3,871 of 4,450 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2012
While this book has some decent reflections on OT prophesy and events and God's purposes behind both, it builds it's central message on a flawed, though apparently common, understanding of America. The author makes a comparison between the nation of Israel and the USA that has no basis biblically. The author says that there have been only two nations in the history of the world that have been established with a covenant between the nation and God. He then uses this reasoning to link an OT prophesy given to Israel with current day America. While the linking of the prophesies with current events is impressive, and surely we can learn something from these prophesies that applies to us today, there are some huge errors and dangerous implications if we make such a link between Israel and America.
First of all, Israel did not "choose" God. God chose Israel. So, any attempt to say that Israel and America are similar in that they both set out as nations that "chose" God falls flat. There is no evidence that God has a similar "choosing" of America. Sure, God has purposes for America in his overarching plan of redemption for the world, but America is not a "chosen" nation, whom God works with in elevated and special ways, different from other nations.
Secondly, such a comparison between pre-Christ Israel and current day America fails to rightly understand God's means of engaging and reaching the world. God chose Israel as his people, that he might reveal himself to them and reach the whole world through them. God chose to enter human history through a specific people at a specific time. He didn't only come for the Israelites but He came through them. Today, post-Christ, God's primary means of reaching and engaging the world is not through any nation or state. It's through his church, the universal, all nation encompassing body of believers. America is not his chosen means to spread his salvation and love to the world. The church is.
Such misunderstanding seems to be quite widespread in America and leads me to believe that it has at its root an idolatry of a certain perception of America. "America is a Christian nation and until we get back to these roots there is no hope for our country." False. Hope does not come from our government, from our country being based on Christian ideals, or from having a godly president (though none of these are bad things). Hope comes from God and as the church spreads His gospel to the world. Don't put your hope in our country or government aligning to certain ideals or us getting back to being a more "christian" nation. This is idolatry. Seek the good of our country for sure, but don't make our country the greatest good. God is our greatest good and are only hope.
America is not the current day Israel, God's chosen people. America is not the hope of the world. God is. The church is his means of spreading that hope.
1,089 of 1,284 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2012
Full disclosure - I've been a member and/or attending Beth Israel under Jonathan Cahn's leadership for a decade. I have never seen or read anyone that can unpack information with the facility he does. Having been familiar with much of the information and facts contained in The Harbinger through Rabbi Cahn's sermons over the years, I am still blown away by the amount of seemingly new information in this book as well as the method and order of its revealing. He brilliantly unfolds this message that needs to be (and is) as resoundingly clear as can be: God is warning this country to turn back to Him. As anyone with ears to hear and eyes to see can tell, we are living in perilous times. This narrative and the true, checkable facts it is built around demonstrate that even in chaos, there is order ... and that nothing happens (or will happen) apart from God's allowance. He is in control.
If you doubt His being in control - or if you doubt the parallels between God's dealings with ancient Israel and the events in America since and including 9/11, reading The Harbinger with an open mind will change that. Reading it with an open heart might just change your life.
604 of 718 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2011
"The Harbinger" by Jonathan Cahn was written for a time such as this, mesmerizing and fascinating from beginning to end. In light of current events, this book is an eye opener for every American. The book is presented in a narrative fashion and uses scripture to demonstrate the ties between the destruction of ancient Israel and America. Anyone searching for answers in the midst of the chaos, unrest and fear that is prevalent in America today will find "The Harbinger" provides a glimmer of hope. Cahn offers these words from scripture "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14. This book surely is a wake up call for Americans to get on their knees and reclaim this great nation before it's too late.
443 of 535 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2011
The American Dream is looking more and more like a national nightmare. Ten years since 9/11 and our nation spirals ever more downward each day with millions looking for an answer to our future. If you have been questioning current events,The Harbinger provides the answers and a remedy.
The reader is taken on a journey that begins over two thousand years ago linking it with our nation today as Jonathan Cahn unlocks an ancient mystery linked to America and her future.
If you were sitting in a jury box, with America on trial, and listened to the facts presented by the author, the only verdict possible is GUILTY-beyond a reasonable doubt.
It is not too late for our nation and its people to self-correct. The warning has been sent. Ignore it at your own peril.
755 of 915 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2012
First - I should state that I agree that America is on the wrong path and needs to repent.
However, I do not believe America is under God's Judgement anymore than every other nation on the earth. Let's face it, we all deserve Judgment, but God is holding off for now. How do I know?
