Pinpointing Messiah’s Nativity
Today’s Text: Micah 4:8
The temple shepherds who first heard the announcement of the Savior’s birth would have been aware of the prophecy of Micah. Not only confirmation of Messiah’s connection to the Davidic Covenant, it also pinpoints the location of His birth in the environs of Bethlehem.
After they heard the Good News, the shepherds immediately responded:
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
How did they know where to go?
THE ANCIENT PROPHECIES
Used annually as a recitation or responsive reading for Christmas Eve programs throughout my childhood, people of faith well know Micah’s prophecy identifying the city of Messiah’s birth:
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).
In the broader context of this particular prophecy, is one less familiar that pinpoints the location of the birthplace of Messiah. Micah states,
“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” (Micah 4:8).
Although an often overlooked passage, here, Micah discloses that Messiah—who fulfills the Davidic Covenant (the former dominion)—“was to be revealed from Migdal Eder; the tower of the flock”. (1)
Biblical historian, Alfred Edersheim, suggests Migdal Eder— located on the northern outskirts of Bethlehem—was a watchtower used for the protection of temple flocks! (2)
Although the precise location is unknown, some scholars believe Migdal Eder was a short distance from the main road linking Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Today, it is called the “Old Hebron Road” entering Bethlehem from the northeast.
THE NEW TESTAMENT NARRATIVE
On the night of the Nativity, the sky burst into blinding light on the fields near Bethlehem and the angel announced to the shepherds:
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” (Lk. 2:10-12).
While, there is no indication of angelic GPS or even verbal directions to guide the shepherds to the manger, there is also no mention of confusion or frantic discussion concerning an extensive search for the baby.
The narrative candidly asserts, “And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger” (Lk. 2:16).
The location of the closest manger was likely Migdal Eder at the edge of the fields where these shepherds were watching their sheep—the very location Micah prophesied that Messiah would be revealed!
With the city of Bethlehem crawling with people, customary guestrooms filled to capacity and Mary’s delivery close at hand, the Tower of the Flock that she and Joseph had passed entering Bethlehem may have been their only hope for shelter and seclusion. It is plausible this was the first place the shepherds would look after receiving the Good News.
The shepherds immediately grasped the implications of the angel’s announcement. They knew Messiah had to be a descendant of King David in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant. Mary and Joseph’s presence in Bethlehem as a result of the census imposed by Caesar Augustus confirmed His lineage (Lk. 2:4).
The shepherds knew the sign Isaiah had given to identify the promised Messiah. No doubt, Mary and Joseph confirmed the sign by informing the shepherds about Gabriel’s announcement to Mary nine months earlier.
Expectantly awaiting fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy, the temple shepherds would have been informed about the foretold location of Messiah’s birth. From all indications, they knew where to find Him. This can be inferred by their response to the angel’s announcement:
“the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us’” (v. 15).
After finding Mary, Joseph and the infant lying in a feeding trough we are told,
“Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child” (vv. 17-18).
The shepherds’ actions demonstrate that they understood the significance of the circumstances.
• The newborn infant that the shepherds discovered was a descendant of King David.
• The newborn infant was born of a virgin.
• The newborn infant was born in the environs of Bethlehem.
• The newborn infant was God Incarnate—the promised Messiah!
God entrusted these shepherds with the incredible announcement that prophecy had been fulfilled. Messiah was born in the very location pinpointed by the prophet Micah. And, the shepherds told everyone they met!
After more than two millennia, we, who grasp the significance of the Nativity, should also be eager to share that life-changing message with the world. The best response to the Good News is still to tell everyone you know!
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.
© Charles E. McCracken 2016, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author via Contact Form under ABOUT. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1) Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah, (Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.), 131.
1) Watchtower, Shepherd’s Fields, Bethlehem (circa. 1934).
2) Bethlehem Vineyard Watchtower.
3) Stone Manger at Tekoa, Judea-Samaria. By Todd Bolen. Courtesy, BiblePlaces.com – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
4) Watchtower in the Judean Hills. By Todd Bolen. Courtesy, BiblePlaces.com – Enhancement: MKM Portfolios
Categories: RECLAIMING CHRISTMAS