[This is an updated post of one released back in August, 2013 when this issue of The Watchtower was first released.]
This week’s study contains one of the more controversial statements which the Governing Body has presumed to make of late. If you care to scan paragraph 17 on page 20, you’ll come across this rather astonishing assertion: “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.”
The unspoken assumption for any one of Jehovah’s Witnesses is that to survive Armageddon, we will have to follow some “life-saving instructions” from the leadership of the Organization. This gives the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses a tremendous amount of power. Naturally, the world will not be privy to this instruction and even if they were, would not follow it. However, we will but only if we stay in the Organization and only if we do not doubt, neither the Governing Body, nor the elders in our local congregation. Absolute and unquestioning obedience is needed if we want to save our life.
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. 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 of The Watchtower explains that “the shepherds and dukes (or, “princes,” NEB) in this implausible army are the congregation elders. (1 Pet. 5:2)”
Quite a statement, isn’t it? Jehovah will raise up against the attacking Assyrian and in defense of his people…the congregation elders. One would expect—indeed, one should expect—to see scriptural proof for this astonishing interpretation. Yet, one and only one scripture is given. No problem. How many scriptures do we really need? Still, it must be a whopper. Let’s read it together.
(1 Peter 5:2) Shepherd the flock of God in YOUR care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly;
It’s hard not to sound facetious when faced with the stunning effrontery of presenting this scripture as relevant. But it doesn’t end there. These elders will not be directed by Jehovah, nor the Messiah referred to in this prophecy, but by a group not even alluded to by Micah. The Governing Body will give the elders the direction they need.
We are given a four-point checklist in paragraph 17 to make sure we don’t die when the Assyrian attacks. The crux of it is that we have to trust the elders and of course, the Organization (read, the Governing Body) to direct us to life-saving action when the time comes. In other words, we are trusting men to tell us the right thing to do to be saved. Funny thing about that is the very next verse of Micah has this to say:
The remaining ones of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples
Like dew from Jehovah,
Like showers of rain on vegetation
That do not put hope in man
Or wait for the sons of men.
How ironic that the prophecy on which they are basing this new understanding actually contradicts it. The remaining ones (or remnant) of Jacob are likely the same ones Paul refers to at Romans 11:5. These are the anointed Christians who are in the midst of many peoples. They do not “put [their] hope in man or wait for the sons of men.” So why would they wait on the Governing Body and elders for life-saving direction from Christ?
How will the seven shepherds and eight dukes provide protection? Jesus provides those anointed ones resurrected to kingdom glory with iron rods with which to shepherd and break the nations. (Rev. 2:26, 27) In a similar way, the shepherds and dukes here pictured will shepherd the attacking Assyrian with the sword. To fit out flaccid interpretation, we say the elders will shepherd the nations attacking God’s people with the sword of God’s word the Bible. How exactly they are going to defeat the combined forces of Gog and Magog, Bibles in hand isn’t explained.
There is this, however. Reading this account is intended to inspire a certain dread should we be thinking of abandoning the Organization. Leave, and we will die because we’ll be cut off from the life-saving information when the end comes. Is that a reasonable conclusion?
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 prophesy, and he told the people to go out and face the invading forces; strategically, a foolish thing to do. His inspired words were 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, or the king himself, but he chose a simple Levite instead. No reason is given. However, if Jahaziel had had a long record of prophetic failures, 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.
The first member of the faithful and discreet slave (according to our most recent reinterpretation) was Judge Rutherford. He foretold that “millions now living would never die”, because he also taught that the end would come on or about 1925. In fact, he foretold that ancient men of faith like Abraham and David would be resurrected in that year. He even purchased a California mansion, Beth Sarim, to house them upon their return. If we had been observing Mosaic law at that time, we would have been obliged to take him outside the city gates and stone him to death.
I do not say this in jest, but rather to put things we might casually dismiss into the proper perspective, that which Jehovah has laid down in his word.
If a false prophet must die, it would be inconsistent for Jehovah to use as his principal prophet, a man or group of men who have a long, virtually unbroken record of failed prophecies.
It is clear from the tone of this Watchtower article as well as the two that sandwich it that the Organization is depending on inducing fear—a kind of separation anxiety within our ranks—to keep us in line and loyal and obedient to men. This is a very old tactic and we’ve been warned about it by our Father.
(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. We should not be induced to serve them out of fear.
