While we were studying this in today’s meeting, something jumped out at me that I’d completely missed before. I couldn’t let it lie; hence, the addendum.
Feel free to correct me on this if you see a flaw in the reasoning because historical timelines are not my strong suit. It would appear—as I’m about to demonstrate—that they are not the strong suit of the publishers either.
Here we go:
- King Ahaz dies in 746 B.C.E. and Hezekiah assumes the throne (par. 6)
- In the 14th year of Hezekiah’s rulership—732 B.C.E.—Sennacherib invades. (par. 9)
- The seven shepherds and eight dukes of Micah 5:5,6 are representative of Hezekiah and his princes. (par. 10, 13)
- Micah wrote his prophecy before 717 B.C.E., 15 years after these events he prophesised about. (Table of the Books of the Bible, NWT p. 1662)
There is no such thing as a hindsight prophecy.
Let’s look at this in more detail. We don’t know when Micah wrote the prophecy, but the best we can establish is sometime before 717 B.C.E. Therefore we have no basis to say that he prophesied about Hezekiah since our best guess is that these words were written after the fact. To put it another way, we state, “He [Hezekiah] may have been aware of the words of the prophet Micah”[i], when in fact we can’t even state with certainty that there were any words to be aware of.
Then in paragraph 13 we switch from the conditional to the declarative and state with certainty that “He and his princes and mighty men, as well as the prophets Micah and Isaiah, proved to be effective shepherds, just as Jehovah foretold through his prophet….Micah 5:5,6”. Such a bald-faced assertion is nothing more than intellectual dishonesty.
Our premise that the elders will be the “primary, or most important, fulfillment”[ii] of these words is based on the belief that they initially applied to Hezekiah and the Assyrian invasion. Yet now, that is out the window.
Have a careful read of Micah 5:1-15.
Now consider that Hezekiah’s faith which inspired the people to demonstrate faith certainly opened the way for Jehovah to act, but it was Jehovah, through a single angel, who delivered the nation. There was no sword, literal or symbolic, being wielded by seven shepherds and eight dukes that resulted in the salvation of the nation. Yet, verse 6 says, “And they will actually shepherd the land of Assyria 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.”
This is clearly a Messianic prophecy. There is no dispute about that. It could well be that to demonstrate what the Messiah would do on a larger scale, Micah was inspired to use as his prophetic backdrop, the Jehovah’s historic deliverance of Judah from the Assyrians. Whatever the case, the surrounding verses speak of events which were to take place long after Hezekiah’s day. There was also no mention of the land of Nimrod in Hezekiah’s day. It seems clear that the application of these verses is future. In that, we agree with the Governing Body. However, there is nothing in Micah chapter five to support the speculative assumption that the congregation elders are the seven shepherds and eight dukes. Nevertheless, for the fun of it, let’s say that the elders are the prophetic antitype to Hezekiah and his princes. Both are the seven shepherds and eight dukes. Okay, who in the prophecy pictures the Governing Body?