THE HARBINGER AND “THE ISAIAH 9:10 EFFECT”: An Examination of the Claims of Jonathan Cahn

THE HARBINGER AND “THE ISAIAH 9:10 EFFECT”: An Examination of the Claims of Jonathan Cahn

© 2013, by John Tors. All Rights Reserved.

The Background

A sensational book has taken the evangelical community by storm.  First published in January, 2012, it reached The New York Times bestseller list in its second week of release[1], and has remained there ever since.  Within the first year it had sold a million copies, and as of this writing, it is currently #12 on the “Trade Fiction” Best Seller list of The New York Times, having been on the list for an astonishing 73 weeks.[2]  The book is The Harbinger,[3] written by Messianic rabbi Jonathan Cahn.

The Harbinger uses the same format as Dan Brown’s monster best seller, The Da Vinci Code, that is, it tells a fictional story as a framing device to convey facts and truth; as Cahn writes on the very first page of his book,

What you are about to read is presented in the form of a story, but what is contained within the story is real.[4]

Cahn’s orientation, however, is diametrically opposed to Brown’s.  While the latter seeks to discredit the Bible, Cahn wants people to believe the Bible, and, specifically, warnings of judgment that is to come upon the United States of America.

The plot of The Harbinger is simple.  The framing device consists of a lengthy conversation between the protagonist, one Baruch Nouriel Kaplan, and a media personage, Ana Goren.  Kaplan tells of receiving a strange seal in the mail and then encountering a mysterious person he takes to be a prophet.  This prophet gives Kaplan another seal, which will lead him to the first of a series of ancient mysteries.  One by one, Kaplan is given the secret of each seal.  With the third one, he discovers that the seals indicate nine harbingers of judgment, and the key to unlocking these is Isaiah 9:10.  These nine harbingers had been manifested to ancient Israel, but they had ignored them and so had suffered destruction at the hands of the Assyrians.  Now, in some detail, it is explained that the same nine harbingers are currently being manifested to America, who faces the same choice Israel had: repent or ignore the harbingers and suffer God’s wrath.  Finally, Kaplan is anointed to be a latter day watchman, parallel to Baruch son of Neriah, Jeremiah’s scribe.

The plot, then, is very thin, but the book is not about the plot.  It is about presenting the nine harbingers of Isaiah 9:10 and showing that these are now being manifested to America, who needs to repent while there is still time.  Cahn’s purpose in writing this book was not to entertain, but to wake America up to the danger it faces:

I wrote The Harbinger as a book of hope – a call to salvation, repentance and revival.[5]

Accordingly, later in the year Cahn brought out a two-disk DVD set called “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment: Is There an Ancient Mystery That Foretells America’s Future?”

In this video, the framing device of the fictional story is abandoned and Cahn’s claims about the nine harbingers are presented as fact and analyzed in detail.  Cahn then published The Harbinger Companion, With Study Guide, because, he said,

Ever since The Harbinger released, people have wanted to know more, go deeper into the mysteries … The Harbinger Companion … provides a study guide for individual readers, group Bible studies and churches to go deeper into the mysteries.[6]

Clearly, Cahn believes that the harbingers he sees in Isaiah 9:10 are genuine and constitute a crucial message for his nation.

And many agree.  The Harbinger has been enthusiastically received by many who are convinced that the harbingers are not just the product of imagination but are an accurate understanding of what the Bible teaches in this passage.  Steve Strang, for example, whose company published the book, writes

Rabbi Cahn’s best-selling book, The Harbinger, has served as a national wake-up call.  Through its narrative, he connected the dots for us to see that God is warning America in the same ways He warned Israel in Isaiah’s day through prophecies and harbingers of things to come! … I believe it is a game-changer in and for America.[7]

If Cahn has indeed discovered ancient “mysteries” in Isaiah 9:10 that constitute a prophetic warning for America, then its significance can hardly be overstated.  However, the magnitude of the stakes makes it of prime importance to

Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Cahn’s claims must be rigorously analyzed and found to be valid before they can be accepted and disseminated, and such an analysis is what we shall now do.  Since the fictional framing device is immaterial to this analysis, we shall look at Cahn’s claims as put forth in his DVD, “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment: Is there an Ancient Mystery that Foretells America’s Future?”


The Analysis

A Summary of Cahn’s Claims

Cahn’s case centres on the words of the prophet Isaiah, in Isaiah 9:10, shown below in context, with v. 10 bolded:

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. (Isaiah 9:8-12a)

The background to this text is found in 2 Kings 16 and 17.  In 732 BC, Pekah, king of the northern kingdom of Israel, formed an alliance with Rezin, king of the pagan nation of Aram, in order to attack the southern kingdom of Judah.  In response, Ahaz, king of Judah, appealed to Assyria, the superpower of the day, for help, paying tribute to the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser.  Accordingly, Assyria attacked and sacked Damascus and Israel, and annexed Aram and parts of Israel, including the territory of Reuben and Gad, as well as Manasseh’s territory in Gilead and Naphtali.  Israel responded to this setback with “pride and arrogance of heart,” as described in Isaiah 9:9, and then in 721 BC, the Assyrians returned and conquered what was left of Israel and deported the population into captivity.

Cahn asserts that

  • Isaiah 9:10 was a pronouncement of doom to Israel unless they repent
  • There are nine “harbingers” (signs that warn of coming judgment) in Isaiah 9:10
  • These harbingers have been repeated in the recent history of the United States as a “first shaking”
  • Since the U.S. has not turned back to God, they have been given a “second shaking”
  • If America does not repent, she will face God’s judgment, just as Israel did in ancient times

It should be noted that Cahn rightly does not say that Isaiah 9:10 is a prophecy about America; it is clearly a pronouncement of doom against ancient Israel which came to pass in 721 BC.  He does, however, say that there is a prophetic warning for America in Isaiah 9:10, in the form of the nine harbingers.  This idea rests on the following two pillars:

  • America, like Israel, was founded for God’s purposes, and turned away from Him to idols.  God is calling America back as He did Israel.
  • Isaiah 9:10 is programmatic of how God deals with rebellious nations; in other words, there is a specific pattern of events, or harbingers, that is followed as God moves from warning to final judgment.  According to Cahn, there are nine such “harbingers that can be discerned in Isaiah 9:10“.  Since these are programmatic, it is of crucial importance to note, says Cahn, that “all the components of Isaiah 9:10, all the harbingers of Israel’s last days before destruction have been manifested to America … in precision, in exactness,[8] and, he continues, “It happened because it had to happen; the harbinger had to manifest.

The nine harbingers Cahn identifies are the following:

The First Harbinger:      The Breach

The Second Harbinger: The Terrorist

The Third Harbinger:     The Bricks

The Fourth Harbinger:   The Tower

The Fifth Harbinger:      The Gazit Stone

The Sixth Harbinger:     The Sycamore

The Seventh Harbinger:The Erez Tree

The Eighth Harbinger:   The Utterance

The Ninth Harbinger:     The Prophecy

Only four of these items are explicitly mentioned in Isaiah 9:10, viz. bricks, hewn (gazit) stones, sycamores, and cedar (erez) trees.  The verse itself can be taken as “the utterance.”  That leaves four that are not mentioned, but Cahn makes a case for each of them.  Let us now look at Cahn’s explanation of each of these “harbingers.

The First Harbinger: THE BREACH

According to Cahn, the first harbinger is the “breach of a nation’s hedge of protection.”  God had put a hedge of protection around ancient Israel and around America much later, and until that hedge is removed, the nation is “almost impenetrable.”  But because of the nation’s sin, God removes this hedge of protection and allows the enemy in, leading to an “initial strike on the land.”  This initial strike is limited in scope and temporary in duration, but it is a warning: final destruction will follow if the nation does not repent:

That first strike is only temporary, but it’s a warning of the, of the final destruction that will come if that nation does not turn back.

In the case of America, that “initial strike” was the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that killed brought down the twin towers and killed almost 3,000 people.

The Second Harbinger: THE TERRORIST

According to Cahn,

the second harbinger manifests as the sign of the terrorist.

The Assyrians who attacked ancient Israel, he maintains, were terrorists, “brutal, violent, vicious people … the Nazis of the ancient world.”  In fact, Cahn says, they gave to the world “the gift of terrorism“.  The Assyrians arethe fathers of terrorism.  They invented it, they created it, they mastered it, they perfected it, which is to use terror as a strategy to accomplish an end.”  Cahn’s basis for this assertion is that the Assyrian armies used to attack, mutilate, and torture civilians as a means to convince their enemies to surrender without a fight.  Cahn then reminds us that this is the exact strategy of Al-Qaeda.

Just as ancient Israel was attacked by terrorists, then, so too was America.  And, to make the parallel even closer, Cahn points out that “U.S. soldiers undoubtedly came into contact with actual descendants of the ancient Assyrians of Isaiah 9:10” when they went to war in Iraq.

The Third Harbinger: THE BRICKS

Isaiah 9:10a makes mention that “The bricks have fallen down,” a vivid image of the destruction wrought upon Israel by the Assyrian attack.  In the same way, bricks actually fell down when the World Trade Center towers collapsed.  According to Cahn, fallen bricks were the “central image” of the 9/11 attack.

The Fourth Harbinger: THE TOWER

While there is no mention of a tower in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 9:10, the Septuagint (LXX), the ancient Greek translation widely in use among Jews of the Diaspora during Jesus’ time, reads,

The bricks are fallen down, but come, let us hew stones, and cut down sycamores and cedars, and let us build for ourselves a tower.

This is an attitude of defiance, says Cahn, is being directly replicated by America, who is actually building a new tower, the Freedom Tower, at Ground Zero.

The Fifth Harbinger: THE GAZIT STONE

The ancient Israelites reacted to the fallen bricks not with repentance but with a determination to “rebuild with hewn (Hebrew: gazit) stones.”  America is doing precisely the same thing: a hewn block of granite was laid on July 4, 2004, as the cornerstone for the Freedom Tower.  This gazit stone, Cahn says, “becomes a symbol of defiance.

The Sixth Harbinger: THE SYCAMORE

Isaiah 9:10b records the Israelites saying after the Assyrian attack that “the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.”  Cahn insists, therefore, that the sycamore is a harbinger.  A sycamore must be struck down and must be connected with the [9/11] attack,he avers.  And that did, in fact, happen; an ancient tree in a church yard near the World Trade Center was cut down by flying debris when the buildings collapsed – and that ancient tree was a sycamore.

The sign of national judgment, the sycamore has fallen right in order,” says Cahn.  He continues,

New Yorkers come to see the sycamore without realizing that it is an ancient harbinger of judgment.  The harbinger of the sycamore appears in America, the sign of uprooting for a nation – the sixth harbinger.

The Seventh Harbinger: THE EREZ TREE

The ancient Israelites had insisted they would recover from the Assyrian attack as a better and stronger nation, insisting that

“… The sycamores are cut down,

But we will replace them with cedars.” (Isaiah 9:10b)

This, too, is a harbinger, according to Cahn, and this, too, was fulfilled in America.  Three years after the terrorist attack[9], a Norway spruce tree was planted in the exact spot in which the sycamore had once stood, at the corner of Ground Zero.

Here there seems to be a problem for Cahn, as this tree was a Norway spruce, not a cedar.  However, Cahn reveals that the relevant word in Isaiah 9:10 is “in English cedar, but in Hebrew erez, which can mean cedar, but it specifically means more than ‘cedar.’  It means a conifer tree … The most accurate translation of erez … is the word pinaceae, a pinaceae tree, a tree of the pinaceae family.

The cedar of Lebanon is a member of the pinaceae family of trees, points out Cahn, and so is the Norway spruce.

On this basis, then, Cahn maintains that the erez tree harbinger has been manifested in America.  He says,

All these things manifesting, the sixth and seventh harbinger together, and nobody is planning this out, nobody is, is figuring it out, nobody’s saying, “Let’s do this with this”; it’s just happening.  As with the rest of the harbingers, they happened because they have to happen, they have to be manifest.  So now, in order, even the seventh harbinger is manifested, at the corner of Ground Zero.

The Eighth Harbinger: THE UTTERANCE

In Isaiah 9:10, ancient Israel defied God by vowing to rebuild after the Assyrian attack.  Accordingly, says Cahn,

for the eighth harbinger to manifest in America, what has to happen is that an American leader, or prominent American leader, would have to proclaim these words of defiance in a public setting in the capital city.

