"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night."
So here we have shepherds doing what shepherds do!
In this particular case, they were keeping their sheep safe from vicious animal attacks and human predators during the night hours.
The life of a shepherd was certainly not one of glitz and glamour. No, it was quite the opposite. The life of a shepherd was one of danger, hard labor, loneliness and poverty.
One of the most important duties of the shepherd was to make sure the sheep could find plenty to eat and drink. The flocks were not fed in pens or folds, and since sheep are very helpless animals, they had to be led to their food. That meant during the sweltering heat of summer, as well as the blustery harsh cold of winter, the sheep depended solely upon their shepherds to lead them so they would not be in want!
Hmmmm, sounds A LOT like The Good Shepherd Who provides for His sheep!
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."
As I was doing research for this post, I found a very interesting fact.
"At the first sound of the shepherd's call, which is usually a peculiar guttural sound, the flock follows off to a new feeding-ground. Even should two shepherds call their flocks at the very same time, and the sheep be intermingled, they never mistake their own master's voice"
quoted from www.bible-history.com
WOW! Another reference to The Good Shepherd!
"To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers."
Okay back to our story!
Notice back in verse eight that it says, "there were in the same country"
What country does it mean?
The country where Jesus was born, Bethlehem.
I did a bit more research!
"The sheep that grazed here were no ordinary sheep. Due to proximity to the temple at Jerusalem, the fields of Bethlehem were primarily the domain of temple sheep, the animals used in the sacrifice offered in the temple. Thus, these shepherds of Bethlehem were responsible for delivering healthy, unblemished sheep to be offered on the altar of sacrifice for the atonement of sin."
quoted from, "Windows on Christmas"
These shepherds were raising and taking care of sheep which would be used in the temple as sacrifices for the sins of the people! In the same town, a baby had been born who was The Lamb of God and one day would take away the sin of the world!
"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
Just something VERY interesting to ponder!
Okay back to our story once again!
"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."
Here we find the shepherds going about their responsibilities in the middle of the pitch black of night with only the stars to light their way, when out of nowhere an angel appears! I think that would have been enough to terrify anyone!
But just like the angel Gabriel told Mary not to be fearful, this angel also tells the shepherds not to fear.
The angel is about to impart to the shepherds the GREATEST news EVER known unto mankind!
Christ The Lord
has been born!
The angel told the shepherds exactly where to go to find Christ the Lord. In the city of David. And the angel told them exactly how they would find the babe. Wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.
Those words were no sooner out of the angel's mouth, when suddenly there wasn't just one angel, two angels or even twenty angels.
A multitude defined by Webster's Bible Dictionary is, "a great number, indefinitely".
There's no exact number of how many angels appeared, we just know there were TOO MANY TO COUNT!
"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."
A wondrous, glorious, humbling, magnificent, treasured gift given to the shepherds by God, Himself!
So what was the shepherds response to all that happened?
Did they just brush it off after the shock wore off, and go right back to tending their flocks?
Did they think it was all a dream?
Thinking nothing so spectacular could happen to men of their low estate?
Or did they put feet to their faith and act in obedience and go to the place where the angel told them they would find the babe?
What would I have done?
What would you have done?
"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."
I'd say they most definitely DID act in faith and obedience! In fact they went "in haste"!
The shepherds were not only the first ones to hear of the birth of the Saviour, they were also the first ones to tell of the birth of the Saviour!
"And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child."
As you can see, the shepherd's response was first to WORSHIP, and then to tell what they saw.
That's exactly how it needs to be in our lives as well.
First, we need to spend quality time worshipping our Saviour, so then we'll be prepared to tell others of His Glory and salvation.
"To be humbled
in the presence
of the King,
so that you can
then speak boldly
to all who
need to hear."
quote by Bill Crowder
Pictures by David Padfield/FreeBibleimages.org
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