INTRODUCTION. A best-seller book contains an important message about America's future. This book, The Harbinger — The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America's Future, is written by Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jewish rabbi. He leads Hope of the World ministries and the Jerusalem Center/ Beth Israel, a congregation of both Jews and Gentiles. His ministry is based in Wayne, New Jersey, which is less than fifteen miles from mid-Manhattan.
I will try to summarize (very poorly, I fear) The Harbinger. This book is 261 pages in length. Since this summary is much shorter, my comments are necessarily incomplete. Although the rabbi chose to write this book in the form of a novel (which I regret, as I am not a fan of novels), he demonstrates deep understanding of Scriptures. He presents an important insight into America's future, as told by God to His prophet Isaiah many centuries ago.
MY APOLOGY TO RABBI CAHN. In the following summary, I have taken the rabbi's basic ideas and added other comments of mine. I have not clearly distinguished whether the rabbi or I make a statement. I apologize to him. If you want the “pure” version of Rabbi Cahn's teaching, read his book. Also, I have omitted a few parts of the book due to space limitations.
Space limitations necessitate that I omit discussion of important parts of Rabbi Cahn's book, including:
The mystery of the Shemitah;
Financial collapse related to this prophecy;
The importance of the number seven in this prophecy;
The mystery ground (George Washington's inauguration site);
And other parts.
Photo gallery of some of the topics discussed in this lesson include the following. (Click on keyboard's back arrow to return to this page.)
Airplane crashing into one of Twin Towers (YouTube clip) — America's hedge of protection is removed.
Collapsing Twin Tower (YouTube clip) — "The bricks have fallen down" (Isaiah 9:10a).
Fallen buildings at Ground Zero AND Ground Zero — The towers gave fallen; America's wealth cannot save her.
Terrorists' attack on the Pentagon — America's military cannot save her.
"We the people," U.S. Constitution — Only the people ("people called by God's name" [2 Chronicles 7:14] can save America, but "We the people" have not repented).
Bronze replica of stump, roots of Ground Zero sycamore — "The sycamores are cut down" (Isaiah 9:10c), symbolic of an enemy's destruction of a nation's wealth.
Freedom Stone — "We will rebuild with hewn stones" (Isaiah 9:10b).
Tree of Hope — "But we will replace [the sycamores] with cedars" (Isaiah 9:10b). America's attempt to replace the fallen sycamore with a more durable, evergreen tree failed. The Tree of Hope died, has been removed, and will not be re-planted. Will America's hope follow this fate?
Freedom Tower — America's politicians arrogantly vowed to rebuild bigger, stronger, and greater. God did not want a building project, which America gave Him. God wanted national repentance, which America denied Him. The Tower has been rebuilt, but America is more steeped in sin, than was pre-9/11 America. Significantly, the name of the Freedom Tower (a modern Tower of Babel), but He wanted national repentance. the Freedom tower has been renamed the One World Trade Center. What's in a name? Does the name change predict loss of freedoms in America? Or, the coming one-world government of the Antichrist? Next... judgment!
Cross in Twin Tower rubble — A twenty-foot cross of steel beams in perfect proportions for a Christian cross rose up from Ground Zero rubble. Whether coincidence or a sign from God, only God knows. Enemies of the cross immediately filed lawsuits to deny the public from seeing such a "frightening symbol." How much Jesus and the cross upon which He was crucified are hated! How patient (long-suffering) God must be with His children!
THE TEXT. Rabbi Cahn bases his book on a prophecy (Isaiah 9:10) originally directed toward Israel, but which seems to have dual application (as typifies prophecy) to present-day America. I will quote the entire passage (9:8-9:14) for context and underline the principal verse (9:10): The Lord sent a word against Jacob, and it has fallen on Israel. All the people will know— Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria— who say in pride and arrogance of heart: "The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace [them] with cedars." Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and spur his enemies on, the Syrians before and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with an open mouth. For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand [is] stretched out still. For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them, nor do they seek the LORD of hosts. Therefore the LORD will cut off head and tail from Israel, palm branch and bulrush in one day.
