Having read the book, this writer noticed three primary problems as it regards the issue of its Gospel presentation (there are far more concerning details that arise when reading the book, but those are not the purpose of this post). What follows is this writer's perception and opinion, and ought not be perceived as an attack upon the author of The Harbinger.
Firstly, it is true that throughout the pages of The Harbinger, the broad concept of repentance is presented. It is done so, however, by repeating the phrase "turn back to God," and seems to most often be presented in the context of America doing the turning. The book argues that this nation has turned away from God by removing prayer from schools, by legalizing abortion, by accepting homosexuality, etc. America has run God out of its daily life. The basic implication then becomes that to turn back to God is to engage in moral reform. Of course, America could become the most moral nation in the world and it would be nothing more than a massive whitewashed tomb. Mere morality does not save anybody.
Further, if the Gospel of Jesus Christ is of utmost importance to the author of The Harbinger and essential to the value of the book, then one must question why the book's version of the Gospel is not presented until Chapter 21 (the book contains 22 chapters total)? Throughout the book the main character, Nouriel, is an unbeliever. The character known as "the Prophet" has been tasked with revealing to Nouriel the secret mystery of America's warning and potential judgment from God. Once all of the mysteries have been revealed, the Prophet shares with Nouriel about eternity.
At the end of Chapter 21, entitled "Eternity," Nouriel indicates that this journey and this story began "years before." Is the reader to believe that God is more concerned with sending a journalist on a scavenger hunt than He is with presenting to that unsaved journalist the good news of salvation and forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ? Is the reader really to believe that God's own priorities are so skewed that He would send a "prophet" to a man, but would instruct that prophet to withhold from that man for years the way of salvation?
This portion of The Harbinger presumedly is part of the 10% of the book that author Jonathan Cahn claims is fiction. Nevertheless, if a primary concern of the book is to proclaim the Gospel, then why is the reader given the impression that the obscure harbingers and the mysterious warning are of greater importance than the message of eternal salvation?
Finally, it seems as though the message of the good news of Jesus Christ is presented in a blurry manner. Below, the reader will find an abridged quotation of the Gospel presentation that is contained within the book, The Harbinger. This particular chapter is 12 pages long in the print version of the book, and it takes nearly all of those pages to paste together the entirety of its Gospel. The quoted material below, then, seeks to adequately represent the primary substance of the chapter. For the sake of clarity, liberty has been taken to carefully indicate which character is speaking each line.
The Prophet: "Judgment isn’t ultimately about nations—but people. As it’s written: ‘It’s appointed for man once to die and then judgment.’ After the end comes the Day of Judgment, in light of which all other judgments are only foreshadows. And no one is exempt. Each must stand before Him.”
The Prophet: “Why judgment?”
The Prophet: “It must be. As long as there’s evil, there has to be judgment. Every sin, every wrong, every evil has to be brought to an end. Without it, there would be no hope.”
Nouriel: “Without judgment there would be no hope?” I asked.
The Prophet: “Without judgment, there would be no end to evil in the universe…or in man’s heart. There would be no heaven.
“And who is evil?”
Nouriel: “Those who kill, who deceive, who steal, those who hurt and abuse others…”
The Prophet: “And that’s it?” he asked.
Nouriel: “I’m sure there are other categories.”
The Prophet: “And what about you, Nouriel? Do you fit into any of those categories?”
The Prophet: “No,” he replied, “you wouldn’t. But remember, ‘All the ways of a man are right in his own eyes.’ It’s from the Book of Proverbs. That’s human nature. So be careful of the image that appears in your own eyes. [...] You can never judge yourself by your own standards and your own righteousness, but only in light of His righteousness.” [...]
(Jonathan Cahn, The Harbinger, [Charisma House: 2011], 227–229).The prophet seems to affirm that Nouriel would not fit into the categories of "evil" that they have listed. Yet, is Nouriel not representative of human beings? Then he undoubtedly would have hated, which is murder of the heart (Matt. 5:21–22). Nouriel surely has lied in his life, has hurt others, possibly has even stolen. Nouriel, like every man, fulfills every category of sinner set forth by the Scriptures.
Nouriel: “But then who could stand?” I asked. “Who could make it into heaven?”
The Prophet: “No one could stand, and no one could make it into heaven. How far would just one sin take you away from the infinite righteousness of God?”
Nouriel: “An infinite distance?”
The Prophet: “Yes. So how far are we from heaven?”
Nouriel: “An infinite distance.”
The Prophet: “And how great is the judgment?”
Nouriel: “Infinitely great.”
The Prophet: “And how long would it take us to bridge the gap, to be reconciled to God, to enter heaven?”
Nouriel: “An infinity of time.”
The Prophet: “Eternity,” he said.
Nouriel: “So we could never get there, could we?”
The Prophet: “And to be infinitely separated from God and heaven…is what?” he asked.
The Prophet: “Hell—infinite separation from God and from all things good; total, infinite, eternal judgment.
