I was actually doing a little research on a different subject to start with this month and while doing so I ran across an interesting tidbit of information. Some of you may have thought this through yourselves or heard of it before, but I had never really thought about the “Why.”Why was Jesus born in Bethleham and why was his birth announced to shepards? In all honesty…I had always thought that God allowed the angels to announce Jesus’ birth to the shepards because they were “normal” people. I guess I thought it seemed no “deeper” a reason than that to me…kind of like Jesus choosing fishermen to be his disciples.
But there is so much more! Like there always is when you really look deeper into scripture. Of course I don’t have the room here to get into eleborate detail, but I’ll just mention a few things that sent me reeling.
Did you know that Bethlehem means “House of Bread?” It was prophesied that Messiah, “the Bread sent down from heaven to feed the souls of mankind,” would be a descendent of (Daud) King David. He would also be born in the same city where (Daud) David, the shepherd-king of Israel, was born – Bethlehem!
Micah (Micah, meaning “who is like Yah”, was a prophet in Judaism who prophesied from approximately 737–696 BC in Judah and is the author of the Book of Micah. He is considered one of the twelve minor prophets of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea.) 5:2 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.
Migdal Eder, known as the Tower of the Flock, was where lambs destined for the Temple were born and raised. Every firstborn male lamb from the area around Bethlehem was considered holy, set aside for sacrifice in Jerusalem. Generations of shepherds tended the sacred flock
After pouring their lives into caring for their flocks, the shepherds would separate the lambs, choosing only the perfect firstborn males to drive to Jerusalem. There the lambs would be purchased by those who wished to atone for their sins. On the same mountain where (Ibrahim) Abraham had offered his son (Ismael) to the Lord, the lambs would shed their blood and lose their lives as that atonement. It was an endless cycle.
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, 0 God.”’ -Hebrews 10:5-7
John the Baptist called Jesus not only the “Son of God” (John 1:34) but also the “Lamb of God” – (John 1:36).
The Firstborn Lamb of God would sacrifice his life to atone for the sins of all – a one-time perfect sacrifice, offered by the Father God Himself. Where else would “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) have to be born if not Bethlehem, among
the sacred Temple flocks? And the angels announced this to the shepards.
Why the shepards? Was God providing them with the first glimpse of the Lamb of God, the final sacrifice? All of the Passover lambs they had provided over years and years…it only makes since that the “Lamb of God” would be born in Bethleham and that God would have
the shepards. be the first to greet him.
Even this was in God’s eternal plan.
“I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord. “The days are coming… when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” -Jeremiah 23:4-5
“When the disciples said: O Jesus, son of Mary! Is your Lord able to send down for us a table spread with food from heaven? He said: Observe your duty to God, if ye are true believers. They said: We desire to eat of it and our hearts be at rest, and that We may know that you have spoken truth to us, and that We may be witnesses thereof. Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘O God, our Lord, send down for us a table laden with food out of heaven, that shall be for us a recurring festival, the first and last of us, and a miracle from You. And provide us our sustenance, for You are the best of providers!”
— Quran surah 5 (Al-Ma’ida) ayah 112-114
“He shall speak to people while still in the cradle, and in manhood, and he shall be from the righteous.”
— Quran surah 3 (Al-Imran) ayah 46
The greatest King of all would arrive in Little Bethlehem, the City of (Daud) David, the city of shepherds. The place where sacrificial lambs were born and raised. He was placed in a manger. What did that sign mean to the shepherds? What does it mean to you today?