When Jesus began his ministry on earth, he announced the above. For three and a half years, Jesus made this work the focal point of his life. He instructed his disciples: “As you go, preach, saying: ‘The Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” After his resurrection, Jesus foretold that his followers would spread this message “to the most distant part of the earth.” He promised them that he would personally be involved in this vital work right down to our day. By 1919, the “good news of the Kingdom” had taken on added meaning. The King was ruling in heaven, and he had gathered a small group of cleansed earthly subjects. They eagerly responded to Jesus’ rousing instructions: Preach the good news of God’s established Kingdom in all the earth!
When discussing the developments surrounding his return and the conclusion of the system Jesus emphasized more than anything else the need for his disciples to guard themselves from being deceived. Deceived by what? By those claiming that the due time is near. The gospel of Luke records Jesus saying: “Look out that you are not misled, for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The due time is near.’ Do not go after them.”
Since its inception the Watchtower has announced that the “due time is near.” In fact, one of the volumes in the Studies in the Scriptures was entitled: “The Due Time Is at Hand.”
At no time since it first began publication has the Watchtower ever pointed to a future parousia. It has always pointed to the past for the beginning of the presence of Christ. Originally the date was 1874. But long after 1914 the date was reset to 1914. Then in the late 1960’s the Watchtower began to build anticipation for 1975 as the date for Armageddon. About that same time the Watchtower published a book proclaiming that God’s Kingdom of 1,000 Years Has Approached.
What is noteworthy about this is that Paul foretold that a man of lawlessness would be the source of official sounding proclamations and letters (magazines, pamphlets, etc.) heralding the presence of Christ and the day of Jehovah is here. (The Watchtower used to claim that the day of Jehovah began in 1914.)
Paul warned the brothers not to be quickly shaken from their reason or unduly alarmed by such announcements, informing them that the presence of Christ and the day of Jehovah will not come unless the apostasy comes first.
While the first aspect of Paul’s prophecy is in place, in that, the Watchtower is indisputably the source of announcements that the presence has begun and the day of Jehovah is here, has the apostasy also come? Probably not.
While the mystery of lawlessness is at work, for example, in the Watchtower’s secret partnership with the UN from 1992-2001, the outright apostasy will probably become manifest at the outbreak of world war, famine and pestilence. In all probability the core of the leadership of the Watchtower will refuse to accept it as a sign that he is near at the door. At which point Bethel will become an outright opposer — an antichrist.