The Basic Meaning of the word "Harbinger"
The word "harbinger," is not a term most people use today to describe coming events or Biblical type signs. The word itself is not actually contained in the scriptures.
Still, there are many Biblical examples of actions that God used men to carry out as signs of things to come. At times this was done for individual people, at other times these signs involved nations or even the entire earth.
The scriptures also record several natural events that were, and are signs of things to come.
Jesus Himself said:
Matthew 16: 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
Although, the word "harbinger," can take our minds into images of dark storm clouds hovering over a city while streaks of lighting shoot out in every direction. It's important to note that a harbinger can also represent good things to come.
The word "Harbinger," is defined as:
1. (n.) A forerunner; a precursor; a messenger; as warmer weather is a harbinger of the vacation season.
2. (n.) One who provides lodgings; especially, the officer of the English royal household who formerly preceded the court when traveling, to provide and prepare lodgings.
3. (v. t.) To usher in; to be a harbinger of.
- Signs of a weather event approaching are considered to be harbingers.
- The arrival of a person such as John the Baptist, who would go before a person of royalty, (in this case the King of Kings,) and prepare a place for his or her arrival.
- To usher in with open intentions of change. A person such as a President, who openly makes known his or her intentions of changing certain aspects of entire nations. This could also apply to individual people who usher in changes to anything from the way a home or church is run, to the way schools and local government are run.
Ancient Origins of the word "Harbinger"
Those who went before Royalty In Ancient times
John Newton wrote on the subject of Harbingers:
When the Eastern monarchs traveled, harbingers went before to give notice that the king was upon the road; and likewise proper persons to prepare his way, and to remove obstacles. Some of them, (if we may depend upon history) in the affectation of displaying their pomp and power, affected extraordinary things upon such occasion. For man, though vain, would appear wise ; though a sinful worm, he would fain be accounted as great. We read of their actually having filled up valleys, and leveled hills to make a commodious road, for themselves or their armies, through places otherwise impassable. The Prophet thus illustrates great things by small, and accommodates the language and usages of men to divine truth. MESSIAH is about to visit a wilderness world, and those parts which He blesses with His presence, shall become the garden of the Lord. Till then it is all desolate, rocky, and wild. But His way shall be prepared. Mountainous difficulties shall sink down before Him into plains. In defiance of all obstacles His glory shall see it, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
When Jesus would begin ministering on this earth, John the Baptist would go before him proclaiming: "...Make straight the way of the Lord..."
John 1: 23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.
Yes, the Biblical example of John was one of him bringing tidings of good things to come, or a "harbinger."
John brought the most fantastic news that would ever be told on the face of the earth. For The Son of God humbled Himself and became as one of us, so that any who would believe on Him would be saved. I'm not talking about a superficial belief where one simply says he or she believes. I'm talking about a real and living relationship where each believer draws near to God. This is a real and actual relationship that we each can and should develop with our Lord and Savoir, Jesus.
The people of that time understood that natural royalty and people of nobility would make great shows of their travels, as John Newton wrote:
We read of their actually having filled up valleys, and leveled hills to make a path way, or a road, for themselves or their armies, through places that were otherwise impassable.
The "way" that John the Baptist proclaimed was not a natural route where the travelers would move hills and clear entire valleys. "The way," that John proclaimed was one not seen only with the eyes of those who would look directly upon the King of Kings. The way, also involves a "road map" that was set in stone and would hold true to every generation ever to exist on this earth. This "road," is not one that could be traveled alone. It's a road where Jesus walks with us, and before us every step of the way.
This "way," is not seen through our natural eyes. Yet, John proclaimed a sure path where mountains would be moved, waters would divide on the left and on the right leaving an open path, though narrow, that was cleared out for all who would take up their cross follow the King of Kings. For with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus came the greatest message to all humankind, and a road that we should all strive to be on!
When John was asked who he was he quoted a passage from the book of Isaiah:
Isaiah 40: 3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Isaiah 40: 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
Isaiah 40: 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Heaven and Earth
Signs in the Heavens and on Earth
Within the scriptures there is an important precept that involves watching.
Just as Jesus drew a correlation between natural approaching weather, and the "signs of the times," there are natural signs or "harbingers" that we as believers should be watching for.
We are indeed "in the world, but not of the world" as the Apostle Paul wrote. Though we are Christians, naturally we grow old, illnesses are in the world, and catastrophic storms do affect the lives of many, including us. It's important that we pay attention to everything from the weather to politics. Still, we know there's also events happening in the "heavens." A battle that rages on between good and evil since sin entered into this world. We're called to be over-comers and even to rule over the sin that so easily ensnares us.
