about. I found I couldn’t put it into words at first, but after a few minutes of thought, I said, “I would just like them to own up to their mistakes.” I was deeply troubled that they never apologized for any misinterpretation, and usually laid the blame on others, or have used the passive verb tense to evade direct responsibility, for example, “it was thought” (See w16 Questions From Readers). They still haven’t owned up to the 1975 fiasco, for instance.
What we have in this article is not merely an example of the organization not owning up to a past mistake, but actually going out of their way to cover it up. Is that really something we should be concerned about? For the answer, I will let the organization speak.
In discussing why we can believe the Bible is really the word of God, the 1982 Watchtower had this to say:
Something else that identifies the Bible as coming from God is the candor of its writers. Why? For one thing, it is contrary to fallen human nature to admit one’s mistakes, especially in writing. In this, the Bible is distinguished from other ancient books. But, more than that, the candor of its writers assures us of their overall honesty. reveal their weaknesses and then make false claims about other things, would they? If they were going to falsify anything, would it not be unfavorable information about themselves? So, then, the candor of the Bible writers adds weight to their claim that God guided them in what they wrote down.—2 Timothy 3:16.
(w82 12/15 p. 5-6)
The candor of Bible writers assures us of their overall honesty. Hmm, would not the reverse also be true. If we find there is no candor, would that not make us suspicious about the truth of what they were writing? If we apply those words now to the writers of the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses, how do they fair? To again quote from the 1982 Watchtower: “After all, they would not likely reveal their weaknesses and then make false claims about other things, would they? If they were going to falsify anything, would it not be unfavorable information about themselves?”
Hmm, “if they were going to falsify anything, would it not be unfavorable information about themselves”?
I never knew about the organization’s failed prophecy about 1925 until after I left the organization. They kept that embarrassment away from all of us. And to this day, they continue to do so. Since older publications, like The Harp of God, have been removed from the libraries of all the Kingdom halls around the world by decree of the governing body some years ago, the average witness would look at this picture and think that this was the book filled with Bible truth that was actually published in 1921. They would never know that this cover had been altered from the original cover published in 1921 which contained the embarrassing claim that the book contained conclusive proof that millions then alive would see the end, an end which another book of the time, the 1920 edition of Millions Now Living Will Never Die, claimed would come in 1925.
We might be able to overlook the many mistakes the organization has made if they had imitated the Bible writers by candidly admitting their errors and repenting for them. Instead, they go out of their way to hide their mistakes by altering and rewriting their own history. If the candor of Bible writers gives us reason to believe that the Bible is authentic and truthful, then the opposite must also be true. The lack of candor and the intentional covering up of past sins, is an indication that the organization cannot be trusted to reveal the truth. This is what legal experts would call, “the fruit of the poisoned tree”. This deception, this constant rewriting of their own history to hide their failings, calls every teaching of theirs into question. Trust has been destroyed.
The writers of the Watchtower should ponder these scriptures prayerfully.
“Lying lips are detestable to Jehovah, But those acting faithfully bring pleasure to him.” (Proverbs 12:22)
“For we care for everything honestly, not only in the sight of Jehovah but also in the sight of men.’” (2 Corinthians 8:21)
“Do not lie to one another. Strip off the old personality with its practices,” (Colossians 3:9)
But sadly, they will not listen to what their own Bible tells them to do. The reason is that they serve their masters, the members of the Governing Body, not our Lord Jesus. As he himself warned: “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. . . .” (Matthew 6:24)
Thank you for your time and support.