Sunday, January 13, 2019

Swaddling Clothes

Having just finished Christmas and thinking about the story of the Savior's birth, we greeted the new year with the new program and new system of  Sabbath meetings.  For the 2nd SS class Robert and I were studying, again, about the birth.  Since there is little to cover 2 weeks, it becomes necessary to make our own study guides. We opted to separate the various people who made their way to greet the infant Messiah.  First up were the shepherds.  And this is what I found and posted here so I don't lose it:

And yes this comes from LDS sources:

Anciently, Jewish law proclaimed that only flocks designated for temple sacrifice could be raised near cities; Bethlehem being in close proximity to Jerusalem–the seat of Roman power and the Temple. Thus it was known to all that the firstborn male lambs from the area around Bethlehem,*  Beth Lechem in Hebrew means “House of Bread” and held no real significance until “He who would be known as the Bread of Life was born” (Ensign, December 2013, Come Let Us Adore Him,  commonly known as the City of David, were considered holy, and set aside for sacrifice in Jerusalem. (Even to this day in some parts of the Middle East this practice still exists.)
Generations of hereditary shepherds tended these sacred flocks, designated by Temple Priests from their youth and specifically trained for this royal task. It was an honor and a sacred duty. They were protectors and guardsmen of these special flocks and were willing to risk their lives for their sheep. 
They were taught and spiritually educated in what a sacrificial lamb must be like, and to make sure that these lambs were never injured, damaged or blemished. Such a shepherd was King David in his youth… on the very same hills.
In the spring, during lambing season, the bawling of sheep rang across the hillsides and fields of Bethlehem. The newborn lambs were brought to the Tower of the Flock–a large stone tower in Shepherd’s Field anciently referred to as Migdal Eder–where a ceremonially cleansing of the new lambs took place in a specified birthing room. 
These shepherds, under special rabbinical care, would routinely place the newborn lambs in a hewn out depression in a limestone rock known as “the manger” and wrap them in swaddling bands (strips of gauze-like cloth) to prevent them from thrashing about and harming themselves. Once they had calmed down they could be inspected to see if they qualified for temple sacrifice … “without spot or blemish” (see The Jewish Oral Tradition & Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah).
“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered, And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:6-7).
A Type and Shadow or the Last Resort?
There are scholars of ancient scripture who believe that Joseph and Mary were directed by heavenly angels to the Tower of the Flock–Midgal Eder– for the birth of Jesus, the Lamb of God, the ultimate sacrifice!   
And that the newborn Jesus was ceremonially cleansed and swaddled with the same bands used on the tamyid lambs brought there for inspection before sacrifice, and laid in the hewn out limestone called “the manger.” Thus when the angel pronounced to the shepherds “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” there was no need for the angel to give these shepherds directions to the birth place because they already knew! (Luke 2:12)
Whether Joseph and Mary ended up at Midgal Eder, having been led there by Holy angels in symbolic testament of things to come, or whether they ended up in an animal stable as a means of desperation or last resort, we will not know until those details of Christ’s birth are revealed.   

There are two kinds of shepherds, one you hire, a hirling, and the one who is a shepherd, who lives with the sheep and makes them part of his life. The shepherd is the actual owner of the sheep. The relationship between the shepherd and the sheep is intimate, in that the shepherd names all the sheep. He calls them by name, and they come at the sound of his voice.

The sheep pens of old often had no actual gate on the pen. The shepherd slept across the doorway, making him the gate by which anyone would have to pass to get access to his sheep. The pens were often built with high walls lined on top with thorns for further protection. If something or someone did vault the walls and get in, the shepherd would put himself between the intruder and the sheep to protect the frightened animals. His body was used as the shield to protect them. The bond between the sheep and their shepherd was so complete that several flocks could sleep together in the same pen, but when the shepherds called to their sheep in the morning, the sheep would sort themselves into their respective flocks and would only follow their shepherd. They would not listen to the voice of a strange shepherd.

As the Lord’s covenant people (members of Christ’s church), he treats us as his sheep. He also expects us to act towards others in our callings like under shepherds to the good shepherd – Christ. In Ezekiel 34:11 – 16 (I recommend you read these beautiful verses) the Lord talks about what he will do for his sheep. He uses the following verbs to demonstrate what he will do: search, seek, deliver, gather, feed, bind up, and strengthen. In each of these verses he demonstrates how he will search out his lost sheep, how he will deliver them from the wild beasts, etc.

The Lord expects us to be binding up the wounded hearts, seeking for the lost souls, feeding those in our charge with love, doctrine, and care. He expects us to protect those for whom we have been given charge from those who would harm them. That means both inside and outside the Church organization. This also means that we need to get to know each person in our classroom, each person in our family, those in our assigned responsibilities, and become their most ardent defenders, their patrons, their caretakers, their leaders.
Being a shepherd is a position of responsibility. The Lord will hold each of us responsible for the exercise of our duties in caring for his sheep. These sheep may be our brothers and sisters, but the Lord has called us to each be watchful over each other. Getting back to our God is supposed to be a family effort, a community effort, a Church-wide effort. None of us can do this alone. We need each other. We need to defend each other, protect each other, feed each other, and strengthen each other. This is what makes us true shepherds in Israel.

1 comment:

Lin Floyd said...

Interesting information, seems there no lack to what you can study and gain...

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