I was given a copy of “The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn by Jerry Perkins from Wickenburg, a man instrumental in my Christian growth. His wife gave it to me in July and I just got around to reading it. Tom Cunningham, an Ohio pastor friend, had started reading the book when we traveled through to New York. He mentioned the verse:
Isa 9:10 10 ‘The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with hewn stones; The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.”
He then mentioned that President Obama had made a statement to the effect that we are going “to rebuild”. Seemed like the right response to me; but he couldn’t formulate his thoughts and I glanced at the book and realized it wouldn’t be bullet pointed for me, so I sat staring at the book occasionally sitting on my bedside without giving it a chance to speak.
The harbinger is the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11. So 9/11 is not just an isolated event it is a foreshadowing of the destruction to follow, unless our nation repents. Did we repent? No. What did the Twin Towers represent? Our economic power. Has our economic power been hit since 9/11? Yes.
It seems pretty straight forward to me, but I discovered myriads (KJV word) of discontent in the Christian intellectual world communicated through blogs. So let me give an overview.
Our author is not a prophet, as implied by some of the negative reviews of the book. If he had written this in 1995 I would be really impressed. He wrote this looking back at the events able to verify something he felt starting on September 11, 2001. We all remember our lives on that day. I knew it was the beginning of the eroding of our freedoms. I knew it would forever change our future. Reverend Wright’s “chickens coming home to roost” didn’t bother me much, he saw it as payback for slavery (all the blood from the civil war not enough for him) but I could recognize a withdrawing of God’s blessing upon our nation in our turning away from him. The author lived right across from the city in New Jersey. He felt something that he saw reinforced over and over again until he wrote this book.
Jonathan Cahn gives us nine harbingers.
#1 9/11 the breach, he is associating the incursion into Israel by the Assyrians and their response in Isaiah 9:10.
#2 Terrorists bringing a new kind of terror in warfare just as the Assyrians, the ancient relatives of the 9/11 bombers, brought a new sense of terror in the way they conducted warfare.
#3 Quoting the verse “the bricks have fallen” making Ground Zero the place where we all can view the limited damage that has been done to us, just like the limited damage of the Assyrian incursion into Israel. The enemy and the threat are gone and we survey the damage.
#4 Quoting the verse “but we will rebuild” and the same phrase used by a laundry list of politicians from mayors all the way to the President. Defiance becomes the defining adjective of the spirit to rebuild. A defiant attitude towards our enemies and unwittingly a defiant attitude towards God. The governor of New York would be quoted as saying: “Let this great Freedom Tower show the world that what our enemies sought to destroy…stands taller than ever.”
#5 Quoting the verse “with hewn stone” or a gazit stone, stone directly cut out of mountain rock. We will replace the clay and straw bricks with solid stone. So a 20 ton rectangular rock was cut out and placed at Ground Zero to represent the symbolic cornerstone on which the new tower would be built. Again the Governor of New York at the ceremony of laying the Freedom Stone: “Today we take twenty tons of Adirondack granite, the bedrock of our state, and place it as the foundation, the bedrock of a new symbol of American strength and confidence.” Some more words spoken at the event by the governor: “Today, we, the heirs of that revolutionary spirit of defiance, lay this cornerstone…” Eventually all of the plans to build the Freedom Tower will be abandoned and the Freedom Stone removed.
#6 Quoting the verse “The sycamores have been cut down” something the Assyrians would do to a land to ravage a land. An English Sycamore happened to have a steel beam hurled at it from the collapsing towers destroying the tree at the edge of ground zero. End of story except people began to transform it into a symbol. It became the Sycamore of Ground Zero. Articles were written about it and it was put on display. This all happens with no sense of impending judgment in the future connected to 9/11.
#7 Quoting the verse “but we will plant cedars in their place” or an erez tree will be planted in place of the sycamore. An erez tree or a cedar, or any tree from the pine family. The sycamore is removed, including its root system and put on display and in November of 2003 a conifer tree was lowered by crane into the exact same spot that the sycamore tree had been planted. At the ceremony that accompanied the planting of the tree these words were spoken: “This Ground Zero Tree of Hope will be a sign of the indomitable nature of human hope…” Indomitable, unconquered, unbowed, and certainly unrepentant.
#8 He calls it the “utterance” the quoting of the entire verse: Isa 9:10 10 ‘The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with hewn stones; The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.” The context of the verse is that Isaiah has prophesied destruction upon Israel for their rejection of God. The breach comes and their response is preceded with: Isa 9:8-9 The Lord sent a word against Jacob, And it has fallen on Israel. 9 All the people will know — Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria — Who say in pride and arrogance of heart: and then our verse Is. 9:10. The author describes this response as a vow, let the nitpicking begin (referring to the complaints about the book) but nonetheless some American leader or leaders have chosen to speak the words of this verse in response to what has happened on 9/11. Nov. 2003 the Erez Tree is planted. July 4 2004 the Freedom stone was placed and in commemoration of 9/11 on the third anniversary Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards would speak the exact words of Is. 9:10. Did he realize these were words spoken in defiance of God? Probably not, he just believed that America from its own resources could rebuild and recover from the damage done on Sept. 11, 2001. I will have to quote the author: “It was that the entire speech actually managed out of the ancient prophecy and revolved around it….It was the cornerstone on which the speech was built. So an American leader built an entire speech on an ancient vow spoken in defiance of God by the rebellious leaders of a doomed nation? And lest the connection be missed, he proceeded to join the ancient words of judgment to America. He said this: “Let me show you how we are building and putting cedars in those three hallowed places. And in a place where smoke once rose, you and I we will see that cedar rising. You will see that while those bricks fell and the sycamores cut down, our people are making those cedars rise.”
