I am writing this on September 11. I was born exactly 50 years and 11 days before that dreadful day in 2001. This 50-year Jubilee connection is just one of many reasons that 9/11 has especially deep meanings for me.
It has been 18 years since the heart-breaking tragedy, when terrorists attacked our country, killing 3000 people, injuring over 6000, and inflicting massive physical damage.
Those of us old enough will remember watching the television coverage in agonized shock. We were stunned, and later that turned into terrible hurt and anger for all that we had lost. Many of our leaders sought to stand tall and speak bravely in order to console us. A President demonstrated American strength and courage, vowing retribution by assuring the world that “the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!” Nationalist fervor welled up in our leaders, and their continual rallying cry became “We will rebuild!”
After 9/11, the churches filled with people needing answers to their own pain and confusion. They prayed for those who had been killed; U.S. flag lapel pins were everywhere; and “God bless America” became a catch-phrase. But it didn’t take long for the church-going trend to wither away, and attendance reverted back to pre-9/11 levels. There was no lasting “great awakening” or quickening of our spiritual fervor. There was no unified plea to God to forgive our national sins and to heal us as a people.
Time passed, and a new wave of leaders emerged. Another President assured us that, to heal our 9/11 wounds and to unify the country, all that was needed were “the smallest acts of service” and “the simplest act of kindness.” Others would seek to minimize the terror and the terrorist origins of 9/11 by describing it with such toss-off lines as “some people did something.”
And so, every 9/11, we Americans have a deep-seated need to memorialize it somehow. We flood social media with memes demanding that we “Never Forget,” but which fail to tell us how to deal with what we remember. We experience each 9/11 knowing that our response is somehow incomplete, but there have been precious few strong voices to tell us why we still feel empty and desolate. All we know is that we are unable to find our way back by minimizing the importance of the event, or by fist-shaking patriotic bravado — or even by rebuilding taller and better.
At least subconsciously, we kept trying to answer seemingly unanswerable questions. What is missing? What don’t we know or acknowledge? Why do we still feel empty and incomplete?
“We Will Rebuild”
Exactly 10 years after the bin-Laden-inspired attack, a book hit the market, written by Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Jewish Rabbi, of whom few had heard by that time. The book was titled The Harbinger, and it spent 100 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. Word of mouth won it a huge readership, particularly throughout the conservative and evangelical Christian communities and churches, and in Jewish Messianic congregations.
I had heard a little about the book, but I had not yet found a compelling reason to read it. But after it was strongly recommended to me by a cousin of mine and his wife (thanks, David & Joan!), I bought a copy and (to quote an old phrase) I couldn’t put it down. The author’s huge and important message centered around three main things: (1) 9/11, (2) a brief passage from the book of Isaiah, and (3) the author’s seemingly inexhaustible knowledge of Old and New Testament scriptures.
This is not a “book report” on The Harbinger, by any means. Suffice it to say that the book draws startling and undeniable parallels between events in the final days of the ancient kingdom of Israel and the 21st century nation of the United States — up to and including 9/11.
I’ve had many conversations with people about the book in the intervening years, and they almost always have been very positive about it. Virtually every one of them, however, talked mainly or exclusively about the book’s prophecy content. “If ancient Israel had an event that mirrored our 9/11, and therefore was a kind of prophecy for it, then what happened to Israel afterward? Is that also a prophecy for what is going to happen to America??” And to be fair, there is no doubt that these are important questions that Jonathan Cahn wanted his readers to explore and take to heart.
But after my second reading of The Harbinger, I came away convinced that the prophetic teaching of the book, however large and captivating, is not its most important message. Here’s why.
As I mentioned above, author Cahn began by demonstrating the parallels between the terrorist attacks suffered by ancient Israel and those of 9/11 in this country. One thread of the book goes forward from there and fleshes out the prophetic meaning of those parallels. But there is a much more important thread (or so it seems to me) which explores how we as a nation can avoid the calamities suffered by ancient Israel after those terrorist attacks. That second thread is one concerning Prayer and Repentance.
After I separated those two threads in my mind, I began to notice that when Cahn was interviewed about the book, he was inevitably (and understandably) asked about its prophetic message. And he always found a way to turn the conversation back around to his book’s (and the Bible’s) call for our nation to turn to prayer and repentance.
