The Christmas Lamb
By Keith W. Wassung
The Holy Bible gives numerous prophecies concerning the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. They include that he would be born of the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, from the tribe of Judah, house of David, born of a virgin in the small town of Bethlehem. There is also some evidence that the Holy Bible prophesizes the exact place in Bethlehem where the messiah would be born.
Joseph and his expectant wife Mary were making the trip to Bethlehem in compliance with the decree of Caesar Augustus that all of the world should return to their tribal villages and be taxed or registered. This would have been a difficult journey of more than 70 miles through mountainous terrain-a particularly rough journey for Mary who was on the verge of labor and delivery. They arrived in Bethlehem only to discover that all of the inns were full, likely with travelers who had made a similar pilgrimage. We traditionally think of Joseph and Mary spending the night in a stable behind an inn, and maybe they did although there is no mention of a stable anywhere in the Bible. I believe that there is solid Biblical evidence that Jesus was born at a place called Midgal Eder located on the northern fringe of Bethlehem and about two miles south of Jerusalem.
Migdal Eder was first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 35:21. Jacob and his wife Rachel were traveling from Bethel when Rachel went into labor and bore a son, Benjamin. She died as a result of giving birth. Jacob buried Rachel and placed a marker on her grave. This site became famous among the people of Israel. Migdal Eder literally means, ?tower of the flock?. The fields surrounding this site were the place in ancient Israel where rabbinical shepherds raised special lambs for sacrifice at the nearby temple. These lambs had to be without blemish and not a single bone in their body could be broken. The tower was a watchtower where the shepherds could be on the lookout for thieves or wild animals that might cause any kind of harm to the sheep.
In an often overlooked prophetic text, Micah wrote ? And thou O tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it [He] come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem?. (Micah 4:8)
According to the prophet Micah, Migdal Eder is the place to which the ?first dominion? (that is, the manifestation of the divine presence of God) would come. Micah not only places the birth of Christ in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) but appears to pinpoint the location within Bethlehem as Migdal Eder. When John the Baptist saw Jesus approaching he boldly proclaimed ? Behold the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world? (John 1:29)
What more appropriate place for Jesus to be born than at the very spot where lambs were bred and raised for sacrifice. The Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, the one who fashioned man from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life-was dwelling in the very midst of His creation as one of them. Approximately thirty-three years later, on the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, the very day of Passover when the lambs were sacrificed, Jesus, as the Lamb of God, would offer Himself as a sacrifice for the sin of the entire world. Just like the lambs, he was without blemish (sin) and not a single bone in his body was broken.
It would have been natural for Joseph, unable to find a room at any of the inns in Bethlehem, and with Mary ready to give birth, to have re-traced his steps to the shelter at Migdal Eder, which they had likely passed a short while earlier as they were entering Bethlehem. It would serve as the birthplace of the Son of God. The manger, in which the newborn Christ was laid, might have been the same manager that was used for the birthing of these special lambs.
?And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. 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. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.? (Luke 2:8-12)
These were not ordinary shepherds, but special rabbinical shepherds who cared for the sacrificial lambs. The only information that the angel gave to them was that the baby would be wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. The angel did not give them a specific location because they knew exactly where to look-in the shelter at their own watchtower (Migdal Eder)
The bible says that they rushed to find the baby Jesus and when they found him, they worshipped him and then left to share the good news with others. The shepherds properly understood that this was the fulfillment of the promise given by God more than seven hundred years earlier. ?Hear ye now O house of David?..the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel? ( Isaiah 713-14).
The Christmas Lamb that was born that day would be the last lamb that ever needed to be sacrificed. Moments before taking his final breath on the cross, Jesus said ?It is finished? The entire work of redemption had been brought to completion and the sins of mankind had been paid in full.