DUALITY IN PROPHECY. The concept of duality in prophecy can explain prophecies. It may also lure us into a trap of erroneous misinterpretation. Many prophecies were fulfilled in ancient times, as they applied to Israel. It appears that some prophecies apply again in the present time. Because God often repeats the past, we study prophecy to try to better understand Him.
In this sense, the Isaiah prophecy certainly applied to Israel, but it seems to apply today to America. In many ways, ancient Israel and modern America share certain blessings and judgments from God. Even Muslims understand the connection between Israel (“Little Satan”) and America (“Great Satan”).
Why would a collection of little frontier British colonies in the New World in the eighteenth century rise to the powerful, rich nation of the United States in the twentieth century, if it were not for the blessings of God? Being blessed, we have even greater responsibilities.
WHAT IS A HARBINGER? A harbinger is a person who, or a thing which, announces or signals the approach of another person or thing; a forerunner of something. For example, robins are commonly called “harbingers of spring,” meaning that a sighting of robins signals that spring is close at hand.
Rabbi Cahn sees the events of September 11, 2001 (9/11) as the harbinger of America's future. I have taught this for years, but Rabbi Cahn's study of Scriptures presents the case far better than I have been able to present.
“SURELY GOD WOULD NOT PUNISH SUCH A 'GODLY' NATION AS AMERICA.” Many Americans— pastors and congregants alike— live in a delusional, make-believe world. They seem to believe America is a “Godly” nation (first delusion) and will always be blessed by God (second delusion). America certainly is not “Godly,” but is ruled by Satan. Americans' sins surely must create a stench in God's nostrils. This attitude (God will not punish “Godly” America) is a defense mechanism against reality. Psychiatrists call this reaction “normalcy bias,” a flight from reality by recalling past safety and refusing to acknowledge future danger.
While Americans may seek refuge from reality in a make-believe world by basking in God's blessings, we fail to remember that Israel's blessings also carried great responsibilities and judgments. Even though many Americans are Christians, I would not classify America as a Christian nation. I do not need to recount America's many sins against God. If you do not know them, cancel your social networking accounts and start reading your Bible.
God repeatedly and harshly punished His people Israel because of their rebellion and sin against Him. Why should America be spared God's severe punishment? In speaking of the last days, Jesus explained an important principle (Revelation 3:19): [Jesus said] “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” Our nation and her citizens may be loved by God, but we will be rebuked and chastened.
GOD'S PATTERN OF JUDGMENT. Consider God's pattern of judgment:
First, there is warning.
Then, there is a period of grace. During this time, neither additional warning nor judgment occurs. Rather, God waits to see if persons will heed His warning.
Finally, if people fail to repent during the quiet time of grace, judgment will follow.
September 11, 2001 (9/11) surely was God's warning to America. On this day, Islamic fundamentalists:
Destroyed the Twin Towers in New York City;
Heavily damaged the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; and
Were headed toward the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., until passengers wrested control of the plane from its Muslim “pilot” and crashed the plane into a field in Pennsylvania.
Notice the symbolism in the 9/11 attacks:
The Twin Towers were at the heart of American finance. God's likely message was: America's fabulous wealth cannot save her.
The Pentagon is the center of America's military. God's likely message was: America's military might cannot save her.
The Capitol building, seat of America's laws, was saved because of the sacrifice of ordinary citizens, who took extraordinarily heroic steps to prevent destruction of the symbol of our nation. God's likely message was: Only the people— not wealth or military prowess— can save America.
I believe God was enacting 2 Chronicles 7:14 for Americans: [The LORD said] “... 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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
We are “God's people called by His name.” It is up to us to save America. The U.S. Constitution importantly begins, “We the people....” Only “We the people” can save America, and we are failing miserably. Only “God's people called by His name” can save America, and we are failing miserably.
Enough of my rambling: Let me, now, give you the nine harbingers Rabbi Cahn has identified from the Isaiah prophecy, with some of my additional comments.
