Home > Reformation Heritage Books, Reviews > Memoirs of the Way Home by Gerald M. Bilkes

Memoirs of the Way Home by Gerald M. Bilkes


Author Gerald Bilkes explains that in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, we have two first-person accounts, or memoirs, of Israel’s return from exile to the Promised Land. In this winsome Bible study, with questions for individual or group reflection at the end of each chapter, the author introduces readers to the lesser-known Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah and helps us understand that these are not the records of historic feats but rather the confessions of a humble prodigal on a profoundly spiritual journey home. With pastoral warmth, Bilkes demonstrates these biblical memoirs’ relevance for us today as they challenge us to consider whether we are in the far country or, by grace, on our way back home to God. (From the Publisher’s Website)


“For the most part, the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are not the records of great heroic feats. They read more like the confessions of a humbled prodigal and bear an uncanny resemblance to the experiences of the younger son in Christ’s parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), traveling as he does from the far country back to the father’s house. In many ways, the narratives in Ezra and Nehemiah read like an extended account of the prodigal’s way back home. This journey has different phases, occurring over nearly a century. Yet through it all, it is foundationally a journey from misery to joy, from sadness to gladness, from captivity to service.” (From the Introduction, page 2)


History is fascinating to me. It is even more gripping when I can read someone’s memoirs from that time period. Biographies are great but journals let you see the heart of the people writing them. I had never thought of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah this way before. Gerald Bilkes in the title of his book gave me a new way to view these often overlooked books in the Bible.

As Dr. Bilkes walks us through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, we see a picture of repentance, restoration, and revival. You can see this process in the table of contents:

Introduction: A Prodigal People

Part One: Ezra

  1. The Lord Is First

  2. Awakening Mercy

  3. Tokens of Mercy

  4. Adversaries, Subtle and Severe

  5. Fresh Courage through the Word

  6. Joy through God

  7. A Further Reformation

  8. A Fresh Exodus

  9. A Time for Brokenness

  10. Breaking with Sin

Part Two: Nehemiah

  1. On His Knees before the Court of Heaven

  2. From Burden to Boasting

  3. Submitting to the Yoke of God

  4. The Crucible of Conflict

  5. A Redeemer Comes to Zion

  6. A Fearless Leader

  7. We Have a Strong City

  8. A Fresh Sinai

  9. The Prayer of Returning Prodigals

  10. Biblical Covenanters

  11. The Holy City

  12. Looking Back in Wonder

  13. Cleansed!

Appendix 1: Lessons for Ministry from Ezra

Appendix 2: Lessons for Prayer from Nehemiah

This book is composed of short, pithy chapters that are both easy to read and full of application. At the end of each chapter is a list of questions that makes this book easily adaptable for small group studies. I read this book over the course of a month, during my lunch breaks at work. The book is small in size making it easy to carry. The chapters took about 10 to 15 minutes to read. I only read one chapter a day to give me time to reflect on the content.

Dr. Bilkes is an excellent tour guide through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. I hope he writes in a similar fashion on more books in the Bible. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to study these biblical authors or for anyone who longs for revival in their own life or for anyone seeking a good devotional read. Thank you Dr. Bilkes and Reformation Heritage Books for your commitment to help those of us on our spiritual pilgrimage.

Book Details:

  • Author: Gerald M. Bilkes

  • Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books

  • Format: Paperback

  • Page Count: 187

  • ISBN#: 9781601782656

  • List Price: $12.00

About the Author:

Gerald M. Bilkes is professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids.

Where to Buy:

Disclaimer: I received this book from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for my unbiased opinion.

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  1. November 13, 2013 at 10:33 pm

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