April 7, 2010

Book Review: Twelve Extraordinary Women

"The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel, too." ~ John MacArthur

While I was traveling this weekend I read John MacArthur's "Twelve Extraordinary Women."

This is the sequel/companion work to "Twelve Ordinary Men," MacArthur's book about the 12 Apostles (which I will be reading next). This was on top of the pile, though, so I read it first. :)

In this book, MacArthur does character studies of whom he considers to be the 12 most significant women of the Bible. After reading Francine Rivers' "Lineage of Grace" series, I found this to be an excellent non-fiction companion piece, since 3 of the same women are mentioned and examined.

MacArthur makes the point through the book that, in and of themselves, these women are ordinary, but are made extraordinary through what God did in them and through them. He also spends a good amount of space on how the Bible and Judaism/Christianity has been the primary exalter of women and true equality in the world. For example, it was the first and only belief system that commanded children to honor both father and mother, declared women could be landowners and worship publicly with men, and even affected the way the western world formed its laws regarding marriage, making women equal partners in marriage, rather than property, as in pagan cultures.

Some quotes:
The most significant women in Scripture were not influential because of their careers, but because of their character.

Adam was refined dirt; Eve was a glorious refinement of humanity itself. She was a special gift to Adam.

Hagar, the bondwoman, represents the slavery of legalism (the bondage of trying to earn favor with God through works). Sarah, the faithful wife, represents the perfect liberty of grace.

God does not work exclusively by miracles. In fact, the times are relatively rare when He sets aside normal means in order to accomplish his purposes. Few of Israel's military battles were ever won solely by the miraculous intervention of God. The armies of Israel had to fight. But by the same token, none of their battles was ever won without the Lord's power.

Remove the stigma of sin, and you remove the need for grace. Rahab is extraordinary precisely because she received extraordinary grace.

...Christ has always been the one true object of all saving faith -- even in Old Testament times.

Furthermore, all parents need to heed this lesson: what you communicate to your children through your marital relationship will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

There are so many more I could list here, I'll have to stop now. But this gives you a basic idea.

MacArthur focuses on what the Bible says about these women, but also spends a good deal of time on what the Bible doesn't say about them, and what has over the years become religious tradition, rather than actual biblical teaching. This is important, because as he points out, their stories are significant enough just because of what the Bible does say. We don't need to embellish on their characters or accomplishments to make them more significant. In fact, doing so puts the focus on the woman and not on what God did in her, which is where our focus is supposed to be.

I highly, highly recommend this book. I will definitely be revisiting it and also working through the study guide in the back of it. It's a fast, easy read but deep and rich as well.


  1. I loved both of those books by John MacArthur! Have you read any of Max Lucado's books? I think you would really like him.

  2. Oh it sounds incredible! I will have to pick a copy up.

    ♥ Mrs. S.


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