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Oct 15, 2013

Return to Me by Lynn Austin (The Restoration Chronicles #1)

Fantastic biblical fiction that propels  to the top of my favorites list!
Return to Me by Lynn Austin (The Restoration Chronicles #1)
Biblical Fiction
Bethany House, 2013
Paperback 459 pages
Review copy provided by Litfuse in exchange for this honest review

After years of watching his children and grandchildren wander from their faith, Iddo's prayers are answered: King Cyrus is allowing God's chosen people to return to Jerusalem. Jubilant, he joyfully prepares for their departure, only to learn that his family, grown comfortable in the pagan culture of Babylon, wants to remain. Zechariah, Iddo's oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather's ancient beliefs and the comfort and success his father enjoys in Babylon. But he soon begins to hear the voice of God, encouraging him to return to the land given to his forefathers.

Lynn Austin is a well-known author of biblical novels, but Return To Me was my first of hers that I'd read. And with this one fantastic novel, I am already searching out all of her works because this story was perfect and hit home for me. The biblical story of a second exodus was not one that I had studied too hard, but the main gist is that Babylon had enslaved the followers of God and for many years they could only dream of going back to their ancestral land in Jerusalem to fulfill the dream of the tribe of Judah populating the earth with numerous descendants to outpace the stars in the heavens. We watch that dream come alive with this masterfully told novelization of an important faith testing period of Jewish and Christianity's history as the believers finally get to rebuild Solomon's temple in Jerusalem.

This is the story of Iddo and his family, their struggles, their beliefs, their hardships. And wrapped up in this story is strife and survival, and Zechariah, the prophet who has his writings in our bible of today.

The author propels us into this biblical story without leaving anything out from her imagination: the Samaritans, the prophets, the sorceress, the fear, the faith, the hatred, the love, the greedy and the humble. And everything in between. Zechariah starts off as a young boy in the story but he leaves us a full grown man who has finally found his calling as a prophet revered by his peers and neighbors. Haggai is mentioned as well, along with many family members who help flesh out the dramatic story that hides beneath the prophetic words of Zechariah. Although not a Zechariah quote, the story focuses on the people finally leaving Babylon and following their heart to where they felt the Lord will dwell, and how they had to have faith that God would preserve them: "How great you are, Sovereign lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears." - 2 Samuel 7:22

A compelling story focused on returning to the Lord that I would recommend for any reader of the bible who likes biblical and christian fiction. This story was so fascinating that I am perturbed I cannot find any news on the next book in the trilogy. Another bonus was the chunky-ness.. loved the length of this novel. It was just right; not too small, not too big.. I just wish I could get my hands on book two..

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