Jonathan Cahn, a messianic rabbi from the Jerusalem Center-Beth Israel Congregation in Wayne, N.J., writes that there is a prophetic connection between Isaiah 9:10 and the events of 9–11. He’s not the first person to make such a claim. Did you know that a dollar bill can be folded to show the World Trade Center going up in smoke? The character set of Wingdings can be manipulated to show a plane crashing into what looked like two towers based on the flight code for one of the planes (Q33NY) making it to be a Jewish conspiracy. Something similar was found with the characters NYC.
By reading the Bible out of context and out of time it can be made to say almost anything. For example:
“Judas went out and hanged himself” (Matt. 27:5).
“Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37).
“Whatever you do, do quickly” (John 13:27).
Because “there is no God” (Psalm 14:1).
An often misused passage is a partial, out-of-context reading of Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge….” Further contextual reading shows that Jesus adds the caveat “lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it shall be measured to you” (7:1a–2). In John 7:24, Jesus tells us, “Judge with righteous judgment.” No judging cuts both ways. Jesus is not against judging; He’s against hypocrisy in judging by using a double standard.
One of the most prevalent misuses of the Bible is misapplying a prophetic passage. For centuries, prophecy writers have made predictions based on what they claimed the Bible said.
For example, Chuck Smith wrote in his 1976 book The Soon to be Revealed Antichrist Smith that “we are living in the last generation which began with the rebirth of Israel in 1948 (see Matt. 24:32–34).” You will search in vain in these three verses for any mention of “the rebirth of Israel.” He repeated the claim in his 1978 book End Times: “If I understand Scripture correctly, Jesus taught us that the generation which sees the ‘budding of the fig tree,’ the birth of the nation of Israel, will be the generation that sees the Lord’s return. I believe that the generation of 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the Tribulation period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for His Church any time before the Tribulation starts, which would mean any time before 1981. (1948 + 40 – 7 = 1981).”1 If this prophetic math sounds familiar, it’s because the same end-time logic was used by Hal Lindsey in The Late Great Planet Earth (1970).
On December 31, 1979, Smith told those who had gathered on the last day of that year that the rapture would take place before the end of 1981. He went on to say that because of ozone depletion Revelation 16:8 would be fulfilled during the tribulation period: “And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given to it to scorch men with fire.” In addition, Halley’s Comet would pass near earth in 1986 and would wreak havoc on those left behind as debris from its million-mile-long tail pummeled the planet.2 Here’s how Smith explained the prophetic scenario in his book Future Survival which is nearly identical to what appears on the taped message:
The Lord said that towards the end of the Tribulation period the sun would scorch men who dwell upon the face of the earth (Rev. 16). The year 1986 would fit just about right! We’re getting close to the Tribulation and the return of Christ in glory. All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together.3
Nothing significant happened in 1986 related to Halley’s Comet, and there is no reason why it should have since it’s been a predictable phenomenon for more than two millennia as it makes its way around the sun every 75 to 76 years.
In his book The Harbinger, Cahn cites Isaiah 9:10 and claims that this passage refers to America and the events of 9-11: “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.” The historical context tells a different story:
These words were first uttered by leaders in ancient Israel and in response to a limited strike by Assyria on the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali — an attack the prophet makes clear is actually part of a limited judgment by God against apostasy. It wasn’t meant to destroy the nation, but to awaken it, according to most commentaries.
There are a number of problems with Cahn’s interpretation. First, the Twin Towers were not made of brick. Second, the sycamore trees mentioned in Isaiah 9:10 were cut down, not destroyed because of the collapse of buildings. Third, the new buildings are not being built with “smooth stones.” Fourth, Isaiah’s prophetic message is “against Jacob,” that is, “Israel” (Isa. 9:8). Isaiah 9:10 is not a prophecy about the United States.
Does this mean that the events that led to Israel’s judgment cannot apply in principle to our day? Not at all. In fact, the apostle Paul tells the Corinthians, in rehearsing Israel’s history, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Cor. 10:11–12).
Christians need to be careful how they interpret the Bible. Trying to make the Bible say something it doesn’t say means it can be made to say anything. In the end, its real message will be lost.
- Chuck Smith, End Times (Costa Mesa, CA: The Word for Today, 1978), 35.(↩)
- Halley’s Comet also appeared in A.D. 66 and passed over Jerusalem, four years before the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans. Could this have been the fulfillment of Luke 21:11?(↩)
- Smith, Future Survival, 21.(↩)