Monday, October 12, 2015

On This Foundation by Lynn Austin

On This Foundation is the third in Austin's series The Restoration Chronicles which is based on the events in the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The story begins in the Persian capital of Susa, where Nehemiah, a Jew, serves as the king's cup-bearer. Responsible for the king's security, Nehemiah has a special set of skills. And, God calls him to use them in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, the holy city of his ancestors now under the Persian empire's governance.

Because of his special relationship with the Persian king, Nehemiah succeeds in getting the king's approval. He's appointed governor of the Jerusalem area. With a contingent of the king's soldiers, he travels to Jerusalem and evaluates the job he has to do. The locals think he's nuts wanting to rebuild the walls that have been in ruins since the Babylonians trashed it years ago. But, Nehemiah succeeds in winning hearts and minds with the help of rabbi Ezra and other faithful Jews. There's a drought in the area that's caused hardships for many. As usual, Austin's story is populated with vibrant characters who portray the social structure of the times and keep the story interesting.

I've always admired Austin's ability to make the characters from Bible times come alive. As usual, she uses contemporary language in the dialog so that interaction between characters feels real and unstilted. I found Nehemiah especially fascinating. Even with the favor of the king and the position of governor, he still felt inadequate at times. He was admired by the people he tried to help, but he did not let popularity go to his head.

Reading the Bible story alongside the fiction account helps make the Bible story more understandable. The fiction version brings to life palace intrigue, suffering of the poor, and God's role in all the characters' lives. I highly recommend this entire series to Bible newbies and scholars alike.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Image source: Baker Publishing Group

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