Stage lights shifted from blue to white as the backing band played a drifting melody. Cahn said, pacing behind a lectern. Then he spread his hands wide. Sitting at the end of a sleepy drive an hour from Manhattan, Beth Israel may look like any common suburban church.
But the center has a highly unusual draw. He has dedicated an entire book to this very thesis, an insight he claims to have received from God. In it, Mr. Cahn likens Mr.
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Trump to the biblical king Jehu, who led the ancient nation of Israel away from idolatry. With his growing stature, Mr. Cahn is also a rising figure in some quarters of conservative politics. In an email to congregants, Mr. He is set to address a small gathering of activists and advisers.
After worship on a recent Sunday, in a roped-off section flanked by security guards, Mr. Cahn signed piles of his books before a small crowd. At 59, Mr. Cahn cultivates a refined demeanor, rarely appearing without a signature all-black suit and tie. Gail Greenholtz, an elder member, stood near the end of the line.
Michael Cooney, 58, had driven an hour to hear the pastor teach on politics and prophecy. The tale is also a step into a controversial and burgeoning layer of American religion, where commerce, supernatural belief and patriotism blend freely. The son of a Holocaust refugee, Mr. Cahn was raised in a nominally Jewish family in the New York suburbs. But from an early age, he was drawn to the more esoteric corners of belief. He devoured the writings of Nostradamus, the Virginia psychic Edgar Cayce and far-out conspiracy theories about ancient astronauts.
Cahn bought the book thinking it was about UFOs; instead he was given a crash-course in Christian eschatology. Cahn said. On his 20th birthday, after a near-death experience — and to the dismay of his Jewish father — he became a Christian. By the s, Mr. Cahn was leading outreach for a hippy-style church in New Jersey. His hair and beard grown shaggy, he led services with a guitar slung around his neck.
Cahn later broke off to lead an independent congregation, Beth Israel, and built his following through a slot on Christian radio, where his messages took on an end-times flavor. After the terrorist attacks struck Manhattan, Mr.
Cahn adopted a sharp, even more apocalyptic focus. In sermons, he began comparing the attacks to the ancient warnings of the Bible, drawing largely from the book of Isaiah, where God vows to punish the disobedient nation of Israel. Cahn said abortion, gay rights and the perceived retreat of religion in the public square were all troubling signs that America, like ancient Israel, had lost its way.
Once rolling with this comparison, Mr. Cahn began seeing patterns everywhere. As the Israelites turned away from their God, they were attacked by Assyrians; America, in modern times, was also attacked by a foreign army from the East, Al Qaeda terrorists. After the ancient siege, the Israelites vowed to replant a destroyed sycamore grove with new trees; near ground zero, a huge sycamore tree was also destroyed, as the towers fell. The supposed connections go on. Tenuous as they may seem, Mr. Cahn saw the links as compelling.
His flock did too. A charismatic preacher inveighing against imminent devastation is nothing new.
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America has long been fertile ground for would-be doomsday prophets, stretching back centuries. Cahn fits a unique American mold. Sutton said. Among several of Mr. Cahn brings the tradition fully into the social-media age: many of his fans first saw him on Facebook; hundreds of posts and reposts of his sermons are uploaded on YouTube, slipped into the corners of the web where esoteric religion and conspiracy theories overlap.
Into this mix came Mr. Cahn says, who have a unique relationship with God. He then argues that all sorts of figures in contemporary politics have biblical counterparts. Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, for example, are the modern-day analogues to wicked Ahab and Jezebel.
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Trump is the warrior-king Jehu, who took control of the nation and cast idols out of the capital. Cahn goes on. Cahn casts Trump as a heroic figure. He also has political aspirations. Cahn speaks at events in Washington alongside conservative standard-bearers like Michele Bachmann and James Dobson, where his portrayal of America as a cultural battleground falls on sympathetic ears. In , he even addressed a United Nations gathering.
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Cahn likes to say he is surprised by his own success, preferring supernatural explanations. When speaking, he begins slowly but picks up pace, almost falling over his words with excitement. He also has a flair for the theatrical tale. Lounging in a back office at the church, surrounded by framed paintings of biblical landscapes, he sprinkled enchanted anecdotes in conversation.
How did he raise money for his first church?
They called him Wahoo. God instructed him to come to me. How were his books received? For the release day of the new one, my appendix exploded. People called it spiritual warfare. He even presents his family life in magical terms. As Mr. The congregation more than tripled over the years and outgrew its humble perch in Bergen County. In , Beth Israel moved to a cavernous old department store a half-hour away and remodeled the building to resemble the white-stoned city of ancient Jerusalem, recasting the drab industrial structure as a mystical suburban barracks.
The other man was wearing blue jeans, a plain white t-shirt, and dirty looking shoes. God had given me a prophetic word about a season of financial increase coming and specific business deals regarding the oil industry that were being released. As I looked at these two men in the natural, it would have been very easy to stand up the man in the three-piece suit because of his stature or appearance.
As I prayed, God showed me that the prophetic word was for the man in the blue jeans, t-shirt, and the tattered shoes. As I released the prophetic word, he was powerfully touched by the Spirit. After the meeting, he came up to me and said he was a multi-million dollar businessman who worked in the oil industry, but rarely wore nice clothing. We must be very cautious not to profile people based on their outward appearance, race, gender, etc.
In First Kings 22, the prophet Micaiah stood before king Ahab and king Jehoshaphat and was asked to give them the word of the Lord. Prior to this, the kings had already consulted and received prophetic ministry from the other prophets in the land. What was the primary difference between the prophets and the lone prophet Micaiah?
The prophets read the hearts of the kings back to them, but Micaiah read the heart of God back to the kings. Prophets are feelers and burden bearers. It is very easy to pick up on the emotions, feelings, and even desires that are resting inside the hearts of people. What happens if what people are feeling or desiring to do is not from God? For example, I once ministered with a prophet in Indiana who called a family out of a crowd with several words of knowledge he believed he had.
At the end of the meeting, they wrote him a ten thousand dollar check and he thanked them. As the story goes, they lasted two years in California with no open doors, no money coming in, and no nice house or cars.
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What happened? I would like to suggest that the prophet simply read their own hearts back to them and never discerned what the heart of God was for them. Prophets must not get involved in sanctified psychic reading.
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