Jehovah’s Witnesses & the Fear of Armageddon

anne marie

Most people (if they have heard of them at all) assume that Jehovah’s Witnesses are “Christians,” and Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves are quick to agree that, “Yes! We are!”  However, whereas the Christian looks forward to being with the Lord Jesus in Heaven after they die, the Jehovah’s Witness is living their day-to-day lives with a deep, and many times unconscious fear of Armageddon, (though they will most certainly vehemently deny it), and this is crucial to understanding why Jehovah’s Witnesses are the way they are. Let us do a little exploring to see if we can understand why this is true.

What is the basis of this fear?

The fear of Armageddon is deeply imbedded into the mind and heart of the Jehovah’s Witness from the very beginning of their indoctrination into the beliefs of the Watchtower Organization, or, as they are better known to the general public, “The Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

The Jehovah’s Witness has been taught since the beginning of their learning of “The Truth” (or “Watchtower Doctrine”) that “Armageddon is coming very soon to destroy all the ‘wicked’ upon the earth.”  They believe that the time left for an “unbeliever” (or “worldly person”) to come over to “The Truth” and join the Watchtower Organization in order to have any hope of being saved from “Jehovah’s wrath” when He “executes His vengeance upon all the unbelievers (of the Watchtower Doctrines) at Armageddon” is very short, and that, as a “witness of the Almighty God,” it is each and every Jehovah’s Witness’s duty to do all they can to “sound the warning” of the coming of “God’s Day of Wrath”; in a word, “Armageddon”!

It is believed among the rank-and-file of the Jehovah’s Witnesses that the only “safe” place to be when Armageddon comes is within “the Ark of Safety,” (the Watchtower Organization), and that while “in” the “Ark of Safety” one must be ever vigilant to attain, and to maintain, a “good standing” in the congregation, lest they lose Jehovah’s approval and die at Armageddon.

The prospect of “dying at Armageddon” is a terrible thing for a Jehovah’s Witness because they are taught that when one is “destroyed” by Jehovah, there is no hope of resurrection; no hope of ever being “brought back” for another chance to “get it right.”

This belief is also why it is not unheard of for a distraught Jehovah’s Witness to commit suicide…and to perhaps kill his entire family…as this would then ensure that they will be resurrected in the New System…into a perfect world…because then the “sin debt” will have been “paid,” according to Romans 6: 23, which says, “For the wages sin pays is death…” and EVERY Jehovah’s Witness knows the “meaning” of this scripture: “Better to die at your own hand and to have your ‘sin debt’ paid and to know for sure that you will be resurrected into the New System of Things where you will have a better chance to attain God’s favor than to take your chances in this old system!”[1]

There have been many “talks” given to the rank-and-file over the years…and countless Watchtower Studies (with graphic illustrations) in their books and magazines about the coming horrors of Armageddon…all sounding the chilling warning again and again to not “stumble” in their faith, or to “lose momentum,” or to “lose their zeal” for “The Truth,” or to ever doubt “The Truth,” as taught by the Watchtower Organization, lest they “grieve the Holy Spirit,” and “die at Armageddon.” (See Eph. 4: 30)

But how can they all just believe this?

Jehovah’s Witnesses are warned that they must not ever “think for themselves” in regard to Watchtower truth, as this would be “independent thinking,” for then they would be “just like Satan,” (and they will be “destroyed,” just like Satan), since He was the first “independent thinker,” and they are further warned that they must “show respect” for Jehovah’s “appointed servant,” “The Faithful and Discreet Slave,”[2] (Matt. 24:45), who have been given the responsibility to “feed” God’s “sheep” the “proper food at the proper time”; that is, (according to the leaders of the Watchtower Organization), “spiritual food.”  For a Jehovah’s Witness to “disrespect” Jehovah’s “appointed servant” (the leaders of the Watchtower Organization) in any way…such as to not take seriously, or to not believe, all that the Watchtower leaders teach them…is to disrespect Jehovah, Himself.

