The Harbinger: Jonathan Cahn Responds To T.A McMahon

By Jonathan Cahn

I have been blessed by the service provided by various discernment ministries such as that of T.A. McMahon.  But in reading McMahon’s: The Harbinger-A Matter of Critical Discernment, I am reminded of the downside – the dangers that such ministries easily fall into:  namely, the tendency to attack that which is of the Lord just as readily and just as erroneously as others accept that which is not, the tendency to come against anything that appears to be outside one’s theological box, and the error of thinking that one is doing God and His kingdom a favor by enthusiastically firing rounds of ammunition at His own troops.


Beside the Point, But…


I’m glad T.A. McMahon finds The Harbinger to be a “clarion call” “sincere” and “one with which all Christians might agree.”   As for the comments regarding style, dialogue, wanting more development of characters, more drama, etc., I guess I should feel honored to get an artistic review from  him, but the purpose of The Harbinger is not entertainment, but to give warning.  Nor does it strive after any genre but has been generally seen as being of its own unique nature.  As narratives are used throughout the Bible to convey truth, The Harbinger’s narrative is similarly and simply, a vessel to convey the mysteries and the warning.  McMahon is entitled to his preferences in style, but one only has to look at and beyond to see that most readers in America strongly disagree and describe The Harbinger in such terms as “riveting,” “spellbinding,” and have been unable to put it down, many, and in many reviews, have called it the best book they ever read outside of the Bible.  As far as its story or narrative part is concerned, hardly a week has gone by where I haven’t received an offer that it be made into a motion picture.  But all this, of course, is very much beside the point and the message which will now be addressed.

The Larger Picture

What would be missed if one only read McMahon’s article is that The Harbinger has not only become a national bestseller, it has also been endorsed, praised, and hailed by born again believers across America, from every background from Evangelical, Baptist, Charismatic, etc. including pastors, Bible teachers, seminary professors, Bible scholars, experts in biblical hermeneutics.  If The Harbinger were really as McMahon believes, it would not be so strongly endorsed and hailed by so many solid Bible expositors with expertise in biblical hermeneutics, which has to be admitted, is much greater and deeper than his own.  His objections, I would suggest, arise out of a very major fundamental error, misperception, and confusion about what The Harbinger is actually saying.

Central Confusion #1: What The Harbinger Does and Does Not Say

The central criticisms in the review is that  1)The Harbinger presents as definitive fact that the United States as a nation in covenant with God and 2) That everything else in the book depends on this assertion.   The short and simple answer is:  The Harbinger never declares that America is in covenant with God   It does note that America’s founders did believe this, did consecrate it to God, and did establish the nation after the pattern of ancient Israel.  This becomes of note in view of America’s following in the same pattern of Israel’s apostasy and, now, in the appearing of the signs and warnings of its judgment as revealed in The Harbinger – Thus God can use that pattern to speak to such a nation.  But even if The Harbinger had asserted the idea as fact, which it does not, none of the mysteries or revelations within the book are dependent on any such premise.   Thus this central charge is groundless.

Central Confusion #2:  What The Harbinger Explicitly Does Say


The review’s other criticisms concern the Scriptures and biblical signs of judgment revealed in the book.  The one set of criticisms argues that things like Isaiah 9:10 and the Shemitah were about and for ancient Israel and not America.   The problem is this: The Harbinger says the very same thing.  This is one of the review’s fundamental misunderstandings.  The Harbinger never says that Isaiah was prophesying of America, or that the Shemitah was for America, etc. etc.  What it does say is very different – namely that this ancient pattern of judgment is now recurring in America, and in a stunningly precise way – and that God is able to use such patterns and signs to warn America, a nation in rapid moral spiritual apostasy and in danger of judgment.  In fact the distinction is very clearly stated in the book in the very same chapter (The Oracle) wherein the Scripture first appears:

“So what does all this have to do with America?”

“The prophecy, in its context, concerned ancient Israel.

   But now, as a sign, it concerns America.”

This is light years removed from the first assertion.  And all its resulting and dependent arguments (Isaiah is not speaking of America, the Shemitah applies to Israel, etc) entirely miss the point.  Thus, this second fundamental assertion is as groundless as the first.

Ancient Assyrians in Lower Manhattan

The article’s other set of criticisms falls along the lines of taking issue with the harbingers or warning signs, themselves, on the basis that there are differences with their manifestation and the original text.  By such logic, taken to its conclusion, one could only accept the validity of the connections revealed in The Harbinger if, on 9/11, America were attacked by ancient Assyrians, if the Twin Towers were made Middle Eastern clay brick, and if American leaders responded to the attack speaking perfect ancient Hebrew. 

