In the wake of the Boston marathon bombing and the media drawing comparisons between this attack and the attacks of 9/11, it’s logical to think again about Jonathan Cahn’s book, The Harbinger. In his book, Mr. Cahn, a Messianic Jew, compares ancient Israel and its eventual destruction with modern America. He does this within the context of Isaiah 9:10, which states:
“The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.” – Isaiah 9:10
Mr. Cahn believes that America, like ancient Israel, has received nine signs, or harbingers. While these signs don’t seal our fate, they definitely do send us down a path toward destruction. This fate can be averted at any time simply (or not so simply) by Americans turning back to God, putting Him back into both our lives and our society in general.
Let’s quickly review an abridged form of the nine harbingers from his book:
The First Harbinger is the breach. God briefly removed the hedge of protection over Israel to allow an attack on them. In the case of America, for Mr. Cahn this is represented by the terrorist attack of 9/11 on the twin towers in New York City, when our hedge of protection was dropped just long enough for devastation to occur.
The Second Harbinger is the terrorist. In the case of ancient Israel, this was manifested in the Assyrians that attacked them. For America, this is represented by the terrorist group Al Qaeda; they are believed to be descendants of the Assyrians and have been tied to the attacks on 9/11.
The Third Harbinger is the brick(s). For ancient Israel, this represents the buildings that have fallen from the terrorist attack, including the bricks. This is paralleled by the twin towers falling in 2001, and specifically by the bricks that were left in the ruins around Ground Zero.
The Fourth Harbinger is the tower. In Isaiah, this takes the form of Israel deciding to build bigger and better buildings with hewn stones in defiance of God. Likewise, in America Mr. Cahn notes that our response was to immediately say we should build bigger and taller towers where the twin towers once stood.
The Fifth Harbinger is the Gazit stone. A Gazit stone is a stone that is carved out into a rectangular shape; the Israelites obtained these stones from a local mountain. In America, we did the same thing when we carved 20 tons of Adirondack granite from the mountains in New York to create the Freedom Stone, which is the cornerstone of the new development at Ground Zero.
The Sixth Harbinger is the sycamore tree. In ancient Israel, the Assyrians not only destroyed the buildings, but also the land and the trees, specifically mentioning that they cut down the sycamore trees. In the attacks on New York City, as scarce as trees were, one tree that was destroyed was indeed a sycamore. This tree became known as “The Sycamore of Ground Zero”.
The Seventh Harbinger is the erez tree. In ancient Israel, as the vow states, they replaced the sycamore trees with erez/cedar trees. The same thing happened at Ground Zero in New York, where a Biblical erez tree was planted in the same spot as “The Sycamore of Ground Zero.”
The Eighth Harbinger is the utterance. This is the vow of defiance that Israel’s leaders uttered in their capital city in response to the attack, though sometime later after rebuilding had begun (Isaiah 9:10). In America, this happened in our capital, Washington D.C., on 9/11/2004, when Senator John Edwards read Isaiah 9:10 on the anniversary of the attack after some rebuilding had begun.
The Ninth Harbinger is the prophecy. This is the vow (Isaiah 9:10) again spoken in the nation’s capital, but it has to be done as a prophecy foretelling what would happen. On 9/12/2001 (the day after the tragedy) Tom Daschle (Senate Majority Leader) gave the nation’s response to the attack, and he read Isaiah 9:10 that foretold that we would rebuild with hewn stone and replace the fallen sycamore trees with cedar, all of which we did actually do at a later time (so the speech did foretell the future).
The harbingers are ominous, and they should certainly cause all of us to stop and think, but we should also consider some additional thought as it relates specifically to Isaiah 9:10 and our beliefs as Christians. In fact, let’s back it up a bit and look at Isaiah 9:6 and 7, which state:
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6
“Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” – Isaiah 9:7
This is a messianic prophecy where we are being told about what will happen when the messiah comes to Earth. Of course, Jesus did come to Earth, but far after ancient Israel was destroyed. For us, this is quite significant, as the harbingers/signs that were delivered to ancient Israel came before the messiah was born, lived and died to save us from our sins and bring us eternal salvation.
As a society, we (Americans) have gone out of our way to remove God from our government, businesses, schools and many aspects of daily life. This certainly cannot be pleasing to God, but we can be certain that through Jesus we have a much greater opportunity to be forgiven without large sacrifices (at least not the kind of sacrifices ancient Israel was subject to).
So we can rebuild and grow stronger, not in defiance of God, but in concert with him and by following the example set by his son, Jesus. The foundation that we should build upon is Christ, the solid rock. As we rebuild (or expand) our selves, our families and our communities through his love and teachings, we can reach new heights and enjoy his blessings knowing that through Jesus we can and will be saved.