A Critique by Jack Kelley
“The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.” (Isaiah 9:10 NKJV)
It’s fair to say I was a skeptic when I picked up a copy of The Harbinger, by Jonathan Cahn. I decided to read the book only because I had received several questions about it. But I soon discovered that the author makes a stunning case for a connection between the judgment of the northern Kingdom by the Assyrians in 722 BC and the judgment of America, underway since 9-11.
The way leaders of both countries responded to a limited judgment with defiance and resolve but no repentance was way beyond coincidence. And by responding with the very same words that Isaiah attributed to Israel (Isaiah 9:10), America’s leaders left no doubt in my mind that the judgments we’ve suffered are warnings from God and they didn’t grasp the meaning of Isaiah’s words even though they repeated them over and over again.
I was tracking beautifully with the author’s interpretation of our recent history and literally couldn’t put the book down as long as he was comparing Israel’s history with ours.
Then What Happened?
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).
But when he used the above passage to justify his claim that America could experience a different outcome from the Northern Kingdom’s, he lost me. In my mind the book was instantly downgraded to another work of fiction, although with convincing historical and spiritual analysis. I had a hard time getting through the last few chapters, because they were just a human opinion based on an incorrect interpretation of 2 chronicles 7:14. At its end the book had become just as vague and fanciful as it had been precise and direct at the beginning.
If the author is correct in his assertion that as far as God is concerned political leaders officially speak for their country, then America is not the country of “my people who are called by my name” to whom 2 Chronicles 7:14 is addressed. At a press conference in Turkey in April of 2009 President Obama said that America is not a Christian nation. He was repeating something he’d been saying since 2007. When asked to clarify this he once said, “What I mean is America is not just a Christian nation. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”
That statement doesn’t make sense. A nation may count among its residents people of many faiths, but it can’t be a nation of all of them. Such a nation could only be a nation of no official faith. And that’s what America is, we’re a nation of no official faith. (I sometimes wonder how it makes Christians from other countries feel when American Christians act as if they think America and the Church are one and the same.)
It’s true there are a lot of Christians in America. But we all belong to the Church and the Church has no national homeland, not in America and not anywhere else. The Church comes from every nation on Earth but our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20) and that’s where our home is. American believers are not called to repent and save our country any more than believers who live in other countries are called to repent and save theirs. No matter what country we live in we’re supposed to be like Abraham, strangers in a foreign land looking forward to the city whose architect and builder is God (Hebr. 11:9-10).
Israel was a nation officially in a covenant relationship with God whose eternal destiny is to live with Him in the land He gave them here on Earth (Ezekiel 43:7). After King Solomon’s death the nation was divided, both physically and spiritually. The Northern Kingdom didn’t just split from the South, they also split from God. The Levitical Priests were expelled, and the faithful from all of the northern tribes fled to the south with them (2 Chron. 11:16). Only the unbelievers remained in the North. A new priesthood was formed and altars were erected to pagan gods. Failing to win the Northern Kingdom back, the Lord sent the Assyrians to warn them. They refused to heed the warnings and were ultimately conquered.
Even though our relationship with Him was different from theirs, America officially renounced God just as the Northern Kingdom had. Now God is judging America, and the only way for Americans to escape the coming judgment is to flee with the Church, like the believing Israelites fled with the priests. (To his credit the author did provide a moving set of instructions on how to become part of the Church.)
Once the Lord takes us home, what’s left of America will be destroyed for failing to heed God’s warnings just as the Northern Kingdom was destroyed. The dual purpose of the Great Tribulation is clearly explained in Jeremiah 30:11. The first is to completely destroy all the nations among which the Jews have been scattered, and the second is to discipline Israel in preparation for the coming Kingdom Age. If you’re looking for a Bible verse that refers to America in the end times, look at the first part of Jeremiah 30:11.
What About Them?
Things were different in the Southern Kingdom, even though they were in the process of abandoning God as well. On the Eve of their conquest by the Babylonians 120 years after the Northern Kingdom ceased to exist, God had Jeremiah tell the exiles from the Southern Kingdom:
“When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:10-11)
By no stretch of the imagination can this promise apply to any one but the Jews in exile in Babylon in the 6th century BC. Such a promise was never given to the Northern Kingdom, nor has one been given to America.
After the 70 years were over, God brought the Jews who were willing to return back to the Promised Land, just like He said He would. But this was not the fulfillment of 2 Chronicles 7:14 either. The 70 year period of the captivity had been predetermined by God and at its end He brought them back like He said. 2 Chronicles 7:14 will be fulfilled when the Jewish leadership invokes the promise of Hosea 6:1-2 and petitions the Lord’s return to save them.
When Will That Be?
When Israel’s rejection of Jesus as their Messiah was complete, He finally left them alone. It had been 40 days since He provided the unmistakable sign they had asked for (the sign of Jonah, Matt. 12:39) to prove He was who He claimed to be. 40 being the number of testing, their time of testing had expired and they had failed. In Hosea 5:15 the prophet had Him saying,
“Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.”
When the judgments of the Great Tribulation are at their worst, Israel will officially petition the Lord’s return.
“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence” (Hosea 6:1-2).
When they do, the Lord will pour out His Spirit of Grace and Supplication. Their eyes will be opened and they will look upon Him who they have pierced and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child. (Zechariah 12:10). Some scholars have suggested that Isaiah 53 will be their official prayer of confession.
On the day the Lord returns He will be King of the whole Earth. On that day there will be one Lord and His name the only name (Zech. 14:9). Then Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. Their blood guilt which I have not pardoned, I will pardon. The Lord dwells in Zion (Joel 3:20-21). 2 Chronicles 7:14 will finally be fulfilled.
On three separate occasions just before the Southern Kingdom was conquered by the Babylonians, God told Jeremiah to stop praying for the Jews because He wasn’t listening any more (Jeremiah 7:16, 11:14. 14:11). I believe America may also have reached that point with Him. It’s clear that America’s unbelievers don’t want the Church to save them, and the only believers still fighting for America’s future are the ones who don’t understand what’s ahead for the Church.
In summary, it’s not the Church’s job to save America. Our job is to store up treasure in Heaven by helping those who can no longer help themselves on Earth. In this way we show forth the light and love of the Lord in this dark and dying place. Selah 01-28-12