Unfortunately, however, this “spiritual food” comes down to the rank-and-file Jehovah’s Witness as if it is somehow something “new” truth or “understanding” from God, Himself, and as such, the loyal Jehovah’s Witness sees each and every new Watchtower publication as “new light” of “truth”; Jehovah’s truth, that is, and the individual Jehovah’s Witness will accept it, assimilate it, and believe it.  The tragedy is is that all this “new light” is written by imperfect men, and is generally a remixing, or an outright recycling of “old light”; but that is a whole other subject.

How does a Jehovah’s Witness come to believe the Watchtower Doctrines?

The process of indoctrination and assimilation of the prospective Watchtower convert usually begins with that first “knock on the door.”  The householder opens it to see two smiling and well dressed Jehovah’s Witnesses who have come to their home to “share the word of God” with them.  They will introduce themselves as “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” (which is basically announcing to the householder that they directly represent God, Almighty), and say that they are in their neighborhood to share some “Good News” from the Bible.  (One of them will always do most of the talking, as it is the Jehovah’s Witnesses custom in the door-to-door work to take turns being the primary speaker.)

The typical “hook” that the Jehovah’s Witnesses at the door will use to “grab” the attention of the householder is usually something to get the householder to agree that the world is indeed in a terrible state…such as a reference to some atrocity or natural disaster that was recently in the news, or a reference to the high crime rate, or the disobedience of children today, or the rise in gang violence, or the high divorce rate…and then the Witness may read a scripture to show the householder that these conditions were prophesied for our day as “signs of The Last Days” of this “wicked system.”

The primary witness at the door will next ask the householder, “Do you not agree that these very things mentioned here in the Bible are what we are seeing all over the earth, today?” And of course, the householder will agree that, “Yes, this is true.”  Then the witness may ask the householder if they see any hope of things getting better? any hope of a better world to live in? and then (after allowing the householder time to give some comment) the witness will show them a scripture about the promise of a “Paradise Earth,” and ask, “Wouldn’t it be nice to live there?”[3] and then they will go on to show that FIRST God must DESTROY ALL THE WICKED in order to “cleanse the earth,” and only then can “Paradise” begin to become a reality…yes, first, ARMAGEDDON, THE GREAT DAY OF GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, must come! (See Isaiah 11: 6-10)

The householder is now appropriately impressed that these people, who “speak for Almighty God,” really seem to know the Bible; they really seem to know what they’re talking about, and without realizing it, their minds are already being subtly altered to absorb and to accept what they are being taught.  (After all, “The Truth” is being “proven” to them from God’s own word, the Bible.)

Three “truths” have just been subtly, but firmly, planted in the mind of the householder:

1)      That the world is a “wicked” place, and can only be “cleansed of wickedness” by “destruction” at God’s hand at Armageddon

2)      That the only way the promised Paradise Earth can be brought about is by first “destroying” all “the wicked” people of the world

3)      That everyone that is not a Jehovah’s Witness…not a member of the Watchtower Organization…is one of the “wicked,” and will be “destroyed” by Jehovah God

Now the introduction of just how violent and terrifying Armageddon is supposed to be is most certainly not thrust upon the innocent householder right away…the witnesses don’t want to “scare him off,” but the aforementioned is pretty basic.  And with the promise of the beautiful Paradise Earth fresh in the householder’s mind, the witnesses at the door will then offer him a “free home Bible Study,” which will be (of course) a study of the Watchtower Organization’s version of “Biblical Truth.”  This, then, is the beginning of the indoctrination process for the unsuspecting householder, and is most likely just how it happened for the witnesses at their door (or for their parents, if they were brought up “in The Truth.”)

Assuming that the householder accepts Watchtower literature from the witnesses, and assuming that he or she agrees to allow the witnesses to return to their home for a “return visit” to answer any questions that they might have at a later date, and assuming that they ultimately accept the “free home Bible Study” from them, they are now well on their way to being “fed,” in many subtle (and not so subtle) ways, the constant reminder that “Armageddon is coming, and anyone who is not on Jehovah’s side…anyone who is not a member of the Watchtower Organization, and in GOOD STANDING…will die at Jehovah’s hands during His Day of Vengeance upon the wicked,” which is understood by Jehovah’s Witnesses to be, “Armageddon.”

