Program Description: Tom continues his discussion with David James of the Alliance for Biblical Integrity as they explore Jonathan Cahn's latest book The Mystery of Shemitah.
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could tune in. In today’s program, Tom continues his conversation with Dave James, author of The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. We are in our second session of dealing with a very popular book authored by Jonathan Cahn, who was the author of The Harbinger. But his new book is called The Mystery of Shemitah, and my guest in our discussion is an author published by The Berean Call, and his book The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? It’s Dave James.
Dave, welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Dave: Good to be with you again, Tom.
Tom: Now, last week, we were zeroing in on some issues related to Jonathan Cahn’s book, as I mentioned, The Mystery of Shemitah. But we’re talking about some facts that – as you pointed out last week – that this book is not presented as fiction, or even part-fiction. This deals with, supposedly, God imposing the law of Shemitah – not the same way, but somehow it has an effect…it’s going to have an effect on the United States with regard to its economy. Now, Jonathan Cahn said in this book that the economic downturn of 2008 was the “worst crash in the history of America,” and I’m quoting. Dave, is that true?
Dave: Well, it depends on how you want to spin your statistics. Quoting someone else, I don’t know who, but someone has said that if you torture statistics long enough, they’ll confess to anything, and that’s kind of what’s happened here. That is true in terms of points, but “points” really doesn’t mean anything in and of itself. What matters is percentages, and what you find is not only in 2008 but the other one that he notes in 2001 – neither one of those fall into the top ten in terms of percentages of the top…the most significant market crashes. So it’s spinning the statistics to support your theory.
Tom: Well, again, you see, this catches people…call it their “fright zone.” When you say “the worst crash in the history of America,” not only is it not in the top ten (and in some cases related to what he said, it’s not even in the top 20), but in terms of its impact on America…yeah, we had a recession for a while, but we had things in place that kept it from being anything like the stock market crash of 1929.
You know, as I mentioned last week, I ran these things by a man whose life is, you know, as an investment counselor. He’s a historian of all this stuff, and he said there’s no way what happened in 2008 even comes close. Yeah, some people were hurt by it, a few people, but nothing like 1929. And then he said even 1985, which somehow got lost in this approach by Jonathan Cahn, was actually far worse than 2008.
Dave: And you know, one of the things that concerns me is that I actually did a search on the word “collapse” in his book, just because it was coming up so many times…
Dave: [laughs] …and there are dozens and dozens and dozens. He just uses the word “collapse, collapse, collapse,” and “wiped out,” and all of this – and not just for America, but worldwide. And the fact is there’s a difference between a downturn or even a steep fall – even a crash – and collapse. Those are two totally different things, and nothing came close to collapsing.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, you know, right away there may be people who didn’t hear our first session – didn’t go through the first program – but right away they’re saying, “Oh, these guys are attacking Jonathan Cahn. They don’t recognize that, you know, America is going south morally, and all of that, and we need to repent.”
Folks, yes we do. Absolutely. But as we mentioned last week, you cannot abuse the Scriptures to support a view that… Again, the end that we – we all want America to repent, but we can’t go back and take the Scriptures, distort them, abuse them, and so on. That process is called, “The end justifies the means.” No, the means have to be according to God’s way, and this is what we’re addressing. This is what we’re concerned about, because people are buying into what he’s saying, and it’s erroneous. It’s not true to the Scriptures.
But I remember going through, with you… When your book The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? came out, we – you in particular – were threatened by the attorney for Jonathan Cahn and Charisma, and they impugned your character! They said that the only reason you were writing this book was for greed. Now we’re criticizing The Mystery of Shemitah. What’s your motivation here, Dave?
Dave: My motivation is to simply point people back to the Scriptures and have them to test all things. The problem here that we have is not only are the Scriptures being distorted, history is being distorted. So you have someone who’s stepping into the role of both a biblical scholar and an historian, and he’s selectively using facts. He’s twisting Scripture to support his theory, and people are buying into this, and it scares people; it distorts people’s understanding of how you handle the Scriptures. Even the idea of using this word “mystery” all the time…
Dave: The fact is America is ripe for judgment, if it hasn’t already started one way or another. We…the Lord may return today to take us to be with Him, and the Tribulation could start. All these things could happen; those things are real. But, like you said, the end does not justify the means. You have to God’s things God’s way.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, let’s go back to a major premise that he has not only with The Harbinger, but with this book The Mystery of Shemitah.
