Mary "gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger..." (Luke 2:7) Of course, this baby's name is Jesus/Yeshua, a name given to Him by God, "because He will save His people from sins." (Matthew 1:21) God began to share the good news through an angel that was sent to shepherds. "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 cloths and lying in a manger.'" (Luke 2:8-12)
How could this baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger be a sign to shepherds? Michael Norten, author of the book, Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts, presents an interesting perspective that I believe is worth considering. Outside of the city of Bethlehem in Migdal Eder (Tower of the Flock) there is a two-story tower in the middle of a pasture. The remains of that tower were recently discovered. Micah 4:8 prophesied that Jesus would be announced at the Tower of the Flock. "As for you, O Watchtower of the Flock, O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem."
In his writing, The Birth - Revisited, author Harold Smith concurs with Michael Norton on the interpretation of Scriptures concerning the birth of Jesus and the visit from the shepherds. Smith explains the significance of Bethlehem and Temple worship. He says, "The hills around Bethlehem were home to the thousands of lambs used in ritual worship." Of Migdal Eder, he says, "This was the station where shepherds brought their flocks destined for sacrifices in the Temple...On the night in which Yeshua was born, the angelic message came to the priests of the Temple whose duties had been designated...to 'keeping watch over their flock'...During lambing season the sheep were brought to the tower from the fields, as the lower level functioned as the birthing room for sacrificial lambs...Once birthed, the priestly shepherds would routinely place two lambs in the double-hewn depression of a limestone rock known as 'the manger' and 'wrap the newborn lambs in swaddling cloths,' preventing them from thrashing about and harming themselves until they had calmed down so they could be inspected for the quality of being 'without spot or blemish.'"
Is it not fitting that "the Lamb of God," along with all the sacrificial lambs for the Temple, would be born in Bethlehem and be wrapped in "swaddling cloths and placed in a manger"? In this season, we must remember that Jesus/Yeshua came as the "Lamb of God without spot or blemish" and was destined to be sacrificed for us. When the shepherds returned from seeing the Christ child in Bethlehem, they glorified God and praised Him for all they had heard and seen. (Luke 2:20) Should we not do likewise?
Joan E. Mathias