The soul is eternal,” he said. “One way or another, at the end of a thousand ages, you’ll still exist. The question is where. And if the joy and glory of being in God’s presence in heaven is beyond our imagining, so then too is the darkness and horror of being in His absence…without Him forever…hell.”
(Cahn, 229–230).Of course, for an unbeliever who by nature is at enmity with God, the thought of being in a place without Him is not a scary one. Hell is more than merely the "absence of God." Rather, it is the wrath of God being poured out on unrepentant sinners for eternity (see Rev. 20:8, 11–15; Matt. 13:40–42 as just a few examples).
The Prophet: For what alone is it that can answer an infinite judgment and bridge an infinite chasm?
Nouriel: “An infinite love,” I said. “The infinite presence of an infinite love.”
The Prophet: “Of the infinite One,” he said.
Nouriel: “You mean God.”
The Prophet: “God.”
Nouriel: “But you haven’t mentioned the word religion even once.”
The Prophet: “Because it’s not about religion; it’s about love. That’s the meaning of the sign, the overcoming of the infinite judgment by the infinite love.”
Nouriel: “The love of God.”
The Prophet: “The love of God. For God is love, and the nature of love is what?”
Nouriel: “To give?” I replied.
The Prophet: “Yes, to give of itself, to put itself in the place of the other even if it means that by so doing it must sacrifice itself. So if God is love, then what would the ultimate manifestation of love be?”
Nouriel: “I don’t know.”
The Prophet: “The giving of Himself…God giving Himself to bear the judgment of those under judgment if, by so doing, it would save them. Love puts itself in the place of the other. So then the ultimate manifestation of love would be…”
Nouriel: “God putting Himself in our place.”
The Prophet: “In our life, in our death, in our judgment…the sacrifice.”
Nouriel: “As in Jesus…”
The Prophet: “The infinite sacrifice,” said the prophet, “to bear an infinite judgment, in which all sins are nullified and all who partake are set free…forgiven…saved. An infinite redemption in which judgment and death are overcome and a new life given…a new beginning…a new birth. The love of God is greater than judgment…. Remember…there is no sin so deep that His love isn’t deeper…and no life so hopeless…no soul so far away…and no darkness so dark that His love isn’t greater still.”
Nouriel: “But this is all…I wasn’t born with it, or raised in it, and I’m not religious.”
The Prophet: “Being religious has nothing to do with it,” he said. “There’s no religion in heaven, only love. It’s the heart, Nouriel. And you couldn’t have been born into it to begin with, only born again into it. And it can’t happen without you choosing it.
Do you know His real name?”
The Prophet: “Yes.”
Nouriel: “I thought that was His real name.”
The Prophet: “His real name is Yeshua. It’s Hebrew. He was Jewish, as were all His disciples, and the message they proclaimed was all about the Jewish Messiah, the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Hope of Israel. Yeshua is Hebrew for God is Salvation, or God is Deliverance…Protection…Rescue…Freedom…Refuge…and Safety. In the Day of Judgment, there’s no safe ground…no salvation, except in Him who is salvation.”
(Cahn, 231–233).It is true that the transliteration of Jesus' Hebrew name is Yeshua. Yet, the implication that 'Jesus' is not also His real name is erroneous. The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, which renders 'Yeshua' as Ἰησοῦς, which translated into English is 'Jesus'.
Nouriel: “So how does one become saved?”
The Prophet: “‘You cannot see the kingdom of God unless you are born again.‘ Those are His words.”
Nouriel: “And how does one become born again?”
The Prophet: “By receiving…by letting go…by letting the old life end and a new one begin. By choosing…by opening your heart to receive that which is beyond containing—the presence…the mercy…the forgiveness…the cleansing…the unending love of God.”
Nouriel: “By receiving what exactly?”
The Prophet: “The gift, freely given and freely received, and yet so great a gift that you treasure it above life itself…so great a gift that it changes everything else.
It begins with the receiving…with the opening of one’s heart…with the turning away from darkness and to the light…with the giving of oneself…the committing of one’s life—a vow of love…a prayer…decision…a total and unconditional yes.”
Nouriel: “And it takes place…”
The Prophet: “Anywhere, any place, alone or with others, wherever you are. It takes place anywhere, for it takes place in the heart.”
Nouriel: “And at any time?”
The Prophet: “No, Nouriel,” he said. “It doesn’t take place at any time. It only takes place at one time.
Now…” said the prophet. “Now is the only time in which it can happen. As it is written, ‘Now is the time of salvation,’ never tomorrow, only now."
(Cahn, 233–234).The Prophet goes on to exhort Nouriel that he is only "one heartbeat" away from eternity, and thus must choose salvation now. Of course, the urgency of his exhortation remains shrouded in irony considering that at this point he has known Nouriel for a period of years and has not until now shared this eternal message.
Yet, is this message adequate? The most basic elements of the Gospel seem to be present, but are they presented clearly? If a person with no biblical background were to read this, would he understand what he must do to be saved? Could the gospel message of The Harbinger stand alone and bring a sinner to salvation and faith in Jesus Christ? The reader is encouraged to search the Scriptures carefully as he seeks to answer these questions.
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