Dave, if God wants to warn America, which is – that’s the premise that Jonathan Cahn builds. If He wants to warn America, is He going to do it through a mystery? I mean, The Mystery of Shemitah? Why is this a mystery? Why is it that only a few using computers and all of this stuff… You know, we have Bible codes, we have all these kinds of things. If God wants to say something to us, especially in terms of a warning about pending judgment, is He going to do it through a mystery?
Dave: Well, absolutely not. If it’s hidden and nobody has seen it coming… And here’s the thing: Jonathan Cahn says that this has been happening for decades, but now here we are well into this cycle – if this is God doing it – and now He’s just raised up one person to find something that no biblical scholar has ever seen before. And continually, biblical scholars – many biblical scholars – are saying it’s not there, even after the “mystery” has been revealed. The Shemitah was not a mystery to Israel, it was laid out in black and white very clearly, very specifically to Israel. And this, unfortunately – I’d say that this is sort of the trade mark of Jonathan Cahn in everything is a mystery. So he sets himself up to be a revealer of mysteries. Well, a mystery by definition is something that was hidden in the past, and now revealed. And the only place it can be revealed – if it’s not revealed in the text of Scripture, it means that he must somehow be getting revelation from God; and in fact, you can go to one of his shows with Jim Bakker, and he’s talking about the Shemitah and said, “The revelations just kept coming. They just kept coming.”
Tom: Mm-hmm. Right. So now he’s being promoted as a prophet, a prophet for today. He’s on the cover of Lamplighter Magazine as a prophet for America, and I don’t see him backing away from this – although when it’s pressed, you know, he does waffle a bit. But as you said, he says it. He calls Jim Bakker a prophet. Jim Bakker calls him a prophet, and I don’t see any denial on his part upfront about this.
Now, let’s go back to The Mystery of Shemitah, which again is supposedly – oh, by the way, folks, we’re not going to define this for you, but if you go back to our first session, my first session with Dave, he gives an excellent definition of what Shemitah is about, and I encourage you to do that if you missed the first session.
Now, Dave, give me an example anywhere in the Tanakh, the Old Testament, in which God – a judgment, there’s a pending judgment; God said he was going to judge – give me an example in which this ever came across as a mystery.
Dave: Well, the fact is it never came across as a mystery. What he did was – consistently – was he sent a prophet forth who received direct revelation from God, and it was announced to the nation that, “If you don’t do this, this is going to happen.” So here we have a modern-day situation where there is a mystery that is apparently being revealed, but only way after the fact. The Harbinger didn’t come out till 2012, but if God was judging on this seven-year Sabbath cycle, this Shemitah cycle which happened in 2001 and 2008, that means that God didn’t give a warning till after the fact.
Tom: Yeah. So you made a point that one difference between The Harbinger and the so-called Mystery of Shemitah is The Harbinger was wrapped in fiction, and Shemitah is not. Yet as you said last week…
But I want – and you need to go over this again – here is a book laying out all kinds of facts, I’d say most of them erroneous…well, I could even say all of them based on the details, the exact details that are claimed with regard to the dates. The figures in themselves, they’re off a few points here, a little bit here, a little bit there, which – does that tell us that this is something that [was] imposed by God, or given by God? No! Again, the Shemitah, the book The Mystery of Shemitah, has no documentation, no footnotes. Tell us again why that’s an important issue.
Dave: Well, I would say that as I have checked it – and I’ve spent hours and hours checking this – some of the facts are right, and some of the dates are right, and it’s not that they’re all wrong. But I would say that one: they’re selectively chosen, and there are other facts that would reveal a little bit different picture than what is being presented. But the other thing is as a work of non-fiction, just a matter of professionalism and what is required even by law is that when you state facts that are not common knowledge – for example, the Brooklyn Bridge is in New York. That’s common knowledge. Something other than common knowledge you have to document your source or you actually put yourself into legal trouble; and unfortunately, there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of facts that are asserted that have no documentation whatsoever.
Tom: Yeah, and that’s dishonest in the sense that how can you – a scientist comes up with a theory, and the first thing he does is he puts the theory out, and he has all kinds of documentation with regard to it so other scientists can check out his documentation, and can check out his approach to it, and then say, “Wait a minute, professor – scientist, whoever – this is erroneous. This is wrong.” Now, a good scientist will then accept that, check it out, make sure that if he is incorrect, he has to change it. But there’s no possibility – no possibility of that with The Mystery of Shemitah, is there?
