Jehovah’s Witnesses have not published an Awake! magazine since March 2022. There has been no announcement from the World Headquarters in New York that the publication has ceased production. Yet, no edition has yet been released since March 2023.
The Awake! magazine has been in circulation for over 75 years, with its first issue in August 1946. It’s predecessors being Consolation and The Golden Age, the latter being in circulation from 1919 until September 1937, and the former in circulation from October 1937 until July 1946.
The original mission of Awake! magazine was “to exposing hidden foes and subtle dangers, to championing freedom for all, to comforting mourners and strengthening those disheartened by the failures of a delinquent world, reflecting sure hope for the establishment of a righteous New World.”
In January 1964, this mission changed slightly. The final words, “a righteous New World”, were replaced with “God’s righteous new order in this generation”. This was a bold change as the Jehovah’s Witnesses were convinced that the end of the world was imminent, full sure it would happen in 1975.
Incidentally, in January 1975, the mission changed considerably, making an even bolder claim stating that the Awake! magazine “provides hope, giving you a basis for confidence in the Creator’s promise of a new order of lasting peace and true security within our generation.” The generations of people living between 1964 and 1975 never realized that “lasting peace and true security”. Indeed, Jehovah’s Witnesses are still waiting for it to materialize, while they write unsolicited letters to unsuspecting householders during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In January 1978, the year after Jehovah’s Witnesses had a massive drop in membership, the Awake! magazine reduced its mission to one paragraph ending with the sentence, “Most importantly, “Awake!” builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new order within our generation.” It no longer provided hope, as most people at this point had lost hope once 1975 came and went without incident.
But this didn’t stop the Jehovah’s Witnesses creating a new carrot for the stick that is ever in front of the believers’ eyes. Just 4 years later, in January 1982, they revised their mission yet again. This time they made the even bolder claim that “a peaceful and secure new order” would materialize “before the generation that saw the events of 1914 C.E. passes away”. In June 1983, they dropped the abbreviation “C.E.” and capitalized the first letter of the words, “New Order”. The mission statement disappeared from the publication from January 1987 and then reappeared in March 1988. This time the words “New Order” were replaced with “new world” (lowercase)
Despite these revisions to the mission statement, their claims have consistently proven false. The generation that saw the events of 1914 are long dead; they have passed away. Where is this “peaceful and secure new order”?
After a change in their understanding of “this generation” at Matthew 24:34, they revised their mission statement in November 1995. This time the words, “before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away” (which they had inserted in 1982), were replaced with the less bold phrase, “that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things”. This new safer phrase was not altered until they did away with the mission statement with the release of their January 2013 edition.
When the Awake! magazine was first released in 1946, an issue came out twice a month. This continued to be the case for almost 60 years. And during that time, the number of languages that it was published in continued to increase. However, in 2006, the decision was to release the magazine only once a month. Then in 2013, they reduced the page count from 32 pages to 16. Then in 2016, the publication was issued once every 2 months. And just 2 years later, they reduced the number of issues to just 3 for the whole year. From 2018 to 2020, they published a total of 9 issues of Awake! magazine. From 2020 to 2023, they issued just one magazine each year.
A historical magazine with bold mission statements that consistently proved false has quietly died and become irrelevant.