As Narrated by Mike Rowe
It gels with me because I probably experience this scene every Thanksgiving
As Narrated by Mike Rowe
It gels with me because I probably experience this scene every Thanksgiving
I thought I would shoot you all a couple of audio recommendations for this week if you are interested.
First up, even though the family and I have been in the process of uprooting our lives for the past few weeks to move into a new house, I still had the opportunity to preach on Mother’s Day Sunday. Topic was on the nature of saving faith in the apologetic encounter. You can download or listen here,
Secondly, the fine chaps over at Domain of Truth alerted me to a lecture series Dr. William Barrick did for Central Seminary back in February of this year on the subject of Genesis. There is a lot of good stuff here to consider regarding how we are to read Genesis,
Note at the bottom that the series is also downloadable as one podcast file. May make getting them all easier for you.
The family moved out of our former domicile as of this Sunday afternoon. However, the new domicile is not ready and is still in the process of renovation; which is good for us because we will have all of these great upgrades and stuff. However, all of our belongs are in storage pods and will eventually have to be moved again.
The place we got was once a former drug/flop house that was seized in a raid. Oddly in a nice, well-to-do neighborhood. Thus, the person “flipping” the house has to work through layers of city inspecting bureaucracy to actually flip the house, and those inspectors have delayed our ultimate move-in until next week.
We are currently “homeless” but we have some dear friends taking us in. There’s like 12 or 13 of us here. It’s like its the Waltons or something.
Anyways, I am still in half-blogging mode, so I may be slow getting restarted.
Taken from Arnold Dallimore’s epic masterpiece, George Whitfield, Vol. 2,
During it’s early years Methodism experienced not only bitter verbal opposition but also severe physical violence. This was true in each of its branches– Harrisian,Whitfieldian and Weslyan– and we must notice a few of the many intances.
In January, 1741, at the town of Bala, Harris was savagely assaulted. The local clergyman, in what he called an effort ‘to defend the Church’, opened a barrel of beer on the main street and used it to entice a mob to attack the evangelist.
…The enemy continued to persecute him…striking him with sticks and staves, until overcome with exhaustion he fell to the ground…they still abused him, though prostrate; until one of his persecutors…perhaps apprehensive of a prosecution for murder if the abuse were prolonged, became his rescuer and…delivered him out of his enemies hands. ‘Though oft threatened [before],’ wrote Harris, ‘this was the first blood I had shed for Christ!’
But the violence that confronted Harris came to him also in London–even within the walls of the Tabernacle. His diaries report instances in which a howling, cursing mob beat on the doors of the Tabernacle during the service and, sometimes breaking them down, forced their way in and attacked the congregation with fists and staves.
Cennick recorded an instance in which as he and Harris were preaching in the Wiltshire town of Swindon:
‘…the mob fired guns over our heads, holding the muzzles so near to our faces that Howell Harris and myself were both made as black as tinkers with the powder…Then they got dust of the highway and covered us all over; and then they played an engine upon us, which they filled out of the stinking ditches. While they played on brother Harris I preached; and when they turned the engine upon me, he preached. This they continued till they spoiled the engine; and they threw whole buckets of water and mud over us.’
‘Without respect to age or sex’ he writes, ‘the knocked down all who stood in their way, so that some had blood streaming down their faces, and others were…beaten and almost trampled to death…I got many severe blows myself.’
But the rank and file of the Methodist people were probably the ones who suffered most. For instance, an outsider penned the following account of a major incident in the mob action at the Society Whitfield had founded at Exeter:
‘The rioters violently entered the Methodist meeting-house, interrupted the minister [possibly Humphreys] with…obscene language, and fell upon him with…blows and kicks. They treated every man they could lay their hands on with such abuse and indignity as is not to be expressed.
But what is more than all, was their abominable rudeness to the poor women. Some were stripped quite naked. Others, notwithstanding their most piercing cries…were forcibly held by some of the ruffians, while other turned their petticoats over their heads and forced them to remain in that condition;…the poor creatures being afterward dragged through mud and dirt…One of the mob forced a woman up into the gallery, and attempted other outrages three different times. After many struggles she freed herself, leapt over the gallery and so made her escape. Many, to avoid falling into the hands of this wicked crew, leapt out of the windows…to the endangering of their lives.’
The violence, however, which proved most significant was that which took place against Thomas Adams and his people in the Cotswolds town Hampton.
Adams had been converted under the occasion of Whitefield’s first visit to the town…. He became a powerful preacher and capable leader and a strong Society developed. But his work constantly faced vicious opposition and in July of 1743 he and his people met a particularly violent attack.