The Second Thread
Here’s what that second thread comprises. If you have read any Old Testament history at all, you will remember that ancient Israel was warned by God’s Prophets that He would punish them severely if they did not stop their sinful, evil ways, return to Him, and keep His Covenant. The Prophet Isaiah tells us that, as a warning, ancient Israel was attacked by a terrorist nation that shook them as badly as 9/11 shook America. The early verses of Isaiah chapter 9 remind the reader of that event:
The Lord sent a message against Jacob; it came against Israel.
All the people — Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria — will know it. They will say with pride and arrogance:
“The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with cut stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will replace them with cedars.”
The people did not turn to Him who struck them; they did not seek Yehovah of Hosts.
Did you notice in this passage the similarities to 9/11 and its aftermath? “We will rebuild” is not considered by God to be a statement of courage or strength — even though post-9/11 American leaders thought it was. God instead calls it “pride and arrogance” when they (we?) assert that “the previous building has fallen, but we will rebuild with better, stronger materials.” Why does God say that? Isaiah tells us in verse 13: “The people … did not seek Yehovah of Hosts.”
Here is how Cahn lays it out: God allowed the destruction of ancient Israel’s buildings (also a tower, as it turns out) for several reasons:
- (1) to get their attention,
- (2) to give them a reason to turn back to Him,
- (3) to bring them to Him on bended knees, and
- (4) to persuade them to ask for forgiveness of their national sins.
And here’s a truly astounding point, which we might easily read past without noticing. The first part of verse 13 (see above) says that it was God, Himself, “who struck them.” The attack was God’s will and He caused it to happen. In The Harbinger, Cahn makes the case that this is the same reason God allowed (caused) 9/11.
Did ancient Israel heed God’s wake-up call and turn back to Him in prayer and repentance? No.
Did America heed God’s wake-up call and turn back to Him in prayer and repentance? No.
Must we in America turn back to God in prayer and repentance, to avoid further punishment for our sins? Almost certainly, Yes.
After the “shaking” of the terrorist attack, God gave ancient Israel a time to listen to His prophets, to abandon their sinful ways, to return in humility to their Creator God, and to repent of the evil in the land. We must never forget that ancient Israel did not listen to God’s calling. In their “pride and arrogance,” they boasted that they would recover through their own strength, and they ignored God’s call to Prayer and Repentance.
And what happened? God caused the Kingdom of Israel to be destroyed and its people to be taken into captivity by the nation of Assyria as punishment.
If their terrorist attack was God’s wake-up call to them to prayer and repentance, is it possible that 9/11 was the same thing for America — a country which has long boasted of being a Christian nation, built on a Judeo-Christian foundation? And if we ignore this call to prayer and repentance, are we in danger of a national calamity equal in size, scope, and purpose for defying our Creator God?
A Day of Prayer and Repentance
I said above that our hearts and minds realize every year that our feelings about 9/11 are still uneasy and incomplete. God is trying to tell us that it is only through Him that our lives can be whole, complete, positive, and forgiven.
We must as a nation drop to our knees, bow our heads toward the ground, and humbly ask God’s forgiveness for our own individual sins and those of our nation. In the words of the king of Nineveh,
Everyone must call out earnestly to God. Each must turn from his evil ways and from the violence he is doing. Who knows? God may turn and relent; He may turn from His burning anger so that we will not perish.
And so, it was to Jonathan Cahn that I turned today to find a prayer that would articulate exactly what we as a nation need to bring to our minds and hearts and, in humility, to say to God. Cahn used the phrase “Prayer and Repentance” in introducing his prayer, and I have borrowed it in my call to all of us to commit to making 9/11 A Memorial Day of Prayer and Repentance.
Actually, it should be our mission every single day. And in our heart of hearts, I think we all know it.
So below is the video Cahn made of a 4-minute Prayer for America on 9/11, exactly 5 years ago. It is my gift to you who read this, in the hopes that it will become your goal to bring these same petitions to our Creator God continually and fervently. I have also made a complete transcription of the prayer and appended it below the video, so that you can easily go back and re-examine it in detail.
God bless you, my readers, and may God find in us both genuine humility and abject repentance so that He will continue to bless the United States!
Lord, we ask for Your mercy on this land.
We ask for your hand upon this land.
Lord, we have sinned.
We have turned from You.
We have turned from Your ways.
We have ruled You out of this culture.
We have mocked Your name.
We have blasphemed Your name and the name of Your Son.
We have called what is evil “good.”
We have called what is good “evil.”
We have promoted immorality, not only here but around the world.
We were called to be a “city on a hill” and to spread Your light throughout the world.
But Lord, we confess on behalf of this nation, and we intercede on behalf of this nation —
Lord, we have turned from the light as a nation.
