Have you ever wondered how the shepherds found the baby Jesus?
I’ve always pictured the star shining on the stable like a spotlight, but there’s so much more to the way the shepherds found Jesus. The answer is found in the angel’s announcement.
God didn’t simply desire creation to witness His Son’s birth; there was significance to the place where the Lamb of God would take His first breath.
“As for you, O watchtower of the flock (Migdal Edar) , O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be given you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem.” Micah 4:8. This is the prophecy of the Saviors birth that further connects the “watchtower of the flock” to that star-lit night.
And there were shepherds living in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
. . . and they knew just where to find HIM.
It’s Hebrew name, Migdal Edar, was a place highly esteemed in Jewish tradition because Jacob moved his flocks there after he buried his dear Rachel who died in childbirth. Rachel was buried in Bethlehem. Migdal Edar was on the edge of the town. Jerusalem sat only a few miles away.
Migdal Edar had been built generations earlier to overlook the valley to protect the city. Many ancient towers had been built throughout the land for this purpose, but in peaceful times the towers were used by shepherds to guard the sheep. The shepherds would bring the ewes close to delivering their lambs to the towers for greater protection.
This was a common practice, but Migdal Edar was no ordinary “tower of the flock” because the lambs in these fields outside of Bethlehem were not your normal, everyday sheep. “These special lambs came from a unique flock that was designated for sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem.” (bibletruth.org)
And the shepherds weren’t any old shepherds. They were special too, trained by priests to inspect the newly born lambs who were destined for sacrifice. In the lower part of the tower, the lambs were wrapped tight in cloths or fabric bands and placed in a clean stone trough to be inspected. These lambs could have no imperfections nor be dirty. They were “wrapped in cloths” to protect them from injury.
Have you ever wondered why Mary wrapped the baby Jesus “in cloths”? I always assumed the cloths were all she had, but now I know that the cloths were provided. They were at the special tower where sacrificial lambs were born. And the Lamb of all lambs would be wrapped in them.
God doesn’t miss a thing. He doesn’t miss one detail or symbolic aspect that points to Him and His truth. Spend this week of Christmas to focus on His promise and faithfulness.
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.”
Prompt: The Messiah wasn’t born in Jerusalem or a fancy palace but a small, seemingly insignificant town. So many times . . . okay almost always, God uses the insignificant, least likely to do His work. Sit with this thought for awhile and wait on the Lord to talk to you. Write down what you hear. What does this truth say to you in a world that celebrates the rich and famous?
Luke 2:8-15: And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Prompt: Don’t be afraid. These three words are spoken throughout the Christmas story. Gabriel spoke them to Zechariah (John the Baptist’s daddy) and Mary when he appeared to them. Don’t be afraid. What is comforting about these words and the specific signs given by the angels? How can this apply to you life?
Psalm 80:19: Restore us, LORD God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
Prompt: “Restore” was translated from the Hebrew word Shub which means to turn back or turn around. It’s often translated as “repent.” The KJV translates verse 19: “Turn us back, LORD of hosts . . . ” He is the God of angel armies. The one in power. The one who fights for us. The petition for God’s face to shine on us means for God to be present. It’s a request to have one on one, face to face fellowship with Yaweh. Opposite of this is for God to turn His face away which means the absence of His presence and blessings. Taking these meanings into account, rewrite Psalm 80:19 in your own words.
Hebrews 10: 5-7: Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, my God.’”
Prompt: God doesn’t desire sacrifices. His greatest desire is relationship. Write down what this means to you as you think about the birth of God himself poured into a tiny baby boy.
Luke 1: 39-45: At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Prompt: This is one of my favorite scenes in the Bible and one of my favorite verses. “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her.” God was faithful to Mary. He gave her Elizabeth for comfort and assurance. Her assignment would not be glorious or easy. What does Mary’s role in the Christmas narrative tell you about God?
Jeremiah 1: 7-8: But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Prompt: Who will you tell about Jesus today? Write down your testimony of what God has done.
I Pray You Have a Blessed Christmas
Dear friends, whether you are all alone or swamped with family and friends, I pray you feel His presence and know His reality in your life. Spend time with Him this week. Jesus loves you. The Lamb of God came for you.
Much love and grace,