What’s Wrong with The Harbinger’s "Ancient Mystery"?
by Berit ~ Updated July 5, 2012
The following promotional ad for The Harbinger is an interesting summary of the book:
"Is it possible…
• That there exists an ancient mystery that holds the secret of America’s future?
• That this mystery lies behind everything from 9/11 to the collapse of the global economy?
• That ancient harbingers of judgment are now manifesting in America?
• That God is sending America a prophetic message of what is yet to come?
"Before its destruction as a nation, ancient Israel received nine harbingers, prophetic omens of warning. The same nine harbingers are now manifesting in America…. ‘Hidden in an ancient biblical prophecy from Isaiah, the mysteries revealed in The Harbinger are so precise that they foretold recent American events down to the exact days. … IT’S REAL."
But it’s not true! Rabbi Cahn’s reliance on mysterious signs, symbols and prophetic messages should be a warning to us. They illustrate his subtle blend of truth and mysticism — and make the latter seem more significant than God’s Word. As he told Glenn Beck in June, “The Harbinger is a two and a half thousand year mystery that lies behind everything.”
The Harbinger has accomplished what most churches choose to ignore: It has alerted America to the Biblical consequences of rejecting God and His guidelines. By linking an Old Testament warning to a coming judgment on America, it rightfully challenges us to trust God, to know His Word and to follow His way!
Near the end of this book, author Jonathan Cahn shares a sobering reminder. Here his fictional "prophet" gives Nouriel, the main character, a good lesson on the nature of evil:
“And who is evil?”
“Those who kill, who deceive, who steal, those who hurt and abuse others.”…
“And what about you, Nouriel? Do you fit into any of those categories?”
“No,” he replied, “you wouldn’t. But remember, ‘All the ways of a man are right in his own eyes.’ It’s from the Book of Proverbs. That’s human nature…. Beware of the good Nazi.”
“The good Nazi? And what’s that supposed to mean?”
“The Nazis sent millions to their deaths out of pure hatred and evil….And yet do you think most of them saw themselves as evil?”
“And why not?… Because they compared themselves and measured themselves by the standards they themselves create....You can never judge yourself by your own standards and your own righteousness, but only in light of His righteousness.” [pp.228-229]
That part is true. So what can be wrong with a book that alerts us to evil and calls America back to God?
In spite of my appreciation for the awakening effects of The Harbinger, we have serious reasons for concern:
Its main theme focuses on a single prophecy (ignoring all others) as the heart of an ancient mystery and the key to America’s coming judgment.
It redefines and misuses the Biblical word "vow."
The "prophet" blends truth with dreams, mysticism and a false conclusion
Let’s look at each point through the filter of the Bible.
The Ancient Prophecy
Most of us remember September 11, 2001 — "a day of destruction" in America. The two hijacked planes that crashed into the Twin Towers had unhindered access, since our usually alert air defense system had apparently assigned its pilots elsewhere on that particular morning.
The next day, September 12, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle gave a verbal response to the terrorist attacks. "We will rebuild…” he told the anxious crowd. He continued,
"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 us all at times like this: ‘The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig [or sycamore] trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.’" [Isaiah 9:10] [p.117]
Perhaps Mr. Daschle actually searched the Bible for a short encouraging Scripture that would bring hope to his listeners. Perhaps he didn’t notice the Biblical context for that particular verse. In any case, his chosen words were heard across America, and few questioned the message.
But to Jonathan Cahn and his fictional "prophet" those were dangerous words.
That mysterious "prophet" guides the story through numerous providential encounters with his inquiring pupil, Nouriel. Using nine ancient "seals" with hidden symbolic messages, he gradually leads Nouriel toward an ominous conclusion: that the Old Testament prophecy in Isaiah 9:10-11 links America’s fate to the destruction of ancient Israel. He suggests that the troubles on Wall Street, our sinking economy, and the 9-11 destruction of the Twin Towers are all rooted in these ancient words:
"The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild …" Isaiah 9:10
Cahn based his message on the dubious theory that Daschle’s words "we will rebuild" were a prideful vow. But is that true?
No, it’s not! Yet, when we read those words in the context of the entire prophecy, that conclusion may seem plausible to some:
"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." Isaiah 9:9-12
The Israelites who heard Isaiah’s words still had time to repent, yet they chose to honor their pagan idols rather than our sovereign God. But there is no indication that they made a vow to that effect. They would face His judgment — but not for making a foolish vow. Their actual sins were pride, rebellion [against God], and idolatry. Stubborn and willful, they refused to repent.
