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Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You

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What kind of people does God use to accomplish His work? Far from the children’s tales depicted in picture books and nursery rhymes, the men and women highlighted in the Bible were unnervingly real.  They faltered. They struggled. And at times, they fell short. Yet God worked through them in surprising and incredible ways to accomplish His purposes. Scripture does not hide What kind of people does God use to accomplish His work? Far from the children’s tales depicted in picture books and nursery rhymes, the men and women highlighted in the Bible were unnervingly real.  They faltered. They struggled. And at times, they fell short. Yet God worked through them in surprising and incredible ways to accomplish His purposes. Scripture does not hide their weaknesses, caricature their strengths, or spin their stories as a display of human nobility. Instead, it describes these heroes of the faith with unflinching honesty and delivers an unexpected ending: “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Hebrews 11:16). In Twelve Unlikely Heroes, pastor and best-selling author John MacArthur uses his deep knowledge of the Bible and history to take us back to see these three-dimensional men and women in their own times and cultures. In doing so, it becomes clear how their dramatic stories apply to us today. People who might at first seem foreign quickly become familiar and unforgettable—particularly as they reveal the true Hero behind every witness, the power counterbalancing every weakness, “the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1).


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What kind of people does God use to accomplish His work? Far from the children’s tales depicted in picture books and nursery rhymes, the men and women highlighted in the Bible were unnervingly real.  They faltered. They struggled. And at times, they fell short. Yet God worked through them in surprising and incredible ways to accomplish His purposes. Scripture does not hide What kind of people does God use to accomplish His work? Far from the children’s tales depicted in picture books and nursery rhymes, the men and women highlighted in the Bible were unnervingly real.  They faltered. They struggled. And at times, they fell short. Yet God worked through them in surprising and incredible ways to accomplish His purposes. Scripture does not hide their weaknesses, caricature their strengths, or spin their stories as a display of human nobility. Instead, it describes these heroes of the faith with unflinching honesty and delivers an unexpected ending: “God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Hebrews 11:16). In Twelve Unlikely Heroes, pastor and best-selling author John MacArthur uses his deep knowledge of the Bible and history to take us back to see these three-dimensional men and women in their own times and cultures. In doing so, it becomes clear how their dramatic stories apply to us today. People who might at first seem foreign quickly become familiar and unforgettable—particularly as they reveal the true Hero behind every witness, the power counterbalancing every weakness, “the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1).

30 review for Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alexis Neal

    Well-known preacher John MacArthur walks the reader through the stories of twelve 'unexpected' Bible heroes (in ten chapters--Gideon and Samson are paired, as are Mark and Onesimus). I confess that I was expecting something a bit ... different. With a title like Twelve Unlikely Heroes, I somehow got it into my head that the stories would all involve lesser-known bible characters--some of the more obscure judges, perhaps, or Jael, or Abigail, or Haggai or Titus or somebody. So when I flipped to th Well-known preacher John MacArthur walks the reader through the stories of twelve 'unexpected' Bible heroes (in ten chapters--Gideon and Samson are paired, as are Mark and Onesimus). I confess that I was expecting something a bit ... different. With a title like Twelve Unlikely Heroes, I somehow got it into my head that the stories would all involve lesser-known bible characters--some of the more obscure judges, perhaps, or Jael, or Abigail, or Haggai or Titus or somebody. So when I flipped to the Table of Contents and saw names like Joseph, John the Baptist, and James, I was a little disappointed. Not that they're all big names--MacArthur includes Enoch, Miriam, and the aforementioned Onesimus. But still, his focus was different than I'd anticipated. The overall point is that God is the real hero, and He is most glorified when He uses, well, unlikely vessels. Which makes sense when you look at the stories of Gideon (a coward), Samson (an arrogant fool), Jonathan (son of a king yet not heir to the throne), Jonah (a disobedient, grump), Esther (a (conveniently gorgeous) Hebrew orphan), Onesimus (an escaped slave), and John the Baptist (a crazy hermit man). Enoch (?), Joseph (a slave-turned-convict), Miriam (a ... Hebrew?), James (the skeptic), and Mark (the runaway?) are a bit more of a stretch--to me, anyway. Me, I would have picked different characters--more women, for starters. I mean, women as heroes? In Bible times? Talk about unexpected! Still, MacArthur does his best to play up the weaknesses of the men (or women) in order to highlight God's power and grace working through them. And maybe it's for the best that he tends to pick better-known heroes. He has a tendency to 'fill out' the narrative, adding details for context and making the characters more real and relatable. But I am leery of adding anything beyond what is included in Scripture. So concluding that, say, Mark was raised in a Christian home simply because Peter came to his house after escaping from prison seems ... like a bit of a stretch. I mean, maybe. But maybe Mark's mom was a recent convert. Maybe Mark was already an adult when she converted. Maybe the church met there because of Mark, and not because of his mom. I mean, it's a plausible explanation, but it's one of many. And MacArthur does this a lot, attributing thoughts or feelings to characters without backing it up from Scripture. Not that he teaches anything blasphemous. He doesn't. Simplistic, yes, but not wrong. Yes, his chapter on Enoch contains--rather unnecessarily--his views on creation and pre-flood weather, but the substance of his points is valid, even if some of the peripheral statements may be less well-supported. And he's strong on the gospel, which, let's face it, is by no means a sure thing when you're dealing with modern 'Christian' writers. I didn't find the book to be terribly challenging, spiritually speaking, but it's by no means bad. If you're looking for a jumping off point for a bible study, or even for a fairly straightforward devotional, this might be a decent option. I didn't love it, but you might. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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.”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Angie Vallejo (Musesofamom)

