Tom: Today and next week we’re going to be discussing prophecy, and in particular false prophecy, the latter by some of those who are distorting biblical prophecy. My guest for our discussion is Dave James, who’s the author of The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? and Biblical Guide to the Shemitah and the Blood Moons. His ministry is the Alliance for Biblical Integrity.
Dave, welcome back to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Dave James: Thanks, Tom. It’s great to be with you. I always enjoy our opportunities to have some interaction and discussion. It’s been a while, but we’ve got an important topic this week and next.
Tom: I absolutely agree. Now, Dave, since the two books of yours that I referred to address Jonathan Cahn and his books, and especially now that he has a new book out, he’s going to be someone featured in our conversation.
However, before we get to him, I want us to establish for our listeners the biblical view of prophecy – that is, define the term according to Scripture. Now simply, prophecy is God’s communication to mankind. It’s God’s telling forth things He wants us to know and we can only know by him revealing those things to us. It is also God foretelling things that will take place in the future, which reveals things that He alone knows the future. And, Dave, as you know, out of those simple definitions come a host of things disclosing the value and importance of prophecy. Could you give us some of those things?
Dave: Sure. Well, you’re exactly right. It involves both forth telling – in other words, revealing the heart and mind of God and what He wants us to know and what in His wisdom He says that we must know to live properly. The majority of the Bible is actually made up of forth telling – in other words, God telling us what He wants us to know right now, how we should respond today. But there’s also a significant portion that has to do with foretelling things that will happen in the near and in some cases very distant future. So just kind of a summary: prophecy reveals the heart and mind of God, it reveals promises of blessing and warnings of judgment both for the immediate future and then the distant future in some cases. It gives us confidence that the Lord is in control, because if He says something is going to happen, if He is not in control, there’s no way to be sure that every prophecy will be fulfilled. It gives us confidence that the Lord is faithful to do what He says He will do, and I would say perhaps one of the most important things: it helps us to prepare to live in light of what He has said will happen depending on how we respond to His Word, to His revelation.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And, Dave, as we’ve seen, there are people who have their own agendas, and some of them promote them in a way that many people buy into it. And if we don’t compare what they’re promoting with the Word of God, we could buy into a whole program – not only is it false prophecy, but it could lead to buying into an agenda that’s contrary to the Word of God. That undermines what He has foretold will take place, and that’s happening a lot these days, isn’t it?
Dave: Well, that’s right, and I get asked around the world as I teach on these things – people try to immediately go to the “why?” “Why are people doing this? Why are they doing that? What is their agenda? What is their purpose? What is their goal?” And what I frequently tell them is God knows the heart, and the “why” of why people do things, whether it be for money, for power, for prestige, whatever that is, that’s really not so much our concern. Our concern is the “what,” and it obviously also involves the “who.” So the “who” and the “what” are the important questions. Why they’re doing this we can’t know exactly unless they actually tell us. But the “what” and the “who” is doing this is very important, because the “who” involves people who have become very influential, and they’re able to use various mediums – whether it be radio, print, or television, the internet – to promote these messages that are very much departures from the Word of God. And it frequently involves very much a mishandling of the Word of God, which is something that we need to be concerned about.
Tom: Right. I’ll give our listeners an example: there are those who believe that the Bible teaches there’s a big coming revival. Okay, well, what do the Scriptures have to say? Or they would say that Christians are going to take over the world. There’s a kingdom dominion idea that’s being promoted and people are buying into and so on, or “We’re going to fix the planet and solve all the problems the planet has.” Now, if we – well, let’s just go with the point of that we’re going to set up the kingdom prior to Christ’s return. Well, very simply, eschatology – what the Bible talks about related to the end times and the last days and how things are going to unfold – well, simply, it says that the next kingdom that’s on the horizon is the kingdom of the Antichrist. Now, if we don’t know that, if we don’t understand that and haven’t believed what the Scriptures say, we could be working unwittingly to help develop the kingdom of the Antichrist. So that’s a consequence that’s huge, right?
