Read Time 8 Minutes
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL NIGHT OF ALL
There is so much more than we’ve understood . . . and now you can know!
What if the most beautiful story of all time, the birth of Jesus Christ, was even more beautiful than you ever imagined? Let us look once again at the clear night of His birth and see the Truth and the Majesty . . . we were never told . . .
1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Beth-lehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
Why is Bethlehem so critical to the story?
We think we know . . .
Both Joseph and Mary were of the bloodline of the House of David and from the town of Bethlehem, giving Jesus the legal and biological right to be seated on the Throne of David.
And although that’s true and important, there’s more . . .
Jacob, the father of the 12 Tribes of Israel, who literally wrestled all night with the angel of the Lord for a blessing, lived in Bethlehem and buried Rachel, his beloved wife, there.
David, the greatest King of Israel and the man after God’s own heart, was born, tended Sheep and anointed King in Bethlehem. Oftentimes, Bethlehem is called, the City of David.
Messiah was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem.
Bethlehem is a frenzied madhouse . . . all those of the City of David have come for taxation by order of Caesar Augustus. The crowds pack the roads throughout Israel and there is no room found anywhere for Mary and Joseph in the inns. The roads and cities are full of travelers. The registration is not only for the City of David, but all Israel. Jerusalem is only 3 miles away from Bethlehem and . . . the crowds are immense.
Why this night . . . Why register everyone now?
The God of Creation moved all heaven and earth as well as the heart of a pagan king to assure prophecy would be fulfilled. Not only fulfilled, but resoundingly so, with lasting memories of where and when this birth occurred. Bethlehem, in Hebrew means the House of Bread . . . and this is the birthplace of Jesus . . . The Bread of life.
THE ANGEL APPEARS
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
This angel is no white robed little girl with a gold, garland-covered coat hanger formed into a halo over her head. There are no donkeys braying or cattle lowing. There are no wise men and no gifts, not this night.
The pageants of our lives have so reduced the spectacle of grandeur and confused the story, we have conditioned our minds to the normality of the event, we have lost Our Incredulity, Our Wonder and Our Awe.
Let us look again and see if it is possible to . . .
RETURN TO TRUTH AND MAJESTY
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not:
The Angel of the Lord is a supernatural being of immense height and size. We know this from descriptions of other angelic encounters in Scripture. The first thing any angel speaks is always . . . Fear Not.
Clearly, angels appear . . . fearsome. Think about it, how would you react? You are sitting in a starlit field minding sheep with only the light of a small campfire, no sound save the bleating of the sheep when suddenly . . .
An angel of the Lord appears. The Shekinah Glory reflected from his attendance on God is so bright they cannot look at him directly. This divine being has arrived from the very Throne Room of God Almighty with a message . . . for shepherds.
Response . . . they are sore afraid . . . greatly fearful. Why fear? Angels not only appear out of nowhere and look awesome, they also have a pretty gnarly reputation!
Consider . . .
One Angel appears and 185,000 Assyrians are slain.
Two Angels appear and Sodom and Gomorrah, with all the cities and people of the plains are destroyed.
“Fear Not” . . . is much easier said than done . . .
“ . . . for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Excellent, the angel brings good tidings of great joy and the shepherds begin to relax.
Most of us relax at this point as well, for we have heard the story from childhood and know exactly what happens next. But, do we really, or have we muddled it? What else did the angel say?
THIS SHALL BE A SIGN
12 “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
There it is . . . a sign. There is no mention of a star, no directions of where to go or what they should look for other than a baby.
There are no wise men in this story. Only the shepherds were directed to see Jesus the night he was born. Those wise men with their gifts will not arrive until months later, when Jesus is almost 2 years old. Did the Star of Bethlehem appear that night? Yes, it did, but neither the Shepherds nor the angels mention it.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, Good will toward men.
The astonished Shepherds suddenly see not just a single angel, but a multitude . . . thousands . . . as they sing . . .
This night is memorable for many reasons, not the least of which is the spectacular visitation of thousands of angels singing to shepherds in a field. But, there are other events afoot to ensure this night is forever fixed in the memory and history of the world . . . this glorious night and the baby it brings will never be forgotten . . . Our Father in Heaven has made certain of it!
People from all over Israel are packed to the rafters in and around Bethlehem, even sleeping in stables, yet the shepherds know exactly where they are to go based on “the sign” given them by the Angel Messenger?
12 “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
They were given only three clues – baby, swaddling clothes and a manger. How could they know? What does it mean, this sign?
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Beth-lehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
There was no discussion and no attempt to piece the puzzle together. Let us go now, They Knew Instantly, Assuredly and went WITH HASTE!
Why these shepherds? Why a field near Bethlehem? And, how in the world are they expected to find one little “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” in the madhouse of this night?
There is clearly more to these Shepherds than we have understood.
It’s Bethlehem and the sheep . . .
BETHLEHEM AND ITS SHEPHERDS
Bethlehem is perfect for grazing and guarding sheep, just as it was in Jacob and David’s day. But, this is no ordinary flock and these are not run-of-the-mill shepherds. The Shepherd Priests of this field tend the flock of the Temple. These lambs are destined to temporarily remove the sin of the people of Israel, for they are the sacrificial lambs.
Migdal Eder, the Tower of the Flock, was constructed long before in the fields outside of Bethlehem. It is a circular tower with a 2nd floor from which the shepherds watch over the sheep. The 1st floor has only one unique purpose, it is ceremonially cleansed and sanctified by the Levitical priests as a birthing chamber. It is made ritually pure and reserved for the lambs of sacrifice placed in the sanctified manger.
When the Mother, the ewe, is about to give birth in the field, she is brought into the chamber and attended by a shepherd priest. Once the lamb is born, it is wrapped in swaddling clothes, torn from the garments of the priest, and placed in the manger to protect it from damage by trampling or thrashing. There can be no spot or blemish on these lambs. For only a spotless lamb can take away sins, even temporarily.
The men in the field before the angels are shepherd priests, like David before them . . .
They are trained in Torah and the priestly rites. They know the prophecy of Messiah’s birth is not just for Bethlehem, but Micah testified it would happen at Migdal Eder. “Oh, Tower of the Flock, hill of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it (the gift of Messiah) come”.
The angels knew exactly where and to whom they should go and what they were to say . . . for God had instructed these shepherds their whole life . . . for this night!
Couple the prophecy with their training and . . .
These shepherds on this brilliant night need no further instruction. The sign was to them as clear as though it were emblazoned in pictures across the sky.
They understood instantly, Messiah would be birthed where all sacrificial lambs for Israel enter the world. They hurried to the ceremonial birthing chamber in the base of the Tower of the Flock . . . and . . . Just as the angel had announced . . .
They found the babe, wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger . . . newly arrived in this world, without spot or blemish, the final, permanent sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
And we say with the multitude of angels . . .
Glory to God in the Highest . . . Peace on Earth . . . Good Will Toward Men!
THIS NIGHT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING
So often, at Christmas time, we stop at the birth on that starry night. Yet the true miracle only begins there . . .
JOHN THE BAPTIST knew the story . . .
JOHN 1:29 ESV – Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the Sin of the World
29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
And now we know . . .
The time of Tribulation approaching is called Jacob’s Trouble. It is a time when Israel will be besieged by her enemies and Jerusalem will become a cup of trembling for the whole world.
At this time . . . Our High Priest, will return to remove those who believe in His sacrifice for their sins.
Then, Jesus will shift his focus to Israel, the unsaved and the sin and injustice of this world. Only then will He reveal his end time identity as The Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He will cleanse the world of sin and evil, all Israel will be saved and He will take his rightful place on the Throne of David as the King of the World.
THE MILLENNIUM BEGINS
Triumphantly, in that day, He will tend the sheep of the world, the faithful of Christ. The heartache of all who love and honor Jesus will be healed. No more tears will flow from Migdal Eder for no more lambs will die. The Shepherd of the World will reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords . . . Forevermore . . . Amen!
With our new awareness of the Birth of Jesus – may we respond – to the Truth, the Majesty . . . with INCREDULITY . . . with AWE . . . with WONDER . . . And a renewed awareness of His Miraculous Birth . . . and the reality of Our Salvation!
Perhaps you might read this aloud to little children and re-awaken their delight and wonder in the real Story of Jesus’ birth!
Thanks for taking time for me . . .
Sherry Driskell Griffin
P. S. If this was a Blessing to you . . . be a Blessing and pass it along!
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