Harbingers of…Misinterpretation, Part 3

In his very popular book, The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn promotes the idea that the United States of America has become the “New Israel,” effectively replacing the ancient nation and becoming the subject of the prophecy of Isaiah 9:10. Upon this basis, Cahn then proceeds to identify the 9 harbingers that have come to the USA as warnings to turn back to God and avoid his judgment. One brief portion of dialogue from the book will be sufficient to show the connection Cahn believes exists between Israel and the USA:

Nouriel Kaplan: “But what does America have to do with ancient Israel?”

The Prophet: “Israel was unique among the nations in that it was conceived and dedicated at its foundation for the purposes of God.”

NK: “Ok….”

TP: “But there was one other – a civilization also conceived and dedicated to the will of God from its conception…America. In fact, those who laid its foundations…”

NK: “The Founding Fathers.”

TP: “No, long before the Founding Fathers. 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.”

NK: “Meaning?”

TP: “Meaning its rise and fall would be dependent on its relationship with God.”

So, according to Cahn, both Israel and America were “conceived and dedicated to the will of God,” which makes them somehow equal in the eyes of God and supports his attempts to read Isaiah 9:10 as if it were speaking not simply of God’s judgment on the Northern Kingdom in the 8th century BC, but also of the USA in the 21st century AD. But is what Pastor Cahn says even true? Is there some parallel between the founding of the nation of Israel and the United States?

Consider what the Bible says about the founding of the nation of Israel. In Exodus 19, the Lord was preparing to make a covenant with the nation of Israel after delivering them from slavery in Egypt. He said to them, “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (v.4-6). God did not make a covenant with just any nation, he chose the nation of Israel out of the whole earth to become a special treasure, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. Could God have made such a covenant with other nations? Of course he could have, but he did not. In fact, the wording of this passage excludes the possibility that any other nation would ever enjoy the same privileged position. There is a similar statement to that effect in David’s prayer of thanksgiving in 1 Chron. 17:21, And who is like Your people Israel, the one nation on the earth whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people – to make for Yourself a name by great and awesome deeds, by driving out nations from before Your people whom You redeemed from Egypt?”

Who is like your people Israel? According to Jonathan Cahn, it is the USA, even though the very wording of the covenant God made with Israel precludes any other nation from enjoying the same relationship with God. This is not simply an argument from silence, since Isaiah 9 is clearly directed at the Northern Kingdom of Israel without any mention of America or any other nation, it is an argument that runs contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture. Cahn would have us believe that those who laid America’s foundations (presumably, he means the Puritans) saw America as an Israel of the New World.” Whether this is even historically accurate may be debatable, but how these founders viewed themselves and the New World is really about as relevant as a man in an asylum who considers himself to be President. Just because he believes that he is President does not make him the POTUS. And just because a group of men and women dedicated themselves and their posterity to the Lord does not mean that the United States has become a New Israel. The covenant relationship between Israel and the Lord was not Israel’s idea, it was God’s, and God clearly and repeatedly indicates in Scripture that Israel is unique among all the nations as God’s chosen people.

Has America been blessed by God? I have no doubt. Is America facing the very real threat of God’s judgment for sin? Certainly, the danger of judgment looms nearer every day for the whole world. Is it right for us to equate the USA with Israel and apply the prophecy of Isaiah 9:10 to America as Jonathan Cahn has done? Absolutely not. Let us never call into question what God’s word says, even to justify a message of repentance and the coming judgment.

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