    Having read John Arthur's two previous books in this series (Twelve Ordinary Men and Twelve Extraordinary Women), I was certainly eager to read his newest addition to the trilogy. I certainly wasn't disappointed! Once again, John opens up history and tells the fascinating stories of twelve people from the Old and New Testaments, giving historical and cultural backgrounds for additional clarity and interest. These are facinating people who were chosen by God to fulfill his will,even though though Having read John Arthur's two previous books in this series (Twelve Ordinary Men and Twelve Extraordinary Women), I was certainly eager to read his newest addition to the trilogy. I certainly wasn't disappointed! Once again, John opens up history and tells the fascinating stories of twelve people from the Old and New Testaments, giving historical and cultural backgrounds for additional clarity and interest. These are facinating people who were chosen by God to fulfill his will,even though though in an earthly sense, we certainly would not consider them to be heroes! The entire book is excellent, however, I would have to recommend the last chapter as a must read: the stories of two men who were runaways, with a wonderful reminder of forgiveness and redemption.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book was much better than the only other book in the series I have read, Twelve Extraordinary Women, which did not capture my attention very well. I'm not sure that I can pinpoint why, but this 3rd book in the 'Twelve' series really started my thought processes more in regards to the characters dealt with, and God's usage of them. I'll say at the start that I appreciate that MacArthur doesn't try to make you see types in the people and events discussed, but takes the people and events as lit This book was much better than the only other book in the series I have read, Twelve Extraordinary Women, which did not capture my attention very well. I'm not sure that I can pinpoint why, but this 3rd book in the 'Twelve' series really started my thought processes more in regards to the characters dealt with, and God's usage of them. I'll say at the start that I appreciate that MacArthur doesn't try to make you see types in the people and events discussed, but takes the people and events as literal. And so takes the inspired apostle Paul literally when he said that " Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work. (2Ti 3:16-17 ASV) Which I would assume to mean that every inspired scripture is profitable as it is, without having to change it into allegory for it to be profitable. As an example of this, in dealing with Sampson, the author uses Sampson as an example for teaching and instruction in righteousness, stating that "His[Sampson's] fatal attraction to pagan women was not only the pattern of his life, but proved to be the path to his death. If Sampson were Superman, his own sinful desires were his kryptonite. He could kill a lion, but not his lust. He could break new ropes, but not old habits. He could defeat armies of Philistine soldiers, but not his own flesh. He could carry away the gates of a city but allowed himself to be carried away when lost in passion." MacArthur draws insights from literal Scripture, in his chapter on Jonah he notes that "The pagan sailors recognize the Lord's power over creation and worship Him as a result. The pagan King of Nineveh likewise recognizes God's sovereign hand. Surprisingly, the only person who resists God is Jonah - the prophet of Israel who acknowledged the Lord's sovereignty with his lips (Jonah1:9)yet rebelled against it with his life." And all this without any of the characters or objects in the historical accounts having to symbolize Christ. For the most part, MacArthur keeps the focus on what the Scriptures actually say. When dealing with James the brother of Christ, and how many people wonder about Jesus' childhood and that there are myths about miracles He performed as a youth, It is pointed out that "The normalcy of Jesus' childhood and early adulthood is confirmed by the fact that when He began His public ministry, His former neighbors in Nazareth did not believe Him to be the Messiah." Now for the negative. "From the beginning, the Lord elected Israel to be a nation of Missionaries. As His chosen people, they were to be a light to the Gentiles - a people so passionate in their devotion to the Lord and zealous for other nations to love and worship the true God that their corporate testimony would reverberate throughout the world....the people of Israel as whole failed in their missionary task......When Jonah rebelled against the Lord's command and ran in the opposite direction, he epitomized the collective failure of the nation of Israel." Where is Israel ever told that they were to be Missionaries to the Gentiles? I know that they will be Missionaries of a sort in the Millennial Kingdom, but where are they ever commanded to attempt to 'convert' people on this side of things? God Himself commanded them to wipe out the other nations as they were moving into the promised land, not to evangelize them. From the Scriptures, I understand that they were to be sanctified from the nations around them, and to welcome strangers/aliens, not to actively pursue them as possible converts. Besides this, MacArthur sometimes delves into the realm of speculation when he states the possible feelings and thoughts of various characters. There are some other things, but I'm sure they'll be noticed by the studied reader. That stated, it was an interesting look at the lives of these 'twelve unlikely heroes'(though I have some trouble with the word 'hero' but I can overlook it). MacArthur states "Some heroes are made in a moment. Others are defined by a lifetime." And most importantly as he also points out, "Noah did not preserve the ark in the midst of the flood; Abraham did not make himself the father of a great nation; Joshua did not cause the walls of Jericho to fall down; and David did not defeat Goliath on his own. In each of these well-known examples, and in every other case, the Hero behind the heroes is always the Lord. In literature, the hero is the main protagonist, the principle character, and the central figure of the narrative. That is certainly true of God throughout the pages of Scripture. He is the One who always provides the victory. It is His power, His wisdom, ,and His goodness that are continually put on display - even when He utilizes human instruments to accomplish His purposes. Consequently, all the glory belongs to Him. " I'll let the back cover of the book provide the ending statements as it well sums it up: Speaking of these 'heroes', "Scripture does not hide their weaknesses, caricature their strengths, or spin their stories as a display of human nobility. Instead it describes these heroes of the faith with unflinching honesty and delivers an unexpected ending: 'God is not ashamed to be called their God' (Hebrews 11:16)" I received this book as a complimentary copy from BookSneeze® in exchange for my review(which does not have to be favorable).

