[Original Publication Date: May 18, 2001]
by Ken Raines
“During World War I God’s people expected it to lead directly into Armageddon, but Jehovah prevented such a climax at that time. We didn’t succumb to such an expectation during World War II.”- Kingdom Ministry, January 1968 p. 5.
From the late 1930’s until his death, “Judge” Rutherford believed that World War II would lead to Armageddon. He explicitly said that the “great multitude” should not get married, have sex or kids at that time as Armageddon, he believed, was only a few years or months away.
He said that God revealed to him that the “king of the north” and the “king of the south” of Daniel chapter eleven were the two combatants of WWII and that neither side would be victorious but that the battle of Armageddon would destroy both. He also said that Daniel, Abraham, and other Old Testament prophets and patriarchs would be resurrected soon.
FORBIDDING TO MARRY
“The Spirit has explicitly said that there will be some who will desert the faith and choose to listen to deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from the devils;… they will say marriage is forbidden.” -; 1 Timothy 4:1,3, Jerusalem Bible. – The Watchtower, Sept. 15, 1973 p. 549.
The Watchtower Society has frequently cited the above passage and applied it to others such as the Catholic Church that requires its priests not to marry but to stay celibate as part of religious devotion to God. They say that the Catholic Church’s policy of requiring its priests to be unmarried and celibate violates the above texts and is, in fact, a fulfillment of this prophecy. They say that the Catholic Church is, in the words of Paul, deserting the faith and are listening to “deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from devils.”
If this is true the same could be said of Rutherford and the Watchtower Society who formerly banned marriage for their faithful followers. In fact, there is more reason to believe that Rutherford’s ban on marriage and sex for Witnesses came from deceitful spirits than is the case for the Catholic Church. Unlike the Catholic Church, Rutherford expressly said that his doctrines came from invisible spirits.
The Golden Age of January 1, 1937 had an article called, “That Delusion Called ‘Love.’ ” It made some strange comments about “love,” sex and marriage.  It prompted at least one letter asking about its claims and statements and if the Watchtower endorsed its views. In the March 1, 1937 Watchtower on page 77 the Society published this letter and an endorsement of the “Delusion” article:
SOMEONE writes an anonymous letter to The Watchtower as follows: “The Golden Age recently published an article entitled “That Delusion Called ‘Love’,” in which a warning is given to God’s consecrated people to shun love-making with the opposite sex because it is one of the things that the Devil has fostered and leads away from undivided devotion to Jehovah and therefore brings reproach upon His name. Many brethren would like to know whether The Watchtower is of the same opinion and would give the same advice to those desiring to be wholly devoted to Jehovah, seeing that this article puts the matter in a new light.”
Had the writer been studying The Watchtower since 1925 to date he would not have found it necessary to ask this question. This is not putting the matter in “a new light”. The Watchtower fully endorses the article in The Golden Age, above mentioned…. The publications of the Society for the last ten or twelve years have emphasized the very same thing that is set forth in the article in The Golden Age.
This Watchtower endorsement claimed that they had been saying since 1925 the same things proclaimed in the Golden Age article. They had advised Witnesses to avoid “lovemaking” with the opposite sex because it was a Satanically fostered activity! Below I have documented why they held this view and why I believe it wasn’t simply a prohibition against premarital sex but sex per se and even marriage and children. Rutherford was very direct in saying Witnesses were not to marry or have children.
For example he said the following about the “great multitude” (also called “Jonadabs”) in his booklet, Face the Facts from 1938:
Would it be Scripturally proper for them now to marry and to begin to rear children? No is the answer which is supported by the Scriptures. 
Those Jonadabs who now contemplate marriage, it would seem, would do better if they wait a few years, until the fiery storm of Armageddon is gone…
Similar comments were made in the November 1, 1938 Watchtower’s version of Rutherford’s “Fill the Earth” speech:
If in obedience to the divine command the Jonadabs or great multitude will marry and rear children after Armageddon, would it not be Scripturally proper for them to begin doing so immediately before Armageddon? and should the Jonadabs now be encouraged to marry and rear children? No, is the answer, supported by the Scriptures. 
