From the Spring 2020 Issue By Dave James
Review of Jonathan Cahn’s The Oracle
The Oracle: The Jubilean Mysteries Unveiled (published in October 2019 by Charisma Media) is the latest book by Messianic pastor Jonathan Cahn. Cahn rose to prominence in 2012 with his first novel, The Harbinger. The author debuted his book on the Jim Bakker Show on January 2 and then on The 700 Club the following day. Cahn’s blended fact/fiction novel quickly sold hundreds of thousands of copies, eventually reaching over one million copies by the end of the year, making it the number one Christian book of 2012.
In that book, Cahn purported to have found nine signs in Isaiah 9:10 that were the keys to “an ancient mystery that explains everything from 9/11 to the collapse of the global economy.” The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were said to be a precursor to God’s impending judgment on America because of its departure from the Christian values of the Founding Fathers. Cahn argued that the “harbingers” of Isaiah and recent events in the United States align so precisely that the only explanation can be the hand of God at work.
Cahn has since published four other major books, including his most recent one, The Oracle. In this work, Cahn presents his theories through a series of visions experienced by the protagonist and explained by “the Oracle.” The novel focuses on the establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948, with the storyline structured around a series of events occurring in 1867, 1917, 1967, and 2017—Jubilee years according to the modern Hebrew calendar.
In Exodus 12, God established a new religious calendar based on seven-year cycles. Every seventh year was considered to be a Sabbath. After seven of these Sabbath-year cycles came the Jubilee Year—the 50th year.
After traveling to what was then known as Palestine in 1867, Mark Twain wrote a best-selling book about his adventures. Cahn claims that this travelogue fulfilled a prophecy in Deuteronomy 29:22-23 concerning a foreigner describing the desolation of Israel—some 1800 years after God’s judgment of Israel through the Romans in AD 70. The beginnings of Zionism are also tied to this same year.
In 1917, the Balfour Declaration first recognized that the Jewish people needed to have a homeland. Cahn points out that it was also in 1917 when the Promised Land was liberated from the Ottoman Empire by British General Edmund Allenby.
Cahn then jumps forward to the Six-Day War of 1967, when Jerusalem was liberated from Jordan, and then to 2017, when Congress passed a resolution recognizing Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel. Consequently, President Trump moved the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv the following year.
All of these events are supposedly the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. However, Cahn goes beyond these to argue that our personal redemption, the millennial kingdom, and even the eternal state are also Jubilean mysteries.Troubling Literary Devices
In such a brief review, only a few of the more glaring problems can be addressed to any degree. First, Cahn uses troubling literary devices to convey his ideas—namely, visions from God and the interpretation of those visions by the Oracle. Just as with The Harbinger, he claims that God has revealed these things to him personally—something that he has referred to as “downloads” from God.
Cahn tends to mix just enough biblical truth in the narrative that the unsuspecting reader is left unprepared for the aberrant teaching and theories he introduces with ease. Unfortunately, there are times when the author just “goes off the rails” biblically—especially when it comes to eschatology. As just one of the many prophecies that Cahn claims to have been fulfilled over the last 200 years, he contends that the “times of the Gentiles” came to an end in 1967—and that “David’s fallen tent” was also restored at that time. However, most Bible teachers agree that these prophecies will only be fulfilled at the time of Messiah’s return to the earth.
Cahn’s eschatology is further confused by his refusal to take a public position concerning the timing of the rapture relative to Daniel’s 70th week. Cahn adds to this confusion through his regular appearances on The Jim Bakker Show, because Bakker holds to a post-tribulational view. This view claims that the church will experience the horrors of the Tribulation period. Meanwhile, Bakker unashamedly sells his survival food and gear throughout his television shows, and Cahn serves as little more than a prop in this latest get-rich scheme.
Unfortunately, for someone who is esteemed by many as a great prophecy teacher, Cahn is frequently confused about almost everything when it comes to the end times. His plethora of claims makes it difficult to fact-check all of his assertions. However, if history is any guide, Cahn, has a long track record of manipulating data and misrepresenting historical truths to suit his purposes.
Furthermore, he has frequently positioned himself as a “revealer of mysteries”—things that no Bible scholar has ever seen before. With The Oracle, Cahn has again successfully persuaded many that he has discovered yet another ancient mystery. In this case, the mystery is related to Israel’s Jubilee. However, there’s nothing mysterious about the Jubilee in any sense.
Each Sabbath year, the Israelites were commanded to allow the land to “rest” with no planting or harvesting. In order for the nation to survive a year with no crops, God provided a double harvest in the sixth year. Another aspect of the Sabbath year was that all debts were to be forgiven, and slaves and indentured servants were to be set free.
Similarly, in the Jubilee year, again there was to be no sowing or reaping. Furthermore, all land was to be returned to its original owners, with the result that land was effectively only leased for up to 50 years at a time, with no permanent sales of ancestral land. There is simply nothing mysterious about any of this.
In addition, Jonathan Cahn has supposedly found a template, or a “paradigm” as he calls it, according to which events of history must play out. This proposed paradigm essentially dictates an inevitable outcome such that the Jubilee now applies to Israel returning to its ancestral home as a nation—a concept that is found nowhere in Scripture. This process supposedly began in 1867 and continued at 50-year intervals to 2017. Of course, there is the problem of 1948 when Israel became a nation again, since it doesn’t fit the Jubilee pattern.
Such a mystical paradigm is not a biblical concept—with no biblical precedent, no description, no prescription, nor any support of any kind. It is a made-up idea. Yet, Cahn even extrapolates this paradigm such that he sees it as a driving force that impacts both the world and the church— now and into the future.The Church's Jubilee
Cahn also insists that the church’s Jubilee is underway as it experiences a long overdue return to its Jewish roots. This development supposedly provides believers with special long-hidden Jewish mystical gems of wisdom embedded into the Word of God. Such claims are not just unbiblical, they are irresponsible.
As if the far-reaching speculation concerning Israel’s Jubilee were not enough, Cahn has introduced the concept of a “Dark Jubilee”—an opposing Satanic counterpart to God’s Jubilee. Cahn’s theory is that just as Israel is returning to its ancestral possession, so, too, the world is reverting to the state it was in when Israel was dispersed in AD 70 by the Romans. Just as God continues to work in history on Israel’s behalf according to the Jubilean calendar, under Satan’s influence, the world supposedly is becoming more pagan due to this so-called Dark Jubilee. There is nothing in Scripture that remotely resembles a Dark Jubilee. Furthermore, the vast majority of the world has always been totally pagan.
Unfortunately Jonathan Cahn has proven himself to be a poor Bible teacher over the years. At best, he has shown himself to be an end-times sensationalist who isn’t afraid to twist things to fit his latest theories, and at worst he is a false teacher—and in some cases, arguably a false prophet.