Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Another off-the-wall criticism of The Harbinger, by Thomas Ice

Update: Here's Jonathan Cahn's answer to Thomas Ice, linked as a Page in the margin.

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Another misbegotten criticism of The Harbinger from Brannon Howse's site.

Oh please Lord, bring some sanity to this issue, inspire some Christian leaders to defend the Harbinger against all this nonsense.
A Critical Look at The Harbinger
Tom's Perspectives

by Thomas Ice

"The bricks have fallen down,
But we will rebuild with smooth stones;
The sycamores have been cut down,
But we will replace them with cedars."
-Isaiah 9:10
First off, that's a bad translation. It's stone cut from a mountain or a quarry that they intend to rebuild with, cut stone, hewn stone, not "smooth" stone. Just another Bible-distorting legacy from Westcott and Hort.
The Harbinger[1] is a fictional account of what its author, Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn believes is a scenario that is on the verge of happening to America, unless there is national repentance.
While this statement isn't false, I have to object that to start with the emphasis on judgment that is about to come, and the need for repentance, skews the meaning of the book in a very subtle way, and suggests that the writer doesn't really grasp the import of the book.  There are people who need to know that the nation is under judgment, but many of us already know that America is under judgment and can expect more to come, and that repentance is the only answer. We don't need a book to tell us that, and while the book does make that point the WAY it makes it is what it is really all about.

The book is about the "harbingers" that occurred in the wake of 9/11, literal material actual occurrences that precisely reflect a verse in the Old Testament book of the prophet Isaiah, verse 9:10. The appearance of these harbingers could only have been brought about by God Himself, and that being the case it is God Himself who is for some reason acting in a very unusual personal way to warn America of the judgment we are under. This is the core of the book and this is where any meaningful discussion of it should start, but it is precisely this central message that all the critics so far fail to grasp, while they go on and on about side issues that don't even have anything to do with the book rightly understood.
This New York Times bestseller, though written as a work of fiction, it is clear that Cahn believes his nine harbingers are truly a pronouncement of impending judgment against the United States. At the beginning of the book it says, "What you are about to read is presented in the form of a story, but what is contained within the story is real." If this was not clear from the book, it is made very clear when one views any number of the one-hour presentations of this material by Cahn on the internet's YouTube. There is even a two-hour DVD movie entitled: The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment[2] with Cahn. The question that any Bible-believing Christian should ask about The Harbinger is as follows: "Is this really a true message or revelation from God?"
It's a good sign that Thomas Ice appears to have actually read the book, seen the movie, and heard some of Jonathan Cahn's other presentations. So far so good.
Is America A Covenant Nation?

Rabbi Cahn begins his presentation by saying that there are only two nations in the history of the world who are in covenant relation with God. They are Israel and America. Israel is clearly in a direct covenant relationship with God . . . but America? "But there was one other-a civilization also conceived and dedicated to the will of God from its conception . . . America." Cahn continues, "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."[3]

Amazingly, the Jewish Christian Rabbi, Jonathan Cahn is advocating a form of replacement theology by presenting America as "a new Israel."
How is any "replacement" involved by merely speaking of TWO nations in covenant with God? What Ice quotes says America was "conceived and dedicated to the will of God from its conception." There is no equivalence in that with Israel's covenant with God implied here, merely a nation dedicated to God by godly men who wanted to model it after Israel as a nation under God's laws.

