When those living near Babylon wanted to make a name for themselves by building a tower that would reach unto heaven, their language was changed and the people were scattered (Genesis 11:1-9). When wicked Haman wanted to make a name for himself by killing all the Jews throughout the Persian Empire, he was hanged on the gallows he had prepared for another (Esther 3-7). When Judas desired to make a name for himself by selling Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, he went out and hanged himself (Matthew 26; 27:1-10).
When God makes a name of someone, an Ark is built to save mankind and the animal kingdom, as with a man named Noah (Genesis 6-8). When God makes a name of someone, a nation is built that numbers the stars of heaven, as with Abraham (Genesis 15:1-6). When God makes a name of someone, a man and young woman become the earthly father and mother of Jesus, as were Joseph and Mary (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). When God makes a name of someone, a man intent on destroying God’s people becomes the greatest missionary to spread the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and the writer of the majority of the New Testament, as did the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:1-18). When God makes a name of someone it is life-changing for the entire world.
“And there were in the same country
Shepherds abiding in the field,
Keeping watch over their flock by night.”
This familiar verse found in Luke 2:8 carries greater significance than realized in a casual reading of the events of the first Christmas. Referring back to the Old Testament one reads of Ruth gleaning in the fields of Boaz located near the little town of Bethlehem (Ruth 1:22-2:3). It was the location of those fields where the ancestral home of King David was established, for Ruth and Boaz were David’s great-grandparents, necessitating the return of Mary and Joseph to register in the City of David for census purposes. The genealogy of Jesus found both in Matthew chapter one and Luke chapter three contain the names of Jesus’ earthly ancestors, which include David the King, David’s father Jesse, David’s grandfather Obed, and David’s great-grandfather Boaz. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was not a coincidence, but planned by God the Father to fulfill His eternal purpose.
With Bethlehem situated just six miles southeast of Jerusalem, the shepherds keeping watch over the flock that night included priestly shepherds keeping watch from the two-story stone tower of Edar located midway between the two cities. The priestly shepherds’ sole task was to provide lambs for the Temple sacrifices. It was these lambs that were to be without spot or blemish (Deuteronomy 17:1), therefore upon birth the lambs were wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger within the tower to calm them and keep them from injuring themselves. After Rachel’s death and her burial in Bethlehem, Jacob “journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar,” (Genesis 35:19-21).
The Perfect Lamb of God was born on that holy night in a lowly stable, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger, as were all the sacrificial lambs (Luke 2:1-20). It was JESUS who was sacrificed for the sins of the world, once for all time, the veil in the Temple renting from top to bottom negating any future sacrifices and giving man access into the Holy of Holies, to God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ (Matthew 27:50-51; Hebrews 10:1-12). The Prophet Micah wrote 700 years before the birth of Christ the announcement of the Promised Messiah would take place at the tower of Edar, known as the “tower of the flock” (Micah 4:8).
Key Verse: Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
Creation – Chapters 1-2
Adam & Eve – Chapters 2-3
Cain & Abel – Chapter 4
Noah – Chapters 6-10
Tower of Babel – Chapter 11
Abraham – Chapters 12-25
Jacob – Chapters 25-36
Joseph – Chapters 37-50
It is recorded in Scripture Abraham, his wife Sarah, their son Isaac with his wife Rebekah, their grandson Jacob and his wife Leah, were all buried in a cave in the field of Machpelah (Genesis 49:30-33). Moses’ sister, Miriam, was buried in Kadesh and his brother, Aaron, was buried in Mosera during the 40 years of wilderness wandering (Numbers 20:1; Deuteronomy 10:6). Moses was buried by God in a valley in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 34:6), while Joshua was buried at Timnath-seral in Mount Ephraim (Joshua 24:30). Joseph was buried in Shechem (Joshua 24:32) and Samson between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of his father, Manoah (Judges 16:31).
There is significance to the mode of burying those who have died, for the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 15 tells of how a seed that is planted in the ground springs forth to bear a new and much more vibrant life. “And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body.” Just as a small kernel of seed corn is planted in the ground resulting in a flourishing plant full of life, so a body is sown for the resurrection that is to come. “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body… As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”
Upon Jesus’ death He was laid in a borrowed tomb only to rise again from the dead on the third day. Christ became the Firstfruit of the resurrection that is to come. More will follow on that Great Resurrection Day when the dead in Christ shall rise first and the corruptible, mortal bodies that have been planted will put on incorruption and immortality. It is then so shall all those who have trusted Christ as Savior will ever be with the Lord in their new, glorified bodies “to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” (I Peter 1:4).
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope
By the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
I Peter 1:3