NAGAD’s life was perfect until it was torn apart by the ravages of war. Now, haunted by his past, this young conscript must meet the enemy in battle. With shaking rage the nations collide in a fierce conflict for dominance. Yet more is at stake than the survival of a people. The dispute contests the claim of immortal supremacy, the outcome to prove whose god reigns omnipotent.
And so, Nagad of Benjamin pushes on through the raging tide of battle. But to no avail. Soon crushed by the mighty war machine of Philistia, thousands of Hebrew soldiers lay slaughtered upon the carrion infested field. Hope has abandoned them. Then it is remembered, that in the days of their fathers, any army that bore the Ark of the Covenant could not be defeated. They need the Ark, for only then can the Chosen of God prevail against the enemy.
But they are wrong.
Begin a journey with Susan Van Volkenburgh back to the time of 1 Samuel in her debut novel The Stone of Ebenezer. Tread the ancient lands of the Israel and Philistia through a novel replete with descriptive prose. Before you begin, let me say, I’ve yet to come across a biblical fiction novel so saturated with scripture and biblical history.
Within the first few chapters, it became evident that The Stone of Ebenezer was written from the heart of an educator. Van Volkenburgh does not limit the scope of her story to the book of 1st Samuel, but chooses to illustrate God’s protection over his chosen people by including historical accounts of God’s deliverance. These include, but are not limited to deliverance: from Egypt (Exodus), into the Promised Land (Joshua), and from the hands of both the Philistines and the Cannanites (Samson, Barak & Jael from the book of Judges). At times, the flashbacks coupled with generous descriptions of the territories weighed down the tale. Nevertheless, their inclusion gave a sweeping view of God’s redemptive power.
As far as characters go, Nagad was my favorite as he was the most thoroughly developed. I also liked the way the author switched back and forth, recounting the events from both sides. While the ark lingered in Philistine territory wreaking havoc, I was reminded of how God does not need me to accomplish His purposes, but rather He allows me to witness and participate in His work. Overall, the struggle against our flesh (the desire to do things our way) and how we need to humble ourselves so that God can act on our behalf are some of the messages I cherish from the book.
Generally it’s easy to recommend an audience to whom I think would enjoy a particular title. This one was a little tougher. If you tend to lean towards titles with a romantic flair, this may not be the book for you, because love didn’t enter the scene until 2/3 of the way into the book, and even then it’s not a driving factor for our hero. I believe this title would appeal to readers with an academic leaning: history buffs, bible teachers, and even high school aged students as long as their parents approve of wartime violence.
**I received this book free as a member of the BookLookBloggers review program. 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.”
About the Author
Susan Van Volkenburgh is an author, musical evangelist, and homeschool educator in Keller, Texas. She is very active in her homeschooling community, offering mentoring for parents and a variety of classes for children and teens. After graduating from Radford University in Southwestern Virginia with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing, Susan married Ronald Van Volkenburgh on January 17, 1987. Before she began homeschooling her three children in 1995, Susan practiced as a Registered Nurse in Oncology. After the loss of her father on September 11, 2001, Susan began revisiting her long lost dream of becoming an author and is in the process of writing several books.
Learn more by visiting susanvanvolkenburgh.com.