The prominent American leader he finds is Senator John Edwards, who actually quoted Isaiah 9:10 on September 11, 2004, while addressing the Congressional Black Caucus Prayer Breakfast:

Cahn opines that

It’s mind boggling, it’s amazing that he would say this.  He doesn’t realize ’cause no one would say this if they knew what it was … he proclaims it without knowing it.  He’s uttering the vow and he’s now making the ancient vow, he’s transforming it now into America’s vow, which is ominous because that vow was sealing the fate of ancient Israel for destruction.  So the eighth harbinger, the vow, the utterance, is manifested in Washington D.C.

The Ninth Harbinger: THE PROPHECY

Following the initial Assyrian attack in 732 BC, Israel did not repent but instead defied God by vowing to rebuild, and according to Cahn the ninth harbinger consists of this ancient vow being spoken prophetically.  He says,

The ninth harbinger is the vow in the form of prophecy or “The Prophecy” … the vow, the ancient vow, is to be proclaimed in America by an American leader in the capital city, and it’s proclaimed prophetically in advance of what is about to happen.  It’s gonna foretell the course of America before it happens and it’s gonna become part of the national record.

Cahn continues:

The vow of the ancient leaders of Israel was also prophetic because they were speaking what would happen.  They were foretelling the nation’s course of defiance and judgment and it becomes part of the prophetic record of the Bible, because Isaiah quotes it as a comment on it from God’s judgment on the vow, so it also becomes a prophetic utterance in that respect.  What leader in their right mind would do this, proclaiming judgment on America?  But the amazing thing is, it happened.

Cahn avers that

On the day after 9/11, in the capital city, on Capitol Hill, a national leader, a very high national leader, the senate majority leader Tom Daschle – he is the one who’s appointed to bring America’s response to 9/11 … This is the official response of America to 9/11.

And that response, says Cahn, is the very vow of defiance in Isaiah 9:10.

And this indeed becomes part of the “national record” of America, via the Congressional Record, says Cahn:

How could this possibly become our response?” asks Cahn, and then he answers:

It happened because it had to happenThe harbinger had to manifest and so it did, on the very day after the calamity: the ninth harbinger.  All nine harbingers manifested in precision, in exactness, harbingers of judgment.

So that is Cahn’s case for the nine harbingers that were manifested in ancient Israel according to Isaiah 9:10 and are now being manifested in America.  But that is not the end of the matter; the nine harbingers are followed by what Cahn calls “the second shaking.  We now turn our attention to this following phenomenon.

The Second Shaking

America chose defiance rather than repentance, says Cahn, and “without repentence [sic] there comes a second shaking.”  Cahn calls this The Isaiah 9:10 Effect, which he defines thus:

The attempt of a nation to defy the course of its judgment apart from repentance will instead set in motion a chain of events that will bring about the very calamity it seeks to avert.

Therefore, says Cahn,

the mysteries of the harbingers are gonna continue and they’re gonna produce a second American calamity.  The Isaiah 9:10 effect: there’s gonna be a second shaking … that’s gonna touch America in its economic power, its financial foundation.  The mystery of ancient Israel is now gonna replay in modern America.

Cahn then begins to outline the economic consequences of the “War on Terror”:

  • A cost to date of $993.5 billion dollars
  • Skyrocketing oil prices
  • A massive federal debt of $1.3 trillion dollars

Cahn continues:

All these things which will hurt America, it’ll be another manifestation of this Isaiah 9:10 effect that’s gonna bring about the collapse of the American economy, and it happened just a few days after 9/11 … America’s first action of “We will rebuild” … It starts in extreme slashing of the nation’s interest rates.

This leads to “easy money” and unprecedented lending, says Cahn, which leads to “risky loans” and the housing bubble;

This is the Isaiah 9:10 effect.

According to Cahn,

It all goes back to 9/11.

Then comes the great stock market crash of September 2008.  Cahn’s comments on this are as follows:

  • At this point, “the American economy crashes.
  • It is “the greatest economic disaster since the great depression”.
  • The Biblical principle operating here is: “If one manifestation of divine anger is resisted, another must be found.
  • The result: “This collapse that comes on the American economy weakens the American economy and hastens the end of the era of America’s reign over the economic global order.
  • It is caused by the fall of Lehman Brothers on September 12, 2008 – 7 years after the utterance of the “vow”.

Next, Cahn cites Ezekiel 13:14, which reads,

“So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground so its foundation will be uncovered …” (Ezekiel 13:14a)

Now, if one sign of judgment is “laying bare the foundation,” asks Cahn, what is the foundation of the United States that could be laid bare and linked to 9/11?  His answer is that the “foundation” is that in which the nation trusts: its economic power.  And where is the heart of America’s economic power?

New York City, says Cahn.  Specifically, it’s Lower Manhattan.  And, in particular, it is Wall Street.

And now Cahn points out yet another noteworthy parallel.  The New York Stock Exchange, founded in 1792, was originally called the Buttonwood Association and formed by the Buttonwood Agreement.  This was named after the tree under which signed the agreement, a buttonwood tree – and the buttonwood tree is a sycamore.

The Mystery of the Shemitah

Cahn now turns his attention to what he calls “the mystery, the ancient, ancient mystery of the Shemitah.”  The Shemitah, he explains, is “the seventh year or the Sabbath year command.”  (This is based on the commands to Israel in Exodus 23:10-11, Leviticus 25:1-4, and Deuteronomy 15:1-2):

“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.” (Exodus 23:10-11 cf. Leviticus 25:1-4)

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the LORD’s release.” (Deuteronomy 15:1-2)

According to Cahn:

The Shemitah was meant to be a blessing, but if a nation turned away from God, the Shemitah turns from a blessing to a judgment, to a sign of judgment.  In Israel’s history, the people would be driven from the land and the land would rest, and God said, “Now the land is gonna keep its Sabbaths or Shemitahs.”  And so Israel was in captivity or exiled for seventy years.  Why?  It was based on how many Shemitahs they had not observed.  So the Shemitah also holds the key to the timing of the judgment on a nation.

Cahn tells us that

The Sabbath year causes production to cease, labor to cease, and wipes away the nation’s financial accounts.

He argues that the economic disaster of September 2008 was just such a Shemitah judgment levied against America, as a “second shaking.  The Hebrew word “Shemitah,” he says, can mean “letting fall” or “letting collapse,” and in this case refers to the “collapse of the American-led world order and prosperity.  He points to an amazing parallel:

  • The peak of the 2008 stock market crash came on September 29, the exact Biblical day to release debts (29 Elul on the Hebrew calendar)
  • The greatest stock market crash before that came on September 17, 2001, seven years before, and also on 29 Elul.
The Three Witnesses

Cahn insists that

the most dramatic witness of America under judgment is the proclaiming of the ancient vow of judgment that links America to ancient Israel, that links America to being a nation in defiance, a nation that is being shaken and being called back to God.

Mindful of 2 Corinthians 13:1b – “By the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” – Cahn wants to find two or three American leaders repeating the statement of Isaiah 9:10.  He finds the following:

Having found three such witnesses, Cahn concludes,

The truth is confirmed; the judgment is confirmed.

The Mystery Ground

Cahn’s final point is what he calls “the mystery ground.”  Reminding us that King Solomon dedicated the newly built temple and commended the Israelite nation to God in 958 BC, he asserts that

The final, ultimate sign of judgment was when the calamity, the destruction, touched that temple mount, that same place where the nation had been consecrated, the nation’s consecration ground, its ground of prayer and its ground of dedication.

Cahn believes that this is a principle, saying

So here’s a principle: In the days of judgment, the calamity or the destruction touches the nation’s ground of consecration.  The nation’s ground of dedication to God becomes its ground of judgment.

Here, too, Cahn sees a parallel to the United States, saying,

Now, America is similar to Israel, was also founded on God’s word.  In fact, America was founded originally by the Puritans to be a second Israel.

According to Cahn, America has a consecration day corresponding to Solomon’s dedication of the temple.  It is April 30, 1789, the day on which George Washington was inaugurated as the first president of the United States, when America became a fully constituted nation.

Furthermore, says Cahn, Washington spoke of God’s providence and warned against turning away, as did Solomon.  As Cahn puts it:

Washington gave a prophetic warning in that day, that first day of America as a nation.  There is hidden or there is embedded a prophetic message, a warning, in the first address of America’s first President on the first day.  And he said, in effect, he said this, in effect, he spoke, he spoke of the smiles of heaven, but what he said in effect was if America ever turns away from God and from His ways, God would remove His blessing from the land.

Cahn goes on to say that

the first act of the American government together was not to pass a law or to debate; it was to pray, to gather in prayer and to consecrate the nation’s future to God.

Finally, Cahn draws our attention to one more amazing parallel: the site of this consecration.  It happened in New York City.  In Lower Manhattan.  At Ground Zero.  Specifically, it happened in St. Paul’s Chapel, the very building on the grounds of which grew the sycamore that was cut down in the 9/11 disaster, the very sycamore which, by suffering the blow of the flying debris, protected the chapel from harm.

And here ends Cahn’s case.  Having sketched out in detail what he sees as a clear warning from God, he urges his fellow Americans to heed the warning, citing the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14:

“… 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.”

He is calling America,” says Cahn, “just as He called Nineveh.


The Examination of Cahn’s Claims

Introduction

Prime facie, Jonathan’s case is truly impressive, and it would seem to be no wonder that so many evangelicals have embraced it so wholeheartedly.  The number of parallels he has adduced between ancient Israel and modern America seem stunning.  Surely this cannot be coincidence; surely this is indeed a warning from God.  Furthermore, evangelicals are rightly dismayed at the path America has been taking away from its founding values for a long time now, and if only there could be a clear warning to show the American people, a warning so clear that it could not be ignored, then, perhaps, they would change their ways.

Nevertheless, no matter how much we may want Cahn’s case to be true, we need to examine it carefully.  As we have already said, if Cahn has indeed discovered “ancient mysteries” in Isaiah 9:10 that constitute a warning for America, then the significance of this can hardly be overstated.  However, the magnitude of the stakes makes it of prime importance to

Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Cahn’s claims must be rigorously analyzed and found to be valid before they can be accepted and disseminated.  Let us therefore proceed with this analysis.

Cahn’s Two Pillars

First, recall that Cahn’s case rests fundamentally on two pillars:

  • America, like Israel, was founded for God’s purposes, and turned away from Him.  God is calling America back as He did Israel.
  • Isaiah 9:10 is programmatic of how God deals with rebellious nations.  There is a specific pattern of events, or harbingers, that is followed as God moves from warning to judging, and this pattern is the nine harbingers Cahn identifies in Isaiah 9:10.  He claims that “all the components of Isaiah 9:10, all the harbingers of Israel’s last days before destruction have been manifested to America … in precision, in exactness,” and says, “it happened because it had to happen; the harbinger had to manifest.
The First Pillar

The first of the ideas above is absolutely essential to Cahn’s case.  As his fictional prophet says,

Israel was unique among nations in that it was conceived and dedicated at its foundation for the purposes of God … But there was one other – a civilization also conceived and dedicated to the will of God from its conception … America … 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.[10]

Cahn clearly believes that this is true in reality, not just in fiction.  He asserts that:

The backdrop is that of an ancient nation, founded on the Word of God and dedicated to His purposes.  Yet over time Israel begins to drift away, departing from His ways more and more rapidly … This nation [the United States], too, was founded upon and dedicated to God’s purposes.  But like Israel, America has departed and is departing from God and His ways.[11]

This parallel in foundation is absolutely necessary to explain why there would be a parallel in the harbingers and the impending judgments between Israel and America.  Cahn therefore strives mightily to demonstrate its veracity, arguing, as we have seen, that “America is similar to Israel, was also founded on God’s word.  In fact, America was founded originally by the Puritans to be a second Israel,” complete with its own consecration day corresponding to Solomon’s dedication of the temple; Washington, like a latter-day Solomon, speaking of God’s providence and warning against turning away; and prayer and consecration by the new government.

