A Gospel Spice Christmas

Day 1 of 5 • This day’s reading



It had been yet another hard year under inhospitable circumstances for the Jews in the Roman-occupied province of Judea. Military occupation, heavy taxes, rampant corruption, power-hungry leaders, growing poverty, an uncertain future. And yet, glorious news spread in the countryside: The first Noel the angels did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay, keeping their sheep . . . Certain cold, poor shepherds take the lead role in Luke’s Christmas chronicles. Bethlehem proved poor, cold, and inhospitable to Mary and Joseph too (Luke 2:4-8), but it was famous for its hospitable Tower—the Tower of Eder, also called Tower of the flock.

Eder was a Bethlehem neighborhood known for breeding a treasured flock—the lambs destined from birth for sacrificial slaughter. These Eder-born sacrificial lambs had to be kept unblemished, with no stain or broken bones, to remain fit as substitutionary sacrifices for the Temple. The shepherds sheltered their lambs inside the Tower of Eder, a stone structure where they were born in protected circumstances. The most fragile were laid in troughs and swaddled in rags so their delicate new bones would not break. Upon growing stronger, they were released into the hostile Bethlehem fields until time came for sacrifice. From birth to offering, these shepherds cared for lambs born to carry the imputed sins of the faithful.

Jesus Christ was born in the shadow of the Tower of Eder. He was placed in a feeding trough and swaddled for protection (Luke 2:7). Bethlehem proved inhospitable, but the shepherds welcomed Him. Upon growing stronger (Luke 2:52), He was released into the hostile fields of earth until time came for the cross (Mark 1:15). No wonder the Lamb of God was born in Bethlehem, where shepherds kept their Eder flocks and where no bones were broken (John 19:36). God promised in Micah 4:8 that the Tower of the flock would be the place through which kingship and dominion would be restored to Jerusalem. Taste and see. Come and worship. There are no loose ends in God’s Word.

Have you ever wondered why the angel would tell their frightened audience that the manger and the swaddling clothes would be a sign to them (Luke 2:12)? It would only be a telltale sign if they dwelt in cold, poor inhospitable Eder, where mangers and swaddling and newborns were commonplace. And so it is with us: God speaks to us through our own unique circumstances—the good and the bad. Eder-dwelling shepherds were cold and poor, but God used their cultural surroundings and difficult circumstances to reveal Himself to them. They discovered that their dwelling place, their Eder, pointed to His identity as the Lamb of God. And so, their common life in Eder became a cradle to His glory. 

Look around today. What is your Eder? It’s part of your Christmas experience of letting Christ be born in you. How is God speaking to you through your culture, circumstances, and yes, even your difficulties? 

This may have been a hard year. But if you let Him, God will make it the Eder year when Christ is born into your life—to your delight and His glory.