HARBINGER 1: THE BREACH. Pertinent text (Isaiah 9:8-9): The Lord sent a word against Jacob, and it has fallen on Israel. All the people will know— Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria— who say in pride and arrogance of heart:
A “breach” is a break in something. For example, a leaking dam has a breach. God had placed His hedge of protection around the United States. The last time America was attacked on our soil was in the War of 1812. (What about Pearl Harbor in December, 1941? Hawaii was not a state at that time.)
When God removed His protection (that is, when He allowed a breach in America's protection), He allowed America's enemies (the spiritual descendants of the ancient Assyrians) to attack the symbols of America's pride, strength, and excellence, just as He allowed Israel's enemies (the Assyrians) to attack her many centuries earlier.
Ground Zero, the site of the Twin Towers, is symbolically hallowed for Americans. On this site on April 30, 1789, the first president of the newly formed United States of America, George Washington,
Washington took his oath, by placing his hand on a Holy Bible. His speech included the following:
"... It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence. ... Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend." Washington and others then walked to a nearby church and prayed. This church survived the 9/11 terrorist attack.
HARBINGER 2: THE TERRORISTS. Pertinent text (Isaiah 9:8-9, see above).
Ancient Assyria was centered in present-day northern Iraq. The Assyrians originated terrorism. They were uncommonly, viciously cruel, having no respect for life.
The ancient Assyrians attacked Israel. Descendants of the Assyrians now comprise Middle Eastern terrorists, and these terrorists, having disregard for the lives of other people, attacked the United States on 9/11, shouting praise to their god: Allahu akbar (“Allah is great”). The Arabic Allahu akbar is still written on the Iraqi flag.
HARBINGER 3: THE FALLEN BRICKS. Pertinent text (Isaiah 9:10a): “The bricks have fallen down....”
September 11, 2001 is a day seared into the consciousness of nearly every American. You probably remember the horror in New York City, as we watched fuel-heavy airliners flown into one of the Twin Towers and, later, the second tower. Dense smoke billowed from the towers' upper floors. After a time, debris started falling (“the bricks have fallen down”). Finally, each weakened tower collapsed ("pancaked") upon itself into a pile of rubble.
These mighty architectural gems— the centerpiece of the New York City skyline— were completely destroyed.
HARBINGER 4: THE TOWER. Pertinent text (Isaiah 9:10b): “... but we will rebuild....”
One politician after another— at local, state, and federal levels— defiantly in arrogant igorance promised, something like: “The terrorists will not defeat us. We will rebuild.” They all promised to rebuild— to make the new, rebuilt edifice bigger, stronger, and more beautiful. In time, they commissioned the Freedom Tower to replace the Twin Towers.
HARBINGER 5: THE GAZIT STONE. Pertinent text (Isaiah 9:10b): “... we will rebuild with hewn stones....”
Political leaders chose grander, stronger building materials. “Hewn stones” translates the Hebrew gaziyth (pronounced: ga-ZEET). Gaziyth (English: gazit) means a stone that has been hewn (cut, dressed) from a mountain. We likely would say a quarried stone. The stone serving as the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower is called the Freedom Stone. It is a 20-ton block of granite quarried in upstate New York's Adirondack Mountains. Thus, smaller, less valuable “bricks” were replaced by massive granite blocks.
The Freedom Stone— the cornerstone of the new Freedom Tower at Ground Zero— was set into place on July 4, 2004. Its inscription reads: “To honor and remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001 and as a tribute to the enduring spirit of freedom.”
HARBINGER 6: THE SYCAMORE TREE. Pertinent text (Isaiah 9:10c): “... the sycamores are cut down....”
This portion of Isaiah's dual prophecy symbolized/ symbolizes destruction of a nation's valuable resources. When Assyrian terrorists invaded, they destroyed the land, as part of their terror.
In the ancient world, the sycamore symbolized protection, divinity, eternity, and strength.
“Sycamore” translates the Hebrew shaqam. “Sycamore” is a correct translation, but this particular Middle Eastern sycamore is fig-bearing. Such a tree would not survive New York City's harsh winters.
