WASHINGTON – Jonathan Cahn, the No. 1 bestselling Christian author in America in 2012, is under attack.
But the attacks aren't coming from secularists who decry his warnings that America is in danger of judgment like ancient Israel when it defied God's commandments.
Rather, the continuous and vehement assaults come from fellow Christians who claim it is inappropriate for him to be promoting "The Harbinger" and the No. 1 faith film in the country, "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment," on Christian radio and TV programs with which the critics have theological problems.
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Ironically, the same critics don't have any problems with his appearances on non-Christian programs to offer the same message.
In a column in WND today, Cahn answers those sometimes harsh criticisms that suggest endorsement of the interviewers beliefs are implicit in such appearances.
"With the success of 'The Harbinger' and 'The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment' movie, I've appeared on many interviews programs, well over a hundred in a short time," Cahn wrote. "I've been asked what I think about some in the body, specifically some 'discernment' ministers who preach that many such interview programs should be off limits for believers."
Cahn's response: "It comes down to this: If a believer appears on an interview program, whether Christian or secular, whether with a controversial or 'questionable' host or not, does this mean that the one being interviewed is necessarily in agreement with the person, the program or the station conducting the interview? And does it mean that one is necessarily in agreement with other guests who have appeared or may appear on the host's program?"
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"The answer is, in a nutshell is very simple: Absolutely not," he continues. "When Billy Graham appeared on 'The Tonight Show,' did it mean that he was endorsing the views or lifestyle or the divorces of Johnny Carson? Or did it mean that Johnny Carson was endorsing the views or Christian lifestyle of Billy Graham? When Jerry Falwell appeared on '60 Minutes,' did that mean he was endorsing the views of Mike Wallace or CBS News – or that they were endorsing him? Of course not. No such understanding exists that a person being interviewed is in any way in agreement with the person or platform or program or organization responsible for doing the interviewing, whether Christian or secular – much less in agreement with the other guests who may have appeared or who may appear on that person's broadcast."
It might seem obvious. Yet the attacks continue – day after day, week after week.
Joseph Farah, producer of "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment" and founder of WND, chalks up the relentless criticisms to two factors.
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"Cahn is a new-found celebrity in Christian circles, and I detect a certain degree of envy from others," he said. "In addition, I strongly believe some of the critics believe they will get noticed by going after a high-profile Christian book and movie and the man behind it. Both of those motives are sinful by definition. They are trying to hold Jonathan Cahn to a standard no one in history – Christian or secular – has ever been held to since Jesus Himself was accused by the Pharisees of supping with sinners and tax collectors."
"Even more confusing, the same ones who preach that a believer can't be interviewed on a Christian or religious program with which they disagree argue that it's fine to be interviewed on a secular program," Cahn writes.
"In other words, we can't be interviewed by a Christian brother who loves the Lord but believes God speaks to him in dreams, but to be interviewed by a secular host who is living in gross immorality, who hates God, and whose show or station is devoted to mocking God, endorsing every kind of perversity, and committing blasphemy – is fine.
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"Don't get me wrong – I'm for bringing the light into every dark place we can bring it into – but these standards are arbitrarily conceived and enforced. And even by such standards, if that Christian brother is off and his audience is not grounded, than all the more important that I be able to help bring a word to them which is grounded and is of repentance."
In any case, Cahn is not changing his approach.
"In the meantime, inasmuch as I am given a platform on the walls on which to sound the trumpet, I will do my best to do so, in every place and to every soul I can," he writes.
And meantime, the book and movie continue to reach more and more people.
Since its release in March of this year, the film treatment of Cahn's message in the No. 1 bestselling Christian book of 2012, "The Harbinger," has been the bestselling faith movie or TV show in the country. It has held the No. 1 position on the Amazon charts for 20 straight weeks, as well as remaining among the top five or six documentaries of any kind during that same period.
"It's a remarkable story you won't read in the Hollywood Reporter or Variety, or, I'm afraid, in any Christian publications, either, for that matter," said Farah. "For whatever reason, the success of 'The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment' is still a well-guarded secret surrounded by multimillion-dollar productions and film distribution deals. And it’s getting bigger every day."
What's the compelling subject matter that has driven the sales?
The movie, like the book, suggests America is being chastened by God for turning away from His ways with striking and eerie parallels to the way ancient Israel was judged.
Both the book and the movie show the uncanny parallels between events prior to the dispersion of Israel and events taking place in the U.S. today. In fact, the events continue to unfold even after the release of the book and movie. But the book and the movie tell the story in very different ways.
"The Harbinger" is listed officially as a work of fiction, because of the narrative format, including fictional characters. "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment" is a documentary chronicle of real events – most of which Americans have no idea ever took place, even though they witnessed some of them.
The events have all taken place since Sept. 11, 2001, and they all connect to one obscure verse in the Bible – Isaiah 9:10.
"The ancient vow begins with these words: 'The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with hewn stone,'" explains Cahn. "The vow declares Israel's defiance of God, in the face of a devastating strike on the land. The hewn stone, which begins the rebuilding, symbolizes the nation's intention to come back stronger than before. The book then reveals the parallel to proclamations by Barack Obama in his first State of the Union message, then Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle the day after 9/11 to a joint session of Congress and former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards on the third anniversary of 9/11."