For all this, however, Cahn’s first pillar fails utterly.  America is not a modern-day Israel.  Cahn seriously misses the point when he says that “Israel was unique among nations in that it was conceived and dedicated at its foundation for the purposes of God,” or that Israel was “founded on the Word of God and dedicated to His purposes.”  If that’s all it was, then America could indeed be a parallel.  But it was not simply a matter of bright, believing minds creating a nation and dedicating it to God; Israel was a nation created by God Himself, who entered into a covenant with them at His own initiative.

Unlike America, Israel was not a democracy that could make its own laws, subject to a man-made constitution; she was a theocracy whose law was given to the people by God, who required them to obey it, not change it.  Nor did Israel have such a principle as “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”; on the contrary, their religion was given to them by God and the authorities were expected to enforce it and to prohibit the free exercise of, say, the worship of Baal or Molech.

The crucial difference, however, is this: If America’s founders did indeed proclaim a national covenant with God, it did not create an actual covenant, since such a covenant can only be instituted by God.  Hear what He said to Israel

“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers”. (Deuteronomy 7:6-8a)

“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 14:2)

The fact that the covenant between God and Israel was made at God’s initiative, not man’s, runs throughout the Old Testament.  So what validity, if any, would accrue to man’s attempt to institute a covenant between their nation and God is certainly open to question.

But it is a moot question for this issue, because, contra Cahn’s claims, America was not founded as a nation in covenant with God.  One need only look at the two foundational documents of the United States, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, to see this.

What does the Declaration of Independence (above left) say about God?  There are only the following two references in the entire document:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Not only are there only two references, but these two – one to “Nature’s God” and the other to “Creator” – are couched in language which is typically Deist[12], not Christian.

Furthermore, in their own words herein, the American founders make it clear that they themselves are creating a new country; it is not coming into being through an act of God.  The founders are justifying this new nation in “the opinions of mankind” rather claiming it is the will of God.  On the contrary, it is purely a human endeavour initiated by man.  It is not based on God’s word, but, on the contrary, on “such principles” and organization that seems “to them most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  The stated goal, contra Cahn’s case, was not to glorify God but to achieve “safety and happiness.

Nor was the success of the nation contingent on following God but on “such principles” and organizations that man in his wisdom may cleverly devise.  Clearly, then, according to the Declaration of Independence the United States is not a nation “dedicated to God’s purposes” in its founding, as Cahn would have it.[13]

This becomes clearer still when we look at the Constitution of the United States.  It is the Constitution that actually defines the “principles” and organization of this nation.  How many times is God mentioned in the Constitution?  Not once.  Not even once.  On the contrary, the document begins:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

There is obviously no “dedication to God’s purposes” here.  Antithetically, the Constitution makes it crystal clear who is the motive force for this new nation: “We the People.  Blessings are not the result of obedience to God’s word; rather it is something Americans gain for “ourselves.”  Good government, justice, tranquillity, protection, liberty, success – none of these come as a result of following “God and His ways” but are gained by Americans for themselves by means of their “Constitution,” a Constitution that carefully omits any reference to God.

In fact, this Constitution seems to fit Cahn’s definition of defiance rather than dedication to God, as it based on the idea that success and liberty come first and last from people and their cleverness – God need not even be mentioned.  The Americans cut down the sycamores of British rule and rebuilt with the cedars of their Declaration of Independence and Constitution, bigger and better than before.

And regarding Washington’s inaugural address, we need to look not at what Cahn claims that Washington was saying “in effect,” but at his actual words:

… 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.  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 … No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States … we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained …”

While this seems better than what is found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the terminology used in place of “God” is clearly Deist.  And, at any rate, the foundational principles of the United States are determined by the Declaration of Independence and especially the Constitution, not by Washington’s inaugural address.

Cahn’s first pillar, then, fails utterly.  There is no viable way to maintain that America was founded as a New Israel “dedicated to God’s purposes.

The Second Pillar

Cahn’s second pillar, as we’ve seen, is that Isaiah 9:10 is programmatic of how God deals with rebellious nations.  There is a specific pattern of events, or harbingers, that is followed as God moves from warning to judging, and this pattern comprises the nine harbingers Cahn identifies in Isaiah 9:10.  Claiming that “all the components of Isaiah 9:10, all the harbingers of Israel’s last days before destruction have been manifested to America … in precision, in exactness,” he asserts that

it happened because it had to happen; the harbinger had to manifest.

The obvious question that is arises is this: why should the details in Isaiah 9:10 be considered programmatic?  There are many proclamations of judgment by God against nations in the Old Testament – and, indeed, many different proclamations against Israel and Judah – all with different stated historical details.  So why, out of all of these different pronouncements, should this one be considered programmatic over all others, as Cahn wants?

Now, if there were an explicit statement in Scripture to that effect, say, God saying here that “In this manner do I deal with all defiant nations,” then we would indeed know that Isaiah 9:10 is programmatic.  But there is no such statement.  In fact, there seems to be no objective, independent basis for the claim that Isaiah 9:10 is programmatic; this assertion seems to be based on nothing more than the fact that Cahn thinks he has identified a number of parallels between the historical details in Isaiah 9:10 and what is happening in modern-day America.  And some of these “parallels” seem rather tenuous, at that.  Yes, the ancient Israelites in 732 BC made a decision to replace the sycamores that had been cut down with cedars, but does it really follow from that that every time a nation is judged, it must involve an actual sycamore being cut down and an actual cedar being planted in its place?  The answer should be obvious.

Now, given the tenuous nature of some (or all?) of Cahn’s “parallels” between what happened to ancient Israel and what is happening in America today, these “parallels” could be considered nothing more than interesting coincidences that have no significance if Isaiah 9:10 is just one of many judgment pronouncements, and not programmatic at all.  Cahn’s whole case is significant if and only if Isaiah 9:10 is not just one of many judgment pronouncements but is, in fact, programmatic; only then are these events happening in America happening because they “had to happen; the harbinger had to manifest.”  It is essential, then, to determine whether or not Isaiah 9:10 is to be seen as programmatic.

So how do we decide?  In the absence of a clear word in Scripture about this matter, how can we know whether Isaiah 9:10 is programmatic or not?  The answer should be obvious: we need to look at other cases in the Old Testament in which a covenant nation was judged, to see whether the same “harbingers” were “manifested”.  Granted, we have a very limited data set, as there has only ever been one covenant nation in history, and that is Israel.  However, Israel split into two kingdoms in 931 BC, as previously mentioned, and Isaiah 9:10 describes the judgement of one of these, the northern kingdom of Israel.  So there is one other example we can look at: the southern kingdom of Judah.  And, while one example isn’t enough to establish a pattern, it is enough to disprove a pattern should this other example differ.

Now, the southern kingdom of Judah was subjugated by the Babylonians around 606 BC, and then later destroyed by them in 586 BC.  The account is told in 2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36, and Jeremiah 39.

Now, what is not mentioned in any of these accounts of the judgment of God on Judah?  Terrorists are not mentioned.  Bricks are not mentioned, fallen or otherwise.  A tower is not mentioned.  Gazit stones are not mentioned, nor stones of any sort.  Sycamores are not mentioned.  Cedars are not mentioned, nor any members of the pinacaea family.[14]  There is no “utterance,” and therefore no “prophecy” of the sort Cahn talks about.

Ironically, the only “harbinger” mentioned is a “breach” (in Jeremiah 39:2), but unlike Cahn’s harbinger, this is not an initial strike on the land” that is limited in scope and temporary in duration, but is part of the final destruction of Judah.

Do understand the significance of this: not even one “harbinger” that “had to manifest” according to Cahn actually manifested in the judgment upon the only other covenant nation in history, Judah.  The conclusion is inescapable: Isaiah 9:10 is not programmatic.  It is not “an ancient mystery.”  Cahn’s second pillar fails.  Utterly.  Completely.

Now, since both pillars of Cahn’s case fail, it should be clear that his entire case falls apart.  It should not be necessary to go any further.  And yet we wonder about those amazing parallels between ancient Israel and modern America.  Surely that is too many parallels to explain as simply coincidences, isn’t it?  But that question presupposes that there actually are amazing parallels between Israel and America.  Let us proceed to examine these putative parallels and see the truth about them.

Cahn’s Harbingers
The First Harbinger: THE BREACH

According to Cahn, the first harbinger is the “breach of a nation’s hedge of protection.”  God had put a hedge of protection around Israel and around America, and until that hedge is removed, the nation is “almost impenetrable.  But because of the nation’s sin, God removes this hedge of protection and allows the enemy in, leading to an “initial strike on the land.”  This initial strike is limited in scope and temporary in duration, but it is a warning: final destruction will follow if the nation does not repent.

In the case of ancient Israel, the “initial strike” was the Assyrian attack in 732 BC.  In the case of America, the “initial strike” was the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that killed brought down the twin towers and killed almost 3,000 people.

Now, there are two main problems with Cahn’s analysis:

  • Was there ever a “hedge of protection” around the United States?
  • And if so, when was it broken?

Consider the following picture:

In a battle between King Kong and the girl here, who would require a “hedge of protection”?  Or, to put it another way, if Kong defeats this girl in a fight, could we conclude that there was a “hedge of protection” around him, or simply realize that he won the battle because he is much bigger and stronger than the girl?

When Israel triumphed against foes, it is reasonable to believe that there was a “hedge of protection” around them because (a) they were actually God’s covenant people; and (b) they were not more powerful than other nations; on the contrary, they “were the least of all peoples” (Deuteronomy 7:7b).  America, on the other hand, has long been the leading superpower among nations, so there is no necessary reason to attribute her military prowess to a special “hedge of protection,any more than there would be reason to think that there was a “hedge of protection” around, say, the pagan Roman Empire in her glory years.

The other problem with Cahn’s claim is that, for all her power, America has been “breached” in the past.  For example, after initiating a war against Canada in 1812, in the expectation that they could seize her territory while the British were occupied fighting Napoleon in Europe, they found things did not go as expected, although they outnumbered the Canadians 10 to 1.

  • On August 16, 1812, 730 Canadians and 600 Indian allies marched repeatedly around Detroit like the Israelites around Jericho and finally captured the city almost without firing a shot.  The Americans suffered seven killed and 2,493 captured, whereas the total Canadian casualties were two wounded.  Where was America’s “hedge of protection”?

Brigadier General William Hull surrenders Detroit to General Sir Isaac Brock

  • On October 13, 1812, 1,300 Canadians repelled an invasion attempt by an American force of 3,550 at the Battle of Queenston Heights, taking casualties (killed, wounded, and captured) of 128 while inflicting 1,105 casualties on the Americans.

  • At the Battle of the Chateauguay on October 26, 1813, 300 Canadians sent an invading American force numbering 4,000 into retreat.

  • On November 11, 1813, 900 Canadians defeated 4,000 Americans at the Battle of Crysler’s Farm, ending the Americans’ St. Lawrence Campaign.

Considering the odds in these battles, it would seem that if there was a “hedge of protection” around anyone, it was around Canada, not the United States.

And then, with Napoleon finally vanquished, British regulars joined the fray.  On August 24, 1814, they defeated the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg, after which they occupied Washington, D.C., and burned public buildings, including the White House, after the President had fled.  Where was America’s “hedge of protection”?

One also wonders about a “hedge of protection” that may (or may not) stop external foes, but does nothing to prevent an internecine Civil War that rages for more than four years (1861-1865) and costs America about 625,000 lives and almost 1.1 million total casualties.

Even if one wishes to ignore the foregoing, he still cannot ignore Pearl Harbor.  This surprise attack by the forces of Imperial Japan on the U.S naval forces in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, was far more devastating to the United States than the 9/11 attack was.

The Pearl Harbor attack led the United States into the biggest war in history and handed them six months of defeat in the Pacific before they regrouped.  The entire nation was involved in this existential struggle, through, inter alia, conscription and rationing.  There were more than 405,000 American deaths as a result, and almost 1.1 million total casualties.

In light of the facts, it seems the height of absurdity to claim that there was a “hedge of protection” around the United States until it was removed to allow the 9/11 attack.  How Cahn’s readers can swallow this claim and forget all about Pearl Harbor is difficult to understand.

The Second Harbinger: THE TERRORIST

Recall Cahn’s claim: The “brutal, violent, vicious” Assyrians, he says, were terrorists: “they are the fathers of terrorism.  They invented it, they created it, they mastered it, they perfected it, which is to use terror as a strategy to accomplish an end,” which, Cahn says, is the exact strategy of Al-Qaeda.  Then, to make the parallel even closer, Cahn points out that

U.S. soldiers undoubtedly came into contact with actual descendants of the ancient Assyrians of Isaiah 9:10 when they went to war in Iraq.

