Wise men - Public Domain
While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around
And glory shone around
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night
Traditional, Written By: Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brody
Music By: George Frederick Handel,
Christmas is called the season of miracles. Yet the true miracle of Christmas is mostly ignored. In fact, many of the validating miraculous events that surround the birth of the Christ Child are treated like misguided oral myths, which have wandered far from the truth through years of retelling.
To understand these recorded events and believe them as integral parts of the overall story are really essential for the Christian believer to grasp his or her part in the retelling and celebration. Despite the corporate celebration of this time of year which covers many cultures, traditions, and marketing plans, there is a core of people who might be involved in the former but devotes a greater energy to celebrating, spreading, and explaining the significance of this wondrous event.
Miraculous? Is this a Creation, survival of Noah, crossing of the Red Sea, or feeding of the Five Thousand type of miracle? No, the virgin birth is miracle up and above all of those. It is this miracle by which the Creator became part of His creation for the purpose of providing a connection between the God who created man and that man who turned away from this tremendous love.
The enemies of the true event of Christmas, the celebration of Christmas, the Christ Child of Christmas, and God will call into question any part of any of these so as to create doubt about the reality of Christmas. They will scoff about the Virgin birth. The record of this event is said to be dubious history because of the so-called unreliable source from which it comes, the Bible. Tying the Christ Mass of the early Roman Catholic Church to the winter solstice or some Roman celebration calls into question when we celebrate. Besides, no one seems to have the copy of the Bethlehem Gazette where the birth announcement surely is found.
Zola Levitt wrote a book about the Feasts of Israel. It is a small book explaining these feasts and how they relate to the life of Jesus Christ, the New Testament record, and the Church. Toward the end, he relates a story of how he was asked to write a book about childbirth from a Biblical perspective. Knowing that the length of days from Passover to Chanukah was 280 and that an ideal pregnancy length was also 280 days, he researched to see if “there must be something very biblical indeed about the pregnancy term.” Levitt, Zola. The Seven Feasts of Israel. Dallas: Zola Levitt, 1979.
He found a direct corollary between the Feasts and the birth cycle. Needless to say, a direct quote of his findings would be too lengthy to record in this article. But, to point out the use of the egg in the Passover to signify new life, and then compare this to the event of ovulation, which begins the birth cycle, is a tremendous starting point in helping to prove that Jesus was born during the winter in Bethlehem. This then leads through fertilization, implantation, the forming of the fetus, and continues through to when the child was born.
Chanukah is the festival that celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is found in John 10:22 where Jesus celebrated this festival. This happened in the winter.
So from the conception of Mary (at Passover) to the birth of Jesus the Christ (at Chanukah) is a total of 280 days from ovulation to birth. By the way, Chanukah can be seen as the celebration of birth. It was a new beginning.
Finally, let’s go talk to those shepherds who watched their flocks by night. The angelic host must have seen them as playing a significant role in the birth of Jesus. Critics have written that this could not have been in the winter. The shepherds would not have been watching their flock at this time. It wasn’t the spring of the year. New birthing lambs would not be arriving in their very fragile condition. Therefore, we are celebrating the birth of our Lord at the wrong time. It should be in the spring, they say. What else do we get wrong about this Jesus, they ask.
There is an answer to these charges. This answer come from reading the birth account through the culture eyes of a Hebrew. Outside of Bethlehem was the Migdal Eder. This was “the tower of the flock.” This was the watchtower for the special flocks that would be used for Temple sacrifice. These were the Passover lambs. It was a common belief that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and be “revealed from the Migdal Eder.” Zimmerman, Martha. Celebrating Biblical Feasts. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: BethanyHouse, 2004.
Jesus was born in the shadow of this watchtower. Most likely, these were the shepherds of this special sacrificial flock who were told of the birth of the Christ Child. This was the child who would grow up to be the sacrificial Lamb for the world who still tries to reject Him.
Is the 25th of December the birthday of Jesus? No one can be sure. It is not something that would or should be considered heresy, or nonsense. But, the connection between the birth of God’s Lamb and the death of the Savior for the sins of the world does not seem to be one by accident.
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.