THE HARBINGER: PROPHETIC FACT OR FICKLE FICTION?

Here at Apprising Ministries I do my best to monitor Intel along this Internet Front and report back what I’m seeing as an assist to local pastors bombarded with all kinds of things and who just don’t have this kind of time.

A book quite likely to be brought into their congregations and/or discusses among congregants if The Harbinger (TH), written by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, in my opinion, a bit of a shady sort who is:


(source)

It’s not my point in this piece to do a review because this has been done quite well elsewhere. So, since my reading of the book parallels these others I’m going to first point you to Dr. Gary Gilley. In his short review he begins:

The Harbinger is one of the hottest selling books today.  It is a quasi-fictional story reminiscent of novels such as The Da Vinci Code or The Shack.  Each of these books involves mystery and intrigue, and has a serious message that the authors want to convey.

Dan Brown, in The Da Vinci Code, wanted to cast doubt on the Christian message and interject the teaching of ancient Gnosticism.  The Shack portrays a new-age, unconditionally accepting view of God which promotes universalism.  The Harbinger is warning America that God’s judgment is imminent unless the country repents and turns to the Lord and that very soon. (source)

This is the key point: “The Harbinger is warning America that God’s judgment is imminent unless the country repents and turns to the Lord and that very soon.” We’ll return to that in a moment; first pastor Larry DeBruyn adds:

The Harbinger’s prophecy relates to and grows out of what the author calls “The Isaiah 9:10 Effect.” (TH, 131-144) In this biblical text describing the divine judgment that befell ancient Israel, Isaiah states: “The bricks have fallen down” (Isaiah 9:10a, NASB). With the prophet’s description of destruction, Cahn sees a mysterious connection to Ground Zero’s rubble after the terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

From “The Isaiah 9:10 Effect” stem nine prophetic warnings or harbingers for America. Also key to the narrative Cahn creates is ancient Israel’s response to God’s judgment. Arrogantly and defiantly, the nation asserts: “But we will rebuild with smooth stones; / The sycamores have been cut down, / But we will replace them with cedars” (Isaiah 9:10b, NASB).

In other words, the response of Israel was not one of contrition before and repentance toward the Lord as it should have been, but rather that they would triumph over God’s judgment and rebuild their city better than it was before. (source)

Again, it’s not my intent to present an apologetic here. What I wish to do is to give you this quick overview and then bring to your attention what I think is a critical issue concerning Jonathan Cahn and his writings in TH because tonight he appeared on Glenn Beck TV.

You can see the program below but no doubt this appearance by Cahn will stir up even more attention within Christendom for his TH. Returning to the idea of TH warning that God’s judgment is imminent unless she repents I point you now to another review.

It’s the most comprehensive I’ve seen and was done by David James. As a matter of fact, the “review is an abridged version of a book” he has written on the subject. James points out:

The overall purpose of The Harbinger is to call America to repent for turning her back on God and moving away from the foundations upon which the country was built. It is also to warn of the danger of God’s judgment that this represents. (source)

Now, if this was all there was to it, I would be the first to help advance the need for people within the United States to turn from their sin and to the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus Name. While the nation cannot repent, individuals within sure can.

However, it isn’t all there is to TH; as David James rightly goes on to inform us:

because of serious flaws throughout the book, the potential dangers may well outweigh the benefits. Many of the author’s views and ideas as presented in The Harbinger are misguided, having both significant exegetical and theological problems. Additionally, the book could well leave its readers with serious misunderstandings about how to appropriately interpret and apply the Word of God.

Beyond this, it is also problematic because in trying to support his conclusions, Cahn appears to variously overstate his case, see prophetic fulfillment where arguably none exists and presses details to draw parallels between historical events beyond what the facts reasonably support.

Not only does The Harbinger fail to reveal a mystery in Isaiah 9:10, but in spite of the much-needed call to repentance, the book presents a danger to believers and unbelievers alike. (source)

This brings me to the critical issue I spoke of earlier: Is Jonathan Cahn trying to have his cake and eat it too? In other words, is TH really prophesy or is it fiction? He cannot have it both ways, which it appears to me he is trying to do.  Allowing himself to be portrayed a prophet but leaving an escape hatch open by also claiming fiction.

In closing this, for now, I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. On the back cover of TH we read:

Is it possible…

That there exists an ancient mystery that holds the secret of America’s future?

That this mystery lies behind everything from 9/11 to the collapse of the global economy?

That ancient harbingers of judgment are now manifesting in America?

That God is sending America a prophetic message of what is yet to come?

Before its destruction as a nation, ancient Israel received nine harbingers, prophetic omens of warning. The same nine harbingers are now manifesting in America with immediate ramifications for end-time prophecy.

Hidden in an ancient biblical prophecy from Isaiah, the mysteries revealed in The Harbinger are so precise that they foretold recent American events down to the exact days. The revelations are so specific that even the most hardened skeptics will find it hard to dismiss or put down. It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood thriller with one exception… IT’S REAL.

David James reminds us:

On the day of the book’s release, Jonathan Cahn was interviewed by Pat Robertson on The 700 Club, who said of the book, “This is one great book…This is the read you need to make…It is a prophetic word.”1

And yet, as James also brings out:

Even though categorized as “fiction,” the story is prefaced by: “What you are about to read is presented in the form of a story, but what is contained within the story is real.” In other words, the book conveys what Cahn considers to be biblically accurate and historically factual. However, the lines between what is fact and what is fiction is not at all clear. (source)

So, which is it? Are we being given a binding prophesy; or are we just being titillated by some story Jonathan Cahn has dreamed up? I’ve seen him on a number of programs and before I leave you with his appearance with Glenn Beck tonight I’ll give you an illustration for you to compare with it.

These two clips come from Cahn’s 2012 appearances on the January 8th and 15th editions of Jewish Voice with his friend Jonathan Bernis. Notice, while Cahn never exactly claims to be a prophet, his work is clearly presented as such:

Now watch Jonathan Cahn tonight with Glenn Beck and see if you don’t see this familiar pattern emerging once again:

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. http://www.cbn.com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/mp4/SUB109_JonathanCahn_010312_WS