  4. 4 out of 5

    Aneta Jackowska-Musiol

    Marvellous account of deeds of ordinary people who have an outstanding faith in God and therefore their actions are memorized in Bible. Saints are not saint at all! God makes them saint! I loved this book troughly until the point here author boldly and without giving any evidence, states that Jesus had brothers and sisters. To me, a Catholic, this is not acceptable, so I just omitted this chapter.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Each chapter talks about one or two people. It has their family history, what was going on at that time, their story and how that pertains to your life now. Most are pretty well known but there are a couple that are usually less talked about. Very good book. I would recommend this to anyone wanting a more in depth history of each of these people.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Naomi

    "Twelve Unlikely Heroes" by John MacArthur takes a detailed look at the lives of twelve different Biblical men and women that the casual reader may gloss over upon first glance. The people that MacArthur chose to examine in this book include Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, Mark, and Onesimus. MacArthur thoroughly dissects the stories surrounding each person, skillfully bringing together not just Scripture, but historical, archaeological, an "Twelve Unlikely Heroes" by John MacArthur takes a detailed look at the lives of twelve different Biblical men and women that the casual reader may gloss over upon first glance. The people that MacArthur chose to examine in this book include Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, Mark, and Onesimus. MacArthur thoroughly dissects the stories surrounding each person, skillfully bringing together not just Scripture, but historical, archaeological, and cultural evidence as well. It is clearly evident that much research has gone into each story. I truly appreciated the historical evidence presented throughout the book as it helped to tie things together and provide a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding these fascinating people. Each person MacArthur looks at in this book are all sinners and have all fallen short in various areas. But he highlights so beautifully the way that God worked in each person's life to bring about His greater glory. It's a wonderful reminder that God can (and does!) use flawed, sinful people to accomplish His work and His purposes. In both the prologue and epilogue, MacArthur reminds readers that each man and woman featured in this book were known for both their faith and their faithfulness. These are the people (among many of the Biblical men and women) that I want to look up to and who I want my children to look up to. (I’ve received this complimentary book from Thomas Nelson Publishing House through the Book Sneeze program in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required and the views expressed in my review are strictly my own.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brenten Gilbert