We have spread darkness and immorality, as well, around the world.
We have pursued idols.
We have served idols of greed and money and success over You.
Even in the Church, even among Your people, we have promoted prosperity over righteousness.
We have watered down the Gospel.
Father, we ask for Your hand upon this nation.
We ask for —
Your hand upon Washington, DC.
Your hand upon the White House, Lord; have Your way with the White House.
Your hand upon the Capitol; have Your way with Congress.
Your hand upon the Supreme Court; have Your way.
Your hand upon the governments of every state, every governor, every house of governing in every state; Lord, we ask Your hand.
We ask Your hand upon the cities; let there be revival.
Lord, whatever it takes, let there be revival in this land.
Lord, let there be revival in the cities.
Lord, let there be revival in the coastland.
Let there be revival, Lord, from New York City to California.
Let there be revival in the heartlands.
Let there be revival among the young, Lord; revival among the old.
Let there be revival in the churches, Lord.
Lord, let there be a move of holiness, a move of righteousness, a move of Your Spirit.
Lord, let there be revival in us.
Lord, we cannot ask for revival for others, if we are not ourselves willing to live in revival now.
So, Lord, whatever it takes, have mercy on this land that was dedicated to Your Name and to Your purposes.
Have mercy on the “city on the hill.”
And, Lord, let it again shine with the light of Your glory, with the light of Your righteousness.
Lord, let the ones who have ears to hear, let them hear; let them be saved; let them turn.
Lord, let there be a massive outpouring of Your will.
We praise You, and we thank You for Your mercy, for your grace.
For we ask all these things in the name of Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah.
By His blood, by His atonement, in the mercy of that sacrifice, we ask that You have mercy on all of us and upon this nation.
And let there be revival, Lord.
Let there be the Gospel going forth to this world, to the nations, for an end-time revival.
And we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the coming of Your Kingdom.
In the name of Jesus the Messiah, the Lord of all and the Hope of America.
|ARTICLE © 2019, DR. GROVER B. PROCTOR, JR. — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED|
‘Truly, before Abraham was…’
I have seen several Facebook memes similar to the one shown here, all with the identical Christian message. Maybe you’ve run across them, too. They display what are called the seven “I AM” statements of Jesus:
• I am the bread of life.
• I am the light of the world.
• I am the door (or gate).
• I am the good shepherd.
• I am the resurrection and the life.
• I am the way, the truth, and the life.
• I am the true vine.
Each of the seven “I AMs” may be found in the Gospel of John, and of course — inescapably and profoundly — Jesus is most certainly each and every one of them. That knowledge is vital in our attempts to more completely understand Him, His earthly Mission, and His plan for our salvation.
That greatest “I AM” is also found in the book of John. In Chapter 8, Jesus is responding to increasingly virulent verbal questioning and accusations from a group of Pharisees (or “the Jews,” as John refers to them). As the replies from Jesus hit closer and closer to home, the Pharisees finally (metaphorically) throw down on the table their ancestral trump card: “We are the descendants of Abraham!” they cried. The implication was clear: “We are Abraham’s offspring! As such we are God’s chosen — and therefore we cannot possibly be guilty of the accusations You are making against us!”
It all comes to a head when Christ tells them that they are far from acting like God’s Chosen People. You are instead, Jesus tells them, “of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.” Their response to this is the classic playground bully retort, used by those who have no rational, legal, or (in this case) spiritual arguments to fall back on — “Yeah, well if we’re bad, you’re worse!”
I truly believe a strong case can be made that, of all the things Christ is quoted as saying in the Bible, this one statement packs the biggest explosive power. The Pharisees understood perfectly well what He was telling them. They needed no sages, commentaries, or apologists to explain it. But just in case the full meaning is not yet completely clear today, 2000 years later, here is what two highly respected New Testament Commentaries say about Christ’s “I am” statement and its profound message:
[Holman Concise Bible Commentary]
The words rendered “was” and “am” are quite different. The one clause means, “Abraham was brought into being”; the other, “I exist.” The statement therefore is not that Christ came into existence before Abraham did, but that He never came into being at all, but existed before Abraham had a being; in other words, existed before creation, or eternally [John 1:1]. In that sense the Jews plainly understood Him, since “then took they up stones to cast at Him,” just as they had before done when they saw that He made Himself equal with God [John 5:18].
[Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible]
Now, don’t panic. I know you’re eyeing this chart with all the Greek writing in it with trepidation, bordering on fear and loathing. Don’t let your eyes (or your brain) glaze over. Breathe in; breathe out.
