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Watch 2022 online sermons » Jonathan Bernis » Jonathan Bernis - Jerusalem Rising

Jonathan Bernis - Jerusalem Rising

Jonathan Bernis - Jerusalem Rising
TOPICS: Jerusalem, Bible Prophecy, Israel

Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to Jewish Voice, and thank you for joining me today. I'm Jonathan Bernis, with my co-host, Ezra Benjamin. Well, our current events regarding Jerusalem and Israel as a nation actually fulfilling Bible prophecy, I'm talking about prophecies written hundreds of years ago that are actually taking place today, in our day. Well, our guest is going to look at that, and he also has an incredible project that he's been involved in, that will help you to understand the history of an ancient land, both now and then. He's also going to take us on a tour through the old and new Jerusalem. I'm joined on the set by well-known author and speaker, Doug Hershey, and expert on all things Israel, and Doug, welcome back to Jewish Voice.

Doug Hershey: Thanks for having me.

Jonathan Bernis: Great to have you back. I'm so compelled by the project that you, it's just so intriguing, this project that you undertook. Tell us about this project, when it began, why it began, and a little bit about it.

Doug Hershey: Well, my first book, "Israel rising", has a lot of aerial photos that we took all over to match then and now photos of the aerial shots of Jerusalem, and the Galilee, and it was during that photo-shoot, we were in a helicopter that we chartered for photoshoots over Jerusalem, and as I'm literally kinda looking down on the city, sorta from God's eye-of-view, looking at the old city, and the Temple Mount, and the Kidron Valley, and the Mount of Olives, I just had this moment where I just really felt, I need to come back and focus on this city. All the eyes of the world throughout history have been focused on this city, and it was something just really stirring that I need to come back and just focus on the old photography, how the city has revived, and what God's doing in the city today.

Jonathan Bernis: Why Jerusalem, of all the ancient cities, and all of the important cities of the world, why Jerusalem?

Doug Hershey: One of my favorite quotes about Jerusalem comes from a guy named Simon montefiore who wrote a book called "Jerusalem" about, the biography of the city, and he says that Jerusalem is the desire and the prize of empires, yet with no strategic value. And so, even back in biblical times, Jerusalem is a mountainous city, it has a meager water source, there's no natural resources, it's not on any particular trade route, it's not a coastal city. There's no earthly reason why somebody would want Jerusalem, but a spiritual reason is completely another matter. It's the only city on earth where God says he has chosen it for his habitation. We're told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, it's one of two places in the scriptures where he says he has placed his name there forever. And so, just that alone makes Jerusalem different than anywhere else in the world.

Jonathan Bernis: Ezra, you've been to Israel so many times.

Ezra Benjamin: Right.

Jonathan Bernis: Do you feel something in Jerusalem?

Ezra Benjamin: Over 40 years, and every time I enter Jerusalem, Jonathan, it's hard to explain until you experience it, just this awareness of the love and the desire of God for a particular piece of real estate, a few square miles, on the face of the earth. And Doug, I'm thinking of Ezekiel, and I know this is part of what informed your project to photograph Jerusalem then and now, Ezekiel 5:5 says that: "God has set Jerusalem in the center of nations". So as you said, in the natural, there's very little reason, but there's some spiritual principle here that God said, "This is the center of the earth".

Doug Hershey: Yeah, and that's really what it boils down to. Jerusalem is significant simply because God said so. And that's really kinda where it ends, doesn't it?

Jonathan Bernis: It does, for me, there's an experiential dimension where you feel you're in a place that God has touched.

Doug Hershey: Yeah, absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: That something, and there's a future sense of a future destiny, like, this is it. This is the place that God made his Mark. This is the place where he left his footprints, this is the place he's going to return. And you feel it, in here.

Doug Hershey: It's not unusual for people going for the first time that will come away saying, "Just, I felt like I was home". And they felt something specific, and when I lead groups there, I have this conversation as people are having this experience to say, "Listen, you're not just caught up in some travel emotionalism, or some, you know, emotional experience from a spiritual aspect". This is a place where God has chosen as his home, and if we call God our father, it's literally coming home to the father's house, so we, as believers, calling God our father, this is his home, so we really do have that sense of coming home to Jerusalem.