    This is the third installment of MacArthur’s “Twelve” series and it’s the second that I’ve read. (I skipped the women one, but I probably should read it.) What I appreciate about the series is that it presents a nicely segmented study on various attributes that are helpful to cultivate in our lives and recognize in those around us. So often, it’s easy to write others off, but really, if we think about it carefully, we’re all created in God’s image and we all have a purpose in this life. So it’s This is the third installment of MacArthur’s “Twelve” series and it’s the second that I’ve read. (I skipped the women one, but I probably should read it.) What I appreciate about the series is that it presents a nicely segmented study on various attributes that are helpful to cultivate in our lives and recognize in those around us. So often, it’s easy to write others off, but really, if we think about it carefully, we’re all created in God’s image and we all have a purpose in this life. So it’s important to shed the spotlight on some unlikely folks that God used mightily to accomplish His plan. This book, as well as the others, work well as independent reading, a starting point for a personal Bible study, or (I imagine) an excellent basis for a small group curriculum. I found myself diving in a little deeper beyond what was presented in the book to get better perspective and enrich the reading for myself. But the bottom line is this book is another fine addition to the series and to any personal library. - from TRudATmusic[dot]com[slash]raw (11/7/12)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Wallace

    This is the third in a loose trilogy which began with Twelve Ordinary Men and then there followed Twelve Extraordinary Women, and now Twelve Unlikely Heroes. I have now read all three and enjoyed all three. To sum up what this book meant to me , I will quote from the Epilogue, "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, cu This is the third in a loose trilogy which began with Twelve Ordinary Men and then there followed Twelve Extraordinary Women, and now Twelve Unlikely Heroes. I have now read all three and enjoyed all three. To sum up what this book meant to me , I will quote from the Epilogue, "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." [page 213]. I found this, and find it, refreshingly encouraging! If you are in need of a different perspective on your life and work for the Lord, then I recommend this book to you. Perhaps you and I will join the ranks of the 'unlikely heroes'?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    There was so much that I really liked about this book! It included some of my favorite Bible heroes -- Esther and Joseph, for example -- as well as some I had a lot to learn about, like Gideon and John Mark. There was a nice balance between informational text and more personal application/discussion. The one thing that held me back with this book was the writing style. I know Pastor MacArthur is an excellent speaker and has authored excellent books, but for some reason his writing style was just There was so much that I really liked about this book! It included some of my favorite Bible heroes -- Esther and Joseph, for example -- as well as some I had a lot to learn about, like Gideon and John Mark. There was a nice balance between informational text and more personal application/discussion. The one thing that held me back with this book was the writing style. I know Pastor MacArthur is an excellent speaker and has authored excellent books, but for some reason his writing style was just hard to read. Too many adjectives? I'm really not sure what it was, but it made it hard to finish.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kim Zimmerman

    really good to read and get history and personal accounts of heroes from the bible..loved hearing about james, jesus brother

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Another excellent book by Pastor and author John MacArthur. This book features the lives of 12 unlikely heroes of the Bible. The author writes of the lives of Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon & Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, the Brother of our Lord and Mark & Onesimus. These heroes are diverse in the lives they lead and in their ministries and impact on God's program for mankind. Some were deeply flawed and one was extremely prejudiced. Yet God, in His sovereignty used ea Another excellent book by Pastor and author John MacArthur. This book features the lives of 12 unlikely heroes of the Bible. The author writes of the lives of Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon & Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, the Brother of our Lord and Mark & Onesimus. These heroes are diverse in the lives they lead and in their ministries and impact on God's program for mankind. Some were deeply flawed and one was extremely prejudiced. Yet God, in His sovereignty used each one to further His kingdom and to teach us rich lessons. Even after failing miserably, God is still able to use us if we humble ourselves under His mighty hand. The one common thread the author points out in their lives is this, "Their exploits vary greatly, yet the common thread that runs through all of their testimonies is faith." This book should be an encouragement to all of God's people that they can be used by God and will be used by God if they have the faith of a mustard seed.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kate Long