Cahn also reveals in "The Harbinger" and "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment" something that readers and viewers universally find astonishing – that New York's Ground Zero actually represents more than the former financial center of the country. It represents the exact place at which America was first consecrated to God in prayer by the country's new leaders.
"When judgment came to Israel, the calamity returned the people's attention to the place where the nation had been consecrated to God – the Temple Mount," says Cahn. "God was calling the nation back to Himself. What about 9/11? Could there be, in the American calamity, as well, a mystery of return? Could there be a prophetic message hidden in the place where it happened? There is a place where America was consecrated to God in prayer. It is also a place linked to a prophetic warning given on that same day – uttered by the nation's first president – now coming to pass."
In 1789, newly inaugurated President George Washington gave a prophetic warning at Federal Hall in New York City. He declared that America's prosperity and protection were dependent upon its adherence to God. Later, the political leaders of the young nation gathered at St. Paul's Chapel to commit the nation's future to God’s purposes. That chapel is located at Ground Zero and miraculously survived 9/11 virtually unscathed.
Cahn, the pastor of the Jerusalem Center-Beth Israel Congregation in Wayne, N.J., says America is uncannily re-enacting ancient Israel's behavior prior to its judgment and eventual fall. He found a sympathetic ear for his message in WND founder Farah, who produced "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment," as a follow-up to "The Harbinger."
"I had a chance to hear Jonathan Cahn's message last fall," said Farah. "Then I had an opportunity to read an early manuscript of 'The Harbinger' before it was released in January. I was determined to produce this video documentary, 'The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,' because I believe its message is the most important one for Americans at this moment in history. In fact, I believe this project may be the most important one of my life. That's how strongly I feel about it."
The key to decoding the harbingers, Cahn says, is found in understanding the seemingly innocuous words of Isaiah 9:10 (King James Version) what it meant to Israel and how the history seems to be repeating itself in America today: "The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: The sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars."
These words were first uttered by leaders in Israel and in response to a limited strike by Assyria on the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali – an attack the prophet makes clear is actually part of a limited judgment by God against apostasy. It wasn't meant to destroy the nation, but to awaken it, according to most commentaries.
But, says Cahn, Israel didn't take the cue. Instead, the response from the people in Isaiah 9:10 is one of defiance. The brick buildings were toppled, but they vowed to build bigger and better. The little sycamore trees may have been uprooted, but they vowed to plant bigger and better cedars in their place.
God, speaking through Isaiah, explains what will happen as a result of their pride and arrogance and failure to heed the harbinger: Bigger and more potent attacks will follow. Because neither the northern kingdom of Israel nor the southern kingdom of Judah truly repents, the first is eventually swept away by Assyrian invaders and the latter is carried off into captivity by the Babylonians for 70 years.
But what does this have to do with the United States of America – particularly what the U.S. experienced on 9/11 and since? Cahn has found some eerie parallels.
"In the aftermath of the attack, the nation was stunned," said Cahn. "Everyone was trying to make sense of what had happened – this unprecedented attack on America. The very next day, Sept. 12, then Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle presented America's response to the world. And what did he say?"
Daschle said: "America will emerge from this tragedy as we have emerged from all adversity – united and strong. Nothing … nothing can replace the losses of those who have suffered. I know there is only the smallest measure of inspiration that can be taken from this devastation. But there is a passage in the Bible from Isaiah that speaks to all of us at times like this."
Incredibly, he then went on to read Isaiah 9:10.
"Daschle has no idea what he is doing here," explains Cahn. "He thinks he's offering comforting words to a grief-stricken people, but he is actually embracing the spiritually defiant and arrogant words of the children of Israel, proclaiming the ancient and ominous vow of the leaders of that nation. He doesn't realize it, but he is actually inviting more judgment on the nation."
It might be of some significance that Daschle, one of the most powerful men in the nation when he spoke those words, later fell into disgrace – to the point where he couldn't even serve in Barack Obama’s Cabinet.
That might have been the end of the story – if no other top leader in the nation uttered those strange and obscure words after 9/11. But that's not the case.
On the third anniversary of the attack, Sept. 11, 2004, another powerful U.S. senator running for vice president that year and who would famously run for the presidency four years later, gave a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus.
This time, John Edwards' entire speech was built on a foundation of Isaiah 9:10:
"Today, on this day of remembrance and mourning, we have the Lord's Word to get us through," he said. He then read Isaiah 9:10. He went on to talk about how America was doing just that – rebuilding with hewn stone and planting cedars.
"Like Daschle, Edwards thinks he's invoking inspirational and comforting words from the Bible, but he's actually inviting judgment on America," says Cahn. "He's repeating the vow that provoked God to bring calamity on ancient Israel."
Even more astonishing, Daschle and Edwards were not alone among U.S. leaders in making similar statements, as "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment" shows.
But aside from such statements, which could be chalked up to political talk and coincidences, is there anything else linking Isaiah 9:10 to 9/11?
The video documentary, like the book, is full of shocking parallels. There was actually a very famous sycamore tree felled in the attack on the World Trade Center. It was replaced by trees in the same genus as the cedar. There have been many plans made to rebuild the twin towers bigger and better and a large "hewn stone" was actually quarried out of the Adirondack Mountains in New York and brought to Ground Zero as a cornerstone.
"The parallels are truly stunning," says Farah, founder of WND. "In fact, they are overwhelming in their number and their exactitude. I am persuaded God is trying to tell America something and Rabbi Cahn has found the key to unlocking the message."
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