Today's Devotional: Advent (Day 14)

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11 ESV).

We are just a week away from Christmas Eve. How did the time slip away so quickly! Today we begin to look at the announcement of the birth to the shepherds. It must not be overlooked that these men were generally seen as having little value in the general socio-economic strata of the day. They were typically ostracized by the general community. These shepherds were probably raising broad tailed sheep. They often had lambs in the autumn and winter, rather than in the spring with most sheep in western countries. There was nothing special about this band of shepherds; they simply were chosen by God to receive the birth announcement as they were quietly doing their jobs. Isn’t it strange that God often does just that with us? We simply go about our day and suddenly he breaks into our routine with an incredible moment of His presence. There are only two times in the Scripture that a “host” of angels appear. We don’t know the names of the angels or how many there were of them; however, it must have been an incredible experience. It is no wonder they were “afraid.” Their fears were quickly turned to joy. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow.

Today I want to mention a theory that Jesus might have been born a couple of miles outside of Bethlehem and may have actually been born in the company of the shepherds. While I don’t subscribe to this theory, it does have some interesting points. Just outside Bethlehem there was a special watch tower called the Migdal Eder, or “The Tower of the Flock.” It’s thought that sheep born here were used as sacrificial animals in Jerusalem. According to some sources, the lambs at Migdal Eder had their health checked by resting them in a manger and were even wrapped in swaddling clothes to show they were special.

Regardless, these men were the recipients of “good news of a great joy.” The real sacrificial Lamb had now been born for all people in all lands. Again God reminds us that the entire birth of Jesus was to finalize the atonement for His children. He loved us so much that He was willing to give His only begotten Son to save us (cf. John 3:16). That’s good news! That’s the gospel! Celebrate your freedom today by remembering the life we gain by His death.

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