Summary: God made the greatest announcement of all history to shepherds outside of Bethlehem
The Grand Message of Our Great God
December 9, 2007
In his book, Science Speaks, Peter Stoner applies the modern science of probability to just eight prophecies regarding Christ. He says, "The chance that any man might have ...fulfilled all eight prophecies is one in 10 to the 17th. That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000." (one hundred quadrillion) Stoner suggests that "we take 10 to the 17th silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state 2 feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly... Blindfold a man and tell him he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up [that one marked silver dollar.] What chance would he have of getting the right one?" Stoner concludes, "Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing those eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man,...providing they wrote them in their own wisdom."
Peter Stoner, Science Speaks.
Here are just some of the prophecies that were fulfilled by the birth of Jesus.
• God promised that the Savior would be human
• God promised that the Savior would be Jewish
• God promised that the Savior would be from the tribe of Judah
• God promised that the Savior would be born of a virgin
• God promised that the Savior would be born in Bethlehem.
As we look at the message of Christmas. We are reminded of just how awesome Christmas is and how great God truly is. This morning I want to look again at the first announcement of Christ’s birth. If you have your Bibles open them to Luke 2:8-20
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." LK 2:16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
The Routine was disrupted
The men that were out in the fields of Bethlehem that night were shepherds. The shepherd was a herdsman of sheep and most likely not the owner of the animals in their care. Many times the shepherd was considered a lowly or common occupation in Israel. The point that Luke is making that Jesus did not come to the powerful because those who were in power missed His birth completely. Jesus came to be with the humble, the outcast and the ones who were on the low in of the social ladder. Jesus came to be with those who did not deserve His presence.
Notice that the shepherds were out with the flocks at night. Luke includes this because it is an important detail. This seems to be a time reference to give a season in which Jesus was born. Allowing the flocks out into the fields overnight would have been an event in the late spring or early summer. These specific shepherds were in the fields outside of Bethlehem watching over their flocks.
Essentially, these were the night watchmen, those who were given the care of sheep during the overnight hours. The sheep would have been outside of the city area because of good pasture areas that could have been found. The shepherds performed two important tasks for the sheep. First, they would guide them into areas of good pasture to provide their needs and second, they would guard them against predators or thieves.