Friday, December 25, 2009

Bethlehem



And you, O tower of the flock, The stronghold of the daughter of Zion, To you shall it come, Even the former dominion shall come, The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem." But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting."
(Micah 4:8;5:2) NKJV

We are told and can read that Bethlehem was the birth place of Our Lord. Bethlehem (meaning is “The House of Bread”, so fitting because it was here where He, who is “The Bread of Life” was born.) was located in the district of Ephrathah (Fruitful) and Bethlehem was sometimes called Ephrathah. We all sing the song at Christmas “OH little Town Of Bethlehem” and we all remember the manger scenes. But there are many people who are do not know of the very deep importance and the significance of that little town of Bethlehem, Jesus' birthplace. Sometimes the history behind what we read and study in the Bible are very important because it give us the reasons and answers for the questions we ask about events and scriptures in the Bible. Have you ever wondered why Bethlehem was chosen as the birth place of Our Lord? Everyone knows that Bethlehem was a place where shepherds grazed their sheep, and where the Messiah was to be born, but how many people realize that it was a town designated and selected as the birthing place for lambs which were used for the Passover sacrifice. The Scriptures found in the Bible give significant and important details about this little town as to why this little town was picked as the birthplace of our Savior.

In Micah 4:8 we read about the "watchtower of the flock", or in Hebrew, "Migdal Eda r." While reading the story of "Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah", by Alfred Edersheim, who was a Christian Jew that lived in the later parts of the 1800's, I learned that Migal Edar was the location where the Jewish people believed the Messiah was to be revealed. This watchtower stood as a place of protection for the city from approaching enemies, but it was also utilized by shepherds to watch over the specific flocks from which sacrificial Passover lambs were taken. How much more important is that Precious Lamb was born there, the one that would take away the sins of the world, Our Savior.

The shepherds who were tending these particular flocks were no ordinary run of the mill shepherds. They were picked and specifically trained by the Rabbis for a holy task. They had to know what they were doing. They were just not ordinary, run of the mill, Sheppard. They had to be holy. They had to insure that every lamb, that they raised, was free of any blemish or injury, in order to be used for the Passover sacrifice. Great care was taken in the raising of this lambs. This was something the shepherds did not take lightly. Since they were instructed by the Rabbis, they, also, had to knew of the passages and the writings in the Targums (The Aramaic translations) and the Mishna associating the birth of the Messiah with "Migdal Edar". For example, Migdal Edar is translated in one of the Targums as "The Anointed One of the Flock of Israel." It is also written in the Mishna (this is a collection of oral laws compiled about 200 A.D. by Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi and forming the basic part of the Talmud) that "He spread his tent beyond Migdal Edar, the place where The Messiah will reveal Himself at the end of days."

Those shepherds had strong clues of Messiah's advent in the small town where they lived, so that when the angels appeared, to them, telling them of His arrival, they reacted right away and went to worship Him. They had to know something. We too have growing signs of His very soon Coming again for the second time. All we have to do is to read the scriptures and open our eyes. Are we also ready to react and respond to his coming? Are we ready to rejoice? Our readiness and wiliness to act in faith and worship will show how well we understand the signs of our own times. There is still so much work to be done, let us stay awake and keep our lamps trimmed (like the 10 wise virgins) and be inspired by the belief of His soon coming. Go tell it over the mountain, because, just like those shepherds of Bethlehem, we truly were born for such a time as this and we, as Christians must never forget this.

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