But aren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses “Christians”?

Jehovah’s Witnesses are not taught even the most basic Christian teachings…in fact, the core beliefs of Christians are often “mocked” to the congregation members at the Kingdom Hall meetings; and this is important in understanding why Jehovah’s Witnesses live in fear of Armageddon; why they have the constant gnawing fear of being found “unworthy” by Jehovah God at Armageddon. (They don’t believe, nor do they have any concept or understanding that one can be “saved by grace.”  They believe that this is a lie.)

But Jehovah’s Witnesses say that they have “The Truth”

To put it very simply, to Jehovah’s Witnesses, “truth” is whatever the Watchtower Organization tells them is “truth.”

Truth is not “truth” unless it is “Watchtower approved” truth.

The “truth,” according to the Watchtower Organization’s teachings, is a complicated and intricately woven tapestry of “rearranged truth,” Old Testament “truth” mixed with New Testament “truth,” “interpreted truth,” “reinterpreted truth,” “present-day truth,” “old light truth,” “new light truth,” “symbolic truth,” “literal truth,” and then there are countless examples of how “one thing,” or, “one person” represents, or is symbolic of, something, or someone, else; such as, Abraham picturing Jehovah and Isaac picturing Jesus, or ancient Babylon picturing “Babylon the Great…the World Empire of False Religion,” (all Christian churches, included), or how Noah’s Ark pictures the Watchtower Organization…the list is endless and the Jehovah’s Witness is expected to know all of these…and he does.

To the average Jehovah’s Witness, the beautifully woven Watchtower tapestry of “truth” paints a very pretty picture of a “spiritual paradise” of the “whole association of brothers” (Watchtower Organization members) faithfully serving Jehovah God “with the same ‘oneness’ of mind” as they look forward to their reward in the “New System,” telling themselves that they are “the happiest people on earth,” as the Watchtower Organization so often reminds them. (See Eph. 4: 13)

Let us examine what Christians…those who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ as their King and Savior…believe according to the Holy Scriptures, and then let us compare those beliefs to that of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as this will further help us to understand where their “fear of Armageddon” comes from, and to ascertain whether or not this is a valid fear for Christians.

Is this “fear of Armageddon” something Jesus taught His followers?  Did any of the apostles (or any of the disciple’s) of the early Christian Church teach that Armageddon was something for Christians to be in fear of? Is this fear required by God?  We shall see.


God’s plan of salvation, as understood from the scriptures


From the very beginning of man’s downfall in the Garden of Eden, God had a “plan of salvation” for all of mankind to “make it right”; a way for future humans to “be right with God,” and to live forever in the light of God’s love, free from the condemnation of “sin and death,” (Genesis 3: 15), and this plan was to be through His son, Christ Jesus.

Throughout the history of the Old Testament there are literally hundreds of “signs,” or “prophesies,” that foretold the coming of the “savior of the world”: the one whom we know of as “Jesus Christ.”  But first, God allowed His people (known as The Israelites) to experience first hand the utter futility of trying to live up to God’s “perfect law” in order to show them that no imperfect human, no matter how hard they might try, can ever EARN the right to “live forever,” and to show them the need for a “savior,” and thus many looked forward to the day that the foretold “savior” would come.

So now in the book of Matthew we have the beginning of the New Testament, and the beginning of Jesus Christ on earth, who came, not only to “save us,” but to fulfill the entire Mosaic Law, which God’s people were then under, and to set us humans FREE, forever. Yes, God provided a way for ANYONE and EVERYONE to be free from the condemnation that we were all born under due to the “original sin”; that of sin and death.

Let’s look at some things that Jesus said [4]

Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls, for my yoke is kindly and my load is light.”(Matt. 11: 28-30)

He that hears my word and believes Him that sent me has everlasting life.” (John 5: 24)

“You are searching the scriptures because you think that by means of them you will have everlasting life…And yet you do not want to come to me that you may have life.”

