There must be very clear similarities, of course, so that the connection between the contemporary circumstances and the passage of scripture is inescapable, but it is equivalence as defined by the different circumstances that makes for the necessary similarity, and as I argue in a recent post, the harbingers that occurred in America are really perfect in that respect as they are the best 21st Century American equivalent in each case of the event in ancient Israel.
But James objects to the hewn stone or Gazit Stone on another ground as well.
He starts with the usual ridiculous requirement that the new skyscraper must be BUILT WITH hewn stones, that the single twenty-ton quarried cornerstone
has the feeling of yet another stretch in the author's attempt to demonstrate a parallel that simply doesn't exist. In Isaiah's prophecy, it is clear that in place of clay bricks being the primary buiding material, hewn stone would be used. However, the new Freedom Tower was never to be build with stone any more than the original structures were built with bricks [p. 95].This is New York City 2001, Mr. James, you aren't going to build skyscrapers with clay bricks or hewn stones. Does the lack of a correspondence between their methods and ours mean God can't talk to us at all through Isaiah 9:10? Funny, the attitude expressed in that verse so perfectly describes America's after 9/11 it seems a shame to tell us that we can't heed its so specific description and warning of judgment because skyscrapers aren't built with bricks and stones.
And then too, it is already amazing that the WTC rubble was described as looking like a pile of bricks and that a quarried stone was brought in to be the start of the rebuilding, actually part of the new structure. Both those facts tie 9/11 to Isaiah 9:10 quite well really, and the wonderful cultural equivalcnce between the trees and the even more wonderful fact of the speeches quoting that verse really seal the deal.
But he even goes on to suggest that the fact that the cornerstone didn't get used after all somehow makes it even less of a harbinger. Kind of totally misses the point, I'd say, as the mere fact that it was intended for the purpose and dedicated for the purpose -- with a speech said over it and all -- makes it even more of a harbinger than if it had been used, because it shows that God wanted it to be in the picture here, wanted us to notice it, record it.
And Isaiah 9:10 is not about actually rebulding, it's about the INTENTION to rebuild, that's the attitude of defiance itself right there. Even if nothing is built at all this defiant intention to do so is the whole point, it's what the harbingers point us back to. That's the function of the harbingers, to show us our own defiance just as it is described in that verse, and show it to us in an unforgettable way.
That verse would describe America's attitude even if there were nothing that could have been called a pile of bricks or a hewn stone nor any trees involved at all in the destruction of the WTC, but the fact that there were, and such literal equivalences too, really ought to show God's hand in making this connection to even the most skeptical. The parallel is there without all the signs and harbingers, but with them it ought to be a really LOUD wake-up call even to the hard-of-hearing.
However, I'll agree with James that Cahn's explanation that the removal of the cornerstone was part of the judgment isn't a very effective answer. I've given my own which I think is better: the mere bringing in of the stone is the necessary equivalence with Isaiah 9:10, as it expresses the intention to rebuild as described in the verse, and it's something only God could have done.
Then James goes on to object to Cahn's way of dramatizing the hewn stone as The Gazit Stone with capitals, which he says would lead the average reader to
assume that a "Gazit Stone" was a specially named ceremonial stone that was laid when Israel embarked on a building project [p. 96].I agree that this way of describing it assigns a special quality to it but I don't see that it does so for Israel, although it does for America, where since it is one gigantic quarried stone it seems to deserve the special designation. This is just Cahn's love of dramatization taking over here, and I don't see it as a problem myself.
...[A]ncient Israel did not lay a 'Gazit Stone.' They built or rebuilt with gazit -- it was simply the building material.True, but nothing he quoted from The Harbinger suggests that Israel used this specially designated stone, only America, and in America where it was a single gigantic symbolic stone it seems appropriate enough to me to give it that special ceremonial title.
It is simply not a harbingersays James.
Why, because Cahn gave it a noble title befitting its noble role? It's a quarried stone. The parallel with the quarried stones of Isaiah 9:10 sure occurs to some of us, if not David James, and that's what makes it a harbinger. For some of us at least. If you spend all your time making the visible invisible and the material nonexistent I guess you'll have to do without the signs from God.