Book Review: Twelve Extraordinary Women
Twelve Extraordinary Women, by John MacArthur
I bought this book to use as a study. I usually need a lot of structure and am working on just reading my Bible. This book is probably a quick read to most people, but I decided to break it down and just go section (or short chapter) by section. I’m really glad I did, I had me really digging into the Bible and re-reading stories I thought I “knew”.
Bear in mind, this is the author’s opinion in many ways, but I do think he used truth from the Bible to form his opinions and I found myself agreeing with almost everything. He chose 12 women from the Bible and told their stories. There are others I wish he had written about, but the ones he chose were all great. The women he chose and their central characteristics are:
- Eve – perseverance in faith and expectation
- Sarah – steadfast hope
- Rahab – remarkable conversion
- Ruth – devotion, love, trust and humility
- Hannah – dedication of motherhood
- Mary, mother of Christ – humble submission
- Anna – faithful witness
- The Samaritan woman – eager response to the Gospel message
- Martha – devoted servant
- Mary, of Bethany – worship above all else
- Mary Magdalene – great love and devotion
- Lydia – a heart willing to receive the Good News
The author did a great job of citing these women’s flaws as well as their “redeeming qualities”. He made a point to state that they were not perfect, but God’s perfect plan was able to manifest through them. Each one of them also had the central theme of faith in the promised Messiah or faith in the King that has come. This theme was so important in connecting the people of God of the Old Testament and the witnesses and converts of the New Testament.
He also acknowledged that sometimes, in our feminist world, we forget that the Bible is really good about promoting women as equal as men. None of these women were extraordinary because of who they married or what family they came from. They had their own unique qualities about their person, as well as exemplified women’s virtues to accomplish things in a way no man could. I appreciated that because sometimes the world tries to label Christianity as too traditional, as if that’s a negative thing! They view the Bible as something that puts women in the background. In reality, women were created as a helper, or equal, and there are roles that only we can fill. These women played the main character in their stories and I’m thankful for these reminders. It just goes to show, no matter who you are, or your background, God can use you!
One of my favorite little things from this book: The first chapter was about Eve and it was one of the longest ones, rightfully so. It begins with creation and follows Even through the exile from the Garden. The very last thing he talks about is that even through Adam and Eve’s original sin, they were given a promise. The promise actually came through the curse of the serpent, “I will put enmity…between your seed and her Seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen 3:15) The mere mention of her Seed means she would have children, but not just any children. Her line would produce the Messiah. The thing that stood out to me was he also mentions that heaven will be filled with Adam and Eve’s offspring – ALL of us! It gave me chills to think of being in Heaven one day, praising our Savior in the flesh while being in the midst of all the ancestors of faith. The last line says “After all, heaven will be filled with her redeemed offspring, and they will be eternally occupied with a celebration of the work of her Seed.” Extraordinary!