Every year we are on the Review Crew is SUCH a blessing. But we are especially blessed, over and over again, with amazing historical, Biblically sound, audio dramas from Heirloom Audio. This time around we experienced one of the greatest adventures yet: For the Temple by G.A Henty. We received a physical copy of the discs for this review, as well as an amazing study guide (50+ pages) to accompany this tale. A great way to dig in deeper; understand more and get our hands dirty too! In fact shortly after we started this one, I found myself already getting into all the good stuff, to find some answers and help my kids better understand the background of the story being told.
This is so much than just an audio book, retelling the stories of G.A. Henty. We are big fans of all of his stories and I think we have all of them on our kindle but we all much prefer the audio version. This is definitely an experience. As you listen, you are transported to the very time the story takes place; the characters become so real – it doesn’t take long either for you to really grow attached to them. Here, is perhaps the greatest way for our children to really learn history; you cannot help but be drawn in, big or small, as you sit on the edge of your seat, waiting with such anticipation, totally and completely invested in the story and the characters who have become such dear friends. Oh, and my favorite part? The simple and sound historical lessons that are within; characters who, in my humble opinion, are like iron sharpening iron. There is just so much can you can learn, and be inspired by, in these stories!
It is said that there is much we can learn from the stories of long ago. I have always agreed myself, that we need to understand our history so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Rather we need to know them, and learn from them. As we listened, we heard so many familiar names. There were references made to Jacob and Rachel in the Old Testament. Simeon, Titus, Mary and Martha, Nicodemus … I love seeing how my children connect the dots as they listen to these stories. Beginning to really know and understand how it all goes right back to the Word of God.
In this story, we are transported to Israel; in AD 67 when Nero, the Roman emperor, occupied and had charge. In this tale, we follow John, a vintner’s son, who lives along the Sea of Galilee, he is a peaceable man, waiting to marry his long time friend, Mary. Moments into this story I found myself having to pause because my boys wanted to know more about the weather and the sky. You see John and Mary were out, when they should not have been, and a terrible storm came their way. John is virtuous and protective of Mary, (we had to emphasize this one to our boys!) and he of course, saves her but is then rebuked for not having paid attention to those signs in the sky. Certainly he should have known not to be out on the sea. However, it is also because of the storm, and John’s wit and courage, he meets General Josephus. Perhaps this is where the story, for John, really begins. Battles to be fought; there are zealots stirring things up – I think of the value of unity here – Do we stand and fight together or do we become “easy to conquer” as we fight against one another more?
So much excitement so early on in the tale! Can I say this is just one of many rabbit trails we wandered down as we enjoyed this dramatic story telling? There are just so many moments in every one of these audio dramas that really get your attention. I am often amazed at simple things that really spark curiosity in my kids. So many of the customs that Jewish people observe, even to this day, were present within this story and brought about great discussions about the symbolism and meaning, such as when Simon makes a toast “to life.” Of course my daughter (7) imagined toast being thrown all about because it is “bread of life.” I can only imagine – I love how she puts things together sometimes. Since we have been trying to keep God’s holy days too in the last few years, this was an exciting thing for the kids to hear mention of the Sabbath. Again, it is a great lesson, as we learn about the past, to find our own traditions and celebrations within; isn’t there so much more meaning to what and who we live for?
“The first duty of every Jew is to die, if need be, in defense of the temple.”
As the story progressed, we frequently went to the study guide, a wonderful tool to aid in discussion as well as to explore things a bit more thoroughly. There are three different sections with the guide: Listening Well, Thinking Further and Defining Words. For all of you mommas who use narration with your kiddos, Listening Well is pretty much the same thing. What did you hear? What do you remember? In Thinking Further we have to do some research, maybe look up a couple of things. Find some places on a map, ponder why certain events occurred as they did. My younger son loved looking up all these places on a map (in some cases finding video and photos of “exact” locations where things took place, even specific spots mentioned). My older son spent more time pondering some of the deeper questions that were asked here; I considered many of them to be great for character building. Why did John ask his parents before he agreed to go off to fight? There were also some great opportunities for him to do some drawing – soldiers in their armour – this was quite a fun experience to explore the various attire worn by both sides and do a bit of comparison. And of course in Defining Words we make sure that the more complex words being used are understood. There are also a few Bible Studies found within this guide exploring proper worship, Christ as our temple and that true salvation comes from Christ alone. These pages are full of scripture references to search out; may every one of us see for ourselves the truth that is revealed within the Word of God. Our God is mighty to save!
There are just so many things to explore in this story! My boys were captivated and very involved in studying out the type of training soldiers would have to complete in order to fight. Since my oldest son is very visual, he spent a bit of time looking up various videos to see for himself what it may have looked like so long ago. He and his younger brother also enjoyed testing their own skill with the sword (my younger son loves woodcarving and made them both swords in our garage last summer). Of course this brought about all sorts of discussions in regards to teamwork; communication and obedience to orders given. What if just one soldier decided to act impulsively, against orders? How valuable is the ability to honor those who are in authority over us, even when we may not agree with their ways? My oldest son is a bit of a rebel, rather impulsive and determined to do things “his way” so certainly there were many opportunities for us to explore these traits and how they could at different times and situations, affect those around us.
There is certainly so much more we will be learning as we listen to this one again and again. I tell you, these never get old! No matter how many times we listen to these stories, there is always something new to learn and explore. I know I have an even greater desire to really explore more of Josephus and his writings. There is even a list of recommended reading for older readers we are looking forward to exploring. My boys are eager to continue learning lots more about all these battles that were fought for the temple. They have also been exploring the why and how of battle strategy, along with related topics like: choice weapons, armor, training. travel, edibles, etc. This tale has certainly, again and again, showed us the value of true humility and courage. There are also so many opportunities to explore what it means to be a leader; truly an excellent leader is one who can inspire and build up others in their faith. When we are able to give others hope and purpose, a belief in what we are living and fighting for, I do believe we have become a great leader. As we listen and learn of these amazing men of history, we gain such insight, and hopefully we all grow a bit stronger in our faith – a bit more courageous, compassionate and passionate, for our Lord.
Be sure to check visit our other members of the crew to see what they thought of this riveting adventure!
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