Jesus Himself spoke about the importance of "watching:" There are several examples throughout scriptures that show how important this is.
Watching our Households
Watching at the Gates
An Example: Lot seeing that sin was great in Sodom, he sat at the gates watching when the angels arrived
Matthew 24: 42-44 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Matthew 2 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Nehemiah 4: 8-9 And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.
Genesis 19: 1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
Mount of Olives
One Harbinger We Should Be Expecting to take Place
The entire chapter of Zechariah 14 is prophetic, and goes into the mount of Olives being split in-two before the day of the Lord.
Zechariah gives specific natural events that will take place before the "day of the Lord," arrives.
Zechariah 14: 1 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
The nation of Israel is already surrounded by people who hate her inhabitants. We here in the USA have heard certain American politicians speaking out against Israel and in favor of the the Palestinian people. It's also no secret that Iran has a deep-seeded hatred for Israel. Lebanon and Syria been involved in some of the most recent battles in the middle east.
The first part of Zechariah's prophecy says that Israel will be overtaken. Once we see this happen the prophecy states that the Lord will fight for the people of Israel, "against all nations who rose up against them."
Zechariah 14: 4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
At some point, the mount of Olives will be split in-two, one part of the mountain will split toward the north, and the other toward the south, leaving a "great valley," in between the two parts.
The passage describes an earthquake that will take place when the feet of the Lord stand on the mount of Olives. There are several biblical accounts that describe quakes, fire, and even the melting away of mountains at the presence of God. Mount Sinai rumbled and quaked at His presence during the time of Moses. So much so that the Hebrew people were in a state of great fear. The people were even afraid for their very lives.
Those who do not know what the "fear of the Lord," is, or deny that there is a real "fear," have not taken into account each event recorded in the scriptures where people have been faced with God's actual presence. In each biblical account there was a real fear of God's complete power and majesty.
There are several passages that describe the melting away of mountains, and mountains being completely moved at the presences of the Lord.
Micah 1: 4 And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.
Nahum 1: 5 The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.
Even at the death of Jesus on the cross, a quake was felt that crossed the great divide between heaven and earth. This quake even reverberated throughout all of creation, and many of the saints who were dead were brought back to life. This great quake also rent the veil that was in the temple and covered the entrance to the holy of hollies. This veil was completely torn in-two.
Matthew 27: 50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. Matthew 27: 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; Matthew 27: 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, Matthew 27: 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
Zechariah 14: 5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. Zechariah 14: 6 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:
Zechariah wrote of a day that isn't light, where something blocks out the full sunlight. Perhaps it's dust, or smoke that blocks out the sun, though there is still light.
The scriptures tell us exactly what to "watch," for. There are "harbingers," that tell us of every event that will unfold during the last days. Every believer should know exactly what he or she is watching for. In the Old Testament there were "watchmen," who stood watch and warned the people of coming troubles, though Paul called us all to watch.
1 Thessalonians 5: 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
1 Thessalonians 5: 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
As I stated in the beginning of this article, Lot saw how sin and lawlessness had waxed great in the city in which he lived. He sat in the gates watching, and fully expecting an answer from God.
I encourage everyone reading this to prayerfully read the full chapter of Zechariah 14, and all other passages that pertain to the end times. We need to know exactly what it is we are watching for, and what each "harbinger," represents.
Though we may not even know exactly how a scriptural warning will apply to this natural world, by being in God's word, we will understand the meaning of specific prophecies when they do happen.
We are seeing many of the "end-times," signs today within our own government, and in many events happening all around the world. It's easy to brush different events off as being just "something that happens," rather than seeing the harbingers involved.
There are also personal ploys that the devil carries out against us. This could be through temptation, personal attacks by others, or even seeds of doubt that we've allowed to be planted on our hearts.
Matthew 24: 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
Guard your hearts at all times brothers and sisters in Christ.
A Harbinger? What do you Think?
In 2014, Pope Francis released two "peace doves." Immediately after releasing them, the birds were attacked, one by a crow and the other by a seagull. I remember seeing this video five years ago and wondering what it represented. The pope used this particular event to call for "peace and reconciliation."
One verse that came to mind is this one:
1 Thessalonians 5: 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
I personally believe that this event was a harbinger.
See the video of the event (below,) and if you'd like, feel free to share your thoughts.