In Luke 2:7 we are told concerning the birth of Jesus, the Messiah… Emmanuel- God with us… And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
This is fascinating to me. 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? Why was the Creator delivered into this world at a farm stable? And why Bethlehem? This was a small village- nothing of significance about this place… or so it would at first appear… so let’s see what the Bible says about those questions.
In Micah 5:2 we are told prophetically: 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.” So God told us that Baby Jesus was going to be born in Bethlehem… so God puts it in Caesar Augustus heart to take a census… Having Joseph and Mary travelling from Nazareth in the Galilee to Bethlehem, thus bringing about the fulfillment of Micah 5:2… but why Bethlehem?
Interestingly, Bethlehem’s shepherds were known for caring for the temple flock. These men may well have protected and cared for the lambs used in temple sacrifice.
The Prophet Micah further prophesied that Kingship would come to the “Daughter of Jerusalem” at Migdal Eder in Micah 4:8… stating… “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.”
Theologians and Scholars interpret Micah 4:8 as a prophecy indicating that the Messiah would be revealed from the “tower of the flock” (Migdal Eder) which is connected with the town of Bethlehem, southeast of Jerusalem.
Migdal Eder was a watchtower in Bethlehem built to protect the Temple flocks- we first hear mention of this place in Genesis 35:21- Jacob spent time there.
During lambing season… the sheep were brought there from the fields, as the lower level functioned as the birthing room for 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…. During the time of the Temple sacrifices.
Bethlehem was special because the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem raised lambs for the Jewish temple sacrifices in Jerusalem.
So why the manger?
The manger was where the sacrificial lamb would begin its journey. 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… and He would begin His journey, just as the lambs began their journey.
God testified to His intent for the permanent forgiveness of sins… and the re-establishment of relationship with humanity… by having Jesus be born in the manner and location of the sacrificial lambs of the temple just as the prophet Micah proclaimed.
So, at this wonderful time of the year… remember the greatest gift ever offered. Jesus. He is the gift that you will never want to return… never want to return or exchange. No, He is the gift that you will treasure for all eternity!