Jonathan Bernis: Now, on the other side, you also feel if you've been there enough and you're aware enough, you feel the sense of warfare. Like, it's not only the city of peace, it's not only the place where God has visited, where the Messiah's going to return, but it's also the epicenter of warfare on the earth. The Temple Mount itself, in fact, is the single greatest contested piece of property on the planet, and it's just swirling warfare.

Doug Hershey: Sure. Yeah, and that's one of the unique things about the book of Isaiah, when it's talking about Lucifer, Lucifer saying he's going to set his throne above the throne of God, and he's going to sit on the mount of assembly, and he's going to sit in the recesses of the north. Where the Temple Mount is, is on the north side of the ancient City of Jerusalem, and on the mount of assembly, there's only one mountain that God would call all of Israel to assemble to, so exactly what you're saying. The very place where God says, "This is where my presence will dwell," is the exact place that Lucifer says, "No, no. I'm going to be the one who's going to sit there". So you're absolutely right that it's the very tip of the spear in terms of spiritual warfare.

Jonathan Bernis: And I think that's the reason we're to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the shalom of Jerusalem, and that prayer is really about bringing to completion God's plan, I believe.

Doug Hershey: Yeah, absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: And it's gonna take a lot of warfare, it's gonna proclamation, it's gonna be a rocky road to get there. Doug, go back further to the beginning of the whole project with "Israel rising". Was there a scripture that led you to undertake this journey from the beginning?

Doug Hershey: Well, from "Israel rising", Ezekiel 36 was the primary, motivating scripture about the land physically reviving, the land being cultivated and sown, wasted and forgotten cities being rebuilt, and then with "Jerusalem rising", I focused on Zechariah 8, when God says he's returning to the city, and old men and old women will dwell in safety and security, and children will play in the streets, and that the nations will come, and we're beginning to see a lot of those things now in a way that we never have before.

Ezra Benjamin: Doug, I think many in our audience either think of prophecy related to Israel and to the City of Jerusalem as being something that was fulfilled centuries ago, it's ancient history, or something that one day, that'll happen. But what we see in the then and now photos you captured throughout this project is that prophecy related to Jerusalem is in the process of being fulfilled. You can actually see it.

Doug Hershey: Yeah, and that's part of the joy, is that there are things lying dormant in our scriptures that are being fulfilled today in a very tangible, practical way. And so, up until, really, up until the founding of the nation of Israel in 1948, believers would read a lot of these prophetic scriptures and think about them in an allegorical sense, or a metaphor, or something that is not concrete. But yet, if the nation of Israel has shown us anything in the last 73 years, and especially the City of Jerusalem, really, in the last 50, is that God is doing exactly what he said. He said that the wasted and forgotten cities would be rebuilt. They are. He talked about this peace and security that'll be on the city, where old men and old women will dwell safely, and children will play in the streets. Jerusalem has been experiencing a time of safety and security in a way that they haven't in hundreds and hundreds of years, and it's happening right now.

Ezra Benjamin: It's incredible. It's not just nice ideas or symbolism, you're seeing it in black-and-white and now, in color, photography.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, here's another one, the desert shall bloom like a rose.

Doug Hershey: Absolutely.

Jonathan Bernis: Israel has become the leading exporter of roses to Europe during the summer months, or the winter months, rather, in the world. So, there's a direct fulfillment of prophecy in that.

Doug Hershey: Yeah, and we're finding that all over. There's all of these things that we used to, again, our parents and our grandparents would read as allegorical or symbolic, we're finding that are very literal and very tangible, exactly like what you're saying.

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, so Doug, you have sought to capture those in pictures, and have told the story. This began when you did "Israel rising", which had incredible response as an ad for an Israel tour, right?