A mob of ‘one hundred strong’ stormed into his meeting-house, first on a Saturday evening and then on the Sunday morning. Adams manifested great courage, meeting their threats with the statement that he was willing, if necessary, ‘to deliver up [his] life for Jesus’ sake.’
Thereupon they forced him out of the house and cast him into a lime pit. After a time they drew him out and then threw him into a pond, wounding him severely.
Amid these conditions Adams needed Whitefield’s help. The mob, however, declared that if Whitefield appeared in Hampton they would make him their primary target. Nevertheless Whitfield hastened to Adams’ side and later reported:
‘No sooner had I entered the town than I heard the signals, such as the blowing of horns and the ringing of bells, for gathering the mob. My soul was kept quite easy…
I finished my sermon and pronounced the blessing just as the ringleader of the mob broke in upon us…one of them..called me a coward; but I told them they should hear from me in another way [he was thinking of taking the rioters to court].
I then went into the house and preached upon a staircase to a large number of serious souls; but these real troublers of Israel soon came in to mock and mob us.
But feeling what I never felt before, as you know I have very little natural courage, strength and power being given us from above, I leapt down stairs, and all ran away before me. However, they continued making a noise about the house till midnight, abusing the poor people as they went home, and…broke one young lady’s arm in two places.
Brother Adams they threw a second time into the pool, in which operation he received a deep wound in his leg. John Croom’s life, that second Bunyan was much threatened. Young WH they wheeled in a barrow to the pool’s side, lamed his brother and grievously hurt several others.
[George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, Vol. 2, pg. 161-166].
One of the biggest lies spread throughout our popular culture by gay activists and their willing enablers in the media is that homosexual orientation is biologically fixed. So a person is born with their sexual orientation to the same-sex and there is nothing he or she can do, or should do, to change that. It is a basic part of who the person is, like dark skin is for the Aborigine. Anyone, say for instance evangelical Christians, who believes a person’s sexual orientation and same-sex attraction can be “changed” is stupid and essentially uneducated.
This lie has taken such deep root in our society that anyone who even makes an effort with helping a person change his or her sexual orientation is deemed abusive. Counseling therapy that seeks to help “re-orient” a person’s homosexual tendencies to healthy, opposite sex attraction is viewed on the same level as practicing lobotomy and shock therapy. The state of California even recently passed legislation prohibiting professional counselors from offering any therapy for homosexual orientation to anyone under the age of 18.
Gay activists go so far as to deny there is any thing called an ex-gay or former homosexual, because none could possibly exist in their worldview. The crippling problem with their anti-ex-gay narrative, however, is the existence of ex-gays who are now married in healthy husband and wife relationships who renounce their former gay lifestyle.
One such individual has recently published her testimony about coming out of the gay lifestyle and embracing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield was not only a lesbian activist, she was also a tenured associate professor at Syracuse University in the English Department with teaching responsibilities in the Center for Women’s Studies. She was on the cutting edge of gay activism, particularly feminist gay activism.
Then God got a hold of her life. Through the ministry of a Reformed Presbyterian minister and his wife, the two challenged Rosaria and God used their simple evangelism to save and redeem her. Her conversion, she remarks, was like an “alien abduction” which is an apt illustration seeing how it is God alone who totally transforms a person.
Rosaria is now married to a pastor with a family of her own. She tells her testimony in a book entitled, Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, a book I first heard about through a book review by Carl Trueman. He and his podcast co-host did a 30 minute program discussing the book which I would recommend downloading and giving a listen.
Rosaria also has a website where other interviews, both audio and video, can be downloaded or watched.
She stands as a trophy of God’s redeeming grace. An living monument of how God not only saves a person, but also supernaturally transforms an individual from a radical lifestyle in rebellion against Him to a radical lifestyle submitted to Him. For only God can take a homosexual atheist feminist university professor and make her a God fearing, Proverbs 31 woman who is a stay at home wife and mother who homeschools her children. That is amazing grace indeed!
I’ll work from the assumption that most readers of this second part have read the first part in which I provide a brief overview of the book, so I won’t go over old ground. Let me just provide a summary statement:
Jonathan Cahn believes Isaiah 9:10 is a prophecy directly applied to specific events following 911, particularly the defiant attitude of Americans to rebuild in the face of calamity instead of returning to God’s ways.
