September 27th, 2019
Harbinger falls short of epiphany
THURS. | 05-13-21 | OPINION
Over Spring Break, I took the opportunity to pick up a book for the first time in years. I had told myself that I wanted to get through at least one and so I found myself searching through my grandmother’s old dusty wooden bookshelf for something to catch my eye. Quickly, the cover of Jonathan Cahn’s The Harbinger stood out among the others with its bright red lettering and apocalyptic skyline in the background, and so I decided to bring it home as my book of choice.
Released in 2011, Cahn’s book makes parallels between ancient Israel and modern-day America by discussing God’s role in both countries. Classified under Christian Fiction, the story uses real events to navigate a fictional world centered around Nouriel, a blogger who is approached by a prophet who reveals the nine Harbingers, derived from the verse Isaiah 9:10 [“The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with dressed stone; The fig trees have been felled, but we will plant cedars in their place.”] to him over a period of months. Somehow, Jonathan Cahn had managed to write nearly 300 pages centered around a single verse which creates the entirety of his argument. Although fictional, Cahn intended the book to be a revelation to a dying country with the hopes of centering the nation back towards God’s light.
The Harbingers were classified as messages sent to the people of Israel in their final days and were connected to a series of events that took place following the invasion of Assyria in 732 B.C. Throughout the book, Cahn draws eerie connections between both the Assyrian invasion of Israel and the 9/11 attacks. Supposably, the attacks during 9/11 were used by God to signal to America that we had deserted Him and ultimately removed Him from public life, similar to the path that the Israelis took
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before their final days. Cahn uses the outline of the Harbingers, comprised of nine separate entities (The Breach, The Terrorist, The Fallen Bricks, The Tower, The Gazit Stone, The Sycamore, The Erez Tree, The Utterance and The Prophecy) to draw frighteningly similar occurrences between the two nations with the hope of persuading his audience to seek God in their lives. While the book overall provides a powerful message and one that should be taken to heart, the manner in which it was delivered left much to be desired.
In his journey to write The Harbinger, Cahn makes the biggest argumentative fallacy known. Correlation does not equal causation. It is for this very reason that this book must be taken with a grain of salt. The connections made are nonetheless creepy, down to the planting of a cedar tree in the place of a fallen fig tree on the grass next to WTC 1, prophesied by Isaiah 9:10— “The fig trees have felled, But we will plant cedars in their place.” However, this does not excuse the lack of concrete evidence that is presented throughout. While the events that took place in the aftermath of 9/11 follow similar patterns to the events that took place after the invasion of Israel, to claim that this is definitive evidence would be absurd.
At times, the book seemed to drone on, repeating words and phrases over and over again in order to reinforce concepts and ideas. While at times this was useful in revealing information that had occurred earlier in the book, often pages and phrases could become very similar to each other which made getting through certain conversations they had much more difficult. Cahn uses a writing style that aims to highlight Nouriel’s curiosity and understanding by creating conversations where after the prophet speaks, Nouriel repeats everything that was just spoken. Unfortunately, this led to conversations that sounded closer to a child locked in an echo chamber than they did theological revelations.
Overall, The Harbinger does however make for a good read. Despite the weak correlation argument, Cahn does write a compelling piece that makes you question the role of God in your own life. I would say it’s worth the read, but be sure to take it with a grain of salt rather than read it as testimony.