Micah 4:8 – And you, O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, to you shall it come, even the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem. (NKJV)
Genesis 35:19-21 – So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel's tomb. Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder. (NIV)
Luke 2:8-12 – Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." (NKJV)
Have you ever wondered why the shepherds were the first to hear the good news of Christ's birth? Perhaps it was because they were humble, unlike the religious and political leaders of Jesus' day. However, this year, I learned of another possibility which adds more depth to the Christmas story.
According to Alfred Edersheim in his book, "The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah," the shepherds abiding in the field on the night of Jesus' birth were no ordinary shepherds. They were specifically trained to raise a special flock of lambs designated for temple sacrifice.
These particular shepherds brought their ewes to a place known as the Tower of the Flock to give birth to their young. In Hebrew, this location was called Migdal Eder, located in the vicinity of Bethlehem. The tower's birthing room was ceremonially clean in keeping with Jewish law. The tower itself, constructed of stone, was a watchtower to safeguard the sheep from predators. Interestingly, it is believed that the newborn lambs were wrapped in swaddling cloths to keep them calm and to prevent injury. A qualified shepherd was responsible for inspecting the animals to ensure that they were kosher — without spot or blemish.
According to the Jewish Talmud, because of the prophecy in Micah 4:8, the ancient rabbis actually expected the Messiah to make His first appearance at Migdal Eder.
Could this Tower of the Flock therefore be the place mentioned in Luke's gospel where the perfect Lamb of God was born? This could explain how the shepherds knew exactly where to find the Christ Child and what the significance of swaddling cloths was.
Personally, I love the tower imagery. It reminds me that Jesus is not only a sacrificial Lamb, but also our chief Shepherd.
Proverbs 18:10 – The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. (NKJV)
Hence, while celebrating the holiday season, may the angelic birth announcement stir our hearts as if we heard it for the first time. May we come to the manger with a renewed hope and deep gratitude for all that the Lord has done.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, may the glory and wonder surrounding the birth of Your Son inspire great joy in Your people today. Open our eyes to appreciate more fully the amazing events that took place on that first Christmas morning. In Jesus' precious name, we pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "What Child Is This" (Lyrics)