In the Heart of the Earth
Here are some brief selections from the contents of the book.
From Chapter 1:
Everyone recalls the big stir that was caused by the one whom many say was a prophet who baptized in the wilderness. I was much saddened by news of his recent death at the command of King Herod. John had baptized many people and I was one of them. That was about two and a half years ago. The experience rekindled my faith in Yahweh and John's message got me thinking constantly about the promised Messiah that everyone seemed to be waiting for. Well, about a year ago now, I began hearing about another person that John had baptized. This was a man named Jesus, who was John's cousin, and the son of a now-deceased carpenter from Nazareth.
At that time, he had many followers who traveled occasionally with him to listen to him speak. I caught up with the group and joined them near the Lake of Galilee where Jesus was teaching. He also had a smaller, core group who spent almost all of their time with him.
Because of the often-unorthodox teachings of Jesus, the Pharisees were watching us most of the time.
From Chapter 2:
We must assume that Jesus had a good reason for using this uncommon wording - "in the heart of the earth" in Matthew 12:40. Perhaps this is a key to help unlock the meaning of this prophecy. Indeed, in Chapter Six, we will see that in His parables, Jesus frequently used earth, soil, etc. in this way. Could He have been saying in this case, that for the three days and three nights He would not necessarily be in the earth (as in ground or soil), but somehow surrounded, confined, or controlled by the inhabitants of the earth? It seems like a reasonable possibility. However, we first need to resolve the three-days-and-three-nights issue and maybe some other questions.
Jesus said He would be "in the heart of the earth." The words He used, if we look at their Biblical usage, convey the meaning of ...
From Chapter 3:
If you compare the original Greek wording in an interlinear version of the Bible, you will find that the references to the first day of the week as resurrection morning actually use the Greek word "Sabbaton," commonly meaning the seventh-day Sabbath. It does not mean, in today's common usage, Sunday, the first day of the week, even though that is how it has been translated in a few Bible passages. Sabbaton is the Greek word for Sabbath the seventh day of the week, Saturday in the English language, and similar words in many other languages.
From Chapter 5:
To that point, they did not even understand that Jesus would rise again, although He had told them on more than one occasion that He would. John heard Mary say that Jesus had been taken away (John 20:2), but we are not told at that point that he believed anything. He would have seen that the stone had been rolled away, he had stooped down from outside the tomb and saw how the linen clothes were lying (John 20:5), but again it is not recorded that he believed at those moments. When he finally followed Peter in, at that point, "he saw, and believed." (John 20:8). When he went in and had a close look he saw something that caused him to believe. Evidently, he believed something as a result of what he saw, that he did not believe before he saw it. Read Appendix 7 - "He Saw and Believed" p. 132 and you'll learn something very interesting about the very unusual and unique thing he saw that made him believe.
From Chapter 7:
Now please follow the reasoning as we see how it connects with the sign of the prophet Jonah, and the three days and three nights that Jesus spent in the heart of the earth. "... God is love ..." (1 John 4:8). God created beings upon whom He could bestow that love and who could freely return love to Him. To truly be free to love God they had to also be free to choose not to love Him. They had to be free to choose another way. Obviously, they are not free to do this if they are either incapable (as in pre-programmed robots) or have no opportunity. God went so far as to give Adam and Eve a choice regarding the tree of knowledge of good and evil with all of its potential for sin and destruction. This is good evidence for how far God is willing to go to allow man to have and exercise his free will. As Adam and Eve were, by God's design, free moral agents, He could not restrict their wills to keep them from transgression and yet leave them free. Once they had sinned they had removed themselves, to a great degree, from His protection and the destroyer began his work.
This reasoning is all about the character of God. The debate between Jesus and His listeners in Matthew 12 had much to do with the issue of God's character and it was the big issue in Jesus' life. Throughout His years of ministry on earth, Jesus was constantly attempting to reveal His Father.