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.
Like many 21st century Christians, I don't pay enough attention to the Old Testament, and I'm not quite sure of the timeline of events. I tend to think of the events in the book of Esther in a vacuum, so if you'd asked me who Esther's contemporaries were, I probably would have said, "Um, I think probably Ezra and Nehemiah"--simply because those books are next to one another in the Bible. But I had no idea that the events in Esther took place between chapters 6 and 7 of Ezra. (Austin's Return to Me covers Ezra 1-6.) So I was quite surprised when Keepers of the Covenant opened with Haman's plot to annihilate the Jews on the 13th of Adar.
Before, when I thought of Esther, of course I acknowledged how great it was that God saved His people, but I've always seen it through Esther's eyes. Seeing how the Lord saved his people through Esther from the perspective of the Jewish people scattered throughout the Persian Empire brought tears to my eyes. And really, the 13th of Adar is just the beginning of the story told in Keepers of the Covenant.
While there are a host of characters in this novel, Austin wisely focuses on just four: Ezra, Devorah (Ezra's sister-in-law/wife), Reuben (a Levite whose father was killed on the 13th of Adar), and Amina (an Edomite girl). As their stories progress and intertwine, Austin is able to clearly show God's care both for his chosen people and for the Gentiles.
In the Restoration Chronicles, Lynn Austin isn't just retelling Jewish history--she is bringing it to life on the page. While the books look a bit daunting (Keepers of the Covenant clocks in at 473 pages), the story they tell is fascinating. I couldn't put this book down, and I bet you won't be able to, either. 5 stars.
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Lynn Austin is back with the next book in The Restoration Chronicles series, Keepers of the Covenant. Austin weaves together the struggles and stories of both Jews and Gentiles, creating a tapestry of faith and doubt, love and loss. Here, the Old Testament comes to life, demonstrating the everlasting hope displayed in God's unwavering love for His people.
Lynn is celebrating with a Kindle HDX giveaway and a live author chat webcast on October 21st.
- A Kindle HDX
- Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin
So grab your copy of Keepers of the Covenant and join Lynn and friends on the evening of October 21st for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)