A large American sycamore grew on the perimeter of the land upon which the Twin Towers were built. As the second tower collapsed, a large steel beam was propelled from the building. This beam struck the sycamore tree, destroying it. Modern-day terrorists, descendants of the ancient Assyrian terrorists, literally cut down America's sycamore tree. The stump and roots of that felled tree, now called "The Sycamore at Ground Zero,” are displayed as a bronze casting. Interestingly, bronze in the Bible symbolizes the metal of judgment, an irony probably not appreciated by governmental planners.
HARBINGER 7: THE CEDAR TREE. Pertinent text (Isaiah 9:10d): “... but we will replace [them] with cedars."
To replace the destroyed Ground Zero sycamore tree, an evergreen tree— a 21-foot Norway spruce, called the “Tree of Hope” — was planted in exactly the same spot occupied by the felled sycamore in November, 2003. Although depicted as a tree of hope, in God's eyes this tree is a tree of arrogant defiance.
“Cedar” is a correct translation of the Hebrew erez. Erez can denote any evergreen, coniferous tree (including the planted Norway spruce).
America's Tree of Hope immediately failed to thrive. Many experts were summoned to save this most symbolic tree, but all efforts failed. The Tree of Hope died, and was removed and destroyed on Passover, 2014. Through the death of America's Tree of Hope, could God be telling this nation that her hope will be short-lived and removed?
HARBINGER 8: THE UTTERANCE. Pertinent text (Isaiah 9:9): All the people... who say in pride and arrogance of heart:....
Politicians lined up for months to speak words of encouragement and hope. For example, Senator John Edwards gave a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus on September 11, 2004 (the third anniversary of 9/11). Edwards based his entire speech on Isaiah 9:10. He said (in part): “Today, on this day of remembrance and mourning, we have the Lord's Word to get us through.” He, then, read Isaiah 9:10. Continuing, Edwards spoke reassuringly of our resolve to rebuild bigger, better, and stronger buildings to replace the demolished Twin Towers. He probably thought he was speaking inspiration and comfort to the nation. Not recognizing the reason for the attack, though, he repeated the boastful vows made centuries earlier by Jewish leaders— vows which provoked God to bring judgment upon ancient Israel. Other politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and, later, President Barack Obama, made similar arrogant (rebuild bigger, better) comments. From ancient times, the death penalty required the testimony of "two or three witnesses" (see Deuteronomy 17:6). Did the "testimony" of three high-ranking American government witnesses— Edwards, Daschle, and Obama— seal America's death sentence?
Politicians and average citizens viewed the priority of replacing the towers as defiance against the terrorists. They boldly spoke, “We will rebuild.... We will rebuild.... We will rebuild.... We will not be defeated.” Few of them understood that the towers' destruction had nothing to do about an act of war against America by terrorists. The destruction was a sign from God that America's judgment was at hand, if her citizens fail to repent.
HARBINGER 9: THE PROPHECY. Pertinent text (Isaiah 9:10 in its entirety): "The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace [them] with cedars." AND (Isaiah 9:11-14): Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries of Rezin against him, and spur his enemies on, the Syrians before and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with an open mouth. For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand [is] stretched out still. For the people do not turn to Him who strikes them, nor do they seek the LORD of hosts. Therefore the LORD will cut off head and tail from Israel, palm branch and bulrush in one day.
The ninth harbinger repeats the first eight harbingers. That is, the first eight harbingers speak of “what is,” and the ninth harbinger repeats the others to speak of “what will be.” Note that destruction was prophesied for an unrepentant Israel (is prophesied for an unrepentant America), but God's hand is always outstretched to His people for redemption and forgiveness.
This verse has two aspects. In one aspect, Isaiah told of the arrogant vow of Israel to defy God. In the second aspect, Isaiah, as God's prophet, told his nation what would befall them because of their arrogance and disobedience.
Today, we can view this passage as applying to America. God has warned America of punishment, through the 9/11 harbingers, because:
We have ignored God.
We have continued to sin in many ways.
We have become more estranged from the God who loves us so much.