… mark the words of Jesus, which definitely seem to discourage the bearing of children immediately before Armageddon…-; Matt. 24:19 …It would therefore appear that there is no reasonable or Scriptural injunction to bring children into the world immediately before Armageddon, where we now are. 
The stated reason Witnesses were not to marry at that time is that Rutherford said they were “immediately” before Armageddon. In 1939 in his book Salvation, Rutherford again said that the great multitude shouldn’t marry and have children until after Armageddon when the “divine mandate” to fill the earth would go into effect.  In 1942 the Society said:
It is better and wiser for those of the Lord’s “other sheep” who hope to survive Armageddon and be given the divine mandate to fill the earth with a righteous offspring to defer matters until after the tribulation and destruction of Armageddon is past. 
Rutherford’s last book, Children, released in 1941 is famous for its comments about not marrying or having children. It is the story of a young couple who decide not to marry or have children until after the soon arrival of Armageddon. This decision was reached after studying material written by the “Judge.” One of the individuals said:
Armageddon is surely near…. Our hope is that within a few years our marriage may be consummated and, by the Lord’s grace, we shall have sweet children that will be an honor to the Lord. We can well defer our marriage until lasting peace comes to the earth. 
After Rutherford’s death in 1942 the Society continued to say that the great multitude should remain virgins until after Armageddon and that this was revealed to them by the Lord:
… the Greater Jephthah, Christ Jesus…. the Greater Jephthah revealed that the divine mandate will be issued and go into force toward the “other sheep” of the “great multitude” AFTER the battle of Armageddon. Hence marriage now was no part of fulfilling the divine mandate and was inadvisable according to the Scriptures. This was in effect saying that the Lord’s “other sheep” who shall form the “great multitude” after Armageddon must now remain a “virgin” company… 
Rutherford said this position was proclaimed since 1925 by the Society. These revelations from “Jesus” through “angles” were thus proclaimed for decades. If one were to be still following this friendly advice and had been from the beginning, and from child-bearing age, he would be well into his 80’s at least, still a virgin, never married, and still waiting “a few more years” until Armageddon. This is the result of listening to lying spirits and their false prophets.
Religious leaders who have fallen away from the Christian faith or who never knew it, these are the ones who forbid Christians to marry with honor…”…in latter periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons,… forbidding to marry.” (1 Tim. 4:1-3, NW) Those who have fallen away from the Christian faith and forbidden certain men and women to marry have claimed to forbid their marriage in the interests of Christianity. But in this they have deceived themselves, for it is contrary to God’s will. 
The reason Rutherford advised JWs not to marry, have sex or children was because he believed that God had revealed to him (through angels) that WWII would lead to Armageddon in a “few years” or a “few months.” He believed that the war would end in Armageddon with neither the Allies nor the Axis Powers victorious.
This has been documented briefly by others. In researching Rutherford’s statements on this, I was surprised at the volume of material he wrote on it. It was not a minor prophecy in the sense that he only made a few statements stating or implying this, he made numerous claims and statements about the “soon” coming of Armageddon and the prophetic import of WWII, especially from 1938 to his death in early 1942.
Before 1938 he believed Armageddon was near. One statement by Rutherford that has been quoted is:
Universal war is absolutely certain to come and that soon, and no power can stop it… During the few remaining months until the breaking of that universal cataclysm the powers that rule the nations of the earth will continue to make treaties… 
However, it is difficult for me to determine from the context if he meant that there was only a few remaining months before the “universal war” of Armageddon or if he simply meant that in the future (perhaps years from this statement) the nations will continue to make peace treaties during the few remaining months before Armageddon breaks out.
In the late 1930’s Rutherford began stating that the combatants in World War II were “lining up” for Armageddon. In an advertisement in the Consolation for The Watchtower they said the following about Rutherford’s current series of articles in that magazine:
A new serial article is just starting, entitled “HIS WAR”, which shows how the two opposing armies are lining up for the final battle, referred to in the Bible as Armageddon. 
