When A False Teacher Calls America "Israel"
[Excerpts from a review of The Mystery of the Shemitah]
Jonathan Cahn, a popular Christian author, claims that his books reveal mysteries and predict the future. He thus portrays himself as like the Biblical prophets, including the claim of having new revelations. The main point of his book is that America is a second Israel and that she is being judged according to the seven-year Sabbath law called "shemitah" that was given to ancient Israel. This judgment manifests itself in seven-year cycles of stock market collapses or other cataclysmic events.
The apostle Paul claims that he was chosen by God to reveal mysteries as were the other apostles. The gospel itself was the mystery of which he spoke. We see this in Ephesians 3: that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, (Ephesians:3:3-6)
A mystery is something that would not be known had God not chosen to reveal it through His appointed spokespersons. These are Moses and the prophets in the Old Testament, and Christ and His appointed apostles and prophets in the New Testament. The writings of the Biblical prophets in Scripture are inerrant and infallible. In the Scriptures we have revealed all the mysteries that will be known until Christ returns.
However, Jonathan Cahn, who is not one of the Biblical prophets, claims to reveal mysteries: "The Harbringer and The Mystery of the Shemitah are not only revealing mysteries but also the sounding of the alarms. Cahn's claim to be a revealer of mysteries is strong and severely problematic: "Much that will be revealed in this book has never before been revealed in written form" (Cahn: 2). This is a rather bold claim that echoes the apostle Paul's cited above. He claims to have special revelation like the biblical authors.
Cahn often repeats what I call our national myth—that America is somehow the new Israel. This myth goes back to beginning of our history but cannot be sustained by any biblical standard. The myth is based on the belief that man can unilaterally make a covenant and bind God to it, without God having agreed to anything. Cahn claims, "Embedded in America's foundation is a prophetic warning. The warning was given on America's first day as a nation. It concerns what will happen if America should ever turn away from God" (Cahn: 21). For such a warning to be valid and binding, it would have to be issued by an infallible prophet who speaks for God, in this case, beyond scripture. Who, exactly, is America's Moses, or Jesus, or the apostles? Lacking any such person, God cannot have stated that America is Israel and has a binding covenant. That she does is our national myth.
The truth is that God draws out the boundaries of all nations through His providence. The truths revealed in Romans 13 and elsewhere about how Christians relate to civil governments applied to Rome when Paul wrote and all civil governments in history. Only Israel was directly established by God and had a binding covenant mediated through Moses who God chose and appointed. America has neither a Moses nor a binding covenant. We are not the new Israel and never have been. The moral laws of God that do apply are found in the Bible and they apply to all people in all nations.
Cahn falsely claims that any nation can become a covenant nation: "Such a prophetic sign could be given to any nation as long as that nation in some way matched the description or shared the attributes of ancient Israel in 586 BC" (Cahn: 56). Cahn obviously fails to understand what Moses taught in Deuteronomy:32:8, 9 (cited at the beginning of this article). Only Israel was directly under Yahweh, all the other nations are under the "sons of God." No other nations had an Exodus, a Sinai, or a Moses. All nations are ruled by God's providence and are under the principalities and powers (‘sons of God' of Deuteronomy:32:8). America is no exception. Cahn again repeats our national myth: "Those who founded America not only foretold its future blessing—but also gave warning. It was this: If America ever turned away from God, then the same judgments that fell upon ancient Israel would fall upon America" (Cahn: 61). Israel had Moses and the prophets who spoke inerrantly for God. Who speaks bindingly for God beyond Scripture for America? There is no such person.
All the moral laws of God always apply to all peoples in all nations. They are revealed in Scripture. All geo-political entities have boundaries that are drawn out by God in His providence and have leaders that His providence allows. In these important ways America is like all nations. We are not Israel. Furthermore, no man or nation has the power or authority to bind God to a man-made, unilateral covenant. Unilateral covenants in the Bible are established by God, not man. We need to reject the myth that America is a special covenant nation and start thinking Biblically rather than mythologically.
[TBC: T.A. and Dave James address the distortion of prophecy by Jonathan Cahn and Mark Biltz in their upcoming “Search the Scriptures 24/7” broadcast (“Serious Abuse of Prophesy” Oct 30, Nov 6). Cahn and Biltz's more than implied disaster-pending date settings (that failed to occur) led multitudes of fear-induced Christians to suffer financially, emotionally, and spiritually,]