In the case of the supposed second harbinger, Cahn is not only wrong, but he has everything completely backwards.  Modern-day terrorism as practiced by Al-Qaeda (and others, including the PLO and the now-defunct Tamil Tigers) is a form of asymmetric warfare used by a nearly impotent group against a vastly superior power that it cannot confront militarily.  Assyria was the exact opposite of “a nearly impotent group”; it was the superpower of its day.  Yes, it was “brutal, violent, [and] vicious,” but so was every superpower of the ancient world.  If Assyria was more brutal, it differed only in degree, not in essence.  Trying to liken Assyria to Al-Qaeda, then, is simply a non-starter.

Second, we again look at the only other legitimate example of God judging a covenant nation, Judah.  Judah was conquered by the Babylonians, not the Assyrians, so the “sign of the terrorist” was not fulfilled in this case.  (If Cahn would try to argue that the Babylonians were also terrorists, he would only nullify the supposed “second harbinger,” for, if the “sign of the terrorist” is fulfilled only by proclaiming every attacking nation a terrorist, whether it was or not, then it is no sign at all.)

Finally, Cahn’s attempt to draw the parallel between ancient Israel and America closer by averring that “U.S. soldiers undoubtedly came into contact with actual descendants of the ancient Assyrians of Isaiah 9:10 when they went to war in Iraq” backfires royally.  The terrorists that attacked America on 9/11 comprised fifteen Saudi Arabians, two from the United Arab Emirates, and one each from Egypt and Lebanon – nary an “Assyrian” (read Iraqi) among them!  The mastermind, Osama bin Laden, was also a Saudi Arabian, not an Iraqi (“Assyrian”).

Furthermore, when “U.S. soldiers undoubtedly came into contact with actual descendants of the ancient Assyrians of Isaiah 9:10,” it was not because Iraq attacked the U.S., as Assyria had attacked Israel, but because the U.S. attacked Iraq – again the exact opposite of what happened to ancient Israel.  And, whereas when Assyria attacked Israel, the latter’s very existence was threatened, and large chunks of her territory were taken from her by the Assyrian conquerors, the polar opposite happened in 2003, when the American superpower easily overwhelmed Iraq in short order.

The only possible conclusion here is that Cahn has utterly failed to make his tendentious claim.  There is no “second harbinger”; there is no “sign of the terrorist.

The Third Harbinger: THE BRICKS

Cahn tells us that bricks fell down when Israel was attacked by Assyria, and bricks also fell down when the World Trade Centre towers collapsed on 9/11.  In fact, he asserts, fallen bricks were the “central image” of the 9/11 attack.

The problem with claiming that this is a “harbinger,” however, is that fallen bricks are a universal phenomenon when a city is attacked by an enemy.  There is nothing special or unique about it, so that the bricks” cannot be considered a harbinger of anything.

While nothing more need be said, it can be pointed out that neither is it clear that “fallen bricks” are in fact the “central image” of the 9/11 attack over all other images, and also that there is no mention of “fallen bricks” in the Biblical records of the subjugation and subsequent fall of Jerusalem.

The Fourth Harbinger: THE TOWER

Recall Cahn’s claim: While there is no mention of a tower in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 9:10, the Septuagint (LXX), the ancient Greek translation widely in use among Jews of the Diaspora during Jesus’ time, reads

The bricks are fallen down, but come, let us hew stones, and cut down sycamores and cedars, and let us build for ourselves a tower.

This attitude of defiance is repeated by America, says Cahn, as the U.S. is building a new tower, the Freedom Tower, at Ground Zero.

Yet this putative “harbinger” is also tendentious.  It is not clear why Cahn switches from the Hebrew Masoretic text here to the LXX[15].  In light of the fact, though, that the buildings destroyed in the 9/11 attack were towers, it is not hard to see why one might want to include the “tower” as a harbinger, even though one must appeal to the LXX to find it.

The problem for Cahn is that this is not the only difference between the Masoretic text and the LXX of Isaiah 9:10.  The LXX reads:

“The bricks are fallen down, but come, let us hew stones and cut down sycamores and cedars, and let us build for ourselves a tower.”

So if the LXX reading is accepted, then the claim that replacing the cut-down sycamores with cedars is the seventh harbinger must be discarded, since according to the LXX both sycamores and cedars are cut down.  So Cahn cannot have both his “fourth harbinger” and his “seventh harbinger.

The Fifth Harbinger: THE GAZIT STONE

Cahn cites the precise words of Isaiah 9:10a, “The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn (in Hebrew: gazit) stones,” which show that the ancient Israelites reacted to the fallen bricks caused by the Assyrian attack not with repentance but with a defiant determination to rebuild and become stronger than before.  This determination is indicated by the promise to “rebuild with hewn (Hebrew: gazit) stones” in place of the weaker bricks.

Accordingly, Cahn maintains, gazit stones are a harbinger that must manifest in America in connection with the 9/11 attacks, and so it has happened: a hewn (gazit) block of granite was laid on July 4, 2004, as the cornerstone for the Freedom Tower that was being built in place of the fallen World Trade Centre.  This gazit stone, Cahn says, “becomes a symbol of defiance.

And yet again, Cahn’s claim fails.  He claims that gazit stones are a harbinger that must manifest in America in connection with the 9/11 attacks, but that did not in fact happen: The Americans did not rebuild with “hewn stones”!  The Freedom Tower was built of poured concrete, steel, and glass[16], not “hewn stones.”  Even if there were one cornerstone made of hewn granite, it would not constitute rebuilding with hewn stones (plural).  It seems more like special pleading.

However, it is a moot point, as there is no cornerstone made of hewn granite in the Freedom Tower!  Yes, such a cornerstone was unveiled on July 4, 2004, but it was subsequently removed before construction began.

So the supposed harbinger of the gazit stone did not “manifest” in any way connected with the 9/11 attack; there was not even one gazit stone involved in any actual “rebuilding.”  Cahn’s claim here must be accounted a failure.

To try to hold on to the fact that a hewn stone was placed at Ground Zero at any time is a fulfillment of this harbinger, even though it was subsequently removed, would be fatuous.  The ancient Israelites vowed to rebuild with hewn stones, not just to put one hewn stone on temporary display.

The Sixth Harbinger and Seventh Harbingers: THE SYCAMORE AND THE EREZ TREE

Cahn’s sixth and seventh harbingers are linked.  Since Isaiah 9:10b records the Israelites saying after the Assyrian attack that “the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars,” Cahn insists that a sycamore must be struck down and must be connected with the [9/11] attack – the sixth harbinger – and it must be replaced by a cedar – the seventh harbinger.

As we have seen, Cahn found that an old sycamore right at the corner of Ground Zero had been cut down by flying debris in the 9/11 attack, and then, a bit more than two years later, a Norway spruce had been planted in its place.  Cahn then showed that the word translated into English as “cedar” is the Hebrew word erez, which actually refer, he says, to all trees of the pinacaea family – including the Norway spruce.  Harbingers manifested.

And yet, once again, there is a problem.  Leaving aside the obvious one, that one cedar accidentally cut down and one Norway spruce planted in its place hardly corresponds to “the sycamores (plural) are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars (plural),” let’s consider another and more important matter.

Prima facie, a Norway spruce is not a cedar.  In response, Cahn rightly points out that, since the original text of Isaiah was written in Hebrew, not English, it is the meaning of the Hebrew word here that is what matters, and the Norway spruce does fall within the semantic domain of the Hebrew word erezHowever, he did not do the same thing regarding sycamores!  This is not surprising; since the English words do match in this case, there was no impetus to dig deeper.

Yet Cahn should have done so, because here the opposite obtains: while the English words match, the Hebrew words, which is what matters, do not!  The Hebrew shaqam in Isaiah 9:10 refers to the Ficus sycomorus, which is a fig tree, also called the sycamore fig or the fig-mulberry tree.  What was cut down at Ground Zero on 9/11 was an American sycamore, Platanus occidentalis.  They are shown below:

What we see is that they are not the same type of tree, not even at the family level to which Cahn appealed to show that an American spruce corresponds to the “cedar” in Isaiah 9:10So no shaqam (“sycamore”) was cut down in association with the 9/11 attack.

Furthermore, if the sixth harbinger fails, then the seventh also fails.  The Norway spruce may indeed be an erez tree, but it is not enough simply to have an erez tree; the harbinger was an erez tree replacing a shaqam tree.  If there is no shaqam tree, then this harbinger cannot manifest, regardless of how many erez trees one may find, since none of them can replace a non-existing shaqam tree.

Do recall what Cahn asserted

All these things manifesting, the sixth and seventh harbinger together, and nobody is planning this out, nobody is, is figuring it out, nobody’s saying, “Let’s do this with this”; it’s just happening.  As with the rest of the harbingers, they happened because they have to happen, they have to be manifest.  So now, in order, even the seventh harbinger is manifested, at the corner of Ground Zero.

The significance of this cannot be overstated.  Cahn said

the sixth and seventh harbinger together … happened because they have to happen, they have to be manifest.

And yet the sixth harbinger was not manifest.  Cahn said it “had to happen,” yet it did not happen.

The Eighth Harbinger: THE UTTERANCE

According to Cahn, Israel defied God by vowing to rebuild, per Isaiah 9:10:

“The bricks have fallen down,

But we will rebuild with hewn stones;

The sycamores are cut down,

But we will replace them with cedars.”

Therefore, says Cahn,

For the eighth harbinger to manifest in America, what has to happen is that an American leader, or prominent American leader, would have to proclaim these words of defiance in a public setting in the capital city.

Now, one can search carefully through Isaiah 9:10, but he will not find these specifications in the actual text of that passage.  Cahn, therefore, has simply proclaimed these specifications to create his eighth harbinger, and it is not clear why anyone should accept them.

Be that as it may, Cahn claims that his eighth harbinger was manifested on September 11, 2004, when Senator John Edwards quoted Isaiah 9:10 during an address to the Congressional Black Caucus Prayer Breakfast.  “So he gets up to speak, and he has no idea what he’s about to do,” says Cahn, and then this follows:

Cahn says,

It’s mind boggling, it’s amazing that he would say this.  He doesn’t realize ’cause no one would say this if they knew what it was … he proclaims it without knowing itHe’s uttering the vow and he’s now making the ancient vow, he’s transforming it now into America’s vow, which is ominous because that vow was sealing the fate of ancient Israel for destruction.  So the eighth harbinger, the vow, the utterance, is manifested in Washington D.C.

This is absurd on the face of it.  Edwards and other American political leaders (or, more likely, their speechwriters) cast about in the Bible for some verse that could be used to address a situation in which “bricks have fallen,” and Isaiah 9:10 was the obvious – indeed, the only – choice.  True, they overlooked the context, but no one has ever accused American political leaders of being Bible scholars.  There is no reason to think they quoted this passage with the intent to show defiance against God; even Edwards in this speech actually said,

Good morning.  Today, on this day of remembrance and mourning, we have the Lord’s word to get us throughThe bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.”

That hardly sounds like defiance against God.  So Cahn pleads ignorance on behalf of John Edwards, saying

So he gets up to speak, and he has no idea what he’s about to do … He doesn’t realize ’cause no one would say this if they knew what it was … he proclaims it without knowing it.

The only way to take Cahn’s point seems to be that he is saying that Edwards was being defiant without knowing it.  Ridiculous; defiance by definition requires intent.

 Finally, while the details of this situation may meet the arbitrary, ad hoc standards set by Cahn for his eighth harbinger, the fact is that Edwards is just one senator among many; he is not the President or the entire senate, and to suggest that his personal remarks in such a low level meeting as the Congressional Black Caucus Prayer Breakfast, which in no way speaks on behalf of the American government or people, can be taken as a vow on behalf of America, thus “transforming” “the ancient vow” “now into America’s vowis ridiculous.  Utterly ridiculous.

The Ninth Harbinger: THE PROPHECY

Finally Cahn posits his ninth harbinger as we have seen:

The ninth harbinger is the vow in the form of prophecy or “The Prophecy” … the vow, the ancient vow, is to be proclaimed in America by an American leader in the capital city, and it’s proclaimed prophetically in advance of what is about to happen.  It’s gonna to foretell the course of America before it happens and it’s gonna become part of the national record.

