1914—A Focal Point
“EXACTLY what would occur in 1914 we did not then know, but of one thing we were certain: The year 1914 would see the beginning of the worst time of trouble the earth had yet known; for so many Bible prophecies foretold that. Our faith was strong and our hopes were based on much more than mere human speculation.”
With these words, A. H. Macmillan, author of the 1957 best-seller Faith on the March, described his early conviction that 1914 would be a focal point of Bible prophecy. More than 40 years after 1914, his conviction had not waned.
When Events Converge
“Focal point” is defined as “a center of activity or of interest: the point of convergence of lines of action.” Was 1914 a focal point in that sense? Yes. Consider what Macmillan and many other Bible Students expected of that year.
The March 1880 issue of Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence described two events of earthshaking importance that were looked forward to as due to happen in 1914: “‘The Times of the Gentiles’ extend to 1914, and the heavenly kingdom will not have full sway till then.” Hence, many Bible Students expected God’s Kingdom to be fully established in that year. This would mean the beginning of the time for Christ to ‘go subduing in the midst of his enemies.’ It would, of necessity, also mean the beginning of “the conclusion of the [wicked] system of things.”—Psalm 110:1, 2; Matthew 24:3; Revelation 12:10, 12.
These sincere Bible Students came to this conclusion after a searching review of Bible chronology.* But Bible chronology was only one line of evidence—one witness, as it were. According to the Bible, God’s Kingdom was to be heavenly, hence invisible. So how would Bible students know whether their hopes had been fulfilled or not? They would need visible proof, a sign.
Jesus’ disciples had asked for such a sign when they said: “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matthew 24:3) By providing such a sign, Jesus added the testimony of a second witness to pinpoint 1914. This harmonized with the Bible principle “that at the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter may be established.”—Matthew 18:16.
Whereas the chronological indications point forward to 1914, the composite sign by Jesus was designed to point back to 1914 as the beginning of a new era. The year 1914 should thus have proved to be “the point of convergence of lines of action.”
Was it? Can the sign that Jesus gave really be recognized in events since 1914? We invite you to investigate the matter and then answer for yourself.
The count of time indicating that “the Times of the Gentiles” expired in 1914 was discussed at length in the April 1, 1984, issue of The Watchtower.