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The Shepherds – What Significance Were They In The Christmas Story?

By on Dec 18 in Blog tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

What significance were the Shepherds in the Christmas Story?

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The Christmas story as taken from Luke 2

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 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 Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and ponderedthem in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” (Luke 2:8-20)

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Most of us are very familiar with this passage, as reading it is a Christmas Eve tradition for many families. But who were the shepherds? Why were these men privileged to have angels appear to them? Was there any significance to these shepherds other than being humble keepers of sheep?  Did the angels announce the birth of the Savior throughout the land, but only this account became recorded in scripture?  Or was there a greater purpose to the angelic revelation specific to these shepherds?

A preview of the upcoming Messiah documentary, aired on BYU-TV on December 6th, noted that the Christmas story takes on added meaning when we consider that the shepherds who were abiding by their flocks in the fields were perhaps watching over temple sheep, sheep that were being raised and protected to be sacrificed, according to the Mosaic law, at the temple in Jerusalem.  The noted information relies heavily on the research of Cooper P. Abrams III in his article Where was the Birth Place of the Lord Jesus?

the familyThese shepherds may have been men who were accustomed to preparing lambs which symbolically represented the Messiah in their cleanliness, perfection, and their sacrifice on the altar of the temple.  This gives added depth of meaning, if true, to these scriptures which tell of the angels who came to these shepherds to proclaim the birth of the Lamb of God, the Savior of mankind, who would offer the last and ultimate sacrifice.

But there are more interesting details.  The place where the angels appeared to the shepherds is traditionally known as the the familyTower of the Flock, or Migdal Edar, which is very near Bethlehem. the familyOne commentator notes:This watch tower from ancient times was used by the shepherds for protection from their enemies and wild beasts. It was the place ewes were brought to give birth to the lambs. In this sheltered building/cave the priests would bring in the ewes which were about to lamb for protection. These special lambs came from a unique flock which were designated for sacrifice at the temple in Jerusalem.

According to Edersheim in The Life And Times Of Jesus The Messiah, in Book 2, Chapter 6, states, This Migdal Edar the familywas not the watchtower for the ordinary flocks that pastured on the barren sheep ground beyond Bethlehem, but it lay close to the town, on the road to Jerusalem. A passage from the Mishnah (Shekelim 7:4) leads to the conclusion that the flocks which pastured there were destined for Temple sacrifices.

What are we to make of all of this information from the writings of the rabbis? First, we know that Migdal Edar was the watchtower that guarded the Temple flocks that were being raised to serve as sacrificial animals in the Temple. These were not just any flock. The shepherds who kept them were men who were specifically trained for this royal task. They were educated in what an animal, that was to be sacrificed, had to be and it was their job to make sure that none of the animals were hurt, damaged, or blemished. These lambs were apparently wrapped in swaddling cloths to protect them from injury which, or course, was also used to wrap the Christ child.the family

Thus, with the establishment of Temple worship in Jerusalem, the fields outside of Bethlehem became the place where a special group of shepherds raised the lambs that were sacrificed in the Temple. Being themselves under special Rabbinical care, they would strictly maintain a ceremonially clean stable for a birthing place. The Tower of the Flock was used for birthing ewes, and the surround fields were where these shepherds grazed their flocks. These shepherds customarily kept their flocks outdoors twenty-four hours a day every day of the year, but brought the ewes in to deliver their lambs where they could be carefully cared for. It was to this place that Joseph took Mary. It was in this special stable at “Migdal Edar” that Christ may have been born!

Luke 2: 8-18 records that there were shepherds in the fields keeping watch over their sheep by night. Who then were these shepherds? Without question these were shepherds who resided near Bethlehem. They were none other than the shepherds from “Migdal Edar” who were well aware that the Targum hinted and many of the rabbis taught that the Messiah might well be announced from “Migdal Edar” at Bethlehem. The angels only told the shepherds that they would find the Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. There was no need for the angels to give these shepherds directions the familyto the birth place because they already knew. These were the men who raised sacrificial lambs that were sacrificed in the Temple. When the angelic announcement came, they knew exactly where to go, as Luke 2 indicates, for the sign of a manger could only mean their manger at the tower of the flock! You cannot explain the meaning or direction of the sign they were given or their response unless you have the right manger and the right shepherds!

