I love how the book opens with Haman. I thought the story would be just another Esther tale, but oh, was I wrong! Lynn Austin is a masterful storyteller – one of my favorite Christian authors, with such compelling historical fiction.
The prophet Ezra is brought to life, as a real man, husband, father, shepherd, and teacher. His struggles are real and he is an example to all followers to pray and seek God for guidance and follow the Biblical teachings uncompromisingly. Woven in this masterful story is a Bible lesson so clear and unmistakable that I cried as it unraveled as it revealed where I need healing and how I have failed and what I need to change to reconcile myself with God.
God’s people face bleak times and they question how they’ve sinned and how they can reconcile with God. This stood out to me: “It’s the highest form of praise to keep believing that God is good even when it doesn’t seem that way.”
The Jews in this book echo the sentiment I hear from many Christians today: “Surely this [Bible teaching] was for a different time, a different set of circumstances…”
And as a teacher and mother, these comments cut me to the quick: I “can’t expect others to obey God’s law if [I] don’t obey it…Why study it if [we’re] not going to live it?” Indeed.
Ezra’s relationship with his wife, Devorah, is a lovely example of a godly marriage. She is respectful but influential and guides her husband to do what is right. She is intelligent and thoughtful and strong.
I see myself in many of the characters in this book. Lost and alone and feeling guilty and unworthy and unvalued. I love the little theme of God’s law and teachings are for everyone, not just Jews.
Austin consistently has me on the edge of my seat with several plot conflicts, following multiple characters, and rooting for those characters to succeed and live out God’s plan.
About the book:
The Old Testament Comes to Thrilling Life in the Latest from Lynn Austin
In one life-changing moment, the lives of the Jewish exiles in Babylon are thrown into confusion and despair when a decree arrives from the king’s palace in Susa. It calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire on the thirteenth day of Adar, in less than one year. Ezra, a quiet Jewish scholar and teacher, is suddenly called upon to lead the community as they seek God for a reason for this catastrophe. When a second decree arrives, authorizing them to fight back, Ezra is thrust into the role of military leader as they defend themselves against their enemies.
When the battles come to an end, Ezra’s brother Jude is dead and Ezra is required by the Law he so diligently studies to marry Jude’s widow, Devorah, and provide an heir. Fatherhood changes Ezra, and he asks God to make a way for him and the other exiles to leave Babylon for good and return to Jerusalem. His prayers are answered and the exiles move to Judea to revitalize worship at the temple—but the fight to keep God’s Law is never easy. As more and more of his community are tempted, a new battle emerges . . . this one for the survival of God’s covenant and the souls of His chosen faithful.
About the Author:
Bestselling author Lynn Austin has sold more than one million copies of her books worldwide. She is an eight-time Christy Award winner for her historical novels, as well as a popular speaker at retreats and conventions. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and live near Chicago.