Our Strategic God
Although this is about the birth of Jesus, it is relevant for His death and resurrection because as this account shows, He was born the spotless Lamb of God. later in His life to die on a cross and rise from the dead to pay the price to redeem humankind. Please feel free to leave your comments.
“…and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7, NIV)
It was not by accident that Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. To gain insight, we must go back to the account of Jacob and Rachel in the Old Testament. Rachel was pregnant with her second child as she and Jacob journeyed from Bethel, where God had appeared to Jacob when he was fleeing from his brother, Esau. When they came near Ephrath, she went into hard labour and gave birth to a son, whom Jacob named Benjamin. The Scripture says that "..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" (Genesis 35: 19 - 21, NIV).
Migdal Eder, which means tower of the flock, was approximately one thousand paces from Bethlehem and a place of elevation. Shepherds would watch over their flocks which grazed in the valley below. Several generations after Jacob and Rachel, it became the place where the unblemished and unspotted firstborn lambs used for the yearly Passover feast as well as other Temple sacrifices were raised. It was not ordinary shepherds who watched over these sheep but priestly shepherds from the tribe of Levi.
Over six hundred years before the birth of Jesus, Micah, the prophet foretold that Jesus would be born there. "And you, O tower of the flock, the hill and stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto you the former dominion shall come, the kingdom of the Daughter of Jerusalem" (Micah 4:8, AMPC).
Migdal Eder was a two-storey tower. At night, from the top, the shepherds would watch over their flock. The lower storey was a birthing centre where the shepherds brought the ewes to give birth. This was the specific tower to which Micah referred.
To prevent the lambs from thrashing around, hurting themselves and becoming blemished in some way, after the birth, the shepherds wrapped the newborn lambs in swaddling clothes and laid them in a stone that had been hewn out - the manger, which was kept ceremonially clean. Then the priest would come and inspect each lamb to ensure that they met the requirement of purity and spotlessness.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger’” (Luke 2: 8 – 12, NIV).
The shepherds knew the prophecy of Micah in Micah 4:8. They also knew that Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. "But 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" (Micah 5: 2, NIV). The shepherds knew to search for the Messiah in the manger at the watchtower in Bethlehem.
I'm sure you're seeing the picture. Jesus was the final sacrificial lamb - the Passover lamb. Born in the fields of Bethlehem - a firstborn Son, watched over by Levitical shepherds, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a ceremonially clean manger. John the Baptist recognized Him when he saw Jesus walking toward him and said, “.Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29, NIV). Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God Who bore the punishment we should have and rose triumphantly on the third day, procuring forgiveness from sin for all who will accept Him.
I am personally amazed at how God arranged the details of His Son's birth. And my friend, the God Who made everything come together in the birth of His precious Son has your name written on the palm of His hand. "See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands..." Isaiah 49:16, MEV). He has planned our days before we were born. "You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed" (Psalm 139:16, NLT). In these days of uncertainty and unrest, God is still in control. He has a plan for you and if you know Jesus as your Saviour, His plan for you is good. So today, enter His rest. He will get you where you need to go.
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In this Blog, I want to share with you some of the things I've learned from many years of following Jesus.