by Eric Barger
I have preached literally several hundred times in recent years that, because Jehovah God is a very practical God who supernaturally moves and works throughout His creation, He has allowed America to play a pivotal part in furthering the Kingdom of God. Speaking and writing succinctly about such, a number of the Founding Fathers saw this very thing as a destiny for our country. Because of God’s rich blessings to us, we have for decades been the catalyst of world evangelism. The generosity and faithfulness of God’s people, who have benefited from the immense blessings afforded them in our land, have exponentially fueled the spread of biblical Christianity. It can be said without exaggeration that American Christians have been the turbine God has used to power the dissemination of the Gospel worldwide. With the exception of Israel, has any single nation played such a pivotal role in the eternity of so many people as has America?
Please don’t get me wrong. The efforts of every believer from every country are precious in the sight of God and important to His Kingdom (especially so to the lost who need the Savior). But what other nation, besides Israel, has played such a significant and vital role in testifying that there is a God and that He cares for us and that He is involved in our human affairs? No, of course people are not redeemed simply because America exists as a country or by just being U.S. citizens. But the fact remains that no other nation in the history of the planet has ever afforded the Church the opportunity or ability to propagate the Gospel in the earth as has America.
With that basis, is it any wonder that as the world slips deeper into the moral and spiritual decay of which Paul prophetically warned Timothy, Satan would concentrate his forces to distract the American Church and to cripple the American economy? Satan knows all too well that if there had never been a United States countless souls across the world would never have heard the name of Jesus nor would they have been rescued from the pit of Hell. But yesterday’s accomplishments won’t save us tomorrow. Only an authentic righteous revival can stem the tide of sin around us and allay the certain frightful verdict America and her people are otherwise destined to suffer. Since we are to work in God’s fields until either our last breath of air or the blast of a trumpet resounds across Heaven, I suggest that, if only for the sake of lost souls, God’s people should beseech the Master to cleanse us, forgive us, heal our land, and right our ailing nation. Historically, God has sent warnings, messages, and, yes, signs. He may have done so once again for our nation. Will we heed them or reject them as ancient Israel did so long ago? Who knows what God will do if we’ll hear His voice echoing from His Word and put Him first in our lives once more?
Is God Speaking to Us?
It is, therefore, of great concern to me today that some with whom I share the field of apologetics have, unfortunately, taken the lead in fatalistically detouring Christians – particularly American Christians – from considering the suggestion that God might spare our nation and thus provide more time to witness of God’s grace and call sinners to be saved. This breaks my heart and I believe it also grieves the heart of the Father.
I repeat – as American influence is waning, our economy in decline, our morals worsening each day, and the effect of our once-great churches little more than a fleeting memory, some of my discernment brethren seem to be oblivious about where we are on the timeline of history and resistant to anything slightly outside their theological norms. I refer, specifically, to the controversy surrounding Jonathan Cahn’s book, The Harbinger.
I have become very familiar with this book and the two-disk DVD set produced by Joseph Farah of World Net Daily. The DVDs, narrated by Cahn, outline nine harbingers found in Isaiah 9:10 and the strikingly eerie similarity of events between the 8th century BC Assyrian assault on Israel and the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 on America. This parallel is apparently more than adherents of strict biblical hermeneutics can tolerate. Due to this paper-thin intolerance, these critics are broadcasting their opinion that The Harbinger’s simple and profound message of repentance should be rejected. They insist the vehicle (a book in the format of a novel) and, additionally, the interpretation presented appear to dance too close to theological themes some of the discerners deem questionable.
In reality, Scripture is replete with accounts of those who rejected warnings similar to the sum total of those given by Cahn. Repeatedly, religious leaders and secular kings turned on messengers sent by God with extremely unpopular messages. Individuals such as Noah, Jonah, Moses, and Paul come to mind, who dared obey God and as a result became objects of persecution because the message He gave them didn’t fit the accepted norms of their day. One can imagine that if some of those currently critical of The Harbinger had been in Athens in the mid-first century Paul would have been the object of their ire for going to the Areopagus, commonly known as Mars Hill. After all, the venue was the epitome of paganism, where cultic beliefs were rampant, and while there he even quoted a pagan anthem (Acts 17:28)!
