What is the point of Jonathan Cahn’s controversial book The Harbinger?
To answer that question, were were blessed to have on our program Christ in Prophecy Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. Rabbi Cahn is the spiritual leader of the Beth Israel Worship Center in Wayne, New Jersey and best-selling author of the book The Harbinger and a new book titled The Mystery of the Shemitah. Both books have been best sellers and highly controversial in Christian circles.
The Bible teaches that God never pours out His wrath on a nation without first sending remedial judgments and prophetic voices to warn of God’s impending judgment and to call the nation to repentance. Rabbi Cahn believes that when it comes to the United States, God already has been emphatically warning us, and since we haven’t listened, is delivering us from judgment to destruction.
As always has been the case with anyone who historically speaks out in prophetic manner calling people for repentance, Jonathan has of course been severely attacked. So, in this series we are going to discuss the first of his two books — The Harbinger and the controversies that surround it.
[Note: The interview has been put into article format for ease of reading. For an unedited transcript, please click the PDF button above.]
Thesis of the Book
Nathan Jones: Jonathan, let’s talk first about your first book The Harbinger. Maybe you could summarize the main point and then give us the number one criticism you get concerning it?
Jonathan Cahn: The Harbinger is an ancient mystery from the Bible. It is the template of judgment that God gave to ancient Israel. When the Northern Kingdom of Israel was in its last days, there were nine harbingers identified that appeared in the land. The Israelites reject them and then they are destroyed.
The eerie thing, or the stunning thing, or the scary thing, is that those same harbingers are now reappearing in America. Some of them have appeared in New York City. Some have appeared in Washington D.C. But, they are happening with precision. They are so precise that they actually give the words that American leaders are speaking before they even say them. It gives exact dates when things happen, and I mean, down to the seconds! So, the harbingers are happening and they are affecting all of us.
Since my book came out, these harbingers still have not stopped. It has continued. The harbingers have continued to manifest as America continues on its course of danger as it heads away from God. We are heading to judgment.
Nathan Jones: The whole book revolves around one particular verse — Isaiah 9:10 — which reads, “The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with cut stones. The sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.” That verse actually expresses an attitude, right?
Jonathan Cahn: Yes. Isaiah records what the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel said when they got their first warning strike, which the context was the Assyrians. Their armies kept coming in and attacking. God allowed those attacks for years before their final destruction as a warning for the other nation of Judah to wake up.
Instead of Israel saying, “We are going to return to God.” They made another statement saying to the effect, “Even though the bricks fell, we are coming back stronger. Even though the trees have been cut down, we are going to bloom and blossom without God.” They are giving defiance against God. Isaiah is recording this. Then God says because of this rebellious response, the next part of His warnings would be the destruction of the nation. Because they defied all the warnings, this destruction did indeed finally happen to them.
In Isaiah 9:10 are explicitly or implicitly the nine harbinger of judgment. The sycamore is one, the stone is another, and the utterance is another. Every single one of those harbingers has manifested in America.
Dr. Reagan: We had leaders in America after 9/11 who actually quoted Isaiah 9:10?
Jonathan Cahn: It’s amazing, yes, because in actuality this verse is a verse pronouncing judgment on a nation. When this judgment started, the Lord led me right to that scripture. I didn’t know that this verse had been quoted by certain leaders at that moment. Then one day I was on the computer and I’m typing in Isaiah 9:10 and found it in the Annals of Congress. I had no idea!
The very response after 9/11 was from Tom Daschle, the Senate Majority Leader. He’s the one who gave America’s response the day after 9/11. Out of his mouth he says, “But we have this word…” and out of his mouth he pronounces Isaiah 9:10, without even knowing what it means. It’s an obscure passage. He’s unwittingly talking about the harbingers while they are actually manifesting! He says it, but nobody knows. We have the entire government hearing this verse, but nobody knows what it means. And yet, the passage is going to come true. He said at the end that Isaiah 9:10 is what America will do, and in doing so, and harbingers have all manifested.
Nathan Jones: If we could back up just a little bit. I was confused at first because the title The Harbinger. What is a harbinger?
Jonathan Cahn: I didn’t realize that. A lot of people don’t know. Well get to The Mystery of the Shemitah and nobody knows what that means!
Harbinger means “a foreshadow” or “a sign of something to come.” It could be good, but it usually is an ominous warning of judgment.
Nathan Jones: And that foreshadowing or sign is what we’re seeing through Israel as a model ow warning for any nation, including the United States?
Jonathan Cahn: It’s got to. This Bible was written for our instruction. And, the eerie thing is, it’s not like it’s only a general principle. God is sovereign over history.
When we talk about how our leaders were quoting Isaiah 9:10, Daschle wasn’t the only leader. Three years later John Edwards on the anniversary of 9/11 says the same thing. He builds his entire speech around Isaiah 9:10. So, the verse keeps coming up.
How does God warn a nation? He uses His Word.
Dr. Reagan: Isaiah 9:10 is a statement of arrogance and pride.
Jonathan Cahn: Defiance and all that rebelliousness, yes.
Dr. Reagan: It’s defiant. It’s like, “We don’t care what you’ve done here. We are going to rebuild without you!”
Jonathan Cahn: That defiance is exactly what America showed and our leaders said at 9/11. In fact, one of them said, “We will rebuild with this stone.” This stone is in Hebrew it is called the Gazit Stone. After 9/11 they our leaders did the same thing as Israel did. They take this stone and they put it at Ground Zero and they have a ceremony around the stone. The Governor of New York says, “We are doing this in the spirit of defiance.” He literally says that!
The point is, if we were there on Capitol Hill and we saw this when it happened, I didn’t realize it at the time. I didn’t when Daschle made his statement. If we were there now, knowing what we now know, we would say, “Wait a minute! This is a bad thing you’re saying. There’s not going to be any real revival at this point.” And, there wasn’t. The weak spiritual response to 9/11 was kind of a foreshadowing that America would grow much further away from God.
How the Book Came to Be Written
Nathan Jones: Rabbi Cahn, how did you come to write The Harbinger?
Jonathan Cahn: I wasn’t originally looking for this topic. I happen to live across the river from Ground Zero. As a matter of fact, my wife was supposed to be at the Twin Towers at the moment of the attacks. At the last moment her plans were changed.
So, I’m watching the Towers collapse and I’m praying. Then I started being led to reading Isaiah 9:10. Soon afterwards, I was standing at Ground Zero and to my amazement I saw a tree. Something in my heart said, “There’s something there.” So, I was led like one step to a harbinger, but I wasn’t looking for it. I was led one step to the next, to the next, to the next, to the next and the story kept on getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
I wasn’t originally going to write any book. I shared my experiences with the congregation and everyone was blown away. They all said that this story has got to go out to the nation. I didn’t do anything on my own.
Finally, I was led to write a book, and this thing wrote itself. Writing happened rapid fire. Then it’s been spreading around by itself. The book’s distribution just goes and goes and goes. I don’t take any credit for The Harbinger. If I tried to reproduce it now, I couldn’t do it.
The point is, God’s message has gone forth. God warns. He’ll do it through enemies. He’ll do it through a donkey. He’ll do it through anyone. And, it has gone forth. So, that’s exactly that — I believe God is warning America. That’s what He does. He has a heart because He wants to save. We are in danger of judgment, and it’s happening precisely like the Isaiah 9:10 model.
In the second part of our interview with Rabbi Jonathan Cahn on his book The Harbinger, we’ll debunk some of the criticisms his detractors have thrown at him.