Dave: Well, no. The standard for any work like this, whether it be science or history, it’s peer review; and in order to pass peer review, you have to be able to demonstrate that you aren’t selectively using facts, that you aren’t spinning things to support your theories, and this, apparently, was never subjected to that. And unfortunately, here you have a major publisher that let this go through without having those. I can’t even imagine a publisher doing that. I know that with my book that there were a couple of people who were running down every single footnote I had. I had it footnoted, but even then, they checked my footnote.
Tom: Right. And as I mentioned last week, as I’m reading this stuff, I don’t know where to go to check it out. I mean, I could Google this and Google that, but I turned it over to a friend of mine who is an investment counselor who – his love is the history of economics in the United States, and he didn’t have a problem finding out where these things were. And, you know, maybe I overstepped or overstated it, but there were so many facts in The Mystery of Shemitah and chapter 14 of The Harbinger – there were so many facts that were just erroneous.
Dave: Yeah, that’s right. And so, you know, we’re going to do our best to see what facts are right and what facts aren’t. And the other thing, along with the selectivity, it’s a matter of distorting things or – I’ve called it building in a fudge factor.
Dave: So if something doesn’t happen exactly, what he does is he frontloads it with disclaimers and says, “Well, if it’s a little bit after, this is in the aftermath of the Shemitah.” Or if it’s before, “This is the buildup to the Shemitah.” So by the time he does all that, you’ve got a range of about a year on either side of the Shemitah that if it hits there, then it’s stated as if it’s exact.
Tom: Dave, to go back to something we mentioned last week, and I think we have to keep presenting this, we are looking at the details. Somebody said, “Well, you’re nitpicking. You’re splitting hairs.” No, folks, we’re not. But if that’s the way people think, let’s go back to a basic premise: what does America have to do with the law of Shemitah? This was a law given to Israel. God has a covenant with Israel! This is not a law that affects or that has any relationship to do with the United States. I mean, that’s really clear. So bottom line, his premise for all of this is false, and then he supports it with details that are erroneous.
Dave: Right, and you know, there are no examples in Scripture and there are no statements in Scripture that says that this is some sort of principle that’s built into the fabric of the universe…
Dave: …this is the order of things. And that’s the way he’s presented it: that this is an inviolable principle that has been built into the order of creation that it happens automatically that God is using this. But if you look at any nation but Israel in the entire Bible, that connection is never made.
Now, if the Scriptures are sufficient for us to know everything we need to know for life and godliness, then why didn’t God tell us ahead of time that if this kind of thing – you start seeing this kind of thing, you need to watch out? Why do we have to have someone in the 21st century for the first time ever telling us that this is going on?
Tom: Right. Along that line, Dave, one of the things that’s troubled me regarding the promotion of Cahn’s book is that Cahn’s efforts majored in working with individuals who teach doctrines and practices that are blatantly contradictory to the Scriptures! Now, let’s name some names here, because we can document this; this is in their teachings, and so on. We have people like Sid Roth and Pat Robertson and Jim Bakker and Rodney Howard-Brown, Benny Hinn, and many others; and then we’ll take his publisher Charisma, who threatened litigation against you, and therefore us, just for your biblical evaluation of The Harbinger. But they’ve promoted these people, these individuals, from its beginning.
Now, look, and you know this, because you’ve contacted the individual, tried to give him some insights, and so on, yet this conservative Christian leader puts Jonathan Cahn on the cover of his magazine as a prophet for America. Yet you would think this guy would recognize that the very people that Jonathan Cahn is interacting with are false teachers – false prophets across the board. So how do you explain that, Dave?
Dave: It’s difficult to explain. Not only did Jonathan Cahn’s picture appear on the cover of his magazine with the title “Prophet for America,” he tried to discredit us, and me specifically, and anybody who would go against the message. In fact, I sent him a copy of my book and said, “Well, just take a look at this,” and he sent it back without opening it with a note inside saying, “I don’t need somebody else’s discernment to do discernment for me.”
Dave: And there’s this blindness… You know, I’ve said this before – and I try to be careful with this – but I’ve said this before: if I would line up the people who think there’s problems with The Harbinger, and I would look at that group, and then I would look at the group that are supporting The Harbinger, if The Harbinger wasn’t even a part of the picture, I can tell you which group I would rather be a part of.
