The Real Significance of 1914
AS INDICATED on page 4, “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.”
No doubt many of our readers find that statement surprising. Yet, as far back as December 1879—some 35 years before 1914—The Watchtower (then known as Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence) gave Bible evidence proving that 1914 would be a significant year. Even before this—in the middle of the 19th century—other students of the Bible had hinted that 1914 was possibly a year marked in Bible prophecy.*
Prophecy has been described as history written in advance. This feature of the Bible gives evidence of its divine origin. In addition to telling us of future events, the Bible sometimes gives the length of time that will elapse before something is to occur. Some of these specific prophecies refer to a few days, some to years, and others to centuries.
Daniel, who prophesied about the time for the Messiah’s first appearance, also revealed when the Messiah would return for his “presence” at what is called “the time of the end.” (Daniel 8:17, 19; 9:24-27) This Bible prophecy stretches over a long period of time, not for just a few hundred years, but for more than two millenniums—2,520 years! At Luke 21:24, Jesus calls this period “the appointed times of the nations.”*
1914 Initiates a Time of Distress
The fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that we have been living in the time of the end since 1914. Jesus described this time as ‘beginning with pangs of distress.’ (Matthew 24:8) At Revelation 12:12, we read: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” This explains why the world has been in greater turmoil since 1914.
This time of the end is, however, to be a relatively short period—stretching over one generation. (Luke 21:31, 32) The fact that we are now 80 years beyond 1914 indicates that we can soon expect the deliverance that God’s Kingdom will bring. This means that we will see “the lowliest one of mankind”—Jesus Christ—take complete control of “the kingdom of mankind” and bring about a peaceful and just new world.—Daniel 4:17.
In 1844, a British clergyman, E. B. Elliott, drew attention to 1914 as a possible date for the end of the “seven times” of Daniel chapter 4. In 1849, Robert Seeley, of London, dealt with the subject in like manner. Joseph Seiss, of the United States, pointed to 1914 as a significant date in Bible chronology in a publication edited about 1870. In 1875, Nelson H. Barbour wrote in his magazine Herald of the Morning that 1914 marked the end of a period that Jesus called “the appointed times of the nations.”—Luke 21:24.
For a detailed explanation of Daniel’s prophecy, see Reasoning From the Scriptures, pages 95-7, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
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Comments About 1914 and After
“It may be that, after the seeming inevitability of two world wars, the creation of nuclear weapons was an admonitory gift, which spared us a third clash of great nations and introduced the longest period of general peace, albeit a peace of terror, since Victorian times. . . . What had gone wrong with humanity? Why had the promise of the nineteenth century been dashed? Why had the twentieth century turned into an age of horror or, as some would say, evil?”—A History of the Modern World—From 1917 to the 1980s, by Paul Johnson.
“Of all the convulsive transformations of the European system, the Great War and the peace settlement brought about the sharpest break with the past, economically and socially no less than politically. . . . The mellow glory of that freely operating and productive system had vanished in the catastrophe of war. Instead, Europe had to cope with economic exhaustion and universal economic dislocation. . . . The damage was so great that the European economy did not recover from stagnation and instability before the next world war struck.”—The World in the Crucible 1914-1919, by Bernadotte E. Schmitt and Harold C. Vedeler.
“In the Second World War every bond between man and man was to perish. Crimes were committed by the Germans under the Hitlerite domination to which they allowed themselves to be subjected which find no equal in scale and wickedness with any that have darkened the human record. The wholesale massacre by systematised processes of six or seven millions of men, women, and children in the German execution camps exceeds in horror the rough-and-ready butcheries of Genghis Khan, and in scale reduces them to pigmy proportions. Deliberate extermination of whole populations was contemplated and pursued by both Germany and Russia in the Eastern war. . . . We have at length emerged from a scene of material ruin and moral havoc the like of which had never darkened the imagination of former centuries.”—The Gathering Storm, Volume I of The Second World War, by Winston S. Churchill.
“There is now a recognition of the human rights of people of all classes, nations, and races; yet at the same time we have sunk to perhaps unheard-of depths of class warfare, nationalism, and racialism. These bad passions find vent in cold-blooded, scientifically planned cruelties; and the two incompatible states of mind and standards of conduct are to be seen to-day, side by side, not merely in the same world, but sometimes in the same country and even in the same soul.”—Civilization on Trial, by Arnold Toynbee.
“Like a ghost that lingered past the appointed hour, the nineteenth century—with its essential orderliness, its self-confidence, and its faith in human progress—had tarried until August 1914, when the major European powers suffered a collective attack of muddleheadedness that led directly to the senseless slaughter of millions of the best young men of a generation. Four and a half years later, as the world tried to pick up the pieces after the wrenching cataclysm of the Great War, it became apparent to many (but by no means all) contemporary observers that the last remaining vestiges of the old order had been swept away, and that mankind had entered a new age that was considerably less rational and less forgiving of human imperfections. Those who had expected peace to usher in a better world found their hopes betrayed in 1919.”—The preface in 1919—The Year Our World Began, by William K. Klingaman.
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