Dave: Well, it certainly is. And, you know, one of the things that I frequently teach my students – one of the courses that I teach most often is called “God’s Plan Through the Ages,” which I briefly describe as going from eternity past to eternity future in ten hours or less. But what I tell them in regard to it is the question of whether it’s the church’s responsibility to establish the kingdom, I put it this way: Has there ever been a situation in world history where a potential king, somebody who wants to be king, plans to be king, goes out and finds a warrior princess – or Wonder Woman, if you will – a warrior princess who will fight all the battles, defeat all the enemies, conquer all the territories, build the palaces and set up the kingdom while the king is sitting on a hill watching all of this happen, and when she has this done she beckons for the king, and when it’s all set up, the kingdom is set up, he comes? No, that’s not the way it happens! In fact, what our responsibility is is to be faithful as a faithful bride. We are – the church is the body of Christ, and we are the bride of Christ, and we will return with Him according to Revelation 19 as He comes to set up His kingdom. So again, it’s thinking… You know, one of the things I also tell my students is [that] sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to think logically, and most importantly to think biblically, and we need to examine these things and see what the Bible has to say about, you know, how the Bible – how God has laid out His revelation from Genesis to the Book of Revelation.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And if we don’t go by that, we go by man’s ways, the destruction is – can be immense; and particularly for believers, we’re going to be counterproductive. We cannot be fruitful and productive if we’re going by the ways of men or the ideas – basically false prophecy. And that’s what we see in Scripture, and it’s happening today, sadly.
Now, Dave, you have biblically critiqued two of Jonathan Cahn’s so-called prophetic books. Now, give us a brief summary of what they were about and some of their major errors.
Dave: Sure. Well, the first book to come out was The Harbinger, which came out the first week of January in 2012, and I and Jimmy DeYoung, I think, were probably among the very first to actually critique it. I actually read the book overnight one night in preparation for an evaluation and critique discussion with Jimmy DeYoung, because it had come to his attention that he had been on Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, and they had discussed the book earlier in that first week of January 2012. And the premise of his book is based upon Isaiah:9:10, which talks about “the bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with hewn stone this…The sycamores have been cut down, but we will replant cedars.” And the idea was – the premise is that this is somehow a foreshadow, or even a prophecy, or a type of the attacks of September 11, 2001 upon Americans. So he builds a whole book trying to lay out this premise that America is somehow – what happened in ancient Israel in face of the impending attack by the Assyrians on the northern kingdom as described there in Isaiah 9, that this has been replaying and continues to be replayed on American soil for the last almost 17 years now. And so in my book The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? I actually took him to task, because the idea, even though The Harbinger was a novel, he said on air, on radio, that 90 percent of what he wrote about was actual fact. So that led to the title of my book, The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? Is it fact or is it fiction, and what is the – how does this all work out? And what I found was, as I engaged in a lot of research, hundreds of hours of research, that he was wrong on factual basis, he was wrong on historical basis, he was mishandling the Word of God, misusing prophecies – in some cases, many cases, cherry picking things that supported his theories, but ignoring other things that did not.
Then his second book, The Mystery of the Shemitah, was built upon an expansion of chapter 17 of the first book The Harbinger, and his premise was that…just to give our listeners an idea of what the Shemitah is, Shemitah is a Hebrew word that has to do with the Jewish Sabbath year. So just as there is a Sabbath day that occurs every seven days on the Jewish calendar that God gave His people (they were to rest on the Sabbath day, the seventh day), that there was also a Sabbath year, and they were to rest on every seventh year, and that there were economic cycles related to that. And the premise of his second book was that this has also been replaying in the American economy for decades following precisely the Hebrew Sabbath year calendar, which – the most recent one would have ended in September of 2015. And then he tied it to another issue, which was the blood moons, and for people who may remember the blood moon craze, there were consecutive lunar eclipses that fell on Jewish feast days in 2014 and 2015, and so there was this convergence. And what I demonstrated was, once again, that there is a manipulation of data, misrepresentation of historical fact, some misuse of statistics in order to support his theories.
Tom: And did the theories come to pass?