Cahn continues:

The vow of the ancient leaders of Israel was also prophetic because they were speaking what would happen.  They were foretelling the nation’s course of defiance and judgment and it becomes part of the prophetic record of the Bible, because Isaiah quotes it as a comment on it from God’s judgment on the vow, so it also becomes a prophetic utterance in that respect.

Then Cahn claims that this harbinger, too, has been manifested:

On the day after 9/11, in the capital city, on Capitol Hill, a national leader, a very high national leader, the senate majority leader Tom Daschle – he is the one who’s appointed to bring America’s response to 9/11 … This is the official response of America to 9/11.

And that response, says Cahn, is the very vow of defiance in Isaiah 9:10[17]

Cahn insists that Daschle is “proclaiming judgment on the nation from Capitol Hill on the very day after 9/11 that there would not be national revival in the wake of 9/11 but there would be national defiance.

Then, because the words of Daschle’s speech are recorded in the Congressional Record, Cahn says,

This is the official response of America to 9/11 and that actual response is Isaiah 9:10.  It’s in the Senate record.  It is the, the ancient vow.

Cahn concludes,

How could this possibly become our response?  It happened because it had to happenThe harbinger had to manifest and so it did, on the very day after the calamity: the ninth harbinger.

Yet again, there are a plethora of problems with Cahn’s putative ninth harbinger.  The first question that is raised is how exactly does this differ from the eighth harbinger?  According to Cahn, “For the eighth harbinger to manifest in America, what has to happen is that an American leader, or prominent American leader, would have to proclaim these words of defiance in a public setting in the capital city,” and that, he said, was manifested on September 11, 2004, when Senator John Edwards quoted Isaiah 9:10 in an address to the Congressional Black Caucus prayer breakfast.  But, as Cahn tells us, Tom Daschle quoted Isaiah 9:10 on September 12, 2001, and Daschle was a “prominent American leader” speaking “in a public setting in the capital city.”  So would this not itself already be a manifestation of the eighth harbinger?  Why would we have to wait another three years less a day for Edwards to speak?  Cahn seems to have just destroyed his eighth harbinger!

The second question is this: What possible justification does Cahn have for claiming that speaking “prophetically” is a harbinger found in Isaiah 9:10, or that it has been fulfilled?   How is “becom[ing] part of the national record” equivalent to “speaking prophetically”?  Everything in Isaiah is prophetic because it is Scripture, and all prophecies of Scripture come directly from God (2 Peter 1:20-21); it was not man’s initiative or decision to put Isaiah 9:10 into the Bible.  To draw any sort of parallel, then, between the fact that the response of the ancient Israelites is recorded in Isaiah 9:10 and the fact that Tom Daschle’s speech is recorded in the Congressional Record, is unacceptable.

In fact, Cahn’s idiosyncratic definition of “prophetic” here is completely off the mark.  A simple enunciation of your plan as to what you are going to do is not a “prophecy.  To say that American leaders are speaking “prophetically” because they say that “we will rebuild” is unsustainable.

It gets worse, however.  Here is the text of Daschle’s comments the day after 9/11:

Mr. President, it is with pain, sorrow, anger, and resolve that I stand before this Senate, a symbol for 212 years of the strength of our democracy, and say that America will emerge from this tragedy, as we have emerged from all adversity, united and strong … The world should know that the Members of both parties in both Houses stand united.  The full resources of our Government will be brought to bear in aiding the search and rescue and in hunting down those responsible and those who may have aided or harbored them.  Nothing, nothing can replace the losses that have been suffered.  I know 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 such as 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.  That is what we will do.  We will rebuild and we will recover.  The people of America will stand strong together because the people of America have always stood together.  And those of us privileged to serve this great Nation will stand with you.[18]

Here is what Cahn has to say about Daschle’s statement:

Here is the man appointed to give the nation’s response, speaking in his capacity, representing the nation.  He utters the words of ancient Israel and he closes the speech with these words; he says this: “That is what we will do.  We will rebuild and we will recover.”  “That is what we will do” – he’s referring to Isaiah 9:10, he just said it, so what, this is mind boggling.  What he’s saying is America’s policy now, America’s course, will be Isaiah 9:10.  And this is prophetic in so many ways … He’s proclaiming judgment on the nation from Capitol Hill on the very day after 9/11, that there would not be national revival in the wake of 9/11 but there would be national defiance, and this is an ominous, ominous thing.

Read Daschle’s statement again, and ask yourself whether any fair-minded person could conclude that Daschle is saying is that “America’s policy now, America’s course, will be Isaiah 9:10,” or that “there would not be national revival … but there would be national defiance.

Someone who has been carried along with Cahn’s case thus far and has not noticed the multitude of errors in it may accept Cahn’s claims here in passing, but if one thinks about it, they are seen to be ridiculous.  Ancient Israel was required to live according to the very specific Mosaic law by covenant, they were refusing to live according to it and they knew it, and they had been warned specifically by prophets of God that destruction would come upon them for this.  Therefore it is reasonable to see Israel’s statement in Isaiah 9:10 as intentional defiance, but there is no parallel in modern America or in Daschle’s speech; the very idea is fatuous.

So we reach the end of Cahn’s exposition of his nine harbingers, and he concludes,

How could this possibly become our response?  It happened because it had to happen.  The harbinger had to manifest and so it did, on the very day after the calamity: the ninth harbinger.  All nine harbingers manifested in precision, in exactness, harbingers of judgment.

The reality, as we have seen, is radically different.   There are no “harbingers” in Isaiah 9:10.  There are historical details which Cahn has idiosyncratically and illegitimately proclaimed to be harbingers, along with others that do not even have any contact points at all but are simply read in by Cahn.  The fact that these are not harbingers has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by the fact that they did not manifest in the judgment of the only other covenant nation in history, Judah.  This fact by itself is already enough to destroy Cahn’s entire case.

There is more, as we have seen.   Even if we ignore the preceding point and proceed to consider each supposed harbinger on its own merits, with its supposed parallel in today’s America, we see that, contra Cahn’s case, the parallels either do not exist or are so general as to be meaningless.  To wit:

The First Harbinger: The Breach – In reality, there is no evidence that there ever was a “hedge of protection” around America.  But if there was, it was breached long before 9/11.

The Second Harbinger: The Terrorist – An invented harbinger, as the Assyrians were not terrorists, and certainly not in any way comparable to Al-Qaeda.

The Third Harbinger: The Bricks – Fallen bricks are a universal feature of military attacks upon cities and therefore any one case can carry no special significance.

The Fourth Harbinger: The Tower – There is no mention of a tower in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 9:10.  If we appeal to the LXX text instead, then the “harbinger” of the cedars is lost.

The Fifth Harbinger: The Gazit Stone – Actually, the Americans did not rebuild with hewn stone.  The Freedom Tower was built of poured concrete, glass, and steel.  The only hewn stone, upon which Cahn placed so much weight, was removed from the site before construction began and formed no part of the building.

The Sixth and Seventh Harbingers: The Sycamore and the Erez Tree – Actually, it is shaqam trees, not American sycamores, that were supposed to be cut down and replaced with erez trees.  Since the tree on which Cahn pins his hopes was not, in fact, a shaqam tree, neither harbinger “manifested.”   No shaqam trees were cut down, and, therefore, no erez tree replaced a shaqam.

The Eighth Harbinger: The Utterance – There is nothing in Isaiah 9:10 to suggest that a leader quoting Isaiah 9:10 is a “harbinger.

Furthermore, defiance cannot be unintentional.

The Ninth Harbinger: The Prophecy – No prophecy – as defined in the Bible – was uttered, and the text of Daschle’s speech cannot fairly be construed as a proclamation of defiance.

So Cahn’s claims of harbingers have been a spectacular failure.  At this point one is reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (“Test all things; hold fast what is good”) and one has to wonder at the widespread enthusiastic reception of Cahn’s case in light of the fact that it is so obviously without merit.  Have North American Evangelicals decided 1 Thessalonians 5:21 is no longer important?  What has happened to fact checking and critical thinking?  Do we just accept without question every attractive and exciting new teaching that comes down the pipe?  One has to ask, because, as bad as Cahn’s case has been so far, as we move on to “The Isaiah 9:10 Effect,” it becomes still worse.

The Isaiah 9:10 Effect

 As we have seen, Cahn announces that

Without repentence [sic], there comes a second shaking.

Because America did not repent following the “initial strike,” the 9/11 attack, what Cahn calls the Isaiah 9:10 effect will subsequently be set in motion.  Recall that Cahn explained “The Isaiah 9:10 Effect” thusly:

The attempt of a nation to defy the course of its judgment apart from repentance will instead set in motion a chain of events that will bring about the very calamity it seeks to avert.

And, accordingly, Cahn says,

So here the mysteries of the harbingers are gonna continue and they’re gonna produce a second American calamity.  The Isaiah 9:10 effect: there’s gonna be a second shaking … that’s gonna touch America in its economic power, its financial foundation.  The mystery of ancient Israel is now gonna replay in modern America.

STOP RIGHT THERE!

STOP.  RIGHT.  THERE.

To this point, we could see Cahn’s case as a flawed and ultimately failed attempt to see how current events in American history fit into the supposed patter of Isaiah 9:10.  Now this changes.  Let us look again at the relevant passage in Isaiah.

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. (Isaiah 9:8-12a)

What is the response promised by God to Israel’s defiance?  Destruction.  What happened to Israel eleven years after their “vow of defiance”?  Destruction.  If it can said at all that there is an “Isaiah 9:10 effect it must be determined by what Isaiah 9 actually says, and that is that lack of repentance is followed by one and only one result: Destruction.  The principle is “one and done.”  And Cahn certainly seemed to understand this, as earlier he told us this:

The first harbinger of judgment is the breach of the nation’s hedge of protection.  And you see this with the destruction of ancient Israel; you see that later with the destruction of Judah.  There’s an initial strike on the land – God removes the hedge of protection He allows an enemy to strike in.  Up to that point there, there was a, a, it was almost impenetrable.  But now when a nation departs from God it loses that protection and that’s the first strike is only temporary but it’s a warning of the, of the final destruction that will come if that nation does not turn back.  It’s a foreshadowing and so it’s limited but it is a wake-up call.

And he said:

All the components of Isaiah 9:10, all the harbingers of Israel’s last days before destruction have been manifested to America … in precision, in exactness.

He also said:

[Senator John Edwards is] uttering the vow and he’s now making the ancient vow, he’s transforming it now into America’s vow, which is ominous because that vow was sealing the fate of ancient Israel for destruction.

It is clear in Isaiah 9 that if there is an “Isaiah 9:10 effect” at all it is that the lack of repentance following the initial strike is followed by final destruction.  That is the only principle (or “effect”) that can be derived from the text.  The quotes above show that Cahn certainly seemed to understand that.  So why does he now say that “The Isaiah 9:10 effect: there’s gonna be a second shaking … that’s gonna touch America in its economic power, its financial foundation”?  This is not what Isaiah says.

Again, Isaiah 9 promises final destruction, not a financial shaking, in the absence of repentance.  If, indeed, “the mystery of ancient Israel is now gonna replay in modern America,” as Cahn claims, then it will be the “final destruction” of America, as it was with Israel, and nota second shakingthat’s gonna touch America in its economic power, its financial foundation.”  Yet Cahn says:

And if you look at the actual prophecy of Isaiah 9:10 it goes to Isaiah 9:11 and on,

And it’s, it, that’s exactly what it says.  It says because you are saying this, because you have done this, because you have not responded to God, you haven’t turned back, there is gonna be now more calamity, and more shaking.”

Yet, as we have clearly seen, and as Cahn himself previously indicated, this is most certainly notexactly what is says [that] there is gonna be now more calamity and more shaking.”  What Isaiah 9:11 and on says “exactly” is this:

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 9:11-12a)

Is this indeed a promised “financial shaking” or final destruction?  It is destruction, not a financial shaking, and that is what happened to ancient Israel, in 721 BC.  Undeniably, then, Cahn’s carefully constructed case has now completely departed from Bible; his “Isaiah 9:10 effect” has nothing to do with the actual Isaiah 9:10 of the Bible.  One wonders how exactly Cahn’s legions of admirers have missed this painfully obvious fact.

