Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah. And Gilead’s wife bare him sons; and his wife’s sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father’s house; for thou art the son of a strange woman. Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him. And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel. And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob: And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon. Judges 11:1-6;
One of the common grounds people suffer rejection in life is on the basis of their backgrounds. According to the passage above, Jephthah was one man that had a defective parental background: he was a product of illegal and shameful sexual affairs his father Gilead had with a prostitute. Being a child born out of wedlock, Jephthah was evidently raised by a single parent, so he never in his life experienced the parental care and love that other children born and raised in an ideal family had.
That Jephthah was a son of a prostitute was an open secret; the stigma of being continually addressed as ‘the son of a bitch’ was such that passage of time and years could never wipe away. As a result of his disadvantaged background, Jephthah was abhorred and rejected by all his step brothers and sisters who regarded him as illegitimate child and were therefore not ready to give him a chance or right to inheritance in their father’s house, they threw him out.
Jephthah’s brethren obviously have failed to realize that there can only be an illegitimate relationship, father or mother, but there can never be an illegitimate child! Every child, no matter the circumstance that brings him or her into the world, is a creation of God and definite purpose! That Jephthah was produced from an illegitimate relationship, had absolutely nothing to do with God’s purpose for his life, and was never meant to stand as barrier to his fulfillment on earth.
Jephthah came to this understanding, so he was able to properly handle the rejection he suffered from his brethren and the society at large. Rather than begrudging his brethren and living in bitterness, anger and hatred, he focused on preparing himself for the divine purpose God had for him; he refused to accept the ugly picture everyone was trying to paint of his life. While Jephthah’s brethren and the society at large attempted to relegate him to the background and make him believe he was worthless because of his parental background, he refused to lose his self worth and continued to recognize the great values the Almighty God had placed inside of him.
The rejection Jephthah suffered was not only from his brethren but also from the society. When his brethren threw him out, it appears the society (entire tribe and people of Gilead) also rejected him, which was the reason he fled to Tob - a far and strange land. It equally appears the land of Tob where Jephthah fled to was a land that was far from being desired by anyone; this obviously was the reason why the land was readily available to accommodate him and other dozens of men who had been equally considered by the society as useless. Jephthah’s sojourn in the land of Tob was not by choice, the land seemed to be the only place of abode for him and the men whom the society had considered ‘good for nothing’.
It is quite unfortunate that the world has not ceased to assess people on the basis of their defective backgrounds. A lot of us have failed to realize that the true parameter to assess an individual is the life he or she has chosen to live as a person and not what his or her background says about him. It is totally unfair to attempt to push the burdens of a faulty background on a man, when it is clear that he had no option or say in the choice of his background. None of us chose our parents, sisters, brothers, tribes or country of origin, so it will be totally unreasonable for anyone to treat others with disdain because of their backgrounds.
For those people whose story is similar to that of Jephthah, the good news is that God does not deal with us on the account of our backgrounds. One remarkable thing about the way the Almighty God works is that, it is even those people whom the world have totally rejected and refused a chance that He gathers and makes use of for fulfillment of His divine purpose on earth! God’s love does not discriminate no matter who we are or how terrible our lives have been. Here God is offering a great hope to those who thought they are not as useful because of their pasts and background. God does not judge anyone on the accounts of his or her pasts! If you allow your background to keep you down, it is your fault. With God’s deep love demonstrated through Christ, you can rise above your ugly past and become all that God destined you to be; don’t be grounded by your background!
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