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The Harbinger, A Review

“The devil is in the details,” goes the saying. 

The Harbinger, a book by Jonathan Cahn introduces and connects many details to paint a picture of Divine judgment on America Biblically foretold and actually in progress since 9-11.  Although on the surface the book’s case may appear sound, closer examination of the details proves otherwise.  The book The Harbinger:  Fact or Fiction by David James dissects The Harbinger chapter by chapter, event by event, point by point, and highlights many factual and logical errors in Jonathan Cahn’s book.  In reality, Jonathan Cahn’s harbingers are little more than misrepresentation or misinterpretation of Biblical and historical facts, carefully selected and tailored to suit the author’s premise.  The devil is indeed in the details, and that’s why all is not as it looks!  A more extensive review follows:

When I first picked up and began reading The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn, I was mesmerized and captivated by the message.  The book resonated with a strong inner feeling that something was wrong in America, that somehow we had lost our way, that we have departed from the nation’s founding principles; and that today’s chain of events is leading the nation to some sort of Divinely orchestrated catastrophe.

The book somehow managed to capture the unease I felt.  It added concreteness to my unease by weaving today’s events into a Biblical context.  It provided a seemingly coherent explanation for much of today’s outwardly inexplicable events.  And thus it captured my attention, as it did the attention of 700,000 other readers.  It resonated with something deep within me, as it did with 70,000 other readers.

But when I had finished reading the book, I felt a certain sense of unease.  I kept wondering, “Does the book accurately reflect the truth, or not?”  It certainly had the trappings of truth, but was it really true?  …or was it another false prophecy like ones we’ve seen of late?

I was unsure.  If true, it would be worth sharing with friends.  If not, an alarm must be sounded. I could not tell without further research; there were so many pieces to this puzzle I was unsure where to start and how to proceed.

Before proceeding, let me briefly summarize the premise of The Harbinger.  The author, Jonathan Cahn, is a Messianic Jewish Rabbi from New Jersey who claims to have received a prophetic revelation from God.  The revelation states that the fate of Israel’s northern kingdom, Ephraim, is a model for what is happening or about to happen to America today.  According to Rabbi Cahn, both nations had a special relationship with God and both turned away.  Israel (Ephraim) was warned by the prophets to turn back to God and repent, or face impending doom.  Ephraim ignored the warnings; consequently God judged and destroyed the nation through the Assyrians.

Jonathan Cahn specifically focuses on the words of Isaiah in Isa 9:10-11 as the source of warning for America:

“The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.”
But the LORD raises the adversaries of Rezin against him, and stirs up his enemies.

According to the book, these exact same prophetic words and warnings directly apply to America as well:  We had better get right with God and repent, or face Divine judgment and destruction at the hands of our enemies.

The book further asserts that the process of judgment has already begun, as is evident from a series of recent signs and prophetic fulfillments consistent with these verses.  9-11 was the opening event of this series of foreordained happenings leading to national judgment.

The Harbinger purports to be a fictional work, but the fictional construct is used intentionally to deliver a “real” prophetic word from God and deal with current events in the context of such “real” prophecy.  The book delivers a strong message leaving the impression of clear reality instead of obvious fiction.  Therefore the big unresolved question remained in my mind:

“Does The Harbinger paint an accurate assessment of Isaiah’s prophecy, truthfully present current events, and correctly interpret those events from a Biblical perspective?” 

My initial inclination was to give the author the benefit of the doubt, especially in light of all the positive comments the book has received.  But that alone is unacceptable and woefully inadequate.  So I searched the internet and found a book that appeared to provide an unbiased assessment of The Harbinger.  Perhaps, I thought to myself, that book will provide the facts necessary to discern the truth. Even if it is somewhat hostile, I figured one should be able to discern the truth.  So I ordered a copy of The Harbinger:  Fact or Fiction? by David James.

I honestly expected David James to present a few esoteric, theological counter-arguments; perhaps some personal attacks as well; but no refutation of historical events referenced in The Harbinger.  I fully expected to easily rebut unwarranted criticism and reaffirm my initial favorable position regarding The Harbinger.

Instead, I received a 200 page book that dissects The Harbinger chapter by chapter, event by event, point by point.  David James provides a methodical, logical, Biblical and historical analysis of The Harbinger.  He focuses on facts and generally shies away from matters of opinion, interpretation, or perception.  His objections are too many to list here – certainly many more than I expected!  David James points out many instances of Biblical misrepresentation and misinterpretation, erroneous presentation of historical facts, and illogical conclusions.  The problems are simply too many to discount and impossible to ignore, rebut, or justify.  And the misrepresentation of historical facts is simply unacceptable.

