Audio of 1938 speech by J.F. Rutherford: Face the Facts

With the ominous storm clouds of a second world war in as many decades looming large, on September 11, 1938, J.F. Rutherford delivered a public address at a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses from the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London–challenging the world to face the facts he presented.

Judge Rutherford’s rousing, spiritual call-to-arms was simultaneously broadcasted via telephone hookup to tens of thousands gathered at locations around the English-speaking world and published in a booklet later that year, also entitled: Face The Facts. “The facts” having to do with the inevitable culmination of the universal controversy between Jehovah and Satan and the ultimate vindication of God’s sovereignty.

Those were certainly momentous times for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Europe and America. There was the rising tide of tyranny concurrent with the Great Depression. At the urging of the Vatican Hitler had already outlawed the Watchtower Society in Nazi Germany. And before the Jewish Holocaust had even begun the Gestapo was ruthlessly hunting down the “Bible worms,” as Hitler called the newly-named Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses – Wikipedia)

In the United States Catholic opposition to the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses was becoming more intense; small-town mobs were incited against peaceful preachers; some were thrown into jail; children were expelled from school for not pledging their allegiance to the flag. Those were dark times, indeed.

The call to face the facts no doubt strengthened Jehovah’s Witnesses back then to bear up under even greater persecution wrought by the swell of patriotic fervor during the ensuing outburst of the Second World War, which began almost exactly one year after Rutherford’s historic sermon.

brs-and-sisters-in-jailBut alas, the United States and England did not become fascistic, as the Watchtower’s spokesman had warned was an absolute certainty. Instead, the Allied powers crushed the totalitarian “monstrosity” — as Rutherford called it. And standing on the principles of its Founders as the “the Land of the free,” with numerous landmark decisions, the Supreme Court of the United States reaffirmed and defended the constitutional rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses to practice their religion as they saw fit, no matter how unpopular. Subsequently, the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in America abated, as well as in post-war Europe (except behind the communists’ Iron Curtain).

It has now been 78 years since Rutherford issued his challenge. In hindsight, he did not have all the facts. Obviously, that entire generation has passed away. Contrary to the expectations raised by the Watchtower Society then, rather than culminating in the climatic showdown at the symbolic world stage called Armageddon, a period of relative peace followed the Second World War, during which time Jehovah’s Witnesses have arguably accomplished the greatest evangelization work in world history.

However, at some point in the not-too-distant future, all of Jehovah’s Witnesses will unexpectedly be confronted with an unavoidable trial of faith unlike anything heretofore experienced.

The test will involve our acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ himself and the truth he will then reveal. Jehovah’s Witnesses will be squarely confronted with the jarring fact that Jesus has not come in any respect — not in 1914, or at any time before the moment this sentence was put to print.

However, this flash of “new light”—to use a familiar phrase—will not be heralded in the pages of any Watchtower publication or be delivered in the customary manner from a convention platform by a public speaker; nor will it come through a familiar human agency of any kind. Jesus likened one aspect of his coming revelation to a sudden flash of lightning that illuminates the whole sky from east to west—illustrating how the revealing of the Son of man is completely out of the human realm.

That sudden change of channel, so to speak, is also intimated in the prophecy of Isaiah, where Jehovah projects his voice to a point in the future, saying: “Though Jehovah will give you bread in the form of distress and water in the form of oppression, your Grand Instructor will no longer hide himself, and you will see your Grand Instructor with your own eyes. And your own ears will hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way. Walk in it,’ in case you should go to the right or in case you should go to the left.”

Reasoning on the passage above, if God is the Grand Instructor of true Christians in this period—as Jehovah’s Witnesses believe—in what way has Jehovah hidden himself, and for what purpose? Indeed, the 57th chapter of Isaiah underscores the point, asking: “Whom did you dread and fear so that you started to lie? You did not remember me. You took nothing to heart. Have I not kept silent and withdrawn? So you showed no fear of me.”

Who can argue against the obvious fact that Jehovah and his messianic spokesman have kept silent and withdrawn from expressing any correction or disapproval for the entire century during which the Kingdom of Christ is believed to have been ruling?

And since Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they are luxuriating in spiritual paradise at this point in time, feasting on a spiritual banquet, in what way has God given his people “bread in the form of distress and water in the form of oppression”?

Could this, perhaps be a judgment to be revealed in the future?

Furthermore, since the Scriptures clearly teach that no man may see God and survive the encounter, how is it possible “you will see your Grand Instructor with your own eyes”?

