Best-selling author Doug Hershey has recently released his new book Jerusalem Rising: The City of Peace Reawakens (Tyndale House Publishers). The book has already captured the attention of fans, propelling the title to the No. 1 spot on two (2) separate Amazon sales charts in pre-release, including New Releases in General Israel Travel Guides, and New Releases in Jerusalem Travel Guides.
Jerusalem Rising is following in the footsteps of Hershey's critically acclaimed, multi-chart topper, Israel Rising, which captured the No. 1 spot on six (6) separate Amazon sales charts, including the online behemoth's General Israel Travel Guides, Christian Books & Bibles: Prophecies, Israel & Palestine History, History of Judaism, Torah, and Women & Judaism.
In Jerusalem Rising, Hershey, a seasoned tour leader, explorer of biblical lands, and the founder of Ezra Adventures, an Israel-focused travel and education company, takes his readers on a tour of Jerusalem like none other. A gifted storyteller, he shares how the ancient biblical prophecies of Zechariah, foretold in the Bible and in newly-discovered Dead Sea Scrolls, are coming to life in modern-day Jerusalem.
Q: Doug, thanks for doing this interview with us. You have a deep passion for the city of Jerusalem, how and when did you become interested in prophecy and the holy land?
A love for Israel has always been in my heart since starting to read the Scriptures as a child. I still remember the revelation of realizing that the Jewish people today are the same family and bloodline as the stories in the Bible and the places in the Bible are real places!
As for prophecy, I think everyone has a quiet fascination about the topic. Just that God would tell us ahead of time what was going to happen so we could be prepared for the days ahead, the way a Father helps his children as they grow and make decisions. It feels thoughtful and personable of Him to do so.
Q: You are also the founder of Ezra Adventures, tell us more about Ezra Adventures.
Ezra Adventures motto is "Exploring Biblical Lands" and provides personable and customized small group adventure travel to the "biblical lands" of Israel, Jordan, Turkey and soon adding Greece. We specialize in connecting our travelers to off the beaten path experiences found in their Bible as well immersion in local culture, food and friends. It was through leading groups on Ezra Adventures experiences that my first photo book "Israel Rising" came about and the "Ancient Prophecy Modern Lens" series started.
Q: You also have a new book coming out in August, tell us briefly what "Jerusalem Rising" is about?
"Jerusalem Rising" documents the prophesied restoration of the city, according to a biblical prophecy found in Zacheriah 8. But prophecy aside, it's a historical record of the photography in Jerusalem with some truly unique and groundbreaking work that I'm particularly proud of. The oldest photos of Jerusalem were daguerreotype style of taken in 1844 and first published by the Smithsonian in 2014. But in this old style of photography, the images are reversed. In the book we publish the oldest photos of Jerusalem in their "true view" perspective for the first time ever. But we didn't just flip the image, we hunted down some of the locations and recreated these shots for the first time ever. These are potentially the longest span of between then and now photos, 175 years, that have ever been done. The results of the comparison photos are amazing and shows how much the city has come back to life in 175 years.
Q: Why should we be concerned about the city of Jerusalem?
Because God does! Its one of two places on the earth that God said He has placed His name there forever. It's the only city that he has said that he has chosen for his dwelling place. It's the only city that He said he is returning to dwell with his people. It's the only city on earth that has had its history foretold, from its destruction, centuries of desolation to restoration as a Jewish city. It's the only city in the Bible we are told to pray for. These things set Jerusalem apart from any other city in the world.
Q: In the book you deal with the prophecies of Zechariah from the Bible. Many of us are not familiar with the book of Zechariah and even less so with the prophecies there. What are some of the prophecies? How are they being fulfilled now?
I encourage your readers to have a look at Zacheriah 8. It foretells a time when old men and women will live in safety within the city, that children will again play in the streets and that the nations will begin to flood to the city. Perhaps most dramatically, God says He is returning to the city to live with his people! Clearly not all of this has happened yet, but we are seeing the beginning stages.
Jerusalem has been attacked or besieged more than seventy times, has changed hands more than forty times, and was completely destroyed at least twice. The "city of peace" hasn't seemed like a city of peace. In between those times, travelers like Mark Twain would say "Jerusalem is mournful, and dreary, and lifeless. I would not desire to live here." Today, since 1967, Jerusalem is enjoying peace and prosperity in a way it never has. Furthermore, never before have the nations come to Jerusalem as they are now, as tourism numbers are at all time highs. Clearly there is much more to happen to fully fulfill Zacheriah's words, but these facts are undeniable in Jerusalem's history.
Q: How do the fulfilments of these prophecies affect us now?
This should affect us in 2 ways.
- This should be faith building that God is fulfilling his word in a very tangible way, after 2600 years. He is proving to anyone with a Bible, belief that God is active in our world and an internet connection that He is doing exactly what He said. No mystery, no allegory, no bedtime bible stories. God is at work in our international current events and the Bible told us ahead of time. This should encourage us that God is faithful to His word. If he is faithful to Israel, he will be faithful to us.
- This should be encouraging as it is all leading somewhere! If Christians are waiting for the return of the Lord, the Bible describes the happenings and atmosphere surrounding that event. The Jewish people are back in their land. The land will be becoming prosperous again. The city of Jerusalem will be restored and eventually the nations will come against the city. We are in that process now. The city is thriving and growing like never before and the nations are becoming increasingly hostile to Israel. If we believe the Bible and the prophet's words, there will be a Jewish king who will soon arrive on the Mount of Olives.
Q: I believe there are 140 gorgeous photos of Jerusalem in your new book. Tell us a little about these photos and the photographer Edden Ram.
Edden Ram is an international world-renowned adventure travel and extreme sports photographer and filmmaker based in Israel. He not only captured some of most amazing photography of Jerusalem that I've ever seen, but the essence of the Israeli heart and the spirit of these early photos. In our drive to find "the spot" for each photo, we climbed more walls and fences, we ignored, schmoozed or argued with more security guards and we quietly got in and out of more sticky areas than I will admit to. He was perfect for this project.
Q: I believe you must have had led numerous tours across Jerusalem. If you have to single out one item, what to you is the most impressive thing about the city?
For the last 5 years, I've spent about 6 months of the year in Israel or leading groups with Ezra Adventures. People often ask if it gets old to me. The answer is no. Why? Because Jerusalem is always growing, improving, and expanding. It's exciting to see and even be a part of! The shocking population growth and restoration of Jerusalem is not only unprecedented in history but the fact that the process was foretold by Zechariah is astounding. Each time I return to Jerusalem, I am reminded that God is fulfilling his word. I not only have a front row seat to the process but have the rare opportunity to document the process of biblical fulfillment as it unfolds in our day. This isn't just any city becoming modernized. This is the city that the Messiah is returning to, and the city is getting ready for His arrival.