“Hear, O you mountains, the legal case of Jehovah, also…you foundations of the earth; for Jehovah has a legal case with his people, and it is with Israel that he will argue” -Micah 6:2-
The prophecy of Micah opens with Jehovah issuing a fear-inspiring warning to the realms below in advance of his flaming descent to earth. Yes, Jehovah God is coming down—he is coming down from heaven itself. He is coming down to set matters straight! The descent of Almighty God from his abode in highest heaven, down to our tiny sphere, is so awesome and terrible it is as if the very mountains melt from the glory of his presence. .
Micah 1:3-4 puts it this way: “For, look! Jehovah is going forth from his place, and he will certainly come down and tread upon earth’s high places. And the mountains must melt under him, and the low plains themselves will split apart, like wax because of the fire, like waters being poured down a steep place.”
What has compelled the great God, Jehovah, to take such drastic action, as if to leave his own residence in the realms above to come down to this tiny planet? God himself answers that question in the very next verse of Micah: “It is because of the revolt of Jacob that there is all this, even because of the sins of the house of Israel.”“All this” is due to the fact that Jehovah has a legal case against his nation—his people. But this is no ordinary case at law. No, not ordinary at all; for not only is God the Plaintiff in this case, but he is also both the righteous Prosecutor and the impartial Judge! Who can possibly hope to successfully argue against God?
But what are the legal issues at stake and what basis does God have for taking up a juridical case in the first place? The legal basis is founded upon the fact that the nation of Israel had entered into a solemn, binding covenant with God. And it is because of the covenant-breaking sins, stubbornness and pridefulness of God’s dedicated people that have in the past, and will yet again, set into motion Jehovah’s earth-quaking judgments from above.
Of course, God did not literally come down from heaven; nor did the mountains actually melt like wax before him. In reality, God’s judgments in the past were first expressed through the prophets themselves, as they laid out the legal case God had against his people and their leaders. And when Jehovah determined beyond any denial that his people were guilty as charged, then a mere human agency—two human agencies in fact—the formidable Assyrian and Babylonian armies—both served as executioners of God’s judgments on separate occasions. Those armies were so ruthless it was as if they wrecked civilization itself. And to some extent they actually did. There is no reason to believe that the judgment to come will deviate from the pattern established in the Scriptures.
Micah is one of the oldest prophetic books of the Bible, yet its message is earmarked for fulfillment in “the final part of the days”—when God’s kingdom assumes power. So, what is the significance of Micah for Christians today? The name of the prophet himself—Micah—is a shortened form of the name Michael, which, of course, is the name of the archangel who is elsewhere described in prophecy as the savior of Jehovah’s people. And appropriately, woven throughout the prophecy of Micah the Messiah is prophesied to serve in a similar capacity as savior.
Like many of the Hebrew prophets, the book of Micah situates Jehovah’s Judgment Day in an ancient setting so that God’s judicial matters, which once pertained to Israel and Judah, might reveal vital patterns of the judgment to come concerning what is commonly called spiritual Israel—or the congregation of Christ.
The reason Hebrew prophecies may apply to both ancient and spiritual Israel is because spiritual Israel originally sprang from natural Israel—replacing it as “the Israel of God.” For instance, the very fact that Christ originally founded his congregation upon the 12 apostles is surely patterned after the 12 tribes of Israel. Actually, the covenant God made with Abraham was intended from the beginning to produce an organization comprised of Christ and his anointed followers—the genuine seed of Abraham according to Galatians 3:29, which will be the means by which God will ultimately bless all the nations. That the organizations of physical and spiritual Israel are inseparably linked is further evidenced by the fact that the 12 gates of the symbolic New Jerusalem in Revelation are inscribed with the names of the 12 sons of Jacob; whereas, the 12 foundational stones of the heavenly city have the names of Christ’s 12 apostles inscribed upon them.
Appropriately, the very last verse of the prophecy of Micah alludes to God’s far-reaching covenant with Abraham: “You will give the trueness given to Jacob, the loving-kindness given to Abraham, which you swore to our forefathers from the days of long ago.”
As proof of how prophecies are intended to apply to Christ’s congregation rather than the nation of Israel, consider the last two verses of the 2nd chapter of Micah, which read: “I shall positively gather Jacob, all of you; I shall without fail collect the remaining ones of Israel together. In unity I shall set them, like a flock in the pen, like a drove in the midst of its pasture; they will be noisy with men. The one making a breakthrough will certainly come up before them: they will actually break through. And they will pass through a gate, and they will go out by it. And their king will pass through before them, with Jehovah at the head of them.”
In the historical setting the Jews were taken captive to far off Babylon. They were then repurchased by Jehovah, which came about when King Cyrus overthrew the mighty city of Babylon—opening the door for a remnant of Jews to return and rebuild Jerusalem.
This is what Micah 4:10 says: “And you will have to come as far as to Babylon. There you will be delivered. There Jehovah will buy you back out of the palm of your enemies.”
However, the Davidic kingship was not reestablished at that time. There was no visible king that actually led a repentant remnant back to Zion. Cyrus served as the liberator, and as such, he merely prefigured Jehovah’s true anointed One—Christ.
Jesus, of course, had not even been born when the Jews were in Babylon and while on earth Jesus most certainly did not lead the nation of Israel out of their captive condition to the Roman Empire. The re-gathering of all of “the remaining ones of Israel” under God’s appointed king is what takes place during the final harvest, when the holy angels gather the chosen ones together from the four corners of the earth.
Even more puzzling—from the standpoint of any past application of Micah’s messianic prophecy—Micah 5:1-4 seemingly places the birth of Christ during the time of the Assyrian invasion of Judah. Those verses read: “At this time you make cuttings upon yourself, O daughter of an invasion; a siege he has laid against us. With the rod they will strike upon the cheek the judge of Israel. And you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, the one too little to get to be among the thousands of Judah, from you there will come out to me the one who is to become ruler in Israel, whose origin is from early times, from the days of time indefinite. Therefore he will give them up until the time that she who is giving birth actually gives birth. And the rest of his brothers will return to the sons of Israel. And he will certainly stand and do shepherding in the strength of Jehovah, in the superiority of the name of Jehovah his God.”
Strangely, the passage above seems to connect the restoration of Israel to the time of Christ and even seems to suggest that “the judge of Israel” will himself be struck by the invasionary forces. How can that be? The book of Micah even places the Babylonian conquest before the Assyrian invasion, which historically was definitely not the case. For instance, immediately before the prophecy foretelling the birthplace of the Messiah, Jehovah promised deliverance from Babylon, and afterwards Micah 4:11-12 foretells: “And now there will certainly be gathered against you many nations, those who are saying, ‘Let her be polluted, and may our eyes look upon Zion.’ But as for them, they have not come to know the thoughts of Jehovah, and they have not come to understand his counsel; because he will certainly collect them together like a row of newly cut grain to the threshing floor.”
Those many nations that are gathered together to war against Jerusalem are collectively called the Assyrian, as it states at Micah 5:6: “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.”
In view of such seeming incongruities of prophecy, it should be apparent that Micah has prophetic significance that extends far beyond the time of the Babylonian and Assyrian invasions and when Jesus was on the earth—casting shadows upon spiritual realities not yet beheld.
