By Jan Markell
I need to apologize. I founded and direct an organization that could be called a Christian discernment ministry. We contend for the faith as we are instructed to do in the book of Jude. We’re busy. Doctrine is askew today. False teachers are plentiful. Wolves are slinking around the sheep and devouring them. We try to discern the times, and we even name the names of those who, in our perception, are in error.
Every such outfit tries to do these things in a balanced way. Well, some do and, come to think of it, too many do not. We try to remember that reputations are at stake. Criticisms can quickly turn into character assassinations. Human nature seems to love to tear down rather than build up, so discernment is a balancing act. To be honest, if self-control isn’t exercised, “discerning” can become a blood sport. Some who tear down seem to build themselves up in their own eyes and the whole process becomes addictive.
So why am I apologizing? Some in the discernment crowd are having a field day over something that may be God’s final warning to America. It may even be a final warning to individuals to get right with God. It’s a wake-up call to the church. I am referring to Jonathan Cahn’s book “The Harbinger” and the related film produced by Joseph Farah, “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment.”
If you haven’t read the book or viewed the DVD, Cahn takes nine warnings to ancient Israel and uses them as a signal to America. Israel was warned. America is being warned. Israel shook a fist at God, and America may follow suit – but some, like Cahn, are trying to stop the train wreck.
What is it about a warning that stirs controversy? Jonathan Cahn is not marching up and down Main Street wearing a sandwich board that says, “Repent, America.” He has connected some very mysterious dots on a map that started on 9/11. Each dot is a harbinger. They make perfect sense. The Ark door is going to be slammed shut again. God wants none to perish. It says in the book of Daniel that some mysteries would be sealed up until the end and then they would be revealed. Could the “Harbinger” message be one of them? I think so.
But to the hypercritical and some modern-day Pharisees, Cahn’s hermeneutics aren’t quite right. He hasn’t fully dotted every “I” and crossed every “T,” they claim. Additionally, the message of “The Harbinger” is unique enough that it doesn’t fit into the way God usually does things. Imagine that. God outside of a box! To be honest, I’d prefer God in a box, too, but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that He just doesn’t always work that way! He is creative.
John the Revelator had to deal with this. Imagine the poor guy stuck on an island trying to connect the dots of the vision he was given. It was a classic case of “Lord, choose somebody else!” But there was no Internet back then so that critics could jump on board and accuse John of bad hermeneutics. Lucky for him. They would have had a field day, because to this day they are having a field day over the book of Revelation! For centuries scholarly old men have laughed at the profound words in the last book of the Bible and brushed aside its warnings. Some have said through the ages that it is too complicated, too mysterious. We must leave it alone. We leave it alone at our own peril.
Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jew, is a 21st century John or Jeremiah but in the right sense! He is not some out-of-order “prophet.” He got stuck with unraveling a code given to him by God. Cahn himself calls it, “mind-blowing.” Then Ishmael and Isaac meet as Joseph Farah, of Arab heritage, who enters the scene to produce one of the most brilliant films you will ever see, giving the visual effect to further the “Harbinger” message. Wait! This union just might be of God.
So I apologize for those “discerning ministries” who have concluded that what just might be a somber final call for individuals and America is out of bounds. They call Cahn’s book and the companion DVD “inane,” “preposterous,” “fallacious,” “blasphemy,” a “lying prophecy,” and much more! One critic denigrates Cahn’s character with a derogatory reference to his Jewish chutzpah. What I’m reading and hearing from these older scholarly wonks is that they don’t get it that this is a Jewish thing for such a time as this.
I have one more issue: Not one of these men who are criticizing – and may I say even bashing – made the slightest effort to contact Cahn and dialogue with him. And in that they run in a discernment crowd, Matthew 18 just must be on their mind now and then! How quickly we forget. Shoot first – follow protocol second!
And that’s why what some discernment outfits do is blood sport. For that I apologize. Profusely. I am ashamed. I don’t want to be known more for what I attack than what I build up. This has taught me a lesson for which I am deeply appreciative. As a representative of the “discernment community,” I apologize to Cahn and Farah for what is flying around right now. How, when and why did repentance become controversial? It’s such a simple theme. It’s the theme of the Bible from the opening verse to the last verse.
Forgive us, guys. Some folks are entering the Ark because of your work. Many will be eternally thankful.
Jan Markell heads Olive Tree Ministries out of the Twin Cities. She hosts a syndicated radio program, “Understanding the Times,” heard on 540 radio outlets. The ministry hosts the largest apologetics’ conference in America. To learn more, visit www.olivetreeviews.org.