I’ll also note that there are a number of online “discernment” ministry style websites that have probably given a much more thorough response to Cahn’s work than what I will offer here. In fact, there is one guy who published a book length treatment reviewing and critiquing The Harbinger. and I would even recommend checking out his on-line material if you want more analysis. He supposedly “debated” Cahn on the nature of his book as well, and a video or audio is available somewhere.
With that said, I’ve intentionally stayed away from reading any negative reviews because I wanted to draw my own conclusion about the work, even though I probably share many of their opinions about it. My goal is to merely hit on the main problems I have with the book and if people want more, I’ll leave it with them to search around on the web for it.
Review and Analysis
I’ll center my criticism around four problem areas I had with the book. There are certainly more, but I want to keep this review brief and focused, so I’ll hit these key four.
Mystical view of prophets and revelation. One of the two main character in The Harbinger is a mysterious, unnamed “prophet” who reveals the “harbingers” to the protagonist narrating the story. The prophet is presented as being some magical being who appears and disappears at “just the right time.”
Additionally, the prophet presents the “harbingers” in a Yoda-like, riddle fashion for the narrator to decipher. He gives the narrator a set of “seals,” the kind you dip in wax and seal a document, each one containing a picture that “illustrates” the particular harbinger. When the narrator is given the next “seal” in the set, he is then left alone to unlock the mystery of the riddle reminiscent of Nicholas Cage’s character in National Treasure [if you seen that movie] in order to move to the next harbinger in the series.
The problem with this view of “prophets” and “revelation” is that it is basic Gnosticism. In other words, it gives the reader the impression that God has a special, hidden knowledge that if uncovered, will bring the person into deeper levels of special revelation from God. That is not how prophets and revelation operated in the Bible.
When the narrator asks the prophet how it is we can even know the message is “from God,” the prophet replies, “It would contain the mark, the fingerprint of the one who sent it.” [10, (references are from the paperback edition)]. But that is not what God told Israel how they could authenticate the message of a prophet.
Though it is true some prophets performed “signs and wonders,” the primary mark of their message is what they taught the people about God. Even if he could do miraculous signs, if his message did not bring the people to covenant faithfulness or introduced revelation that contradicted what had already been revealed by God, that prophet was to be executed (Deuteronomy 13).
Furthermore, God didn’t give revelation secretly in some piecemeal fashion using wax seals. When a prophet spoke, the entire community knew what he was about and what he was proclaiming. It was a public ministry and message. Take for example Samuel, who, apart from Moses, was the first judge-prophet recognized nationally (from Dan to Beersheba) as a prophet who was a mouthpiece for God and spoke revelation to all of Israel (1 Samuel 3:19-4:1).
The bizarre, mystical Gnostic like “prophet” of The Harbinger in no way reflects the biblical truth of what a prophet was to be and the message that prophet was to proclaim.
Applying OT prophecy to America. In my opinion, this point is the Achilles heel of Cahn’s entire prophetic thesis. Because if it can be shown that Isaiah 9:10 has no prophetic application to America, then his book is a fraud and he is a false prophet with a false message, as it were.
Cahn takes the view that America has a special, unique relationship with God in the same fashion that OT Israel had. In a manner of speaking, it is the similar view that David Barton has about the United States and the founding of our country. In The Harbinger, during the first meeting between the narrator character and the “mysterious” prophet, the prophet says, “Those who laid America’s foundations saw it as a “new Israel,” an Israel of the New World. And as with ancient Israel, they saw it as in covenant with God.” .
If I may digress a moment, considering that citation, I have to wonder what Cahn’s eschatology is. Being a charismatic “Messianic Jew” I would think he would be one of those sensationalized Dispensational premillennialists like John Hagee. Yet him using the term “new Israel” to describe America seems to bring his views under a replacement theology umbrella. I hunted around looking for any clear statement as to what eschatological position he holds, but I could not find one. But moving along…
Cahn further insists the “founders” believed, at least according to the prophet character, that America’s rising and falling is dependent upon its relationship with God. America was called to fulfill the role as an “instrument of redemption” that stands against tyranny, oppression, and to be a beacon of hope for those in need, and hence the reason we have been so prosperous as a nation. The prophet even claims the “founders” are said to have “prophesied” the greatness of America [ibid]
The problem with this assertion is that no “founder” suggested such a thing. Historically, the “founders” are the men who drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Cahn tries to redefine “founders” as being the puritans who fled to New England during the reign of King James 1st. But the puritans were one group of colonists among many from different countries and religious backgrounds. There were colonists from Spain, France, Holland, as well as England. Plus there were Catholic, Quaker, and other dissenting protestant colonists along side the classic pilgrim puritans of Plymouth Rock fame.
