I don’t get any royalties from Rabbi Jonathan Cahn’s book “The Harbinger” which I wrote about in my last column. In fact, I have never met this Messianic Jewish man who hobnobs with government leaders in Washington, D.C., having been a key part of both the past two Presidential Inaugural Prayer Breakfasts.
I simply found his bestselling book full of fascinating parallels between ancient Israel and modern-day America. Cahn believes there is a parallel between eighth-century Israel—when they became a primarily Godless nation and were attacked by terrorists—and our nation at the time of 9/11.
In both instances, the nations were attacked by an Arabic people who were masters of terror and left ruins in the wake of their assaults. The Scripture in Isaiah 9:10 supposedly shows nine parallels between the attacks, involving fallen bricks, chiseled stone, sycamore and evergreen trees. (For more detail on this, the previous column was entitled “Harbingers or coincidence?”)
The underlying similarity was that both nations did not become repentant to God after the terrorist attack, but rather, defiant and arrogant. Both Israel and America pledged to not only rebuild but to rebuild stronger. There is nothing wrong with such a pledge unless it is a declaration of arrogance and invincibility.
In my life, I have come to believe that proud things are brought low, and nothing is invincible.
Another fascinating parallel that Cahn brought up in his book has to do with the fact that the 9/11 attack on America took place where our nation was officially founded and dedicated on the old paths. Now hang on—before you vehemently declare this cannot be so, allow me to explain.
If you’re arguing that the signing of the Declaration of Independence took place in 1776 in Philadelphia—NOT at Ground Zero in New York—I will agree with you. But Cahn’s point is that our nation was not officially founded then. Technically, he is correct.
Nothing could be official until we had a President and a Congress with official records. That did not happen until April 30, 1789, when George Washington was sworn in as our first President, and the first official item of the country’s business was recorded in the annals of Congress.
Now you might argue, “But that first inauguration and meeting of Congress took place in Washington, D.C.—NOT New York!” However, if you are like me (I beg forgiveness from my eighth-grade history teacher Mr. Ron Jessup), you might not recall that our nation’s capital was originally in New York.
George Washington was sworn in at Federal Hall in Lower Manhattan. He said prophetically there: “The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself hath ordained.” On 9/11, when the towers fell, a shock wave went from Ground Zero to Federal Hall where cracks were opened up in the foundation of that historic building.
Coincidence or symbol of a metaphorical crack in the foundation of our nation?
According to the Congressional record, the first official act of the newly-formed government in 1789 took place when the first-ever joint session of Congress with an acting President met for a time of prayer to dedicate the nation to God. And where did that take place? At St. Paul’s Chapel which stands at the corner of Ground Zero. At that time, the church actually owned the land where the Twin Towers eventually rose into the NY skyline—all on one deed. So one of our nation’s greatest tragedies—which indeed changed life as we know it—took place on the very ground where that nation was founded/consecrated.
The current entrance to St. Paul’s is the opposite of where Washington and Congress would have entered. They would have gone in on the side that is now a courtyard, literally looking out on Ground Zero. This fits what Cahn believes to be a Biblical principle: “The nation’s ground of consecration will become the ground of its judgment.”
In 2001, this little chapel was called “the miracle of 9/11” because it was one of the only buildings around Ground Zero not destroyed. How was that possible when much bigger buildings were taken down by the attack? Because it was saved from harm by the very sycamore tree mentioned in my former column—the one that was uprooted, just as the sycamores in the Isaiah 9:10 terrorist attack. The tree absorbed much of the blow of flying debris.
What point can we take from this? That if the things mentioned in my prior column and this one are indeed harbingers (omens) of a worse attack to come, then there is still hope. Cahn’s message is that God does not send harbingers to scare or threaten us. He sends them to warn us so we can turn from our errant ways and avoid consequences.
The sycamore at Ground Zero—a harbinger—was the very thing that saved the church (St. Paul’s). The purpose of the harbingers is not to condemn but to save.
After 9/11, that historic chapel became a central location for rescue workers and for grieving and hurting people. The iron fence surrounding the courtyard was soon covered with pictures, messages, objects of faith after 9/11. It became a place of hope.
If all of this is indeed more than coincidence, as Cahn declares, then why? What is the basis for a comparison between ancient Israel and modern-day America? Cahn argues that in the history of mankind, only two nations have been founded upon Biblical principles and specifically dedicated to the God of the Holy Bible—Israel and us. Any nation that does so puts a certain obligation upon itself. Could straying from that obligation bring consequences?
Cahn thinks so. Biblically, the nation of Israel always paid a price when veering from what they had vowed to do at their inception. If there is even the faintest truth to this principle, then I pray we as a nation study history so as not to repeat it. When the Israel of Isaiah 9:10 ignored the harbingers of the terrorist attack and defiantly rose up afterward to rebuild materially rather than spiritually, the terrorists returned and pretty much annihilated the nation. I love my country and do not want to see it disappear from the face of the earth.
That can’t happen, some say. Well, perhaps they should study the ancient Roman Empire to learn that no nation is invincible. Standing in arrogance to assert invincibility may indeed hasten a downfall.
In that case, humility is sounding pretty good to me—with a side order of repentance thrown in. How about you?
Leslie Bray Brewer can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her blog is at http://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com.