Again, why can't two nations be in covenant with God? The difference is obvious enough: God called Israel to be His own, and God Himself made the covenant with Israel. Nothing like that is implied for America by The Harbinger, but only that godly men sought to build a government on God's laws and dedicated it to God in hope of God's blessing their work. God can hardly fail to be pleased or to honor such an intention.
Israel and Israel alone is the Lord's only covenant nation. While there are a number of biblical passages that make it clear that the twelve tribes of Israel are God's lone covenant nation (Ex. 20:2; 34:27; Deut. 4:1, 6–8, 13, 20, 34, 37, 44; 7:6–8; 1 Kings 8:9), Psalm 147: 19–20 says, "He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the Lord!" Only once in history did God choose to make a covenant with a nation and it was Israel.
Context, context, context. There is nothing stopping others from desiring to be under God's rule and dedicating their work to God in covenant form. Initiated by men, not God Himself, but still an intention God would honor. Why not?
If Cahn somehow thinks that America is a covenant nation with God because our founders primarily during the Colonial Period were devout Christians, which they were, that does not mean that God recognizes such nations as being in a covenantal relationship like Israel. Things like the Mayflower Compact were not made with God but horizontally between the Pilgrims to honor God and do other things. No doubt, the 167 years of Colonial America provided perhaps the greatest Christian basis for any nation in history, but somehow making our country a "covenant nation" like Israel simply could not and did not happen.
I suspect if Jonathan Cahn had any idea of the hairsplitting denunciations that would come against him for his book he'd have more carefully chosen his wording, but even as it is it's hard to avoid the impression that the critics are bending over backwards to find fault where there is none.
Cahn compounds his error by citing 2 Chronicles 7:14 (one of the most abused verses in the Bible) as God's message to America for today in one of the closing chapters. "And My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." Cahn applies this passage to America, not Israel as in the biblical context when he says: "It's the call of God to a nation once dedicated to His purposes but now falling away from His will. It's the call of God to return."[4]
This represents T. Ice's own theology which he is imposing on Cahn. He's apparently an Israel-only dispensationalist same as Jimmy DeYoung and no doubt denies that it has always been the Church that is in covenant with God, that the Church has inherited the Abrahamic covenant, that it is the Church who are "My people who are called by My name." Not America but Christians including American Christians -- American nonChristians wouldn't know what to do with the command anyway. And we certainly ARE called by 2 Chronicles 7:14 to humble ourselves and pray for our nation wherever we are.
Only Israel is called by the Lord's name. In the surrounding context of this passage the phrase "Thy people Israel" is used seven times in chapters six and seven in 2 Chronicles. The Lord declares, "but I have chosen Jerusalem that My name might be there and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel" (6:6). You don't volunteer to be God's chosen people, He must choose you and He has only chosen the nation of Israel!
Yes, but the Church IS Israel. I know I'm courting the accusation of replacement theology by saying this, but I'm probably not speaking for Jonathan Cahn here anyway, but God HAS chosen the Church and always HAS chosen the Church, the true believers going back before Israel, the Remnant. The ELECT. The Messiah came for that Remnant, saves that Remnant, The Elect, not national Israel. Not America either, but the Church. It's the Church that has the responsibility to pray for America. And for Israel too for that matter, which even in its current apostate condition is scripturally slated to play a role in the last days, out of which many will be saved.
The Harbingers

What bothers me the most about this book is that Cahn, who appears to be a strongly committed Christian and zealous in his work for the Lord, is not zealous to protect and rightly handle the Scriptures. How can anyone take a passage that is clearly addressed to Israel (Isa. 9:10) and one that has already been fulfilled in history for Israel and say that it also applies in some way to America
There is only a single meaning to any passage in the entire canon of Scripture.
NONSENSE, BALDERDASH, POPPYCOCK. This is just Ice's own false dispensationalist theology that is not shared by MANY others of the Church.

Sometimes Old Testament passages have double references to begin with, referring to events in the prophet's own time AND to later fulfillment as well, such as in description of the Messiah when He came.

But beyond that, Christians have ALWAYS read the Old Testament to apply to ourselves and to our own times as guided by the Holy Spirit as we read.