Cahn’s "prophet" would disagree. He believed that all who repeated those three words were guilty of making a prideful vow — including President Obama and the news media. This dialogue between the "prophet" and his pupil illustrates the deception:
“…the prophecy was proclaimed on the day after 9/11. Here the nation vowed the vow to emerge stronger than before. Seven years later the vow would be undone.”
“With the collapse of the economy.”
“Yes…. And what event, more than any other, would bring about that collapse?”
“The fall of Lehman Brothers.”…
“So the economic collapse was triggered on the seventh anniversary of the proclaiming of the ancient vow.”
“Just as in ancient times the same vow would ultimately lead to the collapse of ancient Israel.”
"A very dangerous vow." [pp.179-181]
Keep in mind, this supposed vow is the main foundation for Rabbi Cahn’s argument. So to check his theory, I opened our large 1905 Webster’s Dictionary and found this definition:
"Vow (noun): A solemn promise made to God… by which one consecrates or devotes himself… wholly or in part to some act, service or condition."
"Vow (verb): To give, consecrate or dedicate to God (or some other deity) by a solemn promise. ‘When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.’ Ecclesiastes 5:4-5." (More here)
In other words, the actual Old Testament “vow” was far more than a simple statement of good or bad intentions. Failing to fulfill what was promised to God would bring serious consequences. That’s why God warns His people to avoid rash or foolish vows (Judges 11:30). But I doubt that the political and media leaders of our increasingly secular nation were making any solemn promise to God when they repeated those three Old Testament words.
Twisting Reality through Dreams and Mysticism
Like God’s true prophet Elijah, Cahn’s "prophet" not only speaks mysterious truths supposedly from God, he also has power to transport himself in miraculous but timely ways. Does that make him more credible? Or would such fictional "miracles" conflict with God’s guidance? After all, the Bible tells us that,
"…no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." 2 Peter 1:19-21
"I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran. I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied…" Jeremiah 23:21
“…the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak… that prophet shall die." Deuteronomy 18:18
In Chapter 19, titled "The Mystery Ground," the "prophet" continues his lessons using the mysterious "seals" to enlighten Nouriel. As usual, the two men just "happened to" find each other in New York, near Wall Street. But this time, Nouriel has been prepared for their meeting through his own "dream." And, somehow, the "prophet" knows the content of that dream:
“The Temple of Jerusalem was the house of God’s glory,” said the prophet….
“I saw it!” I said, my voice rising in pitch….That’s what it was in the dream—the dedication of the Temple. I had a dream, and it began with Solomon leading a gathering of multitudes at the Temple….
“Yes. The prayers of King Solomon were prophetic…. The Temple Mount was the nation’s ground of dedication.”
“I saw it all in my dream…. And after the dedication, the sky turned dark and something like a storm was coming.” (pp. 197-198]
Notice that Solomon is presented as a good and faithful king. The fact that he would soon marry pagan wives and accept their occult gods was ignored. Perhaps Cahn’s fictional prophet was unaware of the words God spoke through the less famous prophet Ahijah
"Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon…because they have forsaken Me, and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the people of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways to do what is right in My eyes… as did his father David." 1 Kings 11:28-33
At the end of Solomon’s reign, only two of the twelve tribes would be ruled by his son, Rehoboam. "And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days." (1 Kings 14:30) Once again, the main reason for God’s punishment was rampant idolatry, faithlessness and corruption.
But let’s bypass that inconvenient part of history and continue with the dialogue:
Nouriel: “[George Washington] was there in the dream...at the dedication of the Temple….
Prophet: “He was placing his hand on a Bible,” said the prophet, “to swear. …He was taking the oath of the presidency. It was the inauguration, April 30, 1789 [in New York], the beginning of America as a constituted nation….
Prophet: “In your dream the two events were joined together—Israel’s dedication and America’s inauguration." [p.200]
"Then I made a trip to Brooklyn. That’s where my friend was, an Orthodox Jewish man who ran a little bookstore, in back of which was a study, a library of all sorts of mystical Hebrew writings. That was his passion — finding meaning in mystical Hebrew literature. I figured he’d be the right one."[p.240]
"So tell me what it says?’
‘Blessed of God is the son of God’s light, the declarer.’
‘Who told you it said that?’
‘A friend… a friend who specializes in mystical Hebrew writings.’" [p.242]
Many of these "mystical Hebrew writings" and strange biblical interpretations can be found in the Zohar, the written doctrines of the Kabbalah. See our updated article on "The ZOHAR and Kabbalistic Mysticism."