Matthew 13:24-30 says, "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. "The owner's servants came to him and said, `Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' "`An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, `Do you want us to go and pull them up?' "`No,' he answered, `because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"
So Jesus is basically telling us that Judgment (of people and nations) is withheld 'til the end because to judge now would hurt the wheat (the righteous). This is a fundamental principal that Jesus proclaimed and that totally undermines the author's main premise who argues that it's acceptable for the righteous to be killed in God's judgments of nations - an assertion that is not proved by any Scriptural text or example.
Think about it. Sodom and Gomorrah would have been completely spared if even 10 righteous could be found. Even still, God called the righteous to leave before judging it. How about when Moses came down from the mountain and God judged the idolaters by opening up the ground around them? Only the idolaters were judged and lost their lives. The author's premise lacks Scriptural basis.
A second premise of the author is that Sept 11th represented a new and unique "breaching of the wall" of America's divinely powered defense system. Really? So what was Pearl Harbor? How about the War of 1812 when all of Washington D.C. was burned by the British resulting in over 15,000 deaths (including over 12,000 civilians)? Both of those events far outweighed the impact of 9/11 on our lives as a nation and resulted in serious wars and loss of life.
I do believe in the law of reaping and sowing, and thus see the Civil War as our nation reaping what it sowed with respect to the horrible sins committed through slavery. And I believe we are reaping what we've sown today.
But to compare America to Israel and believe this author's assumptions is just too much. It's difficult to give the book much credence when it's two fundamental assumptions are false.
In truth, if the author's message was simply delivered in a magazine article, it would have been discussed, but not taken so seriously. But his adding in the FICTIONAL prophet delivering this message as if from Heaven and causing a liberal, skeptic to believe in it, is a literary tactic used to gain the reader's belief. It's a form of manipulation. Sorry, I can not recommend the book, despite my agreement with our nation's sins and the need to turn back to God for our blessings and protection.
136 of 162 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2012
The Harbinger is warning America that God's judgment is imminent unless the country repents and turns to the Lord and that very soon. The need for repentance and true dedication to Christ in our society is not doubted by most Christians. America, as a whole, has rejected the Lord, ignored His ways, and rebelled against His sovereign rule. That we ultimately reap what we sow is a biblical concept that is not going to be repealed for the United States and Cahn's basic theme is well worth considering. If the book is read merely as a novel warning our country to wake up spiritually it has value, but the author makes immediately clear that "what is contained within the story is real" (p. 7). In other words Cahn believes that God pronounced exacting judgment on America and that judgment is found in Scripture.
Isaiah 9:10-11 is the specific text of Scripture that frames The Harbinger. In context Isaiah 9:1-7 is one of the clearest prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the coming of the Messiah, both His first and second comings. This is followed by a warning of coming judgment on Israel because of its arrogance and rebelliousness (9:8-21). We know from subsequent revelation and from history that God's judgment did fall on Israel just as the prophecy promised.
So far so good. But then Cahn determines that Isaiah 9:10-11 contains a hidden second prophecy directed not to ancient Israel but to modern America. At this point the author massages Scripture and current events in an attempt to prove that God's judgment on the United States has been hiding in these verses from the day they were given by Isaiah, but have now been unlocked by the careful investigation of Cahn. Nothing could be further from the truth and, even more importantly, once someone decides they can cherry-pick verses at will, change the meaning of these texts to fit his theories and use random hermeneutical methods, anything can be "proven."
Bottomline: The Harbinger is a semi-interesting novel that exposes the pride and sinfulness of America and God's distain for such rebelliousness. But the novel does not in reality discover a mysterious Old Testament prophecy about America. Read as fiction with an important point, the book has value. Read as a prophecy, it is dangerous
81 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2012
To be fair I'm only 41% through this book but I HAD to stop long enough to write a review. I've only written a handful but felt it was necessary that I write one for this book.
The story is right on with what the Bible says and about how America is heading down the wrong path.
The "story" this author is writing got old after the first chapter. It's beyond me how it keeps getting 5 stars. This story could literally be told in 30-50 pages. The whole book is repeating the SAME thing over and over and over!
Let me give you an imaginary sample:
Bob: The tree has fallen...
Jo: The tree has fallen?
Bob: The tree has fallen and they planted another one...
Jo: The tree has fallen and they planted another one?
Bob: Yes. Remember the ancient vow?
Jo: Yes I DO remember the ancient vow!
