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Prophecy Being Fulfilled: Israel Rising Book a Testament to God’s Faithfulness

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

But the mountains of Israel will produce heavy crops of fruit for my people – for they will be coming home again soon!  ~ Ezekiel 36:8

In days gone by, the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel told of a time when the desolate, arid lands of Israel would overflow with abundance.  Deserts would become lush with green foliage.  Vibrant crops of vegetables and fruit would spring forth from sand dunes.  But most importantly, a promise from God would be fulfilled.

In his new book, Israel Rising: Ancient Prophecy/Modern Lens, author Doug Hershey (with photographer Elise Theriault) strives to show how God is restoring the land of Israel before our very eyes through a photographic lens.  Specifically, Hershey and Theriault chose 200 photographs from the 1880s to the 1940s and juxtaposed them against the Israel of today.  The visual contrasts are simply stunning and a reminder that God is always true.

I recently spoke with Hershey about this emerging prophecy found in Ezekiel 36, the photographic evidence he and his team uncovered to support this scripture, and an Israeli city that is a prime example of the miracle of Israel unfolding.

What was the catalyst for your writing Israel Rising?

The whole vision for Israel Rising was sort of a two and three-part journey, sort of a life journey, really, as I’ve always had a love for history, and as I’m back and forth to Israel with my travel company called Ezra Adventures, I was taking a group to the Jordan Valley to the Galilee down to the Dead Sea area and was explaining to them about how just five years before much of what was then green was brown. And as I was driving down with them saying, “Just wait till you get around this corner, and everything will be brown, and we came around that corner, and what used to be brown was green. I realized in that moment, and through some of my travels, it’s like every time that I’m down the Jordan Valley, more and more of it is becoming green. More of it is turning into orchards and vineyards and thriving communities.  Just simply from a scientific aspect, Israel right now is the only country on Earth where the deserts are shrinking and not expanding. Around that same time, I was reading in Ezekiel. Ezekiel 36 is about God speaking to the land, saying when the Jewish people return, the land will be cultivated and sewn, and the branches will put forth fruit, and so I just began putting a lot of these pieces together and I thought, “I don’t know that this has ever been documented before.” Couple that with a sort of a love for history and tying all those things together, that’s really how it all began. I want to be able to share this.

You just mentioned that Ezekiel from the Old Testament was a heavy influence in writing this book and putting it together. What can you tell me about that?

Ezekiel was something that was really profound for me. What’s unique about that passage is that God tells Ezekiel to prophesy not to kings or to the nations or even to people. He specifically says speak to the mountains, to the hills, to the ravines and the valleys, and basically says, “Prophesy to the land.” He speaks to it as a living thing, of saying when the Jewish people return, and I’m paraphrasing, of course, but basically when the Jewish people are out of land, it’ll be forgotten, desolate, just a complete empty desolation, but when the Jewish people return, again speaking to the land, “You’ll put forth branches and produce fruit, the land will be cultivated and sown.” God is saying, “I’m for you,” again talking to the land, “I am for you, and I will treat you better than what you ever were before. The waste places will be rebuilt. Man and beast will be multiplied on it.” And so Ezekiel is not speaking so much to people but to the land.  And what we’re finding, both through the evidence of the last 2,600 years, is that nothing like that has ever happened before up until 1948 when that change began.

While this book is heavily inspired by the photography of Israel, the book is much, much more than a bunch of great looking photos.  What else can readers expect to find in Israel Rising?

First, let me point out that I am not the photographer.  The photographer, Elise Theriault, is phenomenal.  She’s very skilled and talented. One of the most stunning aspects of the land and the region is really the history.  As I’m reading through Ezekiel 36, I’m thinking, “I wonder if anything like this has ever happened before,” and so as I began going back, I began to recover these eye witness accounts from Christians, Muslims and Jews for almost every century for the last 2,000 years. And whether they were Muslims or Jews or Christians, they were all describing the land in the same way for the last 1,800 years: It’s desolate. It’s oppressive. The Ottomans because of a taxation policy cut down most of the trees in the region which completely decimates the top soil, and animal populations leave, and ancient irrigation, ditches and water ways were completely destroyed. The land was completely and utterly forgotten. To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of the book isn’t just simply Bible prophecy, it is this narrative of 2,000 years of eye witness accounts from people from multiple empires, multiple millenniums really, all seeing and describing the same thing which simply verify what Ezekiel said would happen, and then the photos at the other end are verifying the 2,000 years of eye witness written accounts that we have, and we can recognize by looking at the old photos that they weren’t exaggerating.

Tiberias 1909

Eliat 1960s

Tiberias 2018

Eliat 2016

Is there any one area of Israel that you feel is the most vivid and truly represents what Israel is?

If you’re looking at sort of the miracle of Israel and Israeli ingenuity that seems to back up the promises of God, I would have to point to Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv starts in 1909 on sand dunes. There’s absolutely nothing there. There are no settlements, no anything. It starts with 66 families on the Mediterranean coast, and these 66 families plot out lots in the area. They literally cast lots like they do in the Bible to decide which family takes which building plot.  How they do that is they pull 66 seashells out of the Mediterranean, and then they write family names on the back of them, and that’s how they choose. That’s only 1909. Today, Tel Aviv is being referred to as the Jewel of the Middle East. Every major piece of technology that is shaping our world right now is coming out of Tel Aviv, everything from the cell phone components that I’m talking to you on right now: instant messenger to voicemail to navigation, self-driving cars are being developed there, cars that don’t run on gas, I mean just anything from medical to biology, anything that is shaping the world in technology is coming out of a city that less than 130 years ago didn’t even exist. So to me, if we’re talking about people returning to the land, the land responding, waste places being rebuilt, or even just simply God bringing life out of a dead region or bringing dead things out of the grave, even though that it’s a secular city, it embellishes really sort of the heart and desire of who God is, as He is faithful to His people. When He says He can bring something back from the dead, He can. And aside from that, He makes it very clear over and over, even though much of Israel is a secular nation, especially Tel Aviv. He’s saying the same thing today as He did when He’s bringing Israel into the Promised Land and that is “Don’t think it’s because you’re righteous, because you’re actually not. The reason I’m doing this is because I made a promise to your forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that I would bring you back to the land, and I am faithful to my Word and I’m doing it.”

Tel Aviv 1948

Tel Aviv 1946

Tel Aviv 2018

Tel Aviv 2018

After people have read or taken a look at Israel Rising, what would you like your readers to take away from the experience? What’s your greatest hope for the book?

A couple of things. One is that God is faithful to his Word. Right now we are seeing prophecies in our Bible, specifically Ezekiel 36, “It has been lying dormant for 2,600 years,” it’s coming to pass in our lifetime. I have the photos to prove it, which is in the book, that this is a region that was dead and forgotten, empty and desolate for 1,900 years until 1948 when the nation is reestablished and there’s dramatic, dramatic, earth-shaking change that’s happening there. So God is faithful to His Word. When He says that the branches will put forth fruit, they are. When He says that the waste places will be rebuilt, we could go there and have coffee. When He says that the deserts are blooming, that’s where most of the fruit and vegetable production that’s being exported out of Israel, that’s mostly where it’s coming out of is out of the Negev Desert. Number two; I would say that it’s unique in that no other nation or city on Earth has had its history foretold ahead of time to have it unfold exactly as it’s happened. So for me, as the author, there are over 100 photo comparisons in the book from over 25 locations all over Israel. It’s not an isolated event; it’s happening over the entire region. But it’s more than just simply a “then and now” book. It is proof that God is faithful to His Word.

To Purchase Israel Rising: Ancient Prophecy/Modern Lens

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