Doug Hershey: Yeah, I have a travel company called "Ezra adventures", and that started as really what I thought would be an advertisement for the travel company, and since then, the response from around the world has really been surprising and staggering, but aside from that, people are just really hungry for verifiable proof that their scriptures are true and God is fulfilling his word, and that's some of what is really behind the whole motivating factor. It isn't just a now and then photobook, but just giving visual evidence that God is fulfilling his word exactly like he said he would.

Jonathan Bernis: So was there this sense as you moved along in the project, this is a God thing? Israel really is rising.

Doug Hershey: Very much...

Jonathan Bernis: These prophecies are being fulfilled.

Doug Hershey: Very much. I mean, it's undeniable when you're able to read some of the scriptures about the different things happening in Jerusalem, and how that's restoring, and then literally being able to capture it with photographic lens, there's nothing like it.

Jonathan Bernis: I really think this will encourage your faith. There's so much more to discuss, and we'll be right back after this message from our announcer. Please, consider what you can do today to join us in supporting Messianic ministries that are operating in Israel. They're working under difficult conditions, while sharing Messiah with their Jewish neighbors, and if you would, please consider joining us as a monthly shalom partner today. When we come back, doug's going to tell us about something recently discovered in Israel that has blown archaeologists away, and blew him away. You don't wanna miss it, we'll be right back.

Jonathan Bernis: Welcome back to the program. Hey, before we get back into our discussion of Jerusalem, let me take a moment to say thank you to all of you are supporting Jewish Voice. We could not do this work without you. Reaching Jewish people, discipling Jewish people, providing for their needs, you're making a real difference in the lives of so many, so thank you again for your generous giving, and especially for joining Jewish Voice as a monthly shalom partner. Your ongoing ministry is so, so vital. Doug, I wanna talk about the amazing discovery in just a moment. Before, I wanna give people a glimpse into the work that you're doing, because it's spectacular, and I wanna put up for everyone to see a picture. This is then. Okay? This is, so tell us what we're seeing. We're seeing one of the gates to the city. This is the Zion gate, correct? The Zion gate, so tell us about this gate. This picture is from, well, it's 70 years old.

Doug Hershey: Yeah. The picture is, I think, from the 1940s? And what's fascinating about this is normally, we would look at then and now, and we're seeing the new photo look a whole lot newer than, you know, and much more improved than the old, and here, it's actually just the opposite. Because this was an exact location. The Zion gate goes directly into the Jewish quarter of the old city, but this was a location that during the war of independence in 1948, there was barbed wire across here. This was the frontline between the Arab or Jordanian forces on the inside of the old city, and the Jewish forces on the outside.

Jonathan Bernis: So this is pre-war, meaning pre '67. Now, let's put up the now.

Doug Hershey: Yeah, so, now, of course, what you can see is bullet holes, all over the wall, and that is an aspect of the conflict from the war of independence, and what the frontlines really looked like in 1948.

Jonathan Bernis: You know they're exactly the same gate, but the face is quite different, and you're talking about a shocking...

Doug Hershey: Thousands of bullet holes.

Jonathan Bernis: Thousands.

Doug Hershey: Yeah, and that's really the story of the conflict, of the fight that it took to really re-take the land, and really, that was a spot that was a point of heartbreak for the Jewish people, because at that time, there was still Jewish communities inside the Zion gate, inside the Jewish quarter of the old city, that were then forced to leave, and then made, really, kinda made "Aliyah's," we could say, back to the Jewish quarter in 1967, after all of the old city was taken.

Jonathan Bernis: It's fascinating. I mean, you can see the face of war in this picture.

Ezra Benjamin: That's right. Jonathan, one of the interesting things also is Jerusalem means city of peace, and yet, it's a city that will make the nations of the world drunk with wrath, to take it over. It's an interesting juxtaposition, and you see it in the photos, Doug.

Doug Hershey: Yeah, absolutely, and that's one of the real beauty of doing the then and now photos, it isn't just simply the restoration, but it's really the history of the Jewish people. There's no other city on earth that's had its history foretold from its destruction to its desolation to its conflict, to its prophesied revival as a seat of power for a Jewish king that's going to rule the world, and so, we're capturing this process as it happens.

