Book Review: The Harbinger

“The Harbinger” – Jonathan Cahn

The Ancient Mystery that Holds the Secret of America’s Future

The Harbinger, although not compatible with my very strict preference for non-fiction, was a very hard book to put down, not fitting the mold of typical fictional choices. Cahn is a skilled student of the Bible with a clear authority for the scriptures and the concealed details and meanings therein, which makes this book a delight for prophetic people or just those who enjoy a good thrill. The story is told well with plenty of added suspense, characteristics too of an easy sell.

There is something captivating about revisiting ancient prophecies, one of which is laid out in Cahn’s Harbinger. It’s the a prophecy of judgement declared against Israel by the prophet Isaiah in the aftermath of Israel’s  growing independence and pride, and on the eve of their destruction. Cahn tells this story in novel form and uncovers an application for this prophetic series of warnings for Americans, here and now.

Grade – B+

“The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.”  – ISAIAH 9:10

The Prophecy


As a basis for his entire book, Cahn draws from a small but powerful prophecy uttered by Isaiah as a judgment against Israel in chapter nine of the book of Isaiah [above]. The intriguing thing about this prophecy is that it’s now being repeated or replayed in an American context, Cahn argues. In the original text, or context, Israel suffers a national “breach,” coming in the form of an Assyrian invasion which seriously jeopardizes Israel’s security. The Assyrian invasion, in Cahn’s interpretation of the biblical text and the history surrounding the event, served as a warning or ‘harbinger’ for Israel to turn from her wicked ways. Israel’s response: We will rebuild. This very prideful and haughty reaction to God’s warning invited what would become A: more warnings (harbingers) that fell on deaf ears and B: the destruction of a Godless people. Israel’s response to an invasion that left its fortress walls compromised was the declaration to rebuild those walls with stronger stones and to replant, where fig trees failed, with cedars. Choosing pride over repentance led to Israel’s demise.


So what does an ancient prophecy concerning Israel have to do with present day America? According to Cahn, everything. In an admittedly rare spiritual case, Cahn unveils how this very prophetic message, hidden in Isaiah chapter nine, has application to Americans today. In the American rerun of the prophetic declaration made around 750 BC, a series of  remarkably uncanny and unfathomable similarities have occurred to link the two. Cahn’s nine harbingers detail the nine ways in which God has tried and is trying to get our attention and to change our behaviors. In Cahn’s story, the ancient Assyrian invasion which threatened Israel was replayed on September 11th, 2001, when present-day Assyrian terrorists (from Iraq) crashed passenger planes into the world trade center buildings. Do you recall America’s response? Essentially, We will rebuild. Bigger, stronger and better. Does that sound familiar? Cahn points the reader to a few more seriously uncanny facts. 1). Isaiah 9:10 was actually quoted by the American Senate Majority Leader days after the attack. Apparently this leader didn’t know that Isaiah’s prophecy of pending judgment was not best suited for a “shot in the arm” speech to boost American morale. In Cahn’s eyes, this official declaration, from a leader to his people, marked and sealed this strange replaying of the Isaiah prophecy. 2). If you think that’s eery, try this on for size. The tree that replaced the downed fig at ground zero? Yeah, that’s right, a cedar, dubbed the “Tree of Hope.” 3). And the stone that was to replace the bricks? That has also been repeated and even celebrated, as crews dedicated a “dressed” stone as the keystone of the rebuilding process at ground zero, one fashioned to be bigger, stronger, taller and better.

There are still other odd connections and parallels, but you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

The Story

The Harbinger reads like a novel with the main characters being Nouriel, “the prophet,” and Ana Goren, the would-be book publisher hearing Nouriel’s (a writer by trade) account of his dealings with the prophet. The story unfolds as Nouriel shares his recollection of his meetings with the prophet, each meeting bringing Nouriel increased revelation concerning the prophecy, new and old. Ms. Goren eagerly takes in the saga, although skeptical at first, and concludes that Nouriel’s narrative must be put in print, at all costs.

The prophet, piece by piece and seemingly without method or plan, runs into Nouriel unexpectedly, where they pick up where they last left off in the ongoing investigation of the harbinger prophecy. Ultimately, the prophet serves as, well, the prophet, and Nouriel assumes the position of scribe, as was tradition when the old testament prophetic books were written, and Nouriel in effect agrees to begin his work of chronicling the prophet’s message. The result, the reader would assume, is the publishing of Nouriel’s book by Goren’s group, warning Americans of imminent disaster and calling for repentance.

God’s Mercy

One of Cahn’s overarching messages in his book is the purpose of the Harbingers, or warnings. In his account, they serve solely as objects of God’s mercy, to move His people toward repentance so that they might be preserved from judgement. This mercy is relevant for America today as it was with Isaiah’s proclamation in the 8th century BC, and is ultimately designed for reform, from a place of unconditional love. This is truly an important theological point to get across as the book does go into great detail about judgment and pride.

What’s to come?

To be sure, from a biblical standpoint, destruction looms at our common doorstep if we proceed in our ignorance or arrogance of repeated warnings. This of course is assuming that these “harbingers” are both accurate and merited. But it isn’t really a matter of assumption, it’s a matter of conviction and transformation for the American people. We stand at a crossroads as a country I do believe. What we will choose?

The short answer of ‘What’s to come?’ is simply: a quasi- sequel, entitled The Mystery of the Shemitah. In fact, it’s already here as it hit bookshelves in early September. In order to answer the question of ‘What is to Come?’ in a more prophetic sense, we may, as readers and Christians, need to defer to this second installment of Cahn’s series. Enjoy!

The Harbinger spent over 100 weeks on the famed NY Times Bestseller list.

Joe D’Orsie – Communications & Spiritual Life Counsel