Tuesday, December 13, 2016

26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet--Shepherds

Nativity Alphabet by Krista Hamrick

Krista Hamrick's beautiful original art print, Nativity Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 words in the Nativity Alphabet are so intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows. My heart has been drawn to write 26 Devotions Focusing on Christ in the Nativity Alphabet.

While pondering the word, “Shepherds,” I was inspired by listening to Chris Tomlin’s beautiful, Emmanuel—Hallowed Manger Ground…What hope we hold this starlit night, A King is born in Bethlehem, Our journey long, we seek the light that leads to the hallowed manger ground…The son of God, here born to bleed, A crown of thorns would pierce His brow and we beheld this offering, Exalted now the King of kings, Praise God for the hallowed manger ground, Emmanuel, Emmanuel, God incarnate, here to dwell, Emmanuel, Emmanuel, Praise His name Emmanuel.

Biblical scholars have a theory that Jesus was born in a manger at Migdal Eder, not in a cave behind a crowded inn. Migdal Eder is known as the “Tower of the Flock” located not far outside Bethlehem. Pastor Mark Spansel offers the theory on the birthplace of Jesus based on the writings of Alfred Edersheim (1825—1889), who was a Jewish convert to Christianity and a Biblical scholar known especially for his book, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.

Alfred Edersheim writes: “Jewish tradition may here prove both illustrative and helpful. That the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, was a settled conviction. Equally so, was the belief that He was to be revealed from Migdal Eder, ‘the tower of the flock.’ This Migdal Eder was not the watchtower for the ordinary flocks which pastured on the barren sheep ground beyond Bethlehem, but lay close to the town, on the road to Jerusalem. A passage in the Mishnah leads to the conclusion, that the flocks, which pastured there, were destined for Temple-sacrifices, and, accordingly, that the shepherds, who watched over them, were not ordinary shepherds. The latter were under the ban of Rabbinism, on account of their necessary isolation from religious ordinances, and their manner of life, which rendered strict legal observance unlikely, if not absolutely impossible. The same Mishnaic passage also leads us to infer, that these flocks lay out all the year round, since they are spoken of as in the fields thirty days before Passover–that is, in the month of February, when in Palestine [Israel] the average rainfall is nearly greatest. Thus, Jewish tradition in some dim manner apprehended the first revelation of the Messiah from that Migdal Eder, where shepherds watched the Temple-flocks all the year round. Of the deep symbolic significance of such a coincidence, it is needless to speak.”

Pastor Mark Spansel explains: “There was place just outside of Bethlehem city, but still within the region commonly known as Bethlehem, where Passover lambs were kept by specially trained and purified shepherds. The lambs were born in this “tower of the flock” known as Migdal Eder under the watchful eye of the shepherds who would then inspect and either certify them for use as sacrifices in the temple or designate them to be released for common use. The new lambs would, according to some sources, even be wrapped in special swaddling clothes once certified.”

The Biblical arguments for the theory of Migdal Eder cite the fact that the word translated “manger” in the Gospels could also be translated as “stall” or any holding area for animals — such as Migdal Eder. The Greek word which is translated in our English Bibles “manger” is Yatnh phat-ne. The definition of the word is of a “stall” where animals are kept and in Luke 13:15 is translated as such. In the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) the word means a stall or a crib (See Proverbs 14:4).

Proponents of the theory point to rabbinical writings and Micah 4:8: 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.

This theory places Jesus’ birth in the traditional location for Passover lambs to be born. Fitting, since He became the Passover Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. It explains how the shepherds knew where to go to find the newborn babe — and why it being wrapped in swaddling clothes would be significant clue. Finally, it explains why those shepherds were notified as it was their holy calling to certify Passover lambs upon birth. In this way, we see that Jesus was born away in a manger, in the “tower of the flock,” Migdal Eder, surrounded by holy shepherds, set apart to certify the birth of the ultimate Passover Lamb.

We may never know all the details involving these shepherds and the ultimate Passover Lamb who was born in that manger, but  Revelation 21:21-24 describes Jesus Christ as the Lamb who is the light of heaven. The twelve gates were made of pearls—each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass. No temple could be seen in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations of the earth will walk in its light, and the rulers of the world will come and bring their glory to it. Heaven will not need the sun or the moon for the Lamb will be the light. That light will produce new understanding, illuminating our hearts and minds in a way we could never know on earth. It will warm our spirits as we walk freely in the presence of God. The streets of gold will pale in comparison with the beauty of the light. In our earthly state we see only a glimmer, and yet it is enough to change our lives completely! The light of the Lamb draws you to a heavenly Father. It reveals your need for something and Someone greater than yourself, just as it did when the light blinded Paul physically but opened his spiritual eyes to the truth. It is that light that illuminates God’s Word and gives you wisdom that comes from above. It is the light that calls you by name and tells you that you are precious to the Savior. No one can withstand the unbridled light of God, but in heaven we will bask in it. Praise God for the light that guides us, but worship him for the Lamb that is the light!

Precious Lamb, I can’t imagine what it will be like to see that light fully for the first time and bask in the light of Your glory. Your light has changed my life, given me wisdom, and helped me find my way out of dark places. It has illuminated Your Word and comforted me and taught me. What will it be like one day to walk in a city where the Lamb is the light! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
Look Up—meditate on  Revelation 21:21-24 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on  Revelation 21:21-24 …pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on  Revelation 21:21-24 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – 
Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ


  1. Have a Merry Christmas, Beth! God bless you. :)

    1. Thank you, Cheryl. Praying that you and your sweet family have a very blessed Christmas, too! Many blessings dear friend ❤️

  2. I can't imagine what that glorious light must have been like to the eyes of those shepherds who would have seen nothing brighter than the light of their own camp fire. I don't want to be distracted by lesser lights, no matter how compelling or flashy they may be. Trusting that the "glory of the Lord" will shine round about you and yours throughout this season, Beth.

    1. Michele, oh, I so agree with you! May we always be in awe of the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace who came to us, to take our sin upon that Cross, to rise again in victory, that we would be saved. Praying God's hedge of protection and many Christmas blessings for your and yours!


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