    I have been a fan of John MacArthur's teaching for years but have never taken the time to read a book he has written. As a want-to-be Bible scholar I really enjoyed this book. The historical facts coupled with Biblical insights helps bring each character to life. Although I was familiar with each unlikely hero in this book I learned something new about each one of them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to both seasoned Christ-followers or those just started their journey wit I have been a fan of John MacArthur's teaching for years but have never taken the time to read a book he has written. As a want-to-be Bible scholar I really enjoyed this book. The historical facts coupled with Biblical insights helps bring each character to life. Although I was familiar with each unlikely hero in this book I learned something new about each one of them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to both seasoned Christ-followers or those just started their journey with Jesus.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    I can summarize the entire purpose of this trite book in just a few short sentences: "No man or woman is a hero, only God is. God directs His own heroism through divine providence. God is sovereign. God is great." I've never seen a book take its own premise and detonate it in every chapter. What am I supposed to learn from this that I cannot already learn from the Bible itself? The answer must be nothing, because I learned nothing. I can summarize the entire purpose of this trite book in just a few short sentences: "No man or woman is a hero, only God is. God directs His own heroism through divine providence. God is sovereign. God is great." I've never seen a book take its own premise and detonate it in every chapter. What am I supposed to learn from this that I cannot already learn from the Bible itself? The answer must be nothing, because I learned nothing.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Gather round kids, Uncle Johnny is going to tell us some campfire stories about 12 Biblical characters and how God used them for His eternal glory. And if you overcook the popcorn one more time there will be no kickball with the Grace Community Church elders.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David Diaz

    This was an excellent read. MacArthur always writes in a very readable style. So, the book is very approachable and an easy read. It is chock full of moral lessons taken from the lives of 12 bible characters.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Great book about some of the heroes of the faith. Was engaging to the very last page. Will re-read. Highly recommended!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Bogus

    Good read. A different look at biblical people than I have seen before.

  18. 4 out of 5

    M.L.S. Weech

    An interesting and inspirational look into what God can do in the lives of anybody. A full review to appear on my blog in time.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sid Little

    A great study This is A great study of the lesser hero's and heroines of the bible. It is well documented it takes the reader through a study of biblical history. A great study This is A great study of the lesser hero's and heroines of the bible. It is well documented it takes the reader through a study of biblical history.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Peg

    Excellent

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ammie

    Absolutely loved this. I am a long time MacArthur fan and this did not disappoint. It read like a living history book. I enjoyed it even more than Twelve Extraordinary Women.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    Summary: John MacArthur has written short biographies on twelve men and women from the Bible who became "unlikely heroes." They are unlikely in respect to the world's definition of a hero. They are heroes because of their faithfulness to God. They were all imperfect men and women. Some of them ran from God at the beginning of their life story. But they were used by God for His will and purpose. My Thoughts: It is important to be reminded that the true hero of the Bible is God. MacArthur states th Summary: John MacArthur has written short biographies on twelve men and women from the Bible who became "unlikely heroes." They are unlikely in respect to the world's definition of a hero. They are heroes because of their faithfulness to God. They were all imperfect men and women. Some of them ran from God at the beginning of their life story. But they were used by God for His will and purpose. My Thoughts: It is important to be reminded that the true hero of the Bible is God. MacArthur states this point in the beginning of the book. It is also important to be reminded that God is at work in all of His children's lives, bringing about growth and development in our character and spirit. At times I've had an attitude that I'm too flawed to be used by God, I've failed and thus can no longer be used by God. Reading the story of Mark sets my mind at peace, because he too became afraid and gave-up. However, in time God lifted him back-up for service and Mark was steadfast and faithful. "One of the primary evidences of genuine salvation is a sincere desire, on the part of the converted, to know God intimately and obey Him fully." Page 12. One of my favorite characters in the Bible is John the Baptist. He ate locusts. I can't get that mental image out of my head. I can imagine his voice as being bold and resonant. His gaze piercing. His persona like a magnet. He was not a personality I'd engage in an argument. He was eclectic and unpretentious. Even if he did eat locusts, his feet stood on solid ground. To the world they thought him odd, a spectacle. But he was a man faithful to God. John's message was "to repent." "Repentance does not refer to just any change, but to a change from sin and righteousness. It involves sorrow over sin, but goes beyond that to produce both changed thinking and the desire for a changed life." Page 160. MacArthur takes opportunity to teach a broad brush-stroke of the "unlikely heroes" and the lessons we should learn from their lives. Whether the lesson is of repentance, steadfastness, courage, or humility. The dominant lesson is through God we can "accomplish His sovereign purposes."

