Sunday, December 27th, 2020
(Licensed Reader -Denise Gelder)
(Related Bible readings can be found here)
Holy Spirit please give us a revelation and understanding of these truths.
Help us to put away any mindsets, any belief systems that we may have put in place.
Help us to hear Your word to us today.
While shepherds watched their flocks by night
waiting for the lambs who were to be sacrificed in Jerusalem in the temple to be born,
an angel suddenly appeared and God's glory shone around them!
How would you feel if that happened to you or me?
They were terribly frightened! It would be pretty awesome wouldn't it?
We don't see that as an everyday occurrence!
"Don't be frightened" said the angel.
He went on to say he had good news for them.
Their Saviour, Christ the Lord has been born! Then he said:
"This will be a sign for you - you will find a baby wrapped in cloth and lying in a manger."
This would have meant more to them than to us, because it was the fulfilment of prophecy.
These were priestly shepherds looking after special sheep.
Sheep, whose lambs were to be sacrificed in the temple at Jerusalem.
They weren't to have anything wrong with them, no twisted or broken limbs, no blemishes at all.
These specially picked out and trained shepherds would be watching from the second floor of
the 'Tower of the flock', called Migdol Eder, in a corner of the shepherds' fields in Bethlehem,
about 3 to 5 miles southeast of Jerusalem.
The ruins of a tower have recently been found.
Last Christmas I went to these fields to try to find the tower.
The shepherds would understand immediately what 'the sign' was ....their Saviour,
God's Lamb, would be in the 'Tower of the flock' in a deeply cleansed manger and wrapped in swaddling cloths, which were a sign of death.
Jesus had come to die, to be the sacrifice, God's lamb,
that some prophets had prophesied would come,
told so long ago and in Micah 5 verse 2 he prophesied that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem but chapter 4 prophesied
he would be announced at 'the Tower of the flock'... Migdol Eder.
We've been brought up to accept Jesus was born in a stable because the hostels etc were full.
I've struggled for a long time with why a holy God would allow his only Son to be born in a smelly stable with animals and with all they did throughout the day.
Not very healthy for a young inexperienced mother with her new baby and God's son at that!
These special shepherds would be keeping watch over their flocks from the second floor of the (Migdol Eder) tower and as soon as they saw a sheep ready to give birth, it would be brought into the ground floor of the tower and given assistance in the birthing of the sacrificial lamb,
as they had to be absolutely perfect for sacrifice, just as God's lamb Messiah was.
As soon as it was born it was wrapped in special cloths, possibly from old priestly undergarments, to keep it from getting damaged and then put into a manger to keep it from moving about,
to keep it safe. These special little lambs, with a holy role,
were carefully placed in a ceremonially clean manger.
Shepherds would immediately know what the sign meant and would hasten to the Tower of the flock to see prophecy fulfilled and their Messiah wrapped in swaddling cloths
and lying in a manger. The first people to see it!
Many years previous to this it was revealed in the Mishnah (the sacred writings) that Messiah would be born in the Tower of the flock (Migdol Eder) in Bethlehem.
Micah, in chapter 5, prophesied he would be born in Bethlehem,
but Micah chapter 4 announces the birth would be in the Tower of the flock!
Just imagine - these priestly shepherds would be so excited and struck with awe.
"That is the Lamb of God, who has come to be sacrificed for us,
our Messiah,unblemished and sinless, prepared for sacrifice."
They had to be excited beyond description, because they were the only ones
who could have fully understood the sign told them by the angel.
It was just for them, personal, such a privilege!
It was significant that it occurred in Bethlehem Ephrathah too, meaning the agricultural fields,
the priestly fields, which were the best looked after fields in Israel.
Luke, chapter 2, tells us this was where Messiah would be born.
Mary and Joseph were meant, by God, to go to Bethlehem Ephrathah for the birth.
The Jewish sacred writings, the Targum, says
"the Anointed One of the flock of Israel"
and the Mishnah says
"He spread His tent beyond Migdol Eder"
the place where King Messiah would reveal Himself at the end of days!
Those shepherds had strong hints of Messiah's advent from their studies and training.
It would be in the very town where they lived that He would be born.
So that when the angelic host appeared announcing His arrival they responded immediately.
We too have increasing signs of His soon second coming and this virus, this plague is one of them. The Bible warns us there will be difficult times ahead before His second coming.
We need that warning so we can prepare ourselves.
First, it is absolutely vital that we receive the second birth, that we are born again and then, seeking holiness... that is getting rid of all the blemishes we have acquired from ancestors or our own faults in our walk. We must continually seek the Lord regarding our walk with Him,
our set apart walk from the world and its ways,
allowing Him to show us anything He wants us to give up or stop doing
and ask for the strength and courage to obey Him.
Are we prepared to respond?
This will show how well we understand the signs of our times.
In Revelation 17 we read in verse 14
"They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them.
For he is Lord of lords and King of kings and those with him and on his side
are chosen and called, elected loyal and faithful followers"
We are all called, but not all respond to the Lamb's invitation to be one of His followers.
We all have the choice. It's up to us to take that step of faith and choose life.
Let's make sure we do respond and that we eagerly look forward to His return,
the Lamb of God, our Messiah, Jesus, Yeshua.
For just like those shepherds of Bethlehem we truly were born for such a time as this!
Help us Lord, Lamb of God,
may Your plan be acheived for each one of us.