God had been silent for 400 years. He had warned and explained through His prophets about what was to come, but very few listened.
And then the prophets were gone. No one heard a word from God. There was only silence. It was a loud kind of silence if that makes any sense. It was the kind of silence when one knows it is purposeful. God was purposefully silent. So all Israel could do was wait. Wait for the promised Messiah who would come and set everything right again.
Near the end of those 400-years of silence, the Jewish people found themselves oppressed not only by the heavy hand of the Roman government, but also by the self-indulgent hands of their own religious leaders.
All these things culminated into a dark time in Israel’s history.
But then, into that dark time came a great light. “A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:32.
And on that night, God broke His silence by sending an angel to announce the birth of His Son. Night became like day as the glory of the Lord filled the air. And then, as if that wasn’t spectacular enough, when the angel finished speaking a huge angelic choir appeared singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”
Can you fathom how amazing it all must have been? All that spectacular affair for a handful of dirty rough shepherds. On the holiest of nights, God did not choose to show His glory to kings, or religious leaders, or men of great importance. He chose to make the greatest birth announcement of all time that had gone before and of all time that was yet to come to simple, lowly shepherds.
Why shepherds? Why not great men and women?
I can’t help but smile as I mull over that question because in my heart it really does make perfect sense. All through out history, God seemed to have a special fondness of shepherds - Abraham, Moses, David - they were all shepherds who became great men of God. In fact, God referred to Himself as a shepherd.
And He had a very special tenderness toward sheep – His sheep. He was grieved over the fact that the shepherds who were supposed to be tending His flock, the kings and religious leaders, were behaving as hired hands instead of devoted shepherds. They were more concerned about their comforts and about their prestigious positions than they were about caring for God’s flock. Because of their behavior, the sheep were sick and scattered and it grieved the heart of God.
The truth is, the hearts of those shepherds in the field that night aligned more with the heart of God than did the hearts of the religious leaders. Those humble shepherds understood the value of the sheep. They were not concerned with their own comforts. Instead, they were fiercely protective over the sheep in their care. They were alert at all times to the dangers around the flock. And, if one sheep strayed, they would go looking for it no matter how dark the night or how dangerous the situation, and they would not stop until the lost sheep was found. They were humble, selfless, and passionate about what they did.
I can’t help but wonder, on that extraordinary night, if God just wanted to share what He was doing with men who had the capacity to understand the love and devotion that exists between a shepherd and his sheep; if He just wanted to share the intimacy of that night – one shepherd’s heart to another.
Have a great week!
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