The ultimate fulfillment of Micah has to do with the future devastation and restoration of Christ’s congregation. But before discussing the prophetic significance of Micah’s enigma and its fulfillment during the final part of the days, consider first the issues of God’s legal case against Israel. Micah 1:5 calls out the docket, as it were: “What is the revolt of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And what are the high places of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem?”
The revolt of Israel (Samaria) and Judah is rooted within the very establishments of Samaria and Judah—even in Jehovah’s holy city of Jerusalem. In other words, injustice and idolatry had become institutionalized!
WOE TO THOSE WHO ARE SCHEMING WHAT IS HARMFUL
God goes on to indict those who scheme to enrich themselves at the expense of his people, saying at Micah 2:1-2: “Woe to those who are scheming what is harmful, and to those practicing what is bad, upon their beds! By the light of the morning they proceed to do it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they have desired fields and have seized them; also houses, and have taken them; and they have defrauded an able-bodied man and his household, a man and his hereditary possession.”
If, indeed, the prophecy of Micah has any application to the congregation of Christ during the final part of the days, how might the verse above apply?
The Founder of the Watchtower Society, C.T. Russell, originally established it as official policy that the Watchtower would never go begging for funds and if they ever reached the point where operating expenses were not forthcoming, rather then solicit funds the Society would simply consider that as an indication from Jehovah that is was time to suspend publication.
For decades since then the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses have prided themselves on the fact that no collection plates are ever passed among those attending meetings at the kingdom hall. Of course, everyone is frequently reminded at assemblies and meetings as to the importance of putting money in the contribution boxes—but there is nothing inappropriate about that. After all, the first century temple had a contribution box and Jesus even remarked about the generous spirit of a needy widow who made a small contribution. And the original Christians were encouraged to make regular weekly donations.
But in recent years the Society has not been content with the modest offerings Jehovah’s Witnesses have dropped into the contribution boxes. Evidently the Watchtower Society is now going after “the big money.” How so?
Beginning in 1999 the Watchtower began advocating much more sophisticated ways in which Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to make contributions. To that end for the past decade Bethel has annually published an article (reproduced below) exhorting Christians to sign over wills, real estate deeds, stocks, bonds, pension funds, and insurance policies to the Watchtower Society. Jehovah’s Witnesses are even informed that the Society accepts jewelry too! The Watchtower also published a 32-page brochure entitled Charitable Planning to Benefit Kingdom Service Worldwide in order to walk potential donors through the process of signing over their possessions to the Society.
Indeed, “because it is in the power of their hand,” as Jehovah says through Micah, the “commanders” of the Society have used their theocratic authority over the organization to remind Jehovah’s Witnesses in each annual issue containing the contribution article that ‘Jehovah loves a cheerful giver.’ No doubt the apostle’s words are true—Jehovah does love a cheerful giver; but is it really “voluntary” when the Society puts their theocratic stamp of approval upon this unseemly money-raising scheme and uses its authority as the very spokesman of God to promote among potentially vulnerable elderly Christians the signing over of pensions and insurance policies and other forms of inheritance?
An inheritance is a sacred thing. It is something that parents and grandparents pass on to their children and grandchildren. But once an inheritance is legally signed away it is gone, forever. What right does Bethel have insinuating itself into these intimate aspects of a family’s private financial matters? In contrast, Paul advised Christians to simply set aside something each week as a contribution. What is the scriptural basis for such exotic fund-raising schemes such as the Watchtower is now promoting? What if potential heirs may not be in agreement with a parent, grandparent, or even a spouse signing over possessions and assets to the Watchtower Inc?
Monies dropped into a contribution box are one thing, but actively seeking to persuade Jehovah’s Witnesses into signing over deeds and wills and pensions has potentially far-reaching harmful consequences upon entire households.
The Society featured the prophecy of Micah in the 2002 “Zealous Kingdom Proclaimers” District Conventions. The following year the talks appeared in a series of study articles in the August 15th Watchtower magazine. Commenting on Micah 2:1 the Society said:
“Greedy individuals lie awake at night scheming how to seize their neighbors’ fields and houses. In the morning, they hasten to carry out their schemes. They would not commit such wicked deeds if they remembered Jehovah’s covenant. The Mosaic Law contains provisions to protect the poor. Under it, no family should permanently lose possession of its inheritance.”
By their own words based on the Law of Moses, no family should permanently lose their inheritance. Yet, Bethel has institutionalized the practice of promoting the very thing the Law of Moses condemned. Another aspect is this: Would Jehovah’s Witnesses be so willing to sign over valuable financial assets to the Watchtower Inc. if they knew the organization was using millions of dollars of dedicated funds for attorney’s fees for the purpose of waging legal warfare against sexually abused children, as well as paying secret out-of-court settlements to victims?
Not only that, but a conflict of interests arises due to the fact that the very men who have promoted this scheme of legally seizing houses and hereditary possessions are themselves entirely dependent upon the donations of Jehovah’s Witnesses for their own welfare.
True, so-called fulltime servants at Bethel may not benefit in the form of a large salary, as many among the notoriously money-grubbing clergy have enriched themselves, but they are, nevertheless, given room and board and many other perks; like travel expenses for prominent Bethelites and in some cases luxury cars. Virtually all of their needs are met by the Watchtower Society—including health care, which many working Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot even provide for their own families.
Reportedly, Fred Franz even once boasted that his personal sacrifices were no hardship at all because he traveled the world and lived like a king. And indeed he did—at the expense of others. How appropriate Paul’s rhetorical question to the Corinthians: ‘So, you have begun to rule as kings without us have you?’
Obviously, the institutional men who would persuade widows to sign over their properties to the Society have a very real vested interest in those donations.
Every year since 1999 the following information has appeared in the November 1st Watchtower. No doubt the reason the November 1st issue was chosen to carry the Watchtower’s theocratically tuned sales pitch is because of the end of the year tax obligations.
Most disturbingly, being motivated by a sincere desire to endear oneself to God by being a cheerful giver is apparently not sufficient motivation for the Watchtower. Bethel also makes a blatant appeal to self-interest. Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses may benefit themselves if they are prudent and follow “the slave’s” counsel as found in the concluding paragraph of the information provided below. Bethel’s financial adepts inform the flock:
Ways in Which Some Choose to Give
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WORLDWIDE WORK
Many set aside, or budget, an amount that they place in the contribution boxes labeled “Contributions for the Worldwide Work—Matthew 24:14.”
Each month, congregations forward these amounts to the office of Jehovah’s Witnesses that serves their respective countries. Voluntary donations of money may also be sent directly to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, c/o Office of the Secretary and Treasurer, 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York 11201-2483, or to the branch office that serves your country. Checks should be made payable to “Watch Tower.” Jewelry or other valuables may be donated as well. A brief letter stating that such is an outright gift should accompany these contributions.
In addition to outright gifts of money, there are other methods of giving to benefit Kingdom service worldwide. These include: Insurance: Watch Tower may be named as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or a retirement/pension plan.
Bank Accounts: Bank accounts, certificates of deposit, or individual retirement accounts may be placed in trust for or made payable on death to Watch Tower, in accord with local bank requirements.
Stocks and Bonds: Stocks and bonds may be donated to Watch Tower as an outright gift.
Real Estate: Salable real estate may be donated either by making an outright gift or, in the case of residential property, by reserving a life estate to the donor, who can continue to live therein during his or her lifetime. Contact the branch office in your country before deeding any real estate.