Rutherford also delivered his speeches “Fill the Earth” and “Face the Facts” in 1938 that promoted this “new light.” These speeches were printed in his Face the Facts booklet. It was because of his belief that the two opposing armies were lining up for Armageddon that he said Witnesses were not to marry, etc. In the booklet he stated his views on what the near future would bring as revealed to him by God through angels. He said the Catholic Hierarchy together with the Nazis and Fascists were going to try to control the world and would apparently succeed for a time, but it would end in Armageddon:
The indisputable facts are that the Roman Catholic Hierarchy has stooped wholly to political methods to gain control of the world,…. These facts, which cannot be disputed, disclose the Roman Catholic Hierarchy’s determination to act as a kind of spiritual super-government over the dictators of the world, forming a part of the monstrosity,… Now Germany is in an alliance with the Papacy, and Great Britain is rapidly moving in that direction. The United States of America, once the bulwark of democracy, is all set to become a part of the totalitarian rule. 
Thus the indisputable facts are, that there is now in the earth Satan’s dictatorial monstrosity,… that such totalitarian, arbitrary rule is fully supported by the Hierarchy… 
When the totalitarian Catholic combine gains control of the British Isles, which it is certain to do, then all the liberties of the people will be at an end…. What will be the condition when all nations become totalitarian? 
The giant Goliath,… pictured the totalitarian Hierarchy combine that is now bluffing all nations with the determination of forcing them to yield to dictatorial rule…. David engaged the giant in combat and slew him, thus disclosing what is now in progress and what God through Christ Jesus, the antitypical David, will do to the totalitarian combine at Armageddon.
Let the Hierarchy, including the pope, together with all others that form the totalitarian, dictatorial rule, the representatives of which are now listening to this speech,… now take notice. To such opponents we now say: “Today you stand before the judgment seat of Christ,… the Lord’s final judgment has been entered against you and you are going to die. You… have permitted the Devil to gather you to Armageddon, the battle of the great day of God Almighty. (Revelation 16: 13-16) The final showdown has come…. At the battle of Armageddon Christ Jesus, leading his invincible army, will slay you and give your dead carcasses to the wild beasts of the earth…” 
The totalitarian combine is going to get control of England and America. You cannot prevent it. Do not try. 
In referring to these comments in his “Face the Facts” speech Rutherford in 1940 said:
At a public address in London, which was transmitted throughout the British Empire, and was delivered in 1938, I stated that the Nazis and Fascists were bent upon destroying the British Empire and that that would be accomplished. 
Actually, this belief that a Nazi/Fascist/Hierarchy “totalitarian combine” would gain control of the world was actually stated at least one year previous to his “Face the Facts” speech and booklet. In his book Enemies published in 1937 he wrote:
Will Great Britain and America become Fascist under the dominating control of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy? The Scriptures and the facts appear to fully support that conclusion. 