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Rochholz

    "What kind of people does God use to accomplish His work?" Far from the children's tales depicted in picture books and nursery rhymes, the men and women highlighted in the Bible were unnervingly real. They faltered. They struggled. And at times, they fell short. Yet God worked through them in surprising and incredible ways to accomplish His purposes. Scripture does not hide their weaknesses, caricature their strengths, or spin their stories as a display of human nobility. Instead, it describes th "What kind of people does God use to accomplish His work?" Far from the children's tales depicted in picture books and nursery rhymes, the men and women highlighted in the Bible were unnervingly real. They faltered. They struggled. And at times, they fell short. Yet God worked through them in surprising and incredible ways to accomplish His purposes. Scripture does not hide their weaknesses, caricature their strengths, or spin their stories as a display of human nobility. Instead, it describes these heroes of the faith with unflinching honesty and delivers an unexpected ending: "God is not ashamed to be called their God" (Hebrews 11:16). In "Twelve Unlikely Heroes," pastor and best-selling author John MacArthur uses his deep knowledge of the Bible and history to take us back to see these three-dimensional men and women in their own times and cultures. In doing so, it becomes clear how their dramatic stories apply to us today. People who might at first seem foreign quickly become familiar and unforgettable--particularly as they reveal the true Hero behind every witness, the power counterbalancing every weakness, "the Author and Finisher of "our faith" (Hebrews 12:1)." I love when I can learn something from a book and this one doesn't disappoint! I found out a lot about the twelve unlikely heroes of this book. This is the first book I read of John MacArthur and was not disappointed in the book; however that being said there was something missing, can't quite put my finger on it but something left me wanting more from this book. Though this is a good starting point for anybody wanting to know more about people that are spoken about in the bible, it would be just that a starting point. This book took me longer than most to read, but it was very enlightening and informative. And this book encourages me to read his other works or to seek out more information about these twelve unlikely heroes. *Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free and all opinions above are my own. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.*

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Osborn

    Let me start by saying that this is the first book I have read by John MacArthur, but I absolutely loved it and I am eager to read more of his work. In "12 Unlikely Heroes" by John MacArthur, the author talks about 12 different unexpected heroes from the Bible and gives a small preview into each of their lives. The 12 listed are Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, Mark and Onesimus. Most of the heroes were well-known to me, while I had heard on Let me start by saying that this is the first book I have read by John MacArthur, but I absolutely loved it and I am eager to read more of his work. In "12 Unlikely Heroes" by John MacArthur, the author talks about 12 different unexpected heroes from the Bible and gives a small preview into each of their lives. The 12 listed are Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, Mark and Onesimus. Most of the heroes were well-known to me, while I had heard only tidbits about James and Onesimus before reading this book. I think the point that the author is trying to make is that God can use anybody. He does use kings, priests and prophets to complete his work, but he also uses ordinary people like you and I. Jonah ran from God before he pursued God's plan for his life. Samson disobeyed God multiple times, and finally made the right decision in the final moments of his life. I think MacArthur gives us a glimpse of these characters to show us what can happen when we don't follow God's will. God had big plans for these heroes but they followed their own judgement instead of God's. From the first chapter, I was hooked. MacArthur has a beautiful way of telling the stories of these famous and not-so-famous Bible characters. His writing is easy to understand and would be a great book to use in a Bible study or class. I rate is as 5 stars. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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.”