And beyond that, Cahn did not even suggest anything BUT a single meaning to Isaiah 9:10 ANYWAY.
Yet, Rabbi Cahn claims that Isaiah 9:10 also is a prophecy about contemporary America.
HE DOES NOT! He has observed that God Himself brought elements of that verse into America in relation to 9/11 and has drawn the only reasonable conclusion from that fact that it is God Himself who is making a connection between that verse and America. NOT A CONNECTION THAT WAS THERE BEFORE but one that is obviously there NOW. Through the HARBINGERS God Himself brought about.
He admits that it was fulfilled in the past in relation to the Northern Kingdom by the invasion of the Assyrians.[5] But it is also a prophecy relating to contemporary America as a mystery that needs to be uncovered.
See above. There is NO implication in The Harbinger that Isaiah 9:10 applied to anything but Israel when it was written, and not even an implication that it contains some hidden implication for America either. AGAIN, it is the fact that the harbingers that reflect that verse have appeared in reality in America in connection with 9/11 that now ESTABLISHES the implication that God is NOW talking to America through that verse.

Seems to me this ought to be obvious and it's hard to explain why it isn't obvious to some.
Cahn claims that when the mystery is unraveled, the same pattern of judgment that happened two and a half thousand years ago will be repeated upon America.
Well, yes, of course, it's the OBVIOUS conclusion to be drawn from the APPEARANCE OF THE HARBINGERS.
"The Nine Harbingers that manifested in ancient Israel in the nation's last days," explains Cahn, "Each one was a sign. Each one was a warning of judgment . . . of their end . . . the Nine Harbingers of judgment."[6]

For Cahn, these nine harbingers are something he says is revealed to be for America.
Yes, this is obvious to anyone who isn't shackled with some sort of theological / eschatological preconception that is as good as wearing blinders.  
[7] Thus, he is under the delusion that some kind of revelation from God to him has taken place via the warnings of American judgment.
No, not "via" the warnings. The warnings are implicit in the fact that these harbingers have occurred in America that so uncannily reflect Isaiah 9:10. If you can't see the harbingers it is you who are under delusion.
Yet, it is somehow linked with Isaiah 9:10 and a series of interesting events that have taken place in conjunction with the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City during 9/11 and various events and statements by important people since that event.. Since America was called to be "a vessel of redemption, an instrument of God's purposes, a light to the world,"[8] and was no longer performing that role, God is giving her a warning of impending judgment upon our nation in the form of the nine harbingers of Isaiah 9:10.
Yes, that's how Cahn explains the fact that the harbingers were given to America, but that's getting the cart before the horse. The fact is that the harbingers are simply THERE, brought about as a result of 9/11, however they are to be explained. You have to address THAT FACT FIRST, the fact that they are THERE, they exist, you can point to them, there are pictures of them or you can take pictures of them yourself or in the case of the speeches hear them or read them over the internet.
The first is a breach in the wall, which means that at 9/11 America's divine protection no longer was in place.[9] Second, the terrorist represents America invading Iraq that was in ancient times the location of Assyria that invaded Israel in the eight century b.c.[10] Third, the fallen bricks speak of the nation not repenting, but becoming arrogant and saying they will build the ruins back stronger and better than at the first.[11] Fourth, the tower represents the leaders not repenting and desiring to rebuild the towers even higher than before.[12] Fifth, the Gazit Stone tells of the foundations and the huge "Freedom Stone" at Ground Zero.[13] Sixth, the sycamore tree is symbolic of the uprooting of the nation through judgment.[14] Seventh, the Erez tree is a tree of hope and pictures a stubborn nation's failure to repent and turn to God.[15] Eight, the utterance of actual judgment upon America.[16] Ninth, the prophecy of judgment reiterated upon America, but she can repent if she heeds the warning of 2 Chronicles 7:14.[17]
Yeah, that's a decent enough summary if oddly enough worded to suggest he doesn't really get it. (The erez tree is NOT a tree of hope, for instance, merely falsely called that by those who dedicated it. The bricks don't speak of the nation not repenting, the intention to rebuild with stronger materials is what speaks of that, and so on) Obviously he doesn't get it and doesn't have any answers to it.