Jonathan Bernis: I'm thinking about this prophecy, the words of Yeshua himself, "Nation after nation will rise and fall". The picture here is one of destruction and rebirth, destruction and rebirth. Let's go to another one now. This is the holiest site in Judaism. This is what we call the wailing or the Western Wall. And talk about, this was then. When is this from?

Doug Hershey: Again, it's around the 1940s, and what's fascinating about it is if you're looking at the wall, there's not a whole lot to tell that's a whole lot different, but really, it's what's directly in front of the wall, and what a lot of people don't realize is prior to 1967, when this came under Jewish hands again for the first time in thousands of years, the Western Wall was not the large hotel plaza that we are familiar with now, it was really just this small, little alley that was maybe six to nine-feet wide.

Jonathan Bernis: Now, lemme put up the now. So, here's the now.

Doug Hershey: Yeah, I mean, it's night-and-day difference, and so, literally, back, prior to 1967, Jewish people are kinda sneaking in to pray at the wall, as they've done for hundreds and hundreds of years. It's a small, little area. You're kinda risking your life under Jordanian rule to even get there, between 1948 and 1967. After '67, the whole area is cleared out, and of course, now, thousands and thousands of people can come there and pray...

Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, somewhere around the then picture is a garbage dump, too. That was how significant it was, and now, thousands gather. Okay, tell us about the, I introduced something astounding at the break. Tell it to us. What did you find on your recent, what was your recent experience?

Doug Hershey: Well, in the last year or so, there's been research that's been quietly going on down in the Dead Sea for quite some time, and as recently as a year ago, there was some announcements coming out about the Dead Sea scrolls. Now, of course, being in Jerusalem, you can go to the shrine of the book, which is a place where you can see the portions of the Dead Sea scrolls, that were recently, or that were discovered prior to the state of Israel being founded. More pieces were recently being found, and so, as these pieces were being found with the project I was doing, we were focusing on Zechariah 8, in terms of looking at God reviving the City of Jerusalem and the things that were going on, and so, I was hearing from different sources that there were two portions of scripture that were recently discovered that hadn't been as part of the regular Dead Sea scrolls that you can see, and one of them happened to be from Zechariah 8. And so, that was really a bit of a fingerprint of God touching my heart with the project that was going on, but again, from Zechariah and nahum to have these pieces of scripture that had not been previously discovered within the Dead Sea scrolls, it's really a treasure.

Jonathan Bernis: Give us a couple verses here from Zechariah 8 that really jump out at you. I'm gonna put them on the screen for people to see.

Doug Hershey: Yeah. There was really one, it was just Zechariah 8:16, and it's talking about, "This is what I want you to do is to speak truth in the gates, and to make truthful judgments," I mean, if there was ever a time to speak truth about Jerusalem, it certainly is right now.

Ezra Benjamin: Doug, another verse I'm thinking of, I actually went to Jerusalem and found it on the Qumran Scrolls, the Isaiah scroll, that's unrolled for everybody to see is Isaiah 11:11, and it's a verse you've heard us, if you've watched Jewish Voice any number of programs, you've heard us talk about it, I'm sure, this idea that God will stretch out his hand to re-gather the exiles or the outcasts of Israel who are left and bring them back to Israel. What's the particular meaning of that verse in terms of the project you did, and how does that speak to you?

Doug Hershey: Well, with the photographer that I had for this project, he actually had an 11:11 tattooed on his arm, and during one of our breaks, in-between tracking down some of these locations, I asked him about it, and I said, "Tell me about that". And he was saying, you know, he was born in California moved at 12-13, and is fully Israeli certainly now, but I asked him about it, and he said, "You know, 11:11," he's a secular guy, so he, "You know, it's sort of a spiritual compass of sorts". Like, I know, like, when I see 11:11, I'm at the right place at the right time. Well, as we were sitting at this coffee shop, I was telling him, you know, in Isaiah 11:11, it's not just the Jewish people are coming back, but he's going to bring them back a second time. And I was saying to him, isn't it fascinating that here you and I are, sitting in Jerusalem, the first time that the exiles came back was from Babylon, the second time according to Isaiah was the second time that the Jewish people were thrown out of the land, scattered to the earth, the second time they're returning is right now. And isn't it fascinating that here you and I are, sitting in Jerusalem, talking about Isaiah 11:11. You and I are having this conversation at a coffee shop, we are literally sitting and having coffee in the middle of a Bible prophecy. And so, it was just something really significant to him, and it really became sort of a calling card of our photoshoots, it was really special.