Understanding Greek is not in any way a prerequisite for continuing to read this article! I’ve only included this graphic because I want us to fully share and savor the meaning and import of every single word and phrase in Christ’s momentous declaration. Read through the English on the bottom line, and when you are finished, we’ll walk together on a journey through Christ’s amazing declaration.
On first reading, Jesus’ “I AM” statement (bottom line, in brownish-orange on the chart) might seem simple. But then you notice that, strictly speaking, it doesn’t make grammatical sense. (Past tense and present tense, in the same sentence?) By the time we’re finished, however, I hope you’ll agree that Jesus said it perfectly correctly and that it contains an infinitely powerful truth.
Scholars used to be unanimous in believing that Jesus spoke this sentence in the Aramaic language, but more recently (thanks in part to the finds in the Dead Sea Scrolls) some have come around to suggesting Hebrew was the language of dialogue and learning in first-century Judea. Either way, John’s translation of His statement into Greek comprises only 9 words. In order to understand the profundity inherent in the message of those few words, let’s take them word by word (or phrase by phrase) and see how Christ’s one-sentence reply to the Pharisees answered the one largest question about who Jesus was — and at the same time raised a huge number of other questions.
A Walk Through John 8:58. Each of the five large text blocks below tackles one word or phrase from Christ’s sentence. In a box in the upper left of each text block, I have mirrored the Interlinear graphic above, putting John’s actual Greek word(s) on the middle line, the English transliteration on the top line, and the English literal translation at the bottom in red type. *
My commentary, inside each larger text block, attempts to reflect the thoughts that might have rapidly gone through the mind of someone present at the time Jesus had this confrontation with the Pharisees. As such, the phrases and sentences are often fragmented and jump quickly to new considerations. They are also repetitive, as one might go back to a previous thought in order to add a new insight gained and see if total meaning is emerging.
Just read the following in a flow, and with luck and God’s guidance, we’ll trust that His meaning will become clear.
Did you know that every time Jesus began a sentence “Truly” or “Verily, verily,” He was using the Hebrew word “Amen”? It’s true. It means “Truth.” (The English equivalents most often given by NT Greek Lexicons for “amen” (pronounced “ahm-AIN”) include truly, verily, surely, certainly, of a truth, it is the truth, and so be it.) Using it to precede a statement of fact or an announcement was a common idiom at the time, indicating not only its veracity but also that it was of some significance. We do a similar thing in English when we start a sentence like this: “I’ll tell you the truth, that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done!” or “In all honesty, I think his new haircut looks silly.” [We even have a way of doing that in the vernacular (slang) when we start a sentence with “Seriously.” “Seriously, dude, where’s my car?” However, I don’t think I would use it to translate a statement made by Jesus!] That Christ used the word “Amen” twice to begin this sentence signified major emphasis. He was calling attention to the fact that what He was about to say was not only true, but also important. When we get to the end of Christ’s sentence, that will seem like an understatement.
Time is important and will play a large role in the meaning of this sentence. We’ve already gotten the message that the sentence is true and important, and now this single simple word communicates both subject and verb — “I say” (or “I am saying”). We can read a clear subtext in this one word: We start with “Truth. Very important.” and we add “Now. In the present. At this moment. As I look at you and you look at me, I SAY this to you. We are locked together in this time of the now. This is not something you heard in the past, and no prophecy of the future has revealed it to you.” Also by this, Jesus takes full responsibility for the unbelievable magnitude of what He is about to tell them.
With the addition of this word, Christ’s hearers have been given this introduction: “Truth. Important. Present tense. I am saying… to you.” Still locked eyeball to eyeball, Jesus and the Pharisees have been engaged in a “knock-down, drag-out” verbal battle, and He has just heard the Pharisees play their ancestral “trump card” — “We are the descendants of Abraham! We are the spiritual Leaders of God’s Chosen People! And who are you? You are one of the hated, heretical Samaritans and are clearly demon-possessed!” The carpenter’s son from Nazareth — the Creator of the Universe — looks at them calmly and assures them that this “truth,” this “important truth,” is specifically for them. They will have to deal with its ramifications.