Many of them were here before the puritans that Cahn suggests are “the founders.” The Dutch, for example, had a presence that predates the pilgrims in what is now modern day Manhattan that was not necessarily religious at all, but only for the purposes of making money. Why aren’t they considered “founders?”
Now, it may be true that the Massachusetts Bay colony saw themselves as being in some covenant with God and being a “New Israel,” but that is their theonomic romanticism bubbling out and doesn’t at all reflect the truth of things. Israel was much different in that God specifically called Abraham and personally made a covenant with him and his people. God personally delivered the nation Israel from bondage in Egypt, and God personally gave Moses the 10 commandments and the law. God did none of that with the colonists at Boston, or any other religious colonists for that matter.
That is not to say America hasn’t been blessed over the centuries due in part to the great awakenings and the proclamation of biblical truth throughout the country. And I would argue that America is a “Christian” nation. But it is a significant stretch to claim such blessing proves some parallel relationship between OT Israel and America. In my opinion, this is where Cahn’s entire work falls to pieces.
A few of the so-called “harbingers” from Isaiah 9:10 do not correspond to the events following 911. Throughout the story, the mysterious, unnamed prophet, when he reveals another harbinger, gives the narrator a new seal that illustrates one of the harbingers identified with Isaiah’s 9:10 prophecy.
However, when you consider the so-called harbingers and their relationship to the events following 911, any amount of research will reveal that they are significantly exaggerated by Cahn for the purposes of his book.
Allow me to provide the two biggest examples,
- The 6th harbinger is a prophecy about how the sycamore trees are cut down. In the book, the prophet character explains how the Assyrians came into Israel and cut down the sycamore trees that dotted the land of Israel. “Sycamores” is better translated fig tree as Cahn correctly notes in his book and he points out that fig trees are a common tree found throughout Israel. The word “sycamore” can also be any number of a variety of trees found throughout the world, not just fig trees in Israel.
When the towers fell on 911 the debris rained down upon the property of St. Paul’s Chapel near the World Trade Center. A large sycamore tree shielded the debris from damaging the chapel and its property. The tree came to be called the “miracle” tree because of how it protected the building from damage.
The problem with this “harbinger” is that it was not a fig tree. What Cahn brushes by quickly in his book is the fact that there are at least three very different variety of tree around the world that are called “sycamores.” The one thing that somewhat connects them is a similar leaf shape. The sycamore in front of St. Paul’s Chapel was an American sycamore and is in no way related to the fig tree variety in Israel. It is a contrived stretch to connect it to Isaiah 9:10 as fulfilling some prophetic “sign.”
- The 8th harbinger, according to the prophet in Cahn’s story, is the public declaration of defiance by the national leaders. In order for that harbinger to work, you have to back up to the last clause in Isaiah 9:9 that speaks against the defiance of the Samaritan leaders during Isaiah’s day “who say in pride and arrogance of heart…” The point is that in the exact way, America’s prominent national leaders, with a heart of “pride and arrogance,” were declaring that America will rebuild after the terrorist attacks.
The one example Cahn points to is then vice-presidential candidate, John Edwards, citing Isaiah 9:10 at a DC prayer breakfast for the black caucus on the anniversary of 911 in 2004 . The problem with this “harbinger” is that John Edward can hardly be called a “prominent leader” as is suggested by the prophet in the book. No one would seriously suggest that he was a “prominent leader” speaking for America.
Edwards is a disgraced, former state senator who just so happened to be a one-time vice-presidential candidate. The fact that he more than likely had a speech writer ignorantly chose to take Isaiah 9:10 out of context as “words of comfort” offered to a small, minority caucus group on the 3rd anniversary of 911 demonstrates a profound lack of biblical literacy on Edwards part, not that he is providentially citing an ancient, prophetic text of judgment.
I’ll also point out that Cahn’s Isaiah9:10 website only lists 8 harbingers connected to Isaiah’s prophecy, whereas the book lists a 9th harbinger, what Cahn claims is “a prophecy of arrogance” uttered by our national leaders that says “we will rebuild.”
I am not sure when the author’s website went up in regards to his book being published, but I wonder if the 8th harbinger, which both the website and the book ties to the prayer breakfast speech by John Edwards, was a tad discredited by his later antics that ruined his career. So a 9th harbinger was thought up for the book that puts the “vow of arrogance” in the mouths of other governmental officials, including President Obama, about rebuilding.