(John 5: 39, 40)

Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.” (John 18: 37)

“Continue following me.” (John 21: 19)

“And I give them everlasting life, and they will by no means ever be destroyed, and no one will be able to snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10: 28)

“I am the light of the world. He that follows me will by no means walk in darkness, but will possess the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“…you do not believe because you are none of my sheep.  My sheep listen to my voice and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10: 26, 27)

“…everyone that is living and exercises faith in me will never die at all.  Do you believe this?” (John 11: 26)

“Most truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3: 3)

“You people must be born again.” (John 3: 7)

“For God sent forth His son…for the world to be saved through him.” (John 3: 17)

He that exercises faith in the Son has everlasting life…” (John 3: 36)

“…the one that comes to me I will by no means drive away.” (John 6: 37)

If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  Therefore if the Son sets you free, you will actually be free.” (John 8: 31-32; 36)

“If anyone observes my word, he will never taste death at all.” (John 8: 52)

“If anyone loves me, he will observe my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our abode with him.”

You will be witnesses of me…to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1: 8)

And finally:

“I am the way and the truth and the life…” (John 14: 6)

Clearly, just from these few scriptures quoted, we can see that we are to “come to Jesus” for salvation, that He is truly “the way” of salvation, as is God’s arrangement.  Further, in order to “know” the “truth,” we must “remain in the word” of Jesus.  Also, we can see that nowhere in the scriptures do we find any limit to the number who may find salvation through Christ, rather, we find words such as: “the one that,” “he that,” “anyone,” and “everyone,” to show that the offer of salvation is a “free gift” that Jesus extends to each and everyone of us: (to accept, or reject) salvation through Jesus Christ. (re: “free gift,” see John 4: 10; Acts 8: 20; Acts 11: 17; Romans 5: 15-17)

So what does this all mean?

The scriptures are plain:  We must understand that we cannot “earn” forgiveness of sins,” or “earn” everlasting life, by our own efforts…or through any of our puny, religious “works” (Gal. 2: 21).  We must swallow our pride and admit that we NEED the sacrifice of Jesus to cover over our sins; we need to “come to Jesus” in order to be saved, and to thankfully accept His sacrifice and His FREE GIFT of salvation through Him, “put faith in Him” in order to be saved, and then, when we DO accept Jesus as our Lord and savior, the Holy Spirit of God and Jesus comes into our heart and we are “reborn,” as Jesus said; we are thus, then and there, ADOPTED by our Heavenly Father, right where we are, and just as we are!  (See 1 Thessalonians 4: 8; Colossians 3: 11; 1 John 3: 24)

“And this is the witness given, that God gave us everlasting life, and this life is in His son.  He that has the Son has this life; he that does not have the Son of God does not have this life.” (1 John 5: 11, 12)  “…and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our abode with him.” (John 14: 23)

Let’s take a look at the Watchtower’s plan of salvation


The Watchtower’s “plan of salvation” is pretty simple, though it is not actually “presented” to their members as an actual “plan” of salvation, nor do they use the word, “salvation,” very much.  Anything to do with any alluding to the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ (which the majority of Christians clearly understand) is generally avoided by the Watchtower Organization…both in their discourses from the platform, and in their literature.

Their plan is basically the following:

1)  You must join their organization to have (the hope of) salvation.  (Salvation is never “assured” the Jehovah’s Witness, which is why they “work” so hard.  Philip. 2: 12)

2)  You must believe everything that the Watchtower Organization teaches, and obey the rules and mandates of the Watchtower Organization; submit completely to their authority, and remain in “good standing.”

3)  You must remain absolutely loyal to the Watchtower Organization, believing that the leaders of the Watchtower Organization are “appointed by God,” and show them the proper respect by showing humble “obedience and loyalty.”

That’s pretty much it…completely submit to the Watchtower, follow the Watchtower, obey the Watchtower, believe what is taught by the Watchtower, and remain completely loyal to the Watchtower…even if it means disowning your family, or allowing the avoidable death of a parent, spouse, or even the death of your own child.

