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Who were the Shepherds Tending their Flocks?

When I was a child I couldn’t wait to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. The best part is when Linus declared that he can tell Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about and then wrapped his blanket about his head and stepped out onto the stage to speak these words:

Luke 2:8-12 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. (9) And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. (10) And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (12) And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

The scene is heartwarming and certainly the focus is on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but today I want to look at the reason the angel came to the shepherds in the first place. I have no doubt that you have heard many sermons on how the shepherds were the lowest of the low during this period of history. That God goes to those that are downtrodden, etc, which is true– shepherds at this time were the poorest class of people. They were so poor that many had long ago sold their lands just to get by and paid to graze their sheep, but that only scratches the surface of what the scripture is telling us.

Christ is the chief shepherd and will be returning with a rod of iron. Before leaving, He said to Peter in the 21st chapter of John, “Feed my Sheep,” documenting to us that God not only uses shepherds as an analogy for those that look over the people, but that He has shepherds to this day. This is much like when David left the flock with a caregiver, when his father sent him to see about his brothers, and he found them all cowering on a hill as Goliath defied the armies of the Living God.

This isn’t only New Testament stuff:

Numbers 27:15-20 And Moses spake unto the LORD, saying, (16) Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, (17) Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd. (18) And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him; (19) And set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight. (20) And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient.

The job of the shepherd is to keep the children from falling into sin. Alas, we know that, by in large, they did not do their job.

Zechariah 10:2 For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.

God isn’t happy with shepherds that don’t do their job. It is why judgment begins at the pulpit.

Zechariah 11:17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

But the angel came not to idol shepherds; he came to those few shepherds that were tending to their flocks. Symbolically this is the remnant. Which were not at the temple in Jerusalem, but out in the fields working, much like John the Baptist would be doing in just a few short years.

Romans 11:1-5 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. (2) God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, (3) Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. (4) But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. (5) Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Now comes the question: why at night? Is it because we can see stars at night? Sure, but really it is because, before Christ came, the world was in darkness and they were still standing in the shadow of the law.

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

Christ came to those that were waiting for Him, even when they couldn’t see everything. and even if they didn’t understand everything. The same will be true on His second advent, for He will come like a thief in the night.

Matthew 25:31-34 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: (32) And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: (33) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (34) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Remember that Christ is inside of us, and while He is away, it is our job to be the light of the world.

Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Those shepherds, to whom the angel came, didn’t have the light of the world yet, but you do, so shine that light. Shine that light, and not just during this holiday season, but everyday. For, this world is a dark place, but putting the light of Christ out for all to see will not only warm your heart, it will help others to find the way.

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