Who the seven shepherds and eight dukes will turn out to be—assuming the prophecy has a modern-day fulfillment at all—is something we’ll have to wait to learn. As for any life-saving direction revealed to and through his prophets, well, if he has something to tell us, you can be sure that the source of the information will be beyond dispute, with credentials provided by God himself.
There is a ramification to the statement in paragraph 17 that the Governing Body probably didn’t intend to convey. Since there is no scriptural support for this apparently impractical, non-strategic life-saving direction, one has to question how they know they will be given such a revelation from God. The only way would be if God has revealed this to them now. Therefore, the only way for us to consider this statement to be true—again, given the lack of scriptural proof—is for us to conclude that they have been inspired. Therefore, God has inspired them to let them know that in the future they will be inspired yet again.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being afraid of men.
Meleti Vivlon, I don’t know you, but you’re my hero. 🙂 I have not been a witness for 18 years, but I try very hard to get current JWs to wake up, including my family. Someone else that is doing the same thing shared the link and I’m thrilled that I now know of this amazing site. Thank you!
Thank you and welcome to the site, Stephanie.
So how am I to sum up paragraph 17? “Elders who are reading this article can draw some useful conclusions from the account we have just considered: . . . (3) At that time, 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.” What life-saving direction was given to Israel through Micah, since Samaria hadn’t even fallen yet to the Assyrians? What I found noticeably missing was… Read more »
Of course, this was our study article for today, so I decided t come back to this page and review the comments. I would actually say that in so far as it goes, this was one of the more interesting studies I have seen in a while, with the vast majority of it based on the history between Israel, Judah and Assyria leading to king Hezekiahs stand and of course the prophecy in Micah. I read your comment a couple of times with interest. was wondering if could clarify your view of the timeline representing a divine pattern. I see… Read more »
Thank you everyone here for a great discussion of today’s WT . One must be impressed with the organization’s ability to have a full-time research and writing dept. comb the Bible daily to seek out obscure scriptures and make modern day applications to Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have made an art form out of applying every prophecy to something in their modern day JW current understanding (new light) even if it isn’t clear that it is a prophecy much less that it has direct modern day application. The average non-questioning brother and sister was certainly impressed with this study and listening… Read more »
It’s wild ride already, at least for me. This is no win situation. Everyone must take stand for his believes one day. It has consequences of course, but I hope for better future.
Last night in my frustration, I sat through the 1957 version of 12 Angry Men. Funny how you can watch the same drama in different stages and circumstances of life and get glued to it all over again. Maybe because its application is so universal to every stage of life’s decisions? Why are we all in such a hurry to convict? Why do we get so angry with those who aren’t? Because we’ve all got more important, personal matters to attend to? Do we really know that when we join a religion that claims its direction is infallibly truthful, that… Read more »
Poorly chosen word in “perjured himself by threatening the life of the very first to see reasonable doubt” should’ve read “implicated” not “perjured”
Outstanding comment sw1. Of course like a comment within a comment I was admittedly predisposed (prejudiced) to enjoy your line of reasoning because 12 Angry Men is one of my favorite all time movies. But what you say is spot on. Once we are “inside” we become mostly mentally powered by confirmation bias, whether wittingly or unwittingly. The question is whether we are willing to reopen our minds sufficiently to allow truth to penetrate once we are there. It is clear that the organization (GB) is aware of this battle for hearts and minds, and how to play the game.… Read more »
I only watched “12 Angry Men” recently and enjoyed it very much. One of my favorite morality-play movies is “A Man for All Seasons”. They should play it at elders schools when discussing disfellowshipping and apostasy.
“A Man for All Seasons”. . . another of my favourites!
My favorite line: “Whatever can be achieved by smiling, you may count on me to do.”
It was the movie my girlfriend took me to when I announced to her I was going to join Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the time I was too young to grasp what Thomas More was trying to convey and thought it better he simply resign Catholicism. Then again I didn’t have a clue what Henry VIII was all about or the politics behind it all. Only after raising a family have I realized More’s invaluable, life-altering lesson.
Great analysis once again, Meleti. The scripture in 1 Pet 5:2 was used just recently on me by the elders. If you read further, verses 3 and 4 state: not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. Who deserves this crown? As you say, Micah 5:7 refers to the remnant, and really, aren’t they the only ones to receive a crown of glory aside from Christ? Heb 2:9, Rev 3:11,12. I just read the answer to… Read more »
Thanks for bringing 1 Peter 5:2-4 to my attention. I haven’t read it since coming to my new understanding that there is no little flock/other sheep division of salvation and that we are all Jehovah’s children. This text makes perfect sense in that light, but if we consider that 99.999% of elders are other sheep (by our erroneous understanding) then verse 4 makes no sense at all. Seriously, how do we miss these things. I’m still amazed by the power of indoctrination.