Gift Annuity: A gift annuity is an arrangement whereby one transfers money or securities to a Watchtower corporation. In exchange, the donor, or someone designated by the donor, receives a specified annuity payment every year for life. The donor receives an income-tax deduction the year the gift annuity is established.
Wills and Trusts: Property or money may be bequeathed to Watch Tower by means of a legally executed will, or Watch Tower may be named as beneficiary of a trust agreement. A trust benefiting a religious organization may provide certain tax advantages. As the term “charitable planning” implies, these types of donations typically require some planning on the part of the donor. To assist individuals desiring to benefit the worldwide work of Jehovah’s Witnesses through some form of charitable planning, a brochure has been prepared in English and Spanish entitled Charitable Planning to Benefit Kingdom Service Worldwide. The brochure was written to provide information on a variety of ways that gifts may be made either now or through a bequest at death. After reading the brochure and conferring with their own legal or tax advisers, many have been able to help support the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide and maximize their tax benefits while doing so.
MY OWN PEOPLE…RISE UP AS AN OUTRIGHT ENEMY
After expressing his determination to humble his haughty people, Jehovah went on to say: “And yesterday my own people proceeded to rise up as an outright enemy. From the front of a garment you men strip off the majestic ornament, from the ones passing by confidently, like those returning from war. The women of my people you drive out from the house in which a woman has exquisite delight. From off her children you take my splendor, to time indefinite.”
Micah specifies that the rebellion against Jehovah had taken place relatively recently—“yesterday.” How might this aspect of the judgments found in Micah apply now? First, since Christendom has always been at enmity with Jehovah it should be apparent that the legal case God brings against his people is as a result of a rebellion that takes place immediately prior to the final part of the days—when Jehovah sets matters straight.
This is in harmony with the Apostle Paul’s prophecy in connection with the man of lawlessness; namely, that Jesus’ presence would not commence until the apostasy comes first. Secondly, as is obvious from a straightforward reading of God’s Word, the outrages described in Micah occur among those whom Jehovah recognizes as his people. So egregious are the atrocities that they cause Jehovah’s splendor to be removed from the children of his people. How might this portion of Micah’s prophecy apply now?
As everyone knows, the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses revolve around the Watchtower Society. Bethel determines virtually every aspect of faith. Over and over again Jehovah’s Witnesses are reminded that the Watchtower is the sole channel of spiritual truth.
It is commonly believed that no one can understand the Bible on their own—even though it has never been explained how a lifeless organization goes about divining truth without some human input. Presumably there are thinking individuals involved in the process somewhere along the line, but apparently the human aspect is submerged so as to elevate the Watchtower in order to make it appear as if only it can impart enlightenment. Since that is the prevailing attitude fostered from the highest levels of the organization, any witness who does not unreservedly accept 100% of the Watchtower’s teachings will more than likely find themselves under some sort of judicial scrutiny.
It does not matter how long one may have been a Christian. Nor does it matter how tender in years one may be—if anyone speaks in contradiction or even privately harbors reservations about any of the Society’s teachings they are viewed as potential apostates and enemies.
Thus, any Christian who might read the Bible and come to a different understanding that deviates from the Watchtower’s accepted dogma will likely be subjected to harsh penalties.
It does not even matter if his or her insights are true. All that matters is that they have broken ranks with the organization. Countless individuals have been disfellowshipped for this very reason. Sadly, it has been demonstrated over and over again that institutional uniformity is more important than the truth. A Watchtower representative has even admitted as much in a court of law. The following is an excerpt from a court case in Scotland, in 1954, during which time one of the Society’s officers (Haydon Covington) was put under oath and made to answer the following questions:
Q. That was the publication of false prophecy?
A. That was the publication of a false prophecy, it was a false statement or an erroneous statement in fulfillment of a prophecy that was false or erroneous.
Q. And that had to be believed by the whole of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
A. Yes, because you must understand we must have unity, we cannot have disunity with a lot of people going every way, an army is supposed to march in step.
Q. Back to the point now. A false prophecy was promulgated?
A. I agree that.
Q. It had to be accepted by Jehovah’s Witnesses?
A. That is correct.
Q. If a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses took the view himself that that prophecy was wrong and said so he would be disfellowshipped?
A. Yes, if he said so and kept persisting in creating trouble, because if the whole organisation believes one thing, even though it be erroneous and somebody else starts on his own trying to put his ideas across then there is disunity and trouble, there cannot be harmony, there cannot be marching. When a change comes it should come from the proper source, the head of the organisation, the governing body, not from the bottom upwards, because everybody would have ideas, and the organisation would disintegrate and go in a thousand different directions. Our purpose is to have unity.
Q. Unity at all costs?
A. Unity at all costs, because we believe and are sure that Jehovah God is using our organisation, the governing body of our organisation to direct it, even though mistakes are made from time to time.
Q. And unity based upon an enforced acceptance of false prophecy?
A. That is conceded to be true.
Q. And the person who expressed his view, as you say, that it was wrong, and was disfellowshipped, would be in breach of the Covenant, if he was baptized?
A. That is correct.
Q. And as you said yesterday expressly, would be worthy of death?
A. I think – – –
Q. Would you say yes or no?
A. I will answer yes, unhesitatingly.
Q. Do you call that religion?
A. It certainly is.
Q. Do you call it Christianity?
A. I certainly do.
Brother Covington certainly typified the prevailing view among Jehovah’s Witnesses—namely, that the Governing Body is the head of the Christian Congregation and that any change in doctrine, practice or policy will emanate from them and no one else. Think of the implications of the Society’s policy. It means that Jehovah and Jesus Christ require all Christians to knowingly accept and teach lies in order to remain “in the truth”—all in the name of Christian unity!
Is there any reason to believe that the Watchtower has changed their policy in this regard? No, far from it. The Watchtower has only become more rigid in its attitude. As evidence of that fact, in 1980 the Society sent a letter to all circuit overseers instructing them that even though one of Jehovah’s Witnesses may not even speak to others or publicly promote unapproved teachings, simply harboring ideas at variance with the Governing Body is cause for disfellowshipping. At least in 1954 Hayden Covington specified that action would be taken only if a person persisted in promoting his or her own views. Whereas, now Bethel’s present policy calls for possible judicial action against any of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are simply guilty of thinking thoughts that are not inline with the all-imposing organization!
The Society’s unity-at-all-costs mentality has had a devastating impact upon more than a few of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have run afoul of the organization. No doubt many individuals have been ruthlessly dismissed from the congregations for what amounts to not giving glory to the Watchtower Society. It is as if Jehovah’s seal of approval has been ripped off those who confidently rely on God’s word rather than the Watchtower—even as described in Micah: “From the front of a garment you men strip off the majestic ornament, from the ones passing by confidently, like those returning from war.”
Women are not spared either.
Take the case of Barbra Anderson. While Sister Anderson served at the Watchtower’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, apparently she had been given a research assignment that gave her access to the Watchtower’s secret files, which it maintains on suspected and known pedophiles within the organization. Sister Anderson was horrified to realize that the Watchtower has a long-standing policy that is directly responsible for bringing lasting harm to thousands of children.
When it became apparent that Bethel had no intention of changing, after some years Sister Anderson went public with the Society’s dirty little secret. Consequently, immediately prior to the airing of the nationally televised expose, headquarters demanded that she be disfellowshipped from her local congregation for the sin of “causing divisions” in order to discredit her in the eyes of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Even though by that time Sister Anderson no longer even associated with the local congregation, it did not matter. The Society wanted to make an example out of the whistle-blower. As a result both the Andersons are now cut off from their children and grandchildren. The end result of the Society’s tyranny is as it says in Micah: “The women of my people you drive out from the house in which a woman has exquisite delight.”
