February 19: Today our band of merry adventurers went to Bethlehem to get glimpse at Jesus’s birthplace. We went first to the Shepherd’s fields outside the city limits. On the night of Jesus’s birth, Angels appeared to the Shepherds announcing that a child was born. They revealed, “this shall be a sign to you. You will see a baby lying in a manger wrapped in ‘swaddling clothes.’” (Luke 2:12)
These shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem weren’t your normal shepherds. They didn’t wander all over the countryside with a flock of sheep that could fall off a cliff or injure themselves going down a hillside. They had been chosen and trained to breed the sheep that were to be used as sacrificial lambs in the Temple. Sacrificial lambs had to be “spotless and without blemish.” They required special treatment and tender loving care. When the mother ewe was preparing to give birth, she was taken to a special birth place in a manger or cave. The newborn lamb was immediately wrapped in clean swaddling cloths to protect them and keep them from defiling themselves in any way.
When the declaration was made to these Levitical Shepherds that a savior had been born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, they immediately went to the city to ‘see this thing that has come to pass.’ And these special Shepherds came immediately to a manger very similar to where their own sacrificial sheep would have been wrapped in the same swaddling clothes. Would they have known the verses in Isaiah 53:7? “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter…” or in Genesis 22:7 when Abraham said to Isaac, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering…”
Tomorrow, the plan is to visit the Holocaust Museum and then slowly start winding down our adventure as people will begin preparing to head to the airport. Thank you everyone for your prayers, and support as we’ve been gone. Many of us wouldn’t have been able to do this without our loved ones at home. Until tomorrow.