This book was gifted to me by a friend many months ago and I promised a review of it. I finished reading it last Saturday, and it was a joy to dig into the lives of the women who followed Jesus so many years ago.
MacArthur does an incredible job of detailing history and cross-referencing passages for each story. I was surprised that there were only two sources cited at the back of the book, evidencing MacArthur's vast knowledge of his topic.
This book is a fairly easy read about twelve women from Scripture who were "critical to the story of redemption" (MacArthur). Some of these women include Rahab, Ruth, the Samaritan Woman and Lydia. Each woman is presented with her faults and virtues, and then is tied into the story of Christ and how she showed her faith in God and her history in Scripture.
I really enjoyed reading about Sarai/Sarah. She's never been one of the characters I particularly identified with, but I love how MacArthur wrote of her being a respectful wife and one who hoped against all hope. Circumstances for her were truly not in her favor, yet despite her barrenness and desire for a child, her foolishness and unbelief, she waited in the silence and did indeed receive the fulfillment of the promise. "Sarah is pictured as the spiritual matriarch and the ancient epitome of all faithful women." (MacArthur) I found points of conviction in her story, as well as point from her life to emulate.
The other three women who I loved reading about were the three Marys. Mary the mother of Jesus, though written somewhat as a defense against the Catholic description of her, was a sweet portrayal of a humble girl who remained in the background of history until Gabriel appeared to her. Her worship and praise to God, the incomprehensible pain she endured at the cross, and her love for the Savior--her Son--was beautiful to read.
Mary, the sister of Martha, was a reminder to place Christ as our first and formost priority. I also loved how MacArthur showed the goodness of Martha in her service and preparation. I think we all too often look down on her as the "bad" character in the story, but she really did love the Lord just as much as Mary. She only sought to show it in different ways, despite her failings. Mary was one who "simply fell at His feet in worship" (MacArthur) in demonstration of her love for Christ.
The other Mary, Mary Magdalene, was a special story of a woman delivered from her sin and indebted to and dependent on her Savior. She remained a faithful disciple while others forsook Jesus. She was at the cross when He died. She watched where he was buried. She went to anoint Him. And because of her faithfulness, she was the first to see the risen Lord. The dawn after the dark did come for her, and she rejoiced in it. She loved Jesus deeply, and it shows throughout her story.
Definitely a book I'd recommend. With the characters to emulate and a Savior to glorify, MacArthur once again gives us refreshment and encouragement through the people and events of Scripture.