12-23-20 Midweek Musings

An interesting concept, but not without some difficulties, as also may be true with our understanding of some details of Luke’s narrative of the birth of Christ.

MIGDAL EDER – THE TOWER OF THE FLOCK

One of the most powerful statements in the biblical narratives on the birth of Christ is the proclamation made by the angel to shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem.

“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 Saviour, 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.” (Luke 2:10-12)

It was a first declaration of the euangelion, the Good News of the redemptive Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is remarkable to see that this first declaration made to Israelites outside the immediate family of Jesus was not given to the religious or political rulers of Israel but to shepherds keeping their flocks.

The shepherds’ fields outside Bethlehem, to this day, play a central role in the Christmas celebrations in the Holy Land. Countless tourists have visited the fields between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The church historian Eusebius linked these fields to a unique biblical location called Migdal Eder, which translated means the “tower of the flock”.

The first time Migdal Eder is mentioned in the Bible is in the account of Rachel, who died after giving birth to Benjamin, the youngest son of Jacob. “Then Israel journeyed and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder”, records Genesis 35:21.

This area on the outskirts of Bethlehem is also mentioned in the Talmudic writings. According to the Talmud, all cattle found in the area surrounding Jerusalem “as far as Migdal Eder” were deemed to be holy and consecrated and could only be used for sacrifices in the Temple, in particular for the peace and Passover sacrifices. There was thus a special, consecrated circle around the city of Jerusalem.

This means the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem who first heard the Good News from the angels were not ordinary shepherds but served the sacrificial system of the Temple. These men served the Mosaic covenant, a foreshadowing of the new covenant. And these men were now confronted with the reality of the eternal light to which their ministry had been pointing all these centuries. It was declaring a new era of salvation!

The Hebrew prophet Micah also refers to Migdal Eder. “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)

Based on that prophecy, prominent Jewish writers concluded in the Midrash that from all of the places in Israel, it would be the Migdal Eder where the arrival of the Messiah would be declared first.

That means when the angels appeared that night to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem, it was not just a declaration of the Good News to simple shepherds. It was a powerful prophetic sign to all of Israel. The news of that night must have spread like wildfire through the surrounding villages.

Luke records: “Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” (Luke 2:17-18)

What does this all mean for us?

1)  First, it is always beneficial for the Church to see that Jesus did not arrive into a vacuum, but was born into an entirely Jewish context. When Christ came in the flesh, he was born first-and-foremost to the Jewish people but would then also bring his favour and good pleasure to all men. Even though the celebration of Christ’s birth has become a feast marked almost exclusively by the gentile Church, it is important for us to see it in its historic and biblical context – as a message intended to give hope to Israel. As Zacharias prophesies at the birth of John the Baptist, this all happened to “perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham…” (Luke 1:72f).

2)  Second, already from the moment Jesus entered the world the ultimate reason for his arrival was alluded to. These were the shepherds who took care of the sheep and cattle offered in the Temple – in particular the Passover sacrifices. And it was they who were confronted with the announcement that the ultimate sacrifice, which would carry away not only the sins of Israel but of the whole world, was born. Just thirty three years later, no further sacrifice was to be needed, as all those who believe in him have been “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

3)  The angelic announcement gave these simple shepherds a profound revelation of who this Messiah would be. He was proclaimed to be both King (born in the city of David) and Priest. That he was both Christ and Lord, the son of man but also the son of God. He would be the saviour of humanity but also the shepherd of all those who would follow his voice.

It was truly good news which the angels proclaimed that night long ago. But as with the shepherds, the mere knowledge of this news is not enough. They needed to act upon it and they did. They went personally to see that child and then proclaimed his birth wherever they could.

Let us follow the example of the shepherds of Bethlehem and rededicate our lives afresh to that great saviour who was born in Bethlehem. He is the shepherd of our souls (1 Peter 2:25) who died for our sins and who redeems us to reign and rule with him for eternity! This is Good News indeed!

*https://int.icej.org/news/commentary/tower-flock

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cthulhu

Very interesting, carl — has the site of Migdal Eder been established by archeology?

kinthenorthwest

December 23, 1981 39 years ago today Ronald Reagan said in his Christmas Speech to the America
“Christmas means so much because of one special child” and that many “of us believe in the divinity of the child born in Bethlehem, that he was and is the promised Prince of Peace”

When Love Came Down by Point of Grace
Close your eyes and share the dream
That everyone on Earth believe
A Child was born the stars shown bright
And love came down at Christmas time
And love came down at Christmas time…
Christmas Eve 2 a.m. heavy snow is falling down
And the streets clothed in white
Echo songs
That were sung by candle light.

