In Dr. Thomas Ice’s “A Critical Look At The Harbinger” he states that Jonathan Cahn “appears to be a strongly committed Christian and zealous in his work for the Lord.” This mention is appreciated and is an example of civility and respect which is not always so apparent in some of the attacks launched against The Harbinger in recent days. It is also one of the few parts of the article I can agree with. But before going onto that, I want to return the recognition to note that I believe Ice is also a strongly committed believer, sincere, and zealous for the Lord and for His coming. I don’t know a lot about his work, but I’m sure I would respect it. We are all on the same side in seeking to advance the Lord’s kingdom in light of His return. But sincere believers and teachers can also misunderstand, misperceive, and make major errors in their assessments. This is the case here as it has been with a number of others.
COVENANTS & QUOTES THAT ARE NEVER THERE
Ice begins by stating:
Rabbi Cahn begins his presentation by saying that there are only two nations in the history of the world who are in covenant relation with God. They are Israel and America.”
This charge represents the foundation of Ice’s critique. It was the same charge that represents the foundation of T.A.McMahon’s attack in The Berean Call and the writer, David James. It only has one problem – It’s false. It is telling that with such claims being made, no one ever cites a quote that actually shows The Harbinger actually saying this. The reason is simple – It never does. The quote doesn’t exist. Rather, Ice’s assumption, and that of some others, are based on passages in The Harbinger along different lines:
“Israel was unique among nations in that it was conceived and dedicated at its foundation for the purposes of God…But there was one other—a civilization also conceived and dedicated to the will of God from its conception, America.”
Being “conceived and dedicated to God’s purposes” at its foundation is one thing. Being “in covenant relation with God” is something quite entirely else. If I dedicate my car to God and to the fulfilling of God’s purposes, does that mean my car is now in covenant with God? Of course not. Further, what is stated in The Harbinger on this point concerns to the actions of man, not God. A little further on, Ice states that regardless of what America’s Puritan founders did,
it does not mean that God recognizes such nations as being in a covenantal relationship like Israel.
I agree. The only problem is The Harbinger never claims that God recognizes America as being in a covenantal relationship like Israel. In fact, I would go farther than that. The Harbinger never states that America is in any covenantal relationship with God, whether like Israel or not like Israel. So what is the assumption based on? Ice writes:
“’Cahn continues, “Those who laid America’s foundations saw it as a new Israel, an Israel of the New World. And as with ancient Israel, they saw it as in covenant with God.’”
I’ve seen this quoted as the proof text that The Harbinger is declaring that America is in covenant with God, but note what the quote is actually saying.
“Those who laid America’s foundations saw it as a new Israel, an Israel of the New World. And as with ancient Israel, they saw it as in covenant with God.”
Seeking to establish a new nation after the pattern of Israel doesn’t make that new nation become Israel. And seeing a nation in covenant with God, doesn’t make a nation in covenant with God – certainly not from God’s end. I’ve actually heard two of those who have attacked The Harbinger say over the airwaves that the above statement is dangerous. Amazing. The above statement isn’t even a doctrinal one. It’s American History 101 – basic, foundational history. I would have expected discernment ministries to have the discernment to discern the distinction, rather than seeing historical statements as now being dangerous.
JEWISH CHRISTIAN SUPERCESSIONIST RABBIS
OR: HOW TO REPLACE MYSELF… WITH MYSELF
Ice goes on to write:
“Amazingly, the Jewish Christian Rabbi, Jonathan Cahn is advocating a form of replacement theology by presenting America as a “a new Israel.”
Yes that would be amazing – if it were actually true. But since it’s not, the only amazing thing is how such charges can be made. Why is there no quote cited from The Harbinger that actually says that God has replaced Israel? You guessed it – because it doesn’t exist. The Harbinger never says any such thing.
How could I possibly believe in replacement theology? As a Jewish believer, I’d have to replace myself… with myself! The congregation I lead is called Beth Israel. Our ministry headquarters is called the Jerusalem Center. We preach against replacement theology all the time. This charge and the fact that others have sought to use this as well gives the reader a little example of just how baseless the attacks against The Harbinger have been.
WHAT THE HARBINGER ACTUALLY DOES SAY ABOUT ALL THIS
The reason The Harbinger includes these historical statements concerning America’s establishment after the pattern of ancient Israel is that it forms a striking backdrop in view of what the book is about to reveal, that we are now experiencing the pattern of Israel’s warnings and judgment. The book does mention that in America’s striving after its founding Christian ideals, it has been blessed, just as righteousness exalts a nation. As to whether God has honored the dedication and consecration of its founders and, if so, to what degree, and in what matter, are left as open questions. And despite what Dr. Ice believes, the revelations presented in The Harbinger concerning the manifestation of the signs and patterns of ancient Israel’s last days exist independently of how one answers such questions.
