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Have you ever wondered why the angels announced the tidings of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds? (Luke 2:1-14) Why not announce it to carpenters or fishermen or merchants or priests or kings? I have heard sermons and teachings about shepherds and how dirty and repulsive and disreputable they were, and that God therefore brought these tidings to the lowest of the low. But, in all my reading and years of research I have not found in the Old Testament a basis for shepherds being scoundrels. Instead what I have seen is that many important individuals in the Old Testament were shepherds and were not frowned upon, such as Abel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David and many others in Israel. Furthermore, God calls Himself a shepherd in Ezekiel 34, and David in Psalm 23 calls God his shepherd.

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

The shepherds watching their flocks by night in Bethlehem the evening of Jesus’ birth were not just any old shepherds however, and the sheep raised in Bethlehem were not just any old sheep. Shepherds in Bethlehem, according to Jewish history, were specifically those who were raising flocks for Temple sacrifice in neighboring Jerusalem and for all the sacrifices for God’s feast days, including Passover.

Not only this, but shepherds only kept watch over their flocks by night when it was “lambing season”. Lambing season was the time of year when baby lambs were born. It was then that shepherds had to be on high alert. A mother lamb often carried more than one lamb in her womb (upwards to 3), and so the shepherds had to be close at hand in case those little lambs got all tangled up and were not being birthed properly. So, these were very important Temple shepherds and very important sacrificial sheep.

Furthermore, little lambs were born in the Spring (sometimes into the early summer), and specifically the lambs for Passover would have to have been born one year before the Passover on which they would be sacrificed. After all, it is stipulated in scripture that the spotless lambs sacrificed on Passover were to be one year old (Exodus 12:5).

But, still, why would the Angel of the LORD proclaim to these important shepherds that the Messiah had been born?

We can find the simple answer to this in John 1:29, “The next day when John [the baptist] seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” First Peter 1:19-20 says, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you…”

The Angel of the LORD and the angelic host of heaven revealed this message of the Savior to the Temple shepherds on a night that they were watching for lambs to be birthed among the Temple sheep because Jesus was the spotless LAMB of God spoken of in Isaiah 53 who had come into the world to die as a Temple sacrifice on Passover. And since God is so orderly and is indeed the one who created the times and seasons and holy days, at what better time for Jesus to be born than at the time of year when all other Passover lambs were being birthed in the fields? It is no wonder then that Jesus, the Lamb of God, was born among Temple sheep in Bethlehem during lambing season in the Spring around Passover and was laid in a humble manger. In this timeless passage (Luke 2) of remarkable simplicity and incredible power, God reveals to us His fulfillment of prophecy with intricate precision and glorious harmony.

Helpful Source:

Jonathan Cahn https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptlsXtTf6n0

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