How America is “disregarding God’s ways” is extremely vague. The entire point of the harbingers is to be a warning for America to turn from such things as “arrogance,” “defiance,” “pride,” and “disregarding God’s ways,” and returning to following God and His ways. Yet what would be considered turning from “God’s ways” is never truly defined. Moreover, Cahn never really uses the word “sin” until maybe the last chapter of the book where he presents an anemic Gospel presentation. Even then “sin” is left unidentified and vague.
I would think that if the sole purpose of Cahn’s book is to narrate a warning to Americans as to their need to return to God, he would explain what it is exactly Americans are to turn away from. I can provide a whole passel of “sins” that incur God’s judgment on our society, like legalized infanticide, coddling sodomite perversion, and rampant pornographic depravity. Additionally, and aimed more toward the Church of God, the man-child flippancy of modern day “pastors” in the church, the compromise of biblical authority, and turning every Sunday morning worship service into a junior high retreat camp. Yet Cahn doesn’t even name one thing that would be considered “sin.”
The reason why that is important is simple: In our postmodern, post-Christian society, what God clearly proclaims in His Word as sin and what apostates like Rob Bell and Jim Wallis say are “sins” are entirely different. If pressed, I’d imagine Jim Wallis would say America needs to return to God, too, but it will be in the matters pertaining to his twisted, leftist social justice worldview. Because Cahn’s isn’t direct or specific as to what “sin” needs to be turned away from, the reader is sort of left guessing and reading that into the story. Certainly that wasn’t Cahn’s intention?
I will say that The Harbinger truly displays how detrimental charismatic “God-still-speaks-revelation-today” exegesis can be upon not only the Bible, but in the hearts and minds of people who refuse to exercise any true discernment.
In fact, the sad truth of this book is how Christians are so easily caught up in the sensational, newspaper style eisigesis that Cahn presents. Honestly, it is in the popularity of this book among men and women who supposedly name Christ as their Lord and Savior where true judgment is imminent.
The Christian is to have a renewed mind, a mind that can discern spiritual truth and can distinguish between light and darkness. However, so many gravitate to what really amounts to nothing more than the whimsical musings of a fantasy writer as if it were God speaking. They represent the ones who no longer endure sound doctrine, but draw to themselves false teachers who will scratch the ears of their own desires as Paul warned Timothy (2 Timothy 4:3,4).
Rather than God calling Americans back to His ways, a warning must go out to call Christians back to God’s ways. His ways that are built upon a fear and trembling before His holiness, the authority and sufficiency of His Word in our lives, and the teaching of, and listening to, sound doctrine.
Cahn’s book is the Church’s true harbinger. Because the book has the ability to lead so many Christians astray, it is a warning to us that so many have turned away from God by abandoning sound doctrine and we need to repent or be given over to real judgment.
I have to confess I never really knew who Jonathan Cahn was until recently. Before, I had just heard his name, as well as the book he wrote, The Harbinger, floated about here or there generally in critical contexts.
Then at Shepherd’s Conference this past March, me and my pal Squirrel were enjoying our coffee and bagels on the first day while waiting for the registration line to open. Squirrel started up a conversation with another attendee standing near us and during the course of our exchanged pleasantries, this other fellow asks if either one of us had read The Harbinger yet. We both replied “no” and this fellow proceeds to tell us what an awesome book it was.
Recalling that I had heard of this book in only negative contexts, my discernment alarm went off and I began wondering what this guy was gonna say. I think Squirrel may have probed with a general question asking what it was about and the fellow tells us it is about end-time prophecy stuff and how it relates to America or something along those lines.
A few weeks after that, while driving into work early one day, I happened to catch the repeat of the Coast to Coast radio program. The guy being interviewed was going on and on about warning signs, hidden codes, 911, terrorism, and Bible prophecy. Wackos like this are all the time on Coast to Coast, so I didn’t necessarily pay it any mind, but going into the news break, George Noory says, “We’ll be back with our guest, Jonathan Cahn, right after this…”
I thought to myself, That’s Jonathan Cahn and he believes such nonsense? His book is all about secret codes pertaining to 911 and the end-times? My scamgar started beeping.
Then, the very next day, a friend of my mother emailed asking me about Cahn’s book. Knowing I had just heard the author on Coast to Coast, a radio program that is like the TBN equivalent for ghost hunters, conspiracy theorists, and UFO abductees, I told her that after I heard what I heard on the radio, I had grave concerns if any Christian takes his material seriously.
A few days after that, I had a couple of other folks, completely independent of each other, contact me via email asking if I had read the book, to which I said no and I relayed to them about hearing him on Coast to Coast. Alarmingly, when they both replied back, they stated how his book was being passed around in their churches and earnestly read by Christians.