πρὶν Ἀβραὰμ γενέσθαι
Before Abraham was [born]
Jesus now makes time move within a single sentence. He started with the present tense: “Truth. Important. I am saying this now to you.” But He immediately reverses gear and casts them back to the ancient past: “What I am saying to you, the message I have for you, carries implications about and derives its authority from — the past.” In telling the Pharisees just before this that “Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced,” He was giving one huge hint of what He was going to tell them. But as we’ll see, the Pharisees never saw it coming. Jesus had picked this day, this time, this “now” to reveal His own “trump card” — His identity. And the Pharisees took the offered bait and ran with it. One can imagine the sneers on their faces and the revulsion in their hearts as they snapped back at Him: “You aren’t 50 years old yet, and You’ve seen Abraham?” They knew that Abraham’s day was estimated as much as 1800 years (!!) before this conversation. Preposterous, they were thinking! He’s mad and he has a demon! But now, the end of the sentence is almost here. Christ tells them “The important truth that I am saying to you now requires you to cast your mind back to the time ‘before Abraham was born’… ”
Wait, what did He say?
It hits our modern ears as incorrect, because He has switched back to the present tense. Or has He?
tick… tick… tick…
2, maybe 3 seconds of complete silence, as the universe-sized import and unbelievable meaning of what Jesus of Nazareth just said hits each of the Pharisees. There would have been no one present in the Temple that day who did not understand the clear reference just made to “I AM.”
Boom! Explosion. “Kill him! Stone him!! He is claiming to be God!” Actually, that last sentence may well have been the truest thing the Pharisees said the whole day.
I AM. The burning bush. “I am that I am.” “I am the one Who said, ‘Let there be light!'” “I am Yehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” And then, the climactic truth becomes clear…
Jesus of Nazareth, staring at the Pharisees,
has delivered to the Pharisees an unmistakable message, which hangs in the air…
“I AM your God“
So now, with all of the above, the following three quotes have merged into one major, astounding, earth- and human-changing TRUTH: The eternal God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — the Creator of the Universe — emptied Himself into a human form for the benefit of each individual one of us, and He told us His Name as a sign, a token, and an unalterable proof of that fact.
— Exodus 3:13–15 (HCSB)
“Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced.”
The Jews replied, “You aren’t 50 years old yet, and You’ve seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.”
— John 8:56-58 (HCSB)
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM !
— Mark Lowry
Describing the facts he has uncovered as “cool” and “amazing,” Cahn makes the strong point that the study of God’s name is not just some dry, boring historical or theological stuff. Rather, he says, this has “everything to do with your life. The name of God actually applies to your life! In an amazing way, this can change your life.”
Below, you will find a video (audio only) of a message he delivered titled YHVH: The I AM Mysteries, and I strongly urge you to set aside 33 minutes of quiet time to listen to it. Once you get to the 8-minute mark, put your mental roller skates on, because he’ll be taking you for a wind-in-your-hair, joyful, inspiring, and amazing ride!
To whet your appetite, but without spoilers, here are some of the truths Cahn talks about in the video. (Yes, including Moses’s socks.) I predict you’ll find it fascinating and uplifting.
Jonathan Cahn — YHVH: The I AM Mysteries (39:34)
Extra question for those who listened to Jonathan Cahn’s message:
In honor of my mentor and dear friend Dr. Leonard Kaplan (1935-2013).
Λ = L, ό = o, γ = g, ο = o, ς = s and that gives us the English transliteration of Λόγος, which is Logos.
It can even be done with languages that have no alphabet, such as Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese). The Chinese call this transliteration pinyin (pronounced peen-yeen). Since there is no Chinese alphabet, the transliteration is done just using the sound of each word. The capital of China is pronounced BAY-JING (with the “j” sounding like the j in “jingle,” not the sound of “prime rib au jus” or “Zsa Zsa Gabor”). So the people who created the transliteration pinyin for Mandarin used the Western alphabet letters “Beijing” to create that word’s pinyin.
(THE SEVEN “I AMs”) CatholicLink Library of Resosurces
(JOHN 8:58 GREEK) BibleHub.com
(“I AM”) Woodland Baptist Church, Columbus, MS
(JONATHAN CAHN DVDs, VOL. 4) WND.com
VIDEO CREDIT —
(YHVH: THE I AM MYSTERIES) Jonathan Cahn; Hope of the World
Posted by Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. on August 27, 2018 in Bible Study, Biblical Education, Biblical History, Jonathan Cahn
Tags: "I AM", "Mary Did You Know", amen, Asking the Next Question, ἀμὴν, ἐγὼ εἰμί, biblehub.com, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, Exodus 3:14, Holman Concise Bible Commentary, John 8:58, Jonathan Cahn, Leonard Kaplan, Mark Lowry, Pharisees, transliteration