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    Twelve Unlikely Heroes By: John MacArthur I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for a review. Twelve Unlikely Heroes caught my attention because sometimes I feel insignificant, like there is no way God could use me or my abilities to do His work. If you feel this way sometimes, too, then this book is for you. By reading the front flap we learn, “We have reason to hope. God can use anyone to accomplish His purposes. The testimonies of these biblical saints demonstrate Twelve Unlikely Heroes By: John MacArthur I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for a review. Twelve Unlikely Heroes caught my attention because sometimes I feel insignificant, like there is no way God could use me or my abilities to do His work. If you feel this way sometimes, too, then this book is for you. By reading the front flap we learn, “We have reason to hope. God can use anyone to accomplish His purposes. The testimonies of these biblical saints demonstrate a powerful truth—that God delights to work through weak, imperfect, and broken people in order to showcase His power, wisdom, and love.” No matter what your ability or talent, even if you think you don’t have any, God can use your willingness to show His love, truth, and glory. John MacArthur reveals the stories behind Enoch, Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, and Mark. If God could use a rebel, a social misfit, and a coward in the Bible, He can use the same kinds of people now. All you need to supply is the willingness to do His will. As stated in the introduction, “The greatest heroes are those who are the human means God uses to change people forever—for their good and His glory.” Most of the time it is the most unexpected and ordinary people God uses. In Jonah’s case, he was running from God; he would rather die than preach forgiveness to the Ninevites. Despite his determined disobedience and running away, God still used him. This book is for anyone who needs encouragement or is interested in the back stories of these biblical saints. If you feel that you don’t have the ability or talent to be of use to God, be encouraged! If you are willing, God is able. Step out in faith and let Him use you to perform His glory!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Butcher

    Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and what He Wants to Do with You by John MacArthur outlines the lives of 12 figures from the Bible who proved to be heroic though they may have seemed ordinary. Those profiled are drawn from the Old Testament, such as Joseph and Gideon, and the New Testament, like John the Baptist. Though the biographies are predominately from the Old Testament. Many will be familiar with like Joseph but the book also includes more obscu Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and what He Wants to Do with You by John MacArthur outlines the lives of 12 figures from the Bible who proved to be heroic though they may have seemed ordinary. Those profiled are drawn from the Old Testament, such as Joseph and Gideon, and the New Testament, like John the Baptist. Though the biographies are predominately from the Old Testament. Many will be familiar with like Joseph but the book also includes more obscure figures like Enoch and Onesimus. Though these heroes were all very different people, MacArthur shows how all were people of faith and acted on God’s direction. Overall Twelve Unlikely Heroes is clear and easy to read. Some of the chapters are balanced more towards Christian living teachings, like the Enoch chapter, due to a lack of biographical information. Other chapters, like Joseph, are more heavy on biography due to the vast amount of primary and secondary material available. Honestly, the chapters that were the least effective for me were Joseph and Miriam, which was really heavy on Moses, because they cover material that others have presented from pulpits, videos and other books. It was profiles for James, Mark, and Onesimus that were the most effective to me since they are figures we hear less about. I also appreciated MacArthurs use of tradition and church history to help expand on the Biblical information we have on these figures, while be transparent to their source. Overall, Twelve Unlikely Heroes is accessible book that could serve as a good introduction to the lives of these early heroes. Review Copy Provided by Thomas Nelson

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Bessey

    Well organized and thought out, "Twelve Unlikely Heroes" was pleasant to read and enriching. I really appreciated how MacArthur was able to add some color to these biblical figures which was a nice blend of narrative and biblical context. I usually don't care for narratives, but these were done very well. The chapter lengths were perfect to have one or two knocked out on lunch breaks or before bed. The content was also enjoyable so that the history and perspective was accurate, which is typically Well organized and thought out, "Twelve Unlikely Heroes" was pleasant to read and enriching. I really appreciated how MacArthur was able to add some color to these biblical figures which was a nice blend of narrative and biblical context. I usually don't care for narratives, but these were done very well. The chapter lengths were perfect to have one or two knocked out on lunch breaks or before bed. The content was also enjoyable so that the history and perspective was accurate, which is typically overlooked when reading through the Bible. My only complaint, if any is that with certain figures there is much detail given to the greater person that tends to overshadow them. For example, the chapter on Miriam, sister to Moses, MacArthur spends a lot of time talking about Moses - the well noted hero of Exodus. At that point, it seems like you're reading more about Moses than Miriam, yet Miriam is supposed to the 'hero' of the chapter. Same concept is applied to the chapter on Jonathan - seems like a lot of time is spent on David. The main thing I enjoyed was how MacArthur tied God's providence into each story to show how God uses imperfect people to carry out His perfect plans. Pros: Great collection of biblical characters that generally receive 'supporting cast' acknowledgement. Cons: Narratives can often add a fictional feel to storytelling of non-fictional people. Bottom line: A great read for anyone interested is blending history and biblical context.

