North Anderson Baptist Church
On the Way to Bethlehem “The Shepherds”
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  • North Anderson Baptist Church
    2308 N Main St, Anderson, SC 29621, United States
    Sunday 10:30 AM
Shepherds… Abraham, Moses and David were among the many shepherds of Israel. Even Jesus was called the “Good Shepherd” in John 10:2-4, 11.
Shepherds sometimes were the owner of the sheep and sometimes the shepherds were hirelings, men who worked for the owner. Jesus spoke of hirelings in John 10:12-13,
I am sure you could find some shepherds who were not owners who did good jobs for those whom they worked, but they would probably have to certainly earn that trust.

Shepherds would have to, at times, move their sheep so they could find the best pasture for them. Of course, when they went away from home the shepherd would have to stay with the sheep and sleep with them. It was a dangerous job being a shepherd, there were lots of predators. Remember, David as a young man told King Saul that while being a shepherd for his father’s flock that
At times shepherds would keep the sheep at night time in a cave for safe keeping away from the predators. The sheep would be counted one by one and then tended by the shepherd with medicine, if needed by the sheep. At night when the sheep, who were already skittish, heard the cries of the predators the shepherd would call to them and when they heard his voice they would quieten down. When morning came the shepherd would call them to follow him and when they heard his voice they would be obedient and follow. John 10:3-4 tells of this,
What kind of sheep are these we are talking about. Scholars say that they were likely the “broad tail Syrian Sheep.” they had a large flat tail and thick fleece. They had rams who were horned and ewes who were not. They were docile animals but because of that they were at the mercy of their predators and the environment. Some shepherds had goats too, which were generally either black or brown. Do you remember when Jacob wanted to marry Rachel, her father cheated him and substituted Leah instead. Then Jacob had to work another 7 years to get Rachel for his wife. In the meantime, Jacob began to breed varied color goats, neither black, brown or white but spotted or speckled goats. His deal with his father-in-law was he could have all of the male or female speckled or spotted goats.(Genesis 30:25-43)

Shepherds had to find adequate grazing pasture so they must move when necessary. When Lynda and I were in Israel we saw many goats and sheep walking from one place to another seek to find decent pasture of grass on the side of the desert mountains. Whether in winter or in summer the shepherds had to be careful doing what they did to make sure the sheep stayed healthy.

Now there was another kind of sheep. They were called “temple sacrifices.” These were the sheep which had been raised mostly around the Bethlehem to be sacrificed in the Temple of Jerusalem. The priest did not want the sheep or the shepherds too close to the Temple. Shepherds were considered the lowest of all in the country except for the slaves. Jewish rabbinical writings indicate that the shepherds could not hold certain jobs or even be admitted in court as a witness. Such thoughts were held by Rabbis who spoke unkindly about shepherds.

So, we come to the shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem that wonderful night when Christ was born. They were probably owners and hirelings but we know that they had no stature in the community and were probably loners with friends and family being other shepherds.
That night the shepherds were probably talking in the quiet and blackness of the night when all of a suddenly ...BOOM... the night sky was brilliant in light, the hillside was “ablaze” with light and a sound that they had never heard calling to them, it was the sound of an angel’s voice! It was up front, in their face, it was personal. When the Bible says the angel “appeared” it means, in Greek, “to stand at or near a specific place.” This angel wasn’t just way up in the air when he appeared, he was close to them. This same term is used as an idea of “suddenness.” So, when the angel appeared he was just suddenly there! The Light that shone around them was the radiance of the God’s Glory. That explains why it was so bright!

I can tell you I would have been afraid too! All of that happening in just a blink of an eye in the dark and quiet of the night. But the reassurance of the angel provided some help at that moment, and then what he said to the shepherds made the fears to go away and the joy to become great! The fear is replaced by the joy of the message of this angel from God Almighty.

