After 1948, Hal Lindsey and many fundamentalists, on the basis of Israel and the generation of Luke 21:29-31, predicted that Jesus would return within 40 years of 1948. Excited over the new state of Israel, Billy Graham in 1950 told a rally in Los Angeles, “Two years and it’s all going to be over.” For several years before 1994, Harold Camping of Family Radio fame vigorously predicted on radio and by printed page the return of Jesus in 1994. All of these 20th Century theologians were wrong, but they were never accused of being false prophets.
In 1920 Rutherford predicted that “1925 will mark the return of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the faithful prophets of old” (Millions Now Living Will Never Die, pp. 89-90).
Pastor Russell was the only Christian teacher to accurately predict the date of a major future event (WWI), and he is accused of being a false prophet. Can anyone out there tell me of a Christian Leader who accurately predicted a future date and event based on scriptural evidence and got it right? I will be anxious to hear from you.
In a 1909 Watchtower, page 371, Pastor Russell said, ” While our faith and hopes would be equally clear and logical whether this age ends in October, 1914, or a century later, nevertheless our expectation that “Gentile Times” will conclude October, 1914, undoubtedly has a stimulating effect upon our hearts and influences all of life’s interests and helps to “wean” us from earthly joys and ambitions and to set our affections on things above!”
Notice that Pastor Russell did not say that “this age” would end in 1914, but that he expected the Times of the Gentiles to end in 1914. He indicated our faith would be equally clear even if this Gospel Age continued another hundred years.
In the 1916 forward of “The Time is at Hand,” Pastor Russell said the following.
This Volume sets forth, what its author has been preaching for over forty years, that the “Times of the Gentiles” chronologically ended in the fall of A.D. 1914. The expression, “Times of the Gentiles,” in Bible usage signifies the years, or period of time, in which the Gentile nations of the world were to be permitted to have control, following the taking away of the typical kingdom from natural Israel, and filling the hiatus between that event and the establishment of God’s Kingdom in the hands of Messiah– “whose right it is.” Ezekiel 21:27
We could not, of course, know in 1889, whether the date 1914, so clearly marked in the Bible as the end of the Gentile lease of power or permission to rule the world, would mean that they would be fully out of power at that time, or whether, their lease expiring, their eviction would begin. The latter we perceive to be the Lord’s program; and promptly in August, 1914, the Gentile kingdoms referred to in the prophecy began the present great struggle, which, according to the Bible, will culminate in the complete overthrow of all human government, opening the way for the full establishment of the Kingdom of God’s dear Son…
The author acknowledges that in this book he presents the thought that the Lord’s saints might expect to be with Him in glory at the ending of the Gentile Times. This was a natural mistake to fall into…
Our mistake was evidently not in respect to the ending of the Times of the Gentiles; we drew a false conclusion, however, not authorized by the Word of the Lord. We saw in the Bible certain parallels between the Jewish Age and the Gospel Age. We should have noted that these parallels follow the nominal systems to destruction in both cases, and do not indicate the time of the glorification of the New Creation. This explanation will help the reader as he studies “THE TIME IS AT HAND.”
In the September 1916 Watchtower, Pastor Russell said the following: (R5950, p263)
It still seems clear to us that the prophetic period known as the Times of the Gentiles ended chronologically in October, 1914. The fact that the Great Day of Wrath upon the nations began there marks a good fulfilment of our expectations. The Gentile nations were guaranteed a certain amount of possession and control for a certain period of time. That time having expired, dispossession proceedings are now in process. The winds of strife, winds of war, are let loose with great damage to the whole world, weakening the kingdoms of Europe in respect to their best blood and their financial strength.