New light or “new truths” from God through the “faithful and discreet slave” is usually presented at the conventions of JWs. In Rutherford’s time this was no exception. For example, in the October, 1937 Informant the Society said this about the recent JW convention:
… the Lord through Brother Rutherford revealed to us new truths,… 
Rutherford believed God revealed “new truths” to him and the “remnant” through angels. During the 1941 convention in St. Louis more “new light” was revealed to Rutherford by God concerning the totalitarian “combine” the Judge believed would control the world. In speaking of his speeches on “Integrity” and “Comfort all that Mourn” at the convention the September Informant of that year said:
Through him the Lord clearly revealed that Jehovah’s “lightning war” will result in the destruction of the “Axis Powers” and all other totalitarian institutions opposed to God,…. Another “lightning attack” was in Saturday’s talk on “Comfort all that Mourn” enlightening the Lord’s people on Daniel the 11th chapter, clearly revealing from the scriptures who “the king of the north” and the “king of the south” are and the ultimate end of totalitarianism,… 
COMFORT ALL THAT MOURN
It was beginning in 1941 that Rutherford received a “revelation” from God concerning the meaning of Daniel chapter 11 and the “king of the north” and the “king of the south” mentioned there. In his “Comfort all that Mourn” speech (which was printed in booklet form) he said:
This prophecy of Daniel tells of two mighty opposing ruling powers: one designated therein as “the king of the north”, and the other designated as “the king of the south”. The identification of these two kings is essential to an understanding of the prophecy set out in Daniel 11: 27-45. 22
He then identifies the “king of the north” as being the totalitarian and dictatorial ruling powers and the “king of the south” as democratic ruling powers. (pp. 12, 13) These two kings were engaged in the current World War, the “Axis Powers” being the king of the north. This understanding of the two kings of Daniel 11 was revealed to Rutherford by God :
By revealing to his covenant people the meaning of his prophecy JEHOVAH brings to them great comfort now. 
As before, he said that the democratic powers in the struggle would become totalitarian:
The prophecy shows that in order to fight against the totalitarian forces of “the north” “the king of the south” becomes more and more dictatorial. Both adopt the same method or means,… 
Neither would win, but the war would lead to Armageddon:
While the two kings, “the king of the north” and “the king of the south,” engage in the most deadly and destructive war of all time, the God of heaven sets up his kingdom,… these present-day events will be quickly followed by the complete destruction of Satan’s rule…. there shall follow quickly “the battle of the great day of God Almighty”… 
To help set up His kingdom on earth the Old Testament prophets and patriarchs would soon be resurrected back to life on earth:
When Jehovah gave Daniel the prophecy he did not understand it,…. part of the prophecy means that Daniel died and since has rested in death, but at the end of the days of the prophecy Daniel shall be raised out of death…. The promise of God is that then the prophecy shall be understood. And now the prophecy is understood; which is proof that we confidently expect Daniel the prophet of God to soon stand amongst the peoples upon this earth and many will see him and rejoice. 
The booklet does not go into much detail of this new light but says:
The prophecy of Daniel, at the eleventh chapter, proceeds to detail the struggle between the “king of the north” and “the king of the south”, and definitely tells of the everlasting end of the totalitarian rule and that the Axis combine, the dictatorial rule, shall soon cease for ever. On this occasion it is not possible to relate the details of that prophecy, but, by the Lord’s grace, The Watchtower will publish the same that the people of good will may be enlightened… 
The Watchtower published the “details” of the meaning of this prophecy as revealed to Rutherford by God in the issues from September 15 to December 15. The series was called “Demon Rule Ending.”
DEMON RULE ENDING
In the “Demon Rule Ending” series of articles Rutherford presented in more detail the revelation God gave him on the interpretation of Daniel chapter eleven. Again, Rutherford said as he did before, that this understanding was a revelation from God as to the correct interpretation:
… the Lord now begins to reveal the meaning of this prophecy… 
It now appears to be Jehovah’s time for his covenant people to receive from the Lord an understanding of the prophecy,… 
…. it is to Jehovah’s witnesses that are given the privilege of understanding the prophecy at the present time. 
Jehovah has revealed to his people that the “time of the end” began in 1914…. Now the Lord reveals to his people the meaning of Daniel’s prophecy…. 
As he stated before, he believed that God had revealed to him that the “king of the north” and the “king of the south” of the prophecy were the two combatants in the World War then being fought:
The Lord has revealed to his people the identity of the two “kings” that are now contending for world domination… 
Today (1941) “the king of the north” is easily identified as being represented in the so-called “Axis powers” composed of Greater Germany, Italy, and the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, with chief offices at Vatican City…. The Bible and historical facts plainly identify “the king of the south” as the world ruling-power that claims the right to rule and rules in the name of Democracy. 
