Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Meaning of Shepherds

It's that time of year to reflect on the Lord's birth and what His coming means.

Recently, some friends sent me a newsletter with intriguing insights into why God chose shepherds to be the first people to hear of the Savior's birth.

Here's what they say:

"Have you ever wondered why God first announced the birth of His Son to a few shepherds out on the Bethlehem hillside? Why not wake up the people in Bethlehem? The town was overflowing with people there to register for the census. I am sure that they would have been just as impressed as the shepherds. The account says that the angel said it was good tidings of great joy to ALL people. But to look at it from a human viewpoint is to miss the whole point.

God could have chosen any town in Israel for his son to be born. Why choose that particular town? Bethlehem was a cattle town but more specifically a sheep town. The sheep raised in Bethlehem were raised specifically for sacrifice in Jerusalem not far away. Many people that came to Jerusalem from the remote corners of the country would buy their sacrificial lamb there, which had been most likely born and raised in Bethlehem.

The night that Jesus was born the shepherds on the hillsides around Bethlehem were out there because it was lambing season and they were out there to protect and inspect the lambs that were born because they had to be without blemish to be of any good for sacrifice in Jerusalem. Are you starting to get the picture? Baby Jesus “the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world” was born in the very town where the sacrificial lambs are born and the same shepherds that are inspecting the newborn lambs are sent by God to inspect His lamb. They find him acceptable and even worship him. These wild looking men in rustic clothing with sun burnt faces and smelling of animals and earth are acknowledged by God, at this point, to be the experts for the job at hand. The people in town were not qualified. I marvel at the painstaking and detailed planning that God went to, in order to make sure that there was no mistake as to why Jesus had been sent to earth." -Tim and Bunny Cain

I found this very fascinating. One of the things I love about God is how He uses symbolism to communicate deep truth. It's the poet in Him, I think. But I love catching glimpses of that in His Word, in nature, in His interactions with us.

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out!" Rom. 11:33

(photo courtesey of


Pierre said...

What a great insight.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

Very, very nice.

I like the idea of God as a poet. Even His prose makes my heart sing!