Zechariah spoke of the restoration of Jerusalem, and today one can see the bustling city with its plethora of historical sites that have been restored to their former glory — but how can one really see the transformation of the city?
Last September, Doug Hershey released “Jerusalem Rising,” a showcase of historical photos from Jerusalem taken from the 1840s to the mid-1900s, juxtaposed with current-day images done at the same locations and with the same angles.
Hershey is founder of Ezra Adventures, a boutique travel and education company, specializing in exclusive customized small group travel throughout Israel and the Middle East. His first photography book, “Israel Rising,” was an Amazon bestseller on Christian and Jewish charts.
Through taking groups on tours, Hershey saw the changes taking place in Israel. He “always had a love for the old black and white photos,” and going around the country, he would recognize where the photos had been taken.
Initially, he figured “Israel Rising” would serve as publicity for his travel company, but its popularity led to him starting a series of Ancient Prophecy/Modern Lens, of which “Jerusalem Rising” is the second volume.”
“I wanted to be able to bring the fact that the things happening in Israel right now aren’t happenstance or coincidence, but are things the prophets wrote about,” he said. “Things our parents or grandparents could never have dreamed of.”
He wanted to document the changes to Israel, “not just the growth of a land, but what happens when God fulfils His word.”
The success of “Israel Rising” showed him there is “a growing interest in the documentation of ongoing biblical prophecy. More and more people are not just curious about proposed future timelines and scenarios, but also about what is tangibly happening right now. The Ancient Prophecy / Modern Lens series is providing that concrete visual evidence.”
The oldest photos in “Jerusalem Rising” date back to 1844, when the city had a population of 15,000. Hershey said it was unique and special “being able to make that connection to the very earliest visual documentation that the world has” for Jerusalem.
He and world-renowned adventure-travel and extreme-sports photographer and filmmaker Edden Ram were able to get exclusive access to many of the locations in the historical photos, to re-shoot the exact angles and show the current day changes.
“Doing that photo shoot, spending time around Jerusalem was truly stunning,” he said.
In the book, “there are several groundbreaking aspects that have never been published before,” Hershey added. “We’ve documented the restoration of Jerusalem in a compelling way that has not been visually captured previously. I couldn’t be more excited to share this unique view of Jerusalem being restored just as Zechariah foretold!”
The books have quotes from Jews, Christians and Muslims over the past 2,000 years, detailing how Jerusalem captured hearts around the world, even when it was in silent desolation for centuries.
In “Israel Rising,” he had a quote from an Arabic writer in the 10th century, “complaining that there are no worshipers in the mosque and there’s a Jewish majority.”
In his first volume, he focused on the Galilee, a favorite area for him. A close second is Mizpe Ramon, “where it is isolated and no one’s there… I can get a motorcycle and a small tent and live in Mizpe Ramon for a long time.”
A third volume is in the works, and volumes four and five are also being considered.
Growing up in a Christian home, “I always had a heart for the Old Covenant,” Hershey said. His first Israel trip was about 24 years ago, and “like most people, you step off the plane for the first time and it feels different.”
While he is a believer, he kept more of a historical documentation tone in the books, while relating the Scriptural significance.
Zechariah 8:3 relates “I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the Lord Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain.”
As “Jerusalem Rising” was being sent to the printer, a new cache of Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered, and some of the fragments were from Zechariah 8.
“It’s a stunning confirmation to me that God is once again bringing Jerusalem to the forefront of the world’s attention and that ‘Jerusalem Rising’ is right on time,” Hershey said.