I posted this a few years ago but felt it was a great reminder once again. We’re in the Christmas season and what could be more appropriate than the Holy Spirit revealing something interesting about Jesus? You are probably familiar with the Christmas story in Luke 2. You remember how the shepherds were watching their flocks and an angel appeared telling them of the good news of Jesus birth. Then the angel said in verse 12, “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Notice the word “sign”. Have you wondered why the idea of Jesus being wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger would be a sign?
Have you heard of Migdal Eder, the Tower of the Flock? Probably not.
First some background…From Micah 5:2 we know that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem Ephratah. The word Bethlehem means, “house of bread” and the word Ephratah means “fruitfulness.” When we think of fruit in Israel, we think of grapevines. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” and “I am the vine.” The very place Jesus was born represented communion, the bread and the wine.
From Micah 4:8 Jesus is announced at the “Tower of the Flock,” Migdal Eder. This was a two story tower located in a field in Bethlehem Ephratah. Archaeologists have found the remains of this structure. It was built of rocks piled two stories high and it was from the windows on the second story that shepherds watched over the flocks.
An interesting fact is that the shepherds who worked in the fields were not the lowly shepherds we usually think of. Actually, they were shepherd priests, priests from the temple where sacrifices took place. The tower, called Migdal Eder, was the location for birthing sacrificial lambs. Priests were involved to be sure the lambs were unblemished. So, while shepherds watched over the flock from the second story of the tower, shepherd priests would bring the pregnant sheep to the lower level to deliver the lambs.
As soon as a lamb was born, it was swaddled, wrapped in strips of cloth made from priestly undergarments in order to keep the lamb unblemished. Then the lamb was placed in a manger so it wouldn’t be trampled.
“And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
When the shepherd priests heard the angel’s announcement while they were watching over the flock and then went into Bethlehem and saw baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths lying in a manger, they must have exclaimed, “This is the lamb of God, unblemished, prepared for sacrifice. This is Christ, our Messiah, our Savior!” These shepherd priests were the only ones who would understand the sign. It was a word from God through angels to them alone.
Further, is it possible that Jesus swaddling cloths were from the same source as the lamb’s cloths? Were they from a priest? Remember, Zechariah? He was Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth’s, husband and John the Baptist’s father. He was likely the priest on duty whose clothes may have been used to wrap baby Jesus. This would mean that Jesus, our High Priest, first clothes were those of a priest!
Jesus is our High Priest and I love what Hebrews 4:15, 16 says of Him. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
So, as you celebrate the birth of Jesus this Christmas, remember the revealed background of this babe in a manger.
(“Unlocking the Secrets of the Feasts,” by Michael Norton. It should be noted that the above information has been documented by Messianic Rabbi’s and archeological findings.)