Now: I am pretty much isolated in my Grace Church bubble from goofy stuff like that book. Plus, I typically don’t seek out any of those Christianized fantasy, tin-foil hat pot-boilers for my personal reading. I tend to read high-end commentaries with itty-bitty print and lots of footnotes for my devotionals if you know what I mean.
However, seeing that there was a need to have someone perhaps read it and offer an opinion for individuals (and always on the look out for fun blog fodder), I thought I would put aside all my other personal reading for a few days and work my way through the book.
I then went down to the local library to pick up a copy. Annoyingly, all the copies were checked out; but the larger surprise for me was when I put my name in to hold it for later, I was like 47th in line! Oh man. Thankfully, people must have gotten bored with it, because I worked my way through the request line quickly and was able to read the book, so here we are.
I thought I would break up my review into two, more manageable posts. With this first part, I’ll lay out my initial impressions and provide a brief overview of the book. With the second part, I will outline the theological problems with the work and offer my criticisms.
So. Knowing I knew next to nothing about the author or his book when I got it, I turned it over and read the back cover blurb about Jonathan Cahn. The blurb told me he leads Hope of The World ministries and the Jerusalem Center/Beth Israel in Wayne, New Jersey. Okay. Basic stuff; but I was interested where the guy went to school. Did he attend a college or seminary? There was nothing there.
That omission sort of rubbed me wrong. I searched around on the websites related to his “ministries” and still couldn’t find anything regarding his educational or denominational background. In fact, I couldn’t really locate an official doctrinal statement anywhere on his church and ministry webpages. The only thing that came close was a statement about salvation that honestly is a squishy, feel-good statement about finding forgiveness and God’s purpose in your life. There is a minimal, if not any, discussion about God’s holiness, wrath, the need for atonement, and man’s sin against God, and his need for a savior. I found that telling coming from a supposed Messianic Jewish congregation.
Next I opened the book and read the endorsements. Endorsements can tell you a lot about the thrust of the book. Not so much from what is said in the endorsement itself, but whose name is on the endorsement, particularly if the person has a theological (or not so theological) reputation of sorts.
For instance, if I see Steve Lawson’s endorsement on a book, I can pretty much figure out the orthodoxy and theological direction the author will head and that the book will be more than likely a beneficial read. I also don’t expect to see Lawson endorsing a book written by Joel Osteen, for example.
Endorsing The Harbinger, you have Pat Robertson, Joseph Farah, Sid Roth, David Tyree, and John Paul Jackson. Of those five guys, I was only familiar with Robertson (for reasons that are not positive) and Joseph Farah who is editor of the World Nut … I mean “Net,” Daily. The other guys I never heard of before.
As to what the guys write in their endorsements, Pat Robertson’s was the most disappointing with the one word comment, “Extraordinary!” with an exclamation point. I thought old Pat would give us more, but alas… And bringing all the spiritual discernment a former NY Giants wide receiver can to a book on secret end-times Bible codes, David Tyree, who is never known for hyperbole, exclaims (in all caps mind you), THE HARBINGER IS THE MOST PRECISE SCRIPTURAL REVELATION OF GOD’S PASSION FOR AMERICA. It just makes you want to duct tape the book to the back cover of your Bible.
For all you folks who will be wandering over here to my place for the first time just to read these reviews, let me give you a rule of thumb for the future. If people you’ve never really heard of before with questionable theological credentials (if any at all) tell you the book you are about to read is “the most precise scriptural revelation of God” 10 times out of 10 you’re being taken for a ride.
Basic Premise of the Book
Let me wrap up this overview by outlining the basic premise of The Harbinger. Cahn believes Isaiah 9:10 is a direct warning to America calling us back to following God. Isaiah 9:10 reads, in the NASB, 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. Cahn supplies his own translation which reads, The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with hewn stone: the sycamores have been cut down, but we will plant cedars in their place.
Isaiah’s words are a series of harbingers, or warnings, connected to the events following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 911 (too bad 911 didn’t happen on 910, then the symbols would really be striking!). The book lists 9 harbingers, each one having a chapter dedicated to its description, the breach, the terrorist, the fallen bricks, the tower, the gazit stone (the “hewn stone” in the verse), the sycamore, the erez tree (the “cedars” mention in the verse), the utterance, and the prophecy.
