NEW YORK – The New York Stock Exchange has never been the same after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, the biblical "beginning of sorrows," according to those who have read Jonathan Cahn's "The Harbinger," the bestselling Christian book in America in 2012, or viewed "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment," the No. 1 faith movie of the year.
So when the New York Stock Exchange was sold this week to an upstart commodity and derivatives exchange called Intercontinental, prophecy buffs saw yet another "harbinger" of America's economic decline as described in the movie and the book.
On Dec. 20, the Atlanta-based Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) announced the purchase of the NYSE, ending what USA today called "a storied 220-year reign over financial markets."
The New York Times reported: "It was the temple of commerce, the symbol of New York's status as the nation's – and for many decades, the world's – financial center."
In all the stories about the big financial development, histories of the NYSE were written like obituaries – tracing the start of the exchange back to the 18th century "Buttonwood Agreement."
Few of those stories, however, mentioned why the agreement was called "Buttonwood."
It's because the early traders met under a buttonwood tree.
Buttonwood is another name for sycamore, a tree prominently mentioned in Isaiah 9:10 – the key verse to interpreting how America has been under judgment since 9/11, according to Cahn and Joseph Farah, WND's founder and producer of the movie.
"Oh, how the mighty have fallen," said Farah. "Who would have predicted back in the heyday of the New York Stock Exchange prior to 9/11 that we would witness the two biggest crashes of the stock market and finally its sale this week."
Said Cahn, "One of the mysteries in 'The Harbinger' and 'The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment' is called The Uprooted. It reveals a dynamic of national judgment, the exposing of foundations. In the days of judgment, the foundations of a nation's power are laid bare. The foundations of America's financial superpower began in the 1790s with a secret meeting of New York’s leading merchants. The meeting led to a covenant they all signed together on Wall Street – the Buttonwood Agreement. This was the beginning of Wall Street as we know it and the foundation of America's financial world power.
"The agreement created the Buttonwood Association. The Buttonwood Association was later renamed, The New York Stock Exchange. Why was it called 'Buttonwood?' Buttonwood was the name of the tree that grew on Wall Street and under which the agreement was signed. What kind of tree? The sycamore. In other words, the symbol and sign of America's rise to financial power is the sycamore tree. And another name for Wall Street is 'Buttonwood' or 'Sycamore,'" he said.
Farah and Cahn see a pattern here – a pattern that began on 9/11 and continues to shake and shape the future of America.
It's a pattern of defiance expressed by Americans and their leaders at a warning from God – repeating the words and the fate of ancient Israel before its final destruction.
"On Sept. 11, 2001, the sign of the sycamore reappeared in lower Manhattan as a steel beam from the falling North Tower struck down a tree – the sycamore. This uprooted tree was later made into a bronze statue. The statue was put on display, not at Ground Zero, but on another street – Wall Street. Thus on the same street where America's rise to financial superpower began under the sign of a living sycamore, there now stands a symbol of a dead sycamore, an uprooted sycamore. So if America's rise was symbolized by a living sycamore, what does the sign of an uprooted sycamore portend? In the days of a nation's judgment, the foundations of its power are laid bare," Cahn explained.
"The sign of the sycamore also appears in the Scripture Isaiah 9:10, the key verse of The Harbinger – where it stands for national judgment," he said.
"When I first shared the first part of the mystery of 'The Harbinger' in 2005, I spoke of the collapse of Wall Street. Three years later, Wall Street collapsed. Now, at the end of 2012, the sycamore has fallen again. After two centuries, that which was founded under the sycamore of Wall Street, the rise of America's financial power, has now come to an end. Even the New York Times is speaking of the sycamore tree," he said.
"The sycamore has fallen. Of what does that portend?"
As Cahn, author of "The Harbinger" and the inspiration behind "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment," explains, one of the harbingers of judgment is the defiance of leaders toward God and their emphasis on "rebuilding" versus repentance and the idea of coming back stronger and better without any thought to what God is trying to convey through catastrophes.
"What we see is defiance, not repentance. A number of years ago, as I was standing at the edge of Ground Zero in New York City, I came across the first puzzle piece of an ancient biblical mystery and a prophetic message known as 'The Harbinger' that concerns the future of America," explains Cahn, who helped write and narrate the two-hour documentary "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment."
Cahn says he has since found nine harbingers that tie the problems America has experienced beginning Sept. 11, 2001, with parallels that led to the destruction of ancient Israel.
"Before God judges a nation, He sends warning," explains Cahn. "He sent warning to ancient Israel. He even allowed its enemies to breach its borders in a devastating strike that would traumatize the nation. It was a wake-up call, the call to return to God. But the nation responded with defiance. God then gave nine harbingers of judgment, nine prophetic signs, alarms and foreshadows of what was to come. Now America is the nation in rapid departure from God's will. And God likewise allowed an enemy to breach its borders in a devastating strike – the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It was, likewise, a wake-up call. But America, like Israel, has not responded with repentance, but with defiance. And now the nine harbingers of judgment have reappeared and have done so on American soil."
Isaiah 9:10 is a verse in which Israel's national leaders utter a vow of defiance following an attack by Assyria. It declared that the nation would not repent before God, but would defy Him instead. Cahn reveals in "The Harbinger" – and in even more dramatic fashion in the video – that beginning the day after Sept. 11, 2001, American leaders began repeating that 2,500-year-old vow, word for word.
"Having no idea what he was doing, the majority leader of the U.S. Senate (Tom Daschle) was declaring America as under the judgment of God," Cahn says. "It was the reenactment of an ancient mystery – and bore the most grave of consequences."
He continues: "According to the ancient mystery revealed in the Book of Isaiah, if after that first calamity and warning, the nation doesn't return to God but responds in defiance, it will end up triggering a second calamity. It was because of this ancient key, that, seven years after 9/11, the American economy collapsed. In the days after 9/11, the Federal Reserve slashed the base interest rate in an attempt to defy the consequences of the attacks. That action put us on the path leading to the collapse of the American economy seven years later. In 2008, the government made a second fatal mistake, another ill-fated financial decision, that would trigger the collapse of the American economy. Amazingly, it took place on the seventh anniversary of the uttering of the ancient vow on Capitol Hill."
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 Joseph Farah, who produced "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment," as a follow-up to "The Harbinger."
The key to decoding the harbingers, Cahn says, is found in understanding the seemingly innocuous words of Isaiah 9:10, what it meant to Israel and how the history seems to be repeating itself in America today.
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."
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.
Later, in his first State of the Union Address in 2009, Obama hearkened back to the same theme. Then New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo – right back at the site of the original attack – repeated the theme.
In "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment," viewers get to see these remarkable, largely forgotten or overlooked speeches, which directly link the events of 9/11 and the events referred to in Isaiah 9:10.
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 and the shockwaves that followed, including two economic crashes?
The DVD 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. "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."
See the trailer: