Kabbalah, Cahn, and Hebrew Mysticism
Apr 1 2013
Excerpted from The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?
Jonathan Cahn has over 1,700 of his messages available through the Hope of the World website. The descriptions of many of these messages are quite revealing about his approach to handling the Word of God—which appears to be mystical at its core:
1. MESSIAH’S CATACLYSM & THE HIDDEN WRITINGS OF 30 A.D. ( The amazing signs contained in the hidden writings of the rabbis that happened c. 30 A.D. . . . )
2. THE COSMIC TSULAV & THE MYSTERY OF PURIM ( The deep mystery at the center of Purim, and the center of the existence itself, the mystery hidden in the Sistine Chapel, Dante’s Inferno, Josephus, the Septuagint, and in the ancient Biblical account – the mystery of the Tsulav, the Cross, the Xulon. )
3. THE SWORD OF AMALEK & THE MYSTERY OF PURIM ( From the day of the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s chariots and Amalek, to the Third Reich, Joseph Stalin, Saddam Hussein, and the nuclear sabers of Iran, the amazing mystery of Amalek, the hand of God, and what it has to do with your life. )
4. THE PRODIGAL SON REVELATION! ( The most universal and personal of Messiah’s parables also contains a mystery behind the present age, the Jew, the Gentile, Israel, the Church, and the last days. )
5. THE MESSIAH BEARER! ( From the deep and mystery filled Book of Hebrews, the mystery of the Messiah Bearer—what it means for your life. )
6. THE MYSTERY OF THE COSMIC FRINGE ( The Kraspedon Mysteries come to their conclusion—The mystery of Messiah’s sacred garment and the mystery of its fringe and a hint: It has everything to do with you. )
7. THE NISAN GOSPEL MYSTERY ( All the events of our salvation happened in one single time period – the Biblical month of Nisan – Discover the mystery of Nisan, of your salvation, & the powers you have for breakthrough. )
8. THE COSMIC KEYCHAIN ( As real as a keychain has many keys to unlock...a house – there is a supernatural keychain with supernatural power to unlock the closed doors of your life. )
9. THE COSMIC KEYCHAIN II ( Messiah has given you a keychain with specific powers of breakthrough – learn how to use the keys & it will change your life. )
10. ENTERING YOUR PROPHETIC DESTINY! ( One of the most important and very awesome principles operating in your life – and how to walk into your prophetic destiny...! )
In the last chapter of [ The Harbinger ], Kaplan explains to Goren how he figured out the meaning of his personal clay seal.... Between the last sentence in the quote below and what can be seen from the titles above, the real mystery of The Harbinger may be that its foundation is actually Jewish mysticism:
[Kaplan] “The writing on the seal was in a language I had never seen before. But I remembered the words of The Prophet that day we first met on the bench, when he took the seal to examine it. He said it was Hebrew, but a different form of Hebrew—Paleo-Hebrew, an older version.”
[Goren] “And did you know anybody who could read Paleo-Hebrew?”
[Kaplan] “No. But I knew someone who studied Hebrew from biblical and rabbinical writings. I looked up the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, then transcribed each of the letters into its modern Hebrew equivalent. Then I made a trip to Brooklyn. That’s where my friend was, an Orthodox Jewish man who ran a little bookstore, in back of which was a study, a library of all sorts of mystical Hebrew writings. That was his passion—finding meaning in mystical Hebrew literature.”
The introduction of Jewish mystical writings into the storyline of The Harbinger is very problematic, and one has to wonder why Cahn would have done this.
Mysticism and mystical experiences have been a part of Judaism since the earliest days. . . . The mystical school of thought came to be known as Kabbalah, from the Hebrew root Qof-Beit-Lamed, meaning “to receive, to accept.” The word is usually translated as “tradition.”
“Kabbalah” is a doctrine of esoteric knowledge concerning God and the universe, asserted to have come down as a revelation to the Sages from a remote past, and preserved only by a privileged few. Kabbalah is considered part of the Jewish Oral Law. It is the traditional mystical understanding of the Torah.... Kabbalah includes the understanding of the spiritual spheres in creation, and the rules and ways by which God administers the existence of the Universe.
Most forms of Kabbalah teach that every letter, word, number, and accent of scripture contains a hidden sense; and it teaches the methods of interpretation for ascertaining these occult meanings.
That Cahn would include this reference to Jewish mysticism in the book is not necessarily an anomaly. Cahn gave a message at his church that also included detailed references to mystical writings, titled “Gulgatah: The Cosmic Skull: The Rabbinic Mysteries V.”
A segment from near the end of this message was uploaded to YouTube on February 25, 2010, titled “The Zohar Speaks.” The following description accompanies the video: “Something never before revealed , to the glory of Messiah! The Cosmic Skull, the mercy of God, and the hidden and mystical writings of the Rabbis that point to Messiah.” The description coincides exactly with the overall trajectory of Cahn’s messages, and that of The Harbinger , which is to reveal to the world mysteries that have been hidden until he discovers and proclaims them.
The Judaism 101 website notes the following:
In the middle ages, many of these mystical teachings were committed to writing in books like the Zohar. Many of these writings were asserted to be secret ancient writings or compilations of secret ancient writings.
Even though he introduces the Zohar as a “hostile witness,” the way Cahn describes its teachings gives the impression that he views the Zohar as being a credible source of truth:
Incredible thing. Blew me away. I found it in the mystical Jewish writings of the Zohar. Something I never heard mentioned anywhere, ever. . . . The Zohar speaks, the rabbis are writing of the redemption of the world with Messiah’s coming. They speak of life from the dead. They speak of resurrection, the redemption of the world. . . .They say it all will come, the power of all this, the miracle of all this will come from a sacred thing, a sacred place. And this place, this thing, is where all the mercy of God is stored. All the mercy of God pours out from this place, this thing. What is it? Very strange. They call it the “gulgatah.” This holy, mystical thing. . . .The most famous scene in human history, the center of salvation. Messiah dying on that hill which appears as a skull. That’s why they called it “gulgatah”—Golgatha. And which signifies God’s mercy. All His mercy. Why on earth would the rabbis put it there? Makes no sense at all—except that God just puts it in.
“God just puts it in.” In other words, God inspired the rabbis to write about redemption coming from a skull , yet they had no idea what it meant. So, in this message Cahn presents concepts that are reflected in The Harbinger. The first is that Isaiah 9:10 contains a mystery that no one has seen before -- Cahn has discovered it for the very first time—just as he has discovered this inspired message in the ancient rabbinic writings.
The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones:
the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars. (Isaiah 9:10)
The second is that Tom Daschle was inspired by God to proclaim America’s defiance and thus set up the nation for judgment—even though he didn’t know what he was doing—just as is true of the ancient rabbis.
As Cahn continues his exposition of the Zohar, the mystical nature of his thinking becomes even more clear. And once again he notes that perhaps no one has ever said the words he has just uttered:
In the gulgatah—Golgotha—sit thousands of myriads of worlds. And from the gulgatah—Golgotha—drips dew and fills . . . the dew fills the world and the dead will awaken in the world to come as the dew comes forth. The dew is the light of the ancient one. The light of the ancient one comes from Golgotha and as it touches—the dead ones come to life. From Golgotha is the light of God bringing life from the dead. Golgotha—the radiance of God which brings life. Whoa! That’s amazing stuff. And that may be the first time it’s ever been said. ’Cause you have to be a believer and you have to be in that stuff.
What stuff? Ancient mystical writings . Even more telling, Cahn confidently elevates the rabbis to the level of Moses and Daniel:
The death of Messiah—all pinpointed in time and space. Moses zeroed in on the day. Passover. He dies on the day that the lamb is killed. The prophets—Daniel zeroes in on the time period, mathematically, before 70 A.D. Daniel—those seventy sevens. The rabbis in the book of Moed, unwittingly, and another thing we shared this [ sic ], zeroed in on the year by saying that the cosmic change all took place in the year 30 A.D. . . . And now the very hill, the very place, here in, of all places, the rabbinical writings, the Zohar. . . . you want mercy, you go there. Listen to the rabbis on this point. . . .
How can a pastor instruct his congregation to “listen to the rabbis” who produced the Zohar and tell them these rabbis were inspired by God? The Zohar is not simply an innocuous source of information—it is an extrabiblical guide to “higher spirituality.” It is mystical. It is occultic.
The Zohar cannot be understood and felt directly, but requires preconception of spirituality, before one approaches the book. The greatest Kabbalist of our time—Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam)—wrote introductions to The Zohar precisely to guide one’s approach to this profound book....
Such articles cultivate one’s spiritual qualities to perceive the Higher reality. Additionally, these texts provide knowledge of how to approach certain terms, phrases, and concepts in The Zohar, to maximize its use as a guide for spiritual attainment, avoiding being lost in materialized depictions that the human mind is prone to form.
Cahn [has since] tried to justify his practice by noting that the Apostle Paul also referred to the teaching of pagan philosophers in his address to the Athenians (Acts:17:22-31):
"Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, 'Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.'" For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
"For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead." (Acts:17:22-31)
He went on to suggest that Paul would have been “crucified” by discernment ministries for using a hymn to Zeus, and because of his associations.
That is a red herring.... Paul’s approach is nothing like Cahn’s. Cahn refers to the mystical rabbinical writings positively , saying that because God had inspired them his church should “listen to the rabbis.” He presents the Zohar as something that can be studied and its depths plumbed for hidden mysteries like he has just revealed.
In stark contrast, Paul immediately tells his audience that what they have been taught by their poets about the unknown god...is completely wrong . He does not suggest that their sayings contain hidden mysteries that were inspired by God.... Paul never implies that the Athenians should listen to these men. Rather he refers to a single point of agreement (we all come from God) to denounce their idols. From Romans we understand that the knowledge of that truth is not a hidden mystery, but has rather been made plain to everyone through both the conscience and the Creation (Romans:1:18-2:16).
Unfortunately, this treatment of the rabbinic material is consistent with Cahn’s frequent practice of “discovering and revealing” hidden mysteries—be it in the Bible or in extrabiblical Jewish writings like the Talmud or even in kabbalistic writings like the Zohar.
Have untold numbers of Christians unwittingly accepted mystical Jewish thought? And after having done so, how many pastors, teachers, and other ministry leaders have preached messages connected to the claims of The Harbinger and have publicly endorsed, promoted, and defended the book and Jonathan Cahn? How many have shared this book and the documentary with unbelieving family and friends? How many millions of dollars have gone into keeping The Harbinger on so many best-seller lists?
Something seems to be very wrong....