The Christmas Wish – by the Rovers
For I have held the precious gift that love brings
Even though I’ve never saw a Christmas star
But I know there is a light, I have felt it burn inside
And I can see it shining from afar
Christmas is a time to come together, a time to put all differences aside
And I reach out my hand to the family of man
To share the joy I feel at Christmas time
For the truth that binds us all together,
I would like to say a simple prayer
That at this special time, you will have true peace of mind
And love to last throughout the coming year

Thank You Bak for your wonderful CHRISTmas story!  
Pray that you all enjoyed! Merry CHRISTmas!!

Last edited 7 months ago by kinthenorthwest
Coldeadhands

Thank you BC…Blessed Christmas to us all.

EllieLA

Thank you Bakocarl, that was wonderful! Merry Christmas and God Bless you!

smiley2

Thank You, bakocarl, for your very clear and accurate explanation of the Birth of Jesus Christ : the Migdal Eder , the shepherds, the Temple, and Israel

…and the profound , prophetic importance of every aspect …historically, Scripturally, and for such a time as this.

we Gentile believers have been grafted in…during this Time of The Gentiles, or The Age of Grace.

…. until The Time of the Gentiles has been fulfilled, and The Age of Grace closes…

and then the focus will shift back to Israel and The Time of Jacob’s Trouble…..

we should be watching ….

…and ready.

smiley2

comment image

smiley2

comment image

The Shepherds and The Angel

oil on copper

1879

Carl H.Bloch (Denmark)

churchmouse

Thank you, Smiley. I’m always looking for unusual paintings for my own site’s Christmas posts.

This one fits the bill perfectly.

May God continue to bless you and yours, especially at Christmas! Have a wonderful day tomorrow.

smiley2

very kind, churchmouse…and thank you for the Christmas wishes.

A Very Merry Christmas to you and yours, and a Happy, Safe and Bessed New Year to you, as well.

churchmouse

Thank you very much, Smiley!

smiley2

the shepherd (lower left corner) who is so completely overwhelmed and awestruck that he literally falls on his face, I find very poignant in this painting…in fact, I get choked up looking at him, empathizing with what he must be experiencing at that moment.

churchmouse

Yes, I felt the same way looking at him. What was going through his mind? How did that change his life?

There’s a lot to contemplate in that painting.

churchmouse

Will be posting this tonight my time (Sunday, Dec. 27).

Thanks again!

smiley2

you are very welcome, churchmouse.

GA/FL

In 1978, we went to Israel for a 10 day tour of all the major Biblical sites. The first night we landed after dark and were taken to the King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

When we woke the next morning, it was to the sound of sheep baa-ing and shepherds calling them. When we went to our window, there was a hillside pastoral scene of Biblical times, just like on those paper church fans of my childhood and we felt transported back in time to King David’s and Jesus’ day.

It was a wonderful trip – visiting Biblical sites and those significant to Israel – Masada, Golan Heights, the Shrine of the Book and saw the ancient scrolls that held the prophecies of Isaiah. We went to the Dead Sea, ate St. Peter’s fish at the Sea of Galilee; we visited a kibbutz. We went to Bethlehem, to the Jordan river, and to the ancient olive grove in the Garden of Gethsemane.

We visited the Church of the Rock on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus spent His last night before being betrayed, declaring Himself to be The I AM so powerfully that the soldiers fell down (John, chapter 18), and surrendered Himself to be captured and sacrificed.

As the Bible tells us – Jesus is indeed the Divine Gift, Priest, King, Sacrifice and Risen Eternal Redeemer, LORD…and GOD is Father, Husband…and the Holy Spirit our Teacher, Guide, Light.

Last edited 7 months ago by GA/FL
TradeBait2

All I can say is thank you, Bakocarl, and all others who have posted this AM. Looking forward to our time together with the Lord in Heaven.

RF121
Valerie Curren

You might want to put this on the regular daily so more people will see it & with a brief description to whet the appetite. God Bless & Merry Christmas 🙂

churchmouse

Carl, thank you very much for your Midweek Musings.

This one in particular was most educational.

I hope that you and your family have a blessed Christmas.

[…] painting was posted in the comments to an excellent post elsewhere about a place called Migdal Eder, which translates to ‘tower of the […]