How true Jehovah’s observation that the “prophets” declare war on any Christian who does not bow to the organization: “This is what Jehovah has said against the prophets that are causing my people to wander, that are biting with their teeth and that actually call out, ‘Peace!’ that, when anyone does not put something into their mouths, also actually sanctify war against him…”
Perhaps the Society’s policies are the most damaging to children—not merely child abuse policies either. While the Watchtower has always derided Catholicism’s infant baptisms, the Watchtower’s emphasis on juvenile baptism is not so very different. Whereas Jesus Christ was 30 year old when he was baptized in the Jordan River by John, it is not at all uncommon for children as young as 10 to be baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses—sometimes even slightly younger. Typically if a youth is not baptized before they are 16 or so they are viewed as being spiritually weak.
Undeniably, there is enormous peer pressure brought to bear upon young people to be baptized. But how many 10 or even 16 year olds have a clear idea of what they want to do with their lives? How can a child who is recognized as not being mature enough to accept adult responsibilities like making career decisions or marriage be expected to whole-heartedly and unreservedly dedicate themselves to Jehovah for all eternity?
Needless to say, the ritual of baptism does not automatically bring spiritual maturity. Quite frequently baptized teens fall into what Paul called the ‘sins incidental to youth.’ Consequently, thousands upon thousands of young people are routinely disfellowshipped, and at a critical phase of their transition to adulthood they are stigmatized as outcasts and cut off from family and friends at the very time when they need support the most. The emotional impact can be absolutely devastating. Some young persons have even committed suicide because of being disfellowshipped.
How true Micah’s denunciation: “From off her children you take my splendor, to time indefinite.”
In the 3rd chapter of Micah Jehovah further lays out his legal case against the leaders of his nation, saying to them: “Hear, please, you heads of Jacob and you commanders of the house of Israel. Is it not your business to know justice? You haters of what is good and lovers of badness, tearing off their skin from people and their organism from off their bones; You the ones who have also eaten the organism of my people, and have stripped their very skin from off them, and smashed to pieces their very bones, and crushed them to pieces like what is in a widemouthed pot and like flesh in the midst of a cooking pot.”
“LIKE FLESH IN THE MIDST OF A COOKING POT”
The leaders of Israel are charged by God to take great care to administer justice in accord with revealed law. It is not merely a matter of knowing the law, but of applying it, fairly. That is why Jehovah appropriately asks: “Is it not your business to know justice?” Surely it is. Yet, Jehovah charges the very “commanders of the house of Israel” with hating justice and being “lovers of badness” to the extent of tearing the very skin from off his people—the very people that Jehovah expects his older men to minister to. What a deplorable situation!
From God’s perspective the abuses were so outrageous that he likened the injustice done to his people to the slaughter of innocent animals; when they are skinned and their very bones are crushed and their flesh is cooked in a large boiling pot. But, why does God use such horrific imagery? Surely the Jewish religious leaders were not literally skinning people alive and boiling them in a cauldron like cannibals might?
Apparently, it is in order to reveal the depth of God’s outrage over the mistreatment of his people. That is because Jehovah is keenly sensitive to all injustice and oppression. It pains him deeply to see any people hurt and abused—especially if the abuse originates with the very men appointed to protect and care for his people.
Actually, the symbolism used in Micah is not too dissimilar from the imagery Jesus invoked when he described the Jews of his day as sheep that were skinned and tossed about by their religious leaders. No doubt, that is why, knowing his Father’s deep concern and sensitivity, Jesus impressed upon his apostles the need for them to take great care to never oppress any of the sheep that would eventually be placed under their care.
Likewise, all Christian shepherds today, but particularly the leading elders, are similarly charged by God to know justice and to deal compassionately with the sheep of God’s flock. But, again, does merely knowing what God requires necessarily mean that justice and mercy will always prevail? Obviously in the case of ancient Israel the answer was no. But there are compelling reasons to believe that the charges contained in Jehovah’s legal case are just as relevant for the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses in this period.
If polled it is quite likely that the vast majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses would say that the Watchtower and her elders exhibit the qualities of good shepherds. And it is true, many of them do. But remember, prophecy in reality is God speaking his thoughts. Surely the Creator of the universe and the Grand Instructor even of the angels has an exalted perspective far above those of men. Indeed, just as heaven is higher than the earth, so too, God’s thoughts and ways are higher than those of mere humans. And because of his supreme position, God sees everything, including the secret motivations and intentions of the heart. Naturally, then, Jehovah’s legal opinions and judicial decisions cannot be expected to conform to narrow and biased popular views.
When God charges the commanders of his people with perpetrating injustice and abusing his sheep it must be appreciated that Jehovah sees things that men cannot. That being the case, should it really come as any surprise that Jehovah’s exalted judgments are not understood by those whom God brings himself into judgment with?
It is even as Micah 4:12 says of the unbelieving nations: “But as for them, they have not come to know the thoughts of Jehovah, and they have not come to understand his counsel…”
Since the prophecies written centuries ago are actually Jehovah’s pre-recorded judicial decisions that have been reserved for a future day of unveiling, how might such powerful legal denunciations apply to Jehovah’s Witnesses? Worded differently: If God’s judgments are to be revealed in the near future, can we at least approximate the basis for God’s legal case against the organization before it is manifest?
Yes, given the facts at hand, partial though they may be, reasoning persons ought to be able to appreciate to some extent the reasons for God’s legal case against his “nation”; otherwise, what is the purpose of prophecy? So, how might the above prophecy apply?
As already briefly pointed out, organizational loyalty to the Watchtower Society is paramount. And Bethel imposes the harshest punishment possible upon those who are judged to be disloyal to the organization—disfellowshipping. For the uninformed, disfellowshipping does not merely sever the relationship of Jehovah’s Witnesses with the congregation; it also severs personal, family and in some cases business relationships. It is analogous to a Jew being thrown out of the synagogue, which would result in total ostracism from the community.
While the Bible does prescribe removing wicked persons from the congregation, in recent decades the Watchtower has used disfellowshipping as the weapon of choice for punishing dissidents and terrorizing Jehovah’s Witnesses into submission.
Consider the offenses that Paul listed that might cause an unrepentant person to be removed from the congregation: They are fornication, drunkenness, greed, idolatry, and so forth—all moral offenses. However, the Society has added to the list of disfellowshipping offenses. Take the case of Barbra Anderson again. Here is a mother and grandmother whose sole concern was the welfare and safety of children within Jehovah’s congregations. She was not a fornicator, a reviler, an extortioner or a greedy person. She was simply disturbed by the Society’s complacency over the many acts of child abuse that had taken place in the organization. Yet, she was cast out and branded as a wicked individual. From Jehovah’s perspective her skin was stripped off her organism and her bones were cracked open and into the widemouthed cooking pot she went.
Officially the charge against Sister Anderson (and countless others who may have protested the Society’s teachings, attitudes or policies) is causing divisions. However, even if that is true, causing divisions does not happen to be listed on the apostle’s list of wicked offenses that warrant disfellowshipping. At Romans 16:17 Paul specifically advised fellow Christians to “keep your eye on those who cause divisions…and avoid them.” In other words, it was up to each individual Christian to determine for themselves if they would associate with someone who caused stumbling or divisions.
In recent years, however, the Watchtower has begun using disfellowshipping as a means to winnow out those whom it deems to be undesirables. It has actually initiated a policy of searching out weak, inactive and stumbled Christians with the intent of either disfellowshipping them or “encouraging” them to disassociate themselves from the organization. It does not matter if the person is no longer even regularly associating with the congregation. The Society has made it virtually impossible for anyone to withdraw from the organization and retain any honor or dignity. Instead, it is as if they are hunted down and skinned; their bones crushed to expose the marrow, and into the widemouthed cooking pot they go.
Even the elderly and infirm are not spared from being skinned alive and tossed into the boiling caldron. Doubtless there are many such cases but to illustrate the point, a few years ago this writer received an email relating the story of how one sister’s aged mother had in her later years become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses; but tragically, she developed the cruel memory-robbing Alzheimer’s disease and had to be put in a nursing home. The daughter repeatedly asked the local elders to call on her mother in the nursing facility in order to give her some spiritual encouragement. Months went by and the sister implored the elders to look in on her newly baptized mother, to no avail.
In the interim, one of the residents at the nursing home kindly invited the Alzheimer’s-stricken sister to attend her church services—it also being the former religion of the sister. She accepted. Apparently the elders heard of it and finally went to make a “shepherding visit.”
But, instead of ministering to Jehovah’s straying sheep in any meaningful way, the elders came prepared with a pre-written letter of disassociation. They asked her a few questions to determine her attitude about going to church and then they had the mentally incapacitated sister sign her own letter of disassociation! In their twisted judgment the sister was irretrievably lost since in their view she had gone back to Christendom! No doubt those heartless elders imagined they were doing God’s will since they were zealously implementing the Watchtower’s policy of winnowing out the sickly and weak from their midst. Sadly, the disassociated sister passed away shortly afterwards and only one person from her former congregation paid their respects. Surely such heartlessness pains Jehovah.
Another example of how disfellowshipping is wrongfully used has to do with smoking. Prior to 1973 Jehovah’s Witnesses were allowed to smoke. True, not very many did and the Society strongly discouraged the unclean habit. Nonetheless, known smokers were allowed to be baptized and were accepted in the congregations, albeit they were likely viewed as being spiritually weak and not appointed to positions of oversight.
However, in June 1973, Bethel suddenly changed the rules. Not only would smokers be disallowed from being baptized, but also baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses who smoked would be disfellowshipped if they did not give up the habit by the end of the year. But again, as unclean and harmful as cigarette smoking is, it is not on the Bible’s list of disfellowshipping practices. Where is the justice in extending a hand of Christian fellowship to individuals, accepting them into the congregation, encouraging them to become baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses, allowing them to become ministers, and then summarily disfellowshipping them if they do not comply with the Society’s latest adjudication?
The question really is: if cigarette smoking is such a great evil that warrants expelling a person from the congregation, thereby ostracizing them from family and friends, why was it tolerated for so long? Why were smokers encouraged to become baptized Jehovah’s Witnesses in the first place? It is easy enough to despise human weakness, to look down upon and dismiss those who may be lacking in spiritual strength and character, but in the case of those who were disfellowshipped after the six month ultimatum had expired, does not the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses bear some responsibility for ruining lives and breaking up families?
“AND THE WRECKING WORK IS PAINFUL”
It is because of these very things that Jehovah is compelled to conduct a legal case against his people and inflict a painful punishment upon them, even as Micah 2:10 relates: “Get up and go, because this is not a resting-place. Because of the fact that she has become unclean, there is a wrecking; and the wrecking work is painful.”
Regrettably, there is more to Jehovah’s legal case against his people. Besides amassing wealth by means of defrauding and dealing ruthlessly with Jehovah’s sheep, the indictment contained in the prophecy of Micah goes on to rebuke the leading men of God’s organization for falsely prophesying and immodestly presuming to always have Jehovah’s blessing—this, in spite of their considerable burden of error.
Micah describes the reaction of those, who, when confronted with the reality of a future day of judgment, protest—assuming to already know the mind of Jehovah on these matters, saying: “Has the spirit of Jehovah become discontented, or are these his dealings?”
Those against whom the judgments were originally directed foolishly imagined that God could not possibly find fault with them. The leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses today has followed the very same pattern as is revealed in Micah’s prophecy. It is considered unthinkable that Jehovah might become displeased with the Society or have grounds for bringing any sort of disciplining upon the organization. Although not stated explicitly, certainly the prevailing mindset permeating the Society is exactly as foretold in Micah 3:11— “Is not Jehovah in the midst of us? There will come upon us no calamity.”
The underlying scriptural basis buttressing such presumptions is Bethel’s teaching that the judgment upon the house of God has already been accomplished. (The Society also teaches that the judgment is ongoing.) Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses are more than willing to embrace the Watchtower’s fanciful teaching on that topic because the human tendency is to hear only what one wants to hear. Long ago the apostle foretold: “There will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories.”
Off-putting Jehovah’s judgments by means of false stories, though, can hardly be considered putting up with healthful teachings. That attitude was first displayed by the “stiff-necked” Jewish people who refused to acknowledge Jehovah’s true prophets, of whom Micah went on to say: “If a man, walking by wind and falsehood, has told the lie: ‘I shall let words drop to you concerning wine and concerning intoxicating liquor,’ he also will certainly become the one letting words drop for this people.” (Micah 2:11)
In today’s lingo it might be said that the “man walking by wind” is full of hot air. The man prophesying “concerning wine and concerning intoxicating liquor” falsely prophesied to the Jews of unending joyous prosperity. And his message was eagerly accepted because he told the people exactly what they wanted to hear.
In a spiritual sense the Watchtower’s corporate seers are like the “man walking by wind.” Their windy expressions have caused Jehovah’s Witnesses to presume that the so-called visible organization will always enjoy God’s good will. To that end the Watchtower’s prophets have fabricated an elaborate false story that Christ became king over the world decades ago and that he has already bestowed his irreversible approval upon a faithful slave, which in the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses is synonymous with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society—its Governing Body in particular. Over the ensuing decades since 1919 the leadership of the organization has tickled the ears of Jehovah’s Witnesses with the fanciful notion that the Watchtower Society is a veritable spiritual paradise and no weapon formed against it will have any success.
Just as the prophecy of Micah foretells that the false prophets will promise the unending enjoyment of literal “wine and intoxicating liquors,” so too, Bethel has misapplied the prophecies in order to convince Jehovah’s Witness that their cup of spiritual wine will always overflow. Consider one example: In the Watchtower’s most recent commentary on Joel (5-1-98) we read:
“In 1919, Jehovah showed zeal and compassion for his people when he restored them and brought them into his realm of spiritual activity. This is truly a spiritual paradise, well described by Joel in these words… ‘And the threshing floors must be full of cleansed grain, and the press vats must overflow with new wine and oil.’ What a delightful picture! Abundant provisions of three staples of life in Israel—grain, olive oil, and wine—together with plentiful flocks. In our day those prophetic words are indeed fulfilled in a spiritual way. Jehovah provides us all the spiritual food we need. Do we not all delight in such God-given abundance?”