The answer of course is the eternal “get out of jail free” card, which is to just add “… and by extension …” whenever something doesn’t fit. You and I would both have accepted this without a moment’s thought many years ago. It is only when we start with a relatively clean slate that the scriptures can begin to speak to us again.
W11 6/11 pp20-24
Peter concluded his admonition to the older men by referring to a promise for the future. (Read 1 Peter 5:4.) The anointed overseers “will receive the unfadable crown of glory” with Christ in heaven. The undershepherds of the “other sheep” will have the privilege of shepherding the flock of God on earth under the rulership of “the chief shepherd.” (John 10:16)
Non-anointed elders are thus under-shepherds, because they do not get this commission directly.
Thanks Alex, for finding that reference. It shows how easily they have slipped in false teaching, making no effort whatsoever to support it with valid scriptural references. It also shows how well indoctrinated we are that we read and accept such things unquestioningly.
Thank you Meleti. Excellent observations about this Watchtower article! Your point about the “Unintended Implications” that “God has inspired them to let them know that in the future they will be inspired yet again”, is so true! Of course here is what they have said in the past about being inspired: “In a modern parallel, especially since this journal was first published in 1879, the anointed remnant of Christ’s disciples, though not inspired as was Paul, have produced much Bible literature.” – (w85 9/1, God’s Ministers Prove Their Qualification, Par 17) “True, the brothers preparing these publications are not infallible.… Read more »
If you want to test this in practice, ask your elders or circuit overseer the following questions: 1) Are the publications inspired and infallible? [Hopefully, you’ll get an emphatic ‘no’, but they may start squirming even here.] 2) If the publications are not inspired, do we have to believe everything in them? [Most likely, the squirming will now begin in earnest. If they’re daring enough to give the right answer, they’re all set up for the next question. If asked for an example, try something innocuous like “I can’t believe the 1,290 days of Dan 12:11 really run from 1919… Read more »
So true. The contradiction is obvious, but will go largely unnoticed by the rank and file. How can they be uninspired, yet somehow know that God will talk to them in the future. Further, how can God impart life-saving direction to them for us while they keep their uninspired status.
Thanks for well writen article and this site. I hope that this WT article will awake some thinking brothers and sisters and they’ll realise that we are falling in the snare of following men rather then God. I’m tired of being criticised for thinking and using logic. I am tired of exploring and studing God’s word in clandestine manner, not able to share any contradictory arguments with my family and brothers ,because of the danger of being called apostate or having apostate thinking. Yes I am afraid of men. I am afraid of the disfellowshipping and consequent shuning and the… Read more »
” I’m tired of being criticised for thinking and using logic. I am tired of exploring and studing God’s word in clandestine manner, not able to share any contradictory arguments with my family and brothers ,because of the danger of being called apostate or having apostate thinking. Yes I am afraid of men. I am afraid of the disfellowshipping and consequent shuning and the impact this may have on my family” You took the words right out of my mouth. My husband and I have had this very conversation. The thing that keeps us “in” is my wanting to keep… Read more »
Wow!!! You have left me virtually speechless. This is a well written article. The scripturally supportive statements in this article are outstanding. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m so grateful that I found this site. You make very good points and much of it’s worth deep meditation. I’m experiencing a deep sadness over the direction the organization is taking. My heart is broken. I pray to our Father that he lessens the pain and distress I’m feeling. I loved the “truth “so much. I thought it was a privilege to be raised in the truth. It’s not. I can’t… Read more »
My heart was broken too for a few weeks. Then I realized that there is lots of work for me to do. Thankfully I’m not an elder. I wouldn’t be able to teach certain things anymore if I were. I feel much better because lots of guilt has been lifted. I realize what God’s undeserved kindness means and no longer feel like I have to earn salvation. We are not special for recognizing the things we now know. Jehovah will see to it that all sincere truth seekers will see the light. A friend who is very loyal to the… Read more »
Jesus knew long ago that this separation would become necessary for the faithful in the time of the end. When we do leave the apostacy behind, we want to do it in accord with the way that follows Christ’s instructions.
Jesus well knew that the faithful in the time of the end would need to flee the apostate “city”. Yet it would be wise for us to do so, according to the method Christ directed….
not according to the directives of the Organization. (http://4womaninthewilderness.blogspot.com/2012/08/here-is-answer-to-comment-that-was-left.html)