Interestingly, as we saw in 1 John 5, we already have life if we have faith in the Son of God, and yet the Watchtower Organization told their people on the front page of their March 1, 1979 feature magazine, “The Watchtower,” that their members should “Put Faith in a Victorious Organization”!!  A HUMAN ORGANIZATION!  Is this not utter blasphemy, when the scriptures so clearly tell us otherwise?

Scriptures referring to “putting faith in Jesus”:

Matt. 18: 6; John 4: 39; John 7: 31, 39, 48; John 8: 30; John 10: 42; John 11: 48;

Gal. 2: 16; Philip. 1: 29; Philip. 5: 10;

Nowhere in the Holy Scriptures will we find that we, as God’s people, should “put faith in” any religion or organization, but we DO read that we should “put faith in Jesus”!

We have seen that the scriptures tell us to “come to Jesus,” as this is Jehovah God’s plan by which we might be saved. (Acts 4: 12) Yes, there are, indeed, many scriptures in the New Testament that clearly tell us what we need to do in order to have salvation, or, “everlasting life,” and yet, sadly, the modern-day Jehovah’s Witness is completely in the dark about our Heavenly Father’s loving plan for them; and this is by design.

In order to gain and maintain authority and control over their members, the Watchtower Organization was successful in taking their members focus away from Jesus (and from God’s plan of “salvation through Jesus”) and to turn their attention completely upon the “Jehovah” of the Old Testament…as if we are not now past the Old Testament and now, as Christians, are to follow Jesus.  Instead of acknowledging Acts 1: 8, in which Jesus tells His followers that we would be witnesses of HIM in all the earth, the Watchtower Organization has their member’s attention drawn, instead, to Isaiah 43: 10 where Jehovah God is talking to His people, The Israelites, and tells them that they are His “witnesses,” and it is upon this scripture from which the Jehovah’s Witnesses take their name…but as they are taught to believe that they, alone, are “true” Christians, it does seem a bit odd that they ignore Jesus, and what He said at Acts 1: 8, to a large degree; but again, this is by design. (Early Watchtower members all understood salvation was through Christ!!)

Instead of the members of the Watchtower Organization being taught that “the way” is Jesus, and that “the truth” is Jesus, and that “the life” is Jesus, they are taught that only by following the Watchtower Organization can they be following the right “way,” or know the “truth,” or ever have any hope of “life.”; they are taught to depend upon the Watchtower Organization with an almost child-like dependence…but why this terrible “fear of Armageddon”?

Nowhere in the teachings of Jesus Christ, nor anywhere in the teachings of His apostles, or disciples, do we find that Armageddon is anything for the Christian to fear.  We are admonished in every way, however, to follow Christ and His teachings; we were not even told that we had to join any religion or organization in order to “have life,” or salvation, only that we should, as Christians, “gather ourselves together.” (Heb. 10: 25)  It is not until Revelation 16: 16 that we see any mention of the dreaded Armageddon, or, “Har-Magedon,” and it has nothing to do with Christians as Christians are already in Heaven when it comes!!  (Rev. 7: 9- 14; 19: 1)

Why Jehovah’s Witnesses fear Armageddon

Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that it is only the 144,000 that the scriptures that speak of that “going to Heaven” apply to, and so the average Jehovah’s Witness thinks that they can only “hope” to be spared by Jehovah God at Armageddon, because they do not know that God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ is extended to ALL, and thus they live in fear because the Watchtower has made them believe that they are not “eligible” for “salvation through Christ,” and that it is only for “special ones” that are in a “special flock” of God’s people, (Eph. 4: 4), and that the members of the rank-and-file must get into the New System by “hanging onto the Watchtower leader’s coattails,” so to speak, by following them and obeying them and believing what they are taught by them, because they are “appointed” by God, Himself, to teach them, and that to “disobey” them, or to “disrespect” them, is to “disobey” God and to “disrespect” God, and that to not be “loyal” to “Jehovah’s” organization is to put one’s self “on the side of the wicked,” and then they will be “destroyed” at Armageddon by Jehovah; and this is a sad thing, indeed.

