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Book Reviews

The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn (Lake Mary, Florida: Frontline, 2011), pp. 144, e-book, $10.00.

The Harbinger is one of the hottest selling books today.  It is a quasi-fictional story reminiscent of novels such as The Da Vinci Code or The Shack.  Each of these books involves mystery and intrigue, and has a serious message that the authors want to convey.  Dan Brown, in The Da Vinci Code, wanted to cast doubt on the Christian message and interject the teaching of ancient Gnosticism.  The Shack portrays a new-age, unconditionally accepting view of God which promotes universalism.  The Harbinger is warning America that God’s judgment is imminent unless the country repents and turns to the Lord and that very soon.  The need for repentance and true dedication to Christ in our society is not doubted by most Christians.  America, as a whole, has rejected the Lord, ignored His ways, and rebelled against His sovereign rule.  That we ultimately reap what we sow is a biblical concept that is not going to be repealed for the United States and Cahn’s basic theme is well worth considering.  If the book is read merely as a novel warning our country to wake up spiritually it has value, but the author makes immediately clear that “what is contained within the story is real” (p. 7).  In other words Cahn believes that God pronounced exacting judgment on America and that judgment is found in Scripture.

Isaiah 9:10-11 is the specific text of Scripture that frames The Harbinger.  In context Isaiah 9:1-7 is one of the clearest prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the coming of the Messiah, both His first and second comings.  This is followed by a warning of coming judgment on Israel because of its arrogance and rebelliousness (9:8-21).  We know from subsequent revelation and from history that God’s judgment did fall on Israel just as the prophecy promised.

So far so good.  But then Cahn determines that Isaiah 9:10-11 contains a hidden second prophecy directed not to ancient Israel but to modern America.  At this point the author massages Scripture and current events in an attempt to prove that God’s judgment on the United States has been hiding in these verses from the day they were given by Isaiah, but have now been unlocked by the careful investigation of Cahn.  Nothing could be further from the truth and, even more importantly, once someone decides they can cherry-pick verses at will, change the meaning of these texts to fit his theories and use random hermeneutical methods, anything can be “proven.”

Bottomline: The Harbinger is a semi-interesting novel that exposes the pride and sinfulness of America and God’s distain for such rebelliousness.  But the novel does not in reality discover a mysterious Old Testament prophecy about America.  Read as fiction with an important point, the book has value.  Read as a prophecy, it is dangerous.