1 Chronicles 19
When reading through the Old Testament, it’s very easy to jump to the conclusion that God is an elitist, exclusive kinda guy. After all, it seems He chose a nation (Israel) for Himself, called them out of slavery, and worked very hard to try to give them everything He could. On such a cursory reading, it could be easy to conclude that God loved and protected Israel to the exclusion of all other nations.
But not so fast. What about these Ammonites who caused so much trouble for Israel? Did you realize or remember that they were the descendants of Lot, the nephew of Abraham? And, furthermore, that they were descendants by incest? Ewww. Definitely not the right way to go about making offspring! Yet, when God was instructing the Israelites on conquering the Promised Land, He told them to leave the Ammonites alone: "When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites. I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot." (Deut 2:19)
Wow. These descendants were the "illegitimate" children of the family, the black sheep of Israel. They were a wild, heathen people. They certainly didn’t have ranks among the "chosen" people of Israel. Yet God showed abundant kindness to them because of their connection to Abraham. He included them in His covenant promise and told the Israelites to leave them alone.
It’s unfortunate, as evidenced by the events of this chapter, that the Ammonites seemed unable to accept the kindness offered through God and the Israelites. They spent a lot of time and energy looking to make trouble and pick a fight with their "legitimate" cousins. But God’s desire to protect and prosper them proves that God is definitely not exclusive. He wants to draw as many people as possible into His larger family—even those that we might consider "illegitimate" children.
Jesus was still spreading this message during His time on Earth: "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me... I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd." (Jn 10:14, 16)
God doesn’t buy into the elitist, exclusionary mindset, and He doesn’t want us to either. So, whenever we are tempted to think of ourselves as better than others because of our upbringing or our theology, we should remember that God loves and wants the "illegitimate" children just as much as He loves and wants the "legitimate" children. His sheep are scattered all over the place. But no matter who they are or where they are, Jesus has made it clear that He knows His sheep, and they know Him. His fold is big enough for them. Is ours?