Instead of the assurance of salvation through Christ, the Jehovah’s Witness has been fed a “false” plan of salvation…that of following the teachings and mandates of a human organization, and inwardly they suffer from fear and anxiety and insecurity and stress and depression…and all the while they are under the pressure of living up to what they are told by the Watchtower Organization: that they are “the happiest people on the earth”; all the while they “know” (deep down in their souls) that at any time they could “lose it all,” (should they “fail” in any way), and be deemed “worthy of death at Armageddon.”

Interestingly, the book of Galatians has a few things to say about this very situation:

“…certain ones who are…wanting to pervert the good news about the Christ.  However, even if we or an angel out of Heaven were to declare to you as good news something beyond what we declared to you as good news, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1: 7, 8)

“…am I seeking to please men? For I put you on notice, brothers, that the good news is not something human.” (Gal. 1: 10, 11)

“For such freedom Christ set us free.  Therefore stand fast, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5: 1; this scripture refers to being under law.)

“I do not shove aside the undeserved kindness of God; for if righteousness is through law, Christ actually died for nothing.” (Gal. 2: 21)

“But because of the false brothers brought in quietly to spy upon our freedom which we have in union with Christ Jesus, that they might completely enslave us…to these we did not yield by way of submission, no, not for an hour, in order that the truth of the good news might continue with you.” (Gal. 2: 4, 5)

And the apostle Paul adds at Romans 10: 2-4:  “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge: for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness.”

And Paul continues in Romans 10: 9:  “For if you publicly declare that ‘word in your mouth,’ that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved.

To summarize:


The Jehovah’s Witness that you may know as your neighbor or as your friend or as your co-worker …or as that nice lady at the bank…has been taught a “false plan of salvation.” Instead of feeling the “peace of God that excels all thought” in having the assurance of salvation that cannot be taken away from them as “punishment” for some human “sin” by some “man,” or “organization,” they live with the constant “knowledge” that if they are not “faithful” to Jehovah by being “faithful” (and humbly obedient!!) to the Watchtower Organization, they are doomed to be destroyed…forever.  (See Philip. 4: 4-6)

It is hoped that a concerned Christian will feel pity upon the innocent Jehovah’s Witness who is only trying to serve God in the only way they know how and reach out to them with love and the true “good news” about the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ!!

Anne Marie


[1] The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that “in the New System” things will be easier, as “the world” would be gone, so there will be no more “wicked” system, or “wicked” people, to tempt them or to “trip them up” in their service to Jehovah.  After all, when they are resurrected into the “New System,” there will only be other Jehovah’s Witnesses to associate with, and the “odds” that one will be “rewarded” with “everlasting life” is much greater in the “New System” than in having to try and “remain faithful” in `an evil world.

[2] The leaders of the Watchtower Organization have long taught their members that THEY, and THEY, alone, are “appointed by Jesus” to dispense His truth, or, as it is put to the rank-and-file, “spiritual food,” and that if a Jehovah’s Witness does not follow the teachings of the Watchtower, and remain “faithful” to the Watchtower Organization, they are “going against God and His arrangement,” and therefore, against God, Himself.  It is cemented into the minds and hearts of the rank-and-file that this is an absolute truth.

[3] This is almost always the point where one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses will show the householder a Watchtower publication with a beautiful illustration of what “paradise” might look like; the “visual” helping to “cement” in the householder’s mind the “desirability” of  “paradise,” and a desire to hear more.

[4] All scriptures are quoted from the Watchtower Organization’s own version of the Bible, the “New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures,” or, in other words, from the Bible that the Jehovah’s Witnesses consider to be the “most accurate” translation of the Holy Scriptures, in order that they might see “the truth” in their own Bible.  (The Watchtower’s large, brown Bible, released in 1984, is especially helpful, as the footnotes are very good.)

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Author: Anne Marie