We continue to elect corrupt politicians who avoid any direction of God in their lives.
We tolerate and follow weak pastors who fear telling their congregations, “Thus saith the Lord....”
And so forth.
God has warned us. He has given us a period of grace. We have not accepted His warning and changed our nation. Expect God's judgment. There is good evidence to believe that His judgment has already started, and likely will worsen.
CONCLUSIONS. We may draw some conclusions from study of The Harbinger, including:
It appears that September 11, 2001 (9/11) was God's warning for repentance in America. On this day, He removed America's hedge of protection. Spiritual descendants of the world's original terrorists (the Assyrians, now forming modern terrorist groups) attacked symbols of America's strength. The symbol of America's wealth, the Twin Towers, was destroyed. Message: America's great wealth cannot save her. The symbol of America's military might, the Pentagon, was attacked and heavily damaged. Message: America's military cannot save her. A fourth plane was headed to destroy the U.S. Capitol, the symbol of America's constitutional law, but ordinary citizens on that flight— not soldiers, politicians, lawyers, billionaires, or the like— caused the plane to crash into a Pennsylvania field. Message: America can be saved IF “We the people” [see U.S. Constitution], more correctly “God's people who are called by His name” [see 2 Chronicles 7:14], arise, take control of an out-of-control government and culture, and restore morality.
There is no evidence that the American people are heeding 2 Chronicles 7:14. Specifically, as a people, Americans have not humbled themselves; Americans are not praying more; Americans are not seeking God's face; and Americans have not turned from their wicked ways. Therefore, God is not obliged to fulfill His part of the promise— to hear America's needs, to forgive America's sins, and to heal America. Only because of His unfathomable grace and love does He still tolerate America.
For a few weeks after 9/11, churches were filled with persons crying out to God for mercy. Then, the nation resumed pre-9/11 business as usual, living as “in the days of Noah” — [Matthew 24:37-39]. Politicians, the media, and most citizens completely missed the importance of 9/11. America's leaders arrogantly, defiantly vowed to rebuild bigger, stronger, and better. Virtually no one recognized God's warning for America. No one taught that Americans should be on their knees, asking forgiveness, instead of building a Freedom Tower. Americans have learned nothing from the mistakes God's people Israel made. God's judgment against America will become increasingly evident. Is this why a nation resembling America is not prominent in end-time prophecies?
As noted in the perceding paragraph, a nation resembling America is not conclusively mentioned in end-time prophecies. Some Bible students argue that Babylon the Great (Revelation, chapter 18) is America, but this interpretation is denied by other students. Even so, this chapter is an unhappy one for Babylon the Great (America?), because it describes the final destruction of this once great, but now unhappy place. There is little consolation for America in end-time prophecies, as God surely will judge America harshly because of her sins and apostasy. If America is destroyed, as in Revelation 18, the destruction was likely set into place on 9/11 (as in Isaiah 9).
AN INTERESTING STATISTIC. The 9/11 terrorist attacks resulted in the death of 2,977 innocent victims. America still mourns the mass murder of this many persons— and rightly so. Yet, more than this number of unborn babies are killed by abortion every day in America's abortion mills. Using a low estimate of abortion deaths in America this year (1.1-million), there will be 3,014 unborn babies killed every day (1,100,000 / 365 = 3,014). As regrettable as it was, the 9/11 deaths were “only” a one-day event. Abortion deaths continue today, tomorrow, the next day, the next day, the next day,... with no end in sight. Abortion— and, especially, Americans' acceptance of abortion— surely is one sin for which God will judge America. He has commanded us not to commit murder, to defend the weak, not to pollute our nation with the blood of innocent persons, and so forth. I have great empathy for a young woman who has an abortion. God stands ready to forgive— and forget— the abortion, if she seeks God's forgiveness, as outlined in Scriptures. However, unrepentant abortionists and proponents of (activists and politicians for) abortion surely place their eternal souls in the balance for their opposition to God's Word.
GOD'S JUDGMENT IS COMING. BE READY! PLEASE BE READY!