Dave: Well, actually, they did not, and this is one of the most important things I think that we need to point out: One of the things that he learned to do very early on, and I think it was because you and I and others were criticizing him for engaging in what amounted to false prophecies, or at least prophecies that turned out to be false, he would always try to hedge his bets and say, “Well, I’m not saying this has to happen.” So he always tried to give himself a way out. But what happened was you and I and others were saying, “Look, he is making very specific statements that should have very specific outcomes,” and we were saying it will be – time will tell. It will be revealed whether what he is saying is going to come to pass. And in fact, nothing that he or Mark Biltz or John Hagee said would come to pass with regard to judgments of God upon this nation – not that we’re not due for judgment, and not that even the judgment may be under way. That’s not what we’re saying. But the specifics he tried to put into play, none of them – not a single one – came to pass out of the many, many things that he and others were saying with regard to The Harbinger, the blood moons, the Shemitah, the Jewish Sabbath years – none of this has come to pass in the least.
Tom: And the problem, the consequence, and we’ve seen this certainly in those who today, in our day, make predictions or at least put forth their theories, if you want to call it that – people buy into it. People, you know, they either hunker down or buy this or buy that, buy into freeze-dried food or thinking, “Well, it’s coming,” and so on, or sell their property or whatever it might be. We’ve seen this over and over and over again, yet he still comes out with books that somehow blow past that and people buy into it.
But, you know, Dave, my concern here is, aside from the false predictions, which are there, as you mentioned, my concern is his misuse of prophecy with regard to saying that America is written in the Old Testament, or there are things that relate to it. Certainly that was what The Harbinger was all about. But, you know, just to begin with, when God dealt with – in Isaiah, where He deals with the northern kingdom, it was not an alarm or a “Take heed: if America buys into this, this is what’s going to happen.” That was a judgment! There was no concern for the northern kingdom; because of all they were into and all they’ve done, God was judging them. That was a judgment just for the northern kingdom, and it had no application to America.
But since we’re… Well, and my point being, that’s false prophecy! That’s using prophecy in a way that abuses it, that distorts it, that corrupts it. And so in my view, Jonathan Cahn is a false prophet on that basis.
Now what about the Old Testament? What does it have to say about the USA?
Dave: Well, in fact, I think we could very safely say that the Bible has – the Old Testament specifically, or the entire Bible – has nothing to say specifically about the United States. One of the things that is facing the church today and is rapidly spreading is what is called Replacement Theology that’s tied to a different understanding of the Bible than taking it literally, grammatically, and historically in context. One of the things, as we have brought this up with regard to Jonathan Cahn and others, that he being what he would call himself a Messianic Jew, of course he would say that the church has not replaced Israel in prophecy. When we talk about Replacement Theology, we’re saying that God in some sort of spiritual way has replaced ancient Israel (because they rejected their Messiah) with the church, and His promises to Israel will be fulfilled spiritually in the church. Now, he would say, “No, He obviously does not do that.” So what I have said, and maybe I coined the term is what I call parallel theology. And if you look at his videos, many, many times, whether it be with Michael Brown, who was hosting in place of Sid Roth on It’s Supernatural, or with Jim Bakker, or with Jonathan Bernis, what he is very clearly saying is what happened in ancient Israel is happening in America. So there is a parallel theology, so…and not just America following a similar pattern, but saying that these predictions, these prophecies in the Old Testament are applying directly to America. But if you apply a consistently literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic to the Scriptures, no one would ever in a million years come to the conclusion that another country, another nation any time in history could fulfill these prophecies, and yet he is applying them directly. He’s seeing these dots – connecting dots, making straight-line connections between America and ancient Israel, and that is one of the most egregious problems I’ve ever encountered with somebody mishandling the Word of God. And so I would agree with you that he has, in fact, engaged in false prophetic teaching because it involves falsely mishandling the Word of God.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And, you know, much of what he does – we could call it “post-predictive.” In other words, he’s looking back. He did that with The Harbinger, the Shemitah, and so on. In other words, he’s looking back and saying, “Oh! Here we are in America. You see what’s going on? Now let’s search the Old Testament, the Tanakh, and see if we can find ways that God has spoken directly about these things.” And we’re going to get into more details about his latest book The Paradigm, but that’s the problem: it’s post-predictive. It’s like, you know, armchair quarterbacking: looking at a game after it’s already been played and then trying to figure out what took place. Folks, it’s not the way the Bible works. That’s not…you know, as we mentioned earlier, there are some indirect references, and they’re incredibly vague about America, about the USA. But there are, as I understand it, Dave, it’s kind of – that’s kind of built into the nations that are going to come against Israel in the last days. What’s your perspective on that?
