"Twelve Unlikely Heroes" explores the stories of twelve biblical characters that God used to further his purposes. These men and women were not your typical hero material. Some were weak, some sinful, some fearful, some disobedient, some failures. They came from every walk of life. Some were slaves, some prophets, some princes and queens. Yet each one was used by God. They warned of impending judgement, saved nations, and wrote and preserved Scripture. If God could use such people to do great things, then He can use us to do His work, no matter our shortcomings or sins.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. The dramatic retellings of the Biblical stories enabled me to look at them in a different light, and pointed out things I had never considered before. For instance, for some reason it had never really sunk in that Haman's decree to destroy the Jews would have even extended to Israel itself. I also really enjoyed the story of Jonathan, and the comparison MacArthur drew between him and Saul.
The issues I had with the book were minimal. There were a few times I felt like things unverifiable from the Biblical account were being presented as entirely factual, instead of "perhaps this happened." I also felt like MacArthur was grasping at straws to make a chapter out of Enoch's story, since we really know so little about him. Finally, I would have liked to see some more applicational material. But I suppose that's what one is supposed to buy the study guide for. :)
Overall, a book I would recommend without hesitation.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneezeÂ®.com <http://BookSneezeÂ®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Having read some of John MacArthur's other works, I was excited for the opportunity to read one of his latest, "Twelve Unlikely Heroes". After introducing the concept of the word "hero" in today's culture, he contrasts the world's view by providing a definition for a biblical hero, namely one who has faith in God and lives a life of faithfulness. The book then offers an in depth look into the lives of twelve people mentioned in the Bible. Some of these people were only given a few verses of Scripture, while others have whole books devoted to them. Although many other individuals could have been written about, MacArthur singles out Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, Mark and Onesimus as unlikely heroes. By doing so, he shows that biblical heroes are not defined by gender, physical stature, or social and economic status.
I appreciated how MacArthur chronologically devotes almost a chapter apiece to each individual. He frequently references Scripture so that the reader can follow along in their own Bible. I also appreciated that he not only used the Bible as a reference, but other biblical scholars as well as early church and Jewish historians.
Because of this, the reader is able to better understand the culture of the time, connect the dots between different books of the Bible and ultimately relate more personally to the character being studied. For example, he mentions of the military conquests of Xerxes to explain the four year gap before he chose Esther as queen, as well as other instances of his volatile temperament, the royal preparations that would've been given to Esther and the roots of the deep hatred and bitterness between Haman and Mordecai. Another example is showing the reader how John Mark is restored by Peter to become a close companion of Peter and Paul, and the slave Onesimus is forgiven to become a bishop in Ephesus. Throughout and at the end of each section, MacArthur shows that God can take any sinner and transform them to do His work.
I would definitely recommend this book (and will most likely read it again), as it goes beyond the simple Sunday School lessons to provide a rich account that will strengthen and encourage your own faith.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneezeÂ® book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
All throughout history, select individuals are remembered as heroes for what they did in their lifetime. Some people are born into greatness, such as a prince inheriting his father's kingdom; other times a person rises up from relative insignificance to stand in the gap. Literature abounds with stories of heroism, and the Bible is no exception. John McArthur, in his latest book, "Twelve Unlikely Heroes," introduces us to several of the most unexpected candidates in Scripture for this distinction.
So, who are these unexpected heroes, and what makes them special? Enoch walked with God for 300 years, showing that God doesn't limit based on age. Joseph endured betrayal and false accusations before leaving prison for the palace, showing that God's ways are higher than man's ways. Miriam played a key role in assisting her brother lead the nation of Israel out from bondage, showing that God uses women as well as men. Gideon and Samson showed that God can work with or without the benefit of human strength. Jonathan understood that David would become king and was loyal to the end, setting the bar high for friendship. Jonah was a unique case, but he showed that even being a knucklehead doesn't faze Godâ€”His purposes will be accomplished no matter what. Esther was an orphan girl living in a foreign land yet was hand-selected to become queen, showing that God looks after His children. John the Baptist announced the coming of the Messiah after 400 years of silence, showing that God does not forget His promises. James was skeptical of his half-brother, Jesus, but later believed and became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. Mark and Onesimus were living proof that being a coward or a runaway in the past does not preclude one's ability to be useful in the present, as they both ministered effectively to Peter and Paul after being restored.
Using his knowledge of Biblical history and customs, Pastor John McArthur paints a very real portrait of each of the heroes we meet. The characters' virtues as well as their mistakes are discussed in ways that apply easily to the reader. This book is a very good supplement to Bible reading, and I especially enjoyed reading the background of Jonathan's story as I was already studying it in my personal devotions. Throughout the pages of the book, the real Hero behind the victories and successes becomes apparent. When it's all said and done, what a joy it is to know that anyone can be used by God!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of "Twelve Unlikely Heroes" through Book Sneeze, in exchange for my honest review.
Have you ever wondered why God called you to a specific task or purpose? Have you ever thought maybe God made a mistake by calling you to your present place of service? If you answered yes to these questions, then this book may be for you.
Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur is an in-depth look at 12 men and women who were used by God in great and mighty ways, though they came from unlikely and unassuming backgrounds. MacArthur takes us deep into the lives of men like Samson and Gideon and women like Esther and Miriam to show us that God chooses particular people for particular circumstances and that He does not make mistakes.
MacArthur presents the biographies of each person using Scripture and historical stories to weave seemingly unbelievable tales of leadership and heroism.
Now, for those of us who grew up hearing these anecdotes of Biblical figures, this book may come across a little underwhelming and verbose â€” maybe even a little boring. However, if you are looking for a collection of stories to encourage and uplift your spirit or to confirm that God is still in the miracle business, then this volume may be exactly what you need.
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Disclosure of Material Connection:
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
This is an interesting book on "unlikely heroes" of the Bible. It was very well done and there is much to be learned from these people of the Bible. I particularly enjoyed the section on Esther. I appreciated his insights about how God is never mentioned in the book but the events that take place make one wonder about how it is possible for all that to be coincidence. I also enjoyed the reference to the story being a chess match between God and Satan. In every chapter you can see the shortcomings of man but God uses each and everyone of them for His glory. An encouraging book for any believer.
I received this book free from booksneeze.com in exchange for my review.