I’m not much of a fiction reader. I don’t know why.
It’s all the more reason that when someone passes a novel to me and says it really is a “must-read,” I pay attention.
So it was with Jonathan Cahn’s “The Harbinger.” Even the title intrigued me. From childhood, I’ve loved mysteries. Cahn’s effort is loaded with intrigue, and it’s about the Bible!
Cahn spotlights nine warnings – harbingers, he calls them – that preceded ancient Israel’s troubles and says they are a modern-day warning to the United States. He has chosen the narrative style to promote this idea, and it wins, in my opinion. He presents a compelling case for warning this country, and does it against the backdrop of age-old mysteries and prophecies.
Early on, Cahn’s protagonist (Nouriel) encounters a mysterious prophet, who helps him interpret the meaning of a series of ancient seals. Each seal is a harbinger, a warning of what’s to come. The pattern that befell ancient Israel parallels that of modern America.
As Nouriel learns early on from his mysterious visitor:
“The First Harbinger,” he said, holding the seal level with my eyes. “The Breach. The nation that had long known blessing and security witnesses the failure of its defenses. Its walls of protection are broken through, its national security is breached, and its illusion of invincibility shattered. The days of the Harbingers begin.”
The mysterious stranger makes it clear to Nouriel that America today is so like ancient Israel that God allows the hedge of protection to be taken away. Just as the Israelites moved away from God and corrupted themselves, so has the world’s last superpower degraded itself with prayer being taken out of schools, abortion as a scourge and an absence of holy living.
Cahn’s fast-paced narrative and dialogue read like a film script. The novel will no doubt appeal to believers and skeptics alike, all who sense something is terribly amiss in our world.
As Nouriel’s mysterious visitor gives him access to more clay seals, the increasingly troubled seeker desperately tries to understand the message behind the seals, the harbingers. He studies the artifacts of civilizations in a museum, and realizes the images on the second seal match those of monuments from the Assyrian period; that fearsome nation was among the most brutal conquerors in antiquity, and were the first to devastate the apostate Israelites, in the eighth century B.C.
This second harbinger – terrorism – is embodied by the Assyrians, whom Nouriel’s visitor says are the forerunners of today’s terrorists. Hence, the parallels between eras. Interestingly, Cahn’s premise is spot-on, as the horrors that befell the Israelites are indeed sweeping over America. Just as the Assyrians practiced cruel terrorist methods, so do America’s enemies, who are relentless.
And that’s just the second harbinger!
Throughout “The Harbinger,” Cahn provides riveting detail (the whole book reminded me of the fast-paced “National Treasure” movies, starring Nicholas Cage), such as during the discussion of America’s recession and economic troubles. For example, Wall Street in New York was so named because early Dutch traders built a wall on the island to keep out menacing Indians and pirates. This kind of small detail is sprinkled everywhere, and makes Cahn’s premise not only believable, but quite likely. In fact, in Chapter 17 – “The Mystery of the Shemitah” – the parallels between ancient prophecies and the collapse of Wall Street in recent years will send chills down your spine.
Americans often like to quote 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Yet it somehow has the feel of a greeting card sentiment. No doubt many are sincere when reciting this verse, yet in “The Harbinger,” Cahn’s message is that one key ingredient is missing:
“Yes,” said the prophet, “the crux of the matter – repentance. With all the talk of God blessing America in the wake of 9/11, the great missing factor was repentance. Without that, everything else is null and void. America must face the magnitude of its moral and spiritual descent, the degrading of its culture … to the multitude of its idols … to its fall into ever deeper immoralities.”
Repentance. The focus on that critical component of national redemption is perhaps the most important thing Jonathan Cahn brings to our attention in his sensational new novel. In an age when many of America’s pastors and churches emphasize “easy believism,” “The Harbinger” chillingly reveals to us what our nation’s fate will be – unless there is repentance.