Isaiah’s words are a warning and a rebuke to the attitude America had after the attacks and the collapse of the two towers. The terrorists attacks were a judgment by God on America because we have turned away from Him, just like the Assyrians in Isaiah’s day were sent to be a judgment against Israel for turning away from the LORD. Whereas we should have turned back to our godly heritage that is the foundation of America, Americans instead became prideful and arrogant like the ancient Jews after their attack by the Assyrians.
The harbingers are the “signs” confirming the message of Isaiah 9:10 connecting to America. The “breach” is how God left our defenses unguarded, the “terrorists” are related to the ancient Assyrians who also practiced “terrorist” techniques to strike fear in the hearts of their victims, the “bricks” that fell are of course the wreckage of the two towers, the “tower” is the new Freedom tower that is being built in their place, the “hewn” stone is the cornerstone built into the foundation of the new Freedom tower, the “sycamore” is the tree that was toppled over at St. Paul’s Chapel when debris from the towers fell on top of it, and the “cedar” is the new tree that replaced the fallen sycamore.
As to the 8th and 9th harbingers, the utterance” was when then vice-presidential candidate, John Edwards, cited Isaiah 9:10 in a speech in 2004 and the “prophecy” is when various elected officials, particularly President Obama, claimed over and over that “we will rebuild.”
If you are still tracking with me, Cahn then provides a further fulfillment of Isaiah 9:10 to the events leading up to the financial collapse in 2008. In a complex and convoluted description, Cahn claims the events of the financial collapse are 7 years to the date from the events of the world trade towers. The number “7″ being the number of years between the Sabbath rests of the land in ancient Israel, which I am not really sure why it is important, but is in Cahn’s scheme in order to maintain the symbolism of everything he’s revealed so far.
The book is written in a narrative style. The opening page tells us that the information contained in the book is presented in the form of a story, but the facts are real. I personally thought the story was a bit lame, but it did get me through the material quickly by allowing me to skim unnecessary portions.
There are two main characters: a journalist writer named Nouriel Kaplan and a mysterious, unnamed prophet (they are always “unnamed” and “mysterious,” right?). Kaplan relays his story (the part we are reading regarding the harbingers) to a publisher with the intentions of having it published. He tells how this prophet person sought him out, and over a period of a few years during a number of serendipitous encounters, gave him a set of “seals” with images carved onto them that illustrated each one of the harbingers. Kaplan now has the responsibility of being a “watchman on the wall” who will tell his story and present these harbingers to the American people.
Thus, the harbingers are unique symbols found in Isaiah 9:10 that apply to America’s turning away from God and His ways and God attempting to call America back to Himself.
Now I’ll pause here, and with this background in mind, I’ll take up my particular criticisms in the next post.
I’ve been asked recently, on a couple of separate occasions, about what I think of the odd story in Judges 11 regarding Jephthah’s vow. The story is as shocking as it is strange. I taught through Judges last year, and knowing folks have questions about this account, I thought I would sketch out my notes for the benefit of others.
Background – Judges 11
Jephthah was something of a shady character. His mother was a harlot that his father had fooled around with. When he got older, his half-brothers, born from the legitimate mother(s) ran him away from the family.
The Scriptures say that when he ran from his brothers he went into the land of Tob and there hooked up with worthless men– basically a gang of raiders and pirates. It was among those men that Jephthah made a name for himself as a leader. I guess one could say he became a “Jack Sparrow” like character.
When the Ammonites made war against Jephthah’s people, they were desperate for a man who could lead them against their enemy. Knowing Jephthah’s reputation, they called him to come rescue them and he reluctantly agreed. After attempting to discourage the king of Ammon from going to war, the king refused and Jephthah, with the Spirit of God upon him (11:29), led the Israelites to victory.
Immediately before the battle, Jephthah had prayed, asking God to deliver the Ammonites over to him and if that happened, he swore that he would offer up the first thing that met him from out of his house as a burnt offering.
Now it is not unusual to make a vow in dire circumstances. Hannah vowed a vow regarding Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11) and Israel vowed to God in Numbers 21:2, and Jacob made a vow at Bethel in Genesis 28:20-21. The difference with those vows and Jephthah’s is what he vowed. He agreed to offer up as a burnt sacrifice the first thing that came out of the door to greet him IF he was victorious in battle against the Ammonites.
This makes me wonder what it was exactly he expected to come through his front door? A goat? For surely it would more than likely be a person who would come out. Did he intend to offer up a possible human sacrifice?
The idea of a “burnt offering” normally refers to a non-human sacrifice, like a lamb. When the Bible speaks of human sacrifice it is generally described as “to cause to go through the fire.” That idiom is found in a number of OT references pertaining to human sacrifice made to a false god.
