Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Why gunnysack Shepherds?

Yes, I know that Christmas is over and for certain reasons, I'm kind of glad. But in reality, Christmas is never over because if it were not for Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Christ, we would not have Good Friday and or Easter. We all know the importance of those two celebrative Holidays. I'm intrigued by the Shepherd and why on earth did Almighty Sovereign God give the announcement of the birth of the Messiah to lowly gunnysack shepherds? Why not to priests and or to Kings? Who were lowly Shepherds that they should be eyewitnesses of God's glory and receive history's greatest birth announcement? During the time of the Patriarchs, shepherding was a noble occupation. Shepherds are mentioned early in Genesis 4:20. Jabal is called the father of those living in tents and raising livestock. In nomadic societies, everyone whether sheikh or slave was a shepherd. The wealthy sons of Isaac and Jacob tended flocks. Gen. 30:29; 37:12 and Jethro, the priest of Midian, employed his daughters as shepherdesses. Exodus 2:16 In Christ's day, shepherds stood on the bottom rung of the Palestinian social ladder. They shared the same unenviable status as tax collectors and dung sweepers. Only Luke mentions them. When the twelve tribes of Israel migrated to Egypt, they encountered a lifestsyle foreign to them. The Egyptians were agriculturalists and the farmers despised shepherding because sheep and goats meant death to crops. In fact the first murder mentioned in the Bible was a farmers resentment of a shepherd. Gen 4:1-8 I could go on and on how Shepherds were looked down on, until a young boy named David, who tended sheep ,also became a King. But later during the days of the Prophets, sheep herders symbolized judgement and social desolation.
Smug religious leaders maintained a strict caste system at the expense of shepherds and other common folk. Shepherds were officially labeled "sinners" a technical term for a class of despised people.
Into this social context of religious snobbery and class prejudice, God's Son stepped forth. How surprising and significant that Father God handpicked lowly, unpretentious shepherds to first hear the joyous news: "It's a boy, and He's the Messiah!" What an affront to the religious leaders who were so conspicuously absent from the divine mailing list. Even from birth, Christ moved among the lowly. It was sinners, not the self-righteous, He came to save. Mark 2:17
Today, Pastors who shepherd their flocks are immortalized by the Lord Jesus when He said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10:11 Christ is also the great Shepherd Hebrews 13:20 and the chief Shepherd 1 Peter 5:4 No greater illustration so vividly portrays His tender care and guiding hand.
Let's never forget that it was a handful of shepherds, marginalized by the social and religious elite, who were chosen to break the silence of centuries, telling of the Messiah's birth. Happy Birthday again Jesus!


Greg P. said...

"Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth."

It was God's way of showing people that He wasn't impressed by their status in life (false pride), but, by the sincerity and love in their heart.

BethAnne said...

Lowly people were chosen to see the baby Jesus......That's good to hear since I feel like I am a dung sweeper most of the time ;-)

Greg P. said...

Oh BethAnne, you have such a way with words.

Hey, I just noticed, my Word Verification below is the word "prays". How fitting.