Now, it is a fact that America did not repent subsequent to the initial strike on the land and yet, unlike ancient Israel, it was not destroyed (by the date of this writing, at least).  This means that the actual, Biblical Isaiah 9:10 effect – if there is any such thing at all – did not come to pass in America, which means it must be admitted that Isaiah 9:10 is notan ancient mystery that foretells America’s future (until and unless America is “devoured with an open mouth” by her enemies).

There is another option, of course.  One could look at what did happen to America, and then retrodict that into a putative “ancient mystery,” an “Isaiah 9:10 effect” that is not actually based on what Isaiah 9:10 says.  One could look and see that the Unites States suffered a severe financial problem in 2008 and proclaim that this is what was prophesied by the putative “Isaiah 9:10 effect,even though Isaiah 9:10 says nothing of the sort.

To go this route is to depart from the Biblical text, however.  This is no longer the word of God telling us what will happen to America, but what is happening to America telling us what the Bible says.  It takes a special kind of audacity to call this “the Isaiah 9:10 effect” or to say that “the mystery of ancient Israel is now gonna replay in modern America” in reference to an economic shaking, when ancient Israel did not receive an economic shaking but total destruction.

Yet, even if we ignore this and pretend that a “second shaking … that’s gonna touch America in its economic power, its financial foundationis a Biblical option, Cahn completely fails to make his case for this, too.  Let us move on to examine his claims regarding this “second shaking.

Cahn’s Claims for the Second Shaking

FIRST, Cahn lists the effects of the “War on Terror,” as follows:

  • Cost to date of $993.5 billion dollars
  • Skyrocketing oil prices
  • Massive federal debt: $1.3 trillion

He claims that

All these things which will hurt America, it’ll be another manifestation of this Isaiah 9:10 effect that’s gonna bring about the collapse of the American economy, and it happened just a few days after 9/11.

Really?  A closer look paints a rather different picture.  The cost to date of the “war on terror,” stated by Cahn to be $993.5 billion dollars, sounds like a great deal of money at first glance, but that has been spent over twelve years, for an average annual cost of about $83 billion – which is only 2.18% of U.S. federal government spending, and a mere 0.55% of GDP.  (By contrast, the entitlement programs of social security, income security, and Medicare eat up a combined $1.843 trillion per annum, more than 22 times what the “war on terror” is costing.)  It is not the cost of the “war on terror,” then, that is causing problems for the American economy.

Cahn also blames “skyrocketing oil prices” on the “war on terror” that followed 9/11.  Again, he is wrong, as the following chart[19] shows:

As can be seen from the chart, oil prices did not skyrocket after 9/11; in fact, they did not duplicate the historic high of 1981 until 2005 (and, in real terms, not until 2008).  In fact, they fell in the wake of 2001.  The rise that began in 2004 and 2005 did not correlate with the “war on terror”; it was due to increasing demand from emerging economies in China and India, and not due to the “war on terror.”

Nor is the “massive federal debt” of $1.3 trillion cited by Cahn due to the “war on terror.”  (Actually, the U.S. would love to have a federal debt of $1.3 trillion; their actual federal debt has passed $16.7 trillion.  $1.3 trillion is the annual deficit, not the debt.)  As the following chart shows, the deficit in 2002 was lower than the deficit in 2000.  The average deficit during the first six years of the “war on terror” was $281 billion.  The $1.3 trillion deficits mentioned by Cahn did not start until eight years after the beginning of the “war on terror,” when the Obama administration took office and began spending wildly on various social programs.

It gets worse.  Immediately following these claims, none of which is correct, Cahn says

All these things which will hurt America, it’ll be another manifestation of this Isaiah 9:10 effect that’s gonna bring about the collapse of the American economy, and it happened just a few days after 9/11 … America’s first action of “We will rebuild” … It starts in extreme slashing of the nation’s interest rates.

Now, here is the part that is difficult to understand.  Cahn provides the following graphic in his own DVD presentation:

What this graphic clearly shows is that the “extreme slashing of the nation’s interest ratesbegan in January of 2001, nine months before the 9/11 attacksSeven separate cuts reduced the rate from 6.5% to 3.5%, all before 9/11.  So how exactly does “America’s first action of ‘We will rebuild’” begin nine months before the 9/11 attacks?

Furthermore, as the following chart shows (which covers all of 2001), the rate at which interest rates were cut was the same both before and after 9/11:

In the case of this claim of Cahn’s, it is not even necessary to do any independent fact checking to see that it is false; one need only look at the graphic Cahn himself offered in his own video.  (Furthermore, he includes a clip of a reporter talking about the September 17 rate cut, who says, “This is the eighth rate cut this year”!)  It is difficult to understand why none of Cahn’s aficionados seems to have noticed this.

In sum, then, none of the economic problems attributed to the “war on terror” by Cahn is actually a product of the “war on terror.”  Yet he now goes on to claim that the financial downturn of 2008 is also a result of 9/11.  He claims:

The extreme rates open up an era of easy money, causes unprecedented, uh, borrowing and lending, credit bubbles, uh, housing bubbles.  The stock market surges, the effect spreads around the globe.  The credit explosion leads to an explosion of debt, and standard cautions that people would have are discarded … they get involved in risky practices, increasingly making loans they would never make, investments they never would make.  Personal debt, government debt, corporate debt all mushrooms and, the, this is the Isaiah 9:10 effect.  It creates an economic house of cards and it all goes back to 9/11, it all goes back to the dusts of 9/11.  Then in September 2008 the effect comes to full force and the economy, the American economy, crashes, the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression.

Now, it has already been shown – even from Cahn’s own graphic – that the “extreme” interest rates were not caused by 9/11, and, since he attributes the 2008 crash to “extreme” interest rates, then it is clear that the crash cannot be attributed to 9/11.  Dr. Thomas Sowell, an actual economist with a noteworthy list of qualifications and well reasoned publications, has shown cogently in The Housing Boom and Bust[20] that the 2008 crash was caused by the Clinton administration’s insistence that everyone in America should be able to own a house, whether he can afford it or not, on which account the administration forced banks to lend money to millions of people who could not afford such loans.  It is that policy that directly caused the housing bubble that crashed in 2008.  It was politically motivated government interference in the economy beginning in 1994 that caused the 2008 crash, and not 9/11.

Cahn continues, saying,

Then in September 2008 the effect comes to full force, and the economy, the American economy, crashes – the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression.

Yet Cahn is wrong on all three counts.  First, as we have already showed, what happened in September 2008 has nothing to with any putative Isaiah 9:10 effect “com[ing] to full force.”  Second, despite the terminology and public perception, the economy slowed in September 2008, but it did not truly crash, as the following chart[21] shows:

Third, it is not true that the 2008 crash was “the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression.”  True, it featured the largest single-day point drop on the stock exchange, but percentage drop is far more significant than point drop (just as losing $100 is much more significant when your net worth is $200 than losing $200 when your net worth is $10,000).  In terms of percentage drop, the following list shows the ten worst stock market crashes in U.S. history:

The 2008 crash doesn’t even make the Top 10 list!  It is also interesting to note that the top nine all happened while, according to Cahn, America was still under God’s “hedge of protection.”  How does Cahn explain that a stock market crash that is supposed to be a manifestation of God’s judgment after He has removed His hedge of protection from America is not as bad as nine previous crashes that happened while America was under God’s hedge of protection?  It is indeed interesting how different things can look when they are put into context.

Yet Cahn goes on, asserting that

it goes back to this Biblical principle, and here are commentaries saying this: “Divine anger, being a remedial force, or corrective force, will not cease until its purposes are brought out.  If one expression is resisted, another must be found.”

Cahn does not tell us which “commentaries,” but it really doesn’t matter, for he has not been arguing for a “commentaries effect” based on the made-up claims of unnamed commentators, but for an “Isaiah 9:10 effect” based on Isaiah 9:10.  Yet, as we have already seen, Isaiah 9 does not say that “‘Divine anger, being a remedial force, or corrective force, will not cease until its purposes are brought out’,” nor is there any such principle in the Bible.

In fact, the very idea put forth by these “commentaries” is ridiculous; if the purpose of divine anger is “corrective” and it “will not cease until its purposes [i.e. corrective, which can only be brought out by repentance] are brought out,” it follows that “divine anger” must always result in repentance, and that is patently not so.  In reality, divine anger is retributive.  It can be forestalled by genuine repentance [there is a great example in Jonah 3], but in the absence of repentance it leads to destruction, not to another “expression” being found.  Which, as we have shown, is exactly what happened in Isaiah 9!  If what happened in Isaiah 9 is replaced with claims from commentaries (and erroneous claims, at that), this can no longer be described as an “Isaiah 9:10 effect.”  We have indeed now wandered far from the Bible.

Now, Cahn mentioned the Great Depression, and this surfaces yet another problem with his case.  The Great Depression was a vastly worse disaster than was the 2008 crash, occasioning genuine existential hardship to Americans in a way that Americans living in 2008 could not even imagine.  Yet it happened while, according to Cahn, America was under God’s hedge of protection.  Was it a manifestation of divine anger, or did it just happen?  If it just happened, how is America supposed to see God’s wrath in an event much less severe than another event that “just happened”?  But if it was a manifestation of divine anger, shouldn’t the hedge have already been removed?

The problems with Cahn’s case continue to mount.  The Great Depression was followed by Pearl Harbor, a much more devastating attack with far more severe consequences than the 9/11 attack – and this, too, happened while America was supposedly under God’s hedge of protection.  Was this a manifestation of divine anger?  Was it the Isaiah 9:10 effect?  If not, why should 9/11 and 2008 be considered the Isaiah 9:10 effect if the Great Depression and Pearl Harbor are not?  But if it is the Isaiah 9:10 effect, how come the “second shaking” came before the “initial breach”?  Doesn’t that break the pattern (a pattern that was established on the basis of one example)?  And doesn’t “second” come after “first” by definition?  (Or can we appeal to the “ancient mystery” of Matthew 20:16 – “So the last will be first, and the first last” – to get around this problem?)

Furthermore, if the 9/11 attack and the 2008 were meant to be “a warning of the, of the final destruction that will come if that nation does not turn back,did America turn back?  Did America repent?  If so, how was the repentance shown?  Was it by banning prayers in public schools (1962)?  Was it by legalizing abortion (1973)?  Clearly America did not repent, and, by Cahn’s own statement, this refusal to turn back should have been followed by “final destruction,” not by a replaying of the putative “Isaiah 9:10 effect” in 2001 and 2008.  After all, according to the nameless “commentaries” to which Cahn appeals, “if one expression [of divine anger] is resisted, another must be found.”  So why would the same manifestation be replayed in 2001 and 2008?  No matter how it’s looked at, Cahn’s analysis simply does not fit the facts.[22]  It doesn’t even come close.

Yet Cahn continues.  He cites Ezekiel 13:14 (“So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground so its foundation will be exposed”) and asserts that

One sign of judgment is the laying bare of foundations, the exposing of a nation’s foundations.  What is a nation’s foundation?  It’s that on which it rests or that in which it trusts.  America has been the world’s greatest economic, financial superpower of the past century, but what is the foundation of that superpower that could be laid bare in the time of judgment and that could be linked to 9/11?  America’s financial power has centered on the island of Manhattan.

Cahn goes on to identify this foundation as the New York Stock Exchange, and goes on to point out that the NY Stock Exchange was originally called the Buttonwood Association, formed by the Buttonwood Agreement, so named because it was signed under a buttonwood tree.  And what sort of tree is a buttonwood tree?  Cahn tells us,

Buttonwood is another way of saying “the sycamore tree.”

Cahn no doubt expects his audience to find this impressive, but it is anything but.  In fact, the errors here on his part are very serious.  The most obvious is this: what possible justification is there for appealing to Ezekiel 13:14 here?  What objective basis is there for thinking that this verse, out of the other 23,143 verses in the Old Testament, should be linked to the “Isaiah 9:10” effect?  In fact, there is no such basis.

The very idea is absurd.  Ezekiel is prophesying to Judah, not Israel, and he is prophesying well over a century after the final destruction of Israel.  Furthermore, this is an oracle against Judah’s prophets, who are not telling the people the truth; it has nothing to do with national repentance or economic foundations.  It is completely illegitimate, therefore, to link Ezekiel 13:14 to any supposed “Isaiah 9:10 effect.

