|Today’s Scripture: And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Luke 2:12|
|The angels pronounced the birth of the Savior to the shepherds. They offered a sign to the shepherds to help them find the babe. The sign was, “Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” If this was to be a sign, it had to be significant. When we hear of swaddling clothes, we think of our current meaning of swaddling, to hold a baby close to restrain movement. Also, we think of a manger as a dirty, feeding trough for animals. However, these are both incorrect.
Due to recent archeological evidence in Israel, we now know what these signs pointed to. If swaddling clothes were a common practice after the birth of a child, how would this be a sign? Would they have to knock on every door in Bethlehem to ask if a child was born? If a manger were a feeding trough for stable animals, it wouldn’t be any different. They would have to go around and ask everyone if they knew where the baby was born. It would have been no different than if the angels had left after they announced that he was born in the city of David. Instead, they pointed the shepherds exactly to where the baby was born.
These signs pointed the shepherds to the Tower of the Flock. The Tower of the Flock was on the outskirts of Bethlehem and overlooked the fields in which the Levitical shepherds kept their flocks for the Temple. When a sheep was about to give birth, it was taken to the tower. The newborn lambs were placed in a manger, a clean stone bed, to be examined with swaddling clothes, white linens which would be used to find any blemishes. Because the sacrifices had to be without spot or blemish, much care was taken to make sure that the lambs were free of any infirmities.
There was only one place in Bethlehem that had a manger and swaddling clothes-the Tower of the Flock. The shepherds immediately recognized the signs as they were implements that they were familiar with. They would have no problem finding the babe since they knew exactly where He was.
How incredible is it that the “Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) was born in the exact place that the sacrificial lambs for the Temple were born? Just as the Temple lambs had to be spotless, so He had to be without fault to take our sin upon Him. Christ was indeed the perfect Lamb of God given to us.
Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder