Mankind at the Crossroads by 1914—Why?
LIVING now in 1973, why should you be interested in the year 1914? Because—whether you were alive back then or not—you are affected by what took place in that year.
Since 1914 the whole world has become like a spaceship that has gone out of control, moving faster and faster toward grave danger. To know why this situation has come about we need to understand the chain of events that began in that year.
Compared with our violent twentieth century, the previous century is rightly described as “a century of peace.” In 1914 World War I broke out and changed all this. To appreciate just how great the change has been, consider the way historian A. J. P. Taylor describes continental Europe before the start of World War I:
“In 1914 Europe was a single civilized community, more so even than at the height of the Roman Empire. A man could travel across the length and breadth of the Continent without a passport until he reached the frontiers of Russia. . . . He could settle in a foreign country for work or leisure without legal formalities except, occasionally, some health requirements. Every currency was as good as gold, though this security rested ultimately on the skill of financiers in the City of London. There were common political forms. . . . Nearly everywhere men could be sure of reasonably fair treatment in the courts of law. No one was killed for religious reasons. No one was killed for political reasons, despite the somewhat synthetic bitterness often shown in political disputes. Private property was everywhere secure.”—“From Sarajevo to Potsdam.”
Where can you find conditions like that today—in Europe or anywhere else on earth? As Joseph Wood Krutch states:
“World War I [1914-1918] . . . put an end to several centuries of increasing optimism, comfort, self-confidence, and the sense that the future of civilization was secure because it had at last found the right road.”
Great Turning Point
The year 1914 marked far more than the end of the comparative peacefulness that had so long prevailed. It marked a crucial turning point in the history of the world of mankind, the start of a time of crisis that is finally nearing its climax. Looking back in history, this is what observers now say:
“As time has passed since the days of August, 1914, it has become increasingly clear that the outbreak of the First World War meant the end of an age.”—“The Norton History of Modern Europe.”
“World War I was a significant milestone on the highway of world events. It marked the end of one epoch and the beginning of another.”—Colonel R. Ernest Dupuy, introduction to the book “World War I: A Compact History.”
But what of the second world war, which ended in 1945 with atomic explosions? Does not this mark the real turning point for mankind? No! answer historians. And they show why not. Consider:
“The war of 1914-1918 is sometimes called the First World War and sometimes the Great War. The second is the proper title, for it was a turning point of history. The Second World War, and the Cold War, are only the heavings of the troubled earth as it tries to make a stable pattern out of the new emotions, new conditions, and new organisms thrown up by the Great War [of 1914-1918].”—John Masters, “Fourteen Eighteen.”
“More and more historians look back upon World War I as the great turning point of modern history, the catastrophic collapse which opened the way for others.”—D. F. Fleming, “The Origins and Legacies of World War I.”
The Turning Point Foreseen—by Whom?
But did you know that, long before 1914—in fact, more than a quarter of a century before—persons were pointing ahead to that year as one to be of great significance for all mankind? History shows that sincere Bible students, known today as Jehovah’s witnesses, did just that. Note this:
Back on August 30, 1914, the New York World, in its magazine section, said, “The terrific war outbreak in Europe has fulfilled an extraordinary prophecy.” It went on to state:
“For a quarter of a century past, through preachers and through press, the ‘International Bible Students’ [Jehovah’s witnesses] . . . have been proclaiming to the world that the Day of Wrath prophesied in the Bible would dawn in 1914.
“‘Look out for 1914!’ has been the cry of the hundreds of travelling evangelists who, representing this strange creed, have gone up and down the country enunciating the doctrine that ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand.’”
Why did they point forward to 1914—the very year historians now say was the “turning point” of modern history—as a marked date? Bible prophecy led them to do so.
Seeing Jesus’ reference to the “appointed times of the nations” at Luke 21:20-24, they wanted to learn how long these “times” were due to run and when God’s kingdom by his Son would go into action, taking control of earth out of the hands of the political nations. (Dan. 2:44) They knew that God had long had a representative kingdom functioning on earth in the kingdom of Judah, its kings being said to sit ‘on Jehovah’s throne’ as his representatives. (1 Chron. 29:23) But that kingdom had been overturned in the year 607 B.C.E. when the head of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, Nebuchadnezzar (II), crushed it. Well, then, if the “appointed times of the nations” for exclusive domination of earth began then, how long would their time run? When would it end? And what would this mean for us today?
A further link in the chain of evidence was found in the prophecy of Daniel, to which Jesus twice referred when prophesying about the setting up of his kingdom. (Compare Matthew 24:15, 21 with Daniel 11:31; 12:1.) The evidence there was that the “appointed times” would be seven in number. (Dan. 4:16, 23)a How much time would such “seven times” cover?
At Revelation 12:14 reference was made to “a time and times and half a time” or ‘three and a half times’ (“three years and a half,” New English Bible; also The New American Bible; The Jerusalem Bible). This same chapter, Re 12 verse 6, shows that these ‘three and a half times’ equal 1,260 days. Seven times, logically, would be double that: 2,520 days.
But after 2,520 days from the fall of God’s representative kingdom in Judah nothing had changed. And, since Jesus stated that the “appointed times of the nations” were still in progress in his day, six centuries after Judah’s overthrow, it is clear that more than 2,520 days are involved. What then?
Once more the Bible supplied the key. It revealed God’s use in prophecy of a day to stand for a year. (See Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6.) Applying this Biblical formula of “a day for a year,” the seven times amount to 2,520 years. So counting from 607 B.C.E. when the Gentile nations gained exclusive domination of the earth, when do those “appointed times” end?
The answer is 1914. Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to that year as early as 1876 in an article written by C. T. Russell and published in the Bible Examiner. Thirty-eight years later that marked year of 1914 arrived. With it came the outbreak of World War I and the multitude of drastic changes accompanying it.
Before This Generation Ends
Nevertheless, what does that mean for us today? Why place such great importance on the fact that the date of this particular turning point was foreseen through Bible prophecy? After all, here we are almost sixty years later. Of the people living in 1914 of sufficient age to know what was going on, most are not even living now, and those who do remain are up in years, old.
This is precisely why these matters considered are so important, vitally important, to all of us. Not only was the date of the world’s turning point foretold but the conditions that would follow were also foretold, and it was revealed just where mankind’s present course is leading, what its final result will be. And, very important for us, it was foretold that such final result would take place within the lifetime of just one generation, the generation that was alive in 1914.
Christ Jesus, the most renowned prophet in human history, was the one foretelling this. His prophecy was twofold. It would have a first fulfillment in that time (the first century of the Common Era) and a far greater fulfillment coming at the time for God’s Messianic kingdom to go into action on the world scene. In the prophecy, Jesus said: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all things occur.” (Matt. 24:34; Rev. 21:2-4) What has been the result?
What he said proved true in the first century. The first fulfillment of the prophecy became a matter of historical record less than forty years later—in the lifetime of those hearing the prophecy.
Jesus had foretold Jerusalem’s utter destruction and the scattering of the Jewish nation. (Luke 21:5, 6, 20-24; compare Luke 19:41-44.) That is precisely what happened in the year 70 C.E. when Rome’s legions desolated Jerusalem.
We can be equally sure that, of the generation alive in 1914, some will see the major fulfillment of Christ Jesus’ prophecy and the destruction with which it culminates. This means that mankind is now in the most crucial time of its history, when the rule of this earth and of all human affairs will pass from the hands of imperfect political rulers and come to rest with a righteous government of God’s own making.
Why can we be sure of this? Again, is it simply because a certain date—1914—was foreseen as a point of world change? Is that all there is to guarantee that the “generation” foretold in Jesus’ prophecy dates from that time? By no means. There is a host of other reasons for having solid conviction that this is the case.
This is because Christ Jesus included in his prophecy a sign,—a sign with numerous features that would positively identify the generation due to see his prophecy for our time fulfilled.
Do we today see that sign for our time? And, since the major fulfillment of the prophecy applies not to a single nation, but to all mankind everywhere, do we see this sign—all its features—on a global scale, earth wide?
a For clear evidence as to why this prophecy has a later and greater fulfillment beyond its initial application to Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar II, please see the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, pp. 174-181; also the book Aid to Bible Understanding, pp. 94-96.
[Diagram on page 19]
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1914, START OF FORETOLD “LAST DAYS”
END OF OLD ORDER
START OF GOD’S NEW ORDER
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SEVEN SYMBOLIC TIMES
607 B.C.E. 1914 C.E.
In 607 B.C.E. God’s typical kingdom of Judah fell, and the Gentile kingdoms ruled the whole earth. In 1914 C.E. the “appointed times of the nations” ended, and “the kingdom of the world” was given to Christ
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Millennial Dawners” 25 Year Prophecy
The World Magazine, August 30, 1914