Dave: Well, that’s exactly right. And one of the things that I have come to the conclusion as I’ve studied and teach about eschatology and prophecy all the time, I think there’s some very practical reasons why the United States is not in biblical prophecy. I personally believe that the church will be raptured prior to the seven-year tribulation, Daniel’s 70th week. And what a lot of people, I think, don’t realize is that probably of all the nations on the earth, the United States has probably the highest per capita number of born-again believers. Now, I’m not saying that America is a Christian country, I’m just saying if you look at all the nations in the world, the percentage of the population that are actually born again believers is probably the highest in the US, and another component is that when you look at government, business, and military, there actually are fairly – at least relatively high numbers of born-again believers in some of these positions. So if that happens at the rapture of the church, that the United States will collapse economically, militarily, the government will collapse, everything will collapse as a result of the rapture of the church, which is actually – the rapture becomes a part of God’s judgment upon the earth because of that.
And the other thing I point out too is the United States is Israel’s only protector in the world, the only one who has both the might and the willpower to protect Israel. When that happens and America collapses, who is next in line? It’s not going to be Russia, it’s not going to be China, it’s not going to be India – it’s going to be Europe, which is the Old Roman Empire, and this will set the stage for the Antichrist to move into power to cut that seven-year treaty to protect Israel from her enemies. So all of this lays the foundation for prophecy to be fulfilled, and America simply does not – as I see it, America does not have a role for any number of reasons, and we need to understand and handle the Scriptures correctly to come to these conclusions.
Tom: Right. Now, that’s a perspective that I believe as well, Dave. But nevertheless, if you say, “Well, I don’t go along with that,” well, whatever you might say, what is being shouted from those who are promoting these ideas, the ideas that America’s – Christians are going to take over the world, so on and so forth, you have an issue that’s incredibly problematic, because number one, it doesn’t go by the Word of God. You’ve searched the Scriptures, as you will, and you will not see end times revival. All of this stuff that we have been addressing – not just, Dave, you and these books, but in other cases – have to do with…there’s an apostasy going on, a drifting away – maybe more than just a drift: there’s a flooding away from the Word of God and God’s truth, and unless we go by the Scriptures and search the Scriptures to see if what these guys are promoting, we can find chapter and verse, we can find scriptures for it…folks, don’t buy into it! Be a Berean. Check these things out. Check what we’re saying out, right, Dave?
Dave: That’s exactly right. And, you know, there are several consequences concerning some of the things you mentioned: when people mishandle the Word of God and a good number of people buy into it, one: they are misled. But secondly, if these things do not come to pass that these guys say are going to happen, there is a tremendous amount of disillusionment that can happen. And I remember back when…and in fact, I wrote an article that’s on – still on my website at biblicalintegrity.org: when Harold Camping was predicting the rapture in the spring of one year and then the fall later in October, when those things didn’t pan out, there were even reports of people committing suicide. There were people who gave up their life savings. So you have two things happening: one, you have people who are filling the – lining the pockets of these false teachers on the one hand; and on the other hand, people turning away from Bible teaching and Bible prophecy all together just like going back to 1988: “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Is Going to Occur in 1988.” How many people were disillusioned and turned away from even sound biblical teaching because of what these false teachers were doing?
Tom: Yeah. Well, my guest is Dave James. His ministry is the Alliance for Biblical Integrity. Dave, we’re out of time for this session, but next week, the Lord willing, we’re going to get right into Jonathan Cahn’s latest book The Paradigm. So, Dave, thank you for being with us, and look forward to next week!
Dave: Thanks, Tom. I look forward to it as well.