"Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God"
Published 1966, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
The Watchtower of March 15, 1980, in the study article "Choosing the Best Way of Life," offered the following comments regarding any 1975 expectations promoted by the above book:
4If we remain faithful, God will not let us make ruinous mistakes. But sometimes he permits us to be in error so that we may see our need to look always to him and his Word. This strengthens our relationship with him and our endurance while waiting. We learn from our mistakes that it is necessary to be more careful in the future. The desire for the new system of things to take complete charge of the earth has always been very strong in Christians down through the centuries. And because of their own short life-span, they doubtless longed for it to come in their particular lifetime. Those who have tried to keep God’s judgment time “close in mind” have, on more than one occasion throughout history, become overly eager for that day’s arrival, in their own minds trying to rush the arrival of the desired events. (2 Pet. 3:12) In the first century, for example, the apostle Paul found it necessary to write to Christians in Thessalonica in this fashion, as we read at 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3: “However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. Let no one seduce you in any manner, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction.”
5In modern times such eagerness, commendable in itself, has led to attempts at setting dates for the desired liberation from the suffering and troubles that are the lot of persons throughout the earth. With the appearance of the book Life Everlasting—in Freedom of the Sons of God, and its comments as to how appropriate it would be for the millennial reign of Christ to parallel the seventh millennium of man’s existence, considerable expectation was aroused regarding the year 1975. There were statements made then, and thereafter, stressing that this was only a possibility. Unfortunately, however, along with such cautionary information, there were other statements published that implied that such realization of hopes by that year was more of a probability than a mere possibility. It is to be regretted that these latter statements apparently overshadowed the cautionary ones and contributed to a buildup of the expectation already initiated.
6In its issue of July 15, 1976, The Watchtower, commenting on the inadvisability of setting our sights on a certain date, stated: “If anyone has been disappointed through not following this line of thought, he should now concentrate on adjusting his viewpoint, seeing that it was not the word of God that failed or deceived him and brought disappointment, but that his own understanding was based on wrong premises.” In saying “anyone,” The Watchtower included all disappointed ones of Jehovah’s Witnesses, hence including persons having to do with the publication of the information that contributed to the buildup of hopes centered on that date. ―w80 3/15 pp. 17-18 pars. 4-7 Choosing the Best Way of Life. (Italics their own; bold mine)
Note, in paragraph 4 the article says that God "permits us to be in error so that we may see our need to look always to him and his Word. This strengthens our relationship with him and our endurance while waiting." Do you agree that our trusting in false expectations and errors strengthens our relationship with God and our endurance? What about the many who were stumbled, lost faith and left God's household! Because of "the buildup of hopes centered on that date," some suffered financial losses due to selling their possessions, including homes, or quitting their jobs, because of the "urgency of the time." (See Kingdom Increase Statistics)
No matter to what extent, if at all, any of us who are still loyal to Jehovah were personally affected by the unfulfilled hope regarding 1975, we can all agree with their above statement: "We learn from our mistakes that it is necessary to be more careful in the future." Yes, we learn to be less trusting in men and more careful in following the scriptural admonition: "Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world." (1 John 4:1; Rom. 3:4) The apostle John refers to both, "the inspired expression of truth and the inspired expression of error." (vs. 6) We can be certain that any inspired expression of error does not originate with Jehovah God. It is true that he "permits" us to be in error, but not for the reason the above Watchtower presents. Quoting from Second Thessalonians, as the article also does (paragraph 4), Paul wrote: "But the lawless one’s presence is according to the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and portents and with every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved. So that is why God lets an operation of error go to them, that they may get to believing the lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thess. 2:9-12)
What about you personally? Do you have God's view on matters? Do you hate what Jehovah hates, or have you gotten "to believing the lie" that these "mistakes" do not matter to God? Are you among those who defend the ones who are responsible for the errors that have stumbled so many? Do you discern that these errors are "according to the operation of Satan," and that those who are not disturbed by these things are actually refusing to "accept the love of the truth," and are said to be among "those who are perishing, as a retribution"? (Please take to heart Isaiah 5:20.*) It is not at all a small matter to stumble anyone! Jesus warned: “Whoever stumbles one of these little ones who put faith in me, it is more beneficial for him to have hung around his neck a millstone such as is turned by an ass and to be sunk in the wide, open sea." (Matt. 18:6)
We should rightly expect those "persons having to do with the publication of the information that contributed to the buildup of hopes centered on that date" to be humbled by their error. After all, this was not the first time their published predictions had proved false. But have they learned from their mistakes, as they say we should? Has it humbled them as being prone to making mistakes when going "beyond the things that are written"; realizing that they do not have any special insight beyond what is written in the Bible? (1 Cor. 4:6,7) To the contrary! Fearing their tarnished credibility slip further away, they have since become even more authoritarian and entrenched in their self-assumed glory, doing all they can to hold on to their position of lording it over God's sheep, even to the point of seeking out* and disfellowshipping any of God's sheep, who, having lost confidence and faith in them, now dare question their position of authority or interpretation of Scripture. (Ezek. 34:2-6) That is why they constantly feel compelled to keep reminding us that obeying them is the same as obeying God; that following them is following Christ. As the prophet Jeremiah aptly foretold regarding the leaders of God's people, "they have not come to know even how to feel humiliated. Therefore they will fall among those who are falling; in the time that I must hold an accounting with them they will stumble,” Jehovah has said." ―Jeremiah 6:13-15.
18 How terrible it will be for those people!
They pull their guilt and sins behind them
as people pull wagons with ropes.
19 They say, "Let God hurry;
let him do his work soon
so we may see it.
Let the plan of the Holy One of Israel happen soon
so that we will know what it is."
20 How terrible it will be for people who call good things bad
and bad things good,
who think darkness is light
and light is darkness,
who think sour is sweet
and sweet is sour.
21 How terrible it will be for people who think they are wise
and believe they are clever. (New Century Version)