Thus the events transpiring around the world in 1941 were fulfilling the prophecy in Daniel concerning these two “kings”:
… the prophecy of Daniel, chapter eleven, beginning at verse twenty-seven, points to present-day events… 
Return now to the consideration of the prophecy of Daniel and mark how completely the events that are now daily coming to light show the fulfillment of that prophecy dictated by Jehovah and written down in the centuries past. 
He continually claimed that specific events were fulfilling specific verses in Daniel chapter eleven. Here’s one example:
(Dan. 11:40) At this point of the prophecy of Daniel it appears that the fulfillment thereof relates particularly to the beginning in the summer of 1939 and continues thereafter. At that time “the king of the north” was warned by the “king of the south” that the invasion of Poland meant war. 
THE RESURRECTION OF DANIEL
Rutherford said repeatedly in this series that since Daniel eleven was being fulfilled by current events, Daniel and the other Old Testament prophets and patriarchs would be raised from the dead “any day now”:
The fact that the Lord now begins to reveal the meaning of this prophecy is strong circumstantial proof that Daniel may be expected soon to return to the earth. 
… Daniel must soon appear and “stand his lot” as one of the earthly governors under The Theocratic Government. 
… the time for Daniel’s resurrection and return to his place, or “lot,”, on the earth as one of the princes of the earth is very near. The faithful followers of Christ Jesus now on the earth may look forward with confidence to seeing Daniel among them almost any time. 
This belief was continued after Rutherford’s death in early 1942:
Samuel was of the faithful prophets of old…. His return to life to be one of the “princes” in the “new earth” shall shortly be brought to pass by God’s power. 
Shortly Jephthah will have part in the “better resurrection” from the dead….The Scriptures give good grounds to believe that there shall shortly be a meeting on earth of those faithful witnesses of old when resurrected…. Will you see those resurrected witnesses who shall be made “princes in all the earth”? 
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…. Jehovah was therefore not ashamed to make them his witnesses…. He will show he is their God by using his recreative power shortly to bring them forth from the graves “unto a resurrection of life.” 
He said again in these articles that neither side in the war would be victorious,:
In fact, the prophecy does not disclose which one of these “kings” shall be victorious in the present war, but the opinion is here expressed that neither one will have complete victory. The end of the war will come about in a manner somewhat different from what worldly prognosticators say. What this part of the prophecy does appear to mean is that, before the “END”, within the meaning of the prophecy, all the nations, including those forming the “king of the south,” will take on or become dictatorial governments. 
Nowhere in the prophecy does it appear that the “king of the north,” that is the “Axis powers,” shall be victorious in the present war between the two “kings,” nor does the prophecy indicate that “the king of the south” will suffer defeat…. All nations composing “the king of the south” become arbitrary and totalitarian…. All admit that regardless of the outcome of the present war the nations will never return to the former method of rule. 
The above statement by Rutherford that it was his “opinion” that neither side would be victorious is the only time I can think of after 1928 where he directly said he was expressing his opinion. As documented before,  he frequently said what he wrote was not human opinion or interpretation of Scripture. This was his “opinion” because God revealed that the war would result in Armageddon after all nations became “dictatorial.” For example, in the ‘Demon Rule Ending’ series he said the following:
As to the final result, Jehovah has made that plainly to appear, and the WATCHTOWER understands… 
That battle of the great day of God Almighty will bring the demons’ rule to its final end. That battle is not to be fought between “the king of the north” and the “king of the south,” because at that time all nations will be absorbed into the demon-controlled totalitarian rule. The great and final fight is the battle of Armageddon,…Thus the end for ever of Nazi-Fascist-Hierarchy rule will come, and that will mark the end for ever of demon rule. It is in the days of these dictatorial powers… that the God of heaven will bring into action his kingdom, THE THEOCRACY. 
