Nov 15, 2015

On This Foundation (Restoration Chronicles #3) by Lynn Austin

Conclusion of a fantastic biblical series

On This Foundation (Restoration Chronicles #3) by Lynn Austin
 -easily read as a stand-alone!
Biblical fiction, paperback 466 pages
Bethany House, September 2015
Review copy provided by Bethany House in exchange for this review
Burton Book Review Rating:4.5 Stars

Reviews of the previous novels in the series:
Return To Me
Keepers Of The Covenant

The Powerful Concluding Novel to The Restoration Chronicles
When news that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire, Nehemiah, Jewish cupbearer to King Artaxerxes in Persia, seeks God's guidance. After fasting and prayer, he's given leave to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the city wall, not anticipating all the dangers that await him on his arrival.
The leaders of the surrounding nations become his fierce enemies, plotting to assassinate him and halt the work. A drought, meanwhile, has left the country impoverished, many families resorting to selling their children as bond servants just to keep from starving.
Capturing the rebuilding of the wall through the eyes of a number of characters, On This Foundation is a powerful exploration of faith in the midst of oppression, and hope that, in spite of appearances, the gracious hand of God is upon those who believe.
The Restoration Chronicles is the newest series by author Lynn Austin; her previous works in this series were easily my favorites. This third installment brings us the story of Nehemeiah as he pursues his calling to rebuild the protective walls surrounding Jerusalem which have been in ruins for nearly one hundred and fifty years. However, upon his return to his ancestral home to act as governor of Judah, Nehemiah realizes it's not only the walls that require rebuilding.

The village is suffering due to drought and the wealthier noblemen find it easy to flaunt their riches and take advantage of the poor, even enacting laws of the Torah to enslave those who are less fortunate. Austin demonstrates this through both the eyes of the rich and the poor with Malkijah and his new bond servant Nava. Nava must work as his bond servant for seven years in order to repay owed taxes, and Nehemiah implores all of the noblemen to return the bond servants to their families and show mercy.

As the community unites to rebuild Jerusalem's wall, God's hand can be seen as his guide as the impossible task seemed to occur seamlessly- yet it demonstrated how the people's simple faith can conquer all. Nehemiah was a smart man who combined his faith with action and had the willingness to fight for those building the wall, some at their peril. He armed the workers, and worked tirelessly to rebuild the walls and gates in record time.

Nehemiah's actions cause a deeper rift with the noblemen when he is soon seen as a savior to the poor, and conspiracies develop among the more powerful to rid them of the governor. Through it all, themes of God's mercy and His love are running as undercurrents, and Nava learns from those more faithful how to rebuild her own faith and trust in the Lord who she feels has abandoned her during troubled times.

"God is at work. We can't understand how He chooses to answer our prayers, but He will answer them, one way or another.

Don't ask God what He's doing. Ask Him what you should be doing."

The narratives alternate between Malkijah's betrothed, Chana, Nava the servant, and Nehemiah, to fully enhance all points of view of the novel, and each enhanced God's messages through Austin's powerful storytelling. She expertly expands slices of scripture with the culture of biblical times and gives us an unforgettable and believable anecdote of the religious heritage which is a gift in itself. Her stories present theselves as that - a story. I do not find them preachy, nor condemning, I simply relish the author's passion for retelling a biblical source in a very inspiring way. The Restoration Chronicles series is an extraordinary work of biblical fiction and I highly recommend this series as a whole, though they each represent different scripture stories and can be read alone.