#9 He calls the ninth and final harbinger “The Prophecy” from a speech given by Tom Dasschal, the Senate Majority Leader, given on September 12, 2001, the first official response to the the attack. It was a joint resolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The normal things were said but he ended the speech with these words: “I know that there is only the smallest measure of inspiration that can be taken from this devastation, but there is a passage in the Bible from Isaiah that I think speaks to all of us at times like this…The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.” He brings ownership to the verse or vow by adding these words: “That is what we will do”. Isaiah 9:10 is now transformed into national policy.
He follows these 9 harbingers (really one with the other 8 bringing validity to it applying to the US) with a chapter entitled “There Comes a Second”. The point is that the harbinger is a warning and a symbol of what is to come. So the World Trade Center is a symbol of American economic power therefore its falling is a symbol of the economic fall that is to come if the harbinger (assuming God is involved) is rejected. His point is that if our problems are spiritual in nature then no policy or program can cure the spiritual rot that has invaded the root system. We are our problem and no amount of rebuilding can fix us, unless we repent. In response to 9/11 the stock market took its biggest single day loss up until that time. Our national response was to lower interest rates. We made money easy to get and the nation went on a building orgy created by cheap money made available. Loans would be made that never should have been made. All of this leading to the problems of 2008. Corporate debt, national debt and personal debt skyrocketed. In September 2008 we had our economic disaster that was a direct result of the easy money policy we started in response to 9/11 so that we could rebuild to be even stronger than before. The root problem, our character and spiritual condition, was left untouched if nothing else a little more soiled.
Our author then takes us down Wall Street to see the foundation of our economic strength. He links Is. 9:10 to Jer 45:4 “Thus you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land.” (It is a bit of foreshadowing, since it is spoken to Baruch, who personifies the author at the end). He gives us some history about the start of the New York Stock Exchange in 1792 under a Buttonwood tree (yes, a sycamore tree). The ominous foreshadowing is that God is about to “pluck up” what He has planted. This is terrible news if you believe that God is involved in the activities of nations and not just individuals. (I do)
Our author, a Jewish man, now brings in “The Mystery of the Shemitah” or Sabbath Year. The economic collapse comes seven years after 9/11. So by chance or not as the stock market is losing over 25% of its value during this space of time the “greatest single-day stock market crash in Wall Street history took place on the twenty-ninth day of Elul- the critical and crowning day of the Hebrew Shemitah”. Seven years previous the former top loss for Wall Street that followed the reopening of the stock market after 9/11, what both events have in common is even though they are different dates by modern calendars, they are the same date, the 29th of Elul, in the Hebrew calendar. Jewish fun with numbers or what about seven years from 2008?
Our author then looks at our response to the economic disasters of 2008 and our response. We respond not by repenting but by electing Barak Obama. His first time standing as President before a joint session of Congress he sets the stage for dealing with our economic difficulties and repeats a phrase from Is. 9:10: “we will rebuild”. The New York Times would report that “Obama Vows” “We will rebuild”. No repentance and no trusting in God; Obama would continue in the speech: “The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imagination of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth.” How are things going putting God on the sidelines?
His final piece of investigative, historical revelation comes from an understanding of the foundation of the country. This is where much of the blogs explode. He sees America as a land with a Christian foundation. To tie 9/11 as a message of God exposing our foundation he will add one last puzzle piece. America as a nation officially started when George Washington was inaugurated president on April 30, 1789. He compares George Washington’s actions to Solomon’s. He quotes the address: “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 themselves for these essential purposes.” The first act of the new government, led by Washington, (a true Deist wouldn’t even fake prayer) was to lead the members of the new government to prayer. They would leave Wall Street and head to Saint Paul’s Chapel. The same chapel standing today. It is called the miracle of of 9/11 because this building alone escaped damage from the falling towers. There was one tree damaged, yes, the sycamore or freedom tree. In fact all this area of Manhattan was open space owned by Saint Paul’s Chapel. So Ground Zero is actually the very same location where our nation’s first leaders dedicated the nation to God. Our author uses a phrase: “the judgment returns to the ground of consecration”. Washington left us with one warning in this first speech as president: “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself hath ordained”.
How are we doing as a nation? Israel lasted 10 years after their boastful response found in Is 9:10. How long will we last thumbing our national nose at God?