Jonathan Cahn’s book, The Harbinger, is an outstanding exposition on the present plight of the United States. I recommend this book wholeheartedly. The Harbinger centers around the following scripture:
“The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with smooth stones; The sycamores have been cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.” Isa 9:10 (NASB)
Cahn explains that this scripture is actually a very bad thing. It is the people saying they will lean on their own abilities to rebuild something that not only God destroyed, He destroyed it to teach them a lesson! Further, not only will they rebuild it, they will rebuild it stronger so it can withstand harder attacks. Instead of learning their lesson from the smiting God dealt and repenting, the people are even more determined to keep their own course while metaphorically shaking their fists at the Almighty at the same time.
Cahn uses this as the basis for an exposition on what is happening now in the United States. He draws some incredibly compelling parallels between specific events in recent history (like 9/11/01) and biblical history. Even if his parallels aren’t perfect, the problems he outlines with western culture in modern times are accurate. He did not address, though, that Isaiah 9:10 is a repetition of something from an earlier time.
Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Gen 11:1-4
It is very interesting how this parallels Isaiah 9:10 and, even more striking, with the building of a tower for the purposes of unification. If you have read The Harbinger, this matches what happens with the rebuilding of the World Trade Center perfectly. The people came together after the flood to build a city with bricks. Not just bricks, but baked bricks. This would be the most permanent type of building material available in that day. Permanent enough to still be there after flood waters recede.
They also set out to build a tower out of these bricks. The stated reason was for unification purposes. Building a tall tower on a vast plain would be a symbol to people far and wide where the center of power is and beacon to where the walled city would be located so folks could seek refuge. The tower would be very tall so that lookouts could see far in the distance if an invading force was coming, too. Relying on a walled city with a tower for protection does what? It puts trust in the people’s own ability and takes away from having to rely on God for protection!
Another reason to build a tower to heaven (a very tall tower) would be to try to have a place were people could flee from a flood. This is very similar to Isaiah 9:10 where the people specifically rebuilt with stronger material in order to escape a smiting dealt by God. The building of the tower to escape a flood would also be a smack in the face to God since He specifically gave the rainbow as a sign for His covenant that He will not destroy the earth with a flood again.
Jesus also taught about the folly of leaning on our own abilities in Luke 12:13-34. He spoke a parable of a foolish rich man who thought he could take it easy because he had many years worth of grain stored up. The man in the parable died and became the poster-boy for “you can’t take it with you”. Yeshua then went on to tell the disciples a very important story about how His Father, Yahweh, knows what we need before we need it!
On a national level, there is a specific failure that historically has required the attention of Yahweh to correct. When a country, especially one raised up by Yahweh, becomes so powerful and confident that it no longer thinks it needs God, trouble is on the horizon. This happened with Israel after Solomon built the temple. They had plenty of food and water, riches beyond measure, and had conquered their neighbors so well that nobody would mess with them. Not long after they began to realize such peace and prosperity, they forgot why they had been given those blessings. They began to allow false gods into the kingdom, they backslid, and were carted off as slaves to foreign kings.
The moral of these stories is to rely on the Almighty for our needs. We must have faith that He will provide. That does not mean we do not need to work or develop marketable skills, but it does mean that He has a purpose for us. He has a plan for every one of His children. When our plans do not match what He desires, we end up with a situation like the prophet Jonah. We must acknowledge that all we posess comes from God and His Son. The talents and blessings given to us as individuals are given so we can serve God. The United States also needs to repent of its national sins and return to God lest it also suffer the same fate as Israel.