Many American Christians are falling for the message found in The Harbinger as if Isaiah himself had been resurrected and came to America and spoke it himself.
Oh my aching head.  The harbingers were not put in place by Isaiah, they could only have been put in place by God. This again is what the critics keep refusing to think about. God made Isaiah's words come to material reality in America. Isaiah had nothing to do with it. The average reader gets it where the critics keep missing it.
Many might say, "What could be wrong with a message from any source telling America to repent?" Surely a majority of Americans do need to repent, but if we believe it on the basis of someone claiming to speak on an authority equal with the Bible, then we have fallen for a false authority.
Aaargh, gag, ack. JONATHAN CAHN HAS NOT CLAIMED TO SPEAK ON AN AUTHORITY EQUAL WITH THE BIBLE. He has merely POINTED OUT something that was done BY GOD that IMPLIES that GOD HIMSELF is calling us to repentance as He brings judgment on the nation.

Also, THE NATION ITSELF needs to repent. The nation has put laws in place that defy God, that violate God's laws. It would take repentance BY THE NATION'S LEADERS to push back God's judgment if that's even still possible, although the churches could go a long way to preserving the nation by heeding this call without the leaders' participation.
Besides, Paul has already told American and every human on the planet to repent in Acts 17:30–31. "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
That being the case, you nevertheless have to account for why God Himself brought all these harbingers into America as if He Himself is calling us to be aware of His intention to bring judgment against America and he Himself is calling us to repent.  
If we start giving heed to those who claim to speak for the Lord, especially those who twist Scripture in the process, more and more people will come out with wacko books and mislead even more people.
Sorry, I'm losing it here. This is sheer idiocy. Why can't these people read?

Cahn is reporting on things that GOD DID. God is doing this, not Cahn. God gave Cahn the ability and the mission to RECOGNIZE the harbingers and to SHOW them to us, that's all.
Many are talking today about God judging America and He surely could do that in a dramatic way, but the focus of Paul, even two thousand years ago was on the fact that God has already fixed a day on His calendar when He will judge the world for unbelief. Yes, America is deserving of judgment but so is the entire world. Could anyone name a nation in the world today that does not deserve God's judgment?
It is God who brought about the harbingers, it is God who apparently wants to say something through them specifically to America.  
I cannot and I doubt that you can name one either. Bible prophecy appears to indicate that this world is moving toward global judgment where America and all the Christ-rejecting nations will join the Antichrist's team in revolt against our Lord God Almighty, whom Christ will destroy with the breath of His mouth at the second coming when He will set up a righteous rule through His redeemed people Israel. Maranatha!
That's all true enough but it has nothing to do with the message of The Harbinger.  So you need to talk to God about this. Ask Him why He brought these harbingers to us.  

[1] Jonathan Cahn, The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds The Secret of America's Future (Lake Mary, FL: FrontLine, 2011), 262 pages.
[2] Jonathan Cahn, The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment: Is There an Ancient Mystery that Foretells America's Future? DVD. Directed by George Escobar, 2012. 120 minutes.
[3] Cahn, The Harbinger, p. 19.
[4] Cahn, The Harbinger, p. 222.
[5] Cahn, The Harbinger, pp. 16–18.
[6] Cahn, The Harbinger, p. 23.
[7] Cahn, The Harbinger, p. 23.
[8] Cahn, The Harbinger, p. 19.
[9] Cahn, The Harbinger, pp. 25–33.
[10] Cahn, The Harbinger, pp. 34–42.
[11] Cahn, The Harbinger, pp. 51–56.
[12] Cahn, The Harbinger, pp. 57–67.
[13] Cahn, The Harbinger, pp. 68–77.
[14] Cahn, The Harbinger, pp. 78–86.
[15] Cahn, The Harbinger, pp. 87–98.
[16] Cahn, The Harbinger, pp. 99–113.
[17] Cahn, The Harbinger, pp. 114–144.

1 comment:

Irv said...

For insights into "Dr." Ice, whose PhD came from an unaccredited school, Google "Be careful in polemics (Peripatetic Learning)," "Walvoord Melts Ice," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" and "Pretrib Rapture Pride."