Frankly, the hermeneutics here is embarrassing.  It is redolent of the apocryphal example of one who claims that the Bible teaches that we should commit suicide because, look:

… He … went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:5b)

“Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37b)

“What you do, do quickly.” (John 13:27b)

There is no hermeneutical reason to connect Ezekiel 13:14 to Isaiah 9:10, any more than to connect Matthew 27:5 to Luke 10:37 and John 13:27.  We also note that Cahn asked

what is the foundation of that superpower that could be laid bare in the time of judgment and that could be linked to 9/11?

Should we cast about the Bible trying to find something “that could be linked to 9/11”?  Is this not making the Bible fit events, rather than seeing whether events fit what the Bible says?

Cahn’s “Ancient, Ancient Mystery of the Shemitah

Moving from the risible to the ludicrous, Cahn turns to what he calls “the mystery of the Shemitah.”  He rightly says,

God gave a command to Israel called the Shemitah or the Seventh Year or the Sabbath Year command.

Indeed He did; it is found in Exodus 23:10-11, Leviticus 25:1-5, and Deuteronomy 15:1-2, as follows:

“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.” (Exodus 23:10-11)

And the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. (Leviticus 25:1-5)

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the LORD’s release.” (Deuteronomy 15:1-2)

Cahn avers that “The Shemitah was meant to be a blessing, but if the nation turned away from God, the Shemitah turns from a blessing to a judgment, to a sign,” though this goes beyond what the text says.  Cahn states that “In Israel’s history, the people would be driven from the land, and the land would rest, and God said, ‘Now the land is gonna keep its Sabbaths, or Shemitahs,” though in point of fact this happened only once, when the people of Judah were exiled to Babylon; it was not a pattern or a principle.

Now, Cahn has correctly said that God gave this command “to Israel.”  It was a faith-based economic policy for Israel alone, and had nothing to do with any other nation, including the United States.  Yet, incredibly, Cahn claims that

so the Shemitah also holds the key to the timing of the judgment on a nation.

No, it doesn’t.  There is absolutely no Biblical warrant for the claim that this law given to Israel alone has any role to play in the judgment of any other nation.  So there is no basis for trying to link the Shemitah to America.

Nevertheless, Cahn tries to do so.  He claims, wrongly, that “the Shemitah causes production to cease, labor to cease” (it only applied to agriculture, not to other forms of production and labour) and then says that “that can resemble an economic collapse.”  Interesting; according to Cahn

The Shemitah was meant to be a blessing … that can resemble an economic collapse.[23]

Most people would not consider an economic collapse to be a blessing.  And then comes the attempt to dragoon the Shemitah into the case against America:

When did the economic collapse of America happen?  This is the “second shaking”.  It happened seven years after the first shaking.  It happened seven years after 9/11.  So if you didn’t have 9/11, this would not have happened.  That means even 9/11 is woven into the mystery – an ancient, ancient mystery – of the Shemitah.

Again, Cahn is wrong on almost every count.  As we have already shown, the 2008 crash was not a “second shaking“; indeed, Isaiah 9:10 does not allow for a “second shaking.”  It is not true that “if you didn’t have 9/11, this would not have happened.”  As we have already shown, the 2008 crash was caused by wildly irresponsible government interference in the economy that started long before 9/11 and would have resulted in the crash regardless of whether 9/11 happened or not.  And the “Shemitah” was a specific principle given to ancient Israel, and the nation and the principle have both long since ceased to exist.  Thus, the Shemitah is not an “ancient, ancient mystery” – indeed, it is not a mystery at all – and the assertion that 9/11 “is woven into” this non-existent “mystery” is baseless fantasy.

Cahn now tries to play his ace-in-the hole, pointing out that the peak of the financial crisis happened on September 29, 2008.  This day marked “the greatest stock market crash in the history of Wall Street,” and on the Hebrew calendar September 29, 2008, was Elul 29, “the exact Biblical day specifically ordained to touch a nation’s financial accounts … the exact Biblical day that is a judgment to the nation that has driven God out of its life.”  Furthermore, not only did September 29, 2008, mark the end of 7-year period, but the stock market dropped by 777 points on that day, which represented 7% of its value!  And “seven”, says Cahn, is the “key number of the Shemitah.

More amazing claims follow.  Cahn asserts that September 29, 2008 was an end of a seven-year cycle so there should be another event seven years before that began in the financial realm.  And so there was, says Cahn; the greatest previous stock market crash occurred on September 17, 2001.  “So right there you have the Shemitah,” says Cahn.

You have a seven-year period beginning with the greatest crash and ending with the greatest crash on September 29, 2008.

And, to clinch it, September 17, 2011, was also Elul 29 on the Hebrew calendar – and, in fact, they were both the very Elul 29 that marks the end of the Shemitah!

Cahn sums it up: both crashes took place on Elul 29,

the day when a nation’s financial accounts are wiped away.  So the two greatest stock market point crashes in the history of Wall Street up to that day happened on the exact – both of them – on the exact Biblical day ordained to touch a nation’s financial realm … exactly seven Hebrew years apart!

Prima facie this all may seem astounding, but a closer look reveals that Cahn’s case here, too, is far off the mark. We again note the illegitimate application of the Shemitah.  Contra Cahn, Elul 29 was notthe exact Biblical day specifically ordained to touch a nation’s financial accounts … the exact Biblical day that is a judgment to the nation that has driven God out of its life”; it was the ordained day in which the ancient Israelites, under the Old Covenant, were required to cancel all personal loans.  It has never applied to the U.S. or to any other nation.  For Cahn to speak of “a nation” as if the Shemitah had general application is wrong.

Second, despite Cahn’s fervent attempt to draw parallels between the OT Shemitah and the 2008 stock market crash, there is no real parallel.  The 2008 crash only affected a small percentage of all the existing loans in the United States at the time.  The loans were not released; people lost their homes precisely because the loans were not released.  Stock market losses do not represent released debts, since stock purchases are not loans; the buyer receives part ownership of the company whose stock he is buying.

And Elul 29 comes at the end of year in which agricultural activity ceased, not the beginning, and in the case of the 2008 crash, the economy went into the doldrums after Elul 29, not before.

It should be clear, then; Cahn’s attempt to redefine the Shemitah from what it was – the day at the end of the Sabbath year on which the Israelites were required to cancel personal debts – to what it wasn’t – “the exact Biblical day specifically ordained to touch a nation’s financial accounts” – is already illegitimate.  And, as we have shown, even with that redefinition, the 2008 crash still does not fit.

Third, as we have already seen, the 2008 crash was far from being “the greatest stock market crash in the history of Wall Street,” when measured by percentage drop, the only meaningful way, instead of by point drop, as Cahn professedly does.  Nor was the September 17, 2001 crash the worst before that.  As the following table shows[24], the drop of September 29, 2008 stands as only the 20th worst drop in history (it was the 17th worst when it happened), and the drop of September 17, 2001, is only the 17th worst (14th worst when it happened).

Fourth, and more importantly, Cahn wants us to see profound significance in this pattern, viz. that the “worst” stock market crash happened on Elul 29, and the previous “worst” stock market crash happened on Elul 29, exactly seven Hebrew years earlier.  However, a pattern cannot be established on the basis of two samples (any more than a curve can be plotted from two points, which always and only can yield a straight line).  We have to ask whether this seven-year “Shemitah” pattern has held generally in relation to America’s financial downturns.  The following is a partial list drawn from the table above (going backwards from September 29, 2008), showing the time spans between them:

2008/9/29 – (7 years) – 2001/9/17 – (4 years) – 1997/10/27 – (10 years) – 1987/10/26 – (1 week) – 1987/10/19 – (50 years) – 1937/10/18 – (4 years) – 1933/7/21 – (1 day) – 1933/7/20 – (1 year) – 1932/10/05 – (2 months) – 1932/08/12 – (1 year) – 1931/9/24 – (2 years) – 1929/11/06 – (1 week) – 1929/10/29 – (1 day) – 1929/10/28 – (12 years) – 1917/2/01 – (10 years) – 1907/3/14 – (7 years) – 1899/12/18

If we want to look only at record-breaking drops, the pattern looks like this:

1987/10/26 – (58 years) – 1929/10/28 – (30 years) – 1899/12/18

The September 29, 2008, drop doesn’t even enter the list!

As is clear from this data, there is no Shemitah pattern to America’s stock market crash history.  But wait!  Cahn was insisting on looking at point drops, not percentage drops.  Does the “Shemitah” pattern hold if we consider point drops?  The table[25] and the partial list are given below (again working back from September 29, 2008):

For record-breaking drops, the list is as follows:

2008/9/29 – (7 years) –– 2001/9/17 – (1.5 years) –– 2000/4/14 – (2.5 years) – 1997/10/27 – (10 years) – 1987/10/19

The facts are abundantly clear; there is no Shemitah pattern to America’s stock market crash history, even if point drops are viewed.  Therefore, it is clear that Elul 29 is most certainly notthe exact Biblical day specifically ordained to touch a nation’s financial accounts.”  There is no such day.  The Shemitah was something that applied only to ancient Israel, and has nothing to do with America’s economic problems or 9/11.

There remains still one more problem with Cahn’s case for the “ancient, ancient mystery of the Shemitah.”  It is the most obvious problem, one that utterly destroys Cahn’s argument, even without any of the previous problems.  It is this: Cahn’s whole case is predicated upon Isaiah 9:10 being the paradigm of judgment that is now coming upon America.  What happened to ancient Israel is now being recapitulated in modern America.  Now, what did happen to ancient Israel?  It was the one nation (two, if we count Judah as a separate nation) to which the Shemitah did apply, unlike America.  So if “the Shemitah also holds the key to the timing of the judgment on a nation,” as Cahn insists, then surely it must do so in regard to the one nation that was required to observe the Shemitah: ancient Israel.

When did the “breach,” the first strike, befall ancient Israel?  We have already discussed this: The first strike described in Isaiah 9:10 happened in 732 BC.

When did the so-called “second shaking,” which was actually the final destruction of Israel, happen?  721 BC.

How much time passed between 732 BC and 721 BC?  Eleven years.  ELEVEN YEARS.  NOT.  SEVEN.  Now if the “ancient, ancient mystery of the Shemitah,” as Cahn styles it, did not “hold the key to the timing of the judgment” on Israel, then it does not hold the “key to the timing of the judgment” on anyone, including the United States.  There is no “ancient, ancient mystery of the Shemitah.”  Q.E.D.: Cahn’s claims here are nonsense.[26]

The Three Witnesses

Cahn next turns his attention to back to another topic, which has already been debunked.  He puts a new introductory spin on it now, telling us that “There’s a law in the Bible that for a truth to be established or a judgment to be pronounced, there has to be two or three witnesses testifying” and then he asks, “and what happens if we bring this to a national level?”  He continues, “The most dramatic witness of America under judgment is the proclaiming of the ancient vow of judgment that links America to ancient Israel, that links America to being a nation in defiance, a nation that is being shaken and being called back to God,” and then he again appeals to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Senator John Edwards, and President Barack Obama at various times pledging to rebuild America.

Not much needs to be said here.  We have already shown conclusively that these men did not issue an “ancient vow of defiance, that there is no such thing as unintentional defiance, and that America is not linked to ancient Israel.  The only new thing that has to be said is in regard to Cahn’s new introductory spin, in which he has again misunderstood the Bible.  The law of witnesses concerned judicial inquiries to discover the truth about what had happened in a past event; it had nothing to do with three people speaking in order to make something true.  And, accordingly, this law cannot be brought “to a national level.

The Mystery Ground

Finally, Cahn revisits his attempt to draw a parallel between the founding of ancient Israel and the founding of America, relating to what he calls “The Mystery Ground.”  His assertion is that

There is a mystery that’s been hidden in the foundation of America from its very beginning, from its very first day as a nation and it’s a biblical mystery that has to do with dedication, consecration, and judgment.

Cahn now revisits his earlier claims that “America is similar to Israel, was also founded on God’s word.  In fact, America was founded originally by the Puritans to be a second Israel,” complete with its own consecration day corresponding to Solomon’s dedication of the temple; Washington, like a latter-day Solomon, speaking of God’s providence and warning against turning away; and prayer and consecration by the new government.  We have already examined these claims and found that they are false.

