Due to prejudices that exist, accomplishments of certain individuals are brushed aside, ignored or neglected. During Black History Month in America, its important to recall how God can use less than perfect places to further His will on earth. In the Old Testament, God sends Abraham to Gerar during a time of famine. Oddly enough, when translated into English, Gerar means to drag off roughly. Infested with Philistines, a land of giants eager to display their dominance over others is the city that God chose as a place of refuge for the founding father of Israel. Sometimes trusting God requires extreme faith, overlooking clear and present dangers for hidden treasures revealed in the future.
Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines, Genesis 26:1.
In the early first century, certain towns had become a haven for criminals. Nazareth developed a reputation for being a tough place to live, with rampant crime. These reports poisoned the mind of Nathanael, doubting if any good could ever come out of this place. Despite the evidence leading to Jesus as the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, many were skeptical. Instead of listening to rumors, Philip encourages his friend to just come and see, to find out for yourself. Unfortunately, stereotypes stifle people from different backgrounds from really getting to know each other. Perhaps, the enemy, the Devil uses this strategy to prevent intimate friendships from developing on earth, keeping atheists from taking a leap of faith to trust Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip, John 1:45-46.
I have spent the majority of my life on earth living in or near Wilmington, Delaware. I spent three years at an inner city school, Harlan Elementary, using sports as a way to connect with African Americans and Hispanics. When I was on the basketball court at recess, I wasn’t a cracker or honkey. I was a normal kid trying to fit in by doing what he loved. Today, Wilmington is often in the news for the wrong reasons, ranking in the top ten for murder rates for its size and number one in teenage pregnancy. Sure, for those teens trapped in this hopeless environment, the percentages for success isn’t high. Yet, if God can use places like Gerar and Nazareth, then anything is possible for those who believe, Matthew 21:22.
by Jay Mankus