Lastly, if Jehovah’s Witnesses are already on the Highway of holiness why would it be necessary for the Grand Instructor to speak a word, as if from behind, saying: “This is the way. Walk in it”?

But why ought Jehovah’s Witnesses not expect the Watchtower Society to continue to function as God’s earthly channel of communication in the future?


As of this writing (September, 2014) the dark clouds of tumult are hanging low over the world once again; the distant rumble of terror and war comes nearer and more intense with each passing month. There is little reason to doubt that for the third time in a century, the nations are being inexorably drawn into war—world war! Financial collapse, food shortages and pandemics are sure to follow, just as thunder follows a flash of lightning.

But another world war certainly does not align with the expectations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. After all, the Watchtower is on record as saying there cannot be another world war. (Reasoning From The Scriptures – Topic: The Last Days) The Society’s seers have assured the faithful that the multifaceted sign of Christ’s presence cannot possibly display itself more convincingly than it did 100 years ago. This is in spite of the fact that over several recent decades the the Watchtower has repeatedly revised its interpretation; having repudiated various aspects of prophecy that were once believed to be undergoing fulfillment. Nevertheless, contradictorily, the Watchtower has stated repeatedly that the next event on the horizon is the destruction of Babylon the Great, which will mark the beginning of the great tribulation.

But given the Watchtower’s long record of failed predictions, revisions and disappointed hopes, what basis is there for such cocksureness regarding the things to come?

Is it not ironic that after a century of loudly announcing the presence of Christ and the nearness of the day of Jehovah, the developing crises that are threatening to engulf the nations in the future have seemingly gone unnoticed, and certainly their significance unheralded by the Watchtower?

The reason for Bethel’s silence at this critical juncture has to do with the fact that Jesus forewarned he was coming at an hour his disciples think unlikely.

Jesus-manifestationOf course, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus will come as a thief in the night when he comes to destroy Satan’s system. But that is not what Jesus was speaking of when he warned his disciples to stay awake and remain watchful.

Jesus spoke of his coming at an unexpected hour on two separate occasions; in both instances using illustrations of a master coming to inspect the servants of his household as to their faithfulness in carrying out their assigned duties in his absence. (Luke 12 and Matthew 24) Until quite recently the Watchtower had taught that Christ had already come as a thief in the night and had expelled an evil slave and appointed a faithful slave over all of his belongings.

But with the July 2013, issue of the Watchtower the Governing Body has reset the second appointment and the expulsion of the evil slave to the future, and consequently, the coming of Jesus as well; which, most assuredly is the correct understanding.

However, this remarkable “adjustment” has understandably gone unnoticed and its significance is most definitely unappreciated by even the most astute among Jehovah’s Witnesses, as barely a paragraph was devoted to it in the aforementioned issue of the Watchtower.  Consequently, even this “new light” has inadvertently betrayed a virtual organization-wide somnolence. In what way?

Not only has the Society adjusted the appointment of the faithful slave over all the master’s belongings to the future, but they have done similarly with a number of related illustrations, such as the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. Previously the Society had concocted a plausible scenario in which the bridegroom arrived in 1914 and the foolish virgins (as well as the evil slaves)  were identified as those International Bible Students who refused to accept the presidency of J.F. Rutherford. Supposedly, all ten virgins had nodded off in the interval between 1914 and 1918.

In the past, we have stated in our publications that these last four references apply to Jesus’ arriving, or coming, in 1918. As an example, take Jesus’ statement about “the faithful and discreet slave.” We understood that the “arriving” mentioned in verse 46 was linked to the time when Jesus came to inspect the spiritual condition of the anointed in 1918 and that the appointment of the slave over all the Master’s belongings occurred in 1919. However, a further consideration of Jesus’ prophecy indicates that an adjustment in our understanding of the timing of certain aspects of Jesus’ prophecy is needed. – July 2013 WT

Now, though, with virtually no explanation and without a hint of the implicit ramifications, the coming of the bridegroom has been shifted to the future. This raises the question: Have the virgins already nodded off, or may we expect the prospective heirs of the kingdom to all fall asleep in the near future? That question is not hypothetical since the parable indicates that both the wise and foolish virgins are found to be sleeping when the call rings out that the bridegroom has arrived.

Since even when presented with these matters it seems beyond the ability of Jehovah’s Witnesses to mentally grasp the implications of the Watchtower’s new teaching, is this not evidence that Jehovah has indeed hidden himself and allowed a “deluding influence” to prevail—at least for the time being?

