Behind the Scenes: The Filming of “The Harbingers of Things to Come”

by | Apr 20, 2022 | May-June 2022, Prophetic Insight

I remember sitting at a table in Springfield, Missouri, over 10 years ago and receiving a book from Steve Strang that he said would be explosive. That book was The Harbinger and it went on to appear in The New York Times bestseller list for over 100 weeks. Little did I know that I would be privileged to continue the legacy of that amazingly insightful book and get to know its author, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. Fast-forward to spring 2021when circumstances fell into place that thrust me into the role as Charisma’s representative for the filming of Cahn’s first full-length documentary, The Harbingers of Things to Come.

In this issue of Charisma, which coincides with the documentary’s U.S. release on Thursday, May 12—about one year to the day that our filming adventure began—I hope to bring some insight and behind-the-scenes stories on this monumental event. If you are a Cahn fan, you should also know there are some unique moments where he lets viewers in on some inside secrets. I won’t reveal them here, you will have to buy a ticket to the movie.

Having watched God take this amazing project from original idea to nationwide theater distribution, I have to believe He wants to do something with this documentary, and He wants to use you to help.

Bestselling Author Jonathan Cahn

If you are not familiar with Rabbi Cahn, he leads Hope of the World Ministries and Beth Israel Worship Center in Wayne, New Jersey. As the author of six New York Times bestsellers, he is known for opening the deep mysteries of Scripture and bringing forth messages of prophetic import.

His books include The Harbinger, where he shows the connection between 9/11 and ancient prophecy; The Book of Mysteries, which contains 365 amazing insights into connections between biblical events and more recent happenings; and most recently the sequel to The Harbinger, The Harbinger II.

Charisma Media is honored to have published all of Cahn’s books. After discussions, he and Charisma agreed to film a documentary of The Harbinger II, not knowing where it would lead but trusting God to bring the results He wanted. The documentary includes elements and information from the rabbi’s other titles for fullness and clarity.

The goal of the documentary is to encourage individuals and nations to return to being the people God has called them to be before the prophetic consequences come to pass. We knew that Cahn’s final call to repentance was critical, so we filmed it using over 20 takes in every location, with the goal of giving God every possible chance to use this work for His utmost.

The Path of the Harbingers

A common theme throughout Cahn’s books is how current events repeat biblical history, down to the details of dates, lengths of time between events, names and locations. This means that historical locations, especially within the United States, are key to these messages. Doing justice to Cahn’s messages thus meant our production crew would be filming in the locations where the events happened, among several of the most significant places in the country:

  • New York City’s ground zero
  • Times Square
  • On a boat by the Statue of Liberty
  • The Capitol
  • The Lincoln Memorial
  • The Supreme Court.

Some of the most interesting filming moments happened in the locations where the characters in the books met. One such location is Thatcher Island off the coast of Rockport, Massachusetts. On this island, the protagonist and narrator, Nouriel Kaplan, meets the prophet for the first time in many years. The site is also significant for its two lighthouses.

This is where the filming became more challenging. When you watch the documentary you will see Cahn speaking in front of one of the lighthouses overlooking the sea with birds in the background. What you won’t see is Jonathan, the crew and I loading camera equipment and teleprompters onto a launch at Eastern Point Yacht Club in Gloucester, Massachusetts, early one morning. From there we transferred it to the 36-foot Emma Rose for an hour’s sail in the fog to Thatcher Island. To add to the adventure we had to then transfer everything to a small row-boat to reach the island.

Thatcher Island is a beautiful bird sanctuary staffed by amazing people. However, it is an actual bird sanctuary! The birds believe they own the island—and they pretty much do. What you also will not see in the documentary is me wielding a giant stick off to the side of every shot, trying to keep the birds from attacking the crew. Another image you won’t see is how agile Cahn was when the birds tried to leave packages on his black suit. That man can move when he has to!

From fending off birds on Thatcher Island and half-dressed people in Times Square, to holding down camera tripods and teleprompters on swaying boats on the Hudson River and spending hours adjusting lighting inside Beth Israel Worship Center, everything we did was for our main purpose: to bring the messages of God’s grace to a broader audience. I have jokingly told Jonathan that I will be vetting future book manuscripts to determine where he sets various scenes to make sure they are more easily accessible (and preferably in sunny, picturesque locales like the Caribbean).

From Spiritual to Wacky to Solemn Reminders

The release of this documentary in May 2022 is the culmination of a long spiritual battle. Charisma produced videos for The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah to help explain their messages. Before The Harbinger II book was released, we felt it deserved more. This began the journey to today. We had wanted to release this documentary in mid-2021, but God had other plans. Between COVID travel issues and spiritual attacks on Charisma and Cahn’s ministries, we could not start filming until May 2021.

After filming began and we were on location, we faced new spiritual attacks. We were filming in New Jersey looking across to Manhattan one Wednesday morning. As we were about to pack up to have lunch and move to ground zero, our teleprompter operator had a call from her husband. Her daughter was being transported from school to the hospital in an ambulance and she had to leave. Then a man, clearly demon-possessed, came up to us, claiming he was bigger than the angels and we had been sent to destroy him. That afternoon in Times Square, our production team had a visit by what I shall carefully describe as an “eccentric, scantily clad guitar-playing older woman” who wanted to find a way into our video.

There were also moments when God was clearly orchestrating events. On a rainy afternoon, we had hauled our equipment by boat and up the hill to the top of Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor. Cahn was being filmed with the backdrop of Boston Logan International Airport, originally the home of John Winthrop, first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was explaining how Winthrop, who also founded Boston, prophesied that if America should turn away from God, its blessings would be withdrawn and replaced with judgment. Boston Logan International is where the first plane took off on the morning of 9/11, bearing eagle iconography as it was American Airlines Flight 11.

As Cahn was speaking, a plane took off behind him, banking to fly overhead—an American Airlines plane. American Airlines permanently retired Flight 11 following the terrorist attacks, but the sight served as a poignant reminder of what happened and the story our group had assembled to film.

What You Can Do to Help

As we reach the theater release date in May, Charisma and all of our partners, including Jonathan Cahn, ask that you join us to bring this message of repentance and renewal that our world so badly needs.

Please join us in doing the following:

  • Pray that as many people as possible will see this message and turn their hearts to God and away from the darkness so prevalent in the world today
  • Pray that in a world that rejects the message of Jesus, this documentary will reach media, theater and national leaders
  • Get your tickets now at fathomevents.com while space is available. In theaters for one night only on Thursday, May 12, 2022, at 7 p.m. in your time zone.
  • Share it with your family and friends and talk to your church about buying group tickets (or even a whole screen).

This September, we will release Cahn’s most explosive book ever. You can pre-order your copy now at www.booksbyjonathancahn.com.

Ken Peckett is the controller and executive vice president of Operations for Charisma Media and resident Englishman. While filming this documentary, he added bird scarer, demoniac facer, eccentric lady defender and crew laborer to his resume. Ken and his wife, Georgia, a licensed mental health counselor, minister to couples and young people in Central Florida, and have raised three girls: Hannah, Rachel and Isabella.

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