Don’t each of us need good news once in awhile? There can be good news and there can be good news… Hearing that you do not have cancer anymore is good news, yes, great news, thank God for that. But sometimes our good news is material, like a raise or a vacation or a baby! Who can say that is not good news on the whole. But what the angel said IS Good News! The Best news ever! A Savior is born for all people. The shepherds, who are the lowliest citizens of Israel have had an angel visit with them, those whom no one wants around, and have been told the news first that God has sent His Savior, the Messiah to all people. Isn’t it strange that God would choose the humbled, lowly and unwanted to tell that Jesus was born that night!!!! The Lamb of God is being introduced to the shepherds caring for the sheep and lambs who will be sacrificed for the sins of people when they worship Almighty God in Jerusalem. How interesting is that? Jesus comes as a baby to grow into a man who will one day take away the sins of the world through His sacrifice and death for the sin of all men everywhere. Notice, this Baby, the Christ, will be good news to ALL men, not just to the Jews!

The shepherds were then told to look for the child in a manger in Bethlehem. But before they could respond the night sky was filled with a company of angels, heavenly hosts, praising God and together saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”

These shepherds had heard forever that there would be a Messiah, the Christ, to come to Israel and be their Savior so they could understand some of this and respond with great joy. They did not know that this Jesus, the Christ, came to take their sin from them and not set them free from their oppressors. They would have to experience Him personally to know the truth. So, they went to this town of Bethlehem to see the Child.
The scripture said they saw Mary and Joseph and the Baby lying in the manger, just like the angel said. These whom God gave a glimpse of His saving power to, did just what God wanted them to do. They went about spreading the word that what the angels said of the Child was true; they had seen the Savior of Bethlehem and when they told people others became amazed at what they told them about the Child.

What a response from the shepherds once they saw Jesus, the Christ Child. They praised God, they glorified Him as they went back to their flocks on the hillside where the angel visited with them and told them the Good News!

We talk about the shepherds and will about the others involved in this Christmas story, because God’s Word has made it clear that this is the GOOD NEWS for all the world and we can’t let that go today without reminding each of us we too have a responsibility to God to respond like the shepherds did. They went about praising and glorifying God and telling others of this Savior. We are to do the same! Are you prepared today to leave here and tell those with whom you work or those with whom you go to school and all others that you see day by day, that Jesus Christ is here and He has brought the Good News of life and forgiveness for sin. Are you ready to tell them why you are so excited about Christmas and your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?

Each of us have many opportunities to tell others and show what and who we are by the way we live. You have a story to tell and a Savior to share, don’t be afraid; He, the Lord is with you and by the power of the Holy Spirit in you, you can and will have the courage to share your belief in the Lord Jesus Christ with someone else this Christmas. Pray for someone to become a divine appointment and be ready.

For some of you here today, you have heard this story of the birth of Christ many times and you have heard it today again. Listen!!! Today is the day to make your life right with God; He is ready to receive you unto Himself if you will humbly bow your heart and your life to Him in surrender and He will take your sin and forgive you this day and give you eternal life this very day and forevermore.

Invitation

Dear friend if you are reading this by way of the internet please know that you are loved and cared for. If you have no relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son, then I invite you to trust Him by faith and receive Him as your personal Savior. Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sin of everyone in the world that they may have eternal life. All of us have sinned and all are guilty before Almighty God who made us to have fellowship with Him. But sin broke that ability to have a relationship and Jesus has restored the possibility to know God personally through His sacrifice. Please know that if you will seek God and turn from your sin and pray He will respond with His love and give to you a personal relationship through your belief in His Son and the sacrifice He made just for you. He will call for a change in your life too. He wants you to follow Him, not the world, not your own desires, but to follow Jesus. That brings a life change when you turn from sin and self and by faith believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. There is no Savior without Him being Lord of your life. Your willingness to change by following Him daily in your life will be the proof of your faith. When life throws its curves your way and you have found yourself broken by others or by the world let us introduce you to the only One who can help you…Jesus! You can write or call the office and we will follow up by contacting you. Office phone number is 864-225-2575 and the website address is www.northandersonbaptist.com and the physical address is 2308 N. Main St., Anderson, SC 29621. Dear friend if you are a believer and you have been touched by the Lord and you would like to talk to someone at the church just contact us in one of the ways you see above. If you are a believer and would like to talk about the church and your interest in being a part, please call and we can set up an appointment for you and get to know you. It would be a great pleasure to share our Lord’s love with you. This is a loving church and you are important to us, so please let us know what we can do for you in the Lord.Pastor Bill Rigsby

http://www.northandersonbaptist.com