Keep in mind, according to Paul this “deluding influence” originates with Satan and operates through a man of lawlessness who presides within the spiritual temple and is intended to convince the sons of the Kingdom that the parousia has already begun and the day of Jehovah is here, which, undeniably has been the central message of the Watchtower Society since its inception!

Contrary to the chairman’s introduction of Rutherford as possessing Bible knowledge beyond questioning, Rutherford supposed that the prophecy of Isaiah regarding Jehovah’s strange and unusual work had to do with the preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses; reasoning that it was strange and unusual for Christians to preach to others who were, themselves, professed Christians. But why ought that be considered strange and unusual? The first-century Christians preached to the Jews, who were the original covenanted people and there is no indication that the apostles considered that unusual or strange.

The reason the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot comprehend the prophecies, such as Isaiah, is because they themselves are those depicted in the prophecy as being drunkards — spiritual drunkards! Isaiah 28:7, for example, states concerning them: “And these also go astray because of wine; their alcoholic beverages make them stagger. Priest and prophet go astray because of alcohol; the wine confuses them, and they stagger from their alcohol; their vision makes them go astray, and they stumble in judgment.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses, face the facts:

Those considered to be the anointed priests and prophets before Jehovah have staggered in their reasoning. They are so drunk with self-importance that they have gone astray, which is why at some point in the future Jehovah must speak a word as if from behind. They have not been able to handle the powerful word of God, but instead have become intoxicated by it, confused by their religious fixation on 1914. They simply cannot present a coherent explanation of the prophecies and now are staggering in their judgment—denouncing as apostates any who reject their intoxicated braggadocio. They are certain to stumble when Christ manifests himself.

According to the context, God’s strange and unusual work is in connection with his nation, but not the ancient nation of Israel—also known as Ephraim. It suits his purpose to allow the leaders of his people to conceal themselves in a lie and make an ill-advised agreement with the Grave, that they should not be affected by the coming “flood”—symbolizing God’s denunciation concurrent with the coming of Christ.

That the prophecy has to do with the second coming of Christ is apparent by what is stated at Isaiah 28:15-16: “For you men say: ‘We have made a covenant with Death, and with the Grave we have made an agreement. When the raging flash flood passes through, it will not reach us, for we have made a lie our refuge and we have hidden ourselves in falsehood.’ Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: ‘Here I am laying as a foundation in Zion a tested stone, the precious cornerstone of a sure foundation. No one exercising faith will panic.”

Obviously, the messianic foundational stone was not laid during the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem. Nor did God accomplish his strange and unusual work in the first century.

Jet-FighterIn 1938 J.F. Rutherford was certain that America was going to become fascistic. And it nearly did. Now, though, the threat to the continued existence of the American republic is greater than ever and there are powerful forces at work to tear it down and sink the nation into martial law and a banker’s dictatorship.

Will the enemies of freedom succeed this time?

Yes. Jehovah’s prophetic word indicates that the present ordering of nations is going to suffer a catastrophic blow — resulting in the imposition of a global government intent on reducing the world’s population by a sizable percentage. The coming crash will be the means by which Jehovah will accomplish his strange and unusual work.

Because of the deeply entrenched delusion that presently grips the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses — no mere human being able to disabuse them of their folly — God has purposed to destroy the very organization he has heretofore supported and used. That is the only way they will listen and understand. As Jehovah goes on to say of the coming “flood”: “As often as it passes through, it will sweep you away; for it will pass through morning after morning, during the day and during the night. Only terror will make them understand what was heard.”

Strangely, though, God will hold the nations accountable for the treatment they render to his people. An unusual work, indeed!

When Jesus spoke of the events associated with his coming and the conclusion of the present system of things he exhorted his disciples not to be terrified or give way to fear. That is because terror is the only remedy for their condition — provided they endure it. God knows best how to correct and discipline.

That the coming terror is intended as discipline for God’s people is evident by the concluding words of Isaiah 28, where God uses the illustration of using different techniques to plant and harvest various crops, saying:

“Give ear and listen to my voice; Pay attention and listen to what I say. Does the plower keep plowing all day before he sows seed? Does he continually break up and harrow his ground? When he has smoothed out its surface, does he not then scatter black cumin and sow cumin, and does he not plant wheat, millet, and barley in their places and spelt around the edges? For He teaches him the right way; His God instructs him. For black cumin is not crushed with a threshing sledge, and a wagon wheel is not driven over cumin. Rather, black cumin is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a staff. Does a person crush grain for bread? No, he does not thresh it incessantly; And when he drives the roller of his wagon over it with his horses, he does not crush it. This also comes from Jehovah of armies, whose counsel is wonderful and whose achievements are great.”

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