Written on December 23, 2014.
Day 23 – December 23
Shepherd’s watched. Blanketed by darkness, they rested upon the ground. When sunrise came, it would be less likely for a wild animal to steal through the night for the plunder of sheep. And so they waited, aware of every tremble, shiver or rustling from just beyond their view.
But this night, it wasn’t a crafty predator that caused their hearts to pound and souls to shake. This night, it was an angel, barely recognizable at first as it pierced the thick darkness to announce the Light.
And there were shepherds in the same region, lodging in the field, and keeping the night-watches over their flock, and lo, a messenger of the Lord stood over them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they feared a great fear. And the messenger said to them, `Fear not, for lo, I bring you good news of great joy, that shall be to all the people – because there was born to you to-day a Saviour – who is Christ the Lord – in the city of David, and this [is] to you the sign: Ye shall find a babe wrapped up, lying in the manger.‘ And suddenly there came with the messenger a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, `Glory in the highest to God, and upon earth peace, among men – good will.’ And it came to pass, when the messengers were gone away from them to the heavens, that the men, the shepherds, said unto one another, `We may go over indeed unto Bethlehem, and see this thing that hath come to pass, that the Lord did make known to us.’ Luke 2:8-15
It turns me inside out, that the first invitation given to see Jesus was to the shepherd’s. They were once prosperous and highly regarded. But as the cultivation of crops increased, they fell from favor. No longer was it the privilege of the firstborn to tend the flock. For as farming became lucrative, the task of shepherding went to the younger siblings or even hired hands.
Once the sheep cared for by shepherds represented wealth. They provided food (1 Samuel 14:32 ), milk to drink (Isaiah 7:21-22 ), wool and hides for clothing (Job 31:20, Matthew 7:15 ), and leather for tents (Exodus 26:14 ). And sheep were offerings for sacrifice (Exodus 20:24 ) being given as burnt offerings (Leviticus 1:10 ), sin offerings (Leviticus 4:32 ), guilt offerings (Leviticus 5:15 ), and peace offerings (Leviticus 22:21 ).
This night, the people had other sources of provision. What once held great value was just one resource. Except to the shepherds. For they would still leave the ninety-nine in order to find the one.
On this night, long before kings, princes, rulers or government officials heard the news, the shepherds were invited to see something never seen before.
They were invited to leave the ninety-nine to find the ONE. Faces shining, eyes glowing, breathlessly breathing, only slightly aware they had abandoned their flock to the Host of Heaven as they hastened and hurried to Bethlehem, to meet the Lamb of God.
I can picture it. Each step closer, their faces filled more and more with the light that had entered the world. They became as the One who had come. And they began the fulfillment of a prophecy in Isaiah…
The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory. Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end. Isaiah 60:19-20
The shepherds did not run by the brightness of the sun or the pale of the moon. Every step was bathed in the Light of the Christ. The longing they didn’t even know they had was slowly satiated. The void within them filled. And they ran, they rushed, they roared. Nothing, nothing would keep them from their destination, their destiny.
Focused, they foretold. Fixated, they forecasted. For us. You see, sheep have incredible hearing, but poor vision. But Light comes, It came. To light the way. Penetrating, piercing, pulsating light flooded and flowed. As each shepherd became a smoldering then fiery torch, those yet to come could see. We can see. Through their story, we see what it should look like when HE is near in ours.
We are a remnant, birthing a generation. We return, we race, we roar towards the light. And in our restful run, we realize that the closer to the light we come, the more of it we have become. And we begin to fulfill the prophecy of Revelation 22:3-5:
No longer will there be any oppressor. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
As you light the eight candle, remember LIGHT is here. And nothing, not even our own darknesses of fear, doubt, comparison, envy, anger, lust or complacency can overtake us, when we run and rapid to our cauldron of light, revealing and reveling in HIM every step of the way.