ANSWER: From the beginning, C.T. Russell realized that God intended to restore the earth by means of the kingdom, but it was unclear to the Bible Students that there was going to be a great multitude of people who would survive the end of the world and live on upon the earth. But as things progressed they came to a better understanding of God’s purpose to create a new heaven and a new earth.
Leading up to 1935 there was a growing number of people who were International Bible Students who did not feel that they were called to be with Christ in heaven. No doubt that was due to an operation of God’s spirit upon them. Typically the spirit operates upon someone whom Jehovah has called to convince them of the genuineness of their calling, but it seems the opposite can also be the case – that the spirit can convince one that there is the prospect of everlasting life on earth. Obviously, Satan has been working for centuries to obscure and diminish the calling – convincing the untaught masses that heaven awaits for all. So, there has been a lot of work to undo Satan’s web of lies. (It is still an unfinished work)
But in 1935 J.F. Rutherford announced that the “great multitude” (as it is worded in the KJV) was not some secondary heavenly class, as it was then supposed, but rather, the multitude of persons who are destined to come out of the tribulation will be in the flesh. If there ever was such a thing as a flash of light that was it.
Many of Jehovah’s Witnesses back then heartily embraced what has since become known as the “earthly hope.” Of those who did some are reported to have said that they never felt comfortable with the idea of going to heaven. And, of course, the entire focus of the worldwide preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses since then has basically extended an invitation to be among those who survive the end of the world.
Because 1935 was such a pivotal point over the years since then an assumption developed that the anointing stopped in 1935. For a time the Watchtower taught that any persons anointed since 1935 were “replacements” for some who may have proven unfaithful.
But more recently the Society has quietly discarded that notion. Now Jehovah’s Witnesses understand that the final sealing takes place during the tribulation.
Ironically, the prevailing skepticism and negative attitude among Jehovah’s Witnesses towards newly anointed persons, brought about by the leadership, is the underlying basis for the outworking of the parable Jesus related regarding the 11th-hour workers. (See article: Many First Will Be Last, & The Last First)
While the Watchtower is still anchored to 1914 as the year that Christ supposedly began an invisible presence, that error has not hindered God from accomplishing his purpose to gather persons who will be part of the new heavens and new earth. In fact, the entire 1914 parousia doctrine is actually sanctioned by God as “an operation of error”; or like the 21st Century King James words it: “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie…”
A “strong delusion” aptly describes the Watchtower’s 1914 teaching. There is seemingly no power on earth that can break the spell of the delusion that emanates from the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Please note that the delusion is “a lie” – singular. (NWT –“the lie”) Whereas, the teachings of Christendom are a multitude of lies and errors that are beyond counting, the “operation of error” that God allows to have influence over those who do not love the truth is a single lie. And as readers of this site well know I believe Jehovah’s Witnesses have the truth. But everything related to prophecy and issues like the anointing ending and such, are skewed by “the lie” – the delusion.
Make no mistake about it, according to the context of Paul’s remarks “the lie” is in regards to official announcements that are intended to convince Christ’s followers that the parousia has already begun and the day of Jehovah is here.
As Paul warned this operation emanates from Satan himself, who uses all manner of lying signs and portents and unrighteous deceptions in order to keep the delusion in place. And it will stay in place until such time as the manifestation of Christ shatters it.
That will be the test that will determine if one really loves the truth and will have a bearing upon who is ultimately among the great crowd and who will be sealed. During that time of confusion, the angels will initiate the harvest and ultimately separate the sheep from the goats.