Viewed more than 14,000 times by press time, a dramatic video of flash flood in the Judean desert last week, during the rainy season in Israel, was posted on the Facebook page of an Israeli travel ministry.
Breaking Israel News spoke with Omer Eshel, the CEO of The Bible Comes To Life Travel and Education Center to learn more about the video, how it relates to the Bible and how a well-planned trip to Israel can make the Bible come alive.
Eshel is a certified Israeli tour guide who speaks five languages, including Hebrew, English and Arabic. His undergraduate degree in historical geography and religion was earned at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and he is a trained diplomat who represented the Israel Ministry of Tourism in Chicago from 2011 until 2015.
“The video came from one of our guides who was with a family on a flood tour. It was shared in a tour guide group,” Eshel said.
He explained that a flood tour is a safe way to travel through the Judean desert, focusing on two spots especially known for being the source of flash floods. Given the right conditions, flash floods develop very rapidly, as can be seen in the video. Once activated, they can last up to two days.
They can’t always be predicted, but Eshel commented that, “When there’s a forecast of rain in a certain area of the southeastern Judean desert, we know it will affect the falls. You can tell from the radar.”
According to Eshel, these floods are very rare. On the Facebook post, he illustrated the Biblical connection to flash floods in the Judean desert with a verse from the Prophet Isaiah, whom Eshel considers his favorite prophet.
I will open up streams on the bare hills And fountains amid the valleys; I will turn the desert into ponds, The arid land into springs of water. Isaiah 41:18
“The Bible uses [the image of] a flood because it’s rare. The outcome of the flood is both destructive and life giving.”
The destructive power of a flood is obvious. “It will take out whatever is in its path,” Eshel said.
At the same time, “Those floods give life to all the settlements in the area because it’s their source of water.” This is as true today as it was in the Biblical era when the people living in Qumran and Ein Gedi, for example, filled their water reservoirs by diverting a portion of the flood waters.
He compared the dual nature of a flood to the word of God. “It’s destructive if you don’t follow His laws… and lifegiving if you do.”
This teaching is typical of the work of the travel ministry that Eshel co-founded in 2017. While serving as a diplomat in Chicago, he gave lectures on Biblical archeology that attracted evangelical Christians in the Midwest. When his diplomatic service was over in 2015, he returned to Israel and opened, “a Bible center that is a travel ministry.”
In its first year of operation, The Bible Comes To Life ministry brought 2,000 tourists to Israel from China, Ghana, Mexico and North America. They deal only with the Biblical education component of the tours, leaving the logistics to a well-established tour company. Through its offices in the US, Canada, Latin America, China and Germany, the ministry also offers lectures worldwide that connect the Bible and the Land of Israel.
Eshel estimates that 10,000 audience members have heard their Bible education lectures over the last year. The ministry has six educators on staff who join groups in Israel, transforming them from ordinary travel excursions to Bible study tours.
“When groups are coming to Israel, [we offer them] a very deep study between the Bible and the location [they are visiting]. Everyone has a Bible in their hands.”
One of the special tools they created is a book filled with QR codes that travelers can scan with their smartphones, on the bus or once back home. The QR codes bring up videos related to each Biblical site, which helps reinforce the learning.
Eshel has a very clear agenda. “My ultimate goal is to strengthen the connection between evangelicals and the Land of Israel. I want there to be as many Nikki Haleys in the future as possible.
“When people are in Israel and do a study tour, they will never read the Bible the same way. The main idea is to change your life. It’s to show that the Word of God is correct.”
Commenting on the plethora of archaeological remains of significant Biblical sites in Israel, Eshel finds that the beliefs of the Biblically faithful travelers are significantly strengthened when they see evidence in front of their eyes.
“There is not one site in Israel that contradicts the Bible, not even one,” he concluded with confidence.