Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper became the latest U.S. official to utter the words familiar to readers of the bestselling book, "The Harbinger," and the bestselling faith movie, "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment," following a man-made or natural disaster.
"We're going to come back and rebuild better than it was before," he said Saturday, not exactly controversial or surprising remarks given the magnitude and scope of Colorado's floods and mudslides, which have stranded entire towns.
Six people have been confirmed dead since the flash floods began Wednesday. Hundreds of others have not been heard from in the flood zone, which has grown to cover an area roughly the size of the state of Connecticut. Authorities expect to find more bodies as rescue workers continue operations.
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But the words of the governor remind readers of the book and viewers of the film of the reaction of ancient Israel in Isaiah 9:10 to a limited judgment of the nation, which refused to return to God and instead relied on its own power to rebuild. Jonathan Cahn, the author of "The Harbinger" and the storyteller in "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment," says it's a pattern that followed the attack on America on Sept. 11, 2001, and has been a recurrent theme for U.S. leaders ever since.
Both to book and film present a series of remarkable parallels between the judgment of ancient Israel and events impacting America since 9/11.
In January 2012, "The Harbinger" skyrocketed to the top of the New York Times bestsellers list and stayed there by suggesting America is following in the defiant footsteps of ancient Israel as recorded in Isaiah 9:10 instead of considering what God was trying to tell the country through the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, 2001.
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Isaiah records that Israel had known God and yet turned away from Him. Following a devastating attack by Assyria, rather than returning to God, the leaders declared "with pride and arrogance of heart" a defiant pledge: "The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: The sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars" (Isaiah 9:10 KJV).
"The Harbinger" reveals the startling reality that beginning the day after 9/11, several American leaders began repeating that 2,500-year-old vow, word for word, in speeches in the Capitol. In the film, "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment," viewers get to see and hear the actual speeches.
In March 2012, WND Films released "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment" as a documentary follow-up to Cahn's stunning research revealing the eerie parallels between the reaction of ancient Israel and the national leaders in the U.S. It quickly became the No. 1 faith video in America and has remained in that spot throughout 2013.
In the aftermath of 9/11, there were repeated calls by political leaders, businessmen and media personalities to respond to the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center by building taller and grander – following in the footsteps of ancient Israel as recorded in Isaiah 9:10, as Cahn wrote in "The Harbinger."
Most notably, the very next day, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle delivered an address to a joint session of Congress in which he actually cited and quoted Isaiah 9:10 – explaining, "That is what we will do. We will rebuild."
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"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 gives as just one example. "It was the reenactment of an ancient mystery – and bore the most grave of consequences."
On the fourth anniversary of 9/11, Sen. John Edwards, a candidate for vice president at the time, delivered a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus, framing his entire address around Isaiah 9:10.
Later, in his first State of the Union Address, Barack Obama framed his speech around the theme: "We will rebuild. We will recover."
Not mentioned in the book or "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment" is that President George Bush also hit on the "we will rebuild" theme just nine days after the attack in a joint session of Congress.
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"As a symbol of America's resolve, my administration will work with Congress and these two leaders to show the world that we will rebuild New York City," he said.
So what? It seems like a natural reaction of public officials.
But the point of the book and movie is that America is re-enacting an ancient drama played out thousands of years ago when Israel's leaders did not repent and turn back to God after a limited strike on the land. Instead, their words are recorded in Isaiah 9:10, proclaiming they would simply rebuild bigger and better. The result was eventually the destruction of the nation.
Cahn recalls the "We will rebuild" comments repeated "like a mantra after 9/11."
"And the subsequent policies that embodied these words would end up leading to the second shaking, the economic collapse," he added.
Both the book and the documentary present a series of remarkable parallels between the judgment of ancient Israel and events impacting America since 9/11.
"The fall of ancient Israel hung on an ancient vow made by its leaders in the wake of God's first warning of national judgment, which came in the form of an enemy strike," explains Cahn. "The vow, found in Isaiah 9:10, is the key to the nine harbingers of judgment that foreshadowed the nation's destruction. 'The Harbinger' reveals how these same nine harbingers of a nation under judgment are now reappearing on American soil. Key in this reappearance is the phenomenon of leaders uttering the ancient vow in one form or another. Sometimes the vow occurs in an eerily precise form, as in Tom Daschle's public declaration before the U.S. Congress on the day after 9/11, when he recited the judgment vow word for word. Other times it appears in summary form – a voicing of the vow's central phrase, 'We will rebuild.' In the days after 9/11, one finds American leaders voicing these three central words, again and again and again, almost as a mantra. One of those who uttered them was the president of the United States, George Bush."
Cahn continues: "The significance is that President Bush would lead the nation in attempting to undo the effects of 9/11. In itself, there would be nothing wrong with that. The problem is that a nation in defiance of God cannot solve its underlying spiritual problem with political or economic or military solutions. Israel tried to do this in its first stages of judgment. But all its efforts to rebuild and come back stronger would backfire. So America's campaign would involve two foreign wars, vast expenditures of money in the War on Terror and several economic initiatives to lift the American economy. But all of these campaigns would also backfire in some way and ultimately lead up to the collapse of the American economy. It all began on the day after 9/11 with the full uttering of the ancient vow on Capitol Hill by Tom Daschle, which was then echoed by a host of American leaders."
What is catching the eye and ear of those who have read "The Harbinger" and viewed "The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment" is the familiarity of the remarks to those that reverberate throughout the bestselling book and movie and how they echo the words of the leaders of ancient Israel before that nation was judged and destroyed.
First it was New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said at the site of Ground Zero: "This is the Ground Zero site. This is a monument to human capacity and human endurance. And this is New Yorkers' way of saying, 'We're not going to give up.' We're going to come back, and we will. This city will rebuild and the state will rebuild, and I believe will be the better for it."
It was a message all-too-familiar from U.S., state and city leaders in the wake of the 9/11 attack: "We will rebuild. We will come back stronger."
It continued in the words of some officials in the wake of Sandy's flooding of New York and New Jersey – including by the governor of New York speaking on network television from Ground Zero.
But Cuomo has hardly been alone in repeating those words.
Here's what Toms River, N.J., City Councilman Jeff Carr said: "While our community, and certainly the barrier island communities, may never be the same, we will rebuild and we will be better."
Here's what New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "Recovering from it won't be easy, but by working together, we will recover and we will rebuild our city stronger than ever."
Here's what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said: "We'll rebuild it. No question in my mind, we'll rebuild it."
Cahn 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," says Cahn.
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."
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.