How Did The Watchtower Society Miss This Allegory?
Do you remember being served that “rich spiritual food” at the Watchtower study when the lessons made an allegory out of Bible characters from the Old Testament to fit the insignificant modern-day history of the organization? Wasn’t it fascinating to learn that the remnant was the Jehu class, and their faithful companions, the other sheep, were the Jonadab class? Or that Noah foreshadowed Christ Jesus, his wife pictured the remnant, and his three sons and their wives represented the other sheep? Well, when I was reading Numbers chapter 22 the other day, I got a brilliant flash of “new light” and realized that the Watchtower magazine had never discussed the most relevant and truthful allegory of all----the one about Balaam and his ass!
Since I had always wanted to work in the Writing Department when I was at Bethel, I immediately sat down and started to write my own version of what a Watchtower article about Balaam should say. Of course, the Watchtower Society would never print my version, but the more I wrote, the more their history seemed to fit the facts!
Let me start with a short description of Balaam. He was from the land of Moab, where he was employed as a professional sorcerer. As such, he would look for omens and signs to foretell the future. Thus, a 1986 Watchtower article called him a “prophet for hire.” (w86, 11/15, p. 30) If you need more details about his prophesying and the way he treated his ass, read this endnote. [i]
Now for my Watchtower allegory. You might think of it as a spoof with some truth.
Balaam and His Ass---A Prophetic Drama For Our Day
We might well ask, then, who in our day is the antitypical Balaam? Clearly, Balaam’s role in his early days as a false prophet leads us to no other conclusion than that he pictures the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Christian Witnesses from 1870 to 1975. Right from the outset, these remaining members of Christ’s little flock on earth boldly proclaimed the dates 1874, 1914, 1918, 1925, and 1975 as years when the end of this wicked system would arrive or when the faithful men of old would return to the earth. Not one of these prophecies came true.
In view of this great responsibility placed upon them as a prophet to the nations, it would logically follow that the antitypical Balaam could use some help. Therefore, we should rightly ask, Did Balaam have a faithful companion to accompany him in his work? The answer to this question is a resounding yes! Without his obedient ass to bear the burden of his weight in the wilderness, Balaam might never have been able to carry out his commission.
So, too, in our day from the year 1935 onward, the modern-day Balaam class has been sitting on the back of a faithful companion comprised of a great crowd of people from all nations who have the hope of living forever on a paradise earth (Rev. 7:9, 10). Without this antitypical Balaam’s ass class, the anointed remnant would not have been able to spread their false prophecies to the entire inhabited earth for a witness before the end comes (Matt. 24:14).
It would seem appropriate, therefore, for the Balaam class to show appreciation for the backbreaking labor performed by the ass class. How have they done this? Why, like Balaam of old, they have lashed out at the great crowd, beating them repeatedly for their loyal service. This was particularly true regarding the year 1975. At that time, the Balaam class turned around and blamed the ass class for misinterpreting what they had read in the Society’s publications.[ii] Like Balaam’s ass in Numbers chapter 22, these burdened ones sat down and took the beating, raising their hands in the Watchtower study and meekly admitting that spreading the false prophecy about the arrival of Armageddon in 1975 was entirely their fault.
However, not all members of the ass class remained silent at this time. Jehovah’s holy spirit emboldened some to speak and act in the same way the apostle Peter described the actions of Balaam’s ass at 2 Peter 2:16. “ . . . but [Balaam] got a reproof for his own violation of what was right. A voiceless beast of burden, making utterance with the voice of a man, hindered the prophet’s mad course.” (NWT)
What began as a small voice by a few enlightened members of the ass class soon became the booming “voice of a man,” as they used every modern means of communication, including the internet, to advertise the conduct and false prophecies of the Balaam class. Although they have been brutally beaten and cut off from their fellow members of the ass class, they have, nonetheless, “hindered the prophet’s mad course” in a significant way. The Balaam class has not proclaimed a date for Armageddon since the reproof given them, beginning in the year 1980.
So in conclusion, what will be the final outcome for these two classes in the time remaining before the end of this wicked system? The Bible is completely silent about the ass’s activities after its recorded beating by Balaam. Therefore, it would be reasonable to conclude that eventually the ass ran away from Balaam and found a kind and compassionate master. We look to future events to see if the remaining members of the modern-day ass class will do the same thing and join their former ass-class members, who have since become a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). As such, they are now serving the true Master who says, “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down and I will refresh you. . . . For my yoke is kindly and my load is light” (Matt. 11:22-30). As for the antitypical Balaam class, they will continue to follow Balaam’s course. When Armageddon actually does draw near, their continuous prophecies about its impending arrival will finally prove true, and then the end will come.
[i] The account in Numbers takes place when the Israelites were finally ready to enter the Promised Land. They had just defeated the Amorites, causing King Balak to fear that Israel would soon defeat his nation of Moab. Balak hired Balaam to curse Israel, ensuring their defeat. However, Jehovah intervened and ultimately forced Balaam to prophesy a truthful blessing for Israel. During the process, God became angry with Balaam and would have killed him had not his ass sensed danger ahead and refused to advance. Balaam beat the ass until the ass spoke to him, and Balaam’s eyes were opened to the danger. In the end, Balaam tried to nullify the blessing he had been forced to pronounce upon Israel by tempting the Israelites into immorality, bringing Jehovah’s wrath upon them. (Num. 31:16) Balaam died in Moab when the armies of Israel invaded.
[ii] w1974, 10/15, p. 635
“But these publications have never said that the world’s end would come then. Nevertheless, there has been considerable individual speculation on the matter.”
w1976, 7/15, p. 438
“It may be that some who have been serving God have planned their lives according to a mistaken view of just what was to happen on a certain date or in a certain year. . . . If anyone has been disappointed . . . he should now concentrate on adjusting his viewpoint, seeing that it was not the word of God that failed or deceived him and brought disappointment, but that his own understanding was based on wrong premises.”