By Jim Killam | 3-minute read
Scripture: Micah 5:2
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
On March 2, 1962, the NBA’s Philadelphia Warriors met the New York Knicks in what looked to be a meaningless, late-season game. Sometimes the league would schedule games in small towns as a way to drum up new fans. This one was in Hershey, Pa., which would be equivalent to the Chicago Bulls playing a game in Belvidere.
History happened that night. The Warriors’ 7-foot-1-inch center, Wilt Chamberlain, scored 100 points. One. Hundred. It’s still an NBA record by a mile.
Only 4,124 people attended; the Hershey Sports Arena was half-empty. No New York sports writers came. The game was not televised. The only recording of the radio broadcast is from the fourth quarter — the rest was taped over.
In the years to come, as the NBA became a bigger deal, probably 10 times the number of people who actually attended the game would claim to have been present. Some even remembered it being played in Madison Square Garden. That would have made a more appropriate venue for one of sports’ greatest records. But … Hershey? With almost no one there? It was a sports marketer’s nightmare.
A few years before that, barely anyone noticed what happened one nondescript night in Bethlehem – the one in Judea, not Pennsylvania. The prophet Micah also used its ancient name, Ephrathah, which means “fruitful.”
This was not how an event planner or a public relations agency would have done things. No kings arrived for a photo op. No scribes to write the story. No important venue where a plaque could be hung. Instead, a forgettable stable in a forgettable place. Yes, Bethlehem was the City of David, where Israel’s greatest king was born, raised and anointed by the prophet Samuel. But those prophecies about the messiah? Those had to mean Jerusalem, right?
It’s wonderful — and if I’m being honest, puzzling — how God chooses to do his greatest works among the insignificant. Why leave the most important news in world history — not to mention a huge gathering of angels — to be recounted by lowly shepherds?
That’s a snapshot of the upside-down kingdom, and the heart of God. A mustard seed. Five smooth stones. Five loaves and two fishes. A sleepy little town and a stable.
No place, no person insignificant. You never know what might happen.
Father God, Thank you for your mercy. Thank you that in your kingdom, the first shall be last and the last shall be first. We have nothing to boast about except you. Thank you for the surprising way you saved the world. Thank you for continuing to use insignificant places like Rockford and insignificant people like us.