As has already been considered, contrary to the Watchtower’s interpretations the prophecy of Joel foretells that the abundant storehouses and fertile fields enjoyed by God’s people are destined to be devastated! Only afterwards, when Jehovah intervenes to make recompense, do the symbolic press vats “overflow with new wine.” Quite literally, then, the Watchtower’s prophets falsely assure the willing hearers “concerning [an uninterrupted supply of spiritual] wine and intoxicating liquors.”
As in Joel, Micah lays out the exact same sequence of events. Contrary to the expectations promulgated by the false visionaries, Jehovah first undertakes a painful wrecking work upon his wayward organization. Verse ten specifically states: “…there is a wrecking; and the wrecking work is painful.” The very next verses in context foretell that God will then reconstitute a faithful remnant and bestow his blessing upon them through his Messianic agent.
“Their king” who goes before them can be none other than Jesus upon his coming to inspect, refine and gather his chosen ones and company. “The remaining ones of Israel” whom Christ collects together are those who were first scattered and disciplined by Jehovah’s painful wrecking work. The Watchtower frequently quotes from Micah 2:12 and applies it the organization from 1919 onward. However, if that interpretation is genuine the question must be asked: In what way has the growth of the Watchtower Society come about in the aftermath of a “wrecking work” initiated by God? Not surprisingly the Watchtower has never offered one word of commentary on the possible meaning of the corrective “wrecking work” of God. It simply does not fit in to the Society’s preferred interpretations.
Since Jehovah is not the author of falsehood, the Society’s erroneous interpretations cannot possibly originate with God. But because they are attributed to a divine source, from Jehovah’s standpoint it is as though their prophetic visions have been derived through the practice of divination. In reality they have been. The eventual light of day will reveal the Society’s prophesying to be rooted in a satanically orchestrated “operation of error.”
The inevitable result of promoting false prophecy in the name of Jehovah will surely lead to disappointment and confusion during the “wrecking,” as Micah 3:6-7 foretells: “Therefore you men will have night, so that there will be no vision; and darkness you will have, so as not to practice divination. And the sun will certainly set upon the prophets, and the day must get dark upon them. And the visionaries will have to be ashamed, and the diviners will certainly be disappointed. And they will have to cover over the mustache, all of them, for there is no answer from God.”
“THE MOUNTAIN OF THE HOUSE OF JEHOVAH”
It is the Society’s official interpretation of Micah itself that may be best described as a windy puff of air. For example, consider the frequently quoted prophecy of Micah 4:1-3: “And it must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it peoples must stream. And many nations will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion law will go forth, and the word of Jehovah out of Jerusalem. And he will certainly render judgment among many peoples, and set matters straight respecting mighty nations far away. And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. They will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”
According to the Watchtower “the final part of the days” commenced in 1914. By 1919 “the mountain of the house of Jehovah” is said to have become fully established above all other mountain and hill-like institutions and the stream of people foretold in prophecy is now reflected in the numerical increase of Jehovah’s Witnesses. As an example, some 20 years ago a Watchtower stated:
“For more than 50 years, since 1935, these “desirable things of all the nations” have been gathering to Jehovah’s house of worship, ‘filling that house with glory.’ This ‘streaming’ appears to intensify as “the final part of the days” moves ever closer to its culmination. The symbolic mountain of Jehovah’s pure worship is becoming more prominent, so that meek persons can see how it contrasts with the sectarian “hills” and “mountains” of Satan’s permissive world. They “get out” of false religion and flee in growing numbers to Jehovah’s mountain of worship.”
“The mountain of the house of Jehovah” is symbolic of God’s kingdom. Without question the prophecy of Micah is foretelling what will occur as a result of the establishment of the kingdom of God over the earth. Its being lifted up above all other mountains and hills surely means that God’s kingdom will transcend all other institutions. The Watchtower teaches that such has already taken place and is evidenced, not only by the numerical growth of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but by the very existence of the Watchtower Society as the earthly agency through which Jehovah sets matters straight and issues his decrees to the nations. The organization has essentially cast itself as the very kingdom of God. But does the Watchtower actually claim that God has already set matters straight within the organization? Yes, it does.
The August 15, 2003, Watchtower magazine states on page 17:
“Jehovah is rendering judgment and setting matters straight spiritually for believers who take their stand for the Kingdom.”
The ascendancy of Jehovah’s mountain-like kingdom will indeed bring marvelous blessings to those who accept its rule. But if Jehovah’s righteous kingdom has been established for the past 90 years and Jehovah’s Witnesses have benefited from God having already set matters straight, why is it that conditions within the organization have gone from bad to worse and require God’s urgent attention now more than ever? Specifically, if Jehovah is already ruling as king over his people in the manner outlined in prophecy, why, for instance, have there been thousands upon thousands of child sexual abuse atrocities that have never been satisfactorily resolved for the victims? Why have many of the perpetrators of horrific crimes against children gone unpunished and unexposed while their victims are told to “wait on Jehovah” in silence? Why should it even be necessary to “wait on Jehovah” for resolution, perhaps for a lifetime in some cases, if God has already set matters straight ‘for believers who have taken their stand for the kingdom’? Is it not a dishonor, even blasphemous, to credit God with having already established his righteousness over an organization that is manifestly plagued by numerous evils, but which boastfully denies any wrongdoing or error of any kind?
Jehovah’s impassioned plea at Micah 6:3 seems most appropriately directed to the organization as this moment in time—before Jehovah sets matters straight: “O my people, what have I done to you? And in what way have I tired you out? Testify against me.”
The setting of the prophecy itself is most instructive. Both Isaiah and Micah indicate that “the mountain of the house of Jehovah” ascends above all others in the aftermath of the destruction of both the temple and the city where Jehovah had placed his name. If the pattern of the prophets holds true, Jehovah must once again lay low the “city” where he has placed his name. And, indeed, the judgments contained in the prophecy of Micah are directed to those who are connected to the name of Jehovah. That is why Micah 4:5 says: “For all the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.”
To further establish the fact that God’s organization is wrecked before the great ingathering, note that the verse immediately preceding Micah 4:1 states: “Therefore on account of you men Zion will be plowed up as a mere field, and Jerusalem herself will become mere heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the house will be as the high places of a forest.”
The ordering of events indicates that the original Zion was first “plowed up as a mere field”; “the mountain of the house” came to resemble an untended forest and God’s beloved city was reduced to “mere heaps of ruin.” Afterwards, God reestablished Jerusalem and a new house of worship upon Mount Zion. But of course, people of all the nations did not stream to the typical mountain of the house of God back then. That the prophecy of Micah casts a pattern for the future is evident from the fact that even though the events originally took place in the primitive setting of the ancient past, the culmination of Jehovah’s judgments is said to occur in “the final part of the days.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jehovah lifted up his mountain-like kingdom in 1914, but, again the question is posed: what evidence is there that the antitypical city of God corresponding to ancient Jerusalem with its “mountain of the house” was destroyed then?
Furthermore, the concluding part of Micah describes the setting during which the people of the nations acknowledge Jehovah’s supremacy. Micah 7:15-17 foretells: “As in the days of your coming forth from the land of Egypt I shall show him wonderful things. Nations will see and become ashamed of all their mightiness. They will put their hand upon their mouth; their very ears will become deaf. They will lick up dust like the serpents; like reptiles of the earth they will come in agitation out of their bulwarks. To Jehovah our God they will come quivering, and they will be afraid of you.”
