Beneath the Tamarisk Tree is a special book, imagining the story of the penitent thief on the cross. It is taking a character in the Bible and looking at him, and thinking, “I wonder what that person’s life story was. I wonder what happened to him next.”
Rob Seabrook, the author, has done a great job imagining what the penitent thief was like, where he was from, and more importantly, what happened when he died on that cross. Did Jesus keep His promise to this man?
Beneath the Tamarisk Tree is an imaginative book, set in heaven. Rob makes it clear in the introduction, that everyone has his own idea of what heaven might be like, and that we are to take from this story what we enjoy, letting it help us to enjoy the story and to discard what we don’t agree with or don’t like.
Beneath the Tamarisk Tree is a story of hurt, anger, rejection, but ultimately it’s a story of redemption and forgiveness. It is a story of healing and love, seen through the eyes of someone utterly unworthy of anything like heaven. But here is the thief, sat in a lush place, surrounded by beauty and goodness.
I loved how Beneath the Tamarisk Tree brought out the need for Jesus’ sacrifice, His willingness to do so and how none of us deserve His love and forgiveness. Rob has brought out God’s provision and care really well, and I loved the answers the thief received when he asked, “Where was God?”
Beneath the Tamarisk Tree has some beautiful moments, like when the thief Dismas receives his new name, Habib. The new name comes out again near the end of the book when he has a surprise meeting, learning that his new name was known all along. I would love to know more about his friend Riha as well!
Rob doesn’t shy away from the hard parts, the parts filled with grief and sadness, but with Habib, you can feel the weight slipping off in the sharing of his grief and the cleansing he receives when placing all his past in Jesus’ hands. There is no healing in hiding grief and anger. Habib is given the strength to share his horrendous story, not skipping over any of it.
Beneath the Tamarisk Tree is a sweet story, even though it has so much pain and grief as well, but the healing and forgiveness through it all makes it a book filled with joy and gratitude. It also shows the weight of Jesus’ sacrifice and what it meant for Him, the Holy One, to take away my sin. It shows the ugliness of sin, and the contrast with heaven is huge, and it makes you realise again that we’re not made for here and now, but that Jesus has prepared so much more for us.
I received a copy via Rob Seabrook but was under no pressure or obligation to write a favourable review. I don’t share all of Rob’s views in the book, but still enjoyed Beneath the Tamarisk Tree.