Similarly, Cahn and his message are being rejected as "unorthodox" by those obviously more enlightened than me. Astoundingly, The Harbinger has been dubbed "Luciferian" by one preacher and inexplicably linked to Replacement Theology – a charge that is so ludicrous it doesn’t deserve recognition. (How can Cahn, a Jew, replace himself with himself?) The controversy that has arisen would almost be, at least in part, comical were not the life, work, and character of a good and godly man be under such shrill attacks. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that the critics are persuading at least some of the sheep (and perhaps a few in the world) to reject what amounts to nothing more than a warning to turn back to God. I want to remind you that such attacks by an assortment of high-profile leaders have been carried out without first ever attempting to contact Cahn personally for dialog. Any attempt to communicate with Harbinger critics thus far have been initiated by Jonathan, a concerned pastor, or me. After numerous emails and phone calls pleading with his detractors to discuss their grievances, only one critic has responded to Jonathan thus far. The rest of our attempts to instigate dialog have been completely ignored.
It’s one thing to expose heresy, such as that of the Emergent Church. It’s quite another to blast away at a man who is simply calling for personal and national repentance. If that’s "Luciferian," then I’m not certain whose ministry is safe from being a target. (I can’t imagine Satan wanting to popularize a message that calls for surrender to God, but I digress.)
Where Is Peter Stoner When We Need Him?
In his classic book, Science Speaks, the late mathematician, author, and Christian, Peter Stoner, illustrated the mind-blowing statistical improbability that any mortal could fulfill just a handful of Messianic prophecies, as Jesus did. How I wish I were skilled to be able to examine properly and thoroughly the mathematical probability that all nine harbingers from Isaiah 9:10 detailed in Cahn’s book could have taken place by sheer chance beginning on that fateful late summer day in September eleven years ago. The odds would easily be many multitrillions to one. Could it be that God supernaturally attended over seemingly insignificant omens such as the destruction and replacement of a tree in a churchyard at "Ground Zero" in New York City or the text of not one but two politicians’ speeches? Yes, I believe we’d be staggered by the findings of such a statistical analysis of the events. (At the mere suggestion, Christians who believe that God has ceased all supernatural activity and does not do such things in this day and time would probably resort to identifying Satan as the source of such "coincidences." But if God is not ultimately superintending in every detail of this world, how do they skirt the fact that every salvation is a supernatural experience of miraculous proportions? But again, I digress.) I believe the results of such a Stoner-type analysis would certainly force those who’ve opposed the general message of The Harbinger – and are willing to forsake their egos – to apologize for uttering statements against Jonathan Cahn and his work. They would at least have to admit to the possibility that God was indeed superintending the events about which Jonathan wrote.
Perhaps my coworker, Jan Markell, is right: God had to reveal this to a Messianic Rabbi. And, is it possible that the group of Gentile teachers who have taken up against Cahn are more interested in preserving their theological model of how they perceive God to operate than they are in calling a nation to prayer, introspection, and repentance?
No, my friends, I don’t believe that it is an accident that The Harbinger has swept through the Church in America at this time. Could there be a more important time in our history – with the exception of our founding? The question remains, will those who have become consumed with denigrating The Harbinger just continue to argue the fine points of secondary separation theology and ignore what could amount to a warning from God? Or, can we come together to encourage an immediate, widespread response to the Lord with humility and contrition? We can and certainly do have areas of disagreement on issues of non-essential theology and spiritual practices and these things should be discussed. However, in the quest for our own individual (and sometimes mistaken) brand of doctrinal purity, have we forgotten that a primary endgame for the devil is to sidetrack and divide believers with what really amounts to little more than minutia? As I told Jonathan Cahn in an email this week, "It is unthinkable that the bottom-line message of The Harbinger is being lost in all of the debate, hyperbole, misstatements, and innuendo." Isn’t that just what Satan wants?
by Eric Barger