A Christmas Story

By Sean Gooding

The Tower of the Flock!

Luke 1:26-39; 2:1-20:

“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’

 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 

And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.  For with God nothing will be impossible.’ Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  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.’ 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, goodwill toward men!’

 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then  the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

In the verses from the book of Luke we see the account of the birth of Jesus. Of course, many of us know that Jesus was born, this is a fact of history, but for many we don’t know why He was born. We know that Jesus was born in the city of Bethlehem. Over the past few weeks as I have studied and listened to other Pastors who know a lot more than I. I have learned that Jesus was born in a place called the Tower of the Flock.

The Tower of the Flock is mentioned in Genesis 35:21, after Rachel had died in verse 19 giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob pitches his tent in a place called the tower of Eder.  The full name is Megdal Eder, or the Tower of the Flock it is still there and can be seen today. The Tower of Eder is where the lambs that were destined for sacrifice were born.  Only lambs born at the Tower of the Flock were used for sacrifice. In Micah 4:8 we are told this:

“And you, watchtower for the flock, fortified hill of Daughter Zion, the former rule will come to you, sovereignty will come to Daughter Jerusalem.”

We see here that Sovereignty will come out of the watchtower of the flock.  Jesus was born here, in a place about four miles outside of Jerusalem. In this place, the Tower of the Flock, the shepherds lived outside with the sheep all year.  They only came inside when the ewes were about to give birth. 

These shepherds where ‘priest-shepherds’, they would have kept the area ceremonially clean and this was all that they did. They watched over and cared for the lambs that would be   the Passover lambs. According to ICEJ (International Christian Embassy Jerusalem),

This means the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem who first heard the Good News from the angels were not ordinary shepherds but served the sacrificial system of the Temple. These men served the Mosaic covenant, a foreshadowing of the new covenant. And these men were now confronted with the reality of the eternal light to which their ministry had been pointing all these centuries. It was declaring a new era of salvation!

So, when we see the angels addressing shepherds in Luke 2:14-15, they were actually speaking to the shepherds that only cared for the sacrificial lambs. These lambs, when born were wrapped in “swaddling clothes”—cloth strips and put in mangers or stalls so that they would not be harmed. 

The lambs had to be spotless and have no blemishes so that they could qualify for being sacrificed. These shepherds then came from the fields and saw a baby boy, born at the Tower of the Flock and wrapped in swaddling clothes. They immediately knew that He was born to be sacrificed. They went and told many about the wonder they had seen, Luke 2:17.

And this is what Christmas is about. God sent His Son into the world that we can be saved. Jesus, the sinless God in the flesh, Jehovah in the skin of a man came to show His love for us and to  die for us. Our perfect sacrifice on the cross, He took our punishment and bore our shame, our beatings, our nails, our spear and our deserved wrath.  Jesus, God Himself, died for us so that we can live with Him forever. Glory to God in the highest, He has offered us peace on earth.

Have you trusted in Jesus as your Savior?  Have you asked Him to save you?  Are you accepting God’s love for you and giving Him your life?  He gave His for yours.  Even in the last few moments on the day of His death, while in agony and pain Jesus gave hope to a dying thief, we find that in Luke 23:40-43:

“But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’

This man admitted that he was justly condemned. He admitted that Jesus is God, and then he asked Jesus to remember him as He entered His kingdom. 

Jesus promised him that “TODAY” he would be in Paradise (verse 43).  This is what Jesus came to do, to pay for the sins of us all and to offer us a place in Paradise with Him. This offer is as available today as it was that day almost 2000 years ago, to the thief on the cross. 

Sadly, one of the thieves rejected the offer and missed Paradise. He was so close but yet so far.  He could see Jesus and yet missed Paradise. Many of you will be the same way, you can see Jesus.  You will go to church Christmas day, you will see the baby in a manger and forget the Christ on the cross. You will receive the gifts under the tree, but reject God’s gift that hung on a tree to pay for your sins and mine.

Trust Jesus today, follow the example of the thief, admit that you are a sinner, confess and believe that Jesus is God and then call on Him to save you, He will!

“.. that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved’” (Romans 10:9-13).

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