Throughout its history, the Watchtower organization has based much of its prophetic speculation on Old Testament types and antitypes.

That is, if something happened in the Old Testament, it must have some sort of parallel in Watchtower times.

Charles Taze Russell reasoned as follows:

  1. With God, one day is as a thousand years. (2 Peter 3:8)
  2. God created the heavens and the earth in 6 “days.” (Genesis 1)
  3. God then rested and designated the seventh “day” for Sabbath rest. (Genesis 2:1-3)
  4. Therefore, the beginning of the seventh millennium since creation has special prophetic significance.

Greatly influenced by Adventism, Russell concluded Adam’s creation occurred in 4128 B.C.E.

Therefore, 6000 years from the creation of Adam ended in October, 1872.

This meant that in 1873 Christ would return, bless and immortalize the saints, and judge the wicked. (Later, this was changed to 1874 because they realized that there was no year 0 between 1 B.C.E. and 1 C.E.)

  • “We are already living in the seventh millennium – since October 1872.” (Studies In the Scriptures – The Time Is At Hand, 1915 ed., p. 363)
  • “Looking back to 1871, we see that many of our company were what are known as Second Adventists, and the light they held briefly stated, was that there would be a second advent of Jesus– that he would come to bless and immortalize the saints, to judge the world and to burn up the world and all the wicked. This, they claimed would occur in 1873, because the 6,000 years from the creation of Adam were complete then.” (Zion’s Watch Tower, February, 1881, p. 3)
  • “In this chapter we present the Bible evidence which indicates that six thousand years from the creation of Adam were complete with A.D. 1872; and hence that, since A.D. 1872 are chronologically entered upon the seventh thousand or the Millennium.” (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, 1889, p. 33)
  • ‘If, then, the seventh thousand-year period of earth’s history be an epoch specially noted as the period of Christ’s reign, we shall by showing that it began in 1873, be proving that we are already in it.” (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, 1889, p. 40)
  • “Here we furnish the evidence that from the creation of Adam to (but not including) A.D. 1873 was six thousand years. And though the Bible contains no direct statement that the seventh thousand will be the epoch of Christ’s reign, the great Sabbath Day of restitution to the world, yet the venerable tradition is not without a reasonable foundation.” (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, 1889, p. 39)

When none of these expectations came to pass, Russell adjusted his views, concluding that Christ returned invisibly in 1874 and that there was be a 40-year gospel harvest period, at the end of which (1914), he would make an end to all the governments of the world and establish his Kingdom rule over the earth.

Despite the failure of its prediction and accompanying disappointment, the Watchtower continued to teach that 1914 was a marked year in Bible prophecy but that God’s prophetic Sabbath day rest—Christ’s millennial kingdom rule would begin later.

But when?

In 1943, the Watchtower changed its chronology and recalculated.

No longer did Adam’s creation occur in 4128 B.C.E.

Now they taught that Adam was created in 4026 B.C.E., more than 100 years later than Russell had supposed.

Based on that, the Watchtower concluded that 6000 years from the creation of Adam would end and God’s prophetic Sabbath rest would begin in October, 1975.

Perhaps Christ’s millennial reign would begin then.

That will be the subject of next week’s post.