Since the prophecy of Daniel did not state which “king” would be victorious and God revealed that all nations would become “dictatorial” as a result of WWII and then Armageddon would occur, it was his “opinion” that neither “king” would gain the victory. This brings up the question of when Rutherford believed the nations would all become dictatorial and how long after this Armageddon would occur. Apparently not very long. In the series he said that “Armageddon is very near.”  In part 1 of the series the following infamous statements were printed about the 1941 convention and Rutherford handing out copies of his Children book to the children present:
Cartons of Children that had been deposited in The Arena were now opened,…. Receiving the gift, the marching children clasped it to them, not a toy or plaything for idle pleasure, but the Lord’s provided instrument for most effective work in the remaining months before Armageddon. 
Not many, if any, of those children (now in their 70’s or so) are still using the Children book as “the Lord’s provided instrument for most effective work” door-to-door. The book is out of print. I don’t think many, if any at all, are still following the book’s advice to “wait a few years until the fiery storm of Armageddon is gone” before getting married, having sex and their own children.
What is the value then of listening to these “revelations” from God (through angels) on the meaning of Scripture as expounded by the “Judge”? None.
References and Notes:
1. See Penton, James, Apocalypse Delayed The Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses (University of Toronto Press), 1985 pp. 262-265 for a discussion of this article.
2. Rutherford, J. F., Face the Facts, 1938, p. 46.
3. Ibid., p. 50.
4. The Watchtower, November 1, 1938, p. 323, ¶4.
5. Ibid., p. 324, ¶5, 6.
6. Rutherford, J. F., Salvation, 1939, p. 325.
7. 1943 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Daily Texts and Comments, November 7.
8. Rutherford, J. F., Children, p. 366.
9. The Watchtower, Dec. 15, 1942, pp. 374, 375, ¶17.
10. The Watchtower, April 15, 1951, p. 227.
11. Rutherford, J. F., Universal War Near, 1934 pp. 26, 27. See Duane Magnani,
Point/Counterpoint, Vol. 1: False Prophets (Clayton CA.: Witness, Inc.), p.
12. Consolation, July 13, 1938 p. 31.
13. Rutherford, J. F., Face the Facts, 1938, p. 16.
14. Ibid., p. 17.
15. Ibid., pp. 20, 21.
16. Ibid., pp. 23, 24.
17. Ibid., p. 27.
18. Rutherford, J. F., Judge Rutherford Uncovers Fifth Column, 1940, p. 15.
19. Rutherford, J. F. Enemies, 1937 p. 291.
20. Informant, October, 1937 p. 1.
21. Informant, September, 1941, p. 1.
22. Rutherford, J. F., Comfort all that Mourn, 1941, p. 11.
23. Ibid., p. 18.
24. Ibid., p. 17.
25. Ibid., p. 21.
26. Ibid., p. 23.
27. Ibid., p. 16.
28. The Watchtower, September 15, 1941 p. 276, ¶5.
29. Ibid., p. 277, ¶10.
30. Ibid., p. 276, ¶6.
31. The Watchtower, December 1, 1941, p. 355, ¶1, 2.
33. The Watchtower, September 15, 1941 p. 278, ¶15, 17.
34. Ibid., p. 280, ¶24.
35. The Watchtower, November 15, 1941, p. 339, ¶5.
36. The Watchtower, December 1, 1941 p. 355, ¶3.
37. The Watchtower, September 15, 1941 p. 276, ¶5.
38. The Watchtower, December 1, 1941 p. 355, ¶2.
39. The Watchtower, September 15, 1941 p. 276, ¶8; 1942 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Daily Texts and Comments, April 4..
40. The Watchtower, June 15, 1942, p. 185, ¶24.
41. The Watchtower, November 1, 1942, p. 324, ¶4.
42. The Watchtower, August 1, 1943, p. 233, ¶31.
43. Ibid., p. 360, ¶25.
44. The Watchtower, December 15, 1941 p. 372, ¶5.
45. JW Research Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 8.
46 The Watchtower, December 1, 1941, p. 360, ¶27.
47. The Watchtower, December 15, 1941, pp. 376, 377, ¶31, 33, 34.
48. The Watchtower, November 1, 1941 p. 325, ¶16.
49. The Watchtower, September 15, 1941 p. 288.