Soooo much redundancy that I'm having trouble getting through the book because I find myself just wanting the Cliffnotes version after the first 5 chapters.
257 of 310 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2012
This review (and the article cited below) is an abridged version of the book of the same title (The Harbinger: Fact of Fiction?) that is available in Kindle and paperback format here on Amazon.com
The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18:17, NKJV)
The excerpts below are from an in-depth review of The Harbinger that I have posted on The Alliance for Biblical Integrity website and blog.
biblicalintegrity dot org
Where I'm coming from: I am a conservative evangelical Bible teacher and writer. I served the Lord as a missionary in Hungary for 16 years, where I was the Founding Director of the Word of Life Hungary Bible Institute. We returned to the States 3 years ago to establish The Alliance for Biblical Integrity. My undergrad degree is in mechanical engineering. After being saved in 1984, my wife and I attended the Word of Life Bible Institute in 1985. In 1986 I began my studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and graduated in 1991, 18 months prior to leaving for Hungary. My passion in ministry includes the clear proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and teaching others how to study and understand the Bible for themselves. I hold to a literal interpretation of the Bible and believe that the return of Christ for His Church could be near.
The Harbinger, by Jonathan Cahn,is about a series of signs or omens which he believes have manifested in America beginning with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The author believes he has discovered an ancient mystery in Isaiah 9:10-11 that "explains everything from 9/11 to the collapse of the global economy." Although he uses a fictional narrative as a framework, the book is based on what he believes are undeniable facts from the biblical text, the corresponding history of 8th century B.C. Israel and current events of the last decade in America. As Cahn states at the beginning of the book, "What you are about to read is presented in the form of a story, but what is contained within the story is real."
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. Not only is this a valid message, but one that needs to be proclaimed. Jonathan Cahn is to be commended for his passion and commitment to sharing this message with as wide an audience as possible.
However, 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.
Departure from a Biblical Hermeneutic
The heart of a biblical hermeneutic is the commitment to understanding the literary context of a passage. This is where Cahn's thesis first runs into trouble. Nothing in the context gives any indication that either Isaiah or the Lord intended for Isaiah 9:10 to be understood as having to do with anything other than the Northern Kingdom in the 8th century B.C. Although the author has insisted in a moderated discussion with this reviewer that he does not believe Isaiah 9:10 is to, for or about America,6 the book paints a very different picture.
Although Cahn has tried to explain that the passage is only functioning as a "sign" to America, this is not a meaningful distinction. Biblical signs are revelatory and therefore prophetic, in that they signify that something is happening or is going to happen. And, this is exactly the way Cahn handles these "harbingers" in the book--meaning that in at least some way he actually does see a direct connection with Isaiah 9:10.
Also, if Isaiah 9:10-11 functions to demonstrate a pattern of God's judgment, as Cahn believes, why is it not identified as such, either here or elsewhere in Scripture? If it is a predictable pattern as he suggests, why is there neither a precedent nor repetition of the pattern in the Bible? Yet, it is the author's contention that the nine harbingers he believes he has found in Isaiah coincide precisely with recent historical events, beginning with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Furthermore, there is no mention of the first seven verses in the chapter. Yet, these form a critical part of the immediate context of Isaiah 9:10 and represent one of the most important messianic kingdom passages in the entire Old Testament. This is a significant omission when dealing with the subject of Israel's judgment because it includes the unconditional promise that even in the face of the coming destruction Israel's future is still sure. The kingdom will still be established and Messiah will rule from the throne of David forever.
A Prophetic Message?
Although Cahn says he does not claim to be a prophet, he does affirm that his message is prophetic. But, what else besides "prophet" would be an appropriate title for someone who believes they have discovered the hidden meaning of a biblical mystery and then proclaims this prophetic message as factual? He is doing more than simply relaying a message given by someone else. He is the originator of the message. [continued on the ABI website - biblicalintegrity dot org] (also available in pdf format from there)
39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2014
Is there a secret prophecy for America hidden in the Bible? Let's talk about it on Deeper Waters.
Jonathan Cahn's book "The Harbinger" has been at the center of a lot of controversy, much like anything related to end times material is. Unfortunately, too much of it is highly sensationalistic, which is why some of Cahn's greatest critics, such as David James, even come from the futurist camp. While I am an orthodox Preterist, I do think people from all eschatological persuasions should seek to avoid a work like the Harbinger.