Ezra Benjamin: He already had it tattooed on his arm, on the back of his arm, and yet, it came alive, the scriptures came alive. For a secular Israeli, the scriptures came alive.

Doug Hershey: Yeah, and it was something that, as I was talking to him about that moment, we just kinda sat back and said, isn't it amazing, like, here we are, surrounded by Jewish people that are really coming back from the nations. Here you are, feeling a call to come back even, you know, with your family, even as a young boy, and here we are, sitting in the middle of what was prophesied 2.600 years ago.

Ezra Benjamin: Absolutely, and what's interesting, Doug, about the photos you took, the then and now, is then photos are largely turks, Arabs, what was then the ottoman empire, was sort of occupying Jerusalem, a few Jewish people scattered in the midst, but mostly an Arab or a Turkish population, and yet, today, it's predominantly Jewish, Iraqi Jews, Yemenite Jews, Sephardic Jews. Californian Jews with 11:11 on their arms. But, we really see in the photos the fulfillment of God's promise to re-gather our people.

Doug Hershey: Yeah, and a lot of the photos in the project, some of the oldest are from 1844 until now and so, you can just see this full revival of what God's been doing in the city for the last 175 years.

Ezra Benjamin: So cool.

Jonathan Bernis: It is. And clearly, Bible prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes. We just need to have eyes to see. This has been an amazing program, and there's still more to come. Please, stay with us, because after the break, we want to join with you in prayer for the nation of Israel together, and we also wanna come into agreement with you for your needs and the needs of your family, so don't go away, we'll be right back.

Jonathan Bernis: We just have a moment left on the program. In every program, we try to pray for your needs, but we're also gonna pray for Israel together. Doug, I'm gonna ask you to lead us in a prayer over Israel, and do our part to obey Psalm 122:6, to: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem". Lead us in that, and then we're gonna agree with you for your needs. I know many of you have needs, but I also know God is watching.

Doug Hershey: Well, father, we thank you for the day and the opportunity to live in the hour that we do. God, we thank you, that you are fulfilling your word, you are demonstrating your faithfulness in who you are, and doing exactly what you said you would do, not only throughout the earth, but in the City of Jerusalem, so, Lord, according to your instructions, Lord, we are praying for the peace of Jerusalem, for there would be peace within the walls, and that specifically, Lord, that you would also prosper those that love Jerusalem. And so, for those that are watching, for those that have been praying for Jerusalem, Lord, we ask for your favor and your grace, for your wisdom in the decisions that they're making, and Lord, we also pray the same for the Israeli leadership in Jerusalem, and for those that sit in power. God, we ask for your wisdom, and your divine revelation of Yeshua, as well as what the nation should do. In Yeshua's name.

Jonathan Bernis: We agree, and we thank you for every need being met. We speak to sickness, we command it to go. We speak to financial needs and we say, "Be met". We declare prosperity and restoration over everyone that needs a touch from you, in the name of Yeshua, in Jesus' name. Amen. If you'd like more information about our ministry, I'd encourage you to go onto our website, it's And you can also send us your prayer request, while you're on the site, and know that we will be not only reading your requests, but praying over you by name. Why? Because we believe in the power of prayer, and we care about you. More importantly, God cares about you. I wanna remind you to keep praying for Israel and the Jewish people. This week, they need our prayers now more than ever. And on behalf of Doug Hershey and Ezra and myself, until next time, God bless you, and we'll see you again soon.
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