  28. 5 out of 5

    christianchicklit

    Excellent and Insightful! MacArthur focuses on 12 characters of the Bible who had an impact on our Christian heritage and the powerful lessons in the Bible. Some of these characters are represented in only a few short lines of scripture, others are prominently featured or are the subject of an entire book of the Bible. In all cases, MacArthur provides an in-depth look at each character, their relationship to God and the impact that they made on their people, culture and the actual lessons contain Excellent and Insightful! MacArthur focuses on 12 characters of the Bible who had an impact on our Christian heritage and the powerful lessons in the Bible. Some of these characters are represented in only a few short lines of scripture, others are prominently featured or are the subject of an entire book of the Bible. In all cases, MacArthur provides an in-depth look at each character, their relationship to God and the impact that they made on their people, culture and the actual lessons contained in the Bible. Although you may be familiar with the character or their story, MacArthur provides amazing detail often by sourcing additional data to provide new dimensions into their stories. In many cases, I learned new details from MacArthur’s additional research or being able to see something new in scripture that I might have glossed over in my previous 10 readings. Especially insightful is MacArthur’s comparison and contrast of different characters: Gideon vs. Samson (weak made strong vs. strong made weak), Mark and Onesimus (both redeemed and powerfully used in ministry) and Saul vs. Jonathan (contrasts in character and leadership). This book also has a companion Study Guide to be used for group study. The questions provide interesting insights that make each character and their lessons applicable to the individual and many would spark interesting discussion for a group setting.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Loraine Alcorn

    I was able to read this book through Book Sneeze and at first because of the author I was not to sure I would like it. I read John MacArthur's first book and I can away from that feeling like he was putting to much emphasis on works and not enough on the love and grace of God. However I really really loved Twelve unlikely Heroes and learned so much from it. This is a study book it will teach you things you never knew about the heroes of the bible and show you how God works through even the most I was able to read this book through Book Sneeze and at first because of the author I was not to sure I would like it. I read John MacArthur's first book and I can away from that feeling like he was putting to much emphasis on works and not enough on the love and grace of God. However I really really loved Twelve unlikely Heroes and learned so much from it. This is a study book it will teach you things you never knew about the heroes of the bible and show you how God works through even the most unlikely people. This book had really made me want to read the other books like it from Mr MacArthur and I am really looking forward to reading them. If you are looking for a well written and informative book about the people in the bible who seem to be less that perfect than this is totally the book for you. I loved reading it and looked forward to reading it each morning because it was like discovering the inside scoop about biblical figures who's story I knew but only basically, and wanted to learn more about. This study is complete and I would recommend it to any friend who loves biblical history. Each chapter if filled with different way of looking at these Heroes and how God worked in their lived in spite of themselves.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Roberto Mattos

    This is truly an amazing book, that make us think that even us, with all our faults, can be chosen by God to do His work for His kingdom. In 10 Chapters the author describe all the fears and tremors of our characters, exposing their weakness and how God transform them in valuable workers. Starting with Enoch, the author proceeds to Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, Mark and Onesimus. Showing deep knowledge of the Scriptures, John MacArthur write in This is truly an amazing book, that make us think that even us, with all our faults, can be chosen by God to do His work for His kingdom. In 10 Chapters the author describe all the fears and tremors of our characters, exposing their weakness and how God transform them in valuable workers. Starting with Enoch, the author proceeds to Joseph, Miriam, Gideon, Samson, Jonathan, Jonah, Esther, John the Baptist, James, Mark and Onesimus. Showing deep knowledge of the Scriptures, John MacArthur write in an easy and simple way and make those characters come to life as real people to whom we can associate our own lives. This is a masterpiece. I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers, Christians or not, that appreciate a well written book that can keep you entertained and send a positive message on transformation. Nobody is beyond repair. This book was written by John MacArthur and it was published by Thomas Nelson in September of 2012. Amazon.com was kind enough to provide this product for me through their Vine Program for reviewing and I was not requested to provide a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

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