In modern times the nations were not struck with awe nor was mankind forced to “lick up dust like the serpents – like reptiles of the earth” when Judge Rutherford made bail and held the Bible Student’s Cedar Point conventions.
Besides, the mountain of Jehovah is not lifted up by mere human efforts to promote “true religion.” Jehovah raises himself up over all through the execution of his world-rocking judgments and afterwards he raises his chastened servants up—after they have humbly confessed their transgressions. That is evident in the text of Micah 7:8-9, which reads: “Do not rejoice over me, O you woman enemy of mine. Although I have fallen, I shall certainly rise up; although I dwell in the darkness, Jehovah will be a light to me. The raging of Jehovah I shall bear—for I have sinned against him—until he conducts my legal case and actually executes justice for me. He will bring me forth to the light; I shall look upon his righteousness.”
The woman enemy who rejoices over Jacob’s fall is none other than the Mistress of Babylon. Happily, though, Jehovah’s legal case against his servant ultimately results in his acquittal; but only after he bears the rage of Jehovah and the humiliation of falling before his religious nemesis. In the verses immediately following Micah’s prophecy concerning the establishment of the mountain of the house of Jehovah, the prophet went on to say: ‘“In that day,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘I will gather her that was limping; and her that was dispersed I will collect together, even her whom I have treated badly. And I shall certainly make her that was limping a remnant, and her that was removed far off a mighty nation; and Jehovah will actually rule as king over them in Mount Zion, from now on and into time indefinite.’”
Micah 4:6-7 confirms that the desolation of Zion applies to that which Jehovah recognizes as his own. “Her that was limping…even her whom I have treated badly” is in reference to Jehovah’s wife-like nation. The desolation of Zion takes place during the tribulation. And it is over a restored remnant that Jehovah establishes his kingship. The gathering foretold in Micah corresponds with the harvest that will take place during the conclusion, when Jesus gathers the chosen ones. The “mighty nation” that is created is the very kingdom of God—not an earthly organization.
Before its sudden overthrow Babylon had reigned as the dominant world power for approximately 100 years. Marduk was the empire’s primary patron god and along with Nebo, his son, and a triad comprised of Sin, Shamash and Ishstar, the Babylonian pantheon was assumed to be superior over the gods of the peoples whom they conquered—including the God of Israel—Jehovah.
However, when Babylon fell to Cyrus in precisely the manner in which Jehovah had foretold, Marduk and company were shown to be impotent and Jehovah was vindicated as the true God. The fall of Babylon was also a display of Jehovah’s most dominant quality—love. It was because of his love and compassion that God repurchased his people from their enemies and restored them to his favor.
In a similar manner, a grand deliverance of the sons of the kingdom from Babylon the Great will vindicate Jehovah before the modern world. But how can that be? Jehovah’s Witnesses are certain that they have already been set free from the antitypical Babylon simply by voluntarily having their names removed from church rosters. Any future deliverance would obviously necessitate an unanticipated captivity.
But how could that possibly come about? It is unthinkable that Jehovah’s Witnesses would adopt Babylonish teachings such as the Trinity and so forth. What might the future deliverance from Babylon entail then?
“DELIVERANCE FROM THE ASSYRIAN”
In the context of foretelling that Bethlehem would be the birthplace of the Messiah, Micah also foretold that the Assyrian would strike the judge of Israel. Of course, the Assyrian Empire no longer existed when Jesus Christ was on the earth. It had long since been overthrown, sometime after Jehovah thwarted Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah.
So why does the prophecy of Micah seemingly locate the Assyrian invasion in the time of Christ? To add to the enigma, Micah goes on to suggest that Jehovah’s appointed shepherd will rescue God’s people from the Assyrian invasion and ultimately destroy the “land of Nimrod.” Micah 5:3-7 reads: “And he will certainly stand and do shepherding in the strength of Jehovah, in the superiority of the name of Jehovah his God. And they will certainly keep dwelling, for now he will be great as far as the ends of the earth. And this one must become peace. 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. 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.”
Besides the fact that Assyria was no longer a menace to God’s people when Christ was on the earth he was unknown outside of Israel during his lifetime; and yet the prophecy quoted above says “he will be great as far as the ends of the earth.” Clearly, Micah 5:3-7 pertains to the second coming of Christ. As is the case with many Messianic prophecies, Christ’s first and second comings are seamlessly interwoven into the same fabric of prophecy. So it is apparent that Assyria and Babylon, as well as Israel, have prophetic values pertaining to the second coming and the final judgment.
The reason that Assyria and Babylon may serve as symbols of other world powers is because from Jehovah’s standpoint there is only one government over the political nations. It is the invisible cosmocracy of Satan the Devil. And although the Devil’s influence permeates all of human society, his rulership has been primarily exercised by means of the seven dominant empires that have opposed Jehovah from the time of ancient Egypt. That is why the Bible book of Revelation symbolizes the succession of governing powers as a single monstrous beast with seven consecutively ruling heads, which itself is merely a visible manifestation of the invisible seven-headed dragon symbolizing Satan.
It is the Christian “Israel of God” which is besieged by the Assyrian. It is, therefore, apparent that Assyria represents the eighth king of Revelation and his coming into “our land” and treading “upon our dwelling towers” parallels the final attack of Ezekiel’s prophetic “Gog of Magog” out of the symbolic north, after God has redeemed his nation.
As all Bible students know, when the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, came up to lay siege to Jerusalem his entire army was snuffed out by a single warrior angel of Jehovah. The Jews did not so much as shoot one arrow in their own defense. So, why does the prophecy of Micah say that “seven shepherds, yes, eight dukes of mankind…will actually shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword”?
The reason is because the prophecy applies to spiritual Israel, and those who are accepted as sons of the kingdom are to rule over mankind as under-shepherds of Christ and royal dukes under Christ’s kingship. Seven being a symbolic number denoting heavenly perfection or completeness, the “seven shepherds” denote the complete body of 144,000 who are taken from the earth to serve with Christ as supernatural kings in his heavenly kingdom. “Eight dukes of mankind” would suggest the addition of Christ to the seven, who, himself, was also taken from among mankind. Their shepherding the Assyrian with the sword is in complete harmony with what Christ promised his anointed followers in Thyatira, and by extension all congregations making up the body of Christ: “And to him that conquers and observes my deeds down to the end I will give authority over the nations, and he shall shepherd the people with an iron rod so that they will be broken to pieces like clay vessels…” (Revelation 2:26-27)
Embarrassingly, the Watchtower claims that the “seven shepherds” symbolize Jehovah’s Witness elders who have supposedly wielded the sword of the spirit against totalitarian governments since 1919. No doubt the underlying reasoning behind such an absurd interpretation is the fact that the prophecy of Micah situates the Assyrian invasion as coming directly on the heels of the repurchase of God’s people from Babylon. And the Watchtower insists that the modern liberation from antitypical Babylon took place in 1919; so, the Society reasons that the Assyrian must represent totalitarian dictators like Hitler.
However, it must be recognized that the modern captivity of Christ’s congregation to Babylon the Great is central to the outworking of Jehovah’s purpose. As already stated, captivity to Babylon is the means by which Jehovah humbles and disciplines his organization and permanently resolves his legal case against his covenanted people.
Jesus himself foretold the captivity of the “Israel of God” to a greater Babylon. Although the Watchtower does not recognize it as such, the desolation of the holy place, which is undeniably the main feature of Christ’s prophecy, pertains to the desolation of the anointed congregation—not to the destruction of Christendom. If that is not the case, why did Jesus give specific instructions to the chosen ones to flee out of the holy place when the disgusting thing stood where it ought not?