So let's dive in. It's written as a work of fiction, but that is a loose term because fiction usually has some sort of story. The Harbinger does not really have one. Instead, it is a long conversation describing events that happen in the life of the main character as he enters into conversations with a "prophet." We are not given any reason really why we should trust this prophet other than he seems to appear at various places and speaks in esoteric language and knows the main characters name. (Not much of an accomplishment in the age of the internet)
A little warning. This book is highly recommended if you struggle with insomnia. It is a human tranquilizer that can knock you out quick and I could hardly wait to get done with it. It tries to present what it believes is true as a story much like the Da Vinci Code did, but while the Da Vinci Code had terribly hideous history in it, it at least had an actual story.
The main character is a reporter named Nouriel who apparently is so dumb in needing to have everything spelled out for him that the staff of the Daily Planet, who can't figure out that Clark Kent in their midst is Superman when all he does is take off his glasses, look like brilliant geniuses by comparison. It's a wonder any publishing entity ever hired this guy to be a reporter.
The reader will also find constant repetition. As Nouriel relates his story to the lady he's sharing it with in the story, you get the idea repeatedly of "No way!" "Really?!" "Wow!" Again, the book is a tranquilizer. Take it if you want to sleep at night. Could be the best night's sleep you ever have.
But now, let's get to the so-called content.
Apparently, there is a hidden prophecy to America in the Bible. Where is it? It's in Isaiah 9:8-10
"8 The Lord sends a message against Jacob,
And it falls on Israel.
9 And all the people know it,
That is, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria,
Asserting in pride and in arrogance of heart:
10 “The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with smooth stones;
The sycamores have been cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars.”
You see it. Right?
I don't either.
But Cahn is convinced that it is there!
So let's start at the beginning. First off, this passage is addressed to Jacob. That means Israel. It does not say anything about America. It is strange that those who insist that we take a text "literally" always want to ignore the parts that are not literal whenever it suits the theory. The rules are always changing in this style. It is one reason I hold to a Preterist hermeneutic. I find it much more consistent.
So what was the beginning of this message anyway? It was that America needs to repent. No Christian should disagree with Cahn on this point. America does need to repent. Could we be judged by God? Absolutely. Have we been? I am not going to go so far to say that. I am not a prophet and consider it dangerous and foolish to speak as one. I prefer the words of a real prophet. That would be Jesus in Luke 13 and say we should all repent unless we perish.
The warning that we were given was 9/11. Cahn finds much symbolism here, but let's compare and see how "literal" his interpretation is. For instance, I went to [...] and I found no mention of bricks being used in the WTC. I have found some sources say brick terracotta was used, but we know the building was for the most part built of steel. Is there a plan to rebuild and make a new tower? Yes, but despite what the prophecy says, it is not to be done with smooth stones.
Cahn finds this all important because Israel was in a covenant nation and he says that America has broken covenant with God. How so? Well we saw ourselves as the new Israel when we established America and believed God had a purpose for establishing America.
Let's grant all of that. That does not equate us being in a covenant any more than Alexander the Great using Greece to unite the world to prepare the way for Christianity meant that Greece was in a covenant relationship with YHWH. By this standard, if a Mormon temple is dedicated to God, then that must mean that God is in a covenant relationship with the Mormons as well.
Cahn also sees this as a vow that we have broken to God and violated our covenant so he dropped the hedge of protection around us. I kept wondering throughout this then why does Cahn have this Americentrism? Does he think other nations have not tried to please YHWH in the past? Does he think most of Europe has just been filled with atheists and pagans throughout its history? What about nations that are Christian and do suffer? Is this a warning for them? Why think America has this hedge of protection? Especially since we have had past events of greater magnitude such as the War of 1812, the Civil War, and while not of greater magnitude I'd necessarily say but of great magnitude, the bombing of Pearl Harbor?
Cahn also sees Al-Qaeda as the descendants of Assyria, who he says are the original terrorists and just like Assyria performed acts of terrorism on Israel, so Al-Qaeda today is performing acts of terrorism on America. We are in the same situation. Of course, we don't have Assyrians coming through and building siege ramps and ripping open pregnant women and such but hey, details. Who needs them?
Cahn then gets us to the sycamores. Apparently when the WTC towers fell, a sycamore was knocked down. This sycamore was then replaced with a cedar. Well there you have it. The sycamores have fallen and we will rebuild them with cedars.