The next two links provide additional warnings:
Kabbalah: "’Kabbalah’ is a doctrine of esoteric knowledge concerning God and the universe, asserted to have come down as a revelation to the Sages from a remote past, and preserved only by a privileged few. Kabbalah is considered part of the Jewish Oral Law. It is the traditional mystical understanding of the Torah. Kabbalah stresses the reasons and understanding of the commandments, and the cause of events described in the Torah." [www.milechai.com/judaism/kabbalah.html]
The New Kabbalah: "The New Kabbalah is a philosophy and Jewish theology grounded in the union between traditional Jewish mysticism and modern rational thought. …the New Kabbalah seeks to uncover and further develop the philosophical and psychological significance of Kabbalistic symbols and ideas. In addition, the New Kabbalah is enriched by comparative studies and dialog between Jewish mysticism and other religious and philosophical traditions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Platonism, and Gnosticism.
"The New Kabbalah is born out of the conviction that the theosophical system of Luria and his followers promotes an open economy of thought, dialog and criticism while at the same time providing a coherent and comprehensive account of the world and humanity’s role within it that is intellectually, morally and spiritually vital for us today." [www.newkabbalah.com/home.html]
A Closer look at Washington’s Faith and Fears?
In his inauguration address, Washington said,
“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…. 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.” [p.200]
The man chosen to administer the oath was the Grand Master of Masons in New York. At least a dozen other masons participated, including George Washington himself. You may want to check some of these (outside) links [here, here and here] for a small glimpse of the spiritual warfare involved in the roots of our nation. They illustrate this disturbing synthesis of Biblical truth and occult mysticism.
Six months after his inauguration, President Washington issued his grateful Thanksgiving Proclamation. It began with this statement:
"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be…"
What was Washington’s relationship to this lofty and somewhat impersonal God? According to Wikipedia (and my own web searches), his pastor affirmed that he often came to church. He showed respect for all religions but rarely discussed his own faith. And his titles for God sound more Masonic than Biblical, but that may be more of cultural than a spiritual issue .
Yet, as Washington became more aware of the links between American masons and the radical agenda within European freemasonry, his concern grew. He wrote the following two letters to a German immigrant:
[Mount Vernon, September 25, 1798] "Sir: Many apologies are due to you…for not thanking you, at an earlier period, for the book [Proofs of a Conspiracy, by John Robison] you had the goodness to send me."
"I have heard much of the nefarious, and dangerous plan, and doctrines of the Illuminati, but never saw the book until you were pleased to send it to me. … I believe notwithstanding, that none of the [Masonic] Lodges in this Country are contaminated with the principles ascribed to the Society of the Illuminati."
[Second letter] "…It was not my intention to doubt that, the Doctrines of the Illuminati, and principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more truly satisfied of this fact than I am. …I did not believe that the Lodges of Free Masons in this Country, had, as Societies, endeavored to propagate the diabolical tenets of the first [the Illuminati], or the pernicious principles of the latter [the Jacobins]…."
So did our first president eventually become a Christian? I don’t know, but I would like to believe he did. Like ancient King Solomon, he had great wisdom, but only God knows his true faith.
Truth and Tribulation
Rabbi Cahn calls his message "The Ancient Mystery that holds the secret of America’s future," but it’s no mystery to those who are familiar with God’s warnings through Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and other Old Testament prophets.
Their words and insights demonstrate God’s concern for His wayward people and His loving forgiveness when we humbly repent and return. We would be foolish to ignore them, and wise to heed them.
We have posted a list of warnings and prophecies on these three pages: God’s Warnings for our Times, Fulfilled Prophecies and Prophets who mislead their flock. Even though Rabbi Cahn only mentions one such warning, there are countless others. Many are far more explicit and appropriate for our times than Isaiah 9:10. Here are two examples:
Old Testament: "…it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God…. that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. … The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated…. The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow…
"But if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God… all these curses will come upon you…. The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me…. The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust….
"The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies…. A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labour…. The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him…." Deuteronomy 28:1-47
New Testament: "…all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition….Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. …God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:11-13
Notice the encouraging end of the last Scripture. Yes, we will face hard times. Remember, trials and persecution have pursued God’s faithful followers through the ages. But in the midst of darkness, His light shines all the more brightly.
Through the years, most Christians in America have enjoyed relatively easy lives: no starvation, no violent hatred, no fear of torturous assaults and the deadly persecution that continues to pursue God’s people in other parts of the world. But worldly comforts tend to feed spiritual complacency, and few of us have had much teaching in the school of "joyful endurance."
So let’s get on with our training in Him. Let’s make sure His Word is "hidden" in our hearts. Let’s "put on the whole armour of God." And let’s build the habit of thanking and praising our wonderful Lord through every day! Then He will truly "hide us in His tabernacle" and fill our hearts with His peace.
“Thou art my hiding place;
Thou shalt preserve me from trouble;
Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7