I love biographical sketches. I love reading and studying about how God uses different people in the work for the Kingdom. In that vein, John MacArthur's Twelve Unlikely Heroes does not disappoint. It is the third book in a series of biographical sketches by MacArthur (the first two being Twelve Ordinary Men and Twelve Extraordinary Women). The purpose of this book is to show how God uses people that you might not expect. He says,
"Our study of the heroes of the faith has shown us that the Lord does not limit His kingdom work to one kind of person. In fact, no two are the same, demonstrating that God uses almost endless combinations of personality, cultural background, experience, and station in society to accomplish His will. He is not limited by age (Enoch lived for 365 years; John the Baptist for about 30); status (Jonathan was a prince; Onesimus was a slave); human strength (Gideon was a weak coward; Samson was supernaturally strong); or even past sins (Paul persecuted the church; John Mark was a deserter; and Jonah rebelled against God's command)" (pg. 213).
And for that I am thankful. Besides those mentioned above, MacArthur writes about the lives of Joseph, Miriam, James, and Esther. In each of their life stories, we can see the grace of God and the hand of God at work.
What is there to take from books like this? The main thing is we should realize that if God can and does use them, He can and will use us for His glory. Let us find ourself in their stories. Maybe our family members have done horrible things to us, can we see how Joseph responded and follow His example? Maybe we have found ourselves running from God, then how does the story of God's grace to Jonah speak to us? And the list can keep going.
Ultimately though, these individuals are only there to point us to a greater person. Jesus Christ. As MacArthur says,
"As those who compromise the great cloud of witnesses, the human heroes of Scripture point us to Someone beyond themselves. He is the One to whom they continually looked in faith, and on whom they constantly depended. Their legacy of faithfulness ultimately directs our attention heavenward, to the Source of their wisdom and strength--namely, the Lord Himself" (xiii).
The only thing I did not appreciate about this book was that in some of the biographical stories, the main characters felt like supporting characters. For instance, when he writes about Mariam, there was more information about Moses than his sister. I understand that we only fully can grasp her as we see how she relates to her brother. But I felt as if I was reading an sketch on Moses, not Miriam. There were several in the book in which I felt that way.
But either way, the content was biblically solid. It was creatively insightful. And it was pointedly inspiring. I would recommend it to anyone. Looking for a good Christmas present for someone? Look no further.
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