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1917 - Significant Change?

The Watchtower in their efforts to fit the organization’s history into biblical chronology and prophecy they often resort to making misleading statements. As these statements are usually made many years after the actual event the Watchtower hope  that no one will notice. Below is a quote from the Watchtower proclaiming the importance of 1917, the year Babylon the Great fell and the Witnesses where released from the spiritual captivity to the ideas and practices of Christendom’s false religion. Note again how the Watchtower revert to the use of the third person plural whenever they talk about “old light” doctrine, i.e. they and some instead of we.

Watchtower 1989 1st May - Babylon the Great Takes a Fall

It has its parallel in the fall of symbolic Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. In the early part of our 20th century prior to 1919, the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known, had to be released from a form of spiritual captivity to the ideas and practices of false religion. Although having rejected such false teachings as the Trinity and the immortal soul, they were still tainted by Babylonish practices. Many had developed a self-righteous attitude in character development. Some were exalting creatures, indulging in a personality cult that focused on Charles T. Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Without any Biblical basis, they were observing birthdays and Christmas. The cross was still prominent in their thinking. Some even wore a cross-and-crown lapel emblem, while others sought the respectability accorded Christendom. Then, in 1917, shortly after the death of Russell, a significant change began to take place. In that year the Watch Tower Society published a commentary on Revelation under the title The Finished Mystery.


in relation to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Babylon the Great had fallen in 1919. They were free from Babylonish restraint!

So what was this “significant change” in 1917? Well according to the Watchtower it was the publication of the Finished Mystery book. This book was written by Russell before his death in 1916 and taught that

  • 1874 marked  Jesus’ second coming
  • VICARIVS FILII DEI, is calculated to mean 666, as taught by Russell
  • the 1600 furlongs in Revelation 14:20 literally referred to the publication of the Finished Mystery
  • Christendom, its churches and millions of its members would be literally destroyed in 1918
  • 1925 would see the resurrection of ancient worthies, Abraham, Isaac, David, Moses etc
  • The Pyramid at Gizeh was “God’s great stone witness” and the measurement of the passages highlighted the year 1874
  • The leviathan mentioned in Job 40:15 is interpreted literally to mean steam locomotives
  • Pastor Russell was still “managing the harvest work” from the grave!

What about the practices of Christendom that were being followed, was there a significant change in their practice.

  • Christmas was celebrated for a further 10 years
  • Birthdays were celebrated for a further 10 years
  • Pyramidology was taught for another 11 years
  • The Cross was taught for another 20 years
  • Christ’ second coming in 1874 was taught for another 13 years
  • The last days (starting from 1799) were still being taught for another 13 years

The answer is that their was absolutely no change, let alone “significant change”, after 1917 and the Watchtower continued teaching Christendom’s practices for at least a further 10 years and even 20 years with regard the Cross which is allegedly Christendom’s biggest symbol.

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