Thus, this entire series of objections made against The Harbinger prove, in the end, to be as baseless and nonexistent as the quotes which are never quoted.
ISAIAH, AMERICA, & MORE NONEXISTENT QUOTES
Dr. Ice writes:
“Rabbi Cahn claims that Isaiah 9:10 also is a prophecy about contemporary America.
No, Rabbi Cahn does not. And this is another example of confusion and the resulting confused attacks concerning The Harbinger. I understand it, but it remains a mistake. The Harbinger certainly speaks of an ancient mystery that lies behind what is now happening in America. But the mystery is that of judgment and an ancient biblical template in which that judgment progresses. The resurfacing of these manifestations, the replaying of this progression, and the appearance of these specific signs as warnings of judgment, are light years removed from saying that Isaiah prophesied of them concerning America. Dr. Ice has confused it as have a number of his associates. So we must come to the question: Why is it that there isn’t one quote cited from all of the pages in The Harbinger, that simply says that Isaiah was prophesying of America? Yes, you guessed it again – because it doesn’t exist. The Harbinger never says that. And yet The Harbinger actually does state the distinction in the very first chapter that introduces the Scripture:
“The prophecy, in its context, concerned ancient Israel. But now, as a sign, it concerns America.”
The prophecy is given to Israel. But it forms a template and pattern through which God may bring judgment, and a progression of signs given to give warning.
‘IF MY PEOPLE’ – NO APPLICATION?
Cahn compounds his error by citing 2 Chronicles 7:14 (one of the most abused verses in the Bible) as God’s message to America
He then goes into a section to prove that the Scripture is given to Israel. The only error compounded here is that of assumption. Yes, we know the Scripture is about Israel. But without even getting into Ice’s assertion that Scriptures can only have one meaning – are we now saying that Scriptures can never be applied outside the borders of Israel? Or that God cannot speak to us through Scriptures which, in the Bible, concern others? How about “The Lord is my Shepherd,” or “I call you friends.” Of course He can. And the central point here is that God gives hope to a people who have turned away from him, that if they repent and seek His face, if they come before Him in prayer and turn from sin, He is there to hear from Heaven in compassion and mercy and to bring healing to a land. Many believers throughout the nation believe that this very word, is crucial for this hour – not because of any assertion that its context is America, but that its overall principles are both applicable and crucial for America’s future.
REPENT ANYWAY (JUST NOT BECAUSE OF THE HARBINGER)
As to “the delusion” that some kind of revelation has been given, nothing here is claimed except that God gives insight to all His children who are to both study the Scriptures and be aware concerning the signs of the time.
Ice adds that Americans do indeed need to repent, but we shouldn’t believe that on the basis of The Harbinger saying it. So Ice agrees with the overall call and thrust of The Harbinger but doesn’t want others to agree with it because The Harbinger is saying it. People should believe the need to repent because of the Bible. The Harbinger rather is giving what most people are calling a stunning and urgent revelation into the signs of the times. Should we be upset that people are getting the message about repentance? Or should we rejoice in it?
THE HARBINGER PHENOMENA
I’ve watched in amazement as The Harbinger has become a national phenomenon. Most are describing it’s revelations as stunning, mind-boggling, amazing. It has been endorsed and praised all across the evangelical world, from pastors, ministry leaders, Bible teachers (extending into theological seminaries, and departments of biblical hermeneutics and Old Testament studies), and believers of all denominations from Baptist to Charismatic, from Pat Boone to Pat Robertson. The fruit of The Harbinger’s message is that people across America are seeing the urgent need for repentance, and are repenting, and are coming to salvation, and are seeking God and praying fervently for this nation.
At the same time, I’ve been amazed as well to see a number of ministers come against it on completely erroneous and often mutually contradictory grounds. Strange also is the bizarre nature of many of these. That Dr. Ice’s critique misses the point as much as the rest is disappointing. None of its central three objections: A) that it claims a covenant between God and America B) that it supports replacement theology C) that it states that Isaiah was prophesying of America – hold up or apply. At the same time I know that something like The Harbinger could not come without opposition – whether hostile or well-meaning. One blog I came across on the web asked this question.
‘The strangeness of the attacks against The Harbinger has to make you wonder what the devil has against it?’
For this reason alone, on top of every other reason, the reader would do well to find out the answer to that question for his or herself. And the trumpet will continue to sound.