The problem here follows the previous confusion – The Harbinger is not presenting these signs as being the contextual fulfillments of prophecy, but as signs of warning and judgment.  The hermeneutics of Isaiah in context to ancient Israel are consistently upheld. Thus the issues raised and measures employed in McMahon’s article are, in the first case, misunderstood, and in the second, misapplied.  The question is not whether what is happening in America comprises the contextual fulfillment of prophecy, but rather whether God can use and is, in fact, using the same biblical patterns and progressions of judgment and the same biblical signs of warning as given to ancient Israel to now warn America.  

If one wants to attempt to dissect or deconstruct them, just as anti-missionaries do with the claims of Jesus as Messiah, and as critics of the Bible do with Scripture, one may attempt to do so as McMahon attempts to do with The Harbinger (i.e. 9/11 wasn’t as bad as the first Assyrian attack, should it be singular or plural, etc.) - my job though is to sound the warning.  But while it’s been brought – some clarifications: The figure of the tower is neither essential nor required by the message, but simply stands as a symbol for the nation’s campaign to rebuild stronger than before the attack (a reality not in dispute and which matches the ancient case).  And, yes, the tree that was planted at the corner of Ground Zero does actually and absolutely constitute a Hebrew Erez, and it’s the exact same word used in the ancient scripture.  It should also be noted that the message doesn’t depend on any one manifestation of signs.  It is rather that all the harbingers cited, and the progression, have in one form or another manifested.  Even the article, with all its criticism, concedes, by default, that the similarities exist.

Washington, Solomon, & Caiaphas

McMahon charges that to see a connection between Washington and Solomon and to speak of the prayers offered up on America’s inaugural day as a consecration is near blasphemy on the grounds of Washington’s non-Christian connections.  This again misses the point.  When the Gospel records that a prophetic word came through the mouth of Caiaphas, it wasn’t about Caiaphas, but about the word spoken.  Neither is it about Washington - but about what took place on America’s seminal day.  The fact remains that on America’s first day as a fully-formed nation, its first government gathered in prayer to consecrate its future to God – and did so on a most significant ground of earth.  

Attacking The Publisher

As to the criticisms of the book’s publisher (Frontline, CharismaMedia), I don’t believe this has any place, much less, significance in such a review – except to illustrate one of the dangers present in some discernment ministries, namely that of guilt by association combined with broad-stroke deligitimization.  The fact is, The Harbinger could have been published by any number of publishers, and most publishers put out a wide variety of books which some or many will find objectionable.  But it was the Lord who brought The Harbinger to Frontline of CharismaMedia.  What is disparaged in a few strokes of the computer keys is a Christian publishing house made up of men and women who though, no more perfect than the critic, love the Lord and seek to fulfill His purposes with sincerity of heart.  (The Harbinger was actually brought to Frontline in an extremely dramatic, far more than natural, and “out of the box” way - something I’d be more than happy to share at any time).  

What Did Not Appear In McMahon’s Article

Arguments may often obscure more than they reveal.  Not that a reviewer can cover everything, but the reader of such a review would have little or no idea of the central facts contained in The Harbinger.  These include the fact that the very Scripture that binds together all these harbingers, the verse that foreshadows national judgment, and the vow that was proclaimed by Israel after its first warning of judgment was actually proclaimed in America on the very day after 9/11, by the Senate Majority leader on Capitol Hill – word for word.   

Nor would the reader begin to have an idea of the magnitude of what’s involved in The Mystery of the Shemitah.  I do appreciate that McMahon notes: “Granted, the author does raise an intriguing date phenomenon” – But the reality behind this allusion is far greater than what is suggested – including the fact that the greatest financial collapse in American history happened to take place on the one day given in the Bible on which a nation’s financial accounts were wiped away – not just once – but twice – and seven Hebrew years apart, the exact time period ordained in the Bible for this to transpire – down to the exact biblical day.   The work of one analyst who did a statistical study of the chances of just these two occurrences, and using the most conservative of criteria, it to come out to, at the very least, one in a million, three hundred and sixty one thousand, eight hundred and eighty-nine.

These, of course, are only examples and a small part of the revelations contained within The Harbinger, more than enough to warrant any reader’s attention.  What The Harbinger presents are of the most critical nature concerning a nation and those within that nation - that the reader would a great disservice to himself or herself to depend on what people say about it but must read and decide for him or herself.

The Final Question

McMahon is certainly entitled to his opinions, but I believe his approach and stance with regard to The Harbinger represents a low point in his ministry, and will only have the effect of sowing confusion, misperceptions, and division in the body with regard to the sounding of a critical alarm.  At the same time, I have no doubt that the message of The Harbinger will continue to go forth and continue to produce what is now, in fact, actually bringing forth - repentance, salvation, and revival. 

Thus a final question: 

What if God were to sound warning to America of judgment? What might such a warning sound like? 

Believers, pastors, ministers, Bible expositors, and Christian leaders across this land believe it would sound identical to The Harbinger – and that the warning is, in fact,  is sounding.  

Let the one who has ears to hear - hear.