Prophetically, Migdal Edar is the exact place in Bethlehem for Christ to be born. Micah was God’s prophet who was warning Israel of the coming captivity. He used the authenticating prophecy of the Assyrian captivity of the Northern Kingdom (soon to occur when he foretold it) to serve as a reminder to Israel of God’s promised Kingdom. God wanted them to know that even though they would be taken from their land because of their disobedience that He would restore them in time. Micah 4: 7 establishes the context of the passage and clearly is a Messianic prophecy of the coming of the Millennial Kingdom when Jesus Christ will reign over Jerusalem forever. The…LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. In other words God was assuring Israel that He would fulfill His promises to them of the Kingdom. In Micah 4: 8 the word is rendered “tower of the flock” (marg., “Edar”), and is used as a designation of Bethlehem, which figuratively represents the royal line of David as sprung from Bethlehem.

In this setting, Micah (Micah 4: 8) uses the prophecy of the Babylonian captivity of the Southern Kingdom as a pledge to guarantee (authenticating prophecy) of the birth of Christ at Migdal Edar at Bethlehem which is exactly where it took place! Micah prophesied that as surely as Assyrians would soon carry away Israel in the North, so the Messiah would come and establish His kingdom, the “first dominion, the kingdom shall come to Jerusalem.” The verse states that as surely as Babylon would carry away the Judah, in the South, into captivity, so the Messiah would arrive at the Tower of the Flock. This prophecy was but one other evidence that later proved the Jesus was the Messiah, but one that Israel ignored in rejecting Him as their Messiah.

Typically, “Migdal Edar”, (the tower of the flock) at Bethlehem is the perfect place for Christ to be born. He was born in the very birthplace where tens of thousands of lambs, which had been sacrificed to prefigure Him. God promised it, pictured it and performed it at “Migdal Edar”. It all fits together, for that’s the place where sacrificial lambs were born! Jesus may not have been born, as has often been assumed, behind an inn, in a smelly stable where the donkeys of travelers and other animals were kept. He was most likely born in Bethlehem, at the birthing place of the sacrificial lambs that were offered in the Temple in Jerusalem which Micah 4:8 calls the tower of the flock.

the familyJohn the Baptist in John 1: 29 proclaimed of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Jesus is presented in the Bible as being likened to a sacrificial lamb. It was not by chance but by choice that Christ identified His death with the time of the observance of the Passover. Peter spoke of our redemption as wrought by the “precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” ( 1 Pet. 1: 19); and Paul told us that “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” ( 1 Cor. 5: 7). Even the first fulfilled type by which Christ is to be revealed in Heaven is as the Lamb (Rev. 5: 6-13) Over 33 references in the Book of Mormon speak of Christ as the “Lamb of God” and as such the significance of this sacred prophesied birthplace on the outskirts of Bethlehem takes on new meaning.

Rod Meldrum – The Firm Foundation
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Only 10 Days Until Christmas!

By on Dec 15 in Daily Inspiration tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

With only TEN DAYs left before Christmas, my Brother, Jimmy Osmond, takes us to Bethlehem, the Birth place of Jesus Christ.

Jimmy reminds us that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God the Father in the flesh. He was the Creator, He is our Savior, and He will be our Judge. Under the direction of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created the earth. Through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and by giving His life on the cross—that is, by performing the Atonement—Jesus Christ saves us from our sins as we follow Him. Through His Resurrection, Jesus Christ saves us from physical death. Because He overcame death, we will all be given the gift of resurrection.

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Jimmy is currently performing and will lead a superb cast in Cinderella as Qdos Entertainment, the world’s largest pantomime producer, that sets a new standard for panto in the South Coast!

Jimmy, his wife Michelle, and his four children: Sophia, Zachary, Wyatt, and Bella, wish you the Very Merriest Christmas Day for you and your families!

We give thanks to our parents and those past relatives who sacrificed much through out our Family History that we might have the freedoms and conveniences we do today.   We are most grateful for the many blessings, friends and family that are ours.  Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for blessings or benefits we have received. As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we are more likely to be happy and spiritually strong. We should regularly express our gratitude to God for the blessings He gives us and to others for the kind acts they do for us.

Let us plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers.

We are grateful to be the sons and daughters of our great Pioneers who stood for principles and values that have made us what we are today!

Here are some books of our family History that we are giving to our children for Christmas, “lest we forget”!