But even if one could provide reasonable explanations for most of the cited problems, there is cause for serious concern:  Based on Scripture and Creation, we know with certainty that our LORD God is the God of truth and precision.  Therefore one expects meticulous adherence to full, truthful representation of all facts and Biblical passages in any work dealing with God’s character and judgment.  This requirement is especially true for a book claiming prophetic dimensions such as The Harbinger.

The requirement remains unmet.  The cited examples of erroneous or misleading representation of fact[1] in The Harbinger even appear to form a pattern of intentional deceit!  Thus The Harbinger simply cannot be accepted at face value as a prophetic book.  It is simply another false prophecy like ones we’ve seen of late!

The following quotations from David James[2] best summarize The Harbinger:

Jonathan Cahn’s intention is for “The Harbinger” to be a powerful wake-up call for America – a call to repent from her rapid descent into the depths of sin and turn to God as her only hope of avoiding His imminent judgment. …  Whatever else may be problematic concerning the rest of the book, he is absolutely correct in his assessment that America is in serious spiritual trouble. …  His message is timely, given everything that is going on in the United States.

…  the real problem arises from the way he has tried to achieve his goals.

… The manipulation of both biblical and historical evidence reveals a sensational “connect-the-dots” approach to understanding and linking the prophetic Word of God and current events.  A pattern of both overstating his case and misleading the reader through a very selective use of facts and figures quickly emerges as “The Harbinger’s” foundation.

… When everything is considered, it seems very clear to those who have been critical of “The Harbinger” that the book is not a prophetic message from God and needs to be rejected in spite of its call to repentance.  On the other hand, “The Harbinger’s” proponents believe that God has uniquely used Jonathan Cahn to write this book “for such as time as this” and that in spite of whatever flaws it may have, its message needs to be embraced wholeheartedly.

… “The Harbinger” clearly does not meet the requirements for a word from God. …  It claims that God has done things that He hasn’t done and that He has revealed things that are demonstrably not true.

All is  not as it looks – because the devil really is in the details!


The Harbinger
The Harbinger:  Fact or Fiction


[1] Four simple examples follow:

  • Sixth Harbinger, The Sycamore:  Cahn draws a close parallel between the sycamore of Israel and the sycamore of America.  In reality there is no such parallel, as the Israeli sycamore is a fruit bearing tree and the American sycamore is not.  The two trees are not even closely related!
  • Seventh Harbinger, The Erez tree:  Cahn claims that the Norway Spruce planted at Ground Zero is the equivalent to the cedars of Lebanon ancient Israel intended to plant.  In fact, there is no Biblical or scientific connection between the two types of trees.
  • The Shemitah:  Through the Law of Moses God required Israel to observe a Shemitah year once every seven years.  All debts are to be cancelled in that year.  This law applied only to Israel.  Cahn suggests that America, too, is subject to the Shemitah although there is no scriptural basis for the claim.  He incorrectly cites a number of financial events to support his argument.  For example, he incorrectly claims that the stock market crash of 2008 wiped away all the debts of the previous seven years; he misleadingly claims that the stock market crash of Sept. 29, 2008, was the largest in history (it was in absolute number of points, but did not even rank in the top 10 in percentage – a more accurate measure); and he arbitrarily picks Sept. 11, 2008, for Lehman Brothers’ collapse (which started Sept. 9 and concluded in bankruptcy on Sept. 15) to demonstrate an exact 7 year cycle starting with Sept. 11, 2001.
  • The Mystery of Sevens:  Cahn claims that God’s signature on economic events is made evident through the number 7 in multiple places.  One of these is the stock market crash of 2008 which Cahn claimed to have dropped by 777 points in one day.  The problem is that it didn’t drop 777 points as claimed; it dropped 777.68 points.  777 ≠ 777.68.  And 777.68 doesn’t even round to 777, but rounds to 778!  Significant?  Yes, just ask a stock trader.  Significant?  Absolutely, because it’s “fudging” the truth, and God does not do that, nor does He condone it.

[2] Selections from Chapter 18, Final Thoughts

Categories: Review, Science and Faith
  1. April Gardner
    September 8, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Cahn demonstrates he is arrogant by placing God’s signature (Aleph Tav) at the beginning of every chapter in his book. No one should put God’s signature on anything.

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