Tom: Yeah. Well, as I’ve said, many discernment ministries – if we took The Harbinger, if we took the connection with Jonathan Cahn, if we took Charisma Magazine, Charisma publishers, if we took that out of the picture but just named these individuals, every one of these discernment ministries would have problems with the people that we’re talking about. So I have great concern here. Is this just birds of a feather? I’m not trying to know Jonathan Cahn’s heart or whatever, but I’m seeing who he is involved with, and this is really blindness, or worse.
Dave: Well, as dispensationalists, we are the strongest supporters of Israel, and we have a love for the Jews and we want to see them come to Christ, and there’s all kinds of things that are being done along that line. But unfortunately, one of the things that I think mistakenly happens is sometimes people hold Jewish scholars or Bible teachers up in higher regard than they do others, and we all have the same Scriptures. We all can approach it this way. So it’s not – whether it’s someone who is a Jewish believer or not a Jewish believer, if they’re a revealer of mysteries that nobody has found before, there’s a problem, and we just need to be careful that we don’t get caught up into the trap of going along with something that’s extremely popular.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, you mentioned something that happens: you address issues like this – and especially when it involves somebody like Jonathan Cahn who’s obviously Jewish. Well, now things come up… “Well, you’re anti-Semitic. You’re this or that.” No, come on! Jesus was Jewish! The disciples, the apostles were Jewish, and perhaps Luke may have been the exception – I’m not sure about that – but my point is that don’t be throwing these things out, because they have no bearing. First of all, we are The Berean Call. Your book was published by The Berean Call. Who were the Bereans? They were Jews in the synagogue of the Greek city of Berea. Perhaps because Paul on his missionary journey was communicating to them that the Messiah was Jesus Christ; He had come. And what did these Jews in this synagogue say? They’re commended by Luke because they “searched the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” So my point is don’t call us anti-Semitic, because we’re named after Jews here! And look at all the work of Dave Hunt and all that he has written in defense of Israel and so on. So that’s just a grenade that has no bearing.
All right, finally with this, Dave – we just have about three minutes – but I’m really concerned, because as I see these things coming together… Now you have the Shemitah; The Mystery of the Shemitah was supposedly the worst crash ever. The big one is supposed to come in 2015, and that’s aligning itself with Mark Biltz and then John Hagee with the idea of blood moons, and as these things converge… Dave, once again, like Y2K, like so many things that have come along that Christians have jumped aboard, this destroys lives. People sell their homes; people buy into survival food. By the way, many of these guys sell survival food. Turn on Jim Bakker if you think I’m kidding.
So there’s an issue here that not only frightens people, but can destroy lives physically, spiritually…it could be a tragedy.
Dave: Well, yes, on a couple of counts, and just real quickly with Harold Camping predicting the return of Christ in the spring and then in the fall a couple years ago, there are news reports that say that there are some people who committed suicide because of that. There are people who lost everything that they own – their houses, everything. People sold everything, or they lost everything because of these predictions. Now if you’re talking about the blood moons and you’re talking about the Shemitah, what are people going to do? Some people are going to be deceived, and they’re going to do rash things because they’ve been deceived. And here’s another real concern of mine: if nothing happens, if the Lord doesn’t return before the end of this Shemitah and blood moon cycle, then I think that this could be the last straw for many people, and they just say, “We’re not going to listen to Bible teaching about the last days, and we’re not going to be listening to Bible teaching at all, because these guys are just in it for money, and they’re just trying to scare people and use that to fill their own pockets.” Now, I’m not saying that they’re doing it intentionally, but I’m saying this is going to be a practical result.
Tom: There isn’t any doubt about it. So the world’s going to mock us just as they mocked Christianity because of Harold Camping and so on. But it affects lives, and that’s…
We’re just crying out to people: Be Bereans. Don’t just buy it because it’s in this popular book, or this guy’s preaching or teaching and so on; search the Scriptures to see if these things are so. Prophecy is the – it’s one of the most important teachings of the Bible. It’s – and as a matter of fact, it’s the best apologetic to know that the Bible is indeed the Word of God. There’s nothing better. But when it’s abused, it turns against us, and these people who set themselves up this way, you know, they are a reproach to Christ. They’re a reproach to the Word of God, in my view.
My guest has been Dave James. We’ve been discussing the new book by Jonathan Cahn called The Mystery of Shemitah, and folks, you have two sessions that we put together, and hopefully it’s been edifying. If not, let us know! Tell us what your concerns are, and we’d be glad to respond to them.
So, Dave, thanks for being with us, and till we do it again!
Dave: Thanks, Tom. It’s always good to be with you.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. Dave James’ book The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? is available from the Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in, and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.