Never mind that this is one tree that fell. Never mind that the text has it in the plural for Israel and never mind that there was a totally different purpose for the building. Even the prophet in the Harbinger says there is nothing wrong with wanting to rebuild, but that America was doing so with pride.
Now of course, I do not deny that we have much pride and too many of us did not use a good opportunity to call our nation to further repentance when the towers fell. While suffering is not a sign that God is punishing us, it never hurts to examine ourselves and see how we are living.
Cahn also stresses the idea of a vow. He tells us that several politicians were in fact quoting this passage of Scripture after 9/11 and using it to say that we would rebuild. What does this tell us? It tells us that politicians are terrible at exegesis. (This isn't a shock. Most of us are still waiting to find out what it is that they are good at.)
Most likely scenario? Someone did a search on something like Biblegateway.com and looked up the word "rebuild" and found the first reference they thought applied and decided to go with that. Then like a meme on the internet, when one person says it, everyone else starts copying it.
Yet every time that someone says we will rebuild, the prophet takes that as if it was a vow made to God that we will be held accountable for. The original prophecy itself does not describe itself as a vow. (Keep in mind the rule. The prophecy is literal when it fits the theory. Where it does not fit, you can throw in whatever you need to make it fit. If you have to change the meaning of what a vow is, then change the meaning! We have a scenario that the facts must fit!)
The prophet also tells us that our economic judgment taking place 7 years afterwards is a result of this judgment and ties it in to Sabbath festivals, because, you know, America can always be expected to be judged by Sabbath festivals. It's at this point that I see more and more difference. Israel had actual prophets coming and telling them about specific events and warning them. We do not. Of course, Cahn could be wanting to see himself as a prophet. If so, God have mercy on him because there is a strict punishment for if a prophet gets a prophecy wrong.
It's hard to think of all of this as a judgment on America when no one would have thought anything so bizarre as picking a random text out of Isaiah and going through it and only it and making your whole view out of that text. While America does need to repent, something I agree totally with Cahn on, there are much better usages of prophecy, such as pointing to the coming of Christ the first time and defending His resurrection. If only Christians were as interested in defending that and learning about that as they were about end-times hysteria and blood moons!
Of course, if a Christian is interested in eschatology and having a strong position on the end times, that is just fine, but if you know your version of the end times forwards and backwards and can chart out the book of Revelation perfectly, but have no clue how to defend the resurrection of Jesus or to tell what the impact of it is, there is something wrong with your thinking.
In the end, books like the Harbinger will only serve to further embarrass Christians as people who buy into sensationalism with an Americentric outlook and draw us away from the areas of study that matter most to us, such as the historical Jesus, His resurrection, and the Kingdom of God. It fits more into our mindset that we are super important and the Bible is just all about us and written to us in our time and place and is to be read like a modern document. It's a shame that those who love Scripture are so excited about this book.
188 of 227 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2012
This book is an incredible twisting and distorting of Scripture for sensational effect. The author's interpretation of Isaiah 9:8-11 (focusing on verse 10) in its original context is excellent, but his attempt to tie it to 9/11 and the current economic crisis contains some major fallacies. I will state only my two biggest objections in general terms:
#1 - The prophecy is clearly addressed to the nation of Israel. It is misguided to say that it also applies to the USA because the USA is also a nation dedicated to God. The author's statements on page 19 regarding America's special place in God's plan are downright arrogant. Israel was God's chosen nation because he chose their ancestor Abraham and gave him and his descendants various everlasting promises. America, though founded on godly principles, does not have the same kind of covenant relationship, and there is no Scriptural reason to assert that it does. "Nation blessed by God" does not equate to "chosen nation."
#2 - The situation in Isaiah 9:8-11 is not truly parallel to the 9/11 attacks. In the Isaiah passage God's prophets had explicitly told the Israelites that the devastation caused by the Assyrians was his punishment on them and then the Israelites essentially shook their fists in God's face and vowed to rebuild without repentance. On 9/11 terrorists attacked with no warning, and America vowed to rebuild in defiance of the terrorists...9/11 was not a divinely prophesied judgment, nor was there national fist-shaking against God in its wake. Pointing to any large-scale tragedy and declaring it to be God's judgment is nothing more than a guess.
Most of the author's other "parallels" were equally as vague and required a lot of "dancing," word games, and stringing together of very loosely related words and topics in the style of a good old-fashioned conspiracy theorist. The Bible is of eternal value as God's revelation to every age without this kind of showy "playing to the crowd" nonsense.