This is my first official book review, so I would love some feedback.
Twelve Unlikely Heroes
How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You
If there’s one the success of The Avengers movie taught us, it’s that we love heroes — and the bigger, the stronger, the flashier, the better! However, scripture doesn’t classify heroes the same way we do. In the introduction to this book John MacArthur quotes 1 Corinthians 1:27 (“God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise…”) and then goes on to give twelve powerful examples of what heroism really looks like. MacArthur gives hope to those of us who look at ourselves and wonder how God could possibly use us to serve His kingdom and bring Him glory. This book isn’t about heroes that wear capes and fight crime, its about people with “a rock-solid confidence in God and a willingness to live according to His word no matter the consequences.” (Pg. XII)
I have to admit that I was very much anticipating Booksneeze.com sending me this book (I’m a blogger and I get them for free). I appreciate John MacArthur’s ministry, love to read biographies of scriptural characters and recently preached a series on “The Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11, so I was primed and ready to learn more. I was not disappointed.
The are so many things to learn when we mine out the details of scripture, and I’ve been mightily blessed by authors who are able to go beyond the surface lessons and obvious conclusions to show us a God who works in the smallest details, through every part of the story, and with characters who don’t immediately jump off the page. John MacArthur is one of those authors.
MacArthur is a pastor-teacher and a great storyteller who has a gift for relating complicated information in an interesting, accurate and practical way that hits me right where I live. This book is ripe with deep theology, biblical exposition, historical context and big ideas, but not cumbersome to read. He tells these familiar stories in a captivating way that touches my heart, stirs my spirit, and makes me want to keep reading.
A book like this can help us forgive others and trust God more because it helps us appreciate differences, embrace the belief that God has a bigger plan, and can do good things with tough situations. It reminds us that the only perfect person in the bible was Jesus, and everyone else made some big mistakes — yet God still chose to work through them — and can also work through us. It tells that God is unexpected, unpredictable and unprecedented in how He operates. His ways are not our ways, but His track record is astonishing!
A Missed Opportunity
Though I enjoyed this book immensely, found it helpful, and recommend it highly, there was something that bothered me. Certainly, God is the motivating force of each person in this book, but MacArthur isn’t explicit enough about pointing to Jesus as the perfect example of what these folks are meant to embody. In fact, Jesus is presented more as an under-currant rather than wind that could have driven the sails of this book.
MacArthur makes some wonderful points, and directs us straight to God, but I believe he stops one base short of a home run. Instead of making his main point “How can we imitate the faith of Enoch (or Miriam or James)?” I believe he should have closed each chapter by asking “How can we be like this person as they are like Jesus?” Even during the stories of John the Baptist and James, Jesus is presented as a figure in the story rather than the central figure of the story. Again, even though this is a good and helpful book, emphasizing that would have turned a triple into a home-run.