Let us consider Cahn’s new claims in this area.  He claims to discover yet another principle in the Bible:

So here’s a principle: In the days of judgment, the calamity or the destruction touches the nation’s ground of consecration.  The nation’s ground of dedication to God becomes its ground of judgment.

(The impossibility of proving a principle on the basis of one example seems to continue to escape Cahn’s notice.)  As we recall, Cahn identified April 30, 1789, the day on which George Washington was inaugurated as her first president, as America’s “dedication day,” corresponding to Solomon’s dedication of the temple in 961 BC.  And, since this happened in lower Manhattan in New York City, Cahn identifies this site as America’s “consecration ground.

Furthermore, points out Cahn,

the ground of consecration was a little stone chapel called St. Paul’s Chapel.  It still stands today.   Where is it located?  It stands at Ground Zero.  America was dedicated to God on the corner of Ground Zero … America’s consecration ground is Ground Zero.

Linking this to the principle Cahn has claimed to discover, he points out that

When judgment comes it returns to the nation’s ground of consecration.  And so Ground Zero is America’s mystery ground.

The 9/11 judgment, then, has fallen upon America’s ground of consecration, Lower Manhattan, just as it fell upon Israel’s ground of consecration.

Only it didn’t.  Not only was America not dedicated to God, as we have already shown, there is no such Biblical principle as the one Cahn claims to have discovered.  What was ancient Israel’s ground of consecration?  According to Cahn, it was Jerusalem (and particularly the grounds of the temple).  When judgment came upon ancient Israel in Isaiah 9, the very passage on which Cahn builds his entire case, did it strike Jerusalem?  No.  Jerusalem was the capital of Judah, and it was not touched during the “first strike” on ancient Israel in 732 BC, or in the destruction that followed in 721 BC.

So Cahn’s case collapses.  Jerusalem was indeed struck during the “second shaking” of Judah, but the supposed harbingers of Isaiah 9:10 did not manifest in Judah.  The harbingers supposedly manifested in Israel (though they did not, as we have shown), but the ground of consecration was not touched.  So neither this principle nor the idea of the harbingers is true.  And here ends Cahn’s case.

Let us sum up what our analysis of Cahn’s Harbinger and Isaiah 9/11 claims has revealed:

Cahn’s case depends on the pillar that America, like Israel, was founded for God’s purposes, and turned away from Him.  This has been shown to be WRONG.

  • Cahn’s case depends on Isaiah 9:10 being programmatic of how God deals with rebellious nations.  This, too, has been show to be WRONG.
  • Cahn claims that there are nine harbingers in Isaiah 9:10.  In reality, only four of the elements are even mentioned, and there is no valid reason to consider any of them an actual harbinger.
  • Five harbingers are read into the passage, and there is no valid reason to consider any of them a genuine harbinger.
  • The harbingers have not been “manifested” in America.  They are either too general to be significant or they did not happen at all.
  • Cahn claims that the “first strike” is followed by a “second shaking,” what he calls the “Isaiah 9:10 effect,” but the actual Biblical text speaks only of destruction following the first strike, and not a “second shaking.
  • The effects that Cahn attributes to 9/11 were not in fact caused by 9/11.
  • Cahn claims that the 2008 crash was caused by 9/11, but in reality it was caused by government interference in the economy that began long before 9/11.
  • Cahn describes the 2008 crash as the worst in American history, but in the only meaningful way it was not even in the Top 10.  America’s economy did not actually crash, and it remains the world leader.
  • Cahn does not explain why 9/11 and the 2008 crash should be seen as signs of God’s hedge of protection having been removed, when worse disasters, the Pearl Harbor attack and the Great Depression, happened while the hedge of protection was supposedly still in place.
  • Cahn illegitimately appeals to Ezekiel 13:14 to claim that an economic shaking should follow the “first strike,” when the actual passage under consideration, Isaiah 9, indicates that destruction should follow the “first strike.
  • Cahn claims that there is an “ancient, ancient mystery” of the Shemitah that “holds the key to the timing of the judgment on a nation,” when in fact there is no such mystery.  The Shemitah is not applicable to any nation other than ancient Israel; America’s economic crashes do not fit a seven-year pattern; and even the actual destruction of ancient Israel came eleven years after the “first strike,” not seven.
  • The founding documents of the United States show deism, not Christianity, in their wording, calling into question Cahn’s claim that America was founded for the glory of God.
  • Cahn claims that there is a principle that “in the days of judgment, the calamity or the destruction touches the nation’s ground of consecration,” yet there is no such principle, as even in the one relevant case, ancient Israel, this did not happen.

Conclusion

Jonathan Cahn’s claim that there is an ancient mystery in Isaiah 9:10 that foretells America’s future, told in a fictional framework in his bestselling book The Harbinger and presented as fact in his “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” DVD has proven to be wildly popular among American Evangelicals.  And no wonder; the idea that there is such a detailed prophecy about America written more than 2,700 years ago, and especially one that may be used to persuade their beloved country to turn back from its current ungodly course, is a very appealing one.  We want it to be true.  And the case Cahn makes does seem very convincing.

Nevertheless, we must apply the command of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to Cahn’s claims.  We had to subject his claims to careful examination, and could hold on to them only if they had proven to be “good.”  We had to assess Cahn’s claims in light of both the applicable Scriptures and the relevant facts.

When we did this, we found that Cahn’s claims, which initially seemed so convincing, crumbled one by one, until his whole case collapsed.  This is not the result for which we had hoped.  However, as then future U.S. President John Adams said,

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

The “state of facts and evidence” overwhelmingly indicates that Cahn’s claims are badly mistaken, and ought not to be accepted by Evangelicals.

Finally, this phenomenon raises the question as to why Cahn’s claims have been so enthusiastically accepted by so many for so long, when any careful analysis will quickly show that they are not even remotely valid.  What has happened to the critical thinking faculties of Evangelicals?  Have we simply decided to ignore 1 Thessalonians 5:21?  Have we become like the people of Athens in Acts 17:21, who “spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing”?  Have we decided not to bother fact-checking claims anymore?  If so, that may go a lot further towards explaining the troubling direction of America today than any supposed “ancient mystery” in Isaiah 9.


Endnotes

[1] “”HARBINGER’ A CHRISTIAN BOOK PHENOMENON: Hits NYT bestsellers list for 2nd week as publisher orders 250,000 more copies.” Posted on January 22, 2012, at http://www.wnd.com/2012/01/harbinger-a-christian-book-phenomenon/

[2] The New York Times Book Review. (June 9, 2013), p. 32

[3] Cahn, Jonathan. The Harbinger. (Mary Lake, Florida: Front Line, Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group), 2011

[4] Brown’s claims to this effect are documented, for example, in Abanes, Richard. The Truth Behind the Da Vinci Code. (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers,), p. 9

[5] Cahn, Jonathan. “A National Wake-up Call: What an ancient mystery means to America’s future – and your ministry.” Ministry Today 31:2 (March/April 2013), p. 62

[6] “A Q&A with Jonathan Cahn,” sidebar to ibid.  p. 20

[7] Strang, Steve. “Bearing the Good Word for America: the supernatural story of how The Harbinger found its way to the nation.” Ministry Today 31:2 (March/April 2013), p. 14

[8] Unless otherwise stated, the quotations are my transcriptions from Cahn’s ““The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment: Is there an Ancient Mystery that Foretells America’s Future?”

[9] It was actually a bit more than two years later, being planted on November 26, 2003.

[10] Cahn, The Harbinger. op. cit., p. 19

[11] Cahn, “A National Wake-Up Call.” op. cit., p. 18

[12] The popular belief among the upper classes in this era that, while there must be a God who created the world and set it in motion, he is not a personal God who intervenes any further in the operation of his world.  God is necessary only as a First Cause, and after that is studiously ignored.  He is the ruler, but an absent ruler.  He is useful on occasion to justify claims of “Natural Law.”

[13] It should also be noted that the Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson, a man who considered Biblical Christianity to be “nonsense.”  If the Founders were interested in creating a “New Israel,” why did they commit the writing of their first founding document into the hands of a man who considered Biblical Christianity to be nonsense?

[14] In Jeremiah 6:6 there is a prophetic command from God to the attackers to “cut down trees.”  Here the generic word for tree, ets, it used.  In Jeremiah 22:7 there is a prophetic warning that the attackers “shall cut down your choice cedars.”  According to Cahn, it is sycamores that are supposed to be cut down; cedars are supposed to be planted.

[15] For a discussion of the relative merits of the Masoretic text and the LXX, see our article “On the Merits of the Septuagint: A Response to Floyd Nolen Jones’ The Chronology of the Old Testament” at https://truthinmydays.com/on-the-merits-of-the-septuagint-a-response-to-floyd-nolen-jones-the-chronology-of-the-old-testament/.

[16] http://www.theconcreteproducer.com/highstrength-concrete/freedom-tower–new-york-city.aspx; http://rew-online.com/1-wtc-rising-on-super-concrete/; http://gothamist.com/2006/04/27/freedom_tower_c.php; Archived at http://archive.li/CD7u (Saved from http://www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress/q-a-response-lynda-tollner2.html)

[17] Do note that Daschle’s quote correctly says “fig trees” instead of “sycamores.”  Cahn somehow doesn’t seem to have noticed the problem this occasions for his sixth harbinger.

[18] “Floor Statement by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle on a Joint Resolution of Condemnation for Yesterday’s Attacks And Support for the Victims.” United States Senate. Posted on September 12, 2001.  Cited in Nesch, Elliott. “Prophetic Word in 9/11.” Posted on September 11, 2011, at http://www.holybibleprophecy.org/2011/09/11/911-10th-anniversary-the-lords-word-in-september-11th-by-elliott-nesch/.

[19] http://www.emeraldinsight.com/content_images/fig/3600040103007.png

[20] Sowell, Thomas. The Housing Boom and Bust. New York: Basic Books, 2009.

[21] http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_gdp_history

[22] Cahn claims that “This collapse [of September 2008] that comes on the American economy weakens the American economy and hastens the end of the era of America’s reign over the economic global order.”  Yet almost five years later, America’s economy remains the world’s largest by far, the U.S dollar remains the world’s reserve currency, and most of the innovation still happens there.  The stock market (as measured by the Dow Jones Industrial average reached a record 14,715 in May of 2008 before crashing to a low of 6,443.27 on March 6, 2009 – but had reached a record of 15,589.40 on July 18, 2013.  All of the losses have been made up, and then some, and all without national repentance.

[23] Cahn’s description applies to the Shemitah simpliciter, regardless of whether or not it is being a sign of judgment.

[24] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_largest_daily_changes_in_the_Dow_Jones_Industrial_Average

[25] ibid.

[26] It is hardly worth mentioning Cahn’s last point here, viz. that “There is one more mystery of the Shemitah, that the shemitah means literally in Hebrew, it can mean ‘the release,’ but it can also mean ‘the letting fall’ or ‘the collapse,’ ‘the letting collapse.’  So what was the Shemitah?  Not only the collapse of the economy according to an ancient mystery, but it’s the letting collapse of the American-led world order; it’s letting collapse America’s prosperity.”  Thus far, the American-led world order and prosperity has not collapsed.

Comments: 2

  1. Tony says:

    The message of this book is clear and anyone that wants to pick it apart is unfortunately missing the point.
    Choice! God’s perfect plan gives every soul who has or will live, exactly what they want – their choice fulfilled.
    The choice is to be with or without God for eternity and is only a heartbeat away. As far as the nation of America’s future, it has been foretold, the majority will not choose God, consequently getting exactly what they want. The remainder of us will spend eternity with the most high. What else could possible matter enough to influence choice against a novel that may help many make what I feel is the only favorable choice. God blessed us all – will you accept?

    • John Tors says:

      With all due respect, the message of this book is not that God gives each person a choice about his own eternal destiny. It is that God has a particular protocol in dealing with His chosen nation, and that America is a chosen nation, and that what He is now doing with them is what He did with ancient Israel. As I showed in my article, that is not even remotely true.

      I am certainly keen that everyone make the right choice, to receive the Gospel offered by Jesus, but that does not mean that a book that tells such egregious errors should not be called out. At the end of the day, we cannot trick people into making the right choice.

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