So the question is: Did Jephthah kill his daughter? An alternative view suggests that he committed her to perpetual service to the LORD at the tabernacle. Let’s consider each one beginning with the view that says he committed her to perpetual service to the LORD.
Jephthah committed his daughter to perpetual service at the tabernacle.
(That is a popular view. For instance,OT commentator, Leon Wood, takes that position).
Rather than killing her, it is suggest that Jephthah, being Jewish, would have abhorred human sacrifice. He was “God fearing” enough to have respect for what the Torah taught regarding such things, so it is argued he gave her over to be in perpetual service at the Tabernacle. There are at least three reasons this is suggested:
- We have evidence of individual being given in service to the tabernacle in Samuel and the Daughters of Shiloh seen at the end of Judges and even Anna in the NT (Luke 2:36-38).
- Furthermore, Leviticus 27 provides stipulations and regulations regarding individuals who make a vow to serve the LORD.
- Judges 11:37ff. describe her going out to “bewail her virginity” with her friends. The idea is that she laments never being able to get married and implies she is going into perpetual service to the LORD like a nun.
However, though this view is a commendable attempt to tone down the harshness of what happened and save Jephthah’s reputation as a horrible father, there are some problems with it as we will see when I consider what I believe is the correct view of the story.
Jephthah offered his daughter up as a human sacrifice.
Jephthah’s life was one of a non-religious hypocrite. It may be that he was not even a practicing Jew, being half-Jewish. He lived a long way from the tabernacle across the Jordan in the area of the trans-Jordan tribes. He more than likely viewed YHWH much like the Canaanites viewed their gods, deities who needed to be manipulated and appeased.
It is also significant that he lived among men who practiced human sacrifice. He lived in a synchronistic culture that was not pure covenant faithfulness to YHWH. Judges is the record of Israel’s descent into apostasy and disobedience and much of that was evidenced by the people adopting the practices of the pagans which included human sacrifice.
Additionally, when Jephthah ran off from his half-brothers, he more than likely hooked up with Moabite men. The Moabites did practice human sacrifice to their gods. In fact, in 2 Kings 3:27, the Moabite king, in a desperate hope for intervention by his idol god, sacrificed his oldest son, the heir to the throne, to Chemosh.
Now, did Leviticus 27 allow for perpetual service? Yes. However, there was also an “out” for what would be considered a “difficult vow.” In fact that is what the language of Leviticus 27:2 suggests and a number of translations, for instance the NASB, render verse 2 as, when a man makes a difficult vow… In those instances, the person making the vow can bring his case before the priests and they, according to the formula provided in Leviticus 27, would arrive at a redemption price to release him from his difficult vow.
I would think that making a foolish and rash vow in the heat of a serious battle would qualify as a “difficult vow.” In the case of Jephthah’s daughter, depending upon her age, he would have had to pay any where from 10 to 30 shekels for her redemption price if he had sought to be released from it. The issue is that he didn’t, which means he either was entirely ignorant of those Levitical stipulations or he was so religiously compromised he didn’t care.
I believe when you consider the sinfully compromised culture in which he lived, as well as the non-religious nature of the man himself, Jephthah offered his daughter up to be sacrificed. Nothing suggests that he gave her over to perpetual service in the tabernacle nunnery as it were.
Another Earth Day is upon us. We call it light bulb day at our place.
I want to go on record here and now as saying I love my air conditioning, my ice maker, and my refrigerator, my lights, my electronic gadgets, my car, my washing machine. I have no desire of returning to living a life-style reminiscent of the 1840s.
I regrettably do not have the time to write up a fresh post to commemorate what is better termed, Water Melon Day. You know: Green on the outside, but red on the inside.
In fact, from hence forth, I will call this day “Water Melon Day.”
At any rate, I thought I would link to some of my past articles I have written ranting against the leftist tyranny of global warming. Be alert. Some of the links I supplied in the various posts may no longer work. I apologize in advance if that is the case. Make sure if anything to read the one I marked as my personal favorite.
How Global Warming Junk Science is Messing with My Life (A personal favorite!)
I imagine a good number of my readers may have already seen these:
The page is not pretty to look at, but at least you have the series in order, as as far as I know, in it’s entirety.
It is probably been 13 years or so now, but I remember listening to these off the website of James’s home church using RealPlayer. Wow. RealPlayer. And I think I used Netscape, too.
One area where I believe Christians have a woeful lack of awareness is with church history. James’s study does a great job of providing much needed material for your average, church-goer.