The November Study Edition of The Watchtower just came out. One of our alert readers drew our attention to page 20, paragraph 17 which reads in part, “When “the Assyrian” attacks…the life-saving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not.”
This article is yet another occurrence of a trend we’ve been experiencing this year, and actually for some time now, where we cherry-pick a prophetic application that is convenient to our organizational message, gleefully ignoring other relevant parts of the same prophecy what might contradict our claim. We did this in the February Study Edition when dealing with the prophecy in Zechariah chapter 14, and again in the July issue when dealing with the new understanding of the faithful slave.
Micah 5:1-15 is a complicated prophecy involving the Messiah. We ignore all but verses 5 and 6 in our application. (This prophecy is difficult to comprehend due to the somewhat stilted rendering it receives in the NWT. I would recommend you access the web site, bible.cc, and use the parallel translation reading feature to review the prophecy.)
Micah 5:5 reads: “…As for the Assyrian, when he comes into our land and when he treads upon our dwelling towers, we shall also have to raise up against him seven shepherds, yes, eight dukes of mankind.” Paragraph 16 explains that “the shepherds and dukes (or, “princes,” NEB) in this implausible army are the congregation elders.”
How do we know this? There is no scriptural evidence to support this interpretation. It appears we are expected to accept it as fact because it comes from those who claim to be God’s appointed channel of communication. However, the context seems to undermine this interpretation. The very next verse reads: “And they will actually shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in its entrances. And he will certainly bring about deliverance from the Assyrian, when he comes into our land and when he treads upon our territory.” (Micah 5:6)
To be clear, we are speaking of “the attack of ‘Gog of Magog,’ the attack of “the king of the north,” and the attack of “the kings of the earth.” (Ezek. 38:2, 10-13; Dan. 11:40, 44, 45; Rev. 17:14:19-19)” according to what paragraph 16 says. If our interpretation holds, then the congregation elders will deliver Jehovah’s people from these attacking kings using a weapon, the sword. What sword? According to paragraph 16, “Yes, among ‘the weapons of their warfare,’ you will find “the sword of the spirit,” God’s Word.”
So the congregation elders will deliver God’s people from the attack of the combined military forces of the world by using the Bible.
That may sound strange to you—it certainly does to me—but let’s skip over that for now and ask, how will this scriptural direction come to the seven shepherds and eight dukes. According to paragraph 17—quoted in our opening paragraph—it will come from the organization. In other words, the Governing Body will be directed by God to tell the elders what to do, and in turn, the elders will tell us.
Therefore—and this is the key point—we had better stay in the Organization and remain loyal to the Governing Body because our very survival depends upon them.
How do we know this is true? Doesn’t the leadership of every religious body say the same thing about themselves? Is this what Jehovah tells us in his word?
Well, Amos 3:7 does say, “For the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.” Well, that seems clear enough. Now we just have to identify who the prophets are. Let’s not be too quick to say the Governing Body. Let’s examine the Scriptures first.
In the time of Jehoshaphat, there was a similar overwhelming force coming against Jehovah’s people. They gathered together and prayed and Jehovah answered their prayer. His spirit caused Jahaziel to prophecy and he told the people to go out and face this invading army. Strategically, a foolish thing to do. It was obviously designed to be a test of faith; one they passed. It is interesting that Jahaziel wasn’t the high priest. In fact, he wasn’t a priest at all. However, it appears he was known as a prophet, because the next day, the king tells the gathered crowd to “put faith in Jehovah” and to “put faith in his prophets”. Now Jehovah could have chosen someone with better credentials like the high priest, but he chose a simple Levite instead. No reason is given. However, if Jahaziel had had a long record of prophetic failings, would Jehovah have chosen him? Not likely!
According to Deut. 18:20, “…the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak…that prophet must die.” So the fact that Jahaziel wasn’t dead speaks well for his reliability as a prophet of God.
Given the atrocious track record of our Organization’s prophetic interpretations, would it be logical and loving for Jehovah to use them to deliver a life or death message? Consider his own words:
(Deuteronomy 18:21, 22) . . .And in case you should say in your heart: “How shall we know the word that Jehovah has not spoken?” 22 when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened at him.’
For the past century, the Organization had repeatedly spoken words which ‘did not occur or come true’. According to the Bible, they spoke presumptuously. We should not get frightened of them.
A statement such as what is made in paragraph 17 is intended to accomplish just that: To make us afraid to disregard the authority of the Governing Body. This is an old tactic. Jehovah warned us about it over 3,500 years ago. When Jehovah has had a life and death message to deliver to his people, he has always used a means that leaves no doubt as to the authenticity of the message or the credibility of the messenger.
Now the point made in paragraph 17 that the direction may “appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint” is well taken. Often Jehovah’s messengers have delivered direction that appears foolish from a human point of view. (Building an ark in the middle of nowhere, positioning a defenseless people with their backs to the Red Sea, or sending 300 men to fight a combined army, to name only a few.) It seems the one constant is that his direction always requires a leap of faith. However, he always makes sure we know it is His direction and not someone else’s. It would be hard to do that using the Governing Body given that they’ve rarely been right about any prophetic interpretation.
So who are his prophets? I don’t know, but I’m sure that when the time comes, we all will—and without any doubt.