Indeed, in complete harmony with what Jesus foretold Micah foretells that God will make his holy place a desolate object of astonishment, saying at Micah 6:13 and 16: “And I also, for my part, shall certainly make you sick by striking you; there will be a desolating of you, on account of your sins…to the end that I may make you an object of astonishment and her inhabitants something to be whistled at; and the reproach of peoples you men will bear.”
The closing words of the prophecy of Micah establish the fact that the release from Babylon is a result of God having graciously pardoned the anointed “remnant of his inheritance.” Essentially, the release from Babylon means that Jehovah’s purpose to form a world-ruling spiritual nation comes to a conclusion. The sin-atoning work of Christ will have been accomplished in the redemption of the seed of Abraham, so that their sins are pardoned. Jehovah then receives them into his residence and the kingdom reigns forever.
The final judgment is expressed by the prophet in the concluding words of Micah7:15-20: “Who is a God like you, one pardoning error and passing over transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? He will certainly not hold onto his anger forever, for he is delighting in loving-kindness. He will again show us mercy; he will subject our errors. And you will throw into the depths of the sea all their sins. You will give the trueness given to Jacob, the loving-kindness given to Abraham, which you swore to our forefathers from the days of long ago.
“THE REST OF HIS BROTHERS WILL RETURN”
But before God pardons his people for their sins first must come the discipline. Consider more closely the prophecy of Micah and its relationship to other more familiar prophecies. It is in reference to spiritual Israel that Micah 5:3 says: “Therefore he will give them up until the time that she who is giving birth actually gives birth. And the rest of his brothers will return to the sons of Israel.” Who are the aforementioned “brothers”? They are the spiritual brothers of the ruler of Israel mentioned in verse two. The return of the “rest of his brothers” is in reference to the remnant of the brothers of Christ. Their return from captivity to Babylon is a direct result of the shepherding of Christ.
“She who is giving birth” to the brothers of Christ parallels the woman who gives birth to the male child in the 12th chapter of Revelation. Micah 4:9-10 similarly depicts God’s spiritual woman going through the ordeal of child birth. Instead of fleeing into a wilderness, though, Micah foretells she “will have to reside in a field,” saying: “Now why is it that you keep shouting loudly? Is there no king in you, or has your own counselor perished, so that pangs like those of a woman giving birth have grabbed hold of you? Be in severe pains and burst forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman giving birth, for now you will go forth from a town, and you will have to reside in the field. And you will have to come
as far as to Babylon. There you will be delivered. There Jehovah will buy you back out of the palm of your enemies.”
From the foregoing it is evident that Christ’s kingdom is born by the covenant-bearing woman while God’s people are in captivity to Babylon (the Great). But, as already stated, this could not possibly have occurred in the 1914-1919 interim, the reason being, according to the revelation contained in Micah the Assyrian invasion occurs immediately after Jehovah delivers his people from Babylon.
Hence, Micah 4:11-13 through 5:1 begins with the words “and now,” saying: “And now there will certainly be gathered against you many nations, those who are saying, ‘Let her be polluted, and may our eyes look upon Zion.’ But as for them, they have not come to know the thoughts of Jehovah, and they have not come to understand his counsel; because he will certainly collect them together like a row of newly cut grain to the threshing floor. Get up and thresh, O daughter of Zion; for your horn I shall change into iron, and your hoofs I shall change into copper, and you will certainly pulverize many peoples; and by a ban you will actually devote to Jehovah their unjust profit, and their resources to the true Lord of the whole earth. At this time you make cuttings upon yourself, O daughter of an invasion; a siege he has laid against us. With the rod they will strike upon the cheek the judge of Israel.”
The nations “have not come to know the thoughts of Jehovah” or “understand his counsel” because they do not grasp that just because God becomes indignant with his people and allows them to be disciplined by hardship and humiliation does not mean that they are not his people or that God has totally abandoned them.
For the prophecy to have any meaning it is reasonable that the nations are gathered against “Jacob” shortly after his original desolation and restoration. So it is that the repurchase of Christ’s brothers from modern Babylon parallels the final sealing and the gathering of the chosen ones. Jehovah will have set matters straight with his erring nation so that the call to “let her be polluted” is really a death knell for the nations who presume to exterminate the sons of God’s kingdom.
The “strike upon the cheek [of] the judge of Israel” is ultimately accomplished by the persecution of the brothers of Christ during the tribulation; of whom Jesus said: “To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”
In response to the indirect attack upon the judge of Israel, “the daughter of Zion” is empowered to thresh the nations. This takes place when the last one of the sons of God has been raised to heaven; whereupon, the newly established kingdom will then destroy all of God’s enemies on earth.
The “unjust profit” and “resources” of the nations are devoted to Jehovah in the sense that the blessed earthly survivors, who are left behind to inherit the earth, dedicate the plunder to Jehovah and use such resources to his glory.
Jehovah’s holy spirit is the most powerful force in the universe. It is also the most gentle. It is responsible for producing the fruit of love, kindness and peace and other gentle qualities of spirit; but it can also empower God’s otherwise meek servants to perform great feats and mighty acts of warfare. It should not be expected, then, that the final ingathering of the remaining anointed heirs of the kingdom in the post-desolation of the holy place period to be a commonplace occurrence.
Micah describes it this way: “And the remaining ones of Jacob must become in the midst of many peoples like dew from Jehovah, like copious showers upon vegetation, that does not hope for man or wait for the sons of earthling man. And the remaining ones of Jacob must become among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of a forest, like a maned young lion among droves of sheep, which, when it actually passes through, certainly both tramples down and tears in pieces; and there is no deliverer. Your hand will be high above your adversaries, and all enemies of yours will be cut off.”
In harmony with numerous other Hebrew prophecies, Micah confirms there is to be a final outpouring of holy spirit upon those whom Micah twice refers to as “the remaining ones of Jacob.”
Such an outpouring will transform the anointed sons of the kingdom into the glory of Christ. The sons of God will be revealed and become like refreshing dew to the friends of God; and it is then that they will also become “in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of a forest, like a maned young lion among droves of sheep.” They will be ferocious in their defense of Jehovah’s sovereignty.
It is then that the brothers of Christ will be made to stand before rulers and kings to give them a spirit-inspired witness. A decisive confrontation with the then-ruling “Assyrian” will be inevitable.
A great preaching work yet lays ahead for Jehovah’s Witnesses—a preaching work that likely will not be accomplished by the present means of passing out literature to householders and passersby on the street. As the prophecy above stated, they “will not hope for man or wait for the sons of earthly man” in the sense that the sealed remaining ones will not need to be supplied or directed by any earthly organization.
Each one will be personally impelled to act and speak with the irresistible spirit of God. They will be authorized to speak in behalf of Christ because at that time they will have become fully accepted into his kingdom.
The preaching work that lay ahead will come about after Jesus cleanses his Father’s spiritual temple. An outpouring of holy spirit will then follow; empowering the remaining ones and the other sheep in a way that is presently inconceivable; in order that they may give witness to Satan’s world of Jehovah’s final judgment.
“And then the end will come,” or as Micah 5:15 words it: “And in anger and in rage I Jehovah will execute vengeance upon the nations that have not obeyed.”