12 Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur is another book that gives its reader a glimpse into the lives of the characters in the Bible. Each time the book opens the eyes of the modern day reader to the challenges, triumphs, failures, and normalcy of the Bible men and women that we thought we knew. This book is excellently written and, obviously, excellently researched as MacArthur reveals several things about the characters in the Bible. God has worked some miraculous things through some normal people and this book does a great job of revealing these things through the eyes and experiences of these unlikely heroes. I would recommend this book to anyone who had a desire to bring a more "real-ness" to the Bible as MacArthur's ability to breathe life into these people is both encouraging and challenging. More than anything, I think this book is a great insight into the reality of the Word. Christians, I believe, need this now more than ever.
Twelve Unlikely Hereos: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to do With You by Jon MacArthur
Each chapter of MacArthur's book outlines the story of one of the twelve "unlikely" heroes: Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, Mark and Onesimus. We learn how God was able to take each and every one of these men and women and use them to accomplish His will, even when they messed up, made mistakes, or out and out fought doing what God asked of them. MacArthur's compilation and examination of these particular stories is a humble reminder that God can use anyone to His glory if only they will trust in Him. I would have enjoyed a little more in depth practical information regarding the second part of the book: "what He wants to do with you", but overall this is an interesting and valuable read. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
It is true that today, the word "hero" is loosing it's significance.
"...our ideas of heroism are even more tarnished by our culture's ridiculous obsession with imaginary superheroes, whose fantasy exploits fill everything..." John MacArthur writes.
Think Captain America, Iron Man and Spider Man - all of which are exciting but beyond the grasp of mortal man.
On the other hand, "Real heroes are people whose efforts and sacrifices...change history, or shift the course of history for the better...The world changes for the better because of them."
For me that means Stonewall Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt or John Quincy Adams - all of whom were imperfect but used in amazing ways.
Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur is all about real heroes. People who may be small in the vast scheme of things, are full of faults and weaknesses, or seemed by their neighbors to be anything but heroic. But as 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty."
So, delve into the heroes of Scripture: Samson, Esther, John the Baptist, John Mark, Jonah and (my personal favorite) Jonathan. Strengths, weaknesses, fear, courage. Everything that makes heroism what it truly is.
God does have a way of raising up and using the unlikeliest of "heroes." We see it in Scripture consistently, when he chooses younger sons over the ones with birthrights, a teenage shepherd over his stronger older brothers, fishermen instead of religious leaders, and a church persecutor known for his murderous rage.
MacArthur chose 12 of these unlikely heroes in Scripture to highlight in this book and some of them proved more interesting choices than others. Unfortunately, the non-interesting choices weren't so much that there stories weren't powerful or full of lessons. The issue instead was the overwhelming emphasis on retelling the same story that most of us have heard 100 times before. It didn't seem to me like MacArthur had anything new or enlightening to say about Samson, Gideon, Jonah, Jonah, Enoch and Joseph.
In fact, I found myself skimming very quickly through these chapters, hoping to find something--anything-- I could apply to my life or learn from. Mostly, though, he just stuck to retelling the story that Scripture tells us. That wouldn't have been such a pitfall if he had then dug into some meaty application at the end of each chapter. But, he didn't. He just threw in a few paragraphs of thoughts on the stories and that was the end of that. In essence, these chapters read like a Bible story book.
The book isn't totally superficial. The chapters on Miriam, John the Baptist, and James gave some fresh perspectives on their stories. The chapter on Esther filled in a great deal of historical information that helps us understand that book of the Bible better. As a resource for a Bible teacher, those chapters in particular might be helpful at providing supplemental information.
Overall, though, I just felt like the book was generally un-fresh, un-inspiring, un-challenging, and uninformative beyond basic facts that many long-term church folks would already know. I wouldn't use this as a study for my Bible group for that very reason. However,as a book for someone new to the faith who has no Biblical literacy background, this could be a perfect fit.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and 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."