Why a manger?

At this wonderful time of the year, when everything gets crazy with holiday gift giving, meal preparations, visiting friends and family, I would like everyone to just take a deep breath and let’s consider Jesus. We read in:

Luke 2:7… and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son; and she wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Have you ever stopped to consider why God allowed His only Son to be born in a lowly manger? Could not an omniscient, loving, all-powerful God have arranged a room at the inn? Or even better, could he not arrange for Jesus to be born in a palace with midwives, servants and clean water? Can you imagine bringing your wife into an animal stall to give birth, in the dark, without help? Rest assured, the Author of all creation did not fall asleep at the wheel and overlook the hardship that this was to the parents. This choice was deliberate with a clear purpose. Allow me to biblically explain…

Micah prophesied in Micah 5:2… But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.

God arranged for Joseph and Mary to be in Bethlehem in response to the Roman census. But why Bethlehem?

And, why was the angelic message brought to shepherds… and not to kings and rulers? Then we read in Micah 4:8… As for you, tower of the flock, Hill of the daughter of Zion, To you it will come— Even the former dominion will come, The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.

The tower was Migdal Eder, it was a watchtower in the northern part of Bethlehem built to protect the Temple flocks. During lambing season the sheep were brought there from the fields, as the lower level functioned as the birthing room for the sacrificial lambs. Priestly shepherds would wrap the newborn lambs in swaddling clothes and place them in a manger until they calmed down, to keep them without defect, suitable to be sacrificial lambs for the sin of the Israelites.

Bethlehem was special because the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem raised lambs for the Jewish Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem.

The shepherds who heard the angelic choir and came to see the baby Jesus were certainly familiar with the technique to birth a sacrificial lamb, and were likely puzzled by why a baby was birthed in the manner and location of a sacrificial lamb.

In fact the angels did not have to tell the shepherds precisely where to go in Bethlehem to find Jesus, because there was only one manger where sacrificial lambs were birthed, the cave under the watch tower of Migdal Edar.

With hindsight we clearly see that the manner of Jesus’ birth foreshadowed the purpose for Jesus coming into the world:
John 1:29… The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

1 Peter 1:18-20… For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

Before Jesus had taken his first breath, God had decided that His life was to be given as a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins. God testified to His intent by having Jesus be born in the manner and location of the sacrificial lambs of the Temple just as the prophet Micah proclaimed. INCREDIBLE!