I don't eat Twinkies. Don't get me wrong, I love sweets but I won't do the cheap snacks that could cost me my health. Likewise, whatever I take into myself -- be it a book, movie, music or a play -- needs to nourish me. If it doesn't make me better for having read it (and I'm not just talking better informed) I'm not going to partake. Charlotte Mason called it "twaddle" - I call it Twinkies. So I knew when my husband saw the cover I would be in for some teasing as men with smoldering eyes don't normally grace the reading material on my bedside table. Happily, Pearl in the Sand is no Twinkie.
Tessa Afshar brings to life a story of Rahab, the prostitute of Jericho, and Salmone, a leader of the tribe of Judah - the man she would marry to become one of only five women listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Called by the author "a marriage only God would conceive," the spiritual battles this couple faces mirror the physical battles Israel has seen. Rahab, born and raised in a city famed for its walls, has built up her own walls which house her fear of rejection, guilt and unrelenting shame. Salmone has lived his whole life without walls, yet is full of pride and seeks the approval of others. Ever the soldier, obedience may come easy to Salmone but surrender does not.
Oh, but this is so much more than a love story between two people with a lot of baggage between them. The true longing and passion of the characters we're introduced to is for the Lord and His heart is for them. While learning in such a living way regarding Israel's administrative structure, the logistics of the judgement of Aichor, the principles behind even the seemingly minute details of what the Lord required of Israel, and just what would be required of a Gentile to join the camp of Israel, I was once again overwhelmed by the absolute worth we have in the eyes of our Lord, by His utter forgiveness, by the peace only He can instill and by His use of man -- of each one of us -- in the carrying out His eternal purpose.
Pearl in the Sand is a historical fiction and as I began, I found it reassuring when the author pointed out, "The best way to study the Bible is not through a novel, but simply to read the original. This story can in no way replace the